May 8, 2018

If adopted, an Affordable Housing Impact Fee would generate funds for the city to stimulate production of or enhancement of affordable housing. Keyser Marston Associates, a joint jurisdictional study by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, supports adoption. Such fees are established by the City Council, based on gross square footage, and paid before a building permit is issued. A draft ordinance presented at the meeting applies fees to residential ownership projects with an increase of 2 or more units, residential rental developments with increase of two or more units, and to non-residential developments with increase of 500 plus square footage. If the properties are for affordable housing, the fees are waived. A public hearing will occur before the council considers adoption of the ordinance, probably at the May 22, 2018, meeting.

Los Altos City prohibits short-term rentals (STR) in any zoning district. However, STRs are not expressly prohibited, rather by omission of name in the ordinances. The draft ordinance presented to City Council will expressly prohibit lodging for compensation for fewer than 30 days (28 if in February). The issue is to help preserve the low-density single family residential neighborhoods of the city. There was talk of establishing a Transient Occupancy Tax which would cover the cost to the city of STRs and allow some residents to get income and stay in their long-time residence. The ordinance will tentatively be adopted May 22, 2018.

Since the interim urgency ordinance to temporarily prohibit any cannabis production, distribution, or retail in Los Altos, the city is looking into the regulations and ordinances to authorize one or more medical or adult-use commercial cannabis retailers. There are detailed regulations by the new Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) that preserves local control over the establishment of any kind of cannabis license. The council considered types of retail suitable to the community, where businesses might be located, a limit to the total number of businesses, appropriate regulatory and permit structures, and most important, whether or not the City wants to tax any type of cannabis production, distribution, or retail. The City Council directed the staff to conduct community outreach and prepare necessary documents for a tax on cannabis revenue.

May 22, 2018

The City Council adopted the ordinance for Express Short-Term Rental Prohibition within the City of Los Altos. See minutes of May 8, 2018 for details.

The City Council introduced and waived further readings for the ordinance to establish Affordable Housing Impact Fees for residential and non-residential development. See minutes of May 8, 2018 for details.

The City Council received a Sufficiency of Initiative signatures on a petition to put an amendment measure to the city’s general plan on an election ballot. The initiative measure asks for a vote by Los Altos registered voter residents before significant changes (sale or lease or rezoning to different land us) for city-owned parks, open space, and public/institutional properties. Public comment proponents want to preserve parks and open space within city boundaries from development. Opponents say the amendment will tangle up organizations’ leasing agreements at any kind of open space areas in the city and place extensive glitches in implementation of the Downtown Vision Plan. Four options for this proposed initiative are to adopt the plan immediately, set the initiative on the November 2018 ballot, set a special election date in August 2018, or have staff write up a report for June 21 council meeting analyzing the issues the City Council has brought up and then authorize one of the first three options. Questions raised by the council members include: church leases on public property, other leasing concerns, more detail on which properties are affected, risks of litigation over leases. Mayor Jean Mordo also asked staff to provide an alternative measure that addresses council questions, similar perhaps to one that Los Altos Hills approved. A final decision will be made at June 21, 2018, council meeting.

The City Council received the Los Altos Downtown Vision Plan (LADVP) developed by RRM Design, Land Econ Group, and Plan 2 Place Group. A downtown vision plan has been discussed at four previous city council meetings beginning in September 2016. The goal of the LADVP is to serve as the community’s long-range vision, and while not regulatory, will provide a roadmap for future public projects and private development. The plan provides the community and decision-makers with short (1-5 year), mid (5-10 year), and long-term (10-20 year) actions to implement the project. Ten chapters describe community preferences including a plan for public spaces, parking and circulation, and implementation suggestions. The plan divides downtown Los Altos into four districts: First Street properties, Edith Avenue, Main and State Streets, and San Antonio Road. When City Council asked how to move forward to implement LADVP, the design group presenters suggested focus on revision of parking standards; fiscal opportunities, like adding another hotel; and adding a live theatre to the central gathering place. The council requested a 3-D model and more financial analysis which will be presented before adoption of a final plan.

— Claire Noonan, Observer