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This week's meeting topics include 'Friends' fate, city projects

Friends of the Library” width=
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Volunteers of Friends of the Library of Los Altos sort books in December in a portable placed near the Hillview Soccer Field, the temporary home for the organization.

Both Friends of the Library of Los Altos and the city of Los Altos are slated to host community engagement meetings this week to gauge sentiment on key issues affecting their respective missions.

Four options, one final choice

Friends of the Library is set to host an informational meeting 6 p.m. today (Jan. 8) in the Orchard Room of the Los Altos main library, 13 S. San Antonio Road, for members and nonmembers alike to weigh in on the nonprofit organization’s fate amid its search for a permanent location for operations.

For more than four decades, Friends unloaded, organized, stored and sold thousands of books – with proceeds donated to both Los Altos libraries – in Hillview Community Center until its demolition last October. When the time came to plan for the city’s new community center, on the site where Hillview once stood, Friends was informed in December it would not be offered space at the new facility.

An ad hoc committee formed in July was charged with finding both temporary and long-term options for Friends to continue operations, but members could not reach a consensus on a recommendation to present to the Los Altos City Council.

The committee was set to meet Jan. 17, but the meeting was canceled. Committee leader Manny Hernandez, the city’s maintenance services director, informed committee members the meeting was scrapped and that he and his colleagues would present four previously agreed-on options to the council.

“With that, I will need input from each of the stakeholder groups/individuals in our committee, so I will be reaching out to gather that info for the staff report,” Hernandez said in an email forwarded to the Town Crier. “The date this will go to council is still to be determined.”

Friends detailed each option in a letter mailed to its members Dec. 31: two sites on the civic center campus (its makeshift home, with a portable placed near the Hillview Soccer Field or the Los Altos Youth Center patio) and two sites off-campus (Rosita Park or the Woodland Branch Library).

With the proposals come possible unknowns that must be planned for, Friends president Margaret Brooks told members in the letter. She and her colleagues encouraged members to provide feedback on what to do if the council decides to move Friends off the civic center campus, specifically whether to accept the new location and continue operations by investing in facilities, equipment and employees to transport books to and from the main library; to reduce and modify operations to work in library space only (without storage sheds); or to stop all book sales, solicit monetary donations, invest funds and make annual donations to the library until funds expire or to transfer funds to the Los Altos Library Endowment and terminate Friends.

A list of pros and cons accompanied each potential option. Questions to prompt conversation were included at the bottom of the letter, such as “Would you visit the library less often if there were fewer bestsellers, programs and no ongoing sales available?” and “How important is it that you are able to donate books to the library?”

“We feel the need to educate the general population about … how the Friends would be impacted, so we formed our own communications committee,” Brooks told the Town Crier late last month. “We (are having) a general information meeting … for if people have questions or comments. We want to hear any opinions they might have.”

Tackling big challenges in the new year

Los Altos City Councilwoman Anita Enander plans to meet with constituents 7 p.m. Thursday at Almond School, 550 Almond Ave. The community engagement meeting will cover topics that fall under four major categories: emergency preparedness, police, construction projects and planned development.

The city holds such meetings routinely to enable residents to discuss topics affecting their neighborhoods.

A general look at emergency preparedness efforts will kick off the meeting.

The agenda will then move on to police matters. Residents of the city’s Zone 9 – which encompasses San Antonio Road to the west to Permanente Creek to the east – can expect city staff and Enander to address specific crime-prevention strategies.

Seven construction projects will be introduced and elaborated on: the El Monte Avenue/Springer Road intersection project, the Almond Avenue project, citywide traffic-calming measures, crossing guard advancements, Santa Clara County’s Foothill Expressway widening project, PG&E’s gas line replacement project on El Monte Avenue and the new Los Altos Community Center.

Also on the agenda is an overview of construction projects under consideration, already approved or currently underway. Of the six developments, four are under review (376 First St., 440 First St., 444-450 First St. and 343 Main St.), one was recently approved (425 First St.) and one is under construction (170 State St.).

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