Thu04242014

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Councilman seeks legal opinion on term limits


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Packard

Los Altos City Councilman Ron Packard intends to stick around – even if he has to wait a couple of years.

Packard, whose second consecutive term is set to expire in November, is seeking a formal opinion from City Attorney Jolie Houston on whether termed-out councilmembers are eligible for re-election after an absence. The council unanimously approved an item on its July 24 consent calendar requesting Houston’s formal opinion.

Houston is expected to issue her opinion at the Aug. 28 city council meeting.

Reached by the Town Crier, Packard said his reasoning for the request was simple. He is intent on running for Mayor Val Carpenter’s termed-out seat on the council in 2014.

“I plan on running for Val’s seat when she’s off the council in two years,” he said. “I’ve said it publicly several times before. It’s no secret.”

Still, Packard conceded that “people will raise questions” about the legality of having a termed-out councilmember running again, hence his request.

To that end, Packard, an attorney, said he’s done his own analysis and believes it’s “absolutely clear” that a termed-out councilmember can run again after an absence from the council.

According to Los Altos Municipal Code Section 2.04.020, “No person shall serve more than two consecutive terms on the Los Altos City Council, plus the completion of any unexpired term to which such person was elected or appointed.”

The city’s municipal code was amended, adding the term limits section in 1999, according to a city staff report outlining the formal request.

Packard said he’s particularly interested in returning as a councilmember when the downtown area undergoes significant changes, pointing to new construction projects along First Street such as the new Safeway grocery store, as examples.

“I’ve really enjoyed serving,” Packard said, “and I’d really like to see a continuity of the measured improvements downtown.”

Packard said his interest in a 2014 council seat also stems from his desire to see “the charm of Main and State streets maintained and not compromised.”

In early May, the council directed city staff to prepare ordinance changes to better define developer incentives (in exchange for public benefits) and building-height limits in downtown’s Commercial Retail Sales zone. At the time, Packard said publicly that he was “absolutely opposed to three-story buildings” in the downtown core.

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