League News

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.

Lessons from America in One Room Event, 10/28 at 7:00pm

How can our local community solve our problems if we can’t talk to each other?  

Learn how American in One Room bridged the divide when discussing polarizing topics and help us consider how we can apply its model locally.  Bring your suggestions for topics our community should be discussing.

Join us and enter America in One Room, a project of Stanford’s Center for Deliberative Democracy which brought together a diverse group of 523 Americans to constructively discuss some of our country’s most polarizing issues. Dr. James Fishkin and Dr. Alice Siu will share what they learned from the project and we will consider how their methods can be applied to promote more productive discussions around locally divisive topics. 

Registration is required and space is limited.  

Thursday, October 28th, 2021 at 7:00-8:30pm (Zoom)

Register 

Downloadable flyer: A1R Flyer   

Video on America in One Room Video (six minutes). For more information: [email protected].  

This event is co-sponsored by the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce and Leadership Mountain View.

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

Pre-Registering High School Students to Vote

In anticipation of National Voter Registration Day, September 28, the League of Women Voters Los Altos-Mountain View’s Participate in Democracy video was shown to more than 1300 US History, US History AP, Government, and Government AP students at Mountain View and Los Altos High Schools. The video emphasizes the importance of voting and encourages students to register (or pre-register) to vote. We are indebted to the teachers and administrators of the MVLA High School District for their help in bringing this project to the students.

Check out our video: Participate in Democracy  

After watching the video, the students who are 16 years old and citizens used the Secretary of State’s registration website to pre-register online. California legislation came into effect in 2014 which allows any citizen, by birth or naturalized, to pre-register at sixteen and automatically receive a ballot at the first election after they turn eighteen.

In addition to playing the video presentation, fifteen LAHS and MVHS teachers distributed to the students: Voters Edge bookmarks with voter information and “Future Voter” wristbands to celebrate their ability to make their voice heard in American elections.

The You Tube video was moderated by LWV member Abby Longcor. Google slides for the presentation were completed by Lisa McLain and Abby Longcor. Max Beckman-Harned provided technical support to make the video live. Claudia Hevel and Claire Noonan with support from the LWV Voters Services Committee connected with the high school teachers to make the project succeed.

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.

Schedule:

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:

https://www.fhda.edu/trustee-areas/

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

Provide Feedback for State and Local Redistricting

Every ten years, after the census figures are released, local governments and agencies will redraw the district boundaries for future elections of trustees, commissioners, directors, etc. Redistricting will determine political representation for the next ten years. The League believes that districts should be drawn using fair criteria to help keep communities intact and to ensure that everyone is equally represented.

Check out the information below to learn about the various redistricting efforts and how you can provide feedback.

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisor Districts

Flyer: SCC Redistricting Info

Website Info: https://countyexec.sccgov.org/2021-redistricting-process

Valley Water 

https://www.valleywater.org/how-we-operate/redistricting

MidPeninsula Regional Open Space  (Feedback by 9/10/21)

Learn about redistricting and provide feedback

The next outreach meeting is October 27. Midpen is offering an online tool to get feedback on current ward boundaries as they start to process 2020 census data released recently. Midpen’s MyDistricting tool lets you add comments on an interactive map to provide input, share ideas and suggest things to consider when defining the new boundaries of each director’s ward. 

Foothill DeAnza College District:  Changing from At Large” to District” elections

Help Shape Trustee Area Boundaries – Learn more at a series of public hearings (9/13 or 10/4) or by completing a “Communities of Interest” survey. To learn more 

State of California 

Every 10 years, after the federal government publishes updated census information, California must redraw the boundaries of its Congressional, State Senate, State Assembly and State Board of Equalization districts, so that the districts correctly reflect the state’s population.

In 2008 California voters authorized the creation of the Citizens Redistricting Commission. It authorized the Commission to draw the new district lines. The 14-member Commission is made up of five Republicans, five Democrats, and 4 not affiliated with either of those two parties. The Commission must draw the district lines in conformity with strict, nonpartisan rules designed to create districts of relatively equal population that will provide fair representation for all Californians.  To learn more about the: 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission.

To provide feedback:

Participate

Upcoming Meetings

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

Gubernatorial Recall: YOUR VOTE. YOUR VOICE.

SEPTEMBER 14, 2021 CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR RECALL ELECTION

What’s on the ballot?  

The California Governor Recall Election is on Tuesday, September 14. There will be two questions on the ballot that every eligible Californian can vote on: 

  1. Do you want to recall the governor (remove him from office)?
  2. If the governor is recalled, who do you want to replace him?

If more than 50% of voters say “no” to the first question, the governor remains in office. If more than 50% of voters say “yes” to the first question, the person who gets the most votes on the second question becomes the governor. 

How do I vote in the Recall Election?

Every registered voter in California will receive a ballot in the mail, about a month before the Tuesday, September 14 Recall Election. Register to Vote at registertovote.ca.gov.  Don’t know if you’re registered to vote? Visit voterstatus.sos.ca.gov to check your registration status or register to vote. 
The deadline to register for the Recall Election is Monday, August 30, 2021. 

There are 3 ways to vote:

VOTE BY MAIL

You can fill it in and mail it back as soon as you receive it. No postage is needed. Mail your ballot back early because it must be postmarked by Election Day, Tuesday, September 14.

DROP OFF YOUR BALLOT

 You can drop off your ballot at any voting location in your county. Some counties will also offer secure drop off locations. For details and locations check caearlyvoting.sos.ca.gov. If you decide
to drop off your ballot, you must drop it off no later than 8 pm on Election Day, September 14.

VOTE IN PERSON

Your voting location may be different this year. In certain counties you can vote at any voting location. In other counties you must visit a special assigned voting location. Early voting, starting before Election Day, will be available in some locations.

At in-person voting locations you can:

  • Vote in person.
  • Drop off your completed ballot.
  • Vote with an accessible voting machine.
  • Get help and voting materials in multiple languages.
  • Find your voting location at  findmypollingplace.sos.ca.gov.