Almanac

News - July 20, 2011

Portola Valley notes: Teen Committee promotes local civic engagement

by Dave Boyce

When the late Bill Lane was in town, as often as not he could be found every other Wednesday evening in the Historic Schoolhouse attending to the proceedings of the Portola Valley Town Council.

Mr. Lane, the town's first mayor and its longtime advocate, was preeminent on the importance of exercising democratic practices available to U.S. citizens, particularly the citizens who live in Portola Valley.

In the memory of Mr. Lane and in honor of his wife Jean, the town's Teen Committee has reconceived its civic mentorship program as the Bill and Jean Lane Civic Involvement Program. Under that name, the program is expected to get going in the fall, said committee chair Sharon Driscoll.

"This program ... would provide an opportunity for local high school teens to learn about the town's government, to experience firsthand the vital work of the town's committees and the importance of citizen input," a written description of the program says.

Athletes pay their way

Portola Valley's recreational field maintenance costs dropped to $153,000 for the budget year that ended June 30, a 9 percent drop from 2008-09 figures, according to a staff report.

The change appears to reflect the Town Council's 2009 decision to significantly raise playing fees for organized youth and adult teams, the hope being to have organized teams evenly splitting with the town the costs of maintaining two baseball and two soccer fields.

Playing fee revenues of $80,920 covered 53 percent of the costs, the report said.

Also reported over the same period: irrigation water usage dropped 9 percent, but costs are up 14 percent.

Radio station for PV?

It's an idea: broadcasting in Portola Valley, particularly in the event of a major disaster such as an earthquake, Town Councilman Steve Toben said at the July 13 council meeting.

The Federal Communications Commission in 2000 set rules to apply for a low-power FM community radio station, and there were plenty of applicants, according to Todd Urick of the low-power FM advocacy group Common Frequency, based in Davis.

But the National Association of Broadcasters, alleging frequency interference with established radio stations, lobbied Congress for legislation that has stalled the program for years, Mr. Urick said.

A pending FCC rule would reopen community opportunities, he said.

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