September 24, 2019 Council Meeting

Highlights of the Council Meeting that you won’t find anywhere else!

The agenda items will not be taken in order in this report.  While everything on the agenda was important, the discussion and ultimate vote to assign priorities to the projects in the Capital Improvement Plan was the highlight of the Meeting.  But we just can’t resist the temptation to cover the following public comments first.

“Manners Camp”

Five former council members/mayors of Los Altos got together and took it upon themselves to lecture the Council about their “uncivil behavior” and one, King Lear (1997-2005), went so far as to accuse two unnamed council members of conspiring to have the City Manager Chris Jordan fired.  They cited the recent Daily Post and Town Crier articles that have reported on the past employment of Chris Jordan and tension with councilmembers as the basis for accusing again, unnamed council members of “going behind the back” of Mr. Jordan to try to oust him from his job.  Ironically, most compared their behavior in office as cordial with council members always working together to accomplish good for the city.  Ah the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia.  

 City Council 2019 Strategic Priorities

 City Staff presented their Top Infrastructure Priorities for (the) City of Los Altos with their suggested rankings.  Then it was up to the City Council to discuss the ten projects and then vote on their Top Five.   The WINNERS are:  

#1 Police Department Renovations;

#2 Annual Pavement Improvements;

#3 Grant Park Community Center;

#4 LAYC Improvements; and

#5 Parks Renovations.  

 Here are the ranking votes of all councilmembers.  

Mayor Lee Eng:  #1 Police Dept; #2 Grant Park; #3 Pavement Imp; #4 Parks Reno; no #5 recorded

Vice Mayor Pepper:  #1 Police Dept; #2 LAYC; #3 Pavement Imp; #4 City Hall Reno;#5 Pool Study

CM Enander:#1Pavement Imp;#2 Police Dept;#3 Grant Park; #4 Parks Reno;#5 Council Chambers

CM Bruins: #1 Police Dept; #2 LAYC; #3 City Hall Reno; #4 Grant Park; #5 Parks Reno

CM Fligor:  #1 Pavement Imp; #2 Police Dept; #3 Grant Park; #4 Garden House; #5 Parks Reno

 Council Member Bruins reminded other council members that the City must keep the City’s Pavement Condition Index (PCI) above 71 or suffer the loss of gas tax funds.

1.     The 2016 PMS Update estimated that $2.9-million/year in pavement improvements were required to increase the City’s Pavement Condition Index (PCI) from a score of 71 to 76 by 2020 (one point above the Council’s goal of 75 by 2026). At the time, the City Council decided to budget $1.4 million in 2016/17 for pavement improvements and $1.65-million was budgeted in 2017/18 and 2018/19. 

2.     Beginning with FY 2020 and over the next five years, the City has budgeted $1.9-million/year for pavement improvements in an effort to reach the stated goal by 2026. The City is currently updating the PMS and should have an updated score and cost projections for various PCI milestones by Winter 2020. 

IMPORTANT POINT: When Council Member Fligor asked City Manager Chris Jordan who decides which Traffic Safety projects, for example, get priority if we find we can’t do all of them and some need to get pushed back, he replied,“Generally speaking that’s staff working with the Complete Streets Commission...and also public input – where there is serious interest or serious concern that always pops things up to the top.”  This should motivate us to keep at it!!  If we continue to raise awareness of important issues to City Council and Staff, we can win!

New Dashboard to Track Tasks

Staff developed a new Dashboard to track the progress of all projects underway by the City.  Council Members thanked Staff for developing the dashboard and thought that it would be a good tool to manage progress or lack of progress on each of the tasks categorized under major headings such as “Traffic Safety.”   Council Member Enander asked Staff to begin every task with a verb and to list milestones and due dates for each task.

Hiring New City Attorney?

 Mayor Lee Eng announced that “In closed session today, Council directed Council Members Bruins and Fligor to initiate an exploration process for a city attorney.  The third term of the current city attorney expires in April 2020 therefore Council would like to explore options for legal representation in the market to ensure that the interests of the city and residents continue to be well-represented.”  Another closed session on Tuesday, October 1 at 5:30pm will deal with “Public Employment – Title:  City Attorney.”

999 Fremont Avenue Development

 Several speakers addressed the traffic safety problems that this proposed building would exacerbate.  The fact that the building has no setback on it’s A Street side will make bicycle safety even more elusive.  In addition to its traffic safety issues, most speakers thought the building was too big for that small triangular lot and would be an eyesore.  Moreover, under the 1990 Loyola Corner Specific Plan this triangular lot and parts of the adjacent roadways were to be converted into a pedestrian plaza that would be a highlight of Loyola Corners facing and visible from Foothill Expressway.  If this plot is developed as proposed, it would thwart implementation of the Loyola Corners Specific Plan including the planned rerouting of traffic in that area.

But rather than just complain, the speakers presented Council with a solution to the problematic 999 Fremont proposed development.  The City can buy the property and convert it into a park/pedestrian plaza.  This move would rescue the Loyola Corners Specific Plan, satisfy all the neighbors who oppose the development and satisfy the property owner because the property is For Sale!!  A potential win/win!!

Council Norms – What is the process for adding items to the agenda?

 Council Member Enander and Mayor Lee Eng asked for clarification on the official process for getting an item added to the agenda.  After much back and forth and questioning of City Manager Chris Jordan, it appears that the Mayor with the backing of at least one council member can add an item to the agenda.  Two council members can add an item to the agenda.  However, in spite of what appears to be a straightforward process there are suggestions that items still do not appear on the agenda when properly requested.  And it seems some items appear on the agenda without a proper request.  Council Member Jan Pepper suggested language to provide for 2 council members to ask for an item to be put on the agenda.  Council Member Enander and Mayor Lee Eng agreed to draft a redline amendment of Council Norm 10.10 relating to adding items on the agenda.

 The meeting was adjourned at approximately 11:30pm. An early evening!