Fri12192014

Back to school, back to thumbs: Editorial

The kids are back in class at our local schools and a new political campaign season is underway, so we have our thumbs out and ready to go.

Thumbs-up: To last week’s community workshop for rebuilding the Los Altos Community Center. The Aug. 19 event drew a sizable crowd of residents who shared their ideas on what should be built not only at the community center, but also on the entire 18-acre civic center site. It was a nice effort by the city in bringing the community together.

Thumbs-down: However, what happened last week was also happening in 2008. We’re repeating ourselves by continuing to solicit community input on the civic center. In addition to years of polling and a recent phone survey, the city already has a strong idea of what residents want for the site. The bigger question involves how we pay for it. A bond measure by itself would carry a hefty price tag. The better path is one that was explored several years back and never followed up: selling one of the parking plazas or even a portion of the civic center land itself, then using that revenue to rebuild. If planned right, the city might eke even more open space out of less land by building up instead of out and constructing underground parking. Revenue from land sales (or leases) would go a long way toward offsetting civic-center rebuild costs for taxpayers. There’s no shortage of input or ideas – but where do we go from here?

Thumbs-down: To the over-the-top questionnaire sent to local candidates by the newly formed Friends of Los Altos. The political action group, run in large part by ex-councilmen, asks candidates to fill out a form that includes some good questions but also requests information on whether they have ever declared bankruptcy, undergone foreclosure, had criminal charges filed against them or had a “damaging or embarrassing issue that could be utilized by the opposition.” FOLA has vowed to keep such information confidential, but there’s nothing confidential about releasing personal information to people you likely don’t know in a grassroots organization with no track record. Signing an ethics pledge is appropriate, but disclosing bankruptcy or foreclosure information is not. We encourage candidates not to take FOLA’s questionnaire seriously.

Thumbs-up: To a new Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School year with no litigation in the air. How refreshing is that?

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