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LAH Council Briefs

Following are highlights from the March 21 Los Altos Hills City Council meeting.

The council’s next meeting is scheduled 6 p.m. April 18 at town hall, 26379 W. Fremont Road.

Town wants full share of taxpayer money

The council voted unanimously to endorse state Senate Bill 629 to correct a tax-code penalty prohibiting the town from receiving its full share of property-tax dollars.

Since 1987, a series of state tax laws have left only four cities – Los Altos Hills, Cupertino, Saratoga and Monte Sereno – with an Education Revenue Augmentation Fund fee deducted from their annual property taxes. Cities with low property taxes were required to contribute up to 7 percent of their revenues to the state beginning in 1979; a portion of the penalty was subsequently returned in tax equity allocation funds to all but the aforementioned cities.

“We’re totally getting jobbed on this thing as a city,” Councilman Rich Larsen said of the inequity and previous attempts to correct the law. “I think we should try it again and keep trying until we get it, because it’s our money.”

SB 629 would modify the state revenue and tax code to eliminate a requirement for the Santa Clara County auditor to reduce the town’s property-tax revenues allocation by the augmentation fund amount. The change would provide an estimated $186,000 in additional revenue for Los Altos Hills in fiscal year 2012-2013.

“SB 629 will finally resolve three decades of inequality for these four cities by treating them like every other city in the state,” Los Altos Hills City Manager Carl Cahill wrote in a memo to the council.

A hearing on the bill is scheduled today in Sacramento. Los Altos Hills contributed $7,440 toward hiring a lobbyist with the three other cities to shepherd the bill through the legislature. Three similar bills, including one endorsed by the Cities Association of Santa Clara County last year, have failed to pass.

Council supports warning system

Councilmembers endorsed a pending piece of state legislation that would require the state to develop an earthquake early-warning system, despite concern about funding requests that may ensue.

Los Altos Hills sits on the Berrocal, Altamont and Monte Vista faults, and is close to the San Andreas Fault.

A 2008 report by the Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast estimated a 63 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake in the Bay Area in the next 30 years.

“There are a lot of people who remember 1989 – they were horrified,” Larsen said of the Loma Prieta quake that wreaked significant damage. “If you’re ready for it, it’s different.”

Senate Bill 135 requires the Office of Emergency Services to develop a comprehensive statewide earthquake warning system that would alert people 60 seconds in advance of an approaching earthquake.

The bill’s author, state Sen. Alex Padilla, estimated that the system could cost $80 million.

“I don’t want to imply that I’m implicitly also supporting spending state dollars this way right now without more information,” said Councilwoman Courtenay C. Corrigan. “Conceivably, it sounds great, but what does it cost and who’s paying for it?”

Sheriff’s Office presents safety, accident report

Capt. Ken Binder of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office presented his quarterly safety report to the council.

During the first three months of the year, Binder said, 223 service calls were recorded, including reports of five residential burglaries. While there was no correlation among burglary locations, the majority of the incidents occurred between Wednesday and Friday, he noted.

Binder said nine traffic accidents have occurred since the beginning of the year, including one involving a bicyclist on Page Mill Road. The Sheriff’s Office issued 179 vehicle citations and 11 cyclist citations for safety violations in the first quarter.

Binder reported that the average cost per citizen for police services in Los Altos Hills in fiscal year 2012 was $143.50, a figure lower than the per-person expenses of all other communities under contract with the Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s Office representatives are scheduled to participate in a crime prevention forum 6-8 p.m. April 25 at town hall.

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