11182017Sat
Last updateTue, 14 Nov 2017 4pm

News

Commission reviews new First St. project


Taken from city of Los Altos staff report
A new application for a mixed-use office and housing development on First Street drew mixed reaction from the Los Altos Planning Commission last week.

While the First Street Green project may be out, there’s a possible new development just down the street.

The Los Altos Planning Commission held a Nov. 2 study session with the applicant, Steve Johnson with 1st Place Village LLC, for a new project at 389 First St.

It was the first meeting for the newly renamed Planning Commission, which had been named the Planning and Transportation Commission since 2011. The Los Altos City Council, at its Sept. 12 meeting, transferred transportation responsibilities to the newly formed Complete Streets Commission, formerly the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission.

The 389 First St. proposal includes a three-story mixed-used building that totals 17,100 square feet. The project would have 10 residential units, 2,900 square feet of office space on the first floor and an underground parking garage with mechanical parking. The applicant also has incorporated one affordable housing unit in the project.

From the start of the Nov. 2 meeting – deemed a study session because the commission would only provide feedback and not make any decisions – Commissioner Michael McTighe asked about the project’s three-story height and how that factored in with density bonuses.

The project falls in the Commercial Downtown Multiple Family zoning district, which has a structure height limit of 30 feet. Last month, the city council passed a density-bonus ordinance that incentivizes developers to include affordable housing in their projects. While the state has its own set of density-bonus laws, the Los Altos’ ordinance clarifies the city’s preferences when it comes to the available incentives.

“The city council recently adopted what we call ‘on-menu incentives,’ which include 11 feet in addition to the maximum height restriction in that district,” Senior Planner Steve Golden said. “They’re seeking it to take advantage of that incentive providing that affordable unit.”

Jeff Potts of SDG Architects, the project’s architect, gave a presentation on the building’s design.

“It’s a contemporary-style building, but it does blend with some of the newer nearby buildings,” he said, citing the Packard Foundation headquarters on Second Street and the new building at First Street and San Antonio Road.

However, Commissioner Anita Enander said the style didn’t reflect the “village character” of downtown Los Altos and predicted pushback from the community.

Enander and McTighe requested better renderings of the project so that they and the public could get a more accurate idea of what the finished building would look like from surrounding areas. McTighe asked for three views: from the end of Draeger’s Market coming down First Street toward San Antonio; from First and Lyell streets; and from Second and Lyell streets, facing the back of the building.

Zach Dahl, planning services manager, said the application’s next step, after undergoing additional work, would be a review by members of the Complete Streets Commission. He anticipated that review sometime in early 2018.

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