Sun04202014

Heads-up: Bond measures on deck

It goes without saying that the cost of living in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills is off the charts – and will only continue to rise.

The Town Crier last week ran four different stories in its first seven pages that involved the potential of floating bond measures or parcel taxes before the public to fund a slew of projects.

The Los Altos School District is currently surveying residents as it prepares a bond measure proposal for general facilities upgrades in the range of $150 million. This could come as soon as the November election. Of course, complicating the mix is the district’s ongoing stew with Bullis Charter School over enrollment and facilities use. Depending on whom you ask, both charter school and district supporters could reject any bond measure they perceive to help one side and ignore the other.

Meanwhile, the city of Los Altos is looking to rebuild Hillview Community Center and has begun the process of gauging residents’ interest. The end game could be a multimillion-dollar bond measure on the ballot as soon as 2015.

And don’t look now, but aging infrastructure must be replaced. Last week’s issue also outlined the city of Los Altos’ 20-year, $25 million Stormwater Master Plan, which calls for installing new dry wells, piping and inlets that direct stormwater to nearby creeks. While renovations are long overdue – the last storm drain study was conducted in 1966 – funding the work could take the form of a parcel tax or assessment district.

Finally, voters could see as early as the June election a proposed general-obligation bond from the Los Altos-based Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District to fund its 25 top-priority projects over the next 20 years. Projects include a multitude of improvements within the district’s 62,000 acres of preserves, from new trails to watershed protection. District estimates put the cost of the 25 projects at approximately $300 million.

What does this mean for Los Altos? It means that residents will be making some choices sooner rather than later on how much more they want to spend to live here. They may say yes to everything, then regret it the next time the economy goes south. Or they may zero in on their priorities and vote accordingly.

The cost of living in Los Altos has been high for decades. If you want upgraded civic facilities, schools, trails and stormwater pipes, prepare to go even higher. You’ll be asked to decide sooner than you think.

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