08242017Thu
Last updateTue, 22 Aug 2017 5pm

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New summer "green" eyed for downtown parking plaza


Town Crier File Photo
A family plays on the Third Street Green in downtown Los Altos last summer. The city’s economic development manager hopes to host a similar green in the 71-stall Plaza 6.

If Jennifer Quinn has her way, a downtown Los Altos parking plaza will turn green this summer.

Piggybacking on the success of the Third Street Green pop-up park, the city’s economic development manager hopes to turn the 71-stall Plaza 6, located behind Veterans Community Plaza at Main and State streets, into a destination spot for special events and lounging around for the months of July and August.

Quinn said the creator and manager of previous pop-ups, downtown property owner Los Altos Community Investments (LACI), wanted to “step back” from hosting another event this summer.

“So we had to have a new host. I had this bold yet silly idea to do it on city-owned land,” she said, tongue in cheek.

Several factors went into the parking plaza choice. Plaza 6, she said, is one of the smallest downtown plazas with the least number of parking stalls. She sees it as a prime location for activity, situated between Veterans Community Plaza and the Costume Bank. It faces State Street, home to the weekly Los Altos Farmers’ Market.

She said the green also would complement the Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival in July, as festival organizers have had difficulty deciding how to use the plaza.

Quinn imagines activities similar to those at past greens on State and Third streets, including Friday evening concerts and Saturday movie nights. She also envisions teaming with the neighboring Costume Bank on a themed costume party.

“It would be a cool place to activate,” she said.

Quinn held her first meeting Feb. 8 with members of the downtown advocacy group Los Altos Village Association (LAVA) to solicit input on the idea.

“The (LAVA) board appreciated that the concept was being shared early in the process, but it’s too early for the group to form an opinion,” said board member Frederic Sischka, who operates FastFrame of Los Altos on State Street. “Speaking for myself only, I would be most concerned with the two-month summer loss of … parking spaces in Plaza 6.”

Funding and loss of parking will be challenges, Quinn acknowledged.

Although LACI has made a $25,000 commitment to this year’s green, she plans to ask the city for another $75,000 – a $25,000 match supporting programs, and another $50,000 to purchase and install the turf. LACI officials also have offered to donate tables and chairs, as well as marketing expertise.

Quinn sees the Hillview Community Center lot and parking space at churches along Foothill Expressway as possible outlets to replace the loss of parking. A pedicab, she said, could shuttle residents from the parking lots to downtown.

The positives of a Plaza 6 green outweigh the negatives, according to Quinn.

“We could draw people from outside our community,” she said, creating potential new shoppers for downtown stores.

Two public input meetings on the topic are scheduled, 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Los Altos Youth Center, 1 N. San Antonio Road. Quinn also plans to meet separately with members of the Los Altos Chamber of Commerce and the Los Altos Property Owners Downtown group and follow up with a presentation before the Los Altos City Council Feb. 28.

If her idea meets with disapproval, Quinn said she would pursue the Third Street Green option as in years past.

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