The Los Altos City Council took the following actions at its July 22 meeting.
Council amends animal ordinance
The council passed an amendment that eases the ordinance restricting the leading, herding or riding of most animals on public land. The vote was 4-0, with Councilman Jarrett Fishpaw absent from the meeting.
The council approved modified language to section 5.08.030 of the city’s municipal code, adding a provision that allows City Manager Marcia Somers to approve applications for the use of horses during weddings.
It has been illegal for anyone to ride, herd or lead all animals except cats and dogs on commercial, professional or public land, according to a city staff report. Exceptions to the law previously included parades and other community activities – but not private events like weddings on public lands.
The amendment comes after a local couple sought council approval earlier this year to use a white mare as part of their June wedding ceremony. At the time, Los Altos Police Chief Tuck Younis said he had to deny the request because city law didn’t provide a specific exemption for weddings. In turn, the council granted the couple’s request and asked city staff to return with an amendment to the ordinance.
“The staff report that made us famous,” Mayor Megan Satterlee quipped, referencing the media attention the request generated when it appeared before the council in February.
Prior to her vote, Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins called the amendment “an elegant solution.”
“I’m sure our chief is delighted that he no longer has to be what is perceived as a bad guy in all of this,” she said. “I don’t think our ordinance was ever intended to preclude some of this.”
Council adopts sewer service charges
The council voted 4-0 in favor of an ordinance that sets the city’s sewer service charges for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
The approval was part of a public hearing required by the city in order to levy the charges on property-tax bills.
According to a city staff report, sewer service charges collected for fiscal year 2014-2015 are expected to generate slightly more than $6 million in revenue – a 1.4 percent increase over the previous year. Los Altos Public Works Director Jim Gustafson told the council that the average single-family residence charge is $461.
The public hearing occurred one year after the city council approved a five-year rate schedule and adopted a new hybrid service-charge model that established a $209 per-parcel sewer service charge, as well as a sewer-use charge of $1.66 per unit (745 gallons of wet-season metered water use). The rate schedule runs through fiscal year 2017-2018 and calls for annual increases of approximately 7 percent. Prior to the change, the city charged solely on a parcel’s sewer use at a rate of $3.25 per sewer unit.