Mon09012014

Letters to the Editor

Councilwoman refutes characterization

During a Los Altos City Council special meeting Jan. 7, I expressed concern that the city staff had approved a two-story project on city property without the public or council having any prior knowledge or input.

I did so to ensure that such a mistake won’t happen again. Your subsequent editorial regarding that discussion troubled me, since neither your publisher nor your editor-in-chief was present and, as you mentioned, the meeting was not recorded (“Histrionics undermine valid points,” Jan. 15).

I want to assure the people of Los Altos that I will continue to raise important issues on their behalf with the professional courtesy and respect that has characterized my eight years of service on the Los Altos City Council.

Val Carpenter

Los Altos City Councilwoman

Homeowners thank local firefighters

As we dig out from our Nov. 25 house fire, we wish to thank Capt. Shanna Kuempel, Kendall Pearson, Battalion 14C, all the firefighters and emergency workers from the El Monte Fire Station and others who worked tirelessly and with care to preserve our house and its contents.

We empathize with and lament such losses when we learn of other tragedies like this – but it is different when it happens to you. These men and women were phenomenal. The morning after the fire, Capt. Kuempel and another firefighter came by to sweep out the considerable debris. Afterward, a group of firefighters visited every few days to see how we were doing.

Since then, our nearby firefighters might appreciate our new mantra: “Let your sirens blare, we’re so glad you’re there!”

We offer special thanks to Town Crier reporter Diego Abeloos, who, responding to a call from worried friends of ours in Massachusetts, came to check that we were OK. This is what small-town living is all about.

Barbara and Marv Emerling

Los Altos

Resident supports Styrofoam ban

I’m happy that the city of Los Altos has joined many cities and countries, including Taiwan, to ban polystyrene (Styrofoam) beginning July 4 (“Los Altos OKs Styrofoam ban,” Jan 22). It’s too bad it will not start on April 22, as proposed by members of the community, to include the farmers’ market and raise awareness on Earth Day.

Chronic exposure to styrene, the building block of polystyrene, affects the central nervous system, leading to depression, headache, fatigue and weakness. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified styrene as a possible human carcinogen. In 1986, the EPA reported polystyrene manufacturing as the fifth-largest creator of hazardous waste, with 57 chemical by-products released. Toxic chemicals leach out of these products into the food they contain, especially when heated in a microwave.

Polystyrene recycling is limited and shrinking and is not a closed-loop system.

Because biodegradable polymers are available as substitutes, even though they are not as insulating, post-consumer recycled paper, bamboo and corn are renewable resources.

Dane Wharton, age 13

Los Altos

Native plants boost conservation efforts

Thank you for your timely and informative article on water conservation (“Making every drop count: Water agencies emphasize conservation,” Jan. 15).

I would like to emphasize that the economic vitality of our community depends on wiser use of this life-sustaining and limited resource. As our population grows, we each need to use water more efficiently.

Watering lawns is the single biggest waste of residential water. Turf grasses are really unsuitable for our climate. Deep-rooted native grasses such as bent grass or red fescue provide the same usability of lawns. Compared with turf grass, these native species require substantially less water and no chemical fertilizers.

Add color, texture and structure to your landscape with beautiful California native plants. The native birds and butterflies will thank you.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District will thank you with a check for up to $2,000 from its landscape rebate program. And your neighbors will thank you.

Kit Gordon

GreenTown Los Altos,

Los Altos Hills Water Conservation Committee

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