General fund should pay for stormwater work
The Los Altos City Council will be asking residents to approve a special fee to fund maintenance of the stormwater system. Certainly we need to maintain our stormwater systems – no one would dispute that. However, I’m puzzled by the funding discussion.
Most cities fund maintenance projects out of general fund dollars. Our city staff indicates that Los Altos “lack(s) allocated funding for maintaining storm drain infrastructure.” I find that puzzling.
Over the past several years, the council has debated spending tens of millions from the city’s general fund for a new city hall and Hillview Community Center improvements. It occurs to me that the problem isn’t “lack of allocated funding” for stormwater, but rather a failure to use funds correctly.
Maintenance activities should come from the general fund. Large capital projects are normally paid for via publicly issued bonds.
The city council has failed to pitch a vision for Hillview that is compelling to the community, so they’ve looked to the general fund to finance that venture – and in the process, siphon money away from the normal day-to-day projects that a general fund normally covers.
It would seem that we already have the money for the stormwater system maintenance – but that the city council would prefer to spend it on projects the voters haven’t approved.
Good governance would dictate spending the general fund dollars on the maintenance projects they are intended to serve, and asking the voters to approve a bond for a Hillview vision they will actually support.
Storm drainage tax is unnecessary
Los Altos wants the voter to approve a $1.1 million annual storm drainage tax.
Storm drainage historically has been funded from the general fund. In the Ballot Information Guide, the city claims: “This funding is subject to fluctuations resulting from economic cycles and cannot keep pace with the increasing storm drainage infrastructure needs without sacrificing other critical City services such as public safety, parks or roads.”
According to the city’s annual financial reports, the end-of-year cash in the general fund has increased almost $3 million per year over the last five years from $30 million in 2014 to $44 million in 2018.
Los Altos already has the general-fund taxes to fund storm drainage.
Use AI to reduce idling at intersections
It is always good to see someone accomplish a real and measurable improvement in our environment, as the Los Altos High Green Team and GreenTown Los Altos have done with vehicle idling, according to Robert Tran (“LAHS Green Team, GreenTown join forces to curb idling,” May 8).
One of these days I hope someone can help us reduce vehicle idling at stoplights at roadway intersections. How often we allwait for the intersection lights to go through their programed sequence when logic says someone could safely move on.
We could use some artificial intelligence at intersections.
Of course, changing all of the hardware and software at every intersection is a huge and expensive process, but look at how much fuel we could save and how much pollution we could eliminate.
Let’s try doing it at one intersection to demonstrate it can be done one step at a time. Who will step up to try?
Hughes column rubs reader wrong way
As a former massage therapist and acupressurist, I found Frank Hughes’ recent columns on message therapy offensive and severely out of step with current reality (“The Villaj Idiut,” April 10 and May 8).
A massage therapist is trained in a state-approved school, must pass the state certification test, be licensed by the city and work in a massage studio, office, salon or spa.
Granted, it can be embarrassing for one new to bodywork to get the ground rules established, but hopefully the practitioner will instruct you when leaving you in the room to disrobe, as well as letting you know face up or face down.
It is always the client’s responsibility to ask the therapist to adjust their pressure, either lighter or deeper. Tips are optional, usually by percentage of the charge, and left in the room.
Hitting a therapist or any person, unless an attacker, is unacceptable, as is calling any woman a “chick.”
Thanks to LASD, BCS for 2-year accord
I want to take this opportunity to recognize the hard work and leadership of the members of the Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School boards, and their respective superintendents.
Congratulations, and thank you for approving the two-year facilities agreement. We know that you will spend the next several months engaging with each other, school families and the broader community to finalize a long-term solution that is in the best interest of all students within the district boundaries. It is not an easy endeavor, and there are no easy solutions.
Based on what I have observed at the board meetings and my conversations with board members, I am confident we can get there because you have already demonstrated your commitment to a solution that benefits the entire community.
U-turns illegal in business district
Placing a 4-inch-high barrier – like the one at the Los Altos main library – down the centerline of Main Street between intersections, while not eliminating U-turns, would certainly discourage them.
By the way, U-turns over a double line are legal with exceptions (California Vehicle Code 22105). U-turns over a double line in a business district are illegal, except at an intersection (CVC22101).
Los Altos Hills