News

Letters to the editor: Jobs and housing, school reopenings, Stanford Wedge proposal

Menlo-Atherton High School sophomore Alexander Pfistner completes a health screening at the start of the school day in Atherton on April 6, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

School reopenings

I know that we live in an imperfect world and that we must do the best. However, after reading Sen. Becker's opinion about schools reopening (Guest opinion: "Why we decided to send our kids back to school," April 30), I believe he needs to provide more information for his position.

There are 1,050 unique school districts in California. He seems to be speaking solely for fifty-five. Fine. But should not the others representing over 6 million students in almost 1,000 school districts benefit from his discoveries and insights? Questions: What does he mean by "...limited in-school COVID-19 spread..." Limited? Who knows and decides if it is limited? What are the testing protocols in place now and who is affected by the consequences of this limited spread? Who are the children "at risk?" Will a limited spread become broad as the virus mutates into variants? What are his "prevention strategies?" Should teachers and staff personnel just "feel" safe as opposed to being safe actually? Does he know that an "opportunity" to receive one of the vaccines is different from truly receiving one; that a person who has received the vaccine may still suffer from and transmit the virus because of "breakthrough" infections? What is the time frame for seeing his remedies move from forthcoming to in place? I believe he needs to provide much more information that just writing a guest opinion, as he is an elected representative and not just someone like me with an opinion.

Jeff Colflesh

Placitas Avenue, Menlo Park

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Housing proposal in Portola Valley

As a 39-year resident of Ladera, a community folded into the influence of Portola Valley by a change in ZIP code some time ago, I feel obliged to comment on the opinions voiced from "central Portola Valley" by Portola Valley Neighbors United (PVNU), who have distributed a printed "newsletter" throughout my neighborhood. The NIMBY sentiments are focused on stopping residential development similar in scope and density to Ladera on the Stanford Triangle, a 75-acre wedge of property located a bit further up Alpine Road where approximately 7 acres are proposed for much-needed middle-class faculty housing at a density that matches my neighborhood and a few other areas within town limits but is higher than most of Portola Valley.

It is a disappointment to read these "newsletters" claiming to "examine the rich natural and cultural history of Portola Valley," when in actuality it is just propaganda that does not belong in our community at all.

Portola Valley is blessed with extensive access to open space and wildlife. Importantly, the wedge is private property and makes marginal contributions above and beyond all that assembled through the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District and additional efforts by nonprofit organizations. Importantly, all of the marginal contributions of the wedge would be sustained by the proposed development given that roughly 68 acres that are currently wooded terrain would remain so, and what is currently used for horses would become Stanford faculty housing. Thus, PVNU arguments that they seek to "protect the wildlife corridor owned by Stanford that connects Felt Lake to Westridge," "protect the rural ecosystem of the Stanford Wedge" and "reduce the fire risk" amount to hollow arguments. Each is easily dismissed by the facts, including the lower fire risk of housing at a density in neighborhoods like Ladera than in multi-acre wooded properties that are typical in Portola Valley. The wedge offers an opportunity for liberal-minded Portola Valley residents to embrace sensible change and ensure that young faculty find affordable housing in a remarkably expensive area!

Edward Mocarski

Professor emeritus, Stanford University

Erica Way, Ladera

The gift of Menlo Park gymnastics

I'm heading off to college in the fall, but I want to take a moment to thank Menlo Park for the Menlo Park gymnastics program and the Arrillaga family for giving us the gift of Burgess Gym. I spent 12 years in the program, first learning somersaults and handstands and slowly moving up, year by year, to five state championships and three regional competitions, eventually becoming a Region 1 Bars and All-Around champion. As a junior in high school, I switched to springboard diving as my primary sport, but the community forged in the gymnastics program drew me back into coaching the younger girls a couple of days a week until COVID-19 closed everything down.

I love competing, I love the gift of the Burgess Gym, but even more I love the sense of community that the gym gave me. Not only was I able to find friends and balance my studies by working out nearly every day, I grew up in that beautiful and safe space. People used to tell me that the gymnastics program was a big moneymaker for the city. I know that classes filled not only with local residents but with young athletes from nearby towns that did not have a gymnastics program like ours. But I'm not sure that our city leaders have heard much from young people like me and the families we represent or given much thought to how important programs like this are to building a strong community. Menlo Park gymnastics represents more than the usual recreation program. It has been an example of the heart and soul of what I want a community to be, and I will carry that experience with me into the future.

For many years, I've heard rumors about the city shutting down the gymnastics program or outsourcing it. I would ask everyone in Menlo Park to deeply consider the kind of community we want to be and how friendly, unique, and rigorous programs like this make our families healthier and happier. I'll be on the East Coast in the fall, but I hope you will work together to get Menlo Park children back in the gym as soon as possible. It will help them recover from this long pandemic. And I hope that when I return, I will find many young gymnasts learning and growing in our beautiful community gym with our dedicated community teachers. Menlo Park families and city leaders, I know that budgets are tight now, but please protect and nurture this and similar programs for the kids coming after me.

Sophia Simon

College Avenue, Menlo Park

Leaders spreading lies

Michael Mullane flew a fighter bomber in Vietnam and followed up as a crew member on three NASA shuttle missions.

His life depended on scrupulous attention to safety regulations, and he gave our group at work an impassioned presentation stressing the need to maintain adherence to protocols designed to save lives and avoid disasters.

His most impactful point was (in referring to the Challenger disaster in 1987) that "normalizing deviance produces the predictable result (disaster)."

Some of our leaders have normalized deviance in their callous disregard for truth and democracy. By spreading lies (election was stolen; vaccines are for wimps; masks are impositions on our freedoms) and rousing insurrection, they have violated their oaths and made disasters more likely. We must never normalize their breaches but reject them and those who would use them to topple our democratic republic.

Ed Taub, Mountain View

Jobs and housing

The Almanac stated in "Local towns face increased state housing requirements" in its May 14 issue (that) "San Mateo County is confronting a housing shortage. Since 2010, just 10,000 homes have been built, while 100,000 jobs have been created."

Why not fill the 100,000 jobs with the occupants of the 10,000 new homes — with the people that are already here? Support our local communities! Stop bringing people in from other parts of the state and world. This only contributes to more sardines packed into one can, traffic congestion, accidents, road rage, a higher cost of living and more mental and physical stress for everyone. Our governor and many of our cities talk about the need to conquer global warming and rising tides, but these actions only add to the intensity of global warming. How about providing jobs and housing for our local community first and foremost?

Jackie Leonard-Dimmick

Walnut Avenue, Atherton

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Letters to the editor: Jobs and housing, school reopenings, Stanford Wedge proposal

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Sun, Jun 6, 2021, 12:07 pm
Updated: Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 10:26 am

School reopenings

I know that we live in an imperfect world and that we must do the best. However, after reading Sen. Becker's opinion about schools reopening (Guest opinion: "Why we decided to send our kids back to school," April 30), I believe he needs to provide more information for his position.

There are 1,050 unique school districts in California. He seems to be speaking solely for fifty-five. Fine. But should not the others representing over 6 million students in almost 1,000 school districts benefit from his discoveries and insights? Questions: What does he mean by "...limited in-school COVID-19 spread..." Limited? Who knows and decides if it is limited? What are the testing protocols in place now and who is affected by the consequences of this limited spread? Who are the children "at risk?" Will a limited spread become broad as the virus mutates into variants? What are his "prevention strategies?" Should teachers and staff personnel just "feel" safe as opposed to being safe actually? Does he know that an "opportunity" to receive one of the vaccines is different from truly receiving one; that a person who has received the vaccine may still suffer from and transmit the virus because of "breakthrough" infections? What is the time frame for seeing his remedies move from forthcoming to in place? I believe he needs to provide much more information that just writing a guest opinion, as he is an elected representative and not just someone like me with an opinion.

Jeff Colflesh

Placitas Avenue, Menlo Park

Housing proposal in Portola Valley

As a 39-year resident of Ladera, a community folded into the influence of Portola Valley by a change in ZIP code some time ago, I feel obliged to comment on the opinions voiced from "central Portola Valley" by Portola Valley Neighbors United (PVNU), who have distributed a printed "newsletter" throughout my neighborhood. The NIMBY sentiments are focused on stopping residential development similar in scope and density to Ladera on the Stanford Triangle, a 75-acre wedge of property located a bit further up Alpine Road where approximately 7 acres are proposed for much-needed middle-class faculty housing at a density that matches my neighborhood and a few other areas within town limits but is higher than most of Portola Valley.

It is a disappointment to read these "newsletters" claiming to "examine the rich natural and cultural history of Portola Valley," when in actuality it is just propaganda that does not belong in our community at all.

Portola Valley is blessed with extensive access to open space and wildlife. Importantly, the wedge is private property and makes marginal contributions above and beyond all that assembled through the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District and additional efforts by nonprofit organizations. Importantly, all of the marginal contributions of the wedge would be sustained by the proposed development given that roughly 68 acres that are currently wooded terrain would remain so, and what is currently used for horses would become Stanford faculty housing. Thus, PVNU arguments that they seek to "protect the wildlife corridor owned by Stanford that connects Felt Lake to Westridge," "protect the rural ecosystem of the Stanford Wedge" and "reduce the fire risk" amount to hollow arguments. Each is easily dismissed by the facts, including the lower fire risk of housing at a density in neighborhoods like Ladera than in multi-acre wooded properties that are typical in Portola Valley. The wedge offers an opportunity for liberal-minded Portola Valley residents to embrace sensible change and ensure that young faculty find affordable housing in a remarkably expensive area!

Edward Mocarski

Professor emeritus, Stanford University

Erica Way, Ladera

The gift of Menlo Park gymnastics

I'm heading off to college in the fall, but I want to take a moment to thank Menlo Park for the Menlo Park gymnastics program and the Arrillaga family for giving us the gift of Burgess Gym. I spent 12 years in the program, first learning somersaults and handstands and slowly moving up, year by year, to five state championships and three regional competitions, eventually becoming a Region 1 Bars and All-Around champion. As a junior in high school, I switched to springboard diving as my primary sport, but the community forged in the gymnastics program drew me back into coaching the younger girls a couple of days a week until COVID-19 closed everything down.

I love competing, I love the gift of the Burgess Gym, but even more I love the sense of community that the gym gave me. Not only was I able to find friends and balance my studies by working out nearly every day, I grew up in that beautiful and safe space. People used to tell me that the gymnastics program was a big moneymaker for the city. I know that classes filled not only with local residents but with young athletes from nearby towns that did not have a gymnastics program like ours. But I'm not sure that our city leaders have heard much from young people like me and the families we represent or given much thought to how important programs like this are to building a strong community. Menlo Park gymnastics represents more than the usual recreation program. It has been an example of the heart and soul of what I want a community to be, and I will carry that experience with me into the future.

For many years, I've heard rumors about the city shutting down the gymnastics program or outsourcing it. I would ask everyone in Menlo Park to deeply consider the kind of community we want to be and how friendly, unique, and rigorous programs like this make our families healthier and happier. I'll be on the East Coast in the fall, but I hope you will work together to get Menlo Park children back in the gym as soon as possible. It will help them recover from this long pandemic. And I hope that when I return, I will find many young gymnasts learning and growing in our beautiful community gym with our dedicated community teachers. Menlo Park families and city leaders, I know that budgets are tight now, but please protect and nurture this and similar programs for the kids coming after me.

Sophia Simon

College Avenue, Menlo Park

Leaders spreading lies

Michael Mullane flew a fighter bomber in Vietnam and followed up as a crew member on three NASA shuttle missions.

His life depended on scrupulous attention to safety regulations, and he gave our group at work an impassioned presentation stressing the need to maintain adherence to protocols designed to save lives and avoid disasters.

His most impactful point was (in referring to the Challenger disaster in 1987) that "normalizing deviance produces the predictable result (disaster)."

Some of our leaders have normalized deviance in their callous disregard for truth and democracy. By spreading lies (election was stolen; vaccines are for wimps; masks are impositions on our freedoms) and rousing insurrection, they have violated their oaths and made disasters more likely. We must never normalize their breaches but reject them and those who would use them to topple our democratic republic.

Ed Taub, Mountain View

Jobs and housing

The Almanac stated in "Local towns face increased state housing requirements" in its May 14 issue (that) "San Mateo County is confronting a housing shortage. Since 2010, just 10,000 homes have been built, while 100,000 jobs have been created."

Why not fill the 100,000 jobs with the occupants of the 10,000 new homes — with the people that are already here? Support our local communities! Stop bringing people in from other parts of the state and world. This only contributes to more sardines packed into one can, traffic congestion, accidents, road rage, a higher cost of living and more mental and physical stress for everyone. Our governor and many of our cities talk about the need to conquer global warming and rising tides, but these actions only add to the intensity of global warming. How about providing jobs and housing for our local community first and foremost?

Jackie Leonard-Dimmick

Walnut Avenue, Atherton

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