Tue09022014

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LAH Council Briefs

Following are highlights from the Aug. 15 Los Altos Hills City Council meeting.

The next council meeting is scheduled 6 p.m. Sept. 19 at town hall, 26375 W. Fremont Road.

Grant program keeps giving

The council voted 3-2 to continue support for the town’s Community Service Grants program. The council awarded $65,000 in grants for the 2012-2013 fiscal year – ranging from $800 to $10,000 – to 16 community service agencies.

In a discussion initiated by Councilwoman Courtenay C. Corrigan, who expressed concerns about the town’s role in the “business of philanthropy,” councilmembers weighed in on whether the grants were an appropriate use of funds.

“I in no way want to degrade or downplay the role and importance you play in the role of our residents – this is not what it’s about,” Corrigan told representatives of the community groups in attendance. “The problem I’m having is the fundamental problem of taking taxpayer dollars and giving them away.”

Mayor Gary Waldeck and councilmen John Radford and Rich Larsen countered that the grant program was a necessary supplement to the town’s “meat and potatoes” services like roads and sewers.

Larsen described the program as a “community resource,” adding that the health, social and community services provided by the grantees “contribute to quality of life.”

LAH joins Lehigh appeal

The council voted unanimously to add the city’s name to a Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District amicus brief that supports an appeal by an environmental group targeting the nearby Lehigh Southwest Cement Co.’s Permanente Plant.

The group, Bay Area for a Clean Environment (formerly No Toxic Air), is appealing a Superior Court ruling that upheld the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors’ decision to allow vested rights for mining at the cement quarry in February 2011.

The pending appeal contends that the county board illegally granted vested mining rights to Lehigh, allowing the expansion of mining operations on the 2,656-acre quarry without the need for additional county approval or conditional-use permits.

To build a united front, councilmembers noted that they hope to urge at least one neighboring city – Los Altos or Cupertino – to sign on to the open space district’s brief with them.

New art committee launches

The Art in Public Places Standing Committee is officially on the books as Los Altos Hills’ 13th town committee.

Following four months of discussion and planning, the council approved the addition of the committee June 20 and added it to the roster this month.

Charged with identifying potential sites for art in town and raising funds for acquisition, the committee will shepherd proposals to the council for approval.

“We love our town and just want to make it more beautiful,” said committee member Karen Druker.

Six other residents will join Druker on the committee, and Corrigan will serve as council liaison.

Zoning change eases secondary-dwelling parking

Meeting the town’s requirement for an additional parking space within property setback boundaries can be a squeeze – literally – for Los Altos Hills residents, who are already mandated to maintain a minimum of four unobstructed off-street parking spaces for their primary dwelling.

“Parking compliance and available development area are often an issue for proposed Secondary Dwelling Units,” Community Development Director Debbie Pedro wrote in a staff report to the council. “The proposed Ordinance addresses both issues directly.”

Under the Municipal Code amendment passed by the council Aug. 15, the parking space for a secondary-dwelling unit no longer needs to be unobstructed. Pedro noted that the change could reduce the amount of hardscaping needed to accommodate the secondary-dwelling-unit code.

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