Sat04192014

News

City considers scaled-down Phase 1B for First Street project


Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Photo Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

The Los Altos City Council plans to revisit a scaled-down First Street streetscape proposal later this month.

The next phase of the city’s First Street streetscape project will be leaner than originally planned.

During an Aug. 28 study session, city staff presented the Los Altos City Council with three alternative plans for Phase 1B of the project – all scaled-down versions of the original $2.1 million, 34-week-long proposal approved in February 2010. The initial version called for streetscape improvements from the intersection of State and First streets to West Edith Avenue.

The first alternative calls for streetscape work to extend from the intersection of State and First streets to Shasta Street at a cost of $1.35 million. Construction would take 22 weeks to complete.

The second alternative extends streetscape improvements to Parking Plaza 7, directly across from Safeway, at a cost of $1.1 million, with a 20-week work schedule.

The third alternative involves a 16-week, $750,000 project without street frontage improvements on the east side of First Street.

A city staff report recommended the first alternative, noting in part that the east side of First Street between Shasta Street and West Edith Avenue is in good condition, and “given that it primarily fronts office development, it does not seem to warrant expensive cafe-dining-type decorative sidewalk improvements.”

In addition, the report noted that the first alternative saves five of the 19 street-parking spaces slated for removal in the original Phase 1B plans.

“It really spends the money where it’s most important in the downtown core,” Assistant City Manager James Walgren told the council.

During the public comment portion of the session, however, representatives from Stylers Floor Coverings and California Automotive expressed concerns that construction outlined in the first alternative would negatively impact their businesses.

After the council appeared split on which direction to go, Walgren ultimately offered to return to the council later this month with a final design that incorporates elements of the first two alternatives.

Mayor Val Carpenter and Councilmembers Megan Satterlee and Jarrett Fishpaw initially expressed their preference for the second alternative. Councilmembers Ron Packard and David Casas said they preferred the first option.

“It may not be 100 percent uniform, it may not have all of the landscaping, but I just don’t see the value of the disruption to the businesses to do that area,” Satterlee said in picking the second alternative.

Several councilmembers added that they wanted to see more detailed construction plans before moving forward with the project.

“I do think we made some mistakes in the first phase of the project, and one of them was not looking at more detailed plans before we took those out to bid,” Satterlee said. “I think we need to see the more detailed plans that clearly show us what’s going on.”

As for a timeline, the staff report noted that construction for the first alternative would be broken up into separate stages – the first stage calling for sidewalk and landscaping work starting May 2013 and ending before the Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival in July.

The second stage of construction would commence after the festival – requiring complete closure of the State and First streets intersection for six to eight weeks, ending by mid-October.

Street paving would follow, according to the report, but is contingent on the completion of Safeway’s construction and developer Randy Lamb’s 48-unit condominium project on the site of the former post office. Any delays in those construction projects would postpone street resurfacing to 2014, the report noted.

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