A new Emergency Operations Center in Los Altos is another step closer to reality, despite the city losing out on federal grant funding that could have helped finance it.

City officials will have to go with a $2.47 million, 1,870-square-foot facility option approved at last week’s city council meeting after discovering Monday that their $4.2 million grant proposal didn’t make the cut. U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo’s office received more than 50 grant applications and was limited to recommending 10 projects, according to Mayor Neysa Fligor.

Council members April 27 had also approved a more expensive EOC option – a 2,700-square-foot building – in hopes of receiving the grant. But the smaller option was also well received by council members and emegency preparedness personnel. The center will house ham radio operators, who conduct vital communications after major emergencies. The city currently has a $2.5 million budget for the project.

The new EOC will occupy space at the rear of the police station on the civic center campus and displace a trailer for traffic and parking enforcement officers. Police would use the facility, specifically its information technology division, when not in use during emergencies.

A new EOC has been discussed since the January 2018 approval of an Operational Area Hazard Mitigation Plan, which recognized that the current EOC was insufficient and in an undesirable location, 2.5 miles away from the police station in the city’s Municipal Services Center. The council authorized EOC building designs that September, but the process has been delayed despite council direction to move ahead. City staff noted the center needs to be designed and constructed to safeguard against fires, winds and earthquakes – making its presence within the 55-year-old police station itself impractical.

City officials plan to have the new EOC ready for construction by this summer.

Fligor had stressed the need for the EOC in a letter to Eshoo following the federal grant application.

“Last year alone, the emergencies we experienced, both locally and nationally, underscored the importance of emergency preparedness within our communities,” Fligor said, calling the need “urgent.”

Affordable housing

The council last week heard a presentation from developers of a proposed 90-unit all-affordable housing project at 330 Distel Circle. The complex, located at the site of the former Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District headquarters, would be a first for Los Altos.

A representative from the San Rafael-based nonprofit EAH Housing met with the council to discuss plans. The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, which approved purchase of the property last year, awarded EAH the project at its April 20 meeting. The city last October entered into a memorandum of understanding, forgoing $4.644 million in park in-lieu and traffic impact fees in support of the project.

City council members and residents at last week’s council meeting were generally receptive to the project but urged the developer to seek out as much public input as possible.

“I ask that you not do the minimum (outreach),” encouraged former Planning Commissioner Jon Baer. “In Los Altos, the biggest challenge we have in development is commercial and multi-family directly abuts single-family residential.”

But Salim Damerdji asked the council to consider the potential tenants and their needs as well.

“Affordable housing changes lives,” he said. “It allows people to live near their work or have their kids go to great schools.”

Anne Paulson hoped the developer wouldn’t be forced to compromise in the number of units.

EAH Housing and city staff will be scheduling a community workshop on an unspecified date to get feedback from the public on the project. It comes as the city seeks to meet state-mandated targets for new housing units. The city is tasked with creating conditions for 1,958 units amid an eight-year cycle starting in 2023.

The county is building the project with funds from Measure A, a $950 million affordable housing bond passed by voters in 2016.