Fight Today for a Better Tomorrow

Fellow League Members:

On May 25, George Floyd was murdered by an officer with the Minneapolis Police Department. He is only one of too many names on a list that should not exist. It is time that the League of Women Voters take a stand for social justice for Black lives in America.  

Over the years we have watched Black men, women, and children lose their lives at the hands of people who benefit from a system that protects them. Today we witness the rage of those who are tired of due process being a privilege not afforded to Black people.  

The League is committed to expanding our voice beyond the statement we released last week. We are joining our partners who serve in the civil rights community in fighting for policy reform that will dismantle systematic racism. We joined coalition partners on a letter calling for congressional action on police violence, and in the weeks and months ahead, the national office will be stepping up our commitment to racial justice. Virginia Kase wrote a blog, Standing in Solidarity with the Black Community, to share how the League plans to proceed as allies in the social justice space.  

 As allies in the social justice space I encourage us all to do our homework and learn more about the iniquities that Black Americans face, without leaning on Black people to educate us.  

We encourage you to continue your get-out-the-vote and voter education efforts. This is a time to highlight the power of voting, especially in local elections, and informing voters where candidates stand on issues that are important to them.

Lastly, we acknowledge that the League hasn’t taken such a strong stance against racism in the past, and as we move into the next century of work, we hope to play a bigger role in fighting for social justice. I hope you’ll join us.  

In League,

Chris Carson, President

League of Women Voters United States

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The League of Women Voters is Turning 100!

In 2020 the League of Women Voters (LWV) will celebrate its 100th anniversary and the LWVC joins more than 700 other local and state chapters to celebrate this historic milestone.

As we look to a vibrant future on the threshold of our next 100 years, the League is excited that dedicated members across California continue to steadily attract significant numbers of activists who share the League’s commitment to Making Democracy Work.

The League of Women Voters president, Chris Carson, issued the following statement regarding the League’s efforts ahead:

Today we are faced with many challenges that threaten to compromise our democracy. Our efforts to support voting rights and to fight against voter suppression and discrimination at the local, state and national levels have been very successful, and this has been achieved primarily by educating and empowering voters, circulating special petitions, and intervening in several critical court cases.

The League’s historic commitment to register, educate and mobilize voters is not only stronger, but more effective than ever, utilizing such tools as Voter’s Edge—a cutting-edge election information website utilized by millions of voters each election cycle.

Dora Rose, Deputy Director of the LWVC, had this to say about the LWVC’s work to come:

We will continue to fight voter discrimination and to keep secret money out of our elections to ensure that our elections are fair, free and accessible. We’ll also continue to push for improved access to housing as well as recognizing that Climate Change is a scientific reality that must be addressed to ensure a sustainable planet for everyone.

One hundred years after the League was founded in 1920, members of the League are proud of the great progress achieved when it comes to truly Making Democracy Work.

The League Fights For Fair & Accessible Voting

The League of Women Voters of California is collaborating daily with the Secretary of State, elections officials, and civil rights groups to ensure fair and accessible voting this November amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Turnout of traditionally underrepresented groups is of special concern.

“The challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic are unique but not insurmountable,” reads an article on the State League’s website from April 20. “It is vitally important to understand that vote-by-mail (VBM) is not a panacea,” elaborates the State League and the other collaborating groups, listed at the bottom of this article, in a list of recommendations for the upcoming election. The list, sent to Governor Newsom and Secretary of State Padilla on April 14, cites multiple sources that report the risks posed by expanded reliance on vote by mail to already underrepresented communities, such as communities of color, youth, language minorities, people with disabilities, people with low income, and those who are unhoused, housing insecure, or geographically mobile.

“Changes to our voting process must be done in ways that will protect voters who are already underrepresented in our democratic system,” wrote the State League for their article. Accordingly, the list of recommendations has been assembled by advocacy groups carefully with the main, general objectives of maximizing voting opportunities, increasing voter education and engagement leading up to the election, and allocating resources dedicated specifically for underrepresented communities and those that do not traditionally vote by mail. The list is separated into categories that focus on vote-by-mail, in-person voting, poll workers, dropboxes, language access, disability access, voter registration and same day/conditional voter registration, provisional voting, elections administration plans (EAPs), public messaging, voter education, and voter engagement.

The LWV Los Altos-Mountain View will pursue its usual vigorous Voter Services efforts with emphasis on helping voters to sign up for vote-by-mail to comply as fully as possible with ‘sheltering in place’ directives which may still be in force at the time of the General Election in November.

–Thank you to Karanina (Laszlo) Zim, Communications Intern of the LWV Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville for this article.

List of Groups in Collaboration
American Civil Liberties Union of California
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles
California Common Cause
Disability Rights California
The League of Women Voters of California
Mi Familia Vota
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educationa Fund
NextGen California
Partnership for Working Families
Voting Rights Lab

For more details read the list of recommendations here.

LWVUS Work Featured by the U.N.

This week the United Nations acknowledged LWVUS for our work protecting voting rights in light of COVID-19

The League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) is working to protect voting rights and democracy during the COVID-19 pandemic.  They have called for adequate funding for measures including voter education (informing the public of new practices and immediately quashing disinformation as it arises), an extended early in-person voting period (allowing citizens to vote over an expanded period rather than in a cluster on Election Day), expanded voter registration options (including online voter registration and same-day voter registration), no-excuse absentee voting-by-mail, and prohibition of polling place adjustments that disproportionately impact vulnerable populations. 

Los Altos City Council February 2020

February 11, 2020

The City Council heard the second reading and adopted the final version of the ordinance to amend R3-4.5 zoning, particularly valuable to the multi-family duplex Marshall Meadows district in Los Altos. The ordinance establishes development standards for such districts to make reasonable improvements and additions to the owner’s property while maintaining the character of the district as a duplex style neighborhood and limiting any impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.

The City Council did not approve a consultant agreement with Alta + Design for development of the Los Altos Complete Streets Master Plan. Before the meeting, the council received a detailed proposal for the Scope of Work. In addition, they received a detailed set of answers to city council’s questions from the November 20, 2019, introduction of the proposal. Councilmembers had more questions and Staff will bring the item back to the Council after renegotiating the Scope of Work and contract amount with Alta + Design. A specific date to bring the item back to the City Council has not been set.

Especially because of the dangers associated with vaping flavored e-cigarettes, the City Council authorized the staff to write a draft ordinance to further restrict tobacco retail licensing in Los Altos. Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has adopted and requested cities in the county to adopt restrictions on kinds of tobacco, tobacco products, locations for retail sale, and advertising limits as well as adopting a tobacco retailer’s license. The city of Los Altos will enforce the policy, not Santa Clara County. The council received written comments in support from the Northern California American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and from Breathe California. Other interesting written comment was received about the use of hookahs in Middle Eastern communities and concerns that hookahs would be restricted. The draft ordinance is scheduled for review at the February 25, 2020, council meeting.

February 25, 2020

The City Council approved and adopted the ordinance to further restrict tobacco retail licensing in los altos after staff amended the original draft of the ordinance.

In closed session after almost a year of mediation the City Council voted to settle the litigation with GoldSilverIsland Homes LLC about the property division at 831 Arroyo Road. With a vote of 4/1 the Council followed staff recommendation to sub-divide the property as requested. A year ago the council had denied the subdivision request and the lawsuit was filed, citing that the LLC had revised the proposal for the property to accommodate comments by Montebello Acres residents.

Los Altos City Council November 2019

Los Altos City Council – November 2019

November 12, 2019

The City Council adopted a resolution for a Mills Act authorization for a Gambrel design barn at 210 Alta Vista Avenue, Los Altos to be designated an historic property.

The City Council heard the proposal for Ordinance #2019-467 to amend the zoning code in the Los Altos Municipal Code regarding R3-4.5 for a multi-family district. The issue came up when property owners in Marshall Meadows want to remodel their duplex property. At the August 27, 2019 council meeting the staff was directed to standardize the zoning code for such districts to bring the code in line for similar surrounding single-family home districts.

From an environmental review perspective, the project is compliant with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) with no potential for direct physical damage or for damage in the reasonably foreseeable future. The proposed code changes are to establish developmental standards for existing properties already developed. The change provides for separate and independent basis for CEQA compliance for each project and to any future alterations to parcels in a R3-4.5 district.

In addition, standards are set for additions and exterior modifications to multi-family district dwellings in the design review process. Other provisions align with those in other surrounding residential zoning districts. The amendment has received Planning commission approval. The council approved 4 to 1 to amend the ordinance proposal to keep the properties at single story, except the two-story properties as of 2019. The smaller unit must be at least 900 square feet to maintain proportionality of residences. Setbacks are amended to be 20 feet from property line. A public hearing on amended ordinance will be held at the December 12, 2019 regular meeting.

The other November City Council meetings were Special Meetings.

The November 26, 2019, regular meeting was cancelled.

Los Altos City Council October 2019

Los Altos City Council – October 2019

The council had special council meetings on October 1 and 29, 2019. The council did not meet the second Tuesday of October.

October 22, 2019

The City of Los Altos owns Redwood Grove Nature Preserve, a 5.7-acre nature preserve located off University Avenue. The City contracted with Grassroots Ecology to assist in preserving and maintaining this valuable community asset. The term of the current contract dated October 3, 2018 is valid through the end of the 2019/2020 fiscal year. An amendment (Amendment 1) authorized payment to Grassroots Ecology for the second year of their contracted stewardship services in Redwood Grove. The amount for fiscal year 2019/2020 is budgeted. The total amount authorized for the second-year contract is $155,420.

The City Council voted to continue deliberation until December 10, 2019 about the proposed property development at 5150 El Camino Real located at the terminus of Rengstorff Road after considering multiple requests for changes in the plan. Dutchints Development LLC proposed a community enhancing project with market rate and below market rate (BMR) units. Two buildings are condo units with different numbers of bedrooms and townhomes at the back of the property are adjacent to single-family homes on Casita Way. The project is planned for sustainability, walkability, and proximity to public transit.

The Dutchints Development LLC presentation addressed air quality, an arborist’s report, a geotech investigation, environmental site assessment for Phase 1 of project, a noise and vibration study, and transportation impact analysis.

Public comment speakers had major problems with the project’s parking plan, both number of spaces so that residents would not park on side streets and size of spaces. They disputed the project’s proximity to public transit on and near El Camino Real which must be within one-half mile of property to be eligible for density bonus rates. There was criticism of the architectural style, saying that the drafted plan doesn’t blend into the neighborhood. Among Casita Way resident requests, at the top of a long list are: issues about the bulk and height of the buildings, privacy landscaping at the back of the project, reduction of possible construction and transformer noise, and safe routes to schools.

The council discussed parking requirements, below market rate units, mass-bulk and privacy issues, transit issues, number of EV stations, solar panels, and changes to recreation areas before deciding to resume discussion at the December 10 meeting.