Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
According to the Los Altos City Council, a new pedestrian plan could improve circulation downtown as well as assess needs in residential neighborhoods.
City staff is in the midst of developing a request for proposal (RFP) for a citywide pedestrian master plan – the first of its kind for Los Altos.
The proposed plan, according to a city staff report, will serve as a “policy document that will provide for the implementation of the goals and policies of the Los Altos Circulation Element by prioritizing sidewalks and/or pathway design and location for capital funding purposes.”
The plan, initially discussed Sept. 25 by the Los Altos City Council, calls for the assessment of currently existing pedestrian-related studies and policy documents by the city, such as the General Plan, the Bicycle Transportation Plan and the Blach neighborhood traffic-calming study, among several other plans. The council voted unanimously to confirm the plan’s scope and move forward with the RFP at its Oct. 9 meeting.
Jim Gustafson, the city’s engineering division director, told the Town Crier that the plan will also examine the existing condition of the city’s pedestrian facilities and identify future needs. That includes addressing safety measures, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal, state and local regulations such as the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority. Gustafson said he expects the policy document will serve the city for the next 10-15 years.
“(The Pedestrian Master Plan) is more for how do people get through our network to get to where they want to go,” he said. “What we’re trying to find out is, Where are the gaps in our existing grid?”
Part of the challenge, Gustafson noted, is to develop a plan that respects and maintains the bucolic feel of Los Altos neighborhoods, many of which do not currently feature sidewalks, gutters or curbs.
“(The city council) wanted to make clear in the RFP that we need a consultant that understands the rural nature of our neighborhoods,” he said.
Gustafson said arguably the biggest component in developing the master plan will be the city’s outreach efforts to the public. He said he anticipates “at least” 10 public meetings to help the city identify needs through input from residents, as well as officials from local schools.
The plan also calls for the yet-to-be-determined consultant to engage in discussions with the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, the Planning and Transportation Commission and the Parks and Recreation Commission, among other volunteer bodies.
“If we do a good, deliberate process with community input up front, we’ll get a better product at the end,” he said.
As for a project timeline, Gustafson said he expects a nine-month process with a final approved draft of the plan by late 2013.