City Council

Los Altos City Council Agenda – May 8

Written by lalahpolitico


CRS zoning 2-story limit, 40 Main Street, Sorensen, LAH crosswalk, Lyell condos, payday moratorium,  Commissions, hazardous waste plan

Los Altos City Council Agenda



TUESDAY, MAY 8, 2012

7:00 P.M. – REGULAR CITY COUNCIL MEETINGCity Council Chamber, Los Altos City Hall
One North San Antonio Road, Los Altos, California

1. Recognition of Historical Commission Essay Contest Winners


2. Recognition of Donald McDonald, Historical Preservation Award Winner


PRE MEETING, LOSALTOSPOLITICO:  If the residents from the Covington-Miramonte area come to comment again for 30 minutes it will be the 4th such visit.  At the end of the last meeting Mayor Val Carpenter asked to have an item about the safety of the proposed traffic signal be put on a future city council meeting agenda.  The item did not get on this agent.

1. Council Minutes
Recommendation to approve the minutes of the April 24, 2012 regular meeting

PRE MEETING, LOSALTOSPOLITICO:  Minutes look ok.  A key point that was new to me:  any single-story residential construction plan that makes staff nervous ( even if conforming in every way ) can be referred by staff to the Design Review Commission (formerly Architecture & Site Review ).  We want to remember the Megan Saterlee voted against giving a $25K raise in annual retainer fee to the City Attorney – she really does seem to be a fiscal conservative.  The official minutes don’t bring this out. Also the minutes do not include that fact there was a request from council that staff attempt to set up a joint meeting between the entire council and the entire LASD board to help LASD with a 10th site, and other issues of mutual interest as soon a possible.


2. Crosswalks at Los Altos High School
Recommendation to:
A. Approve the CIP Description for Almond Avenue and Gordon Way Improvements, Project 12-16
B. Appropriate $143,000 from the Capital Projects Fund for the new capital project, 12-16

PRE MEETING, LOSALTOSPOLITICO:   It’s a raised crosswalk with in pavement lights activated by a button.


3. Amendments to the Municipal Code regarding City Commissions
Recommendation to introduce and waive further reading of Ordinance No. 2012-379 amending Chapter 2.08 of the Los Altos Municipal Code to establish the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, the Design Review Commission, and the Planning and Transportation Commission

PRE MEETING, LOSALTOSPOLITICO: This is also in Item 9 below. Notice the ordinance numbers are different.


4. Emergency replacement of sewer stand-by truck
Recommendation to appropriate $37,000 from the Equipment Replacement Fund to replace a sewer stand-by truck subject to $26,000 in combined automotive collision insurance and salvage-value recovery

PRE MEETING, LOSALTOSPOLITICO:  Straightforward, as described above


5. Parcel Map for 36 Lyell Street
Recommendation to approve the Parcel Map for 36 Lyell Street

PRE MEETING, LOSALTOSPOLITICO:  This meeting agenda server as notice to the general public. I assume the direct neighbors have been noticed. Parcel is being subdivided for a three-unit condominium with variance.


6. Installation of a sculpture on State Street
Recommendation to approve installation of Torso 3 at State and Third Streets

PRE MEETING, LOSALTOSPOLITICO:  Sculpture looks better than most. Another female form.  Can the guys get equal visibility for the next one? Sidewalks are getting rather crowded with obstacles. Costs $1250.


7. Household Hazardous Waste Program
Recommendation to:
A. Approve the Agency Agreement for Countywide AB939 Implementation Fee
B. Approve the Agreement for Countywide Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Program
C. Authorize the City Manager to execute the agreements on behalf of the City

PRE MEETING, LOSALTOSPOLITICO:  It will cost the city an additional $70K to  use the County.  There is some overlap with Mission Trail collection services though.  So the cost might be less, but county hasn’t given Mission Trail some approvals. This is an issue for Green Town Los Altos to look at.


8. General Liability Insurance Joint Powers Authority provider
Recommendation to:
A. Approve membership in Bay Cities Joint Powers Insurance Authority and the purchase of General Liability insurance
B. Approve membership in Employment Risk Management Authority and the purchase of Employment Practices Liability insurance
C. Authorize City Manager to execute documents to become a member and to purchase insurance with Bay Cities Joint Powers Insurance Authority
D. Authorize City Manager to execute documents to become a member and to purchase insurance with Employment Risk Management Authority
E. Authorize City Manager to execute documents to withdraw from the current insurance provider, Association of Bay Area Governments Pooled Liability Assurance Network

PRE MEETING, LOSALTOSPOLITICO:The City is planning to change its insurance provider from ABAG to BCJPIA ( Bay Cities Joint Powers Insurance Authority).  Staff report says the later offers more for less and has more stable management.  The General Liability will cost approximately $248,000.  An optional Employment Practices Liability coverage would cost an additional $59,000.


9. Council Appointee to the Joint Community Volunteer Service Awards Committee
Recommendation to appoint Councilmember Casas as the Council Representative and Councillmember Packard to an unexpired term ending in 2013 to the Los Altos-Los Altos Hills Joint Community Volunteer Service Awards Committee

 PRE-MEETING, LOS ALTOS POLITICO: In years past this committee used to be comprised solely of citizens.  Stuffing council members on it is something new.  Some people believe council is using it to reward supporters and punish critics. Ah, the smell of  political patronage at a small scale.


10. Payday lending moratorium extension
Recommendation to adopt Interim Ordinance No. 2012-380 extending a temporary moratorium on the establishment, expansion or relocation of payday lending and check cashing businesses within the City of Los Altos and declaring the urgency thereof

 PRE-MEETING, LOS ALTOS POLITICO:  It appears the City Attorney needs more time to develop the ordinances that would regulate the location and hours of possible future payday lenders (none in Los Altos at this time, though there is one across from Whole Foods).  The current moratorium on allowing any payday lender businesses in town expires on May 25.  It may be extended for up to 10 months and 15 days.  However, staff is asking for a 90 day extension of the moratorium.


11. Zoning amendments: Commission restructuring
Recommendation to introduce and waive further reading of Ordinance Nos. 2012-381, 2012-382 and 2012-383 that would:
A. Amend Chapter 14.76 to create a new Design Review Commission responsible for single-family home design and variance applications
B. Amend Chapter 14.78 to merge the Traffic Commission responsibilities with those of the Planning Commission
C. Change all references to the Planning Commission in Chapter 13.12 – Tentative Maps and Chapter 14.80 – Use Permits to Planning and Transportation Commission, and delete Chapter 14.64 – Architecture and Site Review Committee and Chapter 14.82 – Variances

  PRE-MEETING, LOS ALTOS POLITICO: The interesting part of the Staff report is the page 2 Planning Commission review:

– the P&T Commission will need training, like about the Neighborhool Traffic Management program

– the process should be a two-meeting process and be codified.  Step 1 a pre-application study sesssion

– considered asking Staff to handle residential variances, but the idea was dropped

– not in favor in having a contract architect or architectural firm advise on Design Review matter ( WE DISAGREE  WITH STAFF’S IMPRESSION THAT HERE WAS A LEVEL OF CONSENSUS AROUND THIS POINT)

-adopt a policy of ending Planning Meetings at 11 pm

COMMENT:   RE: “14.78.080 – Requirement for transportation review”


“B. Procedure. Projects subject to this section shall be reviewed in the following manner:1. The Bicycle and Pedestrian .-Advisory Commission shall consider the project/subject at a public meeting and shall act in an advisory capacity to the Planning and Transportation Commission on bicycle and pedestrian matters.

2. The Planning and Transportation Commission shall also consider the project/subject at a public meeting and act in an advisory capacity to the City Council on bicycle, pedestrian, parking and traffic matters.”


12. Exceptions for Downtown zoning and two stories limitation
Recommendation to direct City Attorney to prepare ordinances (a) amending existing zoning code so as to redefine exceptions to zoning requirements for downtown projects, and (b) restore and restate that the CRS zoning is limited to two stories. In order to avoid any conflict of interest for Councilmember Packard, these amendments are to apply only to new projects where the initial filing is after the final adoption of these proposed zoning changes, and these changes will not apply to the CRS/OAD zone

PRE-MEETING, LOS ALTOS POLITICO: Rolling back CRS zoning to a 2 story limit is going to prevent the gradual redevelopment of downtown and kill the uptick in “vibrancy” downtown.  Also the proposal seems to be motivated by private benefit rather than concern for the general welfare.  See our post on Ron Packard vs. the Sorensen Project.


13. Los Altos Parks Plan
Recommendation to review the recommendations from the Parks and Recreation Commission and adopt the final Los Altos Parks Plan

PRE MEETING, LOS ALTOS POLITICO: About a month ago, the Parks Commission spoke at a meeting and said, more or less, that they felt cut out of the process of report creation.  They at least wanted an opportunity to review it as a group. Council was sensitive and caring and granted the request.  So now the Plan is back again, hopefully for approval with no or very minor changes.


14. City of Los Altos/Los Altos School District Joint Special Meeting
Recommendation to schedule a City/School District Joint Special Meeting and finalize the meeting agenda

PRE-MEETING LOS ALTOS POLITICO:  After the brouhaha about LASD possibly exercising eminent domain on city-owned land, both groups want to be seen in harmony.  So there will be some political theatre here as they sing kumbaya.  But this is not just show and no substance.  LASD really does need help with its facilities planning and with trying to get Mountain View to help get a 10th site some day. Also the City Council needs to claim credit for all the things it REALLY ALREADY does to benefit schools and students. Also the City Council would like to do even more things FOR the schools and students and certainly deserves  recognition when it does so.  The problem: The City Council did not use the “benefits schools/students” “feature” to sell the Community Center Master Plan Phase I bond to the public.  And the bond poll results showed that. Next time it will do a better job marketing it to all population groups: seniors, tots, and students. Oh, and let’s not forget parents.



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About the author


Norma Schroder is an economics & market researcher by trade and ardent independent journalist, photographer and videographer by avocation. Enthralled by the growth of the tech industry over the decades, she became fascinated with the business of local politics only in the past several years.