- Published on Wednesday, 19 September 2012 01:00
- Written by Los Altos Town Crier
Clean sidewalks provide finishing touch
I love Los Altos. My husband and I moved here from Palo Alto 30 years ago and have always enjoyed everything Los Altos has to offer.
I was skeptical about the redo of downtown at first, but the final result is wonderful and very attractive. The potted plants and benches are very welcoming and beautiful.
After having spent so much money on making everything beautiful, why are the sidewalks so filthy dirty? If you take the time to look at the sidewalks, mostly in front of all the restaurants, they are spotted and stained and really disgusting.
Are the merchants responsible for the walkways in front of their stores or is the city?
This may seem petty to some people, but I really want Los Altos to be seen and appreciated in the best light possible. It’s a really charming “village” with a great atmosphere. Clean sidewalks would go a long way toward providing the finishing touch.
Three stories appealing for First & Main site
Throughout the public review process, local residents have shared their visions of what might be seen at the corner of First and Main. Ideas included community meeting spaces with art, bicycle parking, outdoor dining and the importance of creating a comprehensive site plan appropriate as a gateway entry to Main Street.
As the list of requests and requirements has grown, the desire to explore a three-story solution in order to free up more site area for community outdoor spaces has grown as well. The Los Altos City Council should direct the applicant and the Planning Commission to explore a three-story solution for the site. After all, the two previously approved proposals for this site were both three stories tall.
Los Altos Hills
First & Main is our front door – not our side yard
First and Main is the most significant gateway site to be developed in downtown Los Altos. It is the front door to Main Street from Foothill Expressway and our neighbors, Los Altos Hills. Yet the city staff report claims the site to be merely an “edge property,” not the important gateway that it is. Planning staff should re-evaluate this project as a gateway property consistent with recently approved 2009 downtown design guidelines.
Much progress has been made in the design of this project. The project developer, the Jeffrey A. Morris Group, has been responsive to the concerns raised during these early stages of the public review process. However, by most design standards, there is still a lot to be done.
It is time for the current city council to recognize that due to the extensive public review process that still needs to be completed, the next city council needs to make the final decisions on the future of this publicly owned property. It is important to all of us.
We would like to remember the current city council for all the good deeds they have done, not the hasty decisions they made in the closing weeks of their stay.
Kennon and Diane Boyden
Send project back to planning commission
As we have watched the proposed gateway project at First and Main make its way through the public process, we have become increasingly concerned with the apparent rush for approval for such an important project.
From what we have observed, certain city council members have been pressing for approval before they leave office. While on the surface this rush for approval may appear noble, the consequences of this approach are not.
Planning commissioners at their August meeting were in such a hurry to approve the current plans that they themselves publicly acknowledged that they had no idea what the final product would look like. Why would the planning commission approve such a significant project when they have not even seen the final plans yet? That doesn't seem right.
Normally the planning commission would require the applicant to return to the planning commission to make sure the required changes are incorporated into the final approved plans before being forwarded to council. Many of the changes they requested are quite significant and include redesign of the "rear" of the building along Foothill and Main Street to acknowledge its gateway entry status and to provide 3-D computer generated renderings that show the proposed project in context with the surrounding downtown.
Because of these requirements, it is appropriate to send the project back to the planning commission after receiving city council feedback so that the planning commission has the opportunity to review and approve the final design.
Raise the bar, Los Altos
Our hearts go out to the Karen Rudolph family ("Bigotry wounds Los Altos Family," Aug. 8 Town Crier). Thank you for sharing.
As a resident of Los Altos since 1971 and a successful business owner with a second floor view of Main Street, we witness it all. It's not anyone thing, it's an accumulation of stuff in the Village.
I have met with Chief Tuck Younis and a council member and attended the council meetings. We have people running this city who have never been self-employed or run a successful business making decisions for us based on what? We the people are party responsible and should be accountable.
Egos, attitudes and power or the perceived power makes and breaks us all. To quote one of the many business owners of Los Altos, "Stop the Stupid."
If I wanted Los Altos to fail, I wouldn't change a thing. Raise the bar Los Altos, you are shareholders.
Killer rabbits on the loose
A few weeks ago, you published an article dealing with rabbits and the problems they are creating for gardeners. I have about 30 rose bushes in my side yard. The rabbits love them. They have now killed one bush and are slowly but surely going to be the death of another.
I have special flowerbeds with Transvaal daisies and Zinnias and Bachelor's Buttons. They also love Bachelor's Buttons flowers and the petals of the Daisies.
In a community as wealthy as Los Altos, do we really have to tolerate these pests?
La Verne Saxbury
Stop LASD taxation without BCS representation
Like many in our community, I am very concerned about the impact of the Bullis Charter School situation on our local students. However, I want to raise an issue that I have not seen discussed in this newspaper and think our free press needs to examine: governance and accountability to the taxpayer for the spending of our school taxes.
I am concerned that we are living with “taxation without representation.” While the taxpayers’ money goes to fund Bullis Charter School, we taxpayers have no representative governing the spending of our tax money nor a voice in how it is spent.
Los Altos public schools are administered by the Los Altos School District and overseen by the district’s board of trustees. The taxes paid by all of us living in the Los Altos School District tax district go to fund the schools.
The taxes paid by those living in the Los Altos School District tax district also go to fund Bullis Charter School. The charter school is overseen by a board of directors and chartered by the Santa Clara County Office of Education. While the County Office of Education is elected by us taxpayers and voted to grant the charter, it has no governance nor oversight role in running the school.
The Los Altos School District Board of Trustees is elected by those of us living in the school district’s tax district. Those Bullis Charter School families who reside within the school district similarly get to vote on members of the school district board of trustees. If we taxpayers are upset with the board of trustees and how they’re spending our tax money, we have the option to vote the trustees out of office, or even organize a recall seeking to remove them from office before their term has ended. Any Los Altos School District taxpayer may vote on members of the board of trustees, whether they have a child in school or not, including those charter school parents who reside within the district.
The Bullis Charter School Board of Directors is appointed by the members of the board of directors. Those of us within the Los Altos School District tax district do not get to vote on their board membership. We do not have a voice on the board representing the taxpayers at large. No Los Altos School District taxpayer has a vote on the members of the Bullis Charter School board – not even Bullis Charter School families.
As a Los Altos School District taxpayer, I am concerned. My taxes fund Bullis Charter School, but I do not elect a representative to oversee the spending of those taxes on the charter school. Where is the accountability for the spending of our tax money? How am I assured that the Bullis Charter School Board of Directors has appropriate controls and governance procedures in place when they have no accountability to the taxpayers in the Los Altos School District?
I am especially concerned after reading in the recent court filings that the Bullis Charter School Board of Directors made a personal loan of $250,000 to the school principal with no explanation of the loan purpose in the school’s financial statements. Where is the governance and fiduciary responsibility?
I urge Bullis Charter School to immediately take steps to institute an election process for its board of directors. I urge the Santa Clara County Office of Education to require the charter school board to add an independent member to represent the Los Altos School District taxpayers.
And in the great American tradition of the free press, I urge our newspapers to do some investigative reporting and bring back the facts to the readers, Los Altos School District taxpayers and Bullis Charter School parents – both those who are Los Altos School District taxpayers and those who are not.
Remember the subjects of the conflict
The situation with Bullis Charter School has morphed into Los Altos’ soap opera. Shouldn’t we all be on one team? In no way are these ludicrous debates and failed negotiations helping any children receive an education.
As a small town, it is unfair to pit neighbor against neighbor. After reading the Town Crier’s Timeline, which spans more than a decade, isn’t it time to end this fight?
While it may seem that expanding the charter facilities or salvaging the location of one of the old elementary schools is important, shouldn’t we put more thought toward stability?
While many of the young children may be ignorant of the situation, this town drama is in no way useful to improving their learning. We need to finally reach a conclusion for the sake of those whom both sides have forgotten they are fighting for – the children.