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November 02, 2005

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Publication Date: Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Portola Valley voters sound off Portola Valley voters sound off (November 02, 2005)

'Malicious lie' in latest Valley mailing


In their latest mailing to Portola Valley residents, the opponents of the Measure A utility tax have resorted to a blatant falsehood, asserting that the Town Council has been "quietly working with underwriters" to carry out a "municipal junk bond offering" in order to finance the Town Center project.

This is pure fabrication. The Town Council does its business in plain view of the public. Nowhere in the minutes of the council's proceedings will one ever find mention of this preposterous "junk bond" idea. Those who would deliberately spread this kind of falsehood dishonor the tradition of civic service in Portola Valley.

Steve Toben, vice mayor

Santa Maria Avenue, Portola Valley

Keep your eye on library plans


I urge all patrons of the Portola Valley Library to attend the November 7 meeting regarding the Town Center.

The library, supposedly the jewel of the planned campus, has had significant design changes since the Friends of the Library has last been informed - most saliently a reduction in size from around 7,500 to 6,100 square feet. While the reduction might be for the best, it is imperative that the design team explains the changes, as well as hears opinions from library patrons.

Additionally, there have been many questions about the funding of the library within the Town Center plan and while the November 7 meeting is to be a design meeting, funding issues clearly affect the size and design of the building.

The meeting is in the Historic School House at 8 p.m. on November 7. Please attend. This is an opportunity to let our decision makers know what our community needs from its library. Karen Luedtke Fisher

Portola Valley

Open space could lose in Valley vote


As chairman of the Portola Valley Open Space Acquisition Committee I'm voting yes on Measures H and I because they are necessary to fund essential town services and preserve open space.

These two measures are renewals of our existing user utility tax. Maintaining and preserving open space has always been a cornerstone of what makes Portola Valley such a great place to live.

If Measure H is defeated, Measure I for open space will also be defeated. It is unfortunate that the opponents are using H and I as a proxy for the Town Center. There will be plenty of opportunities to decide the Town Center's fate through other means. If the opponents of H are really concerned about the Town Center why not put an initiative on the ballot or run candidates for Town Council.? I encourage a yes vote for both measures.

Craig Taylor

Chairman of the Portola Valley

Open Space Acquisition Committee

Santa Maria Avenue, Portola Valley

Utility tax a long term success story


The Utility Users Tax in Portola Valley, suddenly the center of a heated debate, is a long term success story.

While towns throughout California have struggled since Proposition 13, Portola Valley has managed to keep its roads paved (including massive emergency repairs in the recent past), its playing fields green, and its municipal services functioning, all the while still maintaining fiscal health. The utility tax is largely responsible for this success.

Lets not cut off our nose to spite our face by dumping this small but critical tax in an attempt to derail the Town Center plan. These really are separate issues. Please vote yes on Measure H.

John Richards

Portola Valley

Utility tax is all about Town Center project


My dismay at the Portola Valley Town Center project increases with its escalating cost. The initial cost projection was $8 million, then $12 million, then $15 million, now $20 million, with no end in sight.

Why does our town of 5,000 residents, with some 10 employees, need a Town Center of this magnitude? Why do we need a community hall when we will soon have three in town (the existing multi-use rooms at Corte Madera and Ormondale Schools, and the new hall at Woodside Priory). Why have we spent over $400,000 to date (with over $600,000 budgeted in fiscal year 2005-2006) just to get this project underway? Why would we saddle the town with millions of dollars in debt (more than $17,000 per household) when we could accommodate our staff in existing offices in town? And most important, why has the Town Council not put this project to a town-wide vote?

The council claims we will use our general fund reserves to build the project. The reserves stand at about $4 million, leaving a gap of at least $16 million. The only apparent way to stop this project is to vote no on Measure H, which extends our utility tax, the proceeds of which flow into the general fund.

This is another misguided project backed by our Town Council, who seem bent on building a monument to fiscal irresponsibility.

Susan Adams

Applewood Lane, Portola Valley

Concerned about candidate's housing stance


In your editorial last week you recommend Ms. Derwin and specifically mention that she is an advocate of lower cost housing.

This subject was debated extensively during the past several years in connection with the council-approved plans for high-density housing at the Nathhorst Triangle and led to the referendum in 2003. A majority of the voters rejected the high density housing plans and made it clear they don't want to go back to the housing-density standards that were permitted before Portola Valley incorporated in 1964.

There is another non-incumbent running, Ms. SallyAnn Reiss, who has broad experience in the commercial world and who is realistic about housing in Portola Valley. Ms. Reiss will more closely reflect the views of the residents she represents.

Bernard F. Bayuk

Paloma Road, Portola Valley

Voting for Merk, Driscoll and Derwin


On November 8 I will be voting for Richard Merk, Ted Driscoll and Maryann Derwin for Portola Valley's Town Council.

They have all demonstrated their commitment to the town's founding principals of environmental preservation, safeguarding open space, and fostering our town's thrifty volunteer-centered government and small-town sense of community.

But more specifically, now, when our Town confronts difficult and controversial decisions about rebuilding Town Center, they have shown their particular virtues.

Richard Merk's hands-on attention to detail, tightfisted conservatism and scrutinizing nature is needed now more than ever. Ted Driscoll has a uniquely fine analytical mind and has demonstrated a willingness and ability to reach out to those whose opinions differ from his. Maryann Derwin has shown her readiness to question basic assumptions and bring to bear a newcomer's healthy skepticism in a constructive way. At a time when our town's people are divided about the center, these qualities are particularly beneficial.

But perhaps most important, these three candidates have made clear that no additional public funds, beyond those already set aside in the Town Center reserve fund, should be spent on the project without a vote. Such a firm commitment to seek the public's permission is essential to achieve consensus regarding a new Town Center that will be in harmony with Portola Valley.

Jon Silver

Portola Road, Portola Valley

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