Software Engineer Brian Hamachek Joins Palo Alto City Council Race | New

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Brian Hamachek has strong feelings about Palo Alto’s land use policies.

The software engineer and new candidate for Palo Alto city council has opposed the request for a redevelopment of the Castilleja school, which the city approved earlier this year, and he thinks developers in general have far too many concerns. grip on city leaders, he said Monday.

He hopes to change that by joining the council, which will have three seats open by the end of this year.

Although he has not served on any local council or commission, Hamachek said he has followed local politics for about 15 years, ever since he emailed council members with concerns about the impacts on traffic from a Trader Joe’s store that was being built in Town & Country. Town. The responses he received demonstrated to him the many nuances and variables that go into planning decisions and prompted him to apply to serve on the Planning and Transportation Commission.

Although he didn’t win a nomination, Hamachek said he remains committed to local issues, including the Castilleja project a few blocks from his home in Old Palo Alto. The council, he argued, was enticed into approving the project by threats of lawsuits.

“I think overall the developers have a little too much power,” Hamachek, 36, told the news agency. “We just sort of accepted the fact that the projects will be approved.”

On his campaign website, Hamachek argues that residents don’t need to accept the “San Jose-ification of Palo Alto.” It’s up to residents, not developers, to decide where housing should be and what it looks like.

“We need affordable housing for our firefighters, teachers, and other low-income families who have always been an integral part of the fabric of Palo Alto,” he wrote. “We don’t need cookie-cutter Santana Row-style ‘luxury’ apartment complexes that prioritize density and profit over entrenched aesthetics and community values.”

As a technology professional who worked for numerous startups before joining HP, Hamachek is a firm believer in the power of technology to improve civic life. In 2014, he was among the judges who evaluated apps at the city’s hackathon. Today, he supports the city’s decision to expand its small but profitable citywide fiber network, a project the city has been exploring for two decades and will roll out gradually over the next few years.

“I really think this should be continued,” Hamachek said. “I think it’s expensive, but it’s one of those projects where we don’t even know the benefits until it’s built. And I think there will be huge benefits. “

He feels the same way about the drop in the railway tracks, particularly if it involves building a tunnel for the trains – an alternative the council had considered but ultimately rejected due to high costs.

Hamachek is less enthusiastic about a possible business tax, which the council is about to put on the ballot in November. A new tax, he said, could hurt local businesses.

“I think in general we need to do everything we can to support local businesses and not increase the burden on them,” Hamachek said.

Hamachek is the seventh candidate to enter the council race. Joining him on the ballot will be Ed Lauing, chairman of the Planning and Transportation Commission; Lisa Forssell, member of the Public Services Advisory Board and producer at Apple’s design studio; Hope Lancero, medical researcher at Stanford University; Vicki Veenker, patent attorney and mediator; Alex Comsa, Realtor at Coldwell Banker; and Julie Lythcott-Haims, author and former dean of freshmen at Stanford University.

Board members Tom DuBois and Eric Filseth are both ending at the end of the year, while board member Alison Cormack is finishing her term and has elected not to see a second term.

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