Lydia Kou is ready to take her anti-YIMBY stance all the way to the state legislature.

Palo Alto mayor running for California state assembly, San Francisco Chronicle ReportHer campaign has centered on an anti-housing movement, vehemently opposing state laws that mandate more construction, sometimes over the wishes of local municipalities.

“What it does is take away the ability of local governments to make local planning decisions about the built environment,” Cole said in a State of the Cities speech in March, endorsing state laws that would force cities to build housing. “It goes against the whole point of democracy.”

Kou compared the “in my backyard” crowd policy to the Soviet Union. She has said the state is “robbing local democracy by making developers responsible for land use and suppressing local communities.” She has also said the building mandate is helping increase affordability in her city.

As a residential real estate agent, Kou approached her campaign from an interesting angle. Before entering politics, Kou supported a referendum against a 60-unit premium affordable housing project, which was voted down.

Of course, her community has not been immune to the controversial state housing mandate. Palo Alto needs a plan to build nearly 6,100 homes by 2031. Its housing elements have yet to receive state approval, allowing “builder remedies” projects to come in and bypass the city; two such projects have already been submitted.

In March, Peninsula Land & Capital filed a builder’s remedy application in Palo Alto for a 119,000-square-foot building with 45 apartment units, nine of which are designated as affordable housing. The project needs to pass city reviews and comply with state environmental laws, but Palo Alto cannot reject “certain qualified housing projects” until its housing elements have been approved.

Cole was one of several local officials who couldn’t hide her frustration as the city finalized its housing elements before submitting them to the state. She claims the state’s method of determining housing assignments is flawed.

It will be an uphill battle for Cole to upend the incumbent; Mark Berman won 73 percent of the vote in the last election.

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