Los Altos resident swerves onto sidewalk, hits stop sign during school let out Friday

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Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Crossing guard Steve Alpine directs traffic Tuesday afternoon so students traveling home from Blach Intermediate and Bullis Charter schools can pass through the Covington Road-Miramonte Avenue intersection. The Covington Road stop sign that a driver recently struck is visible behind Alpine.

No injuries were reported after a Los Altos resident “inadvertently accelerated” near the intersection of Covington Road and Miramonte Avenue Friday afternoon (Oct. 18) and hit a stop sign, according to Los Altos Police Sergeant Brian Jeffrey. 

Los Altos facilities test low in chemical levels, high in mold materials

While none of the chemical levels tested in either the Los Altos City Hall council chambers or the Los Altos Youth Center were “of any concern,” according to the company contracted to test the air quality testing in both facilities, it did advise city staff in a 98-page report to improve screening for airborne mold.

Santa Clara environmental consulting firm HazMat Doc – hired upon the filing of multiple Americans with Disabilities Act accommodation requests from the Los Altos City Council – conducted 4-Phenylcyclohexene, Aldehyde Profile and Volatile Organics scans on Aug. 23, Aug. 27 and Sept. 5. The Town Crier received the company’s report through a public records act request.

HazMat Doc had four recommendations for the council chambers and one recommendation for the youth center to reduce the circulation of mold matter into and around the facilities. The recommendations primarily involved maintaining the systems that filtrate the air.  

For the chambers, the HVAC should be on and the air circulation should be increased while the room is occupied; the HVAC system should be examined during regular maintenance to make sure the filters are “keeping up with the demands” of the public’s regular use, which results showed may not currently be the case; the HVAC filters should be replaced regularly, even in an “accelerated” fashion and the HVAC system’s duct systems should be vacuumed and cleaned out entirely to rid the system of mold spores.

The youth center has no HVAC system, so HazMat Doc advised the city to install air purifiers or air filtration units that could run when the building is closed. Although the particulate matter levels will fluctuate when the center is being used and the windows are open, these units would be a way to try to keep the levels down, environmental consultants said.

The levels recorded should be used as guidance, not as a key factor, in analyzing the results, HazMat Doc technical manager Murali Putty wrote in the report submitted to the city upon finalization of the testing.

Sample results

The baseline samples proved that four significant mold genera, or mold that are historically known to cause acute allergies or infections to human beings, are present in the inside of either the chambers or the youth center.

Although the name of the person or people who filed the ADA accommodation requests is confidential, some community members have speculated that councilwoman Jeannie Bruins did so due to her asthma. Bruins has not publicly confirmed the accusation but did call into or remove herself temporarily from council meetings within the last year.

Despite another newspaper’s claim that air quality results submitted to the city indicate “nothing was wrong with the air,” one specific type of mold identified in the interior air sample in the council chambers – the Alternaria species – can be directly linked to Type I allergies such as asthma.

Five significant mold genera were identified on the outside of the buildings; they were either reduced in potency or nonexistent on the inside of the buildings. Six non-significant mold genera, or mold that does not have a historic link to human allergies or infections but still have “some level” of allergenicity, were elevated in potency inside the building in comparison to the outside or just were just as potent as they were outside.

Next steps

Putty informed staff in the HazMat doc results report that once the city answers the call to action and reacts with the HVAC and air purifier fixes, staff should leave some time for the air to return to “normal” conditions. Upon completion of the step, the city can have HazMat Doc employees return for a mold-screening retest to “verify the efficacy of the actions.”

During an interview with the Town Crier earlier this month, city manager Chris Jordan said the council would not move out of the youth center – where it moved when minor chamber renovations were made and remained after the first ADA accommodation request was filed in June – until ADA consultant Rachel Shaw and her team met with all of the affected council members and each one felt that her needs were addressed. At this time, the report on the air quality testing was still being assembled.

When contacted for comment on what will happen next, Jordan could not be reached prior to the publication’s deadline.

Simply groundbreaking: Ceremony marks the next phase of the journey to new digs

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Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council gets into the celebratory spirit of the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Los Altos Community Center Oct. 8.

The Los Altos City Council, city staff and local residents involved in the planning of the new Los Altos Community Center gathered Tuesday (Oct. 8) to celebrate the groundbreaking of the $38 million project. 

Los Altos Planning Commission recommends rezoning of parks and open-space lands

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Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Grant Park, popular with kids and dogs alike, is one of seven parcels the city could redesignate from Single Family Residential to Public Community Facilities if the Los Altos City Council takes the recommendation of the Planning Commission.

Los Altos Planning Commission members voted unanimously Oct. 3 to recommend a rezoning of seven city-owned properties from residential to parks and open space.

Pending city council approval, the long-anticipated decision changes the official designations in the Los Altos General Plan from R1-10 (Single-Family Residential) to PCF (Public Community Facilities). The decision impacts Grant and Shoup parks, Redwood Grove and parcels along Fallen Leaf Lane, Springer Road and Paco Drive.

As Los Altos prepared to break ground at Hillview, MV-LA SWAT team used facility for training

Since the city of Los Altos Recreation Department and various program volunteers were booted out of Hillview Community Center Aug. 26 in advance of the facility’s overhaul, the building and its surrounding grounds have been quiet. Crews have erected fences and blocked off parking areas as they prepare to bring in the tools and trucks necessary for the impending demolition.

Wireless antenna debate continues in Los Altos Hills

Gardner Bullis School” width=
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Children walk to Gardner Bullis School last week. Some Los Altos Hills residents are protesting an AT&T proposal to erect antennas for 4G and 5G capabilities upon nearby utility poles. They worry about the perceived negative health effects of such technology.

Stay tuned until Nov. 7 for word on suggested amendments to Los Altos Hills’ wireless communications policy. Following vehement protests from residents, Planning Commissioners Thursday directed staff to retool a draft they will review again at their next regularly scheduled meeting before, as Chairman Jitze Couperus put it, “all the agony” of the ensuing debate is repeated at the city council level.

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