Plain Talk…….

City Council and what they actually do and why you should care who gets elected

Many of us in the Los Altos community who have been involved in City government through service on committees, commissions or even as an elected Council member have knowledge and experience about the inner workings of City government. But the vast majority of long time Los Altos residents have little interaction with the City government, and many residents really don’t know what the City Council actually does. Many residents are new to the City given the change in our demographics over the past few years who may be in the same situation. This article is for you. For everyone who already knows what the City Council does, please just forward this article along to others in the community. Continue reading “Plain Talk…….”

Can You Hear Me Now?

“Can you hear me now?” A familiar question that was often asked by people trying to make a cell phone call back in the days when cell reception was universally terrible. It was made famous by Verizon, which advertised their wide coverage and ability for cell phone users to actually make phone calls and hear the person at the other end of the call. That was a decade ago. Today getting good cellular coverage has become a necessity for both phone calls and for internet connectivity and is a service we take for granted. We depend upon it, for both our personal lives and for work. And while it has gotten better overall, it often isn’t very good in Los Altos. So, most people, ourselves included, want to make sure the City Council actually helps us get better service. But here is the reality; getting better cellular service in your house is an issue that you as a resident need to fix, either by contacting your cellular provider or by using your home internet for telephone calls. The City does not control what upgrades the cellular carriers make to their systems and what the quality of service is for customers. And yes, we will discuss 5G a bit later in this article.

But here is where politics and passion mix. Ask some residents about cell service in Los Altos and they immediately blame the City Council (or a subset thereof) for bad service and the holdup in the deployment of the newer 5G technology which they believe will solve all of their connectivity issues. Most of that turns out to be not true. But first let’s talk about the issues currently before the City Council. Continue reading “Can You Hear Me Now?”

R.I.P. Downtown Los Altos…

Or the bigger question:
W
hy doesn’t the City Council care what residents want?

Okay, let’s begin with the bottom line: you need to write City Council or attend the Council meeting on March 22. Seriously. The very soul of our town is at stake. The residents need to tell the City Council very clearly that on Agenda item 5, we want to preserve parking along El Camino, even at the expense of not having dedicated bike lanes. On Agenda item 6 tell Council that we do not want ALL the parking plazas turned into housing, and for the ones that are allowed to do so, we want a plan as to how the lost parking gets fully replaced, and to figure out and designate who pays for it. Additionally, tell the Council that placing high density housing along the east side of San Antonio Road from Civic Center to the Foothill Expressway on the narrow commercial lots along that strip should not be allowed without providing adequate setbacks as that would have a dramatic negative impact on the residents whose side and back yards are immediately adjacent. And finally tell Council that as elected representatives, they need to be more proactive about getting input from the residents, not getting it primarily from individuals and groups representing special interests in town. Now that you know the bottom line, please read the rest of the article so you can understand why we are recommending those actions. Continue reading “R.I.P. Downtown Los Altos…”

A Rare Display of Non-Partisanship

Yes, you read that right, non-partisanship. But before we explain the word, lets discuss one you are likely more familiar with — bipartisanship. Anyone who follows politics in Washington DC (how could you not over the events of the past few years?) knows that bipartisanship is a word rarely uttered. We liken it to old English words which few if any still use, such as zwodder, woofits, grufeling and perhaps our favorite quomodocunquize. For those who don’t know the last is a verb that means to make money in any way that you can. Somehow both the sound and the meaning of that word belongs in the heart of Silicon Valley. But we digress.

So why are we talking about bi-partisanship and non-partisanship, you may ask? Continue reading “A Rare Display of Non-Partisanship”

We Don’t Need the Grand Canyon in Los Altos!

One of the most spectacular parts of the United States is Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. The Grand Canyon formed over many millennia by the Colorado River. The canyon is a natural formation distinguished by layered bands of red rock, revealing millions of years of geological history in cross-section. Vast in scale, the canyon averages 10 miles across and over a mile deep along its 277-mile length. Much of the area is a national park, with Colorado River white-water rapids and sweeping vistas.

On a more local scale, we are concerned that the developments along First Street are creating our very own grand canyon, and there are two projects coming up for review – 95 First Street will be reviewed by the Planning Commission on February 3rd and 355 First Street will be at the City Council for final approval on February 8th that may mimic the real Grand Canyon in looks if they’re actually built. If after reaching the balance of this article you are concerned, please write those entities and/or speak during public comment when they come up for discussion. Contact info is included at the end of this article. Continue reading “We Don’t Need the Grand Canyon in Los Altos!”

The Three Musketeers — Los Altos Edition

Many of you will remember the story of the Three Musketeers, a novel by Alexandre Dumas. According to our friends at Wikipedia, The Three Musketeers is set in 17th century France and tells the story of heroic, chivalrous, inseparable swordmen who fight for justice. The musketeers were inseparable as they traveled the French countryside, arm in arm. They are joined by a young man named d’Artagnan and they become involved in affairs of state and at the French court, triumphing over the forces of evil. A noble undertaking to say the least. Dumas frequently portrays various injustices, abuses and political absurdities of the existing regime in France, giving the novel an additional political significance at the time of its publication in 1844. The relevance of The Three Musketeers to this article will have to wait a bit. So please be patient and read on. Continue reading “The Three Musketeers — Los Altos Edition”

Help Wanted

Who would be crazy enough to take the position as a CEO of a 65-year-old organization that was losing money, had significant challenges with staff morale and recruitment, and had a politically divided Board of Directors who at times provided inconsistent and diverging direction? And where the predecessor CEO in the position created what some would characterize as a hostile environment among customers, employees, and the Board. Furthermore, the individual who previously held the job was terminated by the Board, in part for not taking direction from the Board nor listening to the organization’s customers. And if someone were crazy enough to take the job, would that person even be any good, or would the job only attract someone who really wasn’t capable of undertaking the very challenging job of getting the organization back on track? Continue reading “Help Wanted”

Who Gets the Short Straw?

Remember the game that we all played in our youth? A group of straws were put out, with only one end showing. Everyone got to pick one, and the person who got the short straw lost. While not entirely fair, at the age of 8 or 10 (or 12) when we played the game, it seemed to be the best way to pick the winner–though most often the short straw was the loser. Of course, in our heightened awareness of environmental impacts, the dearth of disposable plastic straws likely makes that another relic of a bygone era, much akin to dial telephones and portable radios. But we date ourselves.
Continue reading “Who Gets the Short Straw?”