Los Altos council approves coronavirus-related funding

In the wake of the coronavirus lockdown, Los Altos city officials are doling out $135,000 to nonprofit groups providing community aid.

The council April 14 allocated $75,000 to Community Services Agency, $40,000 to the Los Altos-based domestic abuse survivor organization WomenSV and $20,000 to the Community Health Awareness Council. 

The council plans to ratify the expenditures at its meeting Tuesday. Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins said it was important for funds to “get into the hands of our nonprofits.”

“Waiting another two weeks would not be helpful,” she said.

Next, the council plans to address funding for struggling small businesses.

After studying Mountain View’s #TogetherMV package, which offers financial relief to both renters and small businesses, council members expressed interest in at least starting a fund for small businesses.

According to information from economic development coordinator Anthony Carnesecca, Los Altos has 882 businesses, 268 of which reported the number of workers employed.

“The majority of the businesses with greater than 25 employees are essential businesses currently open, such as restaurants and grocery stores,” Carnesecca said in a report to the council. “However, this totals all employees for each business, and some may not be considered full-time equivalent employees, so it would be an important distinction.”

At least 80 businesses in Los Altos, or approximately 10%, remain open in some manner, the majority of which are restaurants offering takeout or delivery. The rest are closed, going weeks without operating and with no reopening date yet in sight.

Other actions

The council denied a developer’s request for a waiver on his project and sought more information on another agenda item that came before it – a story-pole policy exception request for a proposed multifamily housing complex at 4350 El Camino Real.

Council members voted 3-2 to reject developer Mircea Voskerician’s request for an exemption on his Altos One project at 4846/4856 El Camino Real.

Voskerician and his architects sought to decrease the size of the project’s parking stalls, move a garage wall and offer additional open space. Bruins and Councilwoman Neysa Fligor cast the dissenting votes, as they saw Voskerician’s proposal to build an outdoor “tot park” on the additional space as a positive, even a public benefit, Fligor said.

Greg and Angela Galatolo, owners of the 76 gas station on the corner of El Camino Real and Los Altos Avenue, will have to return to the council for a fourth time after their third attempt at securing a customized story-pole plan for their busy lot with four entrances met with resistance.

The Galatolos are aiming to minimize the impact of the adjacent housing complex’s story poles – which mark the mass of a proposed project – on their business.

The poles present a public health and safety concern, they claim, and could impede access to their business. Angela Galatolo said they will not shut down their gas station before construction on the five-story project – currently in the review process – begins.

In lieu of story poles, the couple provided a sample of 3D images that could be posted on billboards neighboring their property.

Councilwoman Anita Enander visited 4350 El Camino Real and took her own pedestrian-level photos. She said two story poles erected on the east side of the property and four billboards, as the Galatolos recommended, would not give people a real sense of the mass of the building.

Councilwoman Lynette Lee Eng asked whether it would be possible to post large billboards high above the property, similar to those announcing projects in San Francisco, Las Vegas or on college campuses.
Fligor said she would not support a Vegas-like sign on El Camino Real.

In the end, Enander, city staff and the Galatolos agreed to work together on a compromise, and the project will return to the council at a later date. The continuation was largely cued by City Attorney Jolie Houston’s point that Enander’s photos had not been submitted to all parties before the meeting.

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