The Town Crier is running a series of questions for each of the five candidates for Los Altos City Council to answer in advance of Tuesday’s election. The final question: The current empty downtown storefronts do not serve our town well. What would you do to address the empty retail storefronts in downtown Los Altos?
Nancy Bremeau: Change zoning to allow personal fitness services and children’s activities, etc. Allow temporary-use permits, i.e., art display spaces, but the bigger issue is how to attract tenants long term. Allow dual use of spaces, retail at the front and office space in the back, facing the parking plazas.
Anita Enander: Two current vacancies are becoming restaurants (yay!) and two are changing retail identities – this is normal turnover. Nearly all other empty storefronts have a single owner who has bought large numbers of properties and left them vacant. The city needs to be sure future plans for these will really serve the town.
Neysa Fligor: Empty storefronts persist because retail is evolving, rents are relatively high and our zoning codes constrain use to retail in certain areas. I support revising the codes to include other uses and enacting portions of the Downtown Vision that will attract more residents downtown and encourage different types of business.
Jean Mordo: We need to immediately update our ordinances, which currently permit only retail on the ground floor in the Commercial Retail Sales district, downtown core. The sales lost to the internet will not come back. We need to liberalize uses to include personal services and more.
Teresa Morris: The city loses money by way of lost tax revenue when spaces remain empty. Downtown looks less than robust when spaces remain empty. One investment group owns the majority of the empty spaces. A conversation with the investment group needs to be facilitated in order to change the current situation.