Los Altos City Council Meeting March 2018

March 13, 2018

The City Council adopted the Historic Preservation Amendment and the Zoning Code amendments pertaining to accessory structures in residential districts, both discussed at previous meetings. The ordinance to amend accessory dwelling units (ADU) regulations discussed at a previous meeting was remanded again to the staff and Planning Comission for further study and was not amended or adopted.

The City Council received and discussed the Hillview Community Center Schematic Design by Noll & Tam Architects. Seven public speakers commented on the schematic. Two were in favor of the project as is, commenting on the walkability of the design, appreciation for the open meetings of the Hillview Task Force which took into account community desires, and approval of the open space that provides a buffer to residents and possibility for future uses.

The speakers and council members also had questions about the ‘whistle stop’ too near to the soccer goal and too far from other areas where people might want to wait. The option for solar panels instead of immediate placement in the design was debated. The issue is to find additional money for panels now  or later when more about finances for the final project are certain. Resident Gary Hedden commented on the green aspects of the project, asking Noll & Tam architects to make sure the structure used electricity and not natural gas and aimed for health and efficiency of the project. He then advocated for a possible community garden in the open space and agreed that solar panels are not to be placed over parking lots.

The schematic design fit the budget goal of $34.7 million, increased size to 24,500 square feet, had an interesting walkway connection to other buildings at the location, and had the main entry facing San Antonio. After hearing that the design fit the budget and space increase, there were still concerns about triangular shape of design, the courtyard, solar panels, and various small structural details. The City Council directed Noll & Tam to proceed with the design but to provide feedback on the elements of concern to the council.

March 27, 2018

It was of concern to council member Jan Pepper that the Minutes of March 13 did not reflect the concerns about design elements in the schematic for the Hillview Community Center. After debate, Chris Jordan, City Manager, assured the Council that the concerns (mentioned in the final paragraph of the March 13 notes above) were to be addressed by Noll & Tam as the design proceeded.

Further restrictions to smoking in Los Altos with certain exceptions was adopted. A public speaker raised concern that excessive barbecue pollution was not addressed in the new ordinance.

The city council adopted re-establishment of the Los Altos Disaster Council and Emergency Preparedness Program. They agreed to abide by California Disaster and Civil Defense Master Mutual Aid Agreement and adopt Workers’ Compensation Benefits for registered Disaster Service Worker volunteers.

A Public Comment of interest addressed the work of the Los Altos Historical Commission’s sub-committee to find funds to begin work on the Halsey House restoration. The project was last discussed at city council meeting on January 23, 2018. The most promising grant application will be to the Certified Local Government (CLG). They grant $40,000 if the city can match the funds. The commission has raised $25,000, some of which is currently used for cleaning vegetation and pest control. One commission member has found pro bono workers for grading. Some mini grants from the Water District may be found.

— Claire Noonan, Observer