Los Altos City Council July/August 2018

July 10, 2018

After consideration of a Public Art Commission plan on May 8, 2018, City Council approved on July 10, 2018, an ordinance for a Public Art Development Fee of 1% to be added to a Public Art Fund.

Council approved two ordinances on July 10, 2018, to amend the Municipal Zoning Code, first regarding Accessory Structures at 800 square feet size, including a basement if applicable, and a five-foot setback from the property line.

Second, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) have been brought into compliance with state law, increasing the number of housing units possible, and addressing affordable housing in Los Altos.

The City Council received the Los Altos Civic Center Development update from Noll & Tam Architects and Planners and provided direction for further action. In addition, the city council amended the contract to Noll & Tam for added services to the Civic Center project for $482,781.

The City Council did not adopt a resolution to be placed on the ballot for the November 6, 2018, general election, to oppose the resident-petitioned initiative to be on the ballot.

The main controversy concerned submitting a simple, clear measure. The council members opposed to the resolution measure as written did not like the wording about leases. In addition, some members felt the city-owned properties should be listed so voters know exactly which properties are included in the measure. At the meeting seven speakers made public comments, five supporting the council’s measure and two still supporting the public citizen’s measure. The city attorney, Chris Diaz, was asked to revise wording about leases, and another version with wording suggested by council member, Mary Prochnow, to make it clear that developers would not see futility in making a complete development proposal that must be voted yes or no by residents.

At a special meeting, the City Council did not adopt a measure to oppose the resident developed initiative now called Measure C. They will spend effort until November 6 to make sure Measure C does not pass.

August 28, 2018

The City Council appropriated $5000 to Los Altos Police Department that with five other North County police departments and an additional $25000 from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office provides for a North County Gun Buyback program. It is an opportunity for safe disposal of firearms, reduce availability of guns in the county, and raise awareness of the risks of firearms.

The City Council approved the staff’s response to the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury Report: Affordable Housing Crisis – Density is Our Destiny. Responses are required by fifteen cities and the County to adequately address the findings and recommendations of the report. Difficulties in addressing the need for affordable housing are due to resident resistance, lack of funding, and the high cost of land in many cities in the county. On the other hand, the lack of housing is a major cause of traffic congestion in the county. One recommendation already addressed by Los Altos is the change in ordinances for Accessory Structures and Accessory Dwelling Units. Another is the ordinance for impact fees to developers and employers to help in the development of housing for workers in the city.

The City Council approved a use permit for Children’s Corner Preschool to operate a facility at the Foothill Covenant Church on Oak Avenue in anticipation of needing a location while the Hillview Civic Center is being rebuilt. The Mountain View Parent Nursery School already at the location suggests that Children’s Corner will do well. The opposition states that traffic congestion in the morning will increase because students going to Mountain View High School and Oak Elementary School use the same streets. Although more than one traffic survey and analysis has stated that traffic would not increase, the motion passed 4/1 with one member not satisfied about the traffic. It is suggested that Public Works look at the problem and make plans to alleviate the traffic.

Jon Biggs, Community Development Director, shared the completed Los Altos Downtown Vision Plan. The plan was designed so downtown becomes a community destination and retains its roots as a nostalgic village at the foot of the Santa Cruz Mountains. To a question from the City Council about adoption vs. acceptance of the plan, acceptance suggests that the council will continue to refine and revise. Adoption means the council will begin to address Phase I issues to make the vision a reality.

Biggs reminded members and the audience that the plan to be adopted is a guide, not regulatory. At points in the future decisions will have to be made regarding economics, finance, and public/private costs. Of public comments, ten were enthusiastic and five were troubled about parking that may result on the narrow streets surrounding downtown and parking structures vs. parking lots.

-Claire Noonan