Letters to the editor | April 23, 2021 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


Viewpoint - April 23, 2021

Letters to the editor

Ann's Coffee Shop

I was saddened to learn that Ann's Coffee Shop would close in downtown Menlo Park ("The end of an era: Ann's Coffee Shop to close," April 9). For decades, it was a valued noontime gathering place for local retirees as well as a friendly breakfast and lunch spot for parents and kids.

Menlo Park is losing many of its longtime small businesses: The Guild Theatre, Village Stationers, The Pet Place, Ann's Coffee Shop, and possibly Feldman's Books. (Editor's note: The Guild Theatre is under renovation to become a music and events venue.) Whether due to the COVID-19 pandemic or downtown redevelopment or the simple inevitability of change, they will be missed. These were not just businesses; they were people serving their neighbors and touchstones for the community. The midnight showing of "Rocky Horror." Personally designed wedding invitations. A place to bring your new pup for "meet and greet." The out-of-print book. That perfect piece of rhubarb pie.

A sincere thank you to the owners and staff of these businesses. You made Menlo Park a better place.

Maureen Sanders Skyline Boulevard, Woodside

Yes on S

As Woodside and Portola Valley residents in the Portola Valley School District receive their ballots to vote on Measure S, we have a rare opportunity to cast a "yes" vote that both lowers our tax bill and preserves essential funding for our public schools.

Our community has a 30-plus year history of filling in the gap left by state funding and property taxes to support strong schools through a parcel tax. Currently, the direct benefits of our parcel tax dollars are: enhanced core subject instruction, the ability to retain excellent teachers, small class sizes, school library services, and coursework in STEM, music and the arts. All of this is at risk if we fail to pass Measure S.

As a former PVSD trustee and parent of two PVSD graduates now at Woodside High, I am proud of the work being done in our district. Many will point to our schools' excellent educational programs. Congratulations Corte Madera on being named a California Distinguished School again in 2021!

PVSD also currently has a top-notch administrative team and board who are committed to smart, effective use of funds. After thoughtful study and deliberation, voters are being asked to renew the current parcel tax at a reduced rate of $471 per parcel. This is a $110 reduction from the current parcel tax set to expire in June. This reduction by no means reflects that educational costs are decreasing. Great effort was made to review spending, make strategic cuts, and align spending with priorities. This district understands its duty to be good stewards of our public dollars.

Measure S is about one thing: maintaining the outstanding quality of education provided in our local public schools. Please join me in voting yes on S.

Karyn Bechtel

Skywood Way, Woodside

All-electric buildings

Electrifying office and industrial buildings will increase blackouts in California because wind and solar electricity are unreliable ("Guest opinion: California needs an equitable strategy for transitioning to all-electric buildings," April 2). Wind doesn't blow enough at night to provide steady state power. Retrofitting existing office buildings is extremely costly and the money would be better spent developing affordable battery storage, exploring alternative forms of green energy like the solar/hydrogen cycle, and updating our grid and transmission lines. There is also little bang for the buck converting office buildings to all electricity because most of their energy use is for electricity for lighting and cooling. Heating is mostly achieved by the greenhouse effect of windows. The main beneficiary of our prematurely electrifying office buildings will be Austin, Texas, which will welcome our businesses and their tax bases with open arms.

Ed Kahl

Woodside Road, Woodside

Pass action against climate change

It seems like we are having another year of drought in the Bay Area. And all of us living on the Peninsula remember the lightning fires and orange skies of last year. As we ease out of the COVID-19 pandemic, we still need to be concerned once again about breathing unhealthy air later in the year.

In the short term, we hope that PG&E and government resources are clearing brush and taking other measures to limit wildfires as much as possible. But for the longer term we must face up to the effects of climate change in our beautiful area of California.

Recently, with Rep. Anna Eshoo's full endorsement, the new Congress introduced HR 2307, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. This bill puts a price on carbon that increases over time. The bill is written to be bipartisan and use market forces to encourage the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Frankly, it's long overdue.

I encourage Almanac readers to register their support for this bill. You can write or phone Anna to help give her the backing of her constituents as she works to implement a policy that more urgently addresses climate change. You can read more about the benefits of carbon pricing online at citizensclimatelobby.org.

Rob Hogue

Siskiyou Drive, Menlo Park

What will we say?

What will we tell kids about climate change?

I have been thinking about how our young people will judge us when they look back on how we responded to climate change.

Will they ask if we knew in our hearts that using fossil fuels for energy would kill the planet, but we needed to wait and see the data to prove it?

Will we tell them it was so hard that we couldn't figure out how to safely transition to emissions-free energy despite knowing about a carbon fee and dividend approach?

Will they ask why we could tax cigarettes and alcohol to reduce harmful consumption but not carbon emissions?

Will we say that the oil industry was so powerful that we couldn't get any climate legislation passed?

Will they ask if we knew that many underprivileged communities, which already had so many hardships, were suffering the worst?

Will we say that it seemed OK because big oil companies and wealthy investors were driving the economy and profiting at the expense of our health and the health of our planet?

Or can we take action today that will change their questions — so they instead ask how we created a clean and healthy future?

Will we proudly tell them that we advocated and supported a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend that transformed our energy economy while creating jobs and protecting the vulnerable and the environment?

Carlos Rodriguez Santiago, Citizens' Climate Lobby volunteer

Mountain View

Time to end the Senate filibuster

The filibuster is hot news these days. There is a lot of interest in abolishing it. Originally, it was put in place to prevent civil rights legislation from becoming law. A determined minority in the Senate can gridlock the federal government by using the filibuster and not even allow debate on a bill. Any senator can signal an objection, and suddenly the Senate has to clear a 60-vote threshold. It makes the Senate a place where little happens and bills die. Every issue you may care about will likely be held hostage by this relic of the past. Please contact your senators and ask them to end the filibuster so they can do the job we sent them to Washington to do.

Barbara Kyser

Los Altos

In support of Measure S

I have lived in Portola Valley for 31 years, and Portola Valley schools hold a special place in my heart. One of my children (now a thriving adult) was a special needs student while he was enrolled in the Portola Valley School District. Then, like now, our district offered incredible services that made all the difference for my son. I will always be grateful and amazed at the lengths our district went to in order to best educate him.

Our schools make our community. After my husband passed unexpectedly, I started working in the district as an aide. I got to see firsthand the incredible work that happens in the classrooms. When kids graduate from our schools, they are well-prepared for high school, particularly in math and science. With my granddaughter now growing up in Portola Valley, I can't wait to volunteer in the schools again!

Our schools give us so much, and right now, they need our vote. Measure S is necessary. It will keep great teachers, maintain small class sizes, and fund critical math, science, and technology programs that prepare students to succeed in high school, college, and careers. Measure S is a reasonable ask of our community. It does not increase tax rates. Instead, it simply extends and reduces our existing parcel tax for eight years.

Critical to those in my age group, Measure S allows residents ages 65 and over to support our schools and vote yes without impacting their budgets, especially those living on fixed incomes. It is important to me that an optional Measure S exemption is available for these property owners.

Investing in our kids is investing in the future of our community. I hope you will join me in voting yes on S.

Chrisi Fleming

Meadowood Drive, Portola Valley

Vote yes on Measure S

As a senior and a longtime resident of Portola Valley, I wanted to make sure I understood Measure S before committing to support it. I've done my homework, and I'm voting yes on S. Here are my top reasons:

•Measure S is necessary: The school district is only asking for what it truly needs to keep great teachers, maintain small class sizes, and fund critical math, science, and technology programs that prepare Portola Valley students to succeed in high school, college, and careers.

•Measure S will protect the value of local homes. Good schools maintain property values and keep our community a desirable place to live.

•Measure S does not increase tax rates. Measure S simply extends and reduces our existing parcel tax for eight years.

•Measure S allows senior citizens 65 and over to support our schools and vote yes on this measure without impacting their budgets, especially those living on fixed incomes. An optional Measure S exemption is available for these particular property owners.

Our PV schools are critical to the families of the town, and Measure S is critical to our maintaining outstanding schools.

I'm not easily convinced, but Measure S is needed. I hope you will join me and encourage everyone you know to vote yes on S.

Bill Leckonby

Golden Oak Drive, Portola Valley


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