An open letter to the Los Altos City Council

As regards zoning changes that will affect every Los Altos resident

This is a letter to our City Council on the subject of making critical and impactful changes to our zoning laws which will have considerable permanent, long-term effects on Los Altos. It’s written as an Open Letter because of the importance to every resident in our community and to how much we should all be aware of what these changes will mean for our town. Continue reading “An open letter to the Los Altos City Council”

All the Poop on the Los Altos Sewer Fees Saga, or…

Is Los Altos Flush with Cash or is All the Money Down the Drain?

About a month ago, every property owner in Los Altos received notice of a public hearing on June 13th at City Hall on a proposal to increase sewer rates by approximately 15% per year over the next 5 years. This would mean, for the typical household, an increase from approximately $500-1000 per year currently, to $1000-2000 per year in 2028. This proposed increase is significantly higher than during the past 5 years, when the rates increased by 2-3% each year and even higher than the 2013-2018 time-frame when rates increased 5-7% per year. Which, of course, raises the question as to why sewer rates are increasing so much? Continue reading “All the Poop on the Los Altos Sewer Fees Saga, or…”

Mind Your Manners

Los Altos isn’t Washington DC—and the political norms that now permeate our nation’s capital should not find their way to our small town. But the distortions of the truth, half-truths and misrepresentations that have hijacked our current City Council election would make even the most seasoned politicians shake their heads in disbelief. We never claimed that politics was for the faint of heart. But we also don’t think that local politics should either exhibit or tolerate that kind of behavior by candidates or their supporters. Reducing complex issues to 4-word soundbites does not serve the public well and also does not speak well of those who do so. And what started as misrepresentations and distortions have now reached a crescendo, and from our point a view, a breaking point. It simply has to stop. And voters need to ignore what is being thrown around as “truth”; it ain’t. Continue reading “Mind Your Manners”

Happy Days are Here Again

Why voting for City Council is an easy task this year

Happy days are here again. The origin of this phrase is a 1929 song by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen. The song is a standard that has been interpreted by various artists including Barbara Streisand who recorded it in 1963. It appeared in the 1930 film Chasing Rainbows and was the campaign song for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1932 presidential campaign. People sometimes will say “happy days are here again” when a bad situation has ended and things are getting better again. And for many of us, the autumn of 2022 marks an emergence from the lockdown of the past couple of years and perhaps happier times are indeed here again. It also marks the beginning of election season and the job of choosing among candidates for the Los Altos City Council — the actual topic of this article. Continue reading “Happy Days are Here Again”

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:
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”