After new large developments in the last 3 years, many residents have complained that Los Altos First Street has become “a canyon.” In response, Councilmember Megan Satterlee formed and lead an ad hoc Downtown Buildings Committee. One of its recommendations was to increase sidewalk width and building setbacks for new future development along Los Altos First Street. What did the committee members see during their investigation? Is their recommendation economically feasible?
This is a companion article to “Los Altos First Street – Pedestrian Experience north.”
The current WALKABILITY on the south part of First Street – past Draegers on the Draegers side – deserves a grade of F.
There is NO SIDEWALK at all on this side of the street. Look at this depressing Figure 1 Google Street View photo taken in 2011. Nothing has changed yet. The good news is that at that at the north section of this unappealing stretch, Draeger’s is embarking on a remodel which will enhance its store and its parking. With the participation of the City, the sidewalk along there will also be improved. [The City has a “Utilities Undergrounding” infrastructure project planned for this whole southern stretch of First Street.] At the other end, a new 3- story office building is going up, a change which should enhance the sidewalk there. Let’s hope! Here – Images of the office building plan.
Let’s Start Down the Draegers side of First Street
What follows is my pictorial account of a walk starting from behind Draegers on down towards the San Antonio – Cuesta intersection. Later I’ll take a close look at the 396 First three-story condo, which many people say “could have been better.”
Figure 1: Here is a view of Los Altos First Street – between Main and San Antonio, heading south. Notice that there is NO SIDE WALK AT ALL on the right hand side, the Foothill Expressway side. The sidewalk on the left is 5 feet wide with no street trees. For decades, it’s been the only pedestrian option to navigate this southern stretch of First Street.
Figure 2: Draegers will improve the aesthetics of this area along First Street during its remodel scheduled for early 2016. Pedestrians now must dodge, weave and jump around poles and hydrants and also tread cautiously on the crumbling, unlevel pavement. Don’t be old, and poor sighted around here. To orient you, the reader, this is the same yellow fire hydrant as in the Google photo Figure 1.
Figure 3: Walking towards the condo at 396 Los Altos First Street, the pedestrian must traverse more unattractive, uneven pavement. The new condos lie ahead. The property owners neighboring the condos seem to be minimizing repairs while waiting for redevelopment opportunities to mature. That’s rational.
Let’s cross to the other side of the street to see the existing sidewalk
This side has a mix of structures from 1908+, when Paul Shoup’s suburban train line was established on what is now Foothill Expressway, and structures from every decade on into the 1990’s.