Public support at $20 million for community center rebuild

Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A recent survey shows that 67.6 percent of residents support a bond measure rate of $8 per $100,000 for a new community center to replace the Hillview Community Center, above.

A report during last week’s Los Altos City Council study session showed that city voters would support up to $20 million in public funding for a new community center.

City consultant Bryan Godbe of Godbe Research told the council that a recently completed survey revealed 67.6 percent support for a bond measure rate of $8 per $100,000 of assessed property value from likely November 2016 voters in Los Altos. The rate, he said, would equate to approximately $20 million in public funding to help replace the aging Hillview Community Center with a new multigenerational facility.

In addition, the survey showed 71.2 percent support from likely 2015 mail-in voters for the same rate. The results come from a telephone poll of Los Altos voters conducted between July 28 and Aug. 5. The survey results were derived from 400 likely November 2016 voters in the city – 275 of whom indicated they were also likely 2015 mail-in ballot voters. The survey was conducted as part of the city’s 10-month process to update its 2009 civic center master plan – with a particular focus on replacing Hillview, which is more than 70 years old.

Councilwoman Val Carpenter said she viewed the results as positive compared to 2012, when the city conducted a similar survey for a $65 million bond measure for a new community center, police station and city hall. The 2012 survey showed less than two-thirds the public support needed to pass it. “To have actually polled and received support at the required level is encouraging to me,” Carpenter said of the 2014 results. “It was the first time we’ve seen some support.”

Among other things, the new survey results showed less than two-thirds voter support for rate levels higher than $8, with 2015 and 2016 likely voters supporting a rate of $14 per $100,000 of assessed property value at 56.2 and 52.8 percent, respectively. Higher rates of $20 and $26 failed to crack 50 percent support. Still, the results also showed as much as 60.9 and 60.6 percent support for a public pool facility among 2015 and 2016 voters, respectively, as part of a new community center. In addition, overall support for a bond measure to replace Hillview topped out at 60.6 and 58.6 percent among likely 2015 and 2016 voters, respectively. Other potential community center features, such as underground parking, ranged as high as 57.1 percent among 2016 likely voters.

Councilwoman Jan Pepper termed this year’s results “generally positive” and added that $20 million in public funding would be one piece to a larger financing puzzle to build a new community center. “I think it’s a good start,” Pepper said of the $20 million estimate. “It depends on what we come up with in terms of our overall (community center) plan.”

During the hour-long study session, a representative of city consultant NHA Financial Advisors outlined other financing strategies available to the city, including issuing a certificate of participation – an internal borrowing mechanism used by some cities – as well as the potential use of some reserve funds. Overall, the consultant noted, the city currently has $7.1 million in facility replacement funds, $5.8 million in park in-lieu funds and slightly more than $10 million in real property funds on hand.

Looking ahead, Pepper said she’s interested in starting talks with Los Altos Hills to potentially form a joint powers authority – another option outlined by NHA – that could collectively pursue public funding options.

“We definitely need to put more emphasis on that and bring them into the conversation,” Pepper said of the Los Altos Hills Town Council.

Carpenter added that the city will likely need to pursue a public information campaign, among a series of next steps, in an attempt to “move the needle” further among city voters.

An email to Mayor Megan Satterlee about the survey results was not returned by the Town Crier’s press deadline.

Council approves BevMo! relocation

Photo Courtesy of City of Los Altos
BevMo! is moving to 4700 El Camino Real, left, after the Los Altos City Council approved its 3,600-square-foot expansion plan.

The Los Altos City Council last week approved a commercial expansion and renovation plan that will bring BevMo! from Mountain View to Los Altos.

The council voted unanimously in favor of the proposal by the West Coast alcohol retailer to add 3,600 square feet of retail space to an existing 4,700 square-foot structure at 4700 El Camino Real at the corner of Sherwood Avenue. The upgraded building will serve as a new home for the Mountain View BevMo! store currently located at 423 San Antonio Road. The project appeared before the city council after receiving a narrow 4-3 vote of approval in July from the city’s Planning and Transportation Commission.


Foothill College expands resource center for veterans

A popular destination for military veterans attending Foothill College will soon have a new address.

In early September, the Foothill College Veterans Resource Center (VRC) is slated to relocate to an on-campus office more than double the size of its current surroundings. The center will move from a 400-square-foot office within the campus center to an estimated 880-square-foot space in Building 5400, located near the library. The move is on schedule for completion before school begins Sept. 22.


Police Blotter

Police arrest two on drug, weapons charges

Los Altos Police arrested a male driver and his female passenger Aug. 27 on charges that include drug and illegal weapons possession.

According to Sgt. Scott McCrossin, police initially pulled over 27-year-old driver Colin Abberton and his 34-year-old female passenger, Jennifer Beza, for a mechanical violation shortly after 7:30 a.m. near the intersection of Grant Road and Eureka Avenue.


News Brief

Jerry Hill set to visit Los Altos Friday

California State Sen. Jerry Hill (D), who represents Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, is scheduled to visit downtown Los Altos 9-10 a.m. Friday at Gallery 9, 143 Main St. for Java with Jerry.

The public is invited to Gallery 9 for a cup of coffee and conversation with Hill. Fresh from the conclusion of the Senate’s legislative session, he will update citizens on the latest legislation and answer constituent inquiries.


LASD approves advisory committee expansion

Los Altos School District trustees approved a resolution Aug. 25 to expand their Facilities Master Plan Advisory Committee, which provides the district with advice on future facilities projects.

The resolution broadened the membership of the committee and its duties so the committee can help complete the district’s Facilities Master Plan – which outlines facilities projects that may be completed if the district’s $150 million bond measure, Measure N, passes in November.


LAH Council Briefs

The Los Altos Hills City Council took the following actions at its Aug. 21 meeting.

LAH grant program receives makeover

The council is shortening its community services grants process to a single discussion after councilmembers decided that multipage applications and two-minute speeches would no longer be scheduled for nonprofit groups.


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