Council Meeting July 9, 2019

After an impassioned study session on Small Cell Nodes in Los Altos, Council asked the City Attorney to draft an urgency ordinance by July 30 in order to have it in place prior to a pending incomplete application becoming complete. Location of the nodes in areas close to schools, parks and neighborhoods was of particular concern to all present and the Council Members.

The special ad hoc committee on space for the Friends of the Library proposed 2 sheds between the Police Station and the History House and a trailer adjacent to the soccer field and across from the library as the short term solution to their loss of space due to the construction of the new Community Center. Council Member Enander cautioned that this short term solution may morph into the long term solution and that this short term solution is incompatible with the desire to improve the aesthetics of the City Hall campus. The ad hoc committee was directed to continue its meetings and come up with an acceptable long term solution that did not involve sheds and trailers on the campus.

Of great importance to Los Altos Residents living near proposed new high rise developments, Ordinance No. 2019-458: Density Bonus Regulations was passed unanimously by City Council. This ordinance provides that On-Menu Incentives can only be used once by the developer.

The Open Government Policy was amended by Council Members Enander and Pepper to allow for more transparency in city government and ensure compliance with the Brown Act. It also expanded the required notice area for adjacent property owners from 500 feet to 1000 feet. Council Member Bruins objected to expanding the notice area as unnecessary and arbitrary. The amended Open Government Policy was adopted in a 3 to 1 vote, Bruins voting against the amended Policy. The proposed amendments to the Council Norms and Procedures prompted a heated discussion. Council Member Bruins was “appalled” that Council Members Enander and Pepper and Mayor Lee Eng were in favor of requiring a Council Member serving on a regional board(s) to resign from that board(s) once they were no longer serving as a Council Member. The rationale for this measure is that the former council member would no longer represent Los Altos in any official capacity and thus have no authority to speak for the city and its residents. Bruins also objected to the City Attorney’s description of regional boards in the amended language. This resolution will come back before the Council at the July 30 meeting.

Finally an ad hoc committee comprising Council Members Enander and Pepper provided their report on improving community engagement. They reviewed past attempts from 2013 to present and proposed a pilot program consisting of meetings with 5 of the city’s 11 zones in the Fall of 2019. Discussion items at these meeting could include upcoming public works projects and issues important to attending residents. Council Member Bruins questioned the effectiveness of the meetings and suggested that other city priorities would slip due to staff time spent on these meetings. This resolution was passed with only Bruins voting against it.

Finally, Mayor Lee Eng again raised the issue of retaining a lobbyist for the city to work on the ever increasing numbers of bill in the state legislature regarding local zoning control. Council Members Enander and Pepper suggested working with other similarly situated cities to share a lobbyist. Enander will bring back information from a meeting of several cities the weekend of July 12-14 in Los Angeles. She will meet with city officials from other towns across California and learn what they are doing. This information will be shared at the next Council Meeting July 30.