Lalahpolitico is very conflicted about how to vote on Los Altos Measure A — the $65 million Nov. 3, 2015 Community Center bond measure. It would replace the crumbling, 70-year-old Hillview Community Center with an upsized building, a pool complex and new landscaping and rebuilt sports fields. Separate City of Los Altos reserves of around $20 million would finance underground parking. It is estimated property owners would pay just under $20 dollars per $100,000 of assessed value. For the owner of a home with the typical assessed value of $700,000, that’s 140 bucks a year. You might be surprised to hear that for the typical, long-time Los Altos commercial property owner, their assessed value may only be $700,000, so their tax will be 140 bucks a year as well.
UPDATE OCT 27, 2015: Both YES and NO sides have reacted to this article with some corrections, amplifications, comments and arguments for voting one way or the other. In particular both sides want you to know that their supporters are drawn from a much broader base than I characterize. [Please visit their websites for more information.]
The YES side has asserted that the planned new community center is not 2x as large as the old one as this article claims, but actually offers less than a 10% larger space for programs. [I’m redoing my numbers, but I still get 2X and will present the details of my assumptions soon.] They say three oaks trees do need not be removed to build it. The diagram of the “Final” plan in this article is said to misplace boce courts and other items. [But this article correctly states the diagram is not really the final plan.]
The NO side objects that this article’s diagram of the “Final” plan shows only one pool, while the Splash Foundation website and most discussions of the pool complex discuss 3 pools. The NO side correctly points out that the price of the bond is not a linear $20 per $100K for all 30 years. The price per 100K will rise and peak at more like $33 per $100K around year 5 to 7 and and then start to head down.
Lalahpolitico will update this article with the amplifications, but the gist of my arguments remain the same as the original below. UPDATE NOV. 4, 2015 Actually I updated this article with 3 subsequent posts instead of modifying this one.
Table of Contents
Who are the YES and NO Endorsers p.1
History of Hillview Land Use p. 2
A 1952 City with No Recreation p. 3
Recreation Dept Growth & Economics p. 4
Measure A Cost— $65, $85 or $165 Million p. 5
The Architect’s FINAL Measure A site plan p. 6
The Pool complex as a source of No votes p. 7
2012 bond and the 2015 bond both $85 Million p. 8
2012 Ballot honest about 2X Recreation expansion p. 9
FOLA and City say trust the TBD final plan p. 10
Neighborhood Friendly Alternative Plan 2013 p. 11
The 2012 Phase I plan looks better in retrospect p. 12
Another Neigborhood Friendly Alternative Plan 2013 p. 13
Voting Advice p. 14
The Yes on A endorsers include an inspiring list of of current and former city mayors and council persons, some folks serving on local government commissions and non-profit boards, and some prominent movers and shakers from the “downtown” property and business-owner community. Lalahpolitico is acquainted with most of them, admires them most of the time, and appreciates their years of service. All of them.
The No on A endorsers include much less visible volunteers: long-time, local “No New Taxes” advocates, small government advocates, and growth-restriction “residentialists” [similar to Lenny Siegel in Mountain View]. A number of residential neighbors close-in by the Los Altos Civic Center area are also very active in the No on A effort. [Let’s say it’s those having homes within 1/2 mile of the perimeter of the 18 acres civic center area along Hillview Ave., Eleanor, E. Edith, Cielto, Angela, View, Mt. Hamilton. Walk down Hillview Avenue and you’ll see a wall of “Measure A No Way” signs. ]
Lalahpolitico is acquainted with some of No endorsers, supports their right to have an opinion, supports their right to try to preserve the enjoyment of their property, does not think they are liars, does not think they are selfish, and appreciates their work in trying to publicize “drawbacks” of Measure A as they see them. These volunteers have enlisted the “out-of-town” (?!) Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association for some help, probably to understand all the paperwork and laws regulating how to become the official NO group on the Nov. 3 election ballot. The No effort is as local as the Yes effort.
It’s a fact that the Hillview Building is worn out. So that’s a “true” fact. For a number of years, the City has had the building on “palliative” life support maintenance only! But what to do about the decrepitude is a matter of opinion. To illustrate, opinions could range from
- spend $2-5 million on repairs … or
- spend $2-3 million to tear it down, just a removal to reduce City liability for a furnace explosion or roof collapse; close down most recreation programs … or
- tear it down and replace it right where it stands, more or less like it is, a plain, unassuming, new one-story building of about 25,000 square feet, perhaps reducing the building’s sprawling footprint on the land … or
- replace it with an over 50,000 square feet building because Los Altos residents’ incomes have risen, tastes have changed to prefer larger and larger homes, and our now affluent community “deserves” a stylish, tasteful building and even more recreation programs than we have now.