The Los Altos Planning and Transportation Commission last week narrowly recommended approval of a commercial building expansion while holding off on a final decision on another nearby project.
During its July 17 meeting, the PTC voted 4-3 in favor of an El Camino Real commercial building remodel and expansion that will serve as the future home of BevMo! Commissioners Mike McTighe, Ken Lorell and Jon Baer cast the dissenting votes. The project must now head to the Los Altos City Council at an undetermined date for final ap- proval.
The West Coast alcohol beverage retailer wants to add more than 3,600 square feet to an existing single-story 4,700-square-foot commercial property at 4700 El Camino Real. The expansion request falls in line with the retailer’s intent to move its Mountain View store from its current site at 423 San Antonio Road to the corner of Sherwood Avenue and El Camino Real. The requested project, according to a city staff report, complies with the city’s general plan and the area’s Sherwood Gateway Specific Plan.
Prior to casting her vote in favor of the expansion, Commissioner Phoebe Bressack said the project would result in a significant improvement over the aging structure currently on the site. She added that BevMo!’s move from Mountain View would also “bring a very important tenant to Los Altos” that would contribute to the city’s sales-tax revenue.
“I believe this is a good building. … It’s much better than what’s there now,” she said.
Commissioner Malika Junaid called the proposal “a very nice surprise.”
Lorell described the project as “terrific all around” but added that it lacks the parking needed for that type of retail use. BevMo!, according to the staff report, is considered “extensive-use retail” – selling larger goods – requiring one parking space per 500 square feet. The report noted that the proposal includes 22 spaces, five more than the city’s requirement under the extensive-use designation.
Baer added that he wanted to see the project return to PTC with a board displaying the materials that would be used for the remodel and expansion.
“I’m generally supportive of this, but the devil’s in the details,” he noted.
McTighe said he believed that the project didn’t meet the area’s specific plan – citing inconsistencies with building height, among other things.
Nearby project continued
During the same meeting, the PTC opted to continue its review of a nearby project that calls for a mixed-use building at 897 N. San Antonio Road – the former site of a gas station.
The proposal includes 2,000 square feet of first-floor office space and four second-floor residential units at the corner of San Antonio Road and Sherwood Avenue.
The commission delayed a final vote after some members expressed concerns about more intensive uses of the ground-floor commercial space.
Bressack said the project would “enliven” the immediate area but also expressed doubts that the building’s parking supply – 15 proposed spaces – would be adequate if its commercial space were used for more parking-intensive medical businesses. Some commissioners called for additional landscaping and wider sidewalks around the property.
Commissioner Jerry Moison questioned the trip-generation report, which concluded that the project would result in 49 additional vehicular trips daily in the area. The number, Moison added, falls one daily car trip shy of a city regulation that would trigger a more detailed traffic analysis.
“It may be accurate, but it’s just suspect to me,” he said.
Baer agreed with Moison, noting that while “anything would be an improvement over an empty piece of dirt,” the project should “absolutely” require a more detailed look at the amount of increased traffic it would generate.