Library Parks & Rec

Will the Los Altos Library be next City Project?

Los Altos Library, Los Altos California
Council member Jean Mordo: "a 2018 parcel tax can fund an expansion"
Written by lalahpolitico

The cities of Los Altos and and Los Altos Hills are starting to talk about jointly expanding the main Los Altos Library at 1 S. San Antonio Road.  The building was last remodeled in 1992? Since at least 2008, there has been a desire by many in the community to add space for collections, for meeting rooms, for better children and teen areas, for tech, and for Friends’ book sale activities.  Back in 2008 a “needs assessment” study found that about 11,000 square feet were needed.  The 2008 recession and failure of the Civic Center Master Plan to get funded derailed the momentum of that library expansion effort.

Council member Jean Mordo believes the time is ripe to try again to expand the main Los Altos library building, this time with Los Altos Hills

Jean Mordo Los Altos City Council interrogates LASD Tamara Logan

Jean Mordo Los Altos City Council

He is proposing that both councils fund an update to the 2008 needs assessment study. A consulting firm can confirm the 11,000 sq ft. need and assess feasibility and costs of alternatives for the Los Altos Library: 1) remodeling on one level, 2) remodeling by adding a second level, 3) building a new library instead.

How to Pay for it
– Parcel Tax $57 or $176

After the report recommendation is received, Mordo wants to convene the North County Library Authority ( NCLA). NCLA is a joint powers jurisdiction formed in the 1990’s (?) comprised of the City of Los Altos and the City of Los Altos Hills for the sole purpose of  raising taxes for library needs at the Main Los Altos Library and the Woodland branch library.  The NCLA will consider calling an election for a parcel tax to fund expansion.

If a remodel is possible,  a parcel tax could be just $57, providing $13 million in financing. There are funds in a library reserve that could bring the total to $15M. Mordo believes this small parcel tax could easily win the necessary 2/3 votes.

On the other hand, if the consultant’s report recommends a brand new building for the Los Altos Library, that could cost $40million. The parcel tax to support such an amount would about $176. Mordo admits that size tax would be harder to pass, but believes the community could probably embrace it.

First Step Nov. 16, 2017
…Timeline to Nov. 2018 election

First Step: The City Councils of Los Altos and of Los Altos Hills are holding a joint meeting Tuesday, Nov. 16,  4pm at the LAH Chambers to discuss planning an expansion of the Los Altos Library.

Next steps: If there are green lights…Mordo hopes there could be a preliminary architectural design for the library prepared in the coming months. The design would support the campaign for the parcel tax which he would like to see on the November 2018 ballot.  The design also will be important to the Hillview Community Center project which is scheduled to break ground in December 2018 .

The Hillview project was considering kinds of pedestrian connectivity to the Los Altos Library. That’s on hold, awaiting a possible library expansion project. The two projects would coordinate the connectivity.

Hillview Project’s Pedestrian Promenade Postponed-
NOT really cancelled

If a library rebuild gets the green light, redesign of the library’s San Antonio entrance and pedestrian connectivity between the library and the community center would need to be coordinated.  For the time being, the “trellised pedestrian promenande” the Tam & Noll architects proposed between the library and community center is ON HOLD.

What’s in/out at Hillview Project Per Staff

Los Altos City Staff recommendation for extras

City Staff is recommending a reduced set of EXTRAs for the Hillivew Community Center Project. The connectivity to the library and rest of civic center, such as with a trellised promenade, should await information on the prospects for a library expansion project.  City Council will review this staff suggestion and the entire City Capital Spending Plan at a Nov. 14 study session.

Los Altos Library, not Rec. Dept. should “own” Maker Space

The Hillview Task Force had a long list of future Rec. Dept. programming wishes. It included expensive things like 1) a ceramics kiln and 2) a maker space.  The cost of these activities is not just the upfront cost, but the maintenance and special employees needed.  These activities are not baked into the Hillview project. A kiln may need a specialized space and one was not designed in.  However, a Maker set up can conceivably be supplied on mobile carts.

Lalahpolitico: as for getting a Maker space in Los ALtos, our SCCL Los Altos Library is well along the way to providing some Maker activities.  If the library remodel/rebuild makes a room to house Maker equipment, I say let SCCL do it. Our Rec. Dept. does not need to duplicate that activity.

Los Altos Library Maker Space 3-D modeling and printing

3-D modeling, printing at Los Altos Library Orchard Room in October 2017. SCCL already has the expertise to work with Maker Space contractors.



Street Address of Nov. 16  4pm meeting: Los Altos Hills City Council Chambers, 26379 Fremont Road, Los Altos Hills,

Mordo memo

The 2008 needs assessment

Agenda for 5:30 study Session on Hillview Project extras



The contractor SCCL is using for its free 3-D classes is Prevail Prototypes. Here is 5 minutes of video showing highlights of the 3 hour class at Los Altos October 2017.

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.