Los Altos City Council – May 2017

May 9, 2017

The City Council approved the revised University Avenue Crosswalk Improvement Project. Council provided input on the robust affordable housing program that city staff is developing for the area. The program provides incentives to developers: in exchange for greater building height and density, developers must provide affordable housing. The Council’s ambitious goal is to have 20% of the new housing be affordable to individuals and families It authorized the City Manager, Chris Jordan, to execute the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for FY 2017-18 and authorized up to $170,050 of CDBG funds for the University Avenue Project. The CDBG funds are awarded from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to the county, and then through the county to small cities to remove barriers for public safety and for the disabled, both of which were the main issues for residents on University Avenue. The Project modifies the crosswalk section of University Avenue at Burke Rd. A prior use of funds modified University and Lincoln Avenue. By approving use of the CDBG funds, $170,050 remains in the Capital Improvement Project monies for other improvement projects to the city.

The city council reviewed and concurred that the starting point for identifying affordable housing opportunities are the goals, policies and programs of the Housing Element of the city’s General Plan. The current plan continues from 2015-2023. The City Council reviewed Goal 2 – strive to maintain variety in housing by location and type – and Goal 4 – variety of densities and types are found in appropriate locations and that the housing accommodates needs in all income categories. Mayor Mary Prochnow urged council members to adopt new ordinances in order to open new housing opportunities. Several solutions were suggested such as, micro-units; offers to lease city-owned property to developers to defray costs to affordable housing; offer rent subsidies to city employees and teachers; and alternate dwelling units. Arguments pro and con on the “granny units” dominated the meeting time. Should larger size units (more than 800 square feet on less than 15,000 square feet lots) be allowed? The May 23 meeting will make final decisions.

May 23, 2017

The affordable housing decision on accessory dwelling units (granny units), assigned to the May 23 meeting for resolution, was continued.

From the Consent Calendar, the City Council awarded the construction contract to Wattis Construction Inc. to proceed with the next part of the University Avenue Crosswalk Improvement Project. The West Edith and University Avenue intersection adjacent to Foothill Expressway will be improved by constructing a crosswalk with bulb-outs and an in-road flashing light system. The council appropriated an additional $97, 318 from Capital Improvement Project monies to assign $234, 34 in total to implement the construction.

The city council interviewed 35 candidates for the Hillview Community Center Project Task Force and voted for 11 at the meeting. The council appointed the following:  Claudia Coleman (Chair), Maria Bautista, Philip Chou, Brian Cilker, Katherine Cushing, Stuart Eckmann, Stuart Klein, Barbara Loebner, Susan Mensinger, Dennis Young, and Cathy Lazarus. (Cathy Lazarus, Susan Mensinger, and Claudia Coleman are all League members.) Mary Prochnow, Mayor, stated that the council looked for a diverse group of residents, a variety of skills, and an ability to stay on task. The ad hoc committee will work for 6-8 months.

—Claire Noonan, Observer