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Show up for our Waterways on 11/27

NOW IS THE TIME!  Your voice matters.

Council will vote on a proposed shoulder paving policy that includes a 3-foot asphalt swale to the City Right of Way. GreenTown has advocated that permeable materials, not asphalt, be the default. The item is on the consent agenda, perilously close to a final decision.

The item is on the consent agenda, perilously close to a final decision. We will present Council with a letter and a list of more than 70 signatures! But, for the sake of our waterways, we are asking YOU to:

Show up: Your presence in the Council Chambers really has an impact. Speak: Please join us and prepare to speak for 1 minute. The most effective message is a personal incident or viewpoint. Ask: Ask City Council to eliminate the asphalt swale from the policy in favor of organic, permeable materials.

Talking points can be found below. Please choose any that resonate with you.


  1. A 3′ asphalt swale, although it is not continuous, looks like more street. Wider streets create faster traffic.

  2. An organic Right of Way is a clear distinction from the asphalt street. This makes it a safer refuge for pedestrians to escape from cars.

Storm water pollution:

  1. The single largest source of pollution in the SF Bay is stormwater runoff.

  2. Current environmental thinking is to capture rain where it falls and let it sink into the ground, where toxins are captured and decompose. This is done by maximizing green scape – organic, permeable materials – and minimizing hardscape, which sends untreated water into our local waterways.

  3. The proposed policy does just the opposite by adding hardscape of a 3′ asphalt swale.

  4. Using organic, permeable materials in the Right of Way is simple, low-cost, and practical.

  5. Los Altos has a tremendous opportunity to maximize stormwater capture with our abundance of organic Right of Way areas.

  6. The policy continues to build a storm drainage system that won’t connect until every existing home is knocked down or has a large remodel.

  7. More hardscape causes water to flow to downslope neighbors. Policy revisions should correct this to the maximum extent possible.

Rural character:

  1. Our natural streets are a treasured part of our Los Altos heritage, an elegant rural characteristic that distinguishes our town. This adds to our level of enjoyment and our property values. The asphalt swale is an unnecessary erosion of this character.

  2. This policy will shape our streets for the future, exchanging organic land for hardscape.

  3. If we protect our rural neighborhoods we will be an even more sought-after refuge from all the hardscape and building around us.

  4. Our neighbors in Atherton have successfully modeled the effective use of greenscape in their Right of Way for many years. Atherton prohibits asphalt in the Right of Way.

  5. We do not want our city to become all curbs and gutters. Our rural character is what sets us apart.

  6. Will Los Altos be the town that said no to hardscape, kept our neighborhood feel intact and maintained our rural character?

Include a brief conclusion that specifically states what you want. For example:

  1. Reduce stormwater pollution. Replace the proposed asphalt swale with organic, permeable materials. Remove the 3′ wide asphalt swale from the new proposed policy.

  2. Protect the rural character of our streets for the future. Remove the 3′ wide asphalt swale from the new proposed policy.

  3. Don’t widen our streets.

Thanks so much for your support!

The GreenTown Water Team

Linda Ziff, Barbara O’Reilly, Tami Mulcahy

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