(video courtesy of KMVT)
Candidates usually list the same lofty goals, leaving voters to wonder what those elected will really do. My record serving the city is clear and consistent, both from my participation on the Downtown Buildings Committee and the Planning Commission. I will act according to the principles I have followed while serving in those positions for the past four years:
Residents are the most important people in our city. As a member of the Downtown Buildings Committee, I talked with more than 100 residents, standing outside our grocery stores and asking what you liked – or not – about recent development downtown. People were quite willing to share their views, which helped shape our final recommendations – most significant of which was to reduce the maximum height on First Street.
Resident input was a significant reason I voted against allowing 10-12 foot high structures within 5 feet of the back fence in our residential areas, destroying the concept of neighbor-to-neighbor privacy. I also voted to maintain our parking requirements, including a full 9-foot width on parking spaces and preventing further commercial development without additional parking.
As I walk our neighborhoods during this campaign, residents have been very forthcoming with ideas and concerns. If I’ve missed seeing you, please tell me what matters to YOU. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I will answer every email.
Collect The Facts
Acting without good information would quickly sink any business. We need to collect the facts, gain relevant information from open and transparent public discussions, and then arrive at decisions. This will not only give us better decisions, it will save staff time and money. City Council should not make a decision and then find information to justify their actions. Business can’t afford a “do over.” Our residents shouldn’t pay for this mismanagement either.
I have consistently pressed for complete, factual information before deciding my vote on the Planning Commission. I have sought to reconcile inconsistent information in various parking studies, to demand more complete staff work, and to understand why our land-use and zoning maps are inconsistent. I have questioned incomplete studies and pressed for information on how proposed developments comply – or not – with open space and other zoning requirements.
Maintain Fiscal Discipline
Our sewers, streets, and other infrastructure require constant upgrading. We haven’t made our routes to school safe for our children. Now, Council has committed our park reserves – and plans to spend millions more in borrowed money – for a new Community Center, against the recommendation of the city’s Finance Director. Council accepted a Downtown Vision plan with no estimate of the costs to implement any of its recommendations. That is not sound fiscal discipline. The largesse of escalating property tax revenue can’t be counted on for the future. As a small business owner, I had to make careful decisions about spending money. I will treat your tax dollars for what they are – YOURS.
Treat All Parts Of The City EQUITABLY
Los Altos has the great advantage of many unique neighborhoods. Wherever one lives, city services should be delivered equitably. Concerns about traffic should be taken seriously throughout. We are one city, and what happens in one neighborhood affects us all. From maintenance of roadways to response to emergency calls, all residents should count on equal treatment.
Plan For The Long Term
Successful business owners learn to plan for the long term and to evaluate potential unintended consequences. The same applies to City Council decisions. It is easy to be distracted by appealing ideas (for which there is no budget) or to choose short-term solutions that have greater long-term costs. I will always look at the long-term effects on our budget and on our residents before making decisions.
Unbridled growth from adjacent cities is affecting our main thoroughfares and neighborhoods. I participated in the County-led discussion to redo intersections along Foothill Expressway with Measure B funds. We need strong leadership to protect resident interests and prevent our residential streets from becoming major collectors. We need to keep bypass traffic out of our neighborhoods for safety and quality of life.
Safe Routes To School
One of the most important jobs of the City is to provide safe streets – especially for children, but also for those who enjoy walking and biking in our city. I attended a presentation in early 2018 about “Safe Routes to School” efforts in the area where Los Altos joins Cupertino; I was appalled that so much remains to be done. This is a city problem, not a schools problem. Completing all projects on SRTS, and identifying and addressing other safety issues, will be a top priority.
We have incredibly smart and informed residents. But too often, residents feel that their comments are just pro forma, and that Council has already decided what to do. At least twice recently residents have had to hire their own attorneys to get the City to act correctly (on Village Court zoning and the content of the Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance). Residents rightly suspect that Council sometimes takes a seemingly innocuous step that is actually only the first on the way to some hidden goal. This is not how the city’s business should be done.
Those who volunteer for Commissions offer their incredibly valuable time, knowledge, and insights. They should feel that their work matters and is always considered and respected.
Parks and Recreation/Measure C
We have the smallest amount of parkland per resident of any city in the area. Council is now spending the entire reserve accumulated for park acquisition on the new community center. This makes preservation and maintenance of our existing parks urgent. Similarly, the other land we use for recreation, such as Hillview, must be retained for ALL our citizens to share. Many people assume that Hillview is a “park”, but it is not. It is classified as “public/institutional” land. That is one reason I am supporting Measure C, which would require a city-wide vote to sell or lease park or public/institutional land for private interests. Anything less is an inadequate protection for our precious recreational and other city-owned lands.
The people who bought homes here when the city was formed, or in the 1970’s or even 2000, could not afford them now. There are no quick fixes to the housing/jobs imbalance that is driving housing prices. Sacramento mandates won’t work. The solution is complex and requires thoughtful policies and cooperation among cities. For example, we need clear, predictable processes for developers that minimizes costs and uncertainty, while protecting residents from traffic and other effects of increased density. Because Los Altos is fully built out, any new increase in density on a parcel has the associated effect of increasing surrounding land value, making future development even more expensive. Market forces will eventually prevail. One approach is to partner with cities that have available land to develop the greater amount of workforce and below market rate housing needed but that is unlikely to be developed in our built-out city.
Largely because of housing concerns, the state legislature continues to take away local control. I advocated for the privacy rights of residents when considering how to implement state requirements on accessory structures and on approving higher density for the inclusion of low-income housing in new developments. We need to get our zoning right – for our residents and to meet our fair share of housing. I will fight to resist Sacramento mandates and to retain local control so we can always provide the best possible quality of life for our residents.
Robust Commercial Centers/Downtown “Vision”
A unique and wonderful feature of Los Altos is that our seven commercial centers provide most goods and services that we need. The City Council has responsibility to make sure our zoning and commercial codes are clear and are applied fairly to allow businesses to grow and prosper, even as market forces change the mix of retail/service/office that fits our city. That is in the interest of business property owners, business owners, and residents. The recently developed “Vision” plan would require a huge investment of funds that we don’t have. The economic consultant says the only way to fully implement the plan is to allow commercial development on most of our parking plazas AND our civic center. We need a broader community discussion of whether this is what we want.
Please send me your thoughts and ideas for how we can move Los Altos forward while sustaining our small-town character. Together, let’s keep Los Altos the envy of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Stay up-to-date with my campaign – join me today.
My supporters are all residents of Los Altos – no politicians or special interest groups. A partial list:
Tim and Carolyn Biglow
Jim and Meg Burns
Stuart and Lois Eckmann
George and JoAnne Estill
Carol and John Fenwick
Brenda and Gene Opine
Julian and Linda Palmor
Steve and Marilyn Peck
Elizabeth “Betsy” Reeves
Carlos Shaw and Rosemary Peters
Chinchung John Won
Daniel Zimmermann and Deborah Goldberg