NOTE: This is a recent letter to the editor from Jean S. Schaaf of Atherton
The Sept. 20 Atherton City Council meeting generated a room full of people and a cyclone of expressed feelings.
The town's building department has developed problems. A very vocal, uninformed group wants to lay the blame on a single council member, which is ludicrous. The workings of the town are under the umbrella of the city manager and the five-member city council. These council members are volunteers, not paid employees. And not all of these people get to read all the updates that are sent to them.
I personally have been a very close observer of the Atherton council for many years and I can pinpoint the exact time that the council became more effective and better for the residents. When Kathy McKeithen began digging into the intricacies of the town, the building department had two drawers which were the repositories of the cash, and checks paid by residents. These drawers were not locked and records, to my knowledge, were relatively nonexistent. That was corrected after Kathy and her team discovered it.
My first observation of trouble in the building department came about when an 11-foot wall was proposed for upper Stockbridge Avenue. The code dictated that this height could only be built as a retaining wall. This was pointed out and the applicant said, no worries, "the dirt will be delivered tomorrow." The pertinent papers could not be found that evening and the wall is there for all to view. "Why have codes?" was my thought.
Should we complement this untidy faction in town that wishes to hang laurel wreathes upon the building department and those employed there as being the epitome of all building departments? Well, we could. But, in doing this, they want to destroy a single council member who, of course, is the best and the brightest.
We need people who excel, who read and understand, who lead dedicated lives to help not only themselves but also the community. Greatness should be our goal even if it is hardly obtainable.
Jean S. Schaaf