Los Altos City Council June, 2020

June 9, 2020

City Council resolved that the next general municipal election will be November 3, 2020 to consolidate with Santa Clara County, state, and national elections. Candidates will campaign for three City Council seats.

City Council authorized the closure to car traffic on Main and State Streets from Thursday to Sunday beginning Thursday, June 11, 2020. More businesses can reopen downtown while customers maintain social distance when walking and dining. If deemed successful, downtown streets will be closed to car traffic on certain days until the end of September.

June 23, 2020

City Council authorized a conditional use permit with modifications to the Los Altos Municipal Code to the design for a new pre-school at the site of St. Simon’s Catholic Church at the intersection of Grant Road and the Foothill Expressway, 1860 Grant Road. The project, approved by the Los Altos Planning Commission, includes a one-story pre-school plus two shade structures for outdoor play and a covered walkway to a new multi-use building at the St. Simons school. The main problem, now resolved, is possible traffic backup during drop-off and pick-up hours. The exit driveway will only allow right turns to avoid holding up traffic movement at the intersection.

Despite current events across the nation, City Council delayed a vote to set up a sub-committee of the mayor and vice mayor plus a Citizen Task Force to review and make recommendations regarding Los Altos Police Department policies and procedures.  

Instead of a Citizen’s Task force, a town hall meeting will convene in the middle of July 2020. It is probable that an expert consultant will be hired to facilitate the study. The city staff is to provide administrative assistance and the city attorney is to provide legal assistance. It is expected that four-six meetings are required to produce a report by the end of November 2020.

Fight Today for a Better Tomorrow

Fellow League Members:

On May 25, George Floyd was murdered by an officer with the Minneapolis Police Department. He is only one of too many names on a list that should not exist. It is time that the League of Women Voters take a stand for social justice for Black lives in America.  

Over the years we have watched Black men, women, and children lose their lives at the hands of people who benefit from a system that protects them. Today we witness the rage of those who are tired of due process being a privilege not afforded to Black people.  

The League is committed to expanding our voice beyond the statement we released last week. We are joining our partners who serve in the civil rights community in fighting for policy reform that will dismantle systematic racism. We joined coalition partners on a letter calling for congressional action on police violence, and in the weeks and months ahead, the national office will be stepping up our commitment to racial justice. Virginia Kase wrote a blog, Standing in Solidarity with the Black Community, to share how the League plans to proceed as allies in the social justice space.  

 As allies in the social justice space I encourage us all to do our homework and learn more about the iniquities that Black Americans face, without leaning on Black people to educate us.  

We encourage you to continue your get-out-the-vote and voter education efforts. This is a time to highlight the power of voting, especially in local elections, and informing voters where candidates stand on issues that are important to them.

Lastly, we acknowledge that the League hasn’t taken such a strong stance against racism in the past, and as we move into the next century of work, we hope to play a bigger role in fighting for social justice. I hope you’ll join us.  

In League,

Chris Carson, President

League of Women Voters United States

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Los Altos City Council, May 2020

May 12, 2020

Initiated by Vice-Mayor Neysa Fligor, the City Council resolved to denounce xenophobia and especially anti-Asian sentiment brought on by Covid-19 news. The Council joined other cities, counties, and states to confirm its commitment to the well-being and safety of the Asian-Pacific American community. Actions against Asian-Pacific Americans and all groups are considered a hate crime.

The state and county have given out conflicting guidelines as to how small businesses can continue or re-open. To ease the situation the City Council provided the process and eligibility criteria for accessing $250,000 allocated at the April 18 meeting for the Small Business Relief Assistance Program (SBRAP). City Council staff with the assistance of the Los Altos Chamber of Commerce and the Los Altos Community Foundation developed the model for the approximately 800 Los Altos businesses with 1-25 employees. Eligibility requirements include ability to demonstrate loss of revenue, that the business has a physical commercial storefront, that it is not a chain business, and that the business has no financial or legal issues. Because of the possible closure of Downtown streets further discussion was moved to the June 9 City Council meeting. Over the next two weeks, City staff will hold several webinars to understand community businesses’ perspectives more thoroughly on the possible street closures. City staff can then craft a more effective SBRAP that benefits residents and businesses.

The City Council authorized the City Manager to execute an agreement with Alta Planning + Design in an amount not to exceed $165,340 for the development of a Complete Streets Master Plan. The focus will be to update the 2012 Bicycle Transportation Plan, the 2015 Pedestrian Master Plan, the Routes to Schools maps with infrastructure recommendations for the thirteen schools, and Pedestrian and Bicycle Corridor improvements. These elements of the Complete Streets Master Plan will be developed with community engagement.

May 28, 2020 – no meeting scheduled

The League of Women Voters is Turning 100!

In 2020 the League of Women Voters (LWV) will celebrate its 100th anniversary and the LWVC joins more than 700 other local and state chapters to celebrate this historic milestone.

As we look to a vibrant future on the threshold of our next 100 years, the League is excited that dedicated members across California continue to steadily attract significant numbers of activists who share the League’s commitment to Making Democracy Work.

The League of Women Voters president, Chris Carson, issued the following statement regarding the League’s efforts ahead:

Today we are faced with many challenges that threaten to compromise our democracy. Our efforts to support voting rights and to fight against voter suppression and discrimination at the local, state and national levels have been very successful, and this has been achieved primarily by educating and empowering voters, circulating special petitions, and intervening in several critical court cases.

The League’s historic commitment to register, educate and mobilize voters is not only stronger, but more effective than ever, utilizing such tools as Voter’s Edge—a cutting-edge election information website utilized by millions of voters each election cycle.

Dora Rose, Deputy Director of the LWVC, had this to say about the LWVC’s work to come:

We will continue to fight voter discrimination and to keep secret money out of our elections to ensure that our elections are fair, free and accessible. We’ll also continue to push for improved access to housing as well as recognizing that Climate Change is a scientific reality that must be addressed to ensure a sustainable planet for everyone.

One hundred years after the League was founded in 1920, members of the League are proud of the great progress achieved when it comes to truly Making Democracy Work.

The League Fights For Fair & Accessible Voting

The League of Women Voters of California is collaborating daily with the Secretary of State, elections officials, and civil rights groups to ensure fair and accessible voting this November amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Turnout of traditionally underrepresented groups is of special concern.

“The challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic are unique but not insurmountable,” reads an article on the State League’s website from April 20. “It is vitally important to understand that vote-by-mail (VBM) is not a panacea,” elaborates the State League and the other collaborating groups, listed at the bottom of this article, in a list of recommendations for the upcoming election. The list, sent to Governor Newsom and Secretary of State Padilla on April 14, cites multiple sources that report the risks posed by expanded reliance on vote by mail to already underrepresented communities, such as communities of color, youth, language minorities, people with disabilities, people with low income, and those who are unhoused, housing insecure, or geographically mobile.

“Changes to our voting process must be done in ways that will protect voters who are already underrepresented in our democratic system,” wrote the State League for their article. Accordingly, the list of recommendations has been assembled by advocacy groups carefully with the main, general objectives of maximizing voting opportunities, increasing voter education and engagement leading up to the election, and allocating resources dedicated specifically for underrepresented communities and those that do not traditionally vote by mail. The list is separated into categories that focus on vote-by-mail, in-person voting, poll workers, dropboxes, language access, disability access, voter registration and same day/conditional voter registration, provisional voting, elections administration plans (EAPs), public messaging, voter education, and voter engagement.

The LWV Los Altos-Mountain View will pursue its usual vigorous Voter Services efforts with emphasis on helping voters to sign up for vote-by-mail to comply as fully as possible with ‘sheltering in place’ directives which may still be in force at the time of the General Election in November.

–Thank you to Karanina (Laszlo) Zim, Communications Intern of the LWV Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville for this article.

List of Groups in Collaboration
American Civil Liberties Union of California
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles
California Common Cause
Disability Rights California
The League of Women Voters of California
Mi Familia Vota
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educationa Fund
NextGen California
Partnership for Working Families
Voting Rights Lab

For more details read the list of recommendations here.

LWVUS Work Featured by the U.N.

This week the United Nations acknowledged LWVUS for our work protecting voting rights in light of COVID-19

The League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) is working to protect voting rights and democracy during the COVID-19 pandemic.  They have called for adequate funding for measures including voter education (informing the public of new practices and immediately quashing disinformation as it arises), an extended early in-person voting period (allowing citizens to vote over an expanded period rather than in a cluster on Election Day), expanded voter registration options (including online voter registration and same-day voter registration), no-excuse absentee voting-by-mail, and prohibition of polling place adjustments that disproportionately impact vulnerable populations. 

Los Altos City Council April 2020

April 14, 2020

At a virtual meeting the City Council listened to the request for an additional waiver to reduce the size of 75% of the 108 parking spaces from 9’ wide to 8.6’ wide for the project at 4846-4856 El Camino Real. The project would still install outlets for 27 EV charging stations. Plans from both the developers and the city staff were presented to the council. The city staff recommended that the project remain as is by a 3/2 vote. Council members Jeannie Bruins and Neysa Fligor dissented as they saw the proposal to provide an outdoor ‘tot lot’ as a positive for the development.

April 28, 2020

At a virtual meeting the City Council heard and saw several Power Point presentations prepared by the city staff on aspects of the fiscal impact of Covid-19 on the city’s revenues and the financial relief programs to be pursued by the city.

The city’s largest revenue sources of property and utility taxes will not be immediately affected. There will be a decrease in other funding streams like sales tax, transient occupancy tax, and recreation fees for an estimated total of $3 million.

As of April 28, essential services (police, fire) are on site, city staff works from home, and some essential businesses remain open such as restaurants for take-out and delivery. No city business travel allowed and no vacant city positions are being filled. YMCA, including Mountain View, provide childcare centers for essential workers. The Los Altos Farmer’s Market (an essential service) is scheduled to open on May 7, 2020 under specified conditions.

Loans are forthcoming from FEMA’s Community Disaster Loans plus the Public Assistance Program. In addition, the Federal Reserve Municipal Liquidity Facility Program will provide funds.

WomenSV will receive a grant of $40,000, CHAC will receive $20,000. CSA will receive $75,000 to provide services for needy residents. A Small Business Relief Program will be created to provide $250,000, given on a first come, first served basis to provide for payroll and lease expenses. City Council also directed staff to work with the Los Altos Community Foundation to create a community relief fund to solicit contributions for the benefit of Los Altos businesses and residents most in need during the COVID-19 emergency.

Los Altos City Council March 2020

 

March 10, 2020

The City Council mayor, Jan Pepper, and vice-mayor, Neysa Fligor, read a proclamation commemorating the year of the 100th anniversary of the passage of U.S. constitutional Amendment 19 which delivered to women in this country the right to vote. California, as the sixth state to provide women voting rights in October 1911, was the eighteenth state to approve the 19th amendment. As SCC Public Health allows, the city will celebrate with events every month in 2020.

The City Council approved unanimously the 444-450 First Street project application (continued from 1/14/2020 and 2/11/2020). Council evaluated the project and heard from ten public comment speakers as well as addressing issues from nine written comments. The determination depended on whether the proposal complies with the Los Altos Municipal Code requirements.

After multiple City Council suggestions and much revision by Dutchints LLC since the proposal was originally presented, the project will replace an underdeveloped commercial property with a high-quality multiple-family development that helps the City meet its goals for producing new housing units, both affordable and market rate, and is supportive of the goals of the Downtown Vision Plan.

Of public comments six wanted the design approved because more affordable housing would be acquired. Four commented against the proposal, mainly because residents across Foothill Expressway didn’t approve of the height of the building.

March 24, 2020

At a virtual meeting, the City Council adopted Resolution #2020-07 for April 2020 to be “Distracted Driving Awareness Month.”

City Council adopted Resolution No. 2020-06: Cities Keep It Clean. The resolution declares May 2020 to be “Keep It Clean Santa Clara County” month.

City Council took no action prohibiting or discouraging commercial and/or residential evictions in the city until the Covid-19 ‘shelter in place’ order is lifted. The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors set the policy to prohibit eviction in the county.

City Council received a staff update on emergency measures taken so far by city services to avoid the spread of Covid-19. Included in the presentation are plans to follow Santa Clara County Public Health orders. All Parks and Recreation facilities are closed. City police are maintaining staff to address problems. The city is working with Community Services Agency to ensure local needs are met. A plan for on-site childcare for city workers is being developed.

   
   

Los Altos City Council February 2020

February 11, 2020

The City Council heard the second reading and adopted the final version of the ordinance to amend R3-4.5 zoning, particularly valuable to the multi-family duplex Marshall Meadows district in Los Altos. The ordinance establishes development standards for such districts to make reasonable improvements and additions to the owner’s property while maintaining the character of the district as a duplex style neighborhood and limiting any impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.

The City Council did not approve a consultant agreement with Alta + Design for development of the Los Altos Complete Streets Master Plan. Before the meeting, the council received a detailed proposal for the Scope of Work. In addition, they received a detailed set of answers to city council’s questions from the November 20, 2019, introduction of the proposal. Councilmembers had more questions and Staff will bring the item back to the Council after renegotiating the Scope of Work and contract amount with Alta + Design. A specific date to bring the item back to the City Council has not been set.

Especially because of the dangers associated with vaping flavored e-cigarettes, the City Council authorized the staff to write a draft ordinance to further restrict tobacco retail licensing in Los Altos. Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has adopted and requested cities in the county to adopt restrictions on kinds of tobacco, tobacco products, locations for retail sale, and advertising limits as well as adopting a tobacco retailer’s license. The city of Los Altos will enforce the policy, not Santa Clara County. The council received written comments in support from the Northern California American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and from Breathe California. Other interesting written comment was received about the use of hookahs in Middle Eastern communities and concerns that hookahs would be restricted. The draft ordinance is scheduled for review at the February 25, 2020, council meeting.

February 25, 2020

The City Council approved and adopted the ordinance to further restrict tobacco retail licensing in los altos after staff amended the original draft of the ordinance.

In closed session after almost a year of mediation the City Council voted to settle the litigation with GoldSilverIsland Homes LLC about the property division at 831 Arroyo Road. With a vote of 4/1 the Council followed staff recommendation to sub-divide the property as requested. A year ago the council had denied the subdivision request and the lawsuit was filed, citing that the LLC had revised the proposal for the property to accommodate comments by Montebello Acres residents.

Los Altos City Council January 2020

Los Altos City Council – January 2020

January 14, 2020

By consent, the City Council approved unanimously the R3-4.5 zoning amendments that established site development standards for the Los Altos multi-family district where none existed, establishing a design review process for renovations to properties and updating other provisions for a multiple-family district to be consistent with other similar residential districts. The upgrades in zoning were initiated from designs submitted to renovate properties in the Marshall Meadows area of Los Altos.

In addition, the council funded by consent the North County Gun Buyback Program for 2020. However, the proposal for development at 444-450 First Street was continued to allow more time to pursue the council’s concern over a development design being suitable for the First Street area.

To settle litigation from a lawsuit in 2015 over property in the Loyola Corners district the City Council approved purchase of the property at 999 Fremont Ave., currently location of the Coffee Drive-Up. The interim City Attorney prepared the agreement and the City Manager was authorized to execute the purchase agreement for $2.8 million. The 2015 lawsuit was filed when the City Council denied all proposals for a mixed-use building on the site. New possible ideas for the property are a roundabout to smooth the traffic where several streets meet or a plaza. Public comment suggested that before a decision the city consider the Loyola Corners Specific Plan developed in 1990 and revised in 2017.

January 28, 2020

The City Council unanimously approved application for an SB2 grant by the state of $160,000 which would streamline review for the city’s residential projects. With the grant the city would fund a consultant to present criteria and code amendments to make the application eligible. It must include these factors:

  • Rezone to permit housing by-right
  • Objective design and development standards
  • Specific plans or form-based codes coupled with CEQA streamlining
  • Accessory dwelling units (ADU) or other low-cost building strategies
  • Expedited processing
  • Housing related infrastructure financing and fee reduction strategies

The 2018 Atkins Building Homes and Jobs Act (SB2) is legislation to support production of affordable housing.

City Council unanimously authorized a lease to allow the Friends of the Library of Los Altos to use the current temporary space for FOL work units and storage. Altogether the Ad Hoc Friends of the Library committee found six off-site locations and five Government Center locations to consider. Of those locations, four meet most, but not all, the needs of FOL for short term use until the Community Center is completed and long term use until the main library is renovated. After twenty-five public comments and considering that Friends of the Library provides approximately $150,000 per year to the library, the Council finally determined that the city would pay the utilities fees and FOL would pay any capital costs, like upgrades and repair. The lease would extend until one or the other party chooses to conclude the agreement, assuming appropriate termination provisions.