Letters to the Editor: permit fees, city council

Permit fees hinder downtown businesses

We are always listening to or reading about how to improve downtown vibrancy. There is much talk about parking or lack thereof, how to attract shoppers and diners, but there is one thing the discussions lack – how to keep businesses here.

Downtown small business owners face challenges such as rising rents, competing with online sales, declining foot traffic and lack of staff.

I found out recently that business owners have to pay a fee to put a sign outside their doors, and they are getting warnings because of sidewalk merchandise displays. Despite going through the proper channels to obtain a permit, which one business was told to do, they are now limited to 10 days a year to put tables outside for merchandising.

Who came up with 10 days a year? There are 12 months and First Fridays in the year, 52 weekends for shops to attract passersby, not to mention all the other activities and strolls in the downtown area designed to lure us to explore, shop and dine locally. The owners of Cooks Junction told me that their business is much brisker when they have display tables outside.

So, my question is, does the city of Los Altos want the tax revenue or charge for signs and permits? I would imagine that the tax revenue is a better deal for everyone involved since it keeps businesses in downtown Los Altos instead of moving to Mountain View or Sunnyvale or other surrounding areas.

We finally have more choices for where to dine with more eateries as of late, but has anyone at city hall or in Code Enforcement thought about what will happen if small retailers go elsewhere?

Maybe Code Enforcement should spend their time warning and fining gardeners or residents who employ gardeners using gasoline-powered equipment and help preserve our environment instead of hindering local businesses.

I shop downtown and I want downtown to be healthy and vibrant, so please support our business owners by joining me in supporting our local retailers.

Bettina Epp

Los Altos

Los Altos City Council supports citizens

Congratulations to the city council and the city of Los Altos for doing the inconvenient, expensive and thereby difficult job of supporting its citizens and employees.

For this action, in other channels, they will be criticized and condemned. Every one of us, as a citizen or employee, expects a healthy, safe work environment. California law guides employers (and cities) to provide reasonable accommodation and a path to that safe place when they become aware of an unhealthy situation.

When the city of Los Altos became aware of a health concern, they made the decision to move council meetings to the Los Altos Youth Center and investigate the situation. This is inconvenient and expensive. Furthermore, details about the individual(s) and their health condition are held private by the city, as is the law. I am glad it is private. Who would choose to work for an employer who publishes their health information, or blames them for an expensive accommodation? My taxpayer rights do not override personal privacy rights.

Doing the right thing and respecting privacy is a lonely act by the city – officials can’t share their reasons and others fill the void. Citizens seeking the truth must be patient and learn the facts at the end. Others will publish paranoid accusations of conspiracies. That nonsense is easy to recognize, though it’s disappointing to see it published in an otherwise respectable media.

I am proud that the city of Los Altos is respecting its employees’ and citizens’ health concerns appropriately.

Former Los Altos mayors Curtis Cole, Marge Bruno, Jane Reed, Roy Lave, Mary Prochnow, Frank Verlot and Art Carmichael

Systemic change needed after wildfires

Re the Town Crier article “Local agencies assist in fight against Kincade Fire” (Nov. 6): I’m heartened to see our local emergency workers jump in to assist in fighting disasters like the recurring wildfires that are becoming pervasive and catastrophic. These yeoman responses are seen throughout our national communities, whether it’s wildfires, spring flooding or hurricanes.

The heroism, sense of community and resourcefulness of our emergency responders is tremendous, but I worry that we are getting used to this as a new normal in the face of our changing climate. American communities are great at responding to calls for disaster response, but we have a harder time tackling the preventive measures that are urgently needed.

We need more systemic change, like H.R. 763, a carbon dividend plan now before Congress that will motivate industry and individuals alike to transition to non-carbon-based options.

If each of us lets our congressional members know that we care deeply about climate solutions and support new legislation, these small individual actions can have large impacts. And emergency workers will confront fewer disasters in the future.

Julie Steury

Volunteer Citizen’s Climate Lobby

Mountain View

Thanks to fire fighters, law enforcement

I would like to thank the local fire department for responding so quickly to a broken tree limb that fell on a power line a couple of weeks ago and caused some smoke.

Also, thank you to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office for helping a man who was lost and came to our door Nov. 10.

Thank you for all your hard work and the great job you do.

Adela DiCanio and family

Los Altos Hills

Submit a Letter to the Editor

The Town Crier welcomes letters to the editor on current events pertinent to Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Write to us at 138 Main St., Los Altos 94022, Attn: Editor, or email editor Bruce Barton at bruceb@latc.com. Because editorial space is limited, please confine letters to no more than 200 words. Include a phone number for verification purposes. Anonymous letters will not be printed.

You can also have your say right here at losaltosonline.com – scroll to the bottom of any story to add a comment. 

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