Expanded Notes from the Program Planning Meeting

Purpose of the Expanded Notes from our 2017 Program Planning Meeting

This document is to provide inputs to this year’s League’s continuing advocacy and outreach work.  It summarizes the topics addressed at the Program Planning meeting; the areas for further work on each topic; and the League members who wanted to volunteer in each area.   

Engaging and Empowering Program Planning Meeting February 4th, 2017

In these tumultuous times, our League work is more important than ever.  Two weeks after the Women’s marches and rallies brought millions of men and women to the streets to ask that their voices be heard, our League held its annual Program Planning meeting.   The League is a truly grassroots organization that sets its agenda through the Program Planning process. As members, this is our chance to help choose what we want California’s and our League’s future to be.   

Over 30 League members gathered at the home of Alice Loughry in order to set our priorities for advocacy and action during the next year.    League Portfolio directors reviewed status and opportunities for action across a range of policy/position areas including:  education – higher education, early education, money in politics, affordable housing, county transportation system, city development directions, clean energy and civic engagement.   Meeting participants shared their areas of interest, and suggestions for actions.   Members prioritized this year’s League’s work to improving voter rights, making democracy work, money in politics, healthcare, housing and transportation.

Upcoming Events

February 11th: Participate / Attend the Community Building Forum, 10am-noon

The City of Mountain View Human Relations Commission (HRC) will host a Community Building Forum on Saturday, February 11 from 10:00 a.m. until noon at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts (500 Castro St.). Titled “Affirming Mountain View’s Values and Building Community in Times of Uncertainty,” the focus of the event will be to provide information on community services and reaffirm a citywide commitment to diversity, inclusivity, engagement and civility.

February 21st: LWVLAMV Board Meeting:   Finalize input to LWVC request form.

Promote our National League of Women Voters Position on Immigration

League of Women Voters US Statement on Immigration.    Issued 1/31/2017. This statement is included in the February Voter newsletter.  Meeting participants hope that this statement will be promoted locally through facebook, local papers and more.   

February 17th:  Joint Venture Silicon Valley 2017 State of the Valley conference Friday February 17th, 2017 8am-2pm at the San Jose Convention Center.   This year’s conference will feature NY Times columnist David Brooks, and multiple renowned speakers on “smart” cities, transportation directions.    

March 4th 1:00-4:00pm Taking Action after the Women’s March:  Sue Graham is organizing this meeting to discuss ways to take action.     All League members invited to join.   

Location:  Foothills Congregational Church, 461 Orange Avenue, Los Altos

Please reply to Sue Graham if you plan to come: [email protected]

Program Planning – Inputs to League of Women Voters California:

Based on League members inputs at the February 4th Program Planning meeting, our priority topics for LWVC to focus on are:

1)  Voter Suppression and Voter Rights

2)  Making Democracy Work

3)  Money in Politics, Dark Moneys

4)   Healthcare

5)  Housing and Transportation

Priority Areas of Focus for our League and How Members may Become Further Involved

Voter Protection and Voter Rights

The LWVUS works to help restore voters’ rights which continue to be eroded by states’ legislatures.

They also advocate for early voting opportunities for voters. At the local level, we help voters by holding candidate forums and by registering new citizens. We ask local League members to help support local elections, candidate forums and pros/cons information events.

Local League member Steve Chessin is a member of the Santa Clara County Citizens Advisory Commission on Elections (CACE).  He was appointed by County Supervisor Joe Simitian, and is thus working on “making elections run more efficiently”. The Citizens Advisory Commission on Elections generally meet the first Tuesday of every month in the Isaac Newton Senter Auditorium of the County Government building, 70 West Hedding, San Jose, from 6pm to 9pm.   Because of the February 7th State of the County address, the February meeting will be next Monday, Feb 13th, instead.  If any League members have any ideas for making elections run more efficiently they can contact Steve Chessin.

League members interested in further work on Voter Rights: Vicki Gilfix, our League’s chair of Voter Services);  Merrian Nevin,

Civic Engagement / Civics 101 – What do you need to know about your local government?    

Katie Zoglin, Cathy Lazarus and Nancy Cavagnaro have developed a slide set presentation on highlights of how residents may become involved in city council and school board directions.    

Where more help is needed:   Nancy is looking for groups that would benefit from this presentation.   These could include high school civics classes, high school clubs, community college and university student groups, PTAs, Adult Education; service organizations such as the Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions Club; other advocacy groups such as the AAUW (American Association of University Women)… Senior groups, neighborhood groups.   The talks could be given at the Los Altos and Mountain View Public Libraries. The sessions provide opportunities to promote the League of Women Voters and recruit new members.   

Civic engagement training sessions can be used to help groups learn how to make public comments to elected officials, City Councils and other public forums.    Suggestions from League members:

  • Would like to see more members trained on how to speak at city council meetings.
  • League members can address the city commission before addressing the city council.
  • League members offered to help reach out to groups to arrange these sessions: Clubs at high schools and Community Colleges and to Seniors groups.   
  • League members join to contact elected officials on  issues.  Eg organize a group of League members to visit community groups such as seniors, to make calls, send emails, send postcards, etc.

Multiple League Members offered suggestions for improving our League’s outreach to voters and elected officials.    

  • Organize “Town Hall” type forums for elected officials to meet with local residents.
  • Enlist high school students to help communicate benefits of voter registration and how to go about it. 
  • Help improve voter protection rights across the county, in other counties and states.   
    • Consider holding voter registration drives at high schools, community colleges and universities.
    • Participate in the National Voter Registration Day to coordinate field, technology and media efforts to raise awareness of voter registration opportunities.    Last year, National Voter Registration Day was held September 27, 2016.
  • Facilitate advocacy and support.   Help with creation and submission of more letters to editors, OpEd articles, social media etc.
  • Pull groups together to arm phone banks, post card writing, tweets with identified hashtags.     
  • We are concerned that safety net programs funded by the federal government may be reduced.    Our League should partner with other advocacy groups to have a larger voice to our Congressional and Senate officials.    Consider the articles on “10 things you can do every day” to have your voice heard in Washington.   
  • Reach out to the “civics” clubs at high schools, community colleges.  Senior centers.   
  • Expand our “Facts for Voters” handout to include guidance on letter writing, phone calls,
  • To expand our influence we need to expand our membership, both in numbers and demographics.    Consider the Google employees who protested latest Washington actions.   Find ways to recruit them as members.   
    • Use Partnerships to enlarge our advocacy efforts.   Eg with other community groups – service organizations, advocacy organizations.   
    • Use technology/social media to reach more potential members.   Besides facebook, twitter, … Use Google hangout to pull multiple folks in to short meetings.   

Make use of your “Circles of Influence.”  Dorothea Grimes-Farrow talked about cultivating civility by using our Influence Circles to tell our stories. Practice civility, stand your ground, find and speak your voice, make connections, tell your story using your Influence Circles. People remember how you made them feel.


Ellen Wheeler, who is the Chair of the League of Women Voters Santa Clara County Council Education Committee gave an update on the LWVC study of higher education.   Position in Brief: 

The League of Women Voters of California supports a comprehensive system of public higher education that serves the personal, professional, and occupational goals of all adult Californians and advances the social, economic, and civic needs of the state. To achieve these objectives, public higher education must prioritize access, affordability, equity, and excellence. These priorities require state funding, including student financial aid, that is stable, predictable, sustainable, and timely.

Another area of focus for the Education Committee is early education.    Ellen Wheeler and Julie Cates participate on the Santa Clara County Strong Start Coalition and the Silicon Valley Children Advocacy Network (SVCAN).  The Strong Start Coalition is a coalition of community leaders, individuals, and organizations committed to expanding access to high quality early learning opportunities for all children age 0 to 8 in Santa Clara County. It meets the second Tuesday of the month 10:30am-noon at the Santa Clara County Office of Education.  The Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s Center for Early Learning created the SVCAN which is a group of business, education and nonprofit leaders that advocates for more public investments in early learning.    

Where more help is needed:   League members with interest in advancing public education are welcome to come to the LWV SCC Education Committee meetings.   Contact Ellen Wheeler [email protected] for information on upcoming meetings.

Money in Politics

Last year our League successfully contacted staff and officials at the City of Mountain View to urge them to move forward with a campaign disclosure ordinance which would cover independent expenditures.  Lucas Ramirez would like to see our League continue to improve independent expenditure ordinance. 

Should further examine campaign financing in Los Altos, such as done in Mountain View.  Also could further increase the campaign financing reporting.   

Where more help is needed:   Contact Katie Zoglin if you would like to be involved in addressing campaign finance transparency in Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

  • Emily Ramos:   Campaign finance reform.    
  • Ellyn Corey:  Dark Money.    

Affordable Housing and Rent Stabilization

State Bills and Measures to address expanding the supply of Affordable Housing

Our League’s Housing Committee is tracking bills and measures to improve housing at the state, county and local city level.    The Housing Committee is monitoring California SB-2:   Building Homes and Jobs Act.  (Sen Atkins) establishes permanent, ongoing sources of funding dedicated to affordable housing development.   The bill imposes fees for real estate document recording.

There are multiple ways to become involved to support California SB-2:   Building Homes and Jobs Act.  (Sen Atkins) establishes permanent, ongoing sources of funding dedicated to affordable housing development.   The bill imposes fees for real estate document recording.

California SB-3:   Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018 (Senator Jim Beale).  It provides $3 billion through general obligation bonds to spur more than 90,000 units to help alleviate the state’s housing crisis that has hit moderate- to low-income earners the hardest.

Where more help is needed:   Sue Russell is the LWVC state “area expert” for housing.    Sue will help provide guidance as to which state bills need support from the LWVC.   Sue and our Housing Committee will let members know when local action is needed. 

Santa Clara County Affordable Housing Bond Measure A 2016.    It provides up to $950M to provide affordable local housing for vulnerable populations.    Up to $150M could be used to assist moderate income households.   The measure establishes a citizens’ oversight committee that serves as an advisory body to the Board of Supervisors and to the public.   

Where more help is needed:   Sue Russell will help provide guidance to our LWV Santa Clara County Council as to how League members may become involved in monitoring how the bond funds will be used.   Sue and our Housing Committee will let members know when local action is needed. 

Mountain View – Rent Stabilization

Mountain View:  the City Council is setting up an oversight committee for Measure V Rent Stabilization

Where more help is needed:   Our Housing Committee is following the implementation of Measure V.   The Housing Committee encourages more members to join to take on tasks of monitoring city council meetings; voicing League positions at council meetings, letter writing and OpEd creation.   The Housing Committee would like to further study rent stabilization and how it has been implemented in other cities.    What are the lessons to be learned from the study of other cities’ attempts to keep rents affordable?   The Housing Committee welcomes League members to join the committee or come to meetings to learn how to support and advocate for policies to expand affordable housing. The Housing Committee usually meets on the second Monday of the month at 7:30 p.m.  Call Sue Russell at 650-941-6091 or email her at  [email protected] to confirm date, time and location of the meeting.   

For further information on Bay Area Housing issues:

See the presentations from the Bay Area Inter League Organization’s January 28th Forum:  Focus on the Bay Area Housing Crisis.   Scroll down this webpage to find links to presentations.

Santa Clara County:  Transportation – 2016 Measure B

Santa Clara County voters have approved 2016 Measure B, a 30-year, half-cent countywide sales tax to enhance transit, highways, expressways and active transportation (bicycles, pedestrians and complete streets). A sales tax is anticipated to generate between $6 billion and $6.5 billion in 2017 dollars. Tax collections are expected to begin April 2017 and VTA expects to receive its first payment in June 2017.

A good overview and slide set on Measure B is available from the Santa Clara Valley Transportation

Authority website: http://www.vta.org/measure-b-2016

Lucas Ramirez is participating on the Citizens’ Advisory Committee.   Greg Unangst, is participating on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.  Pam Baird is interested in helping.

As this is a county initiative, League actions are coordinated and led by the LWV Santa Clara County Council.

Where more help is needed:   Lucas Ramirez encourages League members to participate in the community input sessions.    The VTA has established five advisory committees which discuss guidelines for use of the funds.   The public is welcome to attend these meetings to learn more about the proposed guidelines and provide input.    To learn about the advisory committees and their meeting schedules, visit here.

For further information:   

Joint Venture Silicon Valley State of the Valley Conference 2016.    Keynote speech on transportation by Stefan Heck.    

Los Altos Downtown Visioning 

The Los Altos City Council is weighing issues on building height, second units and below market rate units.    Cathy Lazarus represents our League on the Los Altos Community Coalition. The Los Altos Community Coalition brings community leaders together to develop a vision for Los Altos.   A vision that represents the values of all of our community now and anticipates the needs of our children and their children and is sustainable economically and environmentally.   Our Board member, Gary Hedden, participates in these meetings representing GreenTown.   

Where more help is needed:   Cathy Lazarus will let League members know when community input sessions are being held.     Contact Cathy Lazarus if you would like to become involved in the visioning process.    

  • Natalie Elefant has interest in participating in a Los Altos “oversight” group for housing issues.    
  • Merrian Nevin:   Is interested in becoming involved with Los Altos issues. 

Additional Comments regarding our County’s public transportation system.

The land use policies established for our valley over 50 years ago favored sprawling suburbs and low density housing.   To address our high housing costs, we need holistic, integrated development of high density housing/commercial centers along mass transportation hubs.  On January 28th, 2017 the Bay Area League held a 6-hour forum on affordable housing: Bay Area League forum on Housing.     The multiple presentations on the housing shortage and proposals to close the housing gap  may be downloaded from here.

Currently Los Altos can be viewed as a “transportation desert.”   What sort of public transportation would Los Altos residents use?    Is transportation included in the downtown Los Altos Visioning discussions?   There is interest in ride sharing apps/systems that would serve students after school and seniors.  Bike and pedestrian pathways should be expanded within the Los Altos – Mountain View area.    

It was noted that VTA leaders are not elected, such as water district board members.   The impact is that residents may not be as motivated to follow Transportation issues, since in elections they are not asked to consider candidates and their positions.

League members interested in advocating for improved Transportation:

  • Terry Terman
  • Pam Baird

Lunch with the League / Speaker Series

Katie Zoglin brought up the Lunch with the League.    What should be the directions for this speaker series?  It has been a popular way to connect League members with local elected officials.   We would like to consider venues and times for these speaker sessions that would help to attract new and younger members.   

  • Merrian Nevin offered to help with proposing alternatives for the Lunch with the League / Speaker Series.

Juvenile Justice

Our LWV Santa Clara County Council has a committee addressing Juvenile Justice issues.    Melody Grandell and Crownie Billik are on county council committee.    

  • Ellyn Corey noted interest in learning how to become involved.


What can our local league do to address the immigration ban and discrimination?    Many local agencies and organizations are publishing statements that they will not discriminate on the basis of immigration status.     Our local school districts have declared themselves to be sanctuary centers.   

  • Dana Bunnett would like our League to consider how to address immigration issues


  • Catherine Vonnegut is interested in working on local health care issues.