City Council

Los Altos City Council Minutes Mar. 27 – Covington Residents Say No to Signal

Written by lalahpolitico

Here are the Los Altos City Council minutes Mar. 27 as prepared and understood by Los Altos Politico. The Los Altos City Council meeting of March 27 got off to rip-roaring start as about 20 citizens submitted speaking cards to all speak on one issue — opposition to the installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of Covington and Miramonte.

Speakers argued a signal would actually make the intersection — an important one for students of Blach Junior High — more dangerous, not less. A key point is that drivers would speed up to make the light. Some asked why have a signal there 24 hours a day for a two hour problem — once around 8 am and once again around 3 pm. [EDITORIAL COMMENT: Actually, as I recall the traffic engineering plan, I think the signal was going to be ON only those short times, and otherwise just be a 4 way stop — as now.]

It was an impressive display of grass roots organizing and coordination. The city council, and especially Mayor Val Carpenter, were very polite and patient listening to everyone. Because the item was not on the agenda, council could not discuss the issue with the speakers.

2) A consent calendar was passed with item 2 (Park Plan) removed.

3) Agenda Item 10. Planning and Transportation Commission: Asst. City Manager Walgren introduced the draft language that will combine the Planning & Traffic Commissions. There were no public comments. Probably because the language now goes before the existing Planning Commission where it is open to public comment.

4) Agenda Item 11. Fiscal Sewer Rate 2012-2013: City Engineer Gustafson got approval to continue to study what demand would look like, and the new rate methodology. But there was also approval to possibly impose a catchup 7% sewer rate increase all at once. But it could be less. That’s what is being studied.

5) The Park Plan approval was pulled out from the consent calendar by a speaker from the public: a park commissioner, no less. She asked if the plan could not be sent back to the commission for a final review — even though she personally thought the plan was excellent and had no objections of any kind to it. The discussion between her and among council went on for a surprisingly long time. Val Carpenter at first wanted to just approve the plan an move on. She did agree to amend it so that requests for restrooms in downtown and Lincoln park would be moved to the last “Aspirational” (blue-sky) chapter. She noted that the Parks Commission should be added as authors to the report. Would that suffice as a sign of involvement of the Parks Commission? [EDITORIAL COMMENT: Apparently adding the parks commission as authors was not a satisfactory compromise to the park commissioner. Councilmembers Casas and Packard persuaded Mayor Carpenter that delay would cause no harm, and would let the Parks Commission have the report in their court for two months or so — till May 22. It seems that no one is expecting any changes to be made to the plan report. It seems the move was meant to be affirming and socially inclusionary. As we tweeted at the time,”Process for process sake.”]

6) A surprise agenda insertion – Doug Schmitz gave a 13 minute report on the public and private developments downtown over the past 4 years. “Downtown is coming back.” “Expect downtown to be torn up for two more years.” See the full report here.

Council Reports:
Mayor Val Carpenter reported that the Community Center poll was in process. She said that the four billboards around town had been replaced with a new message – “Los Altans Building for Tomorrow.”

About the author


Norma Schroder is an economics & market researcher by trade and ardent independent journalist, photographer and videographer by avocation. Enthralled by the growth of the tech industry over the decades, she became fascinated with the business of local politics only in the past several years.