The Los Altos City Council took the following actions at its Sept. 24 meeting:
Historical house conversion approved
The council approved by a 4-1 vote a permit application allowing the conversion of a single-family Milverton Road home listed on the city’s Historic Resources Inventory into an accessory structure. Mayor Jarrett Fishpaw cast the dissenting vote.
The Costello family, owners of the property, plan to convert the nearly 100-year-old home into an accessory unit by removing the kitchen. The conversion would allow the construction of a new home on the property. The Los Altos Historical Commission designated the home, built circa 1916, as a Historic Resource in 2011.
In the late 1890s, members of the Costello family purchased several plots of land at what later became Costello and Covington roads, according to the city staff report. Some members of the family played a role in establishing and operating the San Francisco department store O’Connor, Moffatt & Co. – now known as Macy’s.
The historical home in question currently sits on a family-owned plot of more than 2 acres – designated as Lot 12 – bordering Adobe Creek. The land is part of the larger Morningside Planned Unit Development, created in 1985 with the addition of 10 townhome-style condominium units, the staff report stated. As part of its approval of the development at that time, the city restricted the Lot 12 site to only one single-family dwelling on the property.
The council voted in favor of the Costello family’s request despite objections from some Morningside residents about potential privacy concerns related to a new home development on the site.
Councilwoman Val Carpenter supported the historical home’s conversion because the alternative could mean demolishing it.
“The owners absolutely have a right to have one home on this private property of over 2 acres,” said Carpenter, who noted before the council’s vote that just 1 percent of the city’s buildings were listed on its Historic Resources Inventory.
“To me, it’s important to preserve these reminders of our past,” she added.
Directional signs OK’d
The council unanimously approved the installation of directional signs that would point highway motorists toward downtown Los Altos.
At a cost of $5,000, the signs will be installed at the northbound and southbound approaches to the El Monte Avenue/Road exit on Interstate 280. The council approved the installation after a city staff report indicated that it “is a common practice for cities to have highway signage indicating which exit leads to their downtown.”
The report noted that though there are existing signs along 280 marking exits for the city of Los Altos and Foothill College, there are none on the highway or the exit ramp specifically directing drivers toward the downtown area.