Joke not funny to council gadfly | February 4, 2011 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - February 4, 2011

Joke not funny to council gadfly

Don Letcher still unhappy after 13 years of ranting

by Daniel DeBolt

Self-described gadfly Don Letcher is known for his weekly, sometimes daily, accusations of sundry city misconduct to local newspapers and city officials. But this week's angry rant from Letcher seems to strike at the core of his 13-year tiff with the city.

It was spurred by a paraphrased statement by council member Tom Means in the Nov. 16 City Council meeting minutes: Means "would like council to think about a city/community designation for 788 North Rengstorff Avenue."

That address is Letcher's property near Old Middlefield Way, which he believes the city has been trying to drive him off of since 1997. "The city of Mountain View takes people's land," Letcher said. "It's the same thing they were trying to do for the Francia property."

But what appears to Letcher to be a proposed "taking" of his property by Means was actually a joke, said Means. Letcher admits he didn't hear the comment in person.

Means made the joke as he criticized the now-dead proposal to rezone the city's last orchard, owned by the Francia family, for a long-desired park in the Whisman neighborhood. Means recalled saying, "If we're going to do that, why don't we do it" to Don Letcher's property?

Basically, Means was using humor to express opposition to just the sort of "taking" Letcher is afraid of. It's not unusual for the libertarian to take such a position.

But Letcher insists it wasn't a joke. "I take real offense" to insinuations "that Means is playing a joke," he said. Letcher claims that Means called his home and left a voicemail in which "he made it very clear... he wants me to shut up and stay away. It's no joke, he's told me he's coming after my property."

"Some people can't take a joke," said Means, one of several city officials who say they've grown tired of correcting Letcher's false accusations over the years, accusations which Letcher apparently circulates in senior citizen social circles.

Fueling Letcher's rage is the belief that he has been kept from renting out six housing units on the property he's owned since 1962 because of an effort by city officials to make sure the homes were code compliant in 1997. It's not clear why, but he responded to the code inspections by kicking his tenants off his property. He admits to having lost a lawsuit from his tenants for wrongfully evicting them, and having to pay the tenants several hundred thousand dollars in an out of court settlement.

Because his homes were vacant more than six months, Letcher has lost the property's grandfather status that allowed residential use on the property, said City Attorney Jannie Quinn. She added that the property has been zoned for commercial use since the city annexed it in 1963.

Letcher, a retired Sunnyvale police officer, may get a break soon. In next year's general plan update his property is proposed for a more flexible commercial and residential designation.

But Letcher says "I want them to leave me the hell alone" and doesn't trust that city officials will do that, rezoning or not. He's suspicious that Quinn will add a long list of conditions to the one-time conditional use permit the city will require for him to rent the homes under the potential zoning change. Quinn denies it, saying the homes only need to be habitable and meet the city's safety and fire codes.

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at


Like this comment
Posted by The Eye
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 3, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Grab your popcorn, soda, and take your seats, folks! The show's about to begin...

Like this comment
Posted by Mel
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 3, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Letcher is just a paranoid man who dug his own hole, stepped in it, and covered himself up..........all by himself. Perhaps Mr. Letcher should let the Idea Farm guy park in his barracaded lot, so we only have to roll our eyes once between 101 and El Camino Real!

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2011 at 9:36 am

Don Letcher's problems are no surprise, since the State and inferiors are hard at fraud, waste, and abuse. No State, inferior, or other media will report, how Gov.Davis' 2000-2001 negotiations for deregulated energy deals have generated spiral cost inflation, and so bogus SJSU econ professor Tom Means enjoys, how Cal State fees go up all the time, but he doesn't explain how Davis aimed the negotiations, right through the May-June 2001 nuclear refurbishings, further inciting grid withholding, but causing review of comparative negligence, by California. Inferiors like Mtn.View keep refusing to admit, they are little speed-traps, with nasty, corrupt burgers, running the town, hiding liabilities, with dirty tricks.

Even Andy Cooper refuses to take a look around, to report on the AC. What chance is there, for an economic recovery, when so many dirty tricksters are getting paid, to hide the hole in the bottom of the ship of State? Even a former cop needs to watch out, all the time.

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2011 at 9:43 am

Don't believe there's inflation?

Why do the schools keep after our taxes, with repeated Measure "ABC" referendums?

Why are no borders protected, but war issues, since 2003?

Why did Michael Martello and MVPD get to run Mtn.View, while Reno 911 satire subjects ran County of Santa Clara, like fiefdoms?

Why do courts issue non-specific information, and attorneys continue, without discovery?

Don Letcher needs to worry, at council, since so many other persons just like to pay property taxes, and let the inflation dig away, at their property taxes, more and more and MORE.

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2011 at 9:58 am

Don't believe US, state, and inferior corruption is legendary and INFLATIONARY?

Seen Egypt, Tunis, and other riots, lately? The US supports the 1882 invasion of Palestine AND the apartheid State of Israel, which have incited two-and-a-half world wars, already, while the states issue bills of attainder and ex post facto laws, by profiteering, bicameral legislatures, for their profiteering, inflation-hiding inferiors, which oppress citizens.

Got Caltrain? They don't get to issue Measure ABC-Train, in bad faith. AMTRAK needed Obama to bailout, in 2010, but Caltrain is still doomed, by its inflationary 2007 labor deal.

Got Don Letcher? You only have a fraction of the "gadfly" media you need, to survive the 2012 anniversay, of the sinking of the HMS Titanic.