Monthly Archives: May 2013

Immigrants Built America

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May 23  |  Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

Just two generations ago, my grandmother passed through New York Harbor, seeing the Statue of Liberty as she emigrated from Sicily to become an American. A teenager crossing the Atlantic Ocean, by boat, for a better way of life.

She raised seven children in a one-bedroom home on North 12th Street in San José. Fast forwards 100 years, her grandson is the CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

We are a nation of immigrants, standing on the shoulders of those who came before us.

Our country is now engaged in a great debate. The time for meaningful immigration reform is now. In Silicon Valley, we get this. We know that 53 percent of our engineers were born outside the U.S. More than 40 percent of company CEOs and founders are foreign-born. More than 50 percent of students earning advanced technical degrees in U.S. universities are foreign-born, as are the professors teaching those courses.

At the Leadership Group, meaningful reform includes three essential elements:

  • Make H-1B and green card programs work for America.  Remove the artificially low cap and replace it with a market-based cap.
  • Recruit and retain the best and brightest. Learn from Canada, New Zealand and Australia and provide visas and green cards to entrepreneurs and advanced degree graduates.
  • Prepare today’s generation of American students with the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills they need to compete globally.

Our country has been a beacon of light to the world. Let’s continue to educate our own students to be their best, and also attract the best from around the globe.

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Riding Safely this Bike to Work Month

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May 14  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought … Is your life worth 30 seconds?

I love May. Summer is almost here. In Silicon Valley, almost every day brings beautiful weather, and as a bike commuter who rides nearly 10,000 miles a year, the morning and afternoon rides to and from work are almost always in perfect conditions.

May is also “Bike to Work Month” here in the Bay Area, and I greatly encourage others to trade in four wheels for two, and engage in active transportation during the month of May.

As I bike to work daily, however, I am both surprised and concerned by how many cyclists I see who don’t seem to believe that traffic laws apply to them.

Last week, on Willow Street in Willow Glen, I followed behind a bike commuter who ran a stop sign, and then two red lights in a row. Coming home from work last night, I saw a different cyclist run the same stop sign and then a different red light.

I have to ask, were the 30 seconds saved at each red light truly worth risking your life?

Would your family and friends miss you if your dare devil riding resulted in serious injury or death?

Would you consider it okay to run those lights and those stop signs if you were in a car? If not, why is okay on your bike?

Cyclists and motorist, we need to co-exist. Nearly half of accidents between cars and bikes are the cyclists fault. Yet regardless of fault, flesh loses out to metal every time.

Cyclists, enjoy Bike to Work Month. But please, ride safe. Obey the law. Your life is worth more than 30 seconds.

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Four-story office complex will not impact the Town of Los Gatos’ downtown character

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May 8  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Location.  Location.  Location.

That’s the familiar mantra we hear when discussing how to value real estate.  The same can be applied to a land use debate currently underway in the Town of  Los Gatos.

The issue:  On an existing, mostly empty and outmoded office park at the edge of the Town, a local developer is proposing to build four new office buildings at four stories each.  The prospective main tenant for the buildings is Netflix, a locally grown company headquartered in Los Gatos that wants to deepen its roots and add 900 plus high quality, high-tech jobs.

This is the second iteration of a project that was approved by the Town in 2011 but then stopped due to a challenge filed under the California Environmental Quality Act, a good law that is often abused, as is the case here.

Why the opposition to the project?  A small but vocal minority of Los Gatos residents are very concerned it will erode the “Town character.”

Let’s pause for a moment.  Yes, the Town of Los Gatos is a wonderful place.  I moved there 10 years ago, attracted by many of the elements we all hold dear.  The downtown is a gem, one that draws people from all over the region.

That said, the argument that we should only allow office buildings no higher than 35 feet in order to preserve the “town character” is a one size shoe fits all approach.  It ignores the fact that the site backs up against Highway 85, is nowhere near the Town center and is near the end of a planned light rail line.  In recognition of these site attributes, the Town’s general plan has long designated this location for more intensive job growth.

“Town character” is critical, but should not replace critical thinking. This revitalization of an old office complex does not threaten the Town character and will bring with it many benefits like increased property tax revenues for our schools, a stronger argument to complete the light rail expansion and 900 high skilled jobs.

If you live in Los Gatos or Monte Sereno, please join me at the May 20 Council hearing to support good jobs in the right location in a wonderful Town.  I hope to see you there.

 

 

 

Blessed are the Peacemakers

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May 1  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

State Senate President Darrell Steinberg may not be a household name in Silicon Valley, but the work that he does and the leadership he provides impacts every household in California.

His work has led to meaningful workers compensation reform, the curtailment of
frivolous lawsuits against small businesses and a host of other legislative successes.

He is thoughtful and tenacious; and a master of bringing all sides together to forge consensus over seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Which brings us to today. Senator Steinberg is now working to champion meaningful reform to the California Environmental Quality Act, also known as CEQA.

CEQA – a great law often greatly abused for non-environmental purposes – is the Holy Grail to many advocates on all sides of the issue.

Senator Steinberg’s legislation – SB 731 – is up for its first committee vote. The legislation is not perfect, but neither is my marriage . . . Or my house . . . Or anything else in life. It is, however, a significant starting point.

More importantly, we have the right leader who is “walking point,” willing to be attacked by all sides while working to find meaningful reform that will still protect our environment, strengthen our economy, and end the frivolous lawsuits that are filed for reasons based more on greed than the common good.

Thank you, Senator Steinberg. Your leadership is appreciated.