Downtown Vision preview: Outdoor Central Plaza

Rendering Courtesy of Jon Biggs 
After local residents expressed an interest in wanting greater activity and more places to gather downtown, the city of Los Altos proposed replacing three parking plazas with an outdoor Central Plaza. The plaza could extend out from existing establishments and incorporate overhangs, outdoor dining and pieces of art.

Over the next few weeks, the Town Crier will highlight various aspects of Los Altos’ Downtown Vision project, which is entering its final stages. Following is a preview of a feature city staff have dubbed “the community living room”: the outdoor Central Plaza.

When surveyed during a series of questionnaires, workshops, farmers’ market pop-ups and meetings during the initial planning stages of the Downtown Vision project, residents stated among other requests that they would like to increase the activity and vitality of downtown by incorporating plazas and community gathering areas.

The proposed Central Plaza, with a potential implementation over five to 10 years, would include play structures, games and other interactive features for children, as well as events and outdoor dining for adults, all aimed at serving an intergenerational demographic.

The plaza would begin at Parking Plaza 5 in Los Altos’ short-term vision for the area and expand to plazas 4 and 6 over time, Community Development Director Jon Biggs said during a June 15 presentation.

The plaza would close off existing plaza parking between Main and State streets from First to Third streets when completely expanded, according to a map provided in Biggs’ presentation. In lieu of parking, the connected area will mix pathways, grasses and outdoor dining.

Los Altos’ parking requirements have been a point of contention for some time, and Biggs recommended that the city tweak the requisites to accommodate the Downtown Vision project, including allowing new aboveground or underground parking.

Council members are expected to review the Downtown Vision project at their Aug. 28 meeting, with feedback at the meeting helping city staff form the final plan.

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