Downtown Green, cannabis moratorium OK'd

The Los Altos City Council addressed a packed agenda last week, issuing a five-year renewal for the Downtown Green and approving an urgency ordinance for commercial cannabis uses, among other actions.

The Downtown Green, formerly the Third Street Green, is a summer pop-up park featuring events and entertainment originally sponsored by Los Altos Community Investments (LACI). Jennifer Quinn, the city’s economic development director, asked the council at its Nov. 28 meeting to formally adopt the program and budget $25,000 per year to cover costs for the next five years. According to Quinn, LACI has pledged the same amount to sponsor the program and will allow the city to use its artificial turf and furniture.

Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins initially expressed concern about the “deja vu” of approving the 2018 Downtown Green, compared with the council’s endorsement of the 2017 park.

“The difference is we don’t have merchants in here,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s because they’re all happy-go-lucky and think this is the greatest thing since sliced bread … or whether we are lacking again in outreach effort.”

A business owner and a property owner downtown spoke during the public comment section – one for and one against the Green.

Mel Kahn, whose tenant Satura Cakes is located at Main and Third streets, site of last year’s Green, cited delivery and parking problems during the pop-up park’s run. Lars Smith, owner of the soon-to-open State of Mind Public House and Pizzeria on State Street, voiced his support after serving as a vendor on the Downtown Green last summer.

Councilmembers ultimately approved the five-year extension and funds, as well as the closure of Third Street, without specifying an exact location. They voted 3-1, with Councilwoman Lynette Lee Eng dissenting and Mayor Mary Prochnow recusing herself because she has an office within 500 feet of the area.

Cannabis moratorium

The council passed an urgency ordinance mandating a 45-day moratorium on the establishment, creation or expansion of commercial cannabis businesses.

Prior to the passage of Proposition 64 in 2016 – which legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults in California – the council had adopted an ordinance that prohibited cultivating, processing, delivering or dispensing marijuana.

“We will send this ordinance, along with your prior ordinance, to the state to make it clear to them that we don’t allow cannabis or marijuana commercial uses within the city of Los Altos,” City Attorney Chris Diaz said.

According to Diaz, the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act gives cities certain land-use controls that enable them to ban licenses the state issues for commercial cannabis. Diaz said he would return to the council early next year to request a full-year extension.

Children’s Corner postponed

The council meeting was packed with supporters of Children’s Corner preschool, anxiously awaiting a decision on whether the school will have a home at the new Hillview Community Center.

However, at the beginning of the meeting, Prochnow said that because the council has not seen the full financial plan for the Hillview overhaul, it would be premature to discuss Children’s Corner. All councilmembers, excluding Councilman Jean Mordo, agreed. Mordo felt that having the discussion would help clear up some misinformation about the community center.

The council voted 4-1 in favor of postponement. No date was set to resume the discussion.

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