City Council

Los Altos Measure A – is that 2X, 3X or just 7 Percent Larger than Hillview Now?

Los Altos Measure A - What size is the Hillview Center anyway? It has lots and lots of outdoor "circulation" halls and breezeways
Los Altos Measure A - What size is the Hillview Center anyway? It has lots and lots of outdoor "circulation" halls and breezeways
Written by lalahpolitico

Some voters are wondering if Los Altos Measure A will build a new community center building which is the “right size.”  A decision about whether keeping the level of services provided by the building the same or increasing the level of services by 10%,  50%, 100% or 200% is  a business decision and political decision. The open question is whether the rough Measure A Community Center plan/parameters  indicate that the space and  level of services will be about the same, or will be increasing marginally, or increasing a great deal compared to Hillview Center today.

Everybody in this discussion — the YES, NO and Maybe sides — assume that more space = more services. Let’s take that to be true, realizing that in a new building the Recreation Department will be able to use space more effectively, in restaurant speak, “turning the tables” more frequently, thanks to more and better storage space.  Surely getting more services out of the same space is a good thing?! Except maybe for traffic per day. And surely providing better services to the disabled per ADA standards is a good thing?! We are all willing to pay the price for ADA.

Los Altos Measure A - Hillview Center has many covered Breezeways and 6 used and unused atriums. This one is a boce ball court.

Hillview Center has many covered Breezeways and 6 used and unused atriums. This one is a bocce ball court.

Everybody in this discussion has a different estimate of the MORE SPACE provided by the Measure A new community center building.  The YES side says 7% more space, the NO side says 3X more space, and the Lalahpolitico MAYBE side last week guesstimated 2X.  Nobody is lying. Here are the communication problems. The architect/city figures that are circulating to describe Hillview as it is today don’t seem real accurate, correct or complete to Lalahpolitico based on my personal site inspections and google maps estimates. More on that below.  Plus all three sides look at different space utilization subtotals at Hillview, choosing (cherry-picking?) those they think best indicate space = “services.”

Los Altos Measure A - The old Hillview Center leases and loans a substantial fraction of interior space. Citizens don't see this as City Rec. Dept. programming

The old Hillview Center leases and lends a substantial fraction of interior space on an annual basis. Here is the kindertots preschool.  Many citizens don’t think of this as City Recreaction Dept. programming. Do you?

Lalahpolitico does not think anyone is actually cherry-picking the numbers. A key communication hiccup is that the City and ABA architect are using the jargon “program space” as it is understood internally in the Rec. Dept. to include almost all Hillview interior space. To ordinary citizens walking around the sprawling Hillview Community Center, we see tenants, non-profits, closets, atriums & breezeways, staff offices and storage — we see lots and lots of non-program space.  We see the Social Hall, Hillview Room, Senior Center and maybe half the “classrooms” being used for actual Recreation Department “course/activity” programming.

To ordinary citizens about half of Hillview is now being leased, loaned, or is just overhead; it just isn’t program space as we think about it.  We understand that the leasing/loan arrangements are NOT being continued at the Los Altos Measure A 55,000 square foot new community center building. We understand this vacated “tenant” space will actually be programmed by the Rec. Dept. as “course/activity” at the new building. But the Senior Center may grow from 2,500 today to 10,000 square feet. We understand that there may be some increase in overhead space at the new building.  But this IS an EXPANSION.  But of what order of magnitude?

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.

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