City Council

New Los Altos City Council 2012 Seated Dec. 4 – What to expect

Written by lalahpolitico

Jarrett Fishpaw will become Mayor…a power shift….

The election results are certified on Dec. 4 and the new Los Altos City Council 2012 members, Jeannie Bruins and Jan Pepper will be sworn in that evening.   Incumbent Megan Satterlee was reelected. Jarrett Fishpaw continues  and will be sworn in as Mayor.  Val Carpenter continues stepping down from the mayor role.


LALAHPOLITCO COMMENT: During 2012 Prior Council went from Moderate to Regressive


The prior council of Casas, Carpenter, Fishpaw, Packard and Satterlee did not seem so terribly regressive…till this past year or two.  Packard seemed to launch initiatives which took the city, or at least the downtown,  backwards.  The personal dynamics of the council could not resist.  Often Packard, Carpenter and Casas were sympatico and they “brought along” Satterlee and Fishpaw.  The whole retrograde coda looked like a response of Ron Packard to his neighbor’s attempt to build a 3-story office building  at 40 main next to Packard’s office building at 4 Main. (Los Altos Politico has documented the events extensively on this site.) The ouches of this unfortunate period include – the Los Altos Civic Center Master Plan and Poll, the “downtown contiguous-retail committee “ investigation of eminent domain on banks and other services businesses,  Packard confirming his eligibility for a 3rd council term,  roll back of downtown zoning to retard improvements on Main and State, the “Morrisgate” suppression of freedom of information about bidding on city owned land, the collapse of the Planning and Traffic Commissions down to a majority of Yes—men and women.


The New Council Dynamic – New Mayor, new blood, new more moderate dynamic


Val Carpenter is the only real “old guard” left.  We hope she may recover once the “too persuasive” Ron Packard is gone.  We think she has a lot of moderate tendencies.


Megan Satterlee, incumbent,  is probably a lot more moderate than she’s been voting  the last year under “their” whip hand.


Jarrett Fishpaw, new mayor, is a lot more progressive than he’s been the last year under “their” whip hand. He has downtown merchant sympathies that have been suppressed for the past two years.  Now that he is Mayor, he runs the flow of council meetings.  This can be powerful. We think he could be a source of “initiatives.”


[And Megan and Jarrett, seeing the election results, seem to ALREADY be feeling free of the whip hand. At the last lame duck council meeting they both ACTUALLY OPPOSED the Casas, Carpenter, Packard troika. Those three voted to set up a task force to study the pros and cons of establishing a City library and pulling out of the Santa Clara County Library system. Megan and Jarrett sensibly said let’s not study that now.]


Jeannie Bruins, newly elected, after being bumped from the Planning Commission,  seems to have a tilting towards “progressive” approach to downtown, Civic Center, and Los Altos School District issues.   She is dedicated and does her homework, and we expect she may be a source of  “initiatives.”


Jan Pepper, newly elected, without ANY prior Los Altos City committee membership– for example the Planning Commission–especially with her landslide vote share lead is impressive.  But her landslide means  — VOTERS CHOSE POLICY MODERATION – nothing changing in either direction too fast.  BTW,  she is a civil engineer, and City of Santa Clara employee  and no one doubts her ability to digest City Planning or City Financial gobblelygook.  She is well-known in the League of Women Voters as a consensus-maker.  With a “Move Forward “weighted council, she will probably move slightly forward with the group.  With a backward weighted council, she would have been  willing to move backwards a bit.  But the city has voted for a slightly “Move Forward” council, so LALAPOLITICO, thinks she will accept that move forward direction, if popular support seems clear.




Prevent a third term city council member election – aka , Ron Packard, or anyone


Redo the Civic Center Master Plan – this means everything, the zoning, the site plan, the financing, the connection to downtown


Revisit the Downtown Core and Perimeter Zoning – re Developer Incentives and Heights, and Set-backs


Revisit the Downtown Use permits process – Are service businesses ok in our downtown?


Help Loyola Corners commercial district and residential neighborhood


Implement better government transparency , better citizen input at less burden to the citizen


Look into reinstating the Traffic Commission. In general, give commissioners a bit more authority.


Help Los Altos School District with its Facilities shortfall – as is feasible


Establish additional regular City relations with neighboring “jurisdictions” besides just LASD and City of LAH – that means City of Mountain View, Cupertino Schools and Bullis Charter, in particular

About the author


Norma Schroder is an economics & market researcher by trade and ardent independent journalist, photographer and videographer by avocation. Enthralled by the growth of the tech industry over the decades, she became fascinated with the business of local politics only in the past couple of years.