BY SARA TABIN
Daily Post Staff Writer
There’s nothing wrong with the air in Los Altos City Hall Council Chambers, according to an air quality test the city ordered. The city has not said when council meetings will be moved back to chambers where they can be broadcast on television.
Council meetings were moved to the Los Altos Youth Center in January after Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins, who will term out next year and can not run again for her seat, began to complain that the air in City Hall was triggering her asthma.
Residents have complained that the youth center lacks the technology to broadcast meetings on cable television.
A 4-1 majority of council voted on June 25 to move the meetings back, but that vote was ignored by City Manager Chris Jordan. Instead he brought in a $40,000 disability consultant to advise the city on the issue.
The consultant ordered the air tests, which took place on Aug. 27 and Sept. 5 at both locations. The results don’t show that the youth center air is cleaner than the air at city hall.
Two records requests
The Post filed a California Public Records Request to obtain the test results. Los Altos has still not responded to that request. But Los Altos resident Roberta Phillips, who also filed a records request on the same day, provided her copy of the test results to the Post.
HazMat Doc, the Santa Clara company that carried out the tests, did not find any dangerous chemicals in either building.
Mold was found in 1,100 spores per square meter in council chambers and 2,300 spores per square meter at the youth center. Mold levels of less than 2,000 spores per square meter are normal in clean buildings. Still, HazMat Doc suggested that the city update its air flow at both locations.
New $750,000 HVAC system
City hall has a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system which the city bought last year for $750,000. HazMat Doc suggested that the city change the filters for the system more regularly and clean out its duct systems. The community center has no air filter, so HazMat Doc said the city might want to look into installing one.
Phillips pointed out that it will likely be easier to control the air quality in city hall because it has the HVAC system.
She said she is waiting to hear from the city about whether they plan to change the filters soon.
The Post was not able to reach Jordan or Assistant City Manager Jon Maginot yesterday, Columbus Day, to ask whether meetings will be moved back to city hall or if the city will change the air filters soon.
Council puts off decision until November
Mayor Lynette Lee Eng said she thinks meetings will stay at the youth center until the council discusses the test results. A majority of council and Jordan agreed that the test results should not be discussed at next week’s meeting, she said.
Instead, the council will wait and discuss the results at the start of November when the consultant will be present.
It was not clear when council made this decision. If they discussed the results in private, that would be a violation of the Brown Act.
Lee Eng said she wants to see the city take better care of its HVAC system for the health of city employees working at city hall as well as council members.
“I think the fixes are there,” she said. “It should be easy, and one would hope that we continue to maintain… a system that we paid so much for.”