Let’s move toward electric appliances
In her April 22 Town Crier column (“Earth gets a breather”), Los Altos Mayor Jan Pepper calls on us to protect our planet by addressing climate change with the same commitment and cooperation we have all been demonstrating in protecting ourselves and our community from COVID-19.
We now have an opportunity to do just that. By moving toward electric appliances in new construction (versus gas), we’ll reduce fossil fuel emissions exacerbating climate change.
The Los Altos City Council is considering adoption of building codes that would do this for all new construction. As a pediatrician concerned about leaving our children a healthy environment, I applaud such legislation.
Using gas in our living spaces is unhealthy. It produces not only nitrous dioxide (increasing risk of asthma), but also carbon monoxide, fine particulate matter and volatile organic compounds. Children are especially susceptible. However, even healthy adults and seniors should take care. Vents should always be used when cooking with gas, but they generally capture only 40% of emissions.
Let’s support Los Altos council members in moving away from natural gas for new construction. Your lungs and your planet will thank you!
Donna M. Staton, M.D., MPH
Los Altos Hills
Reach codes eliminate freedom of choice
A group of people want to control your choices by outlawing natural gas in your home.
The new reach codes would eliminate natural gas in new homes. Why penalize people with new homes?
I’m a general contractor who builds new homes in town. Ninety-nine percent of the homes I work on want gas cooktops. Gas gives customers what they want. Yes, customers want solar power and car chargers, and we give them that.
You already took away their fireplaces and replaced them with gas appliances. And now you would eliminate those also.
We need to balance what environmentalists claim needs to be done with allowing individuals to make their own choices.
City reach codes help environment
Being an eighth-grader who lives and goes to school in Los Altos, the issue of reach codes is close to my heart. As an avid climate activist who has been to climate events such as COP25, I know that implementing building reach codes, which will require new construction to use clean electric energy, is an important step in our fight against the climate crisis.
In addition, these reach codes will improve the air quality of our community. Many other cities in the Bay Area have already implemented similar reach codes.
I have always viewed Los Altos as a leader, and it is important that we keep up with these other cities. Los Altos is my home and has been for 13 years. Making this small change will not affect most current residents and will help protect our community and planet. I think it is definitely worth it.
I ask all citizens of Los Altos to join me in urging the city council to implement building reach codes. By supporting reach codes in Los Altos, you will be supporting the preservation of the environment for my generation and more to come.
LAH pathways provide valuable service
When advocating for the pathway system, residents of Los Altos Hills often say the paths provide alternative routes during emergencies. Until now, no one imagined “emergencies” would include a statewide shelter-in-place order and a need for social distancing.
In this unprecedented time, people are out walking the paths in numbers greater than I’ve seen during the 45 years I’ve lived here.
The pathway system has been a fundamental characteristic of Los Altos Hills since its incorporation in 1956. The idea was that each residence would be closely connected to the network. The idea remains part of the town’s General Plan, which suggests that people should be able to walk easily and safely from their homes to other parts of their neighborhood. In addition, residential paths should connect with neighboring jurisdictions – Los Altos, Palo Alto, county land – and with regional parks and open spaces.
I am exceedingly grateful to the town’s founders for establishing the pathway system and to everyone who has worked to improve it since then. I am pleased to see so many people out on the paths.
My hope is that having discovered their beauties close at hand, people will continue to explore and support the paths even after the present emergency is over.
Los Altos Hills
Pets dispel loneliness in uncertain times
Did you ever wonder why people have pets? I did.
At McKenzie Park, I saw how many pet owners enjoyed the fun their pets brought into their lives. However, I recently realized there is something else I have never experienced before – pets can help people dispel loneliness.
In quarantine, I get limited interaction with my peers at Los Altos High School each day. At home, I meet my parents occasionally when they walk into my room and my brother once at dinner, but other than that, I’m relatively alone. Sometimes I feel just fine being alone, but other times the loneliness gets to me.
Now, I wish I had a cute cat jumping onto my lap meowing at me or a friendly dog wagging his tail to remind me that I am not alone after all.
It is times like these that I think of my relationship to others, pondering what it truly means to share the planet.
Los Altos High School
Detach stakes from your trees
As I bike and walk through Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View, I enjoy all the beautiful plants and trees. However, I notice more and more that many of these trees are attached to stakes or poles, long past the time when this support is needed.
When young trees are first planted, they are often supported by one or two wooden stakes or poles, which support the tree while its roots are growing. But these stakes, if used at all, only need to be attached to the tree for one or two growing seasons at most. After this time, they are detrimental to the tree’s growth.
I see trees that have had stakes attached for five years, 10 years or more, even to the point where the supporting ties are completely encased by the tree’s living tissue.
Do your trees a favor – take a look at your trees, and if they are staked, consider removing the stakes, or ask your gardener to do so.