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Kniss supports fire district term limits: Town Crier Staff Report

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Oversight of the Los Altos Hills County Fire District should remain with the district board and Santa Clara County, Supervisor Liz Kniss said last week. But Kniss also stated that she would push for term limits.

Addressing letters last month from both Los Altos Hills Mayor Rich Larsen and fire district board member David Bergman, Kniss said, “I have supported term limits for all our other boards and commissions. I believe that term limits can produce fresh perspectives that are helpful to governing boards.”

Kniss, representing Los Altos and Los Altos Hills as District 5 supervisor, said she plans at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting to recommend imposing term limits on the seven-member fire commission.

The supervisor intervened in an ongoing debate over fire district governance. Some members of the Los Altos Hills City Council contend that the fire district requires oversight from the council because it has operated for 70 years with little county direction.

In addition, councilmembers feared the county could tap into the district’s massive $11 million reserve for purposes unrelated to the district.

Kniss, in an April 17 statement, supported retaining the fire district under authority of county supervisors. She said Los Altos Hills’ control of the district would “disenfranchise” unincorporated residents, who also are served by the district. However, she noted that two members of the Los Altos Hills council should serve on the fire district board, an option that has existed but not been taken advantage of for years.

Larsen reacted favorably to Kniss’ response.

“She validated that LAH councilmembers should be members of the fire district and she endorsed term limits, which the LAH council voted to approve in our March council meeting,” he wrote in an email response to the Town Crier. “The renewed council involvement with the district should help the town maintain its state of readiness for future emergencies.”

Los Altos Hills resident Duffy Price, in her eighth year as a fire district commissioner, said term limits are fine with her board.

“As a group, we didn’t have strong feelings about term limits,” she said, noting that some members had been reappointed through the years because there were no alternative candidates.

Price said she approved of Kniss’ statement, especially the supervisor’s emphasis that the district is open to Los Altos Hills’ council involvement.

“We would actively encourage their participation,” Price said.

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