A plan that would lead to the funding and construction of a new community center is among a handful of goals on the Los Altos City’s Council’s to-do list for 2014.
Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins told the Town Crier that the development of an action plan to replace the aging Hillview Community Center was one in a “manageable set of goals” discussed by the council at its annual retreat Dec. 14 at the Jesuit Retreat Center.
Bruins noted that the city would spend the year exploring “what it will take” for a new center to become reality. She noted that the plan would likely cover several crucial components in detail, including funding strategies, design options and potential partnerships with other entities.
Mayor Megan Satterlee added that public feedback from a 2012 public survey showed a higher level of resident interest in replacing the aging community center as opposed to some other civic facilities. The survey was conducted at the time to gauge public interest in a bond measure to fund the first phase of the city’s Civic Center Master Plan, which called for the replacement of city hall, the Los Altos Police Department and the community center.
“What is different is that the feedback on the master plan has caused us to amend the phasing. Clearly the top priority is the community center,” said Satterlee, who described public interest as “high” for replacing Hillview.
Satterlee added that the task would include a 2014 public engagement process “around some options that look different from the master plan so that we can get to a design we think we can move forward with.”
Planning for a new community center wasn’t the only goal discussed during the daylong retreat.
Bruins said the city would continue to explore parking solutions for downtown Los Altos. Satterlee confirmed that the city would implement and follow up the short-term strategies outlined in the city’s Downtown Parking Management Plan.
Satterlee expressed interest in crafting a policy that would outline ways that developers could meet their projects’ parking demands by helping to fund the reconfiguration of public parking plazas. She cautioned, however, that “there has to be a meeting of the minds by the majority of the council in order for this policy to move forward.”
Satterlee pointed to transportation issues as another key discussion for the new year. She noted that the council would explore solutions in 2014 to the “barriers to success” that prevent some city transportation projects from moving forward at a more rapid rate. She said the issue could include looking at “making some modifications” to engage the public on projects earlier and more efficiently.
“The goal is to move faster when we start projects and to move more of them forward,” Bruins said.
The council also listed an ongoing effort to improve community engagement as a whole, which might include the appointment of an ad hoc committee to develop new strategies, Bruins noted. In addition, Bruins and Satterlee cited the continuation of managing the city’s finances in a prudent manner as a top priority for 2014.
Some items that could not be addressed in the daylong retreat, including discussions on council norms, the 2014 legislative calendar and potential adjustments to the city’s administrative approval process, are slated for discussion at a special meeting, scheduled Tuesday.