LAH council, residents reach cost-sharing internet agreement

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Deputy John Prado met members of the Los Altos Hills City Council last week. Prado, a motorcycle officer, is assigned to traffic enforcement in town.

Julietta Lane’s getting the hook-up, parts of Mora Drive are entering the fold and the town’s welcoming a new traffic patrol officer.

Thursday’s Los Altos Hills City Council meeting wrapped up a few loose ends town officials have grappled with for months, though the substandard lot debate will continue at a future meeting – likely in September – allowing time for affected residents to receive proper notice.

High-speed hook-up

Julietta Lane residents cheered upon hearing a unanimous council vote approving a cost-sharing policy with residents living on streets sans cable internet service. Under the agreement, the town will match $1 (25 percent) for every $3 (75 percent) contributed by residents toward the cost of Comcast cable infrastructure construction.

“I’m in support of moving ahead and at least fixing Julietta,” said Councilwoman Courtenay C. Corrigan before the vote. “I know they’ve worked very hard on this. We’ve got a solution in hand, checks ready to go, neighbors who have worked together in a cohesive way and solved their own problem. I’m ready to help them.”

Under a 2004 franchise agreement, Comcast is obligated to provide cable internet service to all areas of town meeting minimum density requirements. Most Los Altos Hills residents have high-speed internet, but those living on the seven or eight streets that don’t meet density requirements do not – and alternatives are limited.

The council in June authorized a $100,000 placeholder to help pay for installation, and Julietta Lane residents responded with a request for matching funds from the town. Collectively, neighbors gathered $30,000.

“We’re ready with our money, to turn it over to Comcast immediately, and are excited for the future,” said Lynn Miller, a Julietta Lane resident who spearheaded the effort.

Through the cost-sharing policy, the town’s $100,000 should sufficiently support installation for the remaining underserved streets, but it’s unclear how many neighborhoods will follow Julietta Lane’s lead. Deer Springs Way resident Colin Knight stands by his assertion that the city should cover the entire cost of installation; he claims that city officials failed to include the streets in the original 2004 franchise agreement.

Welcome to Los Altos Hills

Whether residents like it or not, six local homes have officially left unincorporated Santa Clara County and are now part of Los Altos Hills. The council voted 4-1, with Councilman Roger Spreen dissenting, to annex five parcels located on Mora Drive and one on Mora Glen Drive.

Carolyn Bostick and Stephen Burch, the Mora Glen Drive residents, initiated the annexation to connect to the town sewer system; their home’s septic system is failing. Because annexation must be contiguous, however, the five homes between their home and the Los Altos Hills border must also be annexed.

Mora Drive residents fought the annexation to prevent further division of their neighborhood into different jurisdictions with different regulations and services. They requested a delay until the remaining sections of Mora Drive in unincorporated Santa Clara County can be annexed together.

“I feel like my neighborhood is being torn apart,” said Mora Drive resident Karen Jost, a former city clerk.

Affected residents were permitted to protest the annexation, but only three of the nine submitted protests were valid; six of the protests were written by residents who previously signed a waiver of protest.

City Manager Carl Cahill said the town is presently unable to annex additional sections of Mora Drive due to “geotechnical issues” on adjacent Eastbrook Avenue.

Ticket to ride

Better be cognizant of those speedometers and stop signs. There’s a new traffic officer in town, and he has a license to ticket any and all violations.

Councilmembers Thursday met and welcomed Deputy John Prado, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office motorcycle officer newly assigned the Los Altos Hills beat to address residents’ concerns about speeding, traffic congestion and stop-sign violators. Prado is also expected to increase law enforcement visibility and thus deter crime.

Prado’s supervisor, Capt. Rich Urena, introduced him and explained the role he has been tasked to fill. Prado is the first motorcycle officer assigned to Los Altos Hills.

“Because we didn’t have a traffic officer assigned to Los Altos Hills, we couldn’t concentrate our efforts as much as we’d like to on some traffic issues that have come up,” Urena said.

Through a town satisfaction survey conducted in January and February, residents ranked 17 major concerns, placing traffic congestion third and crime seventh. They also ranked traffic enforcement as second-to-last among 14 listed town services.

Aggressively ticketing bicyclists who don’t fully stop at stop signs seems to rank high on some councilmembers’ lists of priorities for Prado.

“We have way too many weekend riding teams going through these hills, and I think until we just ticket a group of them for running a stop sign, we’re going to still see that behavior,” said Councilman John Radford. “I would relish the fact of some bicycle team complaining to me they were all ticketed at a stop sign. I’d find that very entertaining.”

“I would echo that,” said Councilman Gary Waldeck.

A special Los Altos Hills City Council meeting is scheduled 6 p.m. Thursday at town hall, 26379 W. Fremont Road. The agenda includes a hearing related to developer Forrest Linebarger’s controversial plans for two substandard Mora Drive properties.

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