Mon07282014

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LAH discusses water rates, new fees and annexation

Members of the Los Altos Hills City Council addressed the following agenda items at their Sept. 20 meeting. The next council meeting is scheduled 6 p.m. Oct. 18 at Los Altos Hills Town Hall, 26379 W. Fremont Road.

Water rates deemed fair

After a water rate increase in April generated a flurry of complaints from Los Altos Hills residents, the council appointed an ad hoc committee to review the operation and management of the Purissima Hills Water District. Rate payers in the district currently pay $2.83 per hundred cubic foot – 30 percent more than Los Altos residents using Cal Water.

Speaking on behalf of the committee, Roddy Sloss concluded that Purissima Hills’ average water rates were “necessary and reasonable.” The committee deemed the district’s cost structure fair, capital spending well controlled and customer concerns addressed.

Purissima Hills distributes water to two-thirds of the households in Los Altos Hills, approximately 6,000 residents. The district’s five-member board determines water rates, calculated by the cost of water supplied by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Council approves preapplication fee

The council voted 4-1 to approve a new preapplication meeting fee for individuals applying for planning permits in Los Altos Hills.

Currently, the town is not reimbursed for costs associated with initial reviews that normally consume three hours of staff time per application. The preapplication fee ranges from $16.50 for a tennis court to $874.83 for new residences, averaging $350 per application.

The new fee will generate approximately $10,000 additional revenue each year for the town.

The council also voted to adjust current planning fees to reflect an increase of 6.3 percent in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index. Los Altos Hills last increased the fee in 2008.

Annexation moves forward

In an effort to annex unincorporated areas of Los Altos Hills into the town in accordance with county recommendations, the council held a public hearing to discuss the annexation of Mora Drive.

The potential motion would affect 24 homes on or near Mora, Sunhills Drive, Kenbar Road and a cluster of homes adjacent to Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve. Annexed residents would not be required to adjust properties that are nonconforming under town code, and taxes would remain at current levels.

Numerous homeowners spoke in favor of annexation, emphasizing their desire to become part of the town officially and gain access to recycling and road maintenance services.

One dissenting property owner expressed concerns about his ability to develop his lots once they were annexed. A protest hearing is scheduled Nov. 19.

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