Sat04192014

Los Altos mysteries explored


Google Earth image taken April 2013
Some contend that the city of Los Altos initially purchased the .78-acre site at First and Main streets for parking. Approximately how many of the above parking spaces were lost is a matter of confusion – the city cites 54 spaces in one memo, 96 in another.

Mystery 1: How many parking spaces has the Los Altos City Council eliminated since June 2010 in downtown Los Altos, and what will it cost to replace them?

To find out the total number of eliminated spaces, it is useful first to determine part of the answer, which is how many parking spaces the city council eliminated at First and Main streets (400 Main St.). This is complicated by the fact that two important city documents have different numbers for how many spaces were eliminated at First and Main.

The Downtown Parking Management Plan, dated June 2013 and adopted by the city council Sept. 17, 2013, counts “96 parking spaces” at First and Main. However, the Downtown Public Parking Data sheet, dated July 17, 2013, which the city council discussed and put into the record when it adopted the parking plan, states that regarding “Loss of Public Parking District Spaces Due to Downtown Improvements,” the “First and Main Redevelopment” accounts for “54 spaces.”

Which is the correct number: 54 or 96? The actual number of parking spaces (including spaces under trees) at First and Main is shown in the accompanying April 2013 Google Earth image – 96 spaces. The data sheet number is off by 43 percent.

Fiscal impact

The Downtown Parking Management Plan projects the cost to replace parking spaces with a garage as $38,081 per space if the city paid cash. If the city finances construction of the garage over 30 years, the projected cost per net new space, including construction, financing and maintenance costs, is $127,138 (Parking Plan Cost Estimate).

The projected cost in cash to replace the 96 spaces lost at First and Main is $3.6 million. The projected cost to finance construction of the 96 spaces over 30 years, including construction, financing and maintenance, is $12.2 million. The city sold First and Main to the Jeffrey A. Morris Group for $3.1 million, substantially less than what it will cost to replace the parking lost there. This may surprise people who think that the city acquired First and Main for parking.

Read more in the following weeks to get additional clues for figuring out this mystery.

Kim Cranston is a Los Altos Hills resident and downtown Los Altos property owner.

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