This post includes a 4 minute video of James Walgren introducing the key points of the new strategy.
The Assistant City Manager described a revamped approach to funding the the Los Altos Civic Center Master Plan at the August 27 Los Altos City Council Meeting. Last spring the City had tested voter support for a bond, and there wasn’t enough to call for placing the bond on the November ballot.
Only New Tax would be a $20-25M Measure for Police Station
However, the spring poll did show strong voter support for a new police station, and also for a bond measure up to $25M, rather than the $80M the City had been aiming for. Accordingly, in the new strategy, the police station — which will costs around $20M — is the only item the City would put before the voters, possibly next year. It would be located right next to San Antonio Road…just as is shown on the Civic Center Master Plan site plan.
Other Elements of the New Strategy
- use the existing site plan — the building sizes and placements — are pretty much the same one that the Council approved last year.
- spend $1.5 to 2M to repair Hillview Center’s electrical, plumbing, HVAC and roof along with paint and new carpeting in order to extend its life “5 to 10 years”
- the City would “self-finance” the $20M City Hall Building with its public gathering spaces, as was always the plan.[The city has reserves and can get more out of future operations]
- the City would fund about $4 to $5M of infrastucture — the curved driveway, a new Edith-San Antonio intersection — out of reserves and operations
- the newly added Edith intersection design will improve the connection between downtown and the Civic Center – it could be a roundabout or a grid design, depending on public receptivity. [ These were not ready to show at the meeting.]
- for this newly defined Phase 1 buildout, the existing Youth Center and majority of the orchard would remain
A New Community Center Building is pushed into a TBD Phase II
– with City of LAH Participation Perhaps
The repair of the Hillview Center means a new community facilities building can be delayed quite a while. If citizens see that a completed Phase I — new police station, new city hall, and the new public plazas connecting to the redesigned Edith intersection are a success –Walgren believes the public may then acquire an appetite for a new community building. He also suggested a couple of ways to get the cost of a new community center building down for Los Altos voters. First, the size of the building could be scaled back. Also, the City Council of Los Altos Hills has suggested that LAH could join a bond measure for that building. LAH is willing to poll its citizens about joining in a bond measure for just the community center building. Such a building would be located next to the existing library and new City Hall as is shown in the existing site Community Center Master Plan.
Lalahpolitico Comment: Looks like a Successful Consensus Coalition
But what will the Designs look like?
I think Mr. Wahlgren has proposed a path forward that the public will go for. Burgleries are up, and with the recession dragging so many down, residents will pay for the protection of a very visible, improved police station. The pedestrian friendly redesign of the Edith-Sant Antonio intersection and the public plazas in front of City Hall, will probably please the folks who advocate for downtown vibrancy. The original plan had been criticized for not connecting with downtown. And at least for the first phase, the apricot orchard will not move. Any San Antonio Road roundabout design will have to survive the gauntlet of public opinion – or else we’ll get a grid. And for the fiscal conservatives, the new tax will be way less than originally proposed. That’s called successfully building a consensus coalition.
My Wahlgren recommended that “the old team” be pulled together. I think he means the 30 or so citizens, staff, and council, who collaborated on the site plan. Yes, good, maybe. But there is one more sticking point – What will it look like? I suppose no one will care much what the police station looks like. But people will care what city hall looks like. But I suppose the City Council gets to “make the policy” on what it will look like because there is not new tax money involved? Carmel, Craftsman, or contemporary…were some “looks” that were tossed around. Soon it will be time to have that discussion. Who is the decider? The look of the Phase I City Hall will probably determine the look of any future new Community Center – that means LAH will want a say in these Phase I decisions, even though they aren’t paying anything yet.
Whatever the design, lalahpolitico looks forward to the city applying the new “photo simulaltion” requirements of large projects to itself. We’d sure like to get a better idea of what the place will look like.
For that contingent of Los Altos, LAH, Mountain View and County residing LASD parents, who are bent on getting Hillview Center for school use…I think the $2M being spent on repairs by the City doesn’t really reduce the chances of your success. [By the way, the City is taking steps to groom expert witnesses in case there is any eminent domain litigation over Hillview. But the City still seems open to “sharing” arrangements.]