BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
The battle over Measure V in Menlo Park played out with the city council’s latest appointment to its planning commission.
A council majority of Betsy Nash, Jen Wolosin and Cecilia Taylor voted Tuesday to appoint Jennifer Schindler to the single open seat on the commission over Nicole Chessari, one of the leaders of the Measure V campaign. Schindler is a member of the No on V campaign.
Most of the council opposes Measure V, which would make it difficult for apartments to be built in single-family neighborhoods. It would require residents to go to the ballot box to change any zoning in town from single family to anything else.
A departure from past practice
Former Mayor Paul Collachi addressed the council before it voted on its appointments and said when he was on council, the council would try to appoint people from varying sides of an issue.
Councilman Ray Mueller suggested the council follow the vein of Collachi’s comments and appoint Chessari to the planning commission.
Mueller said appointing Chessari could be a way at starting to heal the city that has been fractured by the politics at play with Measure V.
Mueller also pointed to Councilman Drew Combs’ re-appointment to the planning commission after he was on the opposite side of Measure M, a similarly controversial development-related measure in 2014. The two councilmen noted Combs’ was re-appointed with a 3-2 margin as he did not agree with the majority of the council on Measure M.
In the end, no one else on council expressed interest in appointing Chessari. Combs voted for her while Mueller voted for another candidate, Michael Meyer.
Mayor Betsy Nash said she thinks it’s important that the planning commission have members from every council district. Currently, the planning commission only has members who live east of El Camino Real. Schindler was the only applicant who does not live in District 2, which is largely encompassed by the Willows, Suburban Park and Flood Park neighborhoods. She lives in District 5, which is represented by Mueller and consists of the part of town west of Hillview Middle School.
Mueller said he thinks it’s more important the city come together. Combs also balked at the idea.
But in the end, Nash along with Wolosin and Taylor voted for Schindler.
Appointee is working on the “no” campaign
Schindler lists on her application submitted with the city what she is an organizing team member of the No on Measure V campaign. She lists her responsibilities as “canvassing and community discussions — outreach to hundreds of residents about the details and impacts of Measure V.”
Schindler recently retired from Google, according to her interview with the city council.
At the council’s Tuesday night meeting, two people — Collachi and resident Kim Yeager, told the council they ought to vote for Chessari because she takes deep dives into topics and has the skills needed for the planning commission.
But two speakers — someone who only identified herself as Caroline and Jenny Michel — told the council not to appoint Chessari. Both questioned whether Chessari would be unbiased on the commission, which makes land use decisions.
Chessari said yesterday that the council majority intended to use districts “as an excuse to install someone on the planning commission who would push their ideological agendas, rather than making a decision based on qualifications.”