Los Altos City Council – February 2018

February 13, 2018

The City Council met jointly by request with the Public Arts Commission to resolve questions after the meeting of November 14, 2017, when City Council didn’t adopt Public Arts Master Plan, only received it.

The commission chair stated that the committee wanted to know the reasons for non-adoption and no amendments or recommendations offered in November. The commission feels they had made slow, but continual progress in improving public art in the city.

Although every council member liked parts of the plan, most agreed that they didn’t adopt the plan because of funding issues. The council has too many funding priorities, and they didn’t want to commit to a part-time staff who focused only on public art needs. Most didn’t want 1% and 2% fees on developers which would support the plan. Council members agreed on non-profit organization concepts to foster the public art plan, offered by Chris Jordan, City Manager, but disagreed on particulars.

Council member Mary Prochnow said she was disappointed that an educated community like Los Altos would only look at cost and not the spiritual aspect of public art for a community. She compared the city to Columbus, Indiana, a city smaller than Los Altos with no more resources, but buildings by I.M. Pei and other celebrated architects. She felt that a 1% fee to developers was not a problem in Los Altos.

Public speaker, Joe Eyre, Los Altos Community Foundation, speaking as private resident, referenced the Downtown Vision, still to be resolved, of which a goal is to have a unique and enjoyable time when downtown.  The plan expects to cost $30 million-$100 million to implement, and some of that money could answer the funding obstacle for the City Council.

The City Council directed the Public Arts Commission to review and discuss items from the plan that could be implemented soon and bring the suggestions back to the council.

City Council did not approve a new logo design, several of which were presented by Davis Designs. They asked the staff to continue design development with further input from the community.

February 27, 2018

The City Council approved completion of the final part of University Avenue improvement for pedestrian and school safety. The crosswalk improvement changes at W. Edith and University Avenues, part of a plan first considered in 2016, saved $7,254 to the final cost of the entire project which reverts to the Capital Improvement Project funds.

The Council heard the amendments offered for the Accessory Structure Zoning Code which must be completed to further consider applications for accessory structures in the city residential areas, previously discussed in June 2017. The amendments clarify and improve site standards for detached accessory structures – regulations which were previously scattered in zoning code sections. The main provisions are for structures’ size and height, as well as appropriate relationship to adjacent properties. Discussion proceeded pro and con by council members and six public speakers, especially concerning lots that are unusual or non-conforming sites that already exist. One speaker suggested a task force to study the amendments and bring recommendations. The council voted 4/1 to approve the proposed Accessory Structure Zoning Code changes. A final reading and vote is tentatively scheduled for March 13, 2018.

The City Council discussed amendments to Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) regulations to streamline design and incorporate State legislation that governs the creation of ADU to provide more affordable housing units in Los Altos, previously discussed May 2017. The decision is to implement four amendments of the Housing Element Program regulations to facilitate the development and to consider reducing the minimum lot size requirements – some lots in Los Altos are not quite 10,000 square feet.

Council and public comment discussion concerned details of the amendments. It was noted that the city is out of compliance right now and ADU could be built without following any amended regulations. Council member, Jan Pepper, moved to introduce and waive further reading of the proposal with the following changes: take out the item about the size of the residential lot; the maximum size of unattached structure remains at 800 square feet, not including parking structure or basement; the maximum size of attached structure be 1200 square feet or under 50% of primary structure size; remove the deed restrictions for occupancy as stated in the amendments. Council voted 3/2 for the motion. A final reading and vote is tentatively scheduled for March 13, 2018.

— Claire Noonan, Observer