It's a given that if you do not like what your local government is proposing, you have the right to attend a public meeting and speak your mind. Los Altos residents, more than most communities, take full advantage of that opportunity.
That said, speaking one's mind with courtesy and respect for others is also appropriate. Unfortunately, that was not the case for a few residents attending a June 18 meeting to discuss Stevens Creek Trail proposals in Los Altos.
By and large, most residents did conduct themselves appropriately. We understood that a majority of the residents in attendance were homeowners who did not want any part of the trail in their Fallen Leaf Lane neighborhood. That message was conveyed loud and clear.
But perhaps tarnishing that message were some out-of-line comments that included clear intimidation of those speaking who were in favor of the trail. When one Fallen Leaf area resident remarked she would enjoy exercising on a trail through her neighborhood, someone snarled, "Get a treadmill!" Others were booed as they tried to speak their opinions. Another yelled out, "How much did they pay you to say that?"
The anger and xenophobia (frequent references to "outsiders") showed by some opposing residents did little to shore up their arguments.
Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins, who sits on the trail committee, was seen as a traitor to south Los Altos, where she lives, and a few opined that she should be recalled. Hyperbole was used liberally, i.e. one comment, “It really frightens me to think we're going to open (the neighborhood) up to the rest of the world." Really?
Folks, and you know who you are: You have the right to tell your city what you think – you don't have the right to be rude to others who differ with you.
The discussion over the trail is far from over. Let's hope all of our residents can conduct themselves appropriately at future meetings on the matter.