January 9, 2018

The City Council extended the existing interim urgency moratorium, determined on 11/28/2017, for 10 months and 15 more days on any establishment, creation, or expansion of commercial cannabis activity in all zoning districts for the City of Los Altos. City Council directed the staff to explore allowing commercial cannabis activity along El Camino Real and delivery within city limits. A public hearing will be held.

The PFM Group (asset managers and financial professionals) provided an update on the 10-Year Financial Forecast Model for Los Altos, first presented in June 2016. The question was whether to increase the allocation for Hillview Community Center renovation above the current apportioned $25 million or not. The update includes the funds for 5 years of Capital Improvement Projects, including the $25 million for Hillview, and an estimated significant revenue growth in property taxes at 6% annually. Anticipated expense increase includes estimates for CalPERS Unfunded Liability Payments, likely an optimistic outlook, but payments may increase.

There are three options regarding the Hillview Community Center allocation:

First, maintain the allocation of $25 million for Hillview Community Center and adjust the scope of the project which is preferred by the city financial commission, but is less than recommended by the Community Center Task force (CCTF) and means delay in design for the project.

Second, increase the allocation to $34.7 million which finances the project as presented in December 2017 and preferred by CCTF. The disadvantage is the city will take on debt to complete the construction and is unlikely to have funds for other Capital Improvement Projects in the foreseeable future unless private funding is found.

Third, the city may allocate $30 million for the renovation, eliminate only some enhancements to the concept, and accrue a small debt. The staff recommends Option 3 which is fiscally prudent.

After five public comments, councilmember Jan Pepper moved and member Mary Prochnow seconded to set the total project budget limit for a new Hillview Community Center at $34.7 million. Council member Jeannie Bruins offered an amendment to include a bond measure to avoid debt, but it was not accepted. Members Lynette Eng and Bruins support funding but had concerns about committing $34.7 million without reviewing other facility needs or funding options. The original motion passed 3 yes, 2 no.

January 23, 2018

The City Council authorized the city manager to execute a professional services agreement with Mountain View, Los Altos, and CSDA Design Group to provide information on airplane noise from the South Flow Arrivals to San Jose International Airport. The cities are to split the contract cost.

The City Council asked the staff to take temporary measures to protect Halsey House, a city historical resource site, which has considerable environmental and preservation needs. Theodore and Emma Halsey built the home in 1923 and planted the redwood seedlings which form the Redwood Grove Nature Center Preserve. The property and grove were given to the city, and until 2008 when the property was closed because of safety issues, was used for educational and recreational activities planned by the Los Altos Parks and Recreation Department. In 2015 the city council heard proposals to restore Halsey House at $3.5 million or demolish and rebuild at $4.4 million. The council directed the City Historical Commission to work with the community, and then the staff to submit a grant application to the Santa Clara County Heritage Commission to preserve Halsey House.

— Claire Noonan, Observer