Sat08302014

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Los Altos Hills Briefs

In its first meeting of the new year, the Los Altos Hills City Council met Jan. 24 to discuss the state’s new Complete Streets policy, private roads and a single-use plastic bag ban, among other items. Below is a roundup of issues on the agenda.

The next meeting is scheduled 6 p.m. Feb. 21 in the Los Altos Hills Town Hall Council Chambers, 26379 W. Fremont Road.

Streets resolution passes with reservations

With a 3-2 vote, the council narrowly passed a resolution to adopt the California Complete Streets Act of 2008 (AB 1358) – an unfunded state mandate that requires the town to revise its circulation plan to accommodate a “balanced, multimodal transportation network” by Jan. 1, 2014.

By accepting the resolution, the town becomes eligible for up to $186,000 in project funding from the Metropolitan Transportation Committee through a One Bay Area Grant.

Planning Director Debbie Pedro wrote in a memo that Los Altos Hills would “incorporate Complete Streets infrastructure into existing streets to improve the safety and convenience of users … with the particular goal of creating a connected network.”

The new advisory guidelines of the Complete Streets policy are intended to help the state reduce greenhouse gases and facilitate a shift in transportation patterns to include more public transit, bicycling and walking. In reviewing the Complete Streets policy, the council would have the authority to make exceptions to recommendations if program requirements were not sensitive to local conditions.

Some councilmembers and residents were hesitant to adopt the resolution, wary about the bill’s implications and whether it could impact the town’s rural character.

“You’re going to shackle the town’s residents and the town itself with things that are not in our best interest,” said Planning Commissioner Jim Abraham.

With an influx of growth in neighboring Palo Alto, Abraham expressed concern that the new policy might limit the town’s ability to control its own transportation growth.

“This is state law,” responded City Manager Carl Cahill. “You’re not going to have to turn Fremont Road into a four-lane throughway for Stanford traffic.”

Private roads study session

Responding to a recent flurry of residents struggling to find the resources and neighborhood cooperation necessary to resurface or upgrade their aging private streets, councilmembers plan to schedule a public study session.

“What one person thinks is a deficient roadway, another thinks is OK,” said City Manager Carl Cahill.

The city may consider assisting residents by establishing a framework to draft proposals that include the setup of roadway maintenance agreements, in-lieu fees or state funding structures.

Uncomfortable with the prospect of making the decision without input from the Planning Commission and the public, the council directed town staff to schedule a study session including all interested parties.

Open Space Committee supports bag ban

Although Los Altos Hills’ only commercial operations are Foothill College and the food trucks that linger on campus, members of the town’s Open Space Committee urged the council to expand its February 2012 polystyrene container and nonrecyclable food containers ban to include single-use plastic bags.

“This is largely a symbolic gesture to show solidarity with other cities in the area,” said Open Space Committee member George Clifford.

Councilman John Harpootlian objected, saying it wasn’t appropriate for Los Altos Hills to be “pontificating” on the issue when the town lacks a commercial center and doesn’t have “skin in this game.”

The council resolved to allow staff to draft a bag-ban amendment that could be discussed at a future meeting.

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