In 1968, Garrett Hardin wrote that "the inherent logic of the commons remorselessly generates tragedy," using the example of an unregulated cow pasture to demonstrate how individually rational exploitation of a shared resource tends to the lead to the destruction of that resource.
Kudos then, to the Los Altos Festival of Lights Parade Association for recognizing that the free-for-all claiming of space on downtown sidewalks in advance of the Festival of Lights parade presented a commons problem that would inevitably descend into mayhem without some form of regulation or management.
The Town Crier did an impressive job of publicizing the new rules, and its follow-up report (which seems to be at least temporarily inaccessible online) indicated that people followed them, if somewhat reluctantly.
As much as I would like to congratulate last year's civic clean-up squad for helping spur this development and ensuring that Los Altos no longer looks like an emergency shelter, I am disappointed that I won't get to see Erik Koland tape off all downtown sidewalks using Spanish surnames. Just imagine the reaction that would have elicited.