Council chambers passes air test — what was bothering Councilwoman Bruins?

The Los Altos City Council dais. Photo courtesy of the city.
The Los Altos City Council dais. Photo courtesy of the city.

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.”


  1. Jeannie Bruins and her proxies, City Manager Jordan and City Attorney Diaz, have some explaining to do. Better still, if they had any honor or integrity (a tall expectation considering their track record), they’d resign and get out…before the door hits their back sides.

    When is City Council going to bring these individuals, and their cohorts, to account? Indeed, when? if not now, when?

    PADaily Post, Keep up the good work! if not for your reporting Los Altos residents (and those in adjacent cities) would not even know of these happenings.

  2. Now that Jeannie has been exposed as a faker, it’s time for her to resign, followed by her enablers, beginning with City Manager Jordan.

      • Let me take up “No More Hoaxes” theme … First Bruins accused Roberta Phillips of causing her affliction, then it was the carpet in the council chambers … now we have an expensive test by experts who say there isn’t any problem at all with the air. Where is Bruins’ proof that this malady she has is for real? She’s the one threatening the city with an ADA lawsuit. I think the burden of proof is on her. If she doesn’t want to prove it, she should drop the whole thing and council should return to the council chambers. That is, if Chris Jordan will allow them to return.

      • It’s truly vile, nauseatingly so, for “A Resident” to defend the indefensible and continue to support the untenable.

        Time’s up for Ms Bruins to produce the evidence she was not faking her “condition” (whatever that was). The tests of Council chambers, done at taxpayer cost, show there was and is nothing wrong with the air quality there. In fact I am willing to step up and finance the costs of tests to confirm the air quality at Council chambers is better than at her residence and I do that for no reason other than to expose the chicanery and buffoonery behihd this drama involving Ms Bruins and her proxies (Jordan, Diaz, Biggs).

        Are you up for that Ms Bruins? How about you, A Resident?

        It started out this year with Ms Bruins lecturing Ms Eng Lee on “how to conduct yourself as a Mayor”. It then degraded to her demand a taxpayer (toward whom Ms Bruins has animus) leave a Council meeting, as brazen a violation of another’s Constitutional rights as we can imagine. That demand was in fact carried out by Bruins’ errand boy, City Attorney Diaz. Kudos to the resident who put them both in their place. And now this “asthma” drama with her other errand boy, Jordan, doing the dirty work.

        To summarize, if anyone has a problem with air quality at Los Altos Council chambers and city hall it is us residents…and it is none other than the antics of Bruins and her cabal that is polluting the air.

  3. One would think it would be in everyone’s best interest — council members, staff and residents — to move back to council chambers, given there’s less mold there than in LAYC. And changing HVAC filters is easy. We don’t need an ADA consultant to figure that out. So why the delay?

    • The delay is that the pro-development crowd doesn’t want the meetings on TV. So they’re going to drag this out as long as possible. As Dave Price pointed out, if the meetings aren’t broadcast live, it makes it easier to slip things past the public.

      • Every city council meeting is still made available on video in a timely matter via the city website. The fact the meeting isn’t being broadcast live, on a channel which only Comcast TV subscribers can access, does not inhibit access to council discussion in any meaningful way.

        • >The fact the meeting isn’t being broadcast live…does not inhibit
          >access to council discussion in any meaningful way.

          Ok, I’ll buy your argument. In which case let’s have meetings then at Bruins’ residence. Let the City then spend the dollars to record them. And let the City post those recordings “in a timely matter (sic) via the city website”. And let’s acknowledge all the money we put into insuring Council Chambers could host Council meetings, record and transmit them live, etc. was a complete waste of taxpayer monies.

          Tell me, exactly how far would you stretch yourself to support what’s untenable and complete nonsense? all just to support unacceptable behavior by elected representatives and her public servant cohorts?

        • That’s ridiculous. It takes a great deal of effort to find the meeting on the city’s Facebook site. And they’re not posted there on a timely basis.

          Frankly, people are busy and they’re not going to spend a lot of time pouring through a Facebook site to find a particular video. But they’re much more likely to watch the meeting live in the evening, maybe when they’re in bed.

  4. >if the meetings aren’t broadcast live, it makes it easier to slip things
    > past the public.

    Kim Y has a point. It resonates because it is true.

    Even when the meetings are broadcast live City Hall and Council in Los Altos pull the wool over the public’s eyes by misrepresenting, intentionally and deliberately, Council’s agenda in the Public Notices. For instance the Public Notice of the June 27 2018 Council meeting misrepresented and deceived the public on what Council actually considered and passed at the meeting. This is not the first or only instance of such deception and bad faith.

    Without TV coverage expect more of that from the bad faith and deceit by those at City Hall/Council: Jordan, Bruins, Diaz.

  5. As for this Bruins self-generated “I am not getting the attention I need; so let me create a ruckus” brouhaha:

    I bet, and am ready to back my bet, the air quality of Bruins’ residence is not any different from Los Altos Council Chambers. If she can live and breathe the air at her residence all day and night long, it would confirm she threw a tantrum (for which we taxpayers paid the costs) over nothing about Council Chambers. It would expose her (and her errand boys Jordan, Diaz, Biggs) to be the charlatans they indeed are, acting without accountability and knowing the costs are borne by others.

    Put another way, if the air quality at Council Chambers is equal to or better than her residence can we ask she resign from Council, get out of the City, and take her errand boys along with her?

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