Notes for Los Altos City Council   November 2017

November 14, 2017

The City Council approved $416,000 to expand and upgrade the kitchen at Grant Park, especially for use by the Senior Center. Santa Clara County Health Services required the upgrade of old unsafe facilities in order to prepare food.

The Los Altos Public Arts Commission engaged Designing Local to develop a detailed Public Art Master Plan for Los Altos, funded by CIP Project monies. Amanda Golden, Managing Principal of the organization, presented the recommendations after extensive community engagement at workshops, pop-up tables at Fine Arts in the Park, stakeholder conversations, and on-line surveys. The plan lays out five chapters of information and recommendations, including place-based strategies for art and priority actions.

The plan stresses common values for Los Altos residents, such as, showcasing a variety of kinds of art, preserving and highlighting the natural beauty of the town environs, and honoring the historic roots of the city. Four public speakers were impressed with the plan, although all but one had problems, mostly over costs. City Council members felt the plan was too costly, especially hiring a part-time Cultural Arts Manager, and setting aside 1.5-2% in public municipal property development and at least 1% in private property development for art works on the site. While council members liked the division of the plan into short, medium, and long-term priorities, they directed the Public Arts Commission to evaluate the elements of the plan which can move forward and present again at a future meeting.

November 28, 2017

After a study session, the city council approved continuation of further action to another meeting on Children’s Corner’s revised lease proposal to occupy space at the rebuilt Hillview Civic Center.

Council members felt the budget for rebuilding the Civic Center had not been finalized and so the proposal couldn’t be evaluated.

After the presentation by Jennifer Quinn, Project Manager, City Council approved $125,000 to support the July-August Downtown Green Five-year Plan on Third Street between State and Main. Comments pro and con from the public concerned parking, need for outreach to merchants, and business deliveries. Solutions to afternoon heat were to provide shade and more shaded seating and (perhaps) misting.

The City Council granted the appeal and approved the administrative office use permit application to allow administrative office use of a vacant tenant space at 400 Main Street. The Heisling-Simons Foundation, a philanthropy to advance sustainable solutions to climate change and clean energy, wishes to lease the space. They have agreed to allow public use of their conference rooms. The property is intended for retail, restaurants, and services, but has remained unoccupied for 2 or more years. The city staff recommended granting the appeal in spite of comments from the public about previous denials of use of tenant space on appeal.

Last, Christopher Diaz, City Attorney, presented the details and the City Council adopted an Urgency Ordinance to establish a moratorium in all Los Altos zoning districts for any creation or expansion of commercial cannabis use. The Medical and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA), passed in November 2016, goes into effect in January 2018. The city plan is similar to the ban on any type of medical marijuana business when the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) went into effect. The new Urgency Ordinance will be in effect for 45 days. It will allow the City Council to review in January 2018 and make changes before preparing the permanent ordinance to submit to the state Bureau of Cannabis Control. This ordinance does not affect personal use and cultivation of six plants per family inside the residence or in an accessory structure on the property.

— Claire Noonan, Observer