Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Contiguous Retail Committee’s final report recommends that the city consider selling or leasing Parking Plaza 6.
A final report by the ad hoc Contiguous Retail Committee recommends that the city consider selling or leasing a portion of a downtown public parking plaza for future retail development.
The Los Altos City Council meeting was scheduled to receive the report at its Tuesday meeting, after the Town Crier’s press deadline.
The recommendation is one of a handful listed in the report by the committee, headed by councilmembers Ron Packard and Jarrett Fishpaw.
Specifically, the recommendation calls for the city to consider selling or leasing Parking Plaza 6 – surrounded by Main, State and Third streets – to be developed into future retail. Proceeds from a sale, the report recommends, could be used for a parking replacement solution.
In addition, the report noted that the triangle block – part of the city’s commercial retail sales (CRS) zone – experienced the highest number of nonconforming uses in the downtown area and was “the least attractive from a shopper’s point of view.”
To that end, the report recommends that the triangle area be used as a “test” for possible collaboration with various land and business owners in an effort to improve the area for shoppers. To do so, the report calls for the city to engage the services of an experienced consultant to work with various parties and develop ideas.
A separate recommendation in the report suggests that the city encourage the Masonic Lodge at 146 Main St. to explore “possible cosmetic improvements” to the exterior of the building.
“The city has a very odd-shaped plaza here,” Packard told the Town Crier in explaining the committee’s recommendations for the triangle. “The thinking is, what can be done with that?”
As for downtown banks, the report proposes that the city collaborate with Bank of the West at 176 Main St. and its landlord to discuss possible pop-up retail uses for the site’s empty drive-thru area. Suggested alternate uses listed in the report include an open space or gathering area for residents and an area for outdoor vending.
Packard said one possibility involves the city’s leasing the drive-thru area for an alternate use, calling a city-landowner collaboration a “win-win for everyone.”
Additionally, the committee recommends that the city amend its zoning code to allow nonconforming banks on large downtown plots to relocate legally to smaller nonconforming locations in the CRS zone.
Packard said the recommendation is a contrast from initial ideas floated during the committee’s formation in April, such as placing amortization periods on nonconforming bank buildings in the CRS zone.
“We ended up giving them more rights, not taking them away,” Packard said of the recommendation for downtown banks.
One final recommendation suggests that the city take measures to limit the number of beauty salons within the CRS zone.
Noting the recent conversion of a nonconforming salon to a retail use downtown, the report calls for the city to ensure that after 120 days of new retail use, “a salon cannot be reinstated” in an effort to encourage a “conversion trend.”
Should that trend fail to take hold, however, the committee’s report recommends that the city consider some form of a phased amortization period for nonconforming salons.