- Published on Wednesday, 04 January 2012 00:00
- Written by Los Altos Town Crier
Enough with the 3 stories already
Three story, three story, three story – that is what Los Altos is becoming.
The most recent issue of the Los Altos Neighborhood Network newsletter listed six already approved buildings of three stories ready for construction downtown. If you want to look at the future downtown, look at the boxey-building being constructed at 240 Third Street – 44 feet tall with a roof appendage to 48 feet. On the skyline of downtown, you can see that structure from the intersection of First and Main at San Antonio. Is that what we want? Look at our village – do we want it to look like a high-rise developer’s dream?
I encouraged the city council to stop the three-story parking structures on Plaza South. All you have to do is stand in Plaza South and look at the enormous structure going up next to the Walgreens parking lot to see what the future of Los Altos will look like with the current development emphasis. I urge the city council to reconsider their focus on downtown development and keep Los Altos a village. After all, we live here and the developers probably don’t.
Ask city council members: How about resetting the zoning for the parking plazas back to what it was before this folly was approved? That way, additional public review will have to occur before a project of this magnitude can be resumed.
Out of touch in Los Altos?
It was Jean Jacques Rousseau who actually coined the phrase, “Let them eat cake” in his book “The Confessions” (1781-1788). But the hapless – and later headless – Marie Antoinette usually gets the blame for this handy bon mot of the clueless.
Just such insensitivity can pop up even in Los Altos.
While cities around us face troubling cuts in services, the Los Altos City Council is determined to undertake the largest civic building project in our history. The multiphase, multiyear Community Center Master Plan would raze and replace every building where our present civic center now stands – except the History House, which can’t, by deed, be touched.
Phase I requires voters to approve a $65 million bond. Phase I would also bulldoze the apricot orchard that has encircled city hall for half a century.
To get the ‘dozers rolling, the council approved Dec. 13 an “educational outreach” program – paid for by taxpayers – to “frame” the urgent need for this.
Four local citizens – I was one – asked the council to make these “outreach” materials more transparent – or at least include thriftier options. After all, right on the outreach brochure, it said, “We want to hear from you!” But that night, they didn’t seem to want to hear from us. Materials approved.
They’re selling Phase I as an “intergenerational center” for seniors and teens – with a couple of other buildings thrown in. Wily strategy! Who wants to be the Scrooge who nixes that?
Yet it is the means we use to achieve our ends that define us. Re-use is more eco-friendly than razing. Wild mustard is kinder to our aquifer than asphalt. Saving our apricot orchard leaves a living tribute to our history. And facts are always more valuable to voters than framed-up marketing.
Leaving a couple of dollars in taxpayers’ pockets might not be such a bad idea, either. Marie Antoinette didn’t, and they finally had to cut off her credit.