Tue09302014

Recent events leave us all thumbs: Editorial

We’re all thumbs in the wake of Los Altos news events.

Thumbs-up: To the David and Lucile Packard Foundation for putting its money where its philosophy is. A longtime proponent of conservation and sustainability, the foundation spared no expense in building its new Los Altos headquarters at 343 Second St. As celebrated during last week’s open house, the Los Altos site is the largest building in the world to receive Net Zero Energy Building Certification. That means its functions, from solar panels to recycled water, essentially result in zero energy consumption. The building is so efficient that it actually returns unused electricity to the power grid. We appreciate the foundation’s efforts in leading by example.

Thumbs-up: To the Los Altos City Council’s decision to move forward last month with a comprehensive, goal-oriented Climate Action Plan. The plan has a goal of reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Councilwoman Megan Satterlee asked, justifiably, whether the goals were realistic given the city’s staffing shortages, which leave the city behind on numerous projects. However, having a plan with specific goals is better than having no plan at all. So the council made the right (and unanimous) decision to adopt the plan.

Thumbs-down: To recent misfortunes that have left the Los Altos-based Peninsula Symphony broke. An investigation into the nonprofit organization’s missing $500,000 is underway, so we don’t yet know how this came to be. But we do know that one of the key jobs of a board of directors of any organization is to have a firm handle on finances and strong oversight so that no one person, even a trusted executive director, has exclusive knowledge of the accounts. Apparently, the symphony board did not have a strong enough system in place.

Questionable thumbs: To the recently installed art project at the intersection of State and Fourth streets in downtown Los Altos. The project comprises a series of triangles in various colors, spray-painted atop the asphalt and even some of the grass at Community Plaza. The work previews a slew of upcoming “Project Los Altos” events planned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. So what is it? Helipad? Traffic-calming device? Traffic hazard? Art that motorists can add to by riding over it with tire tracks? One thing’s for sure: It has people talking.

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