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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
Santa Clara County, CA November 2, 2004 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Council Member; Town of Los Altos Hills

The questions were prepared by the the League of Women Voters of Los Altos-Mtn. View Area and asked of all candidates for this office.

See below for questions on Public School, Reserves, Zoning and Planning

Click on a name for other candidate information.   See also more information about this contest.

1. Should Town staff and Town resources be used to assist in establishing a public education facility in Los Altos Hills? Should Town staff and Town resources be used to assist in creating a public school district in Los Altos Hills?

Answer from Craig A.T. Jones:

Los Altos Hills now has no public schools, one of only two towns on the Peninsula with no public schools. The City Council must provide leadership and sort through the alternatives to solve this problem. I oppose redistricting which would force the Palo Alto side of town to give up Gunn and other loved schools. I also oppose a solution that would require the Los Altos side of town to give up Egan. So we should add to choices for our town, not reduce them. Merely negotiating with the Districts will not work, as that has been tried for the past two years. Either Bullis is reopened this coming Fall or we should assist the charter school to move to Town so an additional educational choice is available to Town residents.

Answer from Carol Jean Gottlieb:

Town funds and Town resources should only be used to assist in establishing public education in Los Altos Hills as permitted by Town and State laws and availability of funds. This would include creation of a public school district. I am personally in favor of returning a public elementary school to the Bullis School site.

Answer from Colette Cranston:

Town resources have already been allocated to pay for a professional survey on public education issues. It also appears that the Town Attorney will be spending time on the issue. Other than that, some staff work may be needed on zoning questions and General Plan designations. Councilmembers' time may be required in negotiation or lobbying to bring a public elementary school back, not staff or dollars.

The results of the professional survey are not in yet. Those results should better inform us of the direction in which residents want to proceed. I expect that we may not be pursuing our own school district, except possibly for K-6 or K-8.

Answer from Jean H. "John" Mordo:

I believe that bringing back public education to the Hills requires leadership from the Council rather than resources or staff time. This ledership is required to negotiate with the relevant school districts and other parties involved to find a solution that is acceptable to the residents.

2. Would you increase Town reserves? If no, why not? If yes, how would you do that?

Answer from Colette Cranston:

I feel more comfortable with solid reserve balances and would work to maintain them at their current level. In recent history, we were in essence "saving" to finance the new Town Hall construction, so the dips in our reserve balance were anticipated. There is no new revenue resource planned, except for construction/refuse truck user fees. Our operating expenses are fairly lean right now.

I would approach the reserves as we have for years, by being careful in our spending and by accumulating surpluses from the operating budget, not through debt financing.

Answer from Carol Jean Gottlieb:

Yes. As the Town expenditures and income increase, so should the Town reserves. This can be done by keeping the expenditures from the general fund below general fund income, and placing the difference in the reserve fund. The reserve fund should only provide money for unforeseen emergencies. Borrowing to increase the reserve fund at this time is creating an unecessary debt for future residents.

Answer from Craig A.T. Jones:

I have already had an impact on the amount of reserves for Street repair by recommending that we charge construction trucks user fees for the damage they cause to roads. Putting the charges where the use is, as contrasted to raising taxes, is consistent with my philosophy.

I also recommended that the Town issue COP's for partial payment of the Town Hall, so that facility does not use up all the available resources of the Town, leaving no other money for new initiatives.

I favor spending on the necessary and useful programs such as street repair and sewers for us all and parks and recreation programs for our kids rather than increasing reserves.

Answer from Jean H. "John" Mordo:

I would not neccessarily increase reserves, but I would protect the current level by borrowing to finance the new Town Hall. This is an asset that will be in use for 50+ years, and it makes sense to borrow part of the cost, especially given the current low level of interest rates, so we can maintain an adequate level of reserves to face any contingency.

3. What changes, if any, would you make to the zoning regulations or to the planning review process?

Answer from Carol Jean Gottlieb:

This is not the time to propose new zoning ordinances. We must first review and update our General Plan and then update our zoning and site development ordinances to conform to the General Plan. As part of the site development ordinance review, I would suggest adding View Corridor protection at site development, to provide protection of a view corridor for neighbors.

Other changes may be suggested during the Plan review process.

In the case of Planning Review, I think the Fast Track process could be improved by holding meetings at times more convenient to residents.

Answer from Jean H. "John" Mordo:

I support the current one acre minimum zoning, and the current slope density standards (LUF, MDA, MFA). I also support the current fast track process. The pricipal improvements that I would seek are the strengthening of the fast track process, and the clarification of ordinances pertaining to building on steep, highly visible lots.

Answer from Colette Cranston:

I support the fast track process and will work to ensure that Town staff administer it properly so that neighbors are clearly apprised of plans. I believe we should have more emphasis on native vegetation and the preservation of significant trees like Heritage oaks. The Land Use Element of our General Plan needs to be updated right away.

Answer from Craig A.T. Jones:

I support the fast track process and our current codes. I would ask three questions: 1. What energy use reductions should we require of very large homes? 2. How can we encourage solar power in our development? 3. What limitations can be consistently and reasonably be applied in terms of design. I do not favor dictating details of design but it is worthwhile to ask whether we should allow any design of huge homes/gardens which change the rural character of the town. The issue is not so much the size of the home, but how it fits into the town. These are difficult questions which would require public hearings and a thorough review of public comment and any proposals to ensure they are even-handed and not overly burdensome.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Until noon on September 24 candidates must limit their answers to 300 words total for all questions so that a paper Voters Guide may be published. After that time word limits will no longer apply. Candidates' responses are not edited or corrected by the League or by Smart Voter.

The order of the candidates is random and changes daily.

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Created: December 15, 2004 13:34 PST
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