Mayor Fine defends letter sent to San Francisco officials over Caltrain tax

Palo Alto Mayor Adrian Fine

Daily Post Staff Writer

In a personal letter to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Palo Alto Mayor Adrian Fine defended the letter he sent in support of Caltrain’s proposed eighth-of-a-cent sales tax and said the letter Vice Mayor Tom DuBois sent undermines the city’s credibility.

The brouhaha started yesterday (July 20) when Fine sent a letter to San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee expressing support for the tax. After he did that, Vice Mayor Tom DuBois sent his letter to Yee, saying that Fine was out of line with his letter, and expressed some of his dissatisfaction with the proposed tax.

Today, Fine sent a second letter to Yee, who is currently presiding over a Board of Supervisors meeting, where it is expected the board will take up the Caltrain tax issue, pointing to two pieces of specific policy that he says allows him to have sent the first letter.

“In short, the letter is not contrary to my authority as mayor; my colleague the vice mayor just disagrees with the substance of the letter and is using the process to dispute that. It’s a pattern I’ve seen before, and it undermines the credibility that our city has. Maybe that’s the purpose,” Fine wrote.

In DuBois’ letter to the board, DuBois said that Fine’s letter “does not carry any more weight than the position of any other member of our city council.”

DuBois in his letter takes issue with Fine sending his letter before the council could discuss the Caltrain tax. However, the Palo Alto City Council is on break from meeting until next month. The deadline for placing an item on the Nov. 3 ballot is Aug. 7.

Between now and Aug. 7, seven agencies need to approve placing the measure on the ballot — the Caltrain board and the supervisors and transit boards in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. So far, only San Mateo County’s Board of Supervisors and the SamTrans board have given the OK to place the measure on the ballot.

San Francisco and Santa Clara County’s board of supervisors are expected to vote on the tax sometime today.

Fine is part of the city’s pro-growth faction, while DuBois is part of the slow-growth faction.

“I’m disappointed to air Palo Alto’s dirty laundry in a letter like this. Personally, it’s become tiresome and predictable to continuously have the vice mayor run interference on the city’s business with which he disagrees,” Fine wrote.

This is not the first time that Fine has gotten grief for sending letters in support of issues others on the council disagree with. In January, Fine on his behalf sent a letter in support of SB50, the controversial bill from San Francisco State Sen. Scott Wiener to allow for higher desnity near transit, jobs and schools.

Those who were not in favor of SB50 were unhappy with Fine’s letter and questioned his authority to do so since he was using city letterhead.


  1. Does anyone believe that the SF Board of Supervisors gives two sh— what the Palo Alto Council thinks? They probably passed around these letters and just snickered to themselves.

  2. Fine seems to think “mayor” means something in Palo Alto. It’s not like he’s an elected mayor. It’s just his turn to run the meetings. Otherwise, he’s just another council member.

  3. Triple Caltrain’s budget for the next 30 years so it can experiment with spreading viruses, help out HIGH SPEED RAIL to keep Peninsula residents wide awake at all hours and pay OVERTIME and PENSIONS AND FUTURE MEDICAL for still more public employees. Fine. Put that on the ballot and see what happens.

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