Los Altos Candidates In Their Own Words: Jerry Sorensen

City Council candidates, adhering to a strict time schedule, had a chance to address the Los Altos Rotary last Sept. 17. Sorensen says that office development and parking are key to restoring downtown.


Editor's note: Los Altos Patch is running the full remarks of the six candidates who addressed the Los Altos Rotary Club on Sept. 20. We will run them in the order we receive them from council candidates. Patch invited all candidates to send in their remarks made last Thursday. 

Good Afternoon Los Altos Rotary!

I’m Jerry Sorensen and I am running for City Council.

We live in a great city – I like to call it an Oasis of a City.

Now you may have heard that I am running:

  • To get my way!
  • Because I was treated poorly by the City process
  • Or - Because I am mad!!

Well I am mad! – But not for the reasons some of you to think! I am mad for the same reasons that all Los Altos should be mad! 

I am mad because of this chart. [Brings out a chart on large format]

This chart represents data that was developed by the City of Los Altos. What it shows is that retail sales have dropped in real dollar terms by 40% since 1995! How many of you have taken a 40% pay cut since 1995? Well our merchants and property owners have!

And the real point of separation for Los Altos—related to surrounding communities —was nine years ago in 2003! Nine years ago!!

If you want to change this trend I am the guy to vote for.

Through my research I have solved the riddle of the economically vibrant downtown, and how Los Altos can move forward.

For all the exciting details you can view my presentation on vibrant downtowns on my web site.

It is my research into this trend, and the solutions that I have identified, for downtown, for parking, and for traffic, that have actually led me to run for City Council.

Two keys to vibrance in Los Altos:

  • Office Development
  • Parking

Office Development. Office development can only happen if developers can make money. Currently developers can neither trust the development process to be efficient and non political. Nor can they make money given the current zoning ordinances. Every commercial project requires significant variances to financially succeed. Therefore, approval of every project is ultimately a political decision.

Parking. Through my research, I have become an expert on parking. So much so that I have done consulting for other municipalities. So much so that my wife and children forbid me from talking about parking in mixed company!!

Now you may have heard that I am in favor of paid parking. I know this is the rumor that is being promoted by some in town. But of course, it is not true, just like so many other things that are said, they just don’t pass your Four-way test! But false, politically motivated rumors make for great political fodder.

What am I in favor of? In finding a solution to the parking issues, and challenges that have faced Los Altos for forty years.

Recently I have developed parking management options that integrate technology. 

I am in favor of bringing these options to the community.

Whatever solution is adopted must be fully supported by the merchants. What a concept — support from the community affected. Without community support it will not work, it will fail. And we don’t need any more failure in downtown Los Altos!!

Secondly on parking, I have developed parking layouts that, depending on our choices, can add up to 330 parking stalls into the plazas, very economically. This would accommodate 50 years of development!

I might add that some thought the plazas could not be any more efficient than they currently are. Really? That is a great approach! Accept defeat before we even try.

Traffic. I have found a solution for the traffic concerns that have plagued Los Altos for 30 years, which will save the residents thousands of hours and thousands of gallons of gasoline annually.

I fully support good governance, term limits, expanding the council to seven members, to reduce the influence of a few, the recording of all meetings, so that they can be properly represented and reported on.

Finally civility. I think our recent altercations with the School Board demonstrates a lack of collaboration, a lack of civility, and a focus on agendas rather than solutions.

I believe our council should show leadership in this effort, not pursue acrimony!!

With all thy getting, get understanding!! With understanding we will find solutions to our challenges!!

To move Los Altos Forward, vote for Jerry Sorensen on November 6th!!

Morgan October 02, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Jan Pepper is the best choice for council. After Jan, I plan to vote for Megan and Jon. I have no idea who Jerry is and, anyway, I only see his signs when I drive on University Ave (even multiple signs at the same house). He either ordered too many signs, or can't find anywhere else to put them. Jeannie seems nice, but she comes across as wearing her emotions on her sleeve. Wish I knew more about her because, what I've seen so far, does not inspire confidence. Finally, I've listened to Anabel at each of the forums, and still have no idea what she is saying. She talks in generalities, and has little substance in her statements.
Randall October 04, 2012 at 10:14 PM
You don't have to like Sorensen, but at least use facts. Sorensen's skills, leadership and project management are not at issue. He has 20 years of experience in real estate management and development including $500 million in real estate properties. He worked for John Portman and Trammel Crowe, leaders in the real estate industry. Additionally, he managed the Fashion Center in San Francisco. Sorenson has consulted with Peninsula cities on parking and development strategies, as well as presenting concepts and ideas to the California Downtown Association in Sacramento. He has worked with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Greenbelt Alliance. From my experience working with Sorensen on community issues and Kiwanis activities, as well as observing him present to Planning Commission while I was a Commissioner, assures me he has the requisite skill sets, the intelligence, and the experience we require in our council members. Sorenson and investors bought the 40 Main Street property only 5 years ago, not 10. The project was submitted to the City of Los Altos in January 2011 and approved unanimously by the 7 Los Altos Planning Commissioners. One can only guess at the real reasons the 4 City Council members ignored the Commission's approval and recommendations. Don't project anger onto a profound disappointment with a process that treated an applicant like an adversary not a businessperson with a development proposal.
Fred October 07, 2012 at 08:45 PM
I plan to vote for Jerry. He's smart, sensible, balanced and fiscally conservative with a deep appreciation of Los Altos' roots. He's not a slick politician or a pie-in-the-sky dreamer or political power broker. He's not part of the political establishment, but he's been involved supporting the community for years in many selfless ways. He will communicate openly with everyone. He will be look out for the schools and make sure the City supports them as much as is appropriate. He will be a friend to Downtown Los Altos because he understands how important its health is to the residents of Los Altos. He will tackle the pension problem and other budget issues that are coming and that some current councilmembers has been slow to tackle. There are other good candidates (hint: their initials start with "J"), but Jerry is the cream of crop. Join me in voting for him.
Val Carpenter October 08, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Jolie, the people I am supporting for Los Altos City Council are not people I socialize with and consider personal friends. Rather, they are colleagues I have worked with professionally for years on behalf of the residents of the City of Los Altos. I have served with Megan Satterlee on the Los Altos City Council since her election 5 years ago. Jon Baer served on the Downtown Development Committee I chaired for 2 years, the work product of which is largely responsible for the current renaissance in downtown development in the north and south triangles, while not destroying the cherished charm of Main Street. There will definitely be a change on the council in any case with David Casas and Ron Packard being termed out. BTW, I list both my first and last names on my posts, what are yours?
Nicole October 21, 2012 at 04:42 AM
It is not against the rules for two “politcos” to post on a site meant for a candidate to articulate why he is running. It’s just rude and contemptible. It reflects the incivility Mr. Packard and Ms. Carpenter have brought to city government. It is not charming. It’s nasty. It’s intimidating. And, in Packard’s case, it’s self-serving in the classic NIMBY fashion – as the owner of a tired, old 3-STORY building, next door to a new development, on a block downzoned by him, to protect his profits and the view he has looking down on everyone else. It’s also political. Mr. Packard and Ms. Carpenter are very aggressively supporting Mr. Baer and Ms. Satterlee by using their offices officially or unofficially to attack Sorensen and others. They seem to be the de facto ”attack” dogs. As public officials, it’s disgraceful. As Rotarians, it’s against the creed and besmirches Rotarians. And, while Mr. Baer and Ms. Satterlee might not be involved, their silence is disconcerting! And, maybe Packard & Carpenter have something to hide? Who knows! For readers who missed it, the Town Crier expressed regret for publishing Packard’s paid hatchet job on Sorensen and concluded Ron Packard “unfairly criticized … and wrongly accused” Sorensen. And, an Oct 17 Daily Post article revealed that Val Carpenter was using her office to attempt to have Bruin and Sorensen signs removed from a merchant’s window by intimidating him. It’s brazen stuff.


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