Los Altos City Council

September 14, 2021

The City Council approved support to design a formal pedestrian trail between Redwood Grove Nature Preserve and Fremont Road in Los Altos Hills. An informal trail has existed for years, but its safety is undetermined. The issues to resolve for a secure path are engineering, environmental permits, and responsibility for construction and maintenance. City Manager will work with Los Altos Hills staff and the Parks and Recreation Commission and other Commissions as necessary and return to the City Council with recommendations.

The City Council introduced an amendment to an ordinance of the Los Altos Municipal Code for “Safe Storage of Firearms” in the City of Los Altos. The possibility was first discussed at the April 27, 2021, City Council meeting. The state of California has no law about safe storage – arms in a locked storage unit and with safety triggers on firearms – although numerous studies have determined the need for legislation or an ordinance by a city. The proposed amendment to the current ordinance about safe storage of firearms applies only to residences in the City of Los Altos. Adoption is tentatively scheduled for October 12, 2021.

The City Council indefinitely tabled the formation of a City Council Friends of the Library (FOL) Subcommittee that would address the space difficulties for the Los Altos FOL.

The City Council amended Zoning ordinances of the Los Altos Municipal Code to provide objective zoning standards for multi-family and mixed-housing development projects that are consistent with current State laws. The zoning must allow a variety of housing opportunities of quality, safety, privacy, and that save the character of the neighborhood. The zoning amendment will allow applicants, staff, other decision makers, and the community to be able to evaluate the projects.

The City Council received an update from the Council Legislative Subcommittee. Of 22 bills os which vice-mayor Enander and member Weinberg kept track, SB 640 (authorizes cities and counties to propose projects to be jointly funded by transportation funds) has been signed and AB 473 (changes to the California Public Records Act) has been sent to the Governor’s desk. A full report on the bills will be presented at an October board meeting after the bills are signed, fail to be signed, or vetoed.

September 21, 2021

Members of the City Council want to enact rules that would limit the City’s ability to sell, transfer fee ownership, or re-designate land around the Los Altos Civic Center. The City Council directed the City Attorney and staff to revise a zoning amendment to the Public Land Protection (PLP) Ordinance by adding a Public Land Preservation Overlay District ordinance to the zoning of the Los Altos Municipal Code for the Civic Center site. The proposed PLP Overlay District Ordinance would give zoning protections to the civic center but also extend to other properties. It did not, according to city staff, guarantee that any sale of land would be subject to voter approval, and the ordinance could be repealed by a future council.

Of the four options presented, Staff recommended option 2 which adds a qualifying statement that a future City Council by simple majority may repeal the Ordinance. The Planning Commission voted 6-0 against the ordinance amendment, saying it is overreach for a non-existing problem.

In public comment, several residents said the proposed option to the ordinance is an attempt by the people behind Measure C to overturn the will of the voters and substitute their judgement. Los Altos voters rejected Measure C in 2018 requiring a vote for any change to public land use.

Others stated that the Civic Center land should be designated as Parks or Other Open Space which was the proposal promised and voted on by the City Council in October 2018 in order to defeat Measure C.

A few public comments supported the voting option.

Claire Noonan, Observer

The staff will return with explanation of the possible changes at the October 24, 2021, City Council meeting.

Los Altos School Board

September 13, 2021 – Special Meeting

A special meeting was called in order to approve the actual budget report for the 2020-21 school year. Assistant Superintendent Randy Kenyon presented the final numbers for the year. Revenues totaled $73.3 million and expenses came in at $66.3 million. The general fund balance increased from $4.5 million to $11.5 million, bringing total reserves up to $12.5 million (19% of expenditures).

$52,939,339 was collected in property taxes for 2020-21, which reflects 7.23% growth from the previous year. Santa Clara County projects that 2021-22 property tax collections will be $55.5 million. For more information, please use this link to see Mr. Kenyon’s full budget presentation.

The budget report was unanimously approved by the school board and submitted to the county before the September 15 deadline.

September 20, 2021

Superintendent Jeff Baier shared that 65% of students are now participating in on-campus pool testing for COVID-19. The school district continues to urge parents to sign the consent form allowing their students to be tested. It is expected that children between ages 5-11 will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by late October or early November. The outdoor mask mandate for LASD will be re-evaluated after that milestone is reached.

Mr. Baier also shared new legislation (AB 361) which allows electronic meetings beyond September 30, 2021. Board members shared some preliminary thoughts about how board meetings should be held going forward. The consensus was that the next board meeting on October 4, 2021 would be held using the existing format and further discussion during that meeting would determine what changes (if any) would be applied to future meetings.

Stella Kam, Observer

Los Altos School Board

August 16, 2021

Superintendent Jeff Baier presented information about what LASD schools have done to prepare the for 2021-22 school year. Unlike last year, the state of California is prioritizing in-person instruction, and there will be no virtual option offered this year. LASD has contracted with StrideK12 to offer an independent study option in lieu of virtual school. Currently only 18 students in the district have elected to do independent study and all other students will be back on campus for 5 full days of in-person instruction. The board members unanimously approved changes to the district policy on independent study which can be found here: Independent Study Policy

During public comment, parents requested on-campus testing as well as mandatory outdoor masking. Although the California Department of Public Health does not require masking outdoors, the LASD school board directed Superintendent Baier to require that masks be worn even when outdoors.

Assistant Superintendent Randy Kenyon also gave a brief presentation on upcoming changes to the state budget for education. Much of the new funding will be program based (e.g. free meals, universal Transitional Kindergarten TK) and we are still waiting for more details from the state. LASD is unlikely to be significantly impacted due to demographics. Mr. Kenyon also requested a special meeting on September 13, 2021 in order to approve the 2020-21 actual budget which is due to the county on September 15.

August 20, 2021

Superintendent Jeff Baier provided updates on the district case counts for COVID-19. More information can be found using this link: LASD coronavirus information

Outdoor masks are now required with exceptions for certain after-school sports at the Jr. High level (e.g. cross-country while actively running). There was pushback on the outdoor mask requirement from some parents, and board members emphasized that they want to start the school year conservatively and will re-evaluate throughout the school year.

On-campus student pool testing for COVID-19 will again be offered through Concentric. It is now available to all students (TK – 8th grade). Parents must complete a consent form if they would like their students to be tested on-campus.

Assistant Superintendent Mrs. McGonagle provided an update on professional development for teachers. Special programs such as PE, music, and computer science are back. Both students and teachers alike are experiencing a much more normal school year.

The board also discussed various changes to the board policies, regulations, and bylaws in order to revise outdated language.

Stella Kam, Observer

Foothill-DeAnza Trustee Area Elections Redistricting Process

September 13, 2021

Background from the Foothill-DeAnza Community College District Website:

On March 11, 2019, the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees adopted a resolution stating that the district will change the way that voters elect trustees for the first time since its founding in 1957.

Under the new system, instead of electing governing board members “at-large” with results decided by a districtwide vote, voters will elect one trustee from each of five smaller geographic areas, beginning in November 2022. The district’s 400,000+ residents will be divided into five “trustee areas” of roughly equal population size based on the 2020 Census. To run for election in a trustee area, a candidate must live in that area. The new system is intended to provide fair and equal representation for all district residents and will make it easier and less expensive to campaign for a seat on the board.

The decision to move to trustee area elections – also called “by-district” elections – was made in response to a demand letter from a lawyer representing a district resident, Sebastian Aguilar, which asserted that the Foothill-De Anza Community College District’s system of at-large elections may violate the California Voting Rights Act. It is one of many similar letters sent to local jurisdictions in recent years claiming that at-large elections abridge the voting rights of minority populations. These letters state that unless a change is made to by-district elections is made, a lawsuit will be filed. 

September 13, 2021 Board of Trustee meeting, Peter Landsberger, president, gave an overview of the process.

  • Each district would have to have roughly equal population.
  • Each district would have to include identified communities of interest.
  • Citizens can map communities of interest with a mapping tool which can be found on FHDA website.
  • All maps will be posted on the website for review and comment.
  • Redistricting Partners has been hired as consultants to assist the board in the districting process.
  • All four districting meetings will be public.
  • The trustees are committed to open, transparent, and public process.
  • The conversion to districts will be implemented over two election cycles. (sequencing)

Presentation by Redistricting Partners

  • California Voting Rights Act prohibits at-large elections in local government if there is racially polarized voting.
  • Traditional districting principles:
  • Relatively equal size of people, not citizens.
  • Contiguous, districts should not hop and jump.
  • Maintain “communities of interest”.
  • Follow local government lines.
  • Keep districts compact.


September 13 – hearing on community input.

October 4 – hearing on community input.

December 13 – hearing on draft maps.

January 10 – hearing on draft maps.

February 14 – hearing to approve final map and sequencing.

To input on communities of interest or submit a map go to:


Speaker from the public: Ken Horowitz

    1. Does districting require voter approval or just the Board of Trustees? Since it will be voted on after January 1, 2022, a new law will apply and the district map can be approved by the board only.
    2. Can the districting process include an amendment to include term limits? No.

The next meeting will be on October 4.

Sue Graham, observer

Los Altos City Council July-August

July 13, 2021

The City Council adopted a Drought Preparedness and Water Conservation Resolution to encourage voluntary water conservation efforts throughout the city as a proactive step in response to the current drought conditions. Although in April 2021, Governor Newsom declared a drought emergency Santa Clara County was excluded. However, Santa Clara Valley Water (Valley Water) Board of Directors declared a water shortage emergency and called for a mandatory 15% reduction in water use. Cal Water is currently considering additional water restrictions but has not established water restrictions beyond the standard prohibited uses of water.

The City Council appointed Mayor Neysa Fligor and Vice Mayor Anita Enander to serve on the new City Council Housing Element Subcommittee. The formation of a subcommittee was decided at the June 8, 2021, City Council meeting when Lisa Wise Consulting (LWC) was hired to complete the Housing Element Update. The purpose of the Subcommittee is to focus on the public engagement component of the Housing Element update effort. Staff will return to the City Council at a future meeting with the public engagement/outreach plan once it is drafted with input from LWC and from the City Council Subcommittee.

August 24, 2021

After discussion about a new 10-year license with Friends of the Library at the current location, the City Council, instead, approved and directed staff to extend the existing license agreement with Los Altos Friends of the Library through August 2021. In the meantime, Council also directed the city attorney, staff, and Friends of the Library to explore co-locating Friends of the Library to Woodland Library.

The City Council adopted the Drought Response and Water Conservation Efforts supporting Cal Water’s implementation of and encouragement of water restrictions and conservation efforts by residents, businesses, and other water users in Los Altos.

The City Council received for first reading an ordinance amending the Los Altos Municipal Code to provide objective zoning standards for future housing development projects. These objective standards are intended to provide clear and measurable site development standards against which applicants, staff, decision makers and the community can evaluate a project, thus eliminating subjectivity when approving the projects.  The new objective standards aim to expedite new housing construction.

These standards are being developed in response to recent legislation at the State level, although the City feels the legislation reduces the city’s ability to exercise discretion in the review of a project, either a multi-family housing project or a mixed-use project.

Council discussed multiple problems with the document and asked several questions for staff and the Planning Commission to resolve. For example, what about houses that don’t conform under new standards. Would owners have to rebuild to the new standards in the event of, for instance, a fire? The staff and Planning Commission will make revisions for the problems suggested before adoption of the ordinance scheduled for September 14, 2021. It will take effect 30 days later.

Claire Noonan, Observer

Los Altos School Board, June 2021

LASD Board Meeting June 1, 2021

The board members voted unanimously to adopt a new math curriculum for grades TK-5 following a brief presentation and public hearing.

The Citizens Advisory Committee of Finance (CACF) presented their annual report, which showed that the district is in a strong financial position. Reserves are above target levels and projected to increase due to stable tax growth and flat enrollment. LASD facility maintenance fees are higher than those of neighboring districts, so the CACF advised setting aside $5 million from Measure N ($1 million per year for 5 years) to upgrade aging facilities. (Measure N was approved by voters in 2014, allowing the district to issue bonds in order to fund facility upgrades and the purchase of a new school site.)

Assistant Superintendent Randy Kenyon presented the 2021-22 District Budget. The budget projects that revenue will exceed expenses by about $900,000 next year, bringing the district’s total reserves to almost 15%.  Property tax revenue is expected to increase by 4% while federal and other state funding sources will decrease because one-time funding to address the pandemic will be withdrawn. Expenses will also decrease for a variety of reasons, including carryover from the 2020-21 budget and the cessation of COVID-related spending. Multi-year projections show reserves growing year over year.

For more information about the budget, please see item H.10 from the agenda for the June 1 meeting.

LASD Board Meeting June 8, 2021

Assistant Superintendent Sandra McGonagle presented preliminary results from the spring academic assessments in reading and math. Despite the pandemic, the percentage of students testing below grade level was similar to previous years, with  87% of students at or above grade level in both subject areas.

The board of trustees voted unanimously to approve the 2021-22 District Budget.

Superintendent Jeff Baier also announced increased compensation for both teachers and staff.

The board will meet on Monday, June 21 to vote on the following:

  1. A one-time payment in the amount of $1000 per FTE (full-time equivalent) for the 2020-21 school year for both teachers and staff
  • A 5% raise for all teachers and staff (in addition to the 2% raise approved earlier this school year) for the 2021-22 school year to keep salaries competitive

The board also approved the annual report from the Measure N Citizens Oversight Committee. The annual report included a clean audit showing that all Measure N expenditures during the 2019-20 fiscal year met the spending requirements specified by the measure.

LASD Board Meeting June 21, 2021

The board voted unanimously to approve the increased compensation for both teachers and staff (including non-represented employees) as discussed during the last board meeting on June 8, 2021.

Stella Kam, Observer

Los Altos City Council, June 2021

June 8, 2021

The City Council wishes to achieve a Housing Element Update that reflects the City’s goals (including community involvement) and can be certified by the State of California in compliance with State law. The City’s sixth cycle Housing Element update must be completed by January 2023. State law requires that every eight years cities prepare an update of Housing Element, a guide for the housing needs of all segments of its population.

To enlist a consultant experienced in developing a Housing Element Update, Council approved adding some Capital Investment Projects funds for the Housing Element Update and authorized the City Manager to execute an agreement with Lisa Wise Consulting (LWC) to provide the Update.

In addition, new changes in State law (SB 166) related to zoning creates new pressures for the City to ensure that sites identified for lower-income housing are not concentrated in one area but must be spread out.

Also, the City will face higher scrutiny for non-vacant and vacant sites during this cycle. State regulations designate land which is deemed ‘non-vacant’ and ‘vacant.’

Finally, the City will need to accommodate a much higher number of lower income housing units to meet the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) State mandates to be completed by 2031, which may require the City to amend its general plan and zoning code to allow for more housing opportunities for residents—regardless of income.

Discussion about community outreach and engagement included organizing a variety of ways to educate the community about the heavily regulated State requirements for the Housing Element Update and RHNA before the project is completed.

The City Council heard an update from the City Council Legislative Subcommittee on State Assembly and Senate bills that affect the positions of the League of California Cities. For bills which had been previously on the “watch” list, four have been changed to specific positions and the subcommittee has letters for the Assembly and Senate committees to be approved by Council. Of those bills, City Council opposes AB 602 which changes laws that govern local development impact fees, such as Traffic Impact fees; opposes AB 989 which creates a new appeals commission to make judgements on local public health and safety decisions about housing development; opposes AB 1401 that prohibits local government from imposing minimum parking requirements for housing. The city supports identical SB 4 and AB 14 which prioritize deployment of broadband infrastructure in California.

June 22, 2021

The City Council welcomed a new City Manager. Gabriel Engeland will begin work in Los Altos on July 19, 2021. He previously was City Manager in Sierra Madre, California, and also worked in Trinidad, Colorado and Gilbert, Arizona. He received his Masters Degree in Public Administration at the University of Kansas. His expertise is finance and budget.

The City Council directed the city staff to file an appeal of the City’s housing allocation for the sixth housing element cycle to the Association of Bay Area Governments/Regional Housing Needs Allocation (ABAG RHNA). The appeal against California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) challenges the method used by HCD to determine the numbers of housing needed in Los Altos.

The City Council Legislative Subcommittee presented further update on State legislation the Council has been asked to support or oppose as recommended by the League of California Cities. The Council voted to support SB 16. The bill makes subject to disclosure every incident involving unreasonable or excessive force by police, and any finding that an officer failed to intervene against another officer using unreasonable or excessive force. Councilmember Jonathan Weinberg states the bill provides transparency to police action and in doing so augments public trust in the police. On reconsideration, the Council changed 3/2 to support AB 989 about an appeals commission to make judgements on local public health and safety decisions about housing development. The council changed 3/2 to support AB 1401. The bill prohibits a local government from imposing a minimum automobile parking requirement, eliminates expensive parking mandates in areas with good transit, and supports changes to public driving and parking models in the future, according to Member Weinberg. Vice Mayor Enander states that the legislation would take away the ability of local governments to make parking requirements.

Observer Claire Noonan

Los Altos City Council May, 2021

May 11, 2021

Council reviewed a resolution to endorse the Carbon Fee and Dividend Act of 2021, (H.R. 2307). The resolution would recognize the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emission and would align with a City Council decision to adopt REACH practices for all new building in the city. HR 2307 creates a Carbon Dividend Trust Fund that will provide a steadily rising carbon fee and return the revenues to Americans as a dividend. This is estimated to reduce carbon emissions 90 percent by 2050 and to offset the cost of higher energy prices for consumers. The council voted unanimously to send the resolution to the City Environmental Commission for review and recommendations.

Vice Mayor Anita Enander and Council Member Jonathan Weinberg discussed seven of thirty-four bills in the current legislature that have been proposed to watch by the League of California Cities (LAC). Of most importance is opposition to SB 9 and SB 556. The mayor was authorized to sign a letter of opposition to both bills.

 SB 9 makes two important changes to state law:

  • It allows homeowners in most areas around the state to divide their property into two lots, thereby increasing opportunities for homeownership in their neighborhood.
  • It allows two homes to be built on each of those lots, with the effect of legalizing fourplexes in areas that previously only allowed one home. 

SB 556 would prohibit a local government or local publicly owned electric utility from unreasonably denying the leasing or licensing of its street light poles or traffic signal poles to communications service providers for the purpose of placing small wireless facilities on those poles.

In addition, the mayor was authorized to sign a letter to support SB 612. The bill aims to ensure all California ratepayers have fair and equal access to benefits associated with investor-owned utility (IOU) legacy energy resources. Public comment supports the Council position on SB 612.

May 25, 2021

After many debates and studies at Council meetings on the fate of Halsey House in Redwood Grove, questions still haven’t been answered adequately. City Council approved funds for three consultants to make recommendation on the property. The Architectural Resource Group will provide historical structure analysis. Page & Turnbull is to provide a historical resource evaluation. Both reports are important because the house is currently a designated historical resource. David J. Powers & Associates will review California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) questions. With active pro and con positions from public comment, it is hoped for a decision from the recommendations to either renovate or demolish the Halsey House part of the Redwood Grove Nature Preserve.


The City Council adopted 3/2 an amended resolution to take a leadership role on the question of the disagreement between statements by Council member Lynette Lee Eng and Los Altos resident Kenan Moos. The resolution noted that the community is affected, and Council meeting time is negatively impacted by the conflict. In the resolution the Los Altos City Council asked residents to join the Council in finding ways to move forward and unite the community. Public comment of nearly eighty residents and seventeen written comments did not lead to resolution. The Council took no further action to resolve the disagreement between Lee Eng and Moos beyond adopting the amended resolution

The City Council received an additional update on the legislative bills the city is asked to oppose or support as suggested by the League of California Cities (LAC). The bills take a position on legislation that affects the cities, mainly on revising housing regulations. The total list from LAC has been reduced to twenty-two bills. The Council agreed on authorization of additional letters for six of the bills moving from the Assembly to Senate or vice versa, including further support for AB 612 and opposition to SB 9.

Claire Noonan, Observer

Los Altos School District May 2021

May 10, 2021

LASD is eligible to receive $2.28 million in grant money from the State of California for the purpose of learning recovery post-pandemic. The funds must be used by August 31, 2022. The board approved the Expanded Learning Opportunities Grant Plan as presented by Assistant Superintendent McGonagle in order to apply for this funding. Full details of the plan can be found here.

An LASD subcommittee will be meeting with the City of Los Altos on June 2 at 7:15 pm to discuss topics of mutual interest, including Safe Routes to School, public housing, and school site decisions. The full agenda can be found here:

May 24, 2021

The State of California has signaled that virtual instruction will no longer be required next school year (2021-2022). When the decision is officially announced, LASD will notify parents of student placement, with the expectation that all students will be back on campus full-time.

LASD is proposing the adoption of a new math curriculum for grades TK – 5. The curriculum chosen for adoption comes from San Francisco Unified, and Assistant Superintendent McGonagle gave a detailed presentation outlining the reasons for this choice. There will be a public hearing at the next regular board meeting (June 1 at 7 pm) for further discussion before the board votes. Assistant Superintendent. McGonagle also wanted to reassure parents that the current 7th and 8th grade math offerings (including accelerated math) will not change.

In order to minimize conflicts with MVLA school board meetings, LASD approved a revised board meeting schedule for the 2021-2022 school year. Most LASD board meetings will now take place on the first and third Monday of each month. The full meeting schedule can be found here:

Stella Kam, Observer

Los Altos City Council April 2021

April 13

The City Council received the Housing Element Annual Progress Report (APR) with amended and now complete data for calendar year 2020. Council authorized staff to submit the report to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

A Housing Element provides an analysis of a community’s housing needs for all income levels, and strategies to provide for those housing needs. The annual APR report also demonstrates housing permit progress toward the City’s part of the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). In 2020 the 444-450 First Street development provided three moderate-income and one low-income unit of the 26 total units. In addition, 53 Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) are approved by the Planning Commission and 25 ADUs are at final stages by the Building Division. The current numbers are concerning to reach the number of affordable housing units needed by completion of the 8-year Housing Element cycle in 2023 and are fewer than the number of affordable housing units needed by the city for RHNA, due in Summer 2021. Public comments on the APR that signaled ‘no’ came from those who remain attached to single-family housing with spacious yards, oppose increased traffic and infrastructure, want to retain parks and open space, and think that ‘local control’ is being taken over by the State. Those signaling ‘yes’ for the need for more housing density promote affordable housing models like those being developed at 330 Distel Court.

The City Council received and provided feedback on the Los Altos Community Center Phased Opening Plan. The project is scheduled to be finished June 10, 2021, but completion is still affected by Covid restrictions. The phased opening for summer and fall parks and recreation and community use are projected to be limited. Move in and operational training will begin mid-summer 2021. Facility rentals will open in August 2021. A Grand Opening is scheduled for Fall 2021. In-person special events will be permitted in October 2021.

April 27

EAH Housing and its team, the proposed developer of the 330 Distel Circle affordable housing project, were introduced to the City Council. EAH provided the City Council and the community with information about the other affordable housing projects they have developed and shared their concept for the 330 Distel Circle site to meet both the current as well as the emerging housing needs and demands of Los Altos and Santa Clara County’s lower-income and workforce residents. The City has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the County of Santa Clara and the City Council will continue its financial support for this project.

City Council authorized the Interim City Manager to execute contract Amendment No. 3 on behalf of the City with NOVA Partners for additional construction management services on the Los Altos Community Center project through June 30, 2021. This amendment includes essential construction management services needed to complete the construction of the Los Altos Community Center due to the project schedule being extended owing to delays caused by COVID-19 and other unforeseen circumstances. The amendment includes twenty-two items to justify costs. The amount of $120,884 is still underbudget to complete the project.

In addition, City Council authorized the Interim City Manager to execute contract Amendment No. 5 on behalf of the City with Noll & Tam Architects for the Los Altos Community Center Project. The amendment includes unforeseen design updates and consulting services that occurred since October 2020 and an extension to match the current construction schedule. Although originally the project was to be completed by November 2020, the cost of Amendment No.5 at $117,581 is still underbudget to complete the project by June 2021.

Council member Jonathan Weinberg initiated a request for City Council to produce a Safe Firearms Storage Ordinance. In the California Penal Code 25100 “a person commits the crime of ‘criminal storage of a firearm’…unless reasonable action is taken by the person to secure the firearm against access by the child.” The issue is identifying “safe storage”. Of public comments, one was against an ordinance and ten others strongly supported the measure. Council voted 4/1 to direct staff to draft an ordinance to be modelled on the Santa Clara County ordinance that specifies any safely stored firearm in the home be kept unloaded or with a trigger-lock in a locked container.

Claire Noonan, Observer