Los Altos Opinions Exchange

First & Main

Issue: Downtown Parking
Date of Posting:4/5/01
Author: Bob Perdriau

I appreciated the King Lear interview in the April 4 issue of the Town Crier. I’ll send this response to the Editor and also post it on the Los Altos Opinions Exchange web site that King has set up. Interested readers can find that site at:


The site is recommended reading and it would be great if more citizens used it. We would all be better informed and in better communication on important matters. The Town Crier should give this web site a little ink so that more people are aware it exists.

The Town Crier’s interview of the mayor provokes a few questions, in my mind, for King and the City Council.

The mayor is quoted as saying:

“The TC would do the public a great service by publishing the specific text and results of the poll. Let the public judge for themselves.”

This is likely a true statement, but doing so would take paper and ink. Probably a good use of resources, but one has to ask why King does not put that information on the Los Altos Opinions Exchange web site that he controls and/or moderates. It would cost little to do so as the information almost certainly exists in electronic form.

The site also contains information on the company that would operate a theater if one were approved. (Cameras Cinemas ) There is correspondence from the owner of the company. There is also a reference to the company web site so folks can see what kinds of films are available at other local venues operated by Camera Cinemas. I’ve not seen this data available anywhere else.

I admit to not attending council meetings where the subject may have been discussed and the information made available. But the information is not widely available and this makes King’s conclusions as to the popular will very suspect.

The TC asks:

“There has been some community concern about how the questions were formulated and interpreted.”

King’s answer to this invokes statistics, percentages and the procedures used. To quote: “The questions can stand on their own merits.”

There is no mention as to what background information, if any, was provided to the people that were canvassed.

Did the people know and understand the current state of the theater industry; it’s bankruptcies, it’s over supply problem and a probable low growth future with a potentially high failure rate? Did the people know about projected city income differences between a hotel and a theater? Did the people know what could be done with the additional income a hotel would provide?

That is, were people given choices other than a hotel or a theater at a particular location – like better parks and police services, or improved school facilities that might result from the financial and investment aspects of the decision?

Did the people know the fall back plan if a theater were to be built and then fail?

Having recently witnessed the council allow city services, including police and parks, to deteriorate dramatically by crying that the city could not afford to do otherwise I am strongly in favor of finding additional sources of income for Los Altos. I’m also dismayed that the City Manager, Phil Rose, appears oblivious to these morale and income challenges.

The city spent taxpayer money to buy the property at First and Main. Citizens should get a return on that investment. A hotel will provide a return. A theater will not.

I am also quite amazed that some members of the council seem to have little problem with the anonymous donation of $ 1 million conditioned on the decision coming down on the side of a theater. It is one thing to solicit contributions to a non-profit community effort such as the history museum.

It is quite another thing to accept money conditioned on the council making a decision that favors a commercial enterprise.

This really is an ethical problem. Council members can try to twist it in the wind if they want, but theirs is an ethically bankrupt position.

Not what I expect from the council.

Talk back on:


Issues: Downtown Parking

Bob Perdriau

354 Benvenue Avenue

Los Altos, CA 94024

(650) 941-1043


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