June 13, 2017

The city council voted to appropriate $96,619 from the Capital Improvement Program to award Wattis Construction the total $234,216 to complete the University Avenue Crosswalk Improvement Project.

The city council adopted the resolution to support the Association of the Los Altos History Museum’s application for a $95,000 grant to the Santa Clara County Historical Heritage Grant (SCCHHG). If the grant is received by 2018, the restoration of the 100-year-old water tower tank house at the History Museum will begin in summer 2018. The tank house had been moved to the museum from the Spagnoli property and Pilgrim Haven construction site in 1993. In 2015 leaks in the water tower roof prodded the Association to apply for a grant, at the time $35,000. The History Museum also raised donations of $10,000. When costs for restoration were found to be $105,000, the original grant was withdrawn and the new grant was drawn up. From rules by the SCCHHG, support from the “property owner”, in this case Los Altos City, must be assured.

June 27, 2017

Following discussion at the May 9, 2017 council meeting about “accessory dwellings” or “granny units” to address the issue of affordable housing, Jon Biggs, Community Development Director, led further discussion in a study session with city council members at this meeting about “accessory structure” standards. The objective was to decide whether current standards are adequate to turn existing structures into dwelling units. Adjustments to standards may be needed to minimize potential impact on adjoining properties.

Currently, accessory structures over 6 feet high must be 2.5 feet from the nearest property line and no more than 800 square feet. Accessory structures may be up to 12 feet high, but actual plans for construction of these structures is not clear. Revisions in 2008 defined a rear setback for different structure heights from 2.5 to 7.5 feet.

To make the standards clearer, the staff recommends clearance to be 5 feet to the main building structure and 5 feet from the property line. The city council may recommend other amendments to the standards so as not to impact neighbors. For instance, standards might be made for height, building size, and placement of windows and door openings. Also, noise, privacy, and aesthetics were discussed and they might be considered as part of the standards. Direction was given to staff to draft new standards especially for setbacks.

—Claire Noonan, Observer