Our City’s Constitution: The Los Altos General Plan


What is the General Plan, and why should you care?

Scheduled for a re-write in the immediate future, the resulting General Plan will directly affect you and your family.  As the city’s constitution, it is a formalized description of Los Altos residents’ view of Los Altos and the future of Los Altos.  It specifies ‘quality of life’ aspects of the city that directly touch on your daily life. Such things as traffic and safety, city maintenance, education, building scale, land use, and open space/recreation are addressed.  The General Plan is a legal document required by the State, and is a primary driver of city codes and actions.

A Proposal for residents involvement

The approach suggested below for generating the new General Plan has the advantage of assuring that it has direct resident ownership.  This is a draft of a suggested approach to create a fair and accurate update to the General Plan, and is in no way 100% complete.

As you will see below, the suggestion is to divide Los Altos into areas for purposes of resident representation. Each area may have unique issues and requirements.  A working group, with a representative from each area, among other stakeholders, would be formed to update the General Plan. Currently, many areas have existing resident groups that have been in place for an extended period of time.  These groups, for example, could select a representative for their specific area. The selected representative would be responsible for ensuring accurate representation of their neighborhood’s desires and input. An option, when there is not an organized neighborhood group, is to offer an organized selection process by the residents in the area.

There is also proportional input for commercial property owners and business owners, as it is recognized that they have a stake in our community as well.

The approach is bottom up, with residents representing residents.  The committee will be able to address both Los Altos as a whole, as well as each specific area.  A similar approach was successfully used by Saratoga in developing their General Plan, and a Los Altos resident advisory committee was involved in a prior rewrite of our General Plan.

If you want your input to be considered in the re-write of the new Los Altos General Plan, please let City Council know that you support this General Plan process proposal.

Recommended General Plan Committee Composition

  • North Los Altos

  • South Los Altos / Grant Park

  • Old Los Altos / Downtown

  • Loyola Corners

  • Almond / Jardin

  • El Camino

  • Cuesta

  • Miramonte / Covington

  • Woodland Acres / Highlands

  • commercial property owner (resident)

  • business owner (not commercial property owner)

City staff supports the activities of the committee, as the committee requires.

GP Committee Actions

  • GP Committee identifies General Plan scope elements (what aspects need to be defined in the General Plan at a high level)

  • GP Committee designs an official survey(s) of residents

  • GP Committee develops a descriptive draft of General Plan based on survey results (plain language, clear description of what Los Altos should be like)

  • GP Committee confirms resident approval of the descriptive draft, and revises as necessary  (events, NextDoor, city survey)

  • GP Committee finalizes the descriptive portion of General Plan

  • City staff translates the descriptive General Plan into building codes and details

  • GP Committee validates the accuracy of city staff product

  • GP Committee confirms the completion of the EIR, necessary notifications, and council approval

  • GP Committee, together with the City Council and city staff, complete the General Plan


If you want residents to have say in our city’s constitution, which won’t be updated for another 20 years, now is the time to get involved. Sign up for our educational and call-to-action emails, and learn how your voice can be amplified.