Thursday, March 15, 2012

I Tilt At Windmills: Therefore I Am

Not too many cities in the world can boast a civic center with grounds that look like this. 

A friend and I handed out more of my leaflets this morning--telling my neighbors in Los Altos what are the plans for our historic apricot orchard. That is--to demolish it, pave it over, and build a bunch of city buildings where the trees have stood for half a century.

Meanwhile, the local paper hits my mailbox each Wednesday and makes me grind my teeth. In it, our mayor is quoted as saying (this week): " It [the orchard] will be preserved in some fashion." This is like saying your dead grandfather will be "preserved in some fashion" when you have him cremated and place his ashes on your mantlepiece.

The orchard is in bloom now along with the wild mustard that surrounds the trees. In the summer, the herb is tilled under and the California poppies spring up in the dry earth.

Our mayor's use of the English language is deeply disturbing to me--and the fact that she learned to talk like this by getting an MBA in marketing at Stanford is more discouraging still.

If you catch her drawing up a survey that is slanted and that breaks all the protocols of survey taking--she tells you it isn't really a survey, it is "a tool to engage the public."

If you tell her those four-story buildings she is allowing downtown go against the building code we've had since 1952, she will tell you she is "retaining the core of our village character."

If you catch her planning to bulldoze an orchard, she will tell you she is "preserving it in some fashion."

If she were caught with her hand in the cookie jar, she would, likely, say "this isn't a cookie and that isn't a jar."

Robin's memo to her neighbors.

But saying it doesn't make it so.

So, I produce leaflets on my computer and another Don Quixote and I walk the neighborhoods in the vicinity of the next city presentation on its "Phase One Master Plan." We get some exercise and a chance to see a little more of this town of 28,000 people.

My memo to my neighbors, which I sign and in which I include my contact information,  encourages folks to attend these city presentations and to ask tough questions--about the proposed bond that will increase their taxes and about the planned demolition of the orchard.

Because, even though our mayor claims it will be "preserved in some fashion" I have read the Master Plan. Under the heading "Phase One" it reads: "Demolish orchard." 

If that's preservation, then I'm a stalk of blooming mustard.

Los Altos City Hall boasts one of the last apricot orchards in the Santa Clara Valley.

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Janet Grunst said...

Way to go, Robin!

I loved that orchard when I lived in Los Altos in the sixties.

Robin Chapman said...

I guess I'm an apricot snob. I think anyone who doesn't see the beauty in that orchard and doesn't want to cherish it--like our present mayor--is a person who shouldn't be allowed to live in our town. Thanks for the encouragement. I need it!

Robin Chapman said...

I found out at a meeting tonight that one local resident, in desperation, Googled "apricot orchard, City Hall, Los Altos, demolish" and found my blog. She emailed me and is now joining our preservation group. I guess it is a good thing I have this blog. Even though it is me, unedited, saying how I really feel and not always with great diplomacy. Some people do agree with me from time to time. Bless you Janet for keeping in touch.