Emergency Access Activity Log
by Les Earnest
Here is a summary of the actions taken and results obtained
so far regarding emergency access issues in the Town of Los Altos Hills,
8/23/94 Acting as a Neighborhood Coordinator in the Town’s
emergency preparedness program, I presented a memorandum to the Safety
Committee describing the need for an emergency access route in the O’Keefe
Lane neighborhood and suggested eight possible
routes, also depicted on an accompanying map. The Safety Committee chose
to ignore this issue.
11/1/94 In my capacity as Pathways Committee Chair, presented
a memo to the Safety Committee pointing out the lack of emergency access on
East and West Sunset Drives and the fact that the existing pathway connection
between the ends of those roads could be used to provide such a route. The
Safety Committee chose to ignore this issue.
1/14/95 In my capacity as Pathways Committee Chair, again
pointed out to the Safety Committee the need to provide emergency access routes
for residents. The Committee agreed to address this issue but then failed
to follow through. However with the Council’s concurrence they agreed to
form a joint subcommittee with Pathways to address the emergency access issues.
2/6/95 to 8/7/95 The Emergency
Access Subcommittee held a series of monthly meetings during which we reviewed
the existing fire roads, interviewed the Fire Chief regarding the needs of his
department, produced some recommendations that we sent to the Council, all
written by me, then shut down when it became evident that nobody besides me
thought that anything should actually be done.
6/15/04 Starting another run at the problem, I gave the Fire
Commission a presentation at their regular meeting, accompanied by a two page
memo calling specific attention to the O’Keefe Lane
and Sunset Drive emergency access problems as well as the locked gate
issue. The Commission, led by the Chair, shrugged it off, saying these
were not their problems. I believe that the lack of fire truck access to
my neighborhood and others really is their problem but I have no political
7/1/04 I presented the same two issues to the Town Council
during the public access period, limited to a 3 minute presentation, and gave
them a two page memo providing additional information. Mayor O’Malley
expressed interest in the issues, so I hoped that the Council will eventually
undertake a more careful review of these problems.
Recognizing that there were more issues to be examined than could be
presented within the 3 minute limit during public discussions before the
Council, I posted a more complete review titled "Are you ready for the
next big one?" on this date, listing five
main questions that should be examined. I subsequently sent email pointers to
Council and senior Town staff members.
I was pleased to learn that Council had asked staff to review the issues
I had raised and present a report on this date but was dismayed to find that
the report addressed only two of the five questions I had raised and presented
a series of erroneous "Field Observations" saying, in effect that
there were no problems.
10/19/10 Having updated my proposal for a review of emergency access routes
so as to consider the use of breakaway locks at pathway access points, so that
anyone could get access with a hammer, I presented it again to the Los Altos
Hills Fire Commission and was most pleased to learn that this time they liked
it and informally agreed to review this matter at their January 2011 meeting
and make a recommendation to the new City Council. However as the result of a
change in the Commission's Chair that didn't happen.