Having been a resident of Los Altos for 34 years and a former partner in a thriving bar and grill in the late 1980s, I believe that I have a good feel for living near the epicenter of downtown and Hillview Community Center. Over the years, I have given a tremendous amount of thought to a number of solutions to make Los Altos an outstanding place to live and visit.
In short, here is an outside-the-box concept for bridging the community to downtown through the community center with a transportation (parking) complex. The idea is to expand, stretch and create a main entrance with Edith Avenue crossing San Antonio Road. In this scenario, the city would gain another cornerstone, particularly if the library and theater are accessible and visible. Adding a modest short block of retail, services and cafes across San Antonio would create a Disneyland effect.
Combining these options would solve several problems:
• Parking will make the difference in the success of downtown Los Altos and the community center. Parking as it is now is mainly consumed by employees, approximately 50 percent at peak lunch hour, which in turn hurts merchants. As many people may know, Palo Alto has a permit process that actually creates revenue and could be a viable option in offsetting costs.
• A transportation and parking complex/hub would give an advantage in the bus route and shuttle services to downtown; this would reduce traffic and congestion.
• By going vertical, a visually pleasing parking structure, wrapped with retail or office space, could be built, allowing for open space and a campus and park environment.
• It safely connects with better access for pedestrians in all three locations (downtown, community center and neighborhood) with a bridge or tunnel crossing San Antonio Road.
• This concept would attract private, corporate and public ($25 million earmarked already) funding to offset the overall cost of the project(s).
Past politics has prevented progress, which ultimately may be a benefit, as there seems to be a better approach. I believe that we have an opportunity to solve a number of issues and get it right the very first time, while saving time and money.
I’d like an opportunity to pitch and express this vision as an agenda item at the next Los Altos City Council meeting.
Richard Clark is a Los Altos resident.