Man wins battle to stop city from putting flashing lights in front of home

Mark and Pam Goodman. Post photo.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Mark Goodman wept with relief after convincing the Los Altos City Council to drop the idea of installing stop signs with constantly flashing lights outside his house on the corner of Los Altos and W. Portola avenues.

“I’ve been told sometimes I get too emotional about this,” said Goodman, who also got choked up when the Post interviewed him last month. “This has been a nightmare for me for almost 12 weeks.”

The council voted unanimously Feb. 12 to remove the lights from a set of traffic safety measures that are 80% complete at the intersection.

Goodman succeeded after a campaign that included rallying his neighbors against the lights.

The city’s Complete Streets Commission recommended in January 2018 that the city replace the intersection’s stop signs with signs that would flash LED lights 24 hours a day.

Other intersection changes include new sidewalks, curb ramps, striped crosswalks and new signs.

The intersection is within blocks of Egan Junior High School, Bullis Charter School and Santa Rita Elementary School.

The city held a meeting about the project in February 2018, but didn’t notify the neighbors of the specific changes, so no one attended.

It wasn’t until late last year that Goodman became aware the city was intending to install flashing lights, which he said would be an eyesore in his house and garden.

Lights said to be unnecessary

Several neighbors testified that the lights were unnecessary and that the crossing guards and traditional stop signs prevented pedestrian crashes at that intersection, even when kids were crossing the street or riding bikes.

Since they began their campaign against the flashing lights, Goodman and Los Altos resident Mike Ellerin have both volunteered as backup crossing guards in case one of them is late for work.

Los Altos Avenue resident Carol Starbuck, who has lived in town since 1953, joked that the city should sell the flashing signs to San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who was recently injured in a bike accident.

The city’s 2011 Collector Traffic Calming Plan, which identified roads where drivers often speed, ranked the intersection as a 10, indicating the lowest priority on a scale of 1 to 10.

In 2015, the city’s Pedestrian Master Plan stated that a $20,000 traffic calming study for the intersection was a “medium priority.”

City officials, including City Manager Chris Jordan, Interim Engineering Services Director Aida Fairman and Consulting Traffic Engineer Jaime Rodriguez, recommended that the city remove the flashing lights.


  1. In 2011 that intersection was rated as low a priority as could be ranked.
    In 2015, after $20K was spent on “a study” it was ranked “medium priority”.
    What changed between 2011 and 2015?

    In 2018, without due notice, the City authorized the flashing lights. And, when residents voiced concern, City Manager stonewalled requests for public records and declined to reconsider the unlawful decision.

    As residents protested City Manager Chris Jordan throw a female staff member of minority background (one of the few at City Hall) rather than hold himself and his managers to account.

    When is City Council going to hold Jordan and his managers to account for their lapses of omission and commission? This sorry state of affairs would only end when residents demand their elected representatives, Council members, step up and usher in the transparency and open governance we deserve and pay for with our tax dollars and Council talks of but is yet to deliver.

  2. >The city held a meeting about the project in February 2018,
    >but didn’t notify the neighbors of the specific changes,
    >so no one attended.

    This is a “business as usual” tactic by Los Altos City Hall, with and without City Council’s knowledge. The reporter and residents would do well to note that in June 26 2018 the City via public notice informed residents of Council meeting to “consider lowering the minimum lot size required for ADUs from 15000 sq ft.” Very benign sounding, right? In fact what the City did, with staff and some Council members colluding with each other, was far from what the public were informed. They outright ELIMINATED, not lowered, the minimum lot size requirement. Also they outright ELIMINATED other requirements: owner occupancy, side setback, covered parking, 2-person max occupancy that were in the Municipal Code. All under the false pretext “State Law required…our hands are tied”. No other City in California, not even those adjacent to Los Altos, passed or even considered those changes which, given that State Law applies to them too, only serves to emphasize Los Altos’ deceit and misrepresentations.

    Out Out Out with these fraudsters!

  3. “Carol Starbuck, who has lived in town since 1953, joked that the city should sell the flashing signs to San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.”

    Sometimes it’s best to not to blurt out every “joke” that comes to mind. Especially when it also makes an argument for the keeping the sign as is

  4. Good for them and what a shame they had to live through this nightmare nonsense. Too many people are getting rich from this “Complete Street” nonsense only benefits the consultants and the suppliers of paint, Botts dots, bollards etc.

  5. I can’t beiieve Los Altos is using former Palo Alto transportation czar as a consultant since he’s the guy who couldn’t synchronize the lights at Town & Country for 8 years!

  6. >I can’t beiieve Los Altos is using former Palo Alto transportation czar
    >as a consultant

    You’d have to suspend disbelief to comprehend the workings of Los Altos City Hall and City Council. Bear in mind this same City Manager Chris Jordan granted himself and his staff alternate Fridays off without prior notice or discussion with Council and the public. And his mentor, former Mayor Jean Mordo, in his last Council meeting even attempted to give Jordan and his minions a second raise for the year. That was arrested in its inception thanks to good journalism by the PA Daily Post and their journalist, Ms Levitsky (who brought you the current report re: the flashing lights). To top it all, Council member Jeannie Bruins lectured current Mayor Lynette Lee Eng, about a month ago, to not ask hard questions of City Hall staff lest it be seen as an inquisition.
    In fact, an inquisition is exactly what is called for.
    Los Altos City Council, are you listening?

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