Midpeninsula Post

Meet the 2022 Los Altos City Council candidates

Downtown Los Altos in October 2022. (Eason Dong)

Three candidates are competing for two spots on the Los Altos City Council: newcomer Pete Dailey and incumbents Anita Enander and Neysa Fligor. This council will be tasked with, among other things, finalizing or implementing the city’s housing element — which will determine how Los Altos is developed over the next eight years — as well as the city’s climate action and adaptation plan and complete streets master plan. 

The Post spoke with all three candidates about their experience and policy positions, focusing on housing, climate, mental health and road safety. 

Candidates are ordered by alphabetical order of last name.

(Courtesy Pete Dailey)

PETE DAILEY

Dailey currently serves on the city’s parks and recreation commission and is part of an ad-hoc working group creating a feasibility plan for a theater in downtown Los Altos. In 2014 he retired from a career in tech to spend more time with his family. He’s also coached and served on the board of directors of Mountain View Los Altos Girls Softball and Los Altos Mountain View PONY Baseball.

While his opponents claim to run more “positive” campaigns, Dailey has explicitly positioned his candidacy in opposition to Enander’s. He has attacked her on issues ranging from affordable housing, to her vote against the climate action plan and housing policies that Dailey says perpetuate systemic racism. 

“[Enander’s] actions are consistent with the structural racism that has kept people of color out of our community,” Dailey said.

Housing

Increasing the housing stock is Dailey’s number one priority. While many of the candidates support housing along the El Camino corridor, Dailey takes the idea one step further: He suggests developing higher density housing along San Antonio, across from downtown. 

“If we rezone that area, and do it in a way in a way that’s attractive to developers… then what we’ll have over there is a neighborhood where young professionals, teachers, firefighters, police officers will be able to afford to live in our community and patronize all the wonderful businesses we have in downtown without having to drive,” Dailey said.

Those kinds of developments are also key to Dailey’s environmental goals. Building housing closer to business areas will reduce the need for cars, Dailey said.

Climate

Dailey supports reducing carbon emissions to make the city carbon neutral by 2035 and developing more walkable neighborhoods. 

“I care a lot about the environment,” Dailey said. “I think we can make some meaningful changes locally … you can do some great things here locally, and the world will change as a result of accumulated impact of local changes.”

Dailey has also made changes in his personal life to reduce his carbon footprint, like getting an electric bike to reduce car trips.

Mental health

A father of two, Dailey acknowledged that parents in Los Altos, intentionally or not, put pressure on their kids to succeed.

“Many of our households are sort of high performing … where mom or dad went to elite universities and are prosperous financially, and whether they actively put that pressure on their kids or whether it’s passive because of the environment, a lot of young adults probably feel that intense pressure,” Dailey said.

As an example of collaboration between different agencies, Dailey pointed to his work on the parks commission, when he brought in the Santa Clara County Office of LGBTQ+ Affairs to make a presentation to the commission. 

Dailey also stressed increasing education about mental health resources. 

“We need to work with stakeholders to educate our residents and let them know what’s available,” Dailey said. “And we need to invest in new support structures to help young people.”

Dailey supports CHAC and has pledged to increase funding, though it’s unclear by exactly how much. 

Road safety

If elected, Dailey pledges to vote for projects similar to the creation of a bike lane along El Camino. Enander voted against the project earlier this year.

“It brought a tear to my eye when I was in that council meeting, watching that council meeting,” Dailey said of the March 7 meeting when the council voted on the project. “So [Enander] and I are very different. I would be hugely in favor of a bike lane on El Camino, and enhanced bike lane with some bollards to protect bike riders.”

Dailey also emphasized the necessity of a variety of services in Los Altos. According to Dailey, keeping that variety in the city’s business district will reduce traffic because if residents have everything they need within walking distance, they won’t drive as much.

“Grocery stores are hugely important,” Dailey said. “But I love the skateshop … the bookstore, the framing shop next to [Peet’s coffee], those are all highly critical pieces of our vital downtown experience, and I don’t want to lose those.”

To learn more about Dailey, visit his website here.

(Courtesy Anita Enander)

ANITA ENANDER

Enander currently serves as mayor and moved to Los Altos in 1978 for the “spacious yards and small-town atmosphere.” Before her election to council in 2018, she served on the city’s planning commission. She is currently the chair of the Institute for the Desert Arabian Horse and previously served as the owner and CEO of Arabian Horse World, a media company promoting the Arabian horse breed. 

While on council, Enander said she led the adoption of a fiscally responsible budget, helped protect parkland from development, ensured safe placement of wireless equipment, worked to create the city’s first dog parks, endorsed an all-affordable housing development and led the hiring of a new city manager with Fligor.

“Four years ago I committed to making our city run better and to be the voice of residents,” Enander said. “I want to keep my commitment. … I am uniquely qualified from having been on the planning commission and worked with the council on many land use issues, to make sure we make good decisions regarding future growth in Los Altos that result in affordable housing while protecting our business districts and single family neighborhoods.”

Housing
 
In April 2021, the Los Altos City Council approved an all-affordable, 90-unit development at 330 Distel Circle. Enander said she believes that similar projects will be the key to solving the housing crisis, instead of loosening zoning restrictions in accordance with state law, which will allow for more units in what is currently single-family zoning.
 
“There is a profound housing affordability crisis,” Enander said. “There is no question that we have to do something to help people who need subsidized housing, but they will not be helped by building more luxury and market-rate housing.”
 
Currently, 15% of a multi-family development’s units have to be at or below “moderate income” level — priced for four person families making between $31,850 to $126,600 annually.
 
While Enander says she will vote in accordance with state law, she also endorses a ballot initiative that would add an amendment to the state constitution, essentially stripping the state legislature of the power to create and enforce housing laws and leaving those decisions up to each city.
 
Climate
 
During an election forum, Enander was the only candidate who did not take a position on whether or not human contributions are the primary cause behind climate change. She does, however, support reducing local greenhouse gas emissions, increasing electric car charging infrastructure and putting climate change adaptation measures in place. 
 
Enander also voted against the city’s climate action and adaptation plan in March, citing a lack of input from residents.
 
“There is no question that we are experiencing climate change,” Enander said. “There is no question in my mind that humans are accelerating or exacerbating climate change. I don’t think there is settled science that says how well we can differentiate what would be climate change… that responds to various events like volcanoes blowing up and so on, and what is [caused by] human[s]. 
 
Mental health
 
Enander supports funding the Community Health Awareness Council, which provides mental health services to schools and community members in Los Altos. Funding CHAC is the primary way that the council provides mental health services. CHAC receives 24% of its funding from joint power agencies, which includes the cities of Los Altos and Mountain View, as well as Los Altos and Mountain View Whisman school districts. 
 
“CHAC continues to be a very important part of our community, and I can only anticipate the city will continue to fund it,” Enander said. “I can’t believe that [the city] would not.”
 
Road safety
 
Following the death of a Graham Middle School student on March 17, the  council took up a resolution to approve the installation of buffered bike lanes on El Camino. There was no cost to the city. Enander voted against the resolution, citing that El Camino would remain dangerous for cyclists. 
 
Enander also emphasizes the importance of personal accountability.
 
“I live near Los Altos High School … it scares me how many kids aren’t wearing helmets,” Enander said. “Aside from stopping at corners and looking out for cars, [helmets] are your first line of defense. I don’t know what anybody can do to make kids wear their helmets.”
 
When asked about funding for bike lanes, Enander referred to the city’s Complete Streets Master Plan. However, the plan includes a recommendation for a bike lane along El Camino, which Enander voted against.
 
To learn more about Enander, visit her website here.
 
(Courtesy Neysa Fligor)

NEYSA FLIGOR 

Fligor was first elected to the council in 2018, receiving the highest number of votes and winning every precinct. She served as mayor in 2020. 

Prior to her election to the council, she served as a member and chair of the El Camino Healthcare District Board, a member of the Los Altos Grant Writing and Parks and Recreation Commissions, as deputy county counsel in Santa Clara County and counsel for various divisions at Hewlett Packard. 

Fligor emphasized her accomplishments while on council and as mayor: working with the county on an all-affordable development, leading the hiring of a new city manage with Enander, increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates and advocating for financial responsibility. She was also proud of her support for the new community center, the downtown parklet program, the climate action and adaptation plan, safe routes to school funding, dog parks and forming a downtown theater working group.

“I’m running for re-election because I know I’ve made a positive difference in our city, and also also in the lives of residents,” Fligor said. “And there’s still a lot of work to be done. … I am running on my record, I am very proud of what we were able to accomplish over the last four years.”

Housing

Fligor supported the all-affordable project at 330 Distel, but acknowledged that Los Altos had issues meeting housing mandates in all price categories, not only the lower price categories built at 330 Distel.

“We need to make sure that we are building or supporting development in all the different income levels,” Fligor said. “So I support looking for more opportunities … to have more affordable housing developments in our community, but we also ended to build homes at the moderate income level.”

Fligor acknowledged that some residents have come to appreciate a rural feel in Los Altos, but emphasized the need for housing.

“I think we can have the housing and still maintain … this rural, green, low traffic community,” Fligor said. “With the state mandates and the demand and need for housing, we will need to have multifamily developments” 

Climate

Fligor voted in favor of the city’s climate action and adaptation plan and if reelected, plans to implement environmental sustainability policies. She is also in support of preserving green space in the city.

“I support maintaining and protecting the green and open space we currently have, and working to secure more parks in all corners of Los Altos, especially the El Camino corridor,” Figor said. “We need to implement policies that incorporate resident feedback, rely on science and data [and] mitigate costs to residents.”

Los Altos also has a variety of neighborhood emergency response groups, which are essential in the case of a natural disaster. Fligor emphasized the need for the city council to support those groups.

Mental health

Fligor serves on the board of CHAC as a representative of the council, also known as a joint powers agency. She mentioned a possible collaboration between the city and the Los Altos School District to do work on substance abuse, though nothing is official yet.

When it comes to funding, Fligor wants to continue a balanced approach. 

“As a CHAC board member, we’re still trying to figure out what the right formula is for each [joint powers agency] to contribute, because the costs have gone up,” Fligor said. “So could we give more, yes, but there are other priorities in the city, and so we have to balance it all … if anything we should give more, not less.”

Road safety

Fligor said that when looking at new development, traffic is a key concern of hers, and expressed support for the Complete Streets Master Plan. 

“I support increasing the number of bike lanes in Los Altos to allow for cyclists of all ages to be able to bike safely, navigate the city easily and reach all corners of the city,” she said. 

To learn more about Fligor, visit her website here.

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