It is hardly surprising that there are scores of Mountain View folks who are craving the space to start gardening.
The city's policies in recent years have seen single-family homes on large lots give way to houses crammed together — apartments, condos and commercial developments that permit no room for trees, let alone gardens. These policies have granted maximum profit for developers but left residents longing for greenery and open space.
For this reason, it is important to leave the Stieper property at 771 North Rengstorff as a park. Although it is easy to appreciate the desire to grow one's own food, this 1.22-acre property should be made available for everyone and not just a few lucky individuals who made it to the top of a list. The fruit trees, which were planted over many years by the Stiepers, should remain for the enjoyment of all.
There must be homeowners and renters in the city who still have a large yard but are unable to make use of the space due to work demands, disability or age. Maybe it would be possible to open a register of individuals who would be eager to share their yard with gardeners — perhaps for a share the produce?
Why war on poverty failed
The war on poverty has failed for multiple reasons and more government hand-outs are not the answer. If you look at Japan they have government welfare but you would never know it because the Japanese look at it as a very last resort.
You do anything you can to support yourself and if you can't you ask your family to help you out. If you are on welfare, the government checks up the you to make sure you are not trying to rip off the system.
Today in the United States, around 40 percent of people with kids are single parents. This is a huge economic problem. On average, kids of single parents end up not doing nearly as well as kids with two parents.
Then you have the entitlement generation. Kids who want to go right to the top without working their way up the job ladder. Show me a person that is willing to train to learn a skill, will show up to work on time and can pass a drug test and that person will find a job.
We have emphasized in schools too much that learning a trade is a failure, that you need to be a doctor or a lawyer. We need to provide different skills for different kids. This last recession was called the Great Recession. Really? This pales compared to what my grandmother went through in the Great Depression. That was real hardship.
Some tips for conserving water
With all the recent news about dry weather in California, we residents must take all the action we can to reduce the amount of water we use in our daily lives.
One important thing we can all do is to run water slowly when we are washing our hands, washing dishes, cleaning tooth brushes and showering.
When turning on the shower water there is usually some cold water that arrives first, and one can keep an empty bucket in the shower to collect the cold water and use it later to water parts of the garden.
Also, a "navy shower" will use less water than normal showers by just getting wet, turning off the water to apply the soap, and then rinsing.
In the garden it is wise to water in the morning so that the water will sink into the ground before it gets hot and possibly evaporate. Cars can be washed without running water; by using two small buckets, one with soapy water, one with clean water. Use a rag to clean the car's outer surface and windows with soapy water, and another rag to wipe off the soapy water. Window scrapers can be used to clean the windows.
Watch out for tolls on Highway 85
The politicians and bureaucrats in charge of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) are expanding to Highway 85 their replacement of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes with Express Lanes that wealthier folks can use for a fee. Why? Because wealthier folks should never be required to wait in a line, and the VTA wants more money to fund its exorbitant salaries and benefits.
In parts of Maryland, paid HOV lanes on freeways were expanded to all lanes being toll lanes: every vehicle is tracked with blink cameras, and cars are charged per mile of roadway used.
That will be the next step in the Bay Area.
Letcher's protest sign goes down
About 15 years ago, concerned about Mountain View's overly harsh code inspection policies, I put a large sign on the front of my house in protest. The sign said, "Please help save Mtn. View" and "Affordable housing is an issue."
That was 15 years ago and just now, in late 2013, I removed the sign in disgust, and lots of people asked me why.
Please read the editorials in the Dec. 13 and 20 Voice and the article on Page 86 of the Jan. 2014 Vanity Fair magazine: "The shape of things to come."
Mountain View is dominated overwhelmingly by Google, which figured out a way to escape from the real world.
As small businesses (except fancy restaurants) and owners who live in their own homes (about 17 percent now) are forced out of "their" city, the City Council should replace the Community Development Department with a more compassionate "Community Preservation Department."