Council Review

The Los Altos City Council took the following actions at its Feb. 12 meeting.

First & Main project expands square footage

A downtown parcel slated to be the site of the Jeffrey A. Morris Group’s mixed-use commercial development is about to expand – by 716 square feet.

The council unanimously authorized the $89,500 purchase of a 716-square-foot strip of land from the county of Santa Clara that will be incorporated into the existing First and Main streets parcel.

As part of the agreement, Morris, who received council approval to purchase and develop the publicly owned First and Main site in September, will reimburse the city for the cost of the land, currently part of the Foothill Expressway right of way.

According to a staff report, the city entered into a verbal agreement with the county to negotiate the land sale at the time it approved the project.

The strip of land was needed, the report added, for Morris to construct an underground parking structure as part of the project.

Assistant City Manager James Walgren told the council that the $3.1 million option agreement with Morris includes a May 18 deadline to secure all of the required permits and begin construction.

Prior to the council’s vote, Councilwoman Jan Pepper questioned whether the city was receiving fair value for the First and Main parcel, noting that the $89,500 county land sale breaks down to $125 per square foot. Applying that same formula to the original 34,880-square-foot parcel, she noted, bumps its value from $3.1 million to $4.36 million.

“Mr. Morris has an option to purchase the property for $3.1 million, $1.26 million below what the county appraised the square footage of that area to be,” she said. “So I was just wondering if there was any way that the city could get a portion of that extra value that the property has now accrued since the time we made the option (agreement). … I just want to make sure the city isn’t leaving money on the table.”

City Attorney Jolie Houston cautioned that attempting to renegotiate the agreement could lead to future legal action against the city.

“There would be no way to reopen this option agreement unless there was some significant material change to the (project) design plans. … I don’t see a way to renegotiate the purchase price without exposing the city to some liability,” Houston said.

City appoints commissioners

The council approved the appointment of a dozen volunteer commissioners to four-year terms that will expire in February 2017.

Karl Danz (Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory), Joseph Eyre (Environmental), and Nancy Ellickson and Karen Zucker (Public Arts) were appointed for their first terms.

The following commissioners were reappointed for second terms: Jim Fenton and Chris Hlavka (Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory), Christian Keller (Environmental), Frank Bishop and Denise Welsh (Historical), Judie Suelzle (Library), David Beggs (Parks and Recreation) and Laurel Iverson (Public Arts).

– Diego Abeloos

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