Planning Commissioner Doria Summa jumps into council race

Doria Summa at a Planning and Transportation Commission on May. Photo from city video.

Daily Post Staff Writer

A planning commissioner that has fought for slow growth in Palo Alto has entered the race for City Council.

Doria Summa, 63, of the College Terrace neighborhood, filed paperwork today (Aug. 15) that allows her to start fundraising.

Summa hasn’t announced her campaign publicly, and she couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

Summa is running for one of three seats against at least six more candidates, including fellow planning commissioner Ed Lauing. Candidates have until Wednesday to file to run.

Summa is in her second term on the Planning and Transportation Commission, and she has a long history of opposing projects in the city. For example, she resisted Castilleja School’s permit to rebuild its campus at 1310 Bryant Street, and she voted against allowing rooftop decks on taller buildings in 2019.
Lauing also voted no on the rooftop decks, but they were outnumbered 4-2.

Summa said in a video endorsing Vice Mayor Lydia Kou for council in 2020 that Palo Alto should focus on retaining existing affordable housing, like the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park and the President Hotel.
Summa also said she supports a business tax and higher fees on office development to pay for affordable housing, and she wants to maintain Palo Alto’s quality of life.

Summa appeared on a panel in 2019 to talk about state laws that would reduce local control over housing. She was joined on the panel by Susan Kirsch, founder of Livable California, a nonprofit that fights for local control and against development.

That may rub at least one opponent the wrong way. Julie Lythcott-Haims, an author and public speaker, said she was inspired to run for council after reading a profile of Kirsch in the New York Times, which detailed Kirsch’s fight against a condo development at the end of her street in Mill Valley. Lythcott-Haims is pro-housing development.

The rest of the candidates are utilities commissioner Lisa Forssell, lawyer Vicki Veenker, realtor Alex Comsa and medical researcher Hope Lancero.


  1. I’m very excited about Doria running for city council. She is an outstanding candidate who would make a great city council member. She has done an great job on the Planning and Transportation Committee and knows Palo Alto’s issues inside out. She will look out residents interests. In terms of the inevitable growth she will steer it towards actually producing affordable housing in a thoughtful way that looks at mitigating the negative impacts. She is clear-headed, thoughtful, knowledgeable, diligent and hard-working.

  2. Doria’s one of our most informed public officials and I’m so glad she’ll be there to ensure accuracy — not spin, not invective, not attacks. It’s high time Palo Alto residents had someone representing our interests, not developers and big business.

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