Community

Council candidates weigh in on Downtown Vision plan

Seven candidates are running for three open seats on the five-member Los Altos City Council in the Nov. 3 election.
Local civic groups prepared a series of questions, which the candidates are answering in each issue of the Town Crier in advance of the election.

Participating groups include the local chapter of the American Association of University Women, the Center for Age-Friendly Excellence, GreenTown Los Altos, the Los Altos Community Coalition, Los Altos Community Foundation, Los Altos Forward, the Los Altos Town Crier and the Los Altos Women’s Caucus.

Question: What do you think the city of Los Altos should be doing to implement the Downtown Vision plan, adopted in August 2018?

• Alex Rubashevsky: I would implement the items that benefit the businesses and current residents first. Second, I would begin negotiations with developers for their proposals for the affordable housing units to get that process started ASAP to meet our legal obligations.

• Kuljeet Kalkat: Our city funds are depleted enough that we are unlikely to be able to fund any of the development options outlined in the vision document for a few years. However, we can start small. Let’s add public spaces as planned. Let’s implement the recommended parking overhaul to attract higher-service restaurants. Let’s have more events downtown and promote the village character to attract more traffic to increase sales.

• Sally Meadows: Facilitate approvals and building of condos on First Street so more people will frequent downtown. Rezone ground-floor commercial on Main and State streets, allowing contemporary services. Create permanent parklets and implement “easy” parking fixes already recommended to the council to compensate for lost spaces. Create an open Central Plaza in Parking Plaza 5.

• Lynette Lee Eng: The Downtown Vision is a guiding document, but with the current economic climate and the construction of the community center, we lack funding for major projects. As a council member, I supported code amendments allowing more diverse businesses downtown, plus the Open Streets program and parklets to promote feet on the street.

• Scott Spielman: The city finances are challenged largely due to the COVID pandemic. We need to do all we can to enable our small businesses to survive. The time frame for when things will return to normal is uncertain. As things begin to normalize, it will be appropriate to revisit this insightful plan.

• Terri Couture: The council recommended rezoning to allow for expanded services. After the Open Streets program, parklets were initiated to increase parking for retail parking and restaurants outside. COVID grants were distributed to businesses. As we come out of the pandemic, the city council must observe budget constraints and review the vision agenda to implement the Downtown Vision’s approved steps.

• Jonathan Weinberg: The Downtown Vision is an exciting blueprint to re-energize our central business district. Its implementation will benefit residents, businesses and property owners. The city should work with the community to prioritize the goals of the Downtown Vision and adopt an implementation plan to move forward within our budget.

Note: A virtual forum spotlighting the seven council candidates took place Sept. 30. To view the forum, visit
youtu.be/tYJbJ4UIibo.

This is week eight in the series of questions posed to the candidates. To view the previous questions and answers, visit the Town Crier’s election page at tinyurl.com/y3h3938t.

 

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