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LAH Council Briefs

The Los Altos Hills City Council took the following actions at its May 20 meeting.

Council schedules meeting on Complete Streets

The council invited residents to weigh in on the meaning of the phrase “rural character” as it relates to proposed circulation and scenic roadways amendments to Los Altos Hills’ general plan at a meeting scheduled 6 p.m. June 13 at town hall, 26379 W. Fremont Road. Residents will receive a postcard invitation by mail prior to the meeting.

In January the council approved a Complete Streets Policy to comply with the state-mandated California Complete Streets Act of 2008, which requires cities and counties to “plan for a balanced, multimodal transportation network that meets the needs of all users of streets, roads, and highways.”

To achieve the goals of the new policy, the town plans to update the circulation and scenic roadways elements of its general plan. The town’s current general plan circulation element aims to “reinforce and maintain the rural and residential nature of the circulation system.”

Under the Complete Streets Act, cities and counties are charged with implementing goals, policies and programs that fulfill the definition of a “Complete Street” – one that allows people to traverse safely on foot or by bicycle or public transportation. The policy’s primary objective is to facilitate reduction of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020.

New tools available for private-road residents

Help is on the way for property owners who struggle to convince neighbors to contribute their fair share of private-road improvement expenses. Two new town documents address managing the maintenance and finances of private streets.

The town’s attorney is finalizing templates for a voluntary private-road reimbursement agreement and a private-road maintenance agreement, soon to be available on the town’s website (www.losaltoshills.ca.gov).

Created to help private-road owners facilitate cost sharing and improve streets to public standards, the agreements require the voluntary consent of individuals involved. Although the town retains the right to help residents meet terms of private-road agreements, it is not obligated to enforce them.

Because Los Altos Hills has 128 private roads, upgrading them is not a financially viable option for the town – it could cost as much as $21.7 million to bring the roads up to town standards. In addition, some road owners wish to keep their roads private.

The council hosted a meeting to discuss private roads with residents in March and is preparing a policy for accepting roads into the town’s street system. To move a private road to public ownership, it must be upgraded to public standards for safety and structural integrity, offered for public acceptance and approved for incorporation by the city council.

Residents add input on hazard mitigation plan

To regain qualification for funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency should a local disaster occur, Los Altos Hills must update its Local Hazard Mitigation Plan. According to town staff, Los Altos Hills last modified its hazard mitigation plan in 2006 and is ineligible for FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant programs until it submits an update.

The town is conducting a survey of residents to record their most pressing hazard concerns and determine strategies for preparing for potential disasters and communicating with residents. Los Altos Hills residents can complete the 22-question survey online at surveymonkey.com/s/LAHLHMP through June 21.

After the Planning Commission reviews the draft Local Hazard Mitigation Plan and solicits public comment, the document advances to the city council for approval. After council approval, the plan heads to FEMA for approval before incorporation into the Association of Bay Area Government’s regional mitigation plan. The cities of Los Altos and Mountain have already adopted Local Hazard Mitigation Plans.

– Ellie Van Houtte

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