First Street office-park project abruptly halted -- reaction mixed

LACI rendering
Courtesy of LACI
A rendering of the First Street Green shows an amphitheater and shady areas provided by trees, trellises and umbrellas. A backdrop to the stage, seen at the bottom right of the image, buffers residents from the sound of concerts at night.

Developers of the high-profile office building and park on First Street abruptly pulled the plug on the project last week, leaving supporters disappointed and detractors relieved.

Employees of Los Altos Community Investments, the largest downtown property owner, began spreading the word Oct. 10 that they planned to discontinue efforts to build the First Street Green, a 77,000-square-foot, three-story office building with a neighboring half-acre park and more than 300 underground parking spaces across from Safeway. The project was the vision of LACI founder/principal Anne Wojcicki of Los Altos Hills, co-founder of the biotech firm 23andMe.

Los Altos converting streetlights to LEDs

Streetlights in Los Altos are undergoing an upgrade this month as PG&E replaces high-pressure sodium bulbs with light-emitting diode bulbs.

The modern lights cost less to operate and are supposed to last longer. They expend less than half the energy required by the older style of bulb, and PG&E estimates the upgrade will save Los Altos approximately $12,000 next year.

Meeting focuses on demand for affordable homes in Los Altos area

As the cost of housing rises in Santa Clara County and more residents fall below the poverty line, there’s a sense of urgency within communities to build more affordable homes. At last week’s Los Altos Community Coalition meeting, guest speaker John Barton advocated for just that.

Barton is director of the architectural design program at Stanford University and a former member of the Palo Alto City Council. He brought his expertise on affordable housing to the table Friday as he addressed the coalition, local residents and even a couple of city councilmembers.

LAH crafts 'map' on road to improved governance

A path Los Altos Hills officials embarked on late last year to obtain a more polished form of governance now has a map to guide the way. A new subcommittee report proposes the town implement new ideas including a gradually expanded town staff and new ways to support – and not eliminate – volunteer-run committees.

The report, to be reviewed at tonight’s specially scheduled council meeting, is the latest development in a process that began in December, when Councilman Gary Waldeck assumed the mayorship and advocated a 360-degree town analysis by an unbiased, third-party contractor.

City traffic cameras count cars at 7 possible stop-sign locations

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
The city of Los Altos is evaluating traffic data captured with camera poles this month to assess the need for stop signs on Main and State streets.

The city of Los Altos implemented a stop-sign policy six months ago in response to residents’ requests for new signs, and the first round of candidates entered the vetting process this month.

Portable camera poles padlocked to signs and utility poles surveilled seven intersections in or near downtown, recording traffic flow – and providing a tip-off to passersby that a new project was underway.

LA council passes density bonus

The Los Altos City Council last week passed a motion to approve both the density-bonus ordinance and the central thoroughfare zone amendments.

The Sept. 26 agenda items were continued from the previous council meeting after the four councilmembers present were unable to reach a decision – especially with the absence of Councilman Jean Mordo.

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