Streamline rules for in-law units
It is good to hear the city of Los Altos is exploring ways to increase affordable housing by encouraging accessory dwelling units (“In-laws incoming?” April 12).
The article detailed some of the discussion at a recent Planning and Transportation Commission meeting on the subject. The Los Altos City Council will be taking up the subject of revising the current Municipal Code for accessory dwelling units at an upcoming meeting.
One concrete step the council should consider is joining the majority of cities in Santa Clara County that do not place the burden of adding a “deed restriction” on owners of properties with accessory dwelling units. Los Altos Municipal Code 14.14.070(F) states that a “deed restriction shall be recorded … that the principal residence of the property owner shall be maintained on the property.”
In other words, if the owners were transferred to a job in another locale, or had to go into long-term care, they could not choose to temporarily lease their houses to maintain their principal residences in Los Altos. These are realistic scenarios for many members of our community that would not be allowed under the current code; their only legal alternative would be not to have an accessory dwelling unit.
In reading the municipal codes of Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Gatos, Morgan Hill, San Jose and the city of Santa Clara, there is no such restriction. The point isn’t that Los Altos should do what these cities do, but that the deed restriction isn’t necessary, as demonstrated by the lack thereof for the municipalities above.
Taking away a right that other property owners have does not seem to be a good way to encourage people to build accessory dwelling units, and I hope the council considers removing this burden.
LA council: Step up to the plate
At the Jan. 10 Los Altos City Council meeting, the majority of the council voted in favor of Los Altos becoming a “welcoming city.”
This was a positive step in the right direction to show that we are inclusive of diversity and do not discriminate against minorities. We welcome everyone.
However, it is only a first step. I believe we should step up to the plate, bite the bullet and go the full course in being designated a sanctuary city.
This term is supposed to bring images of violence, hiding criminals and breaking the law. It is none of the above. It is simply a declaration that Los Altos has the courage to be counted along with San Francisco, Oakland, Mountain View, San Jose, San Carlos, Fremont and others as being a place where people of all nationalities can live without fear of being arrested.
The Los Altos City Council should vote to make our town a sanctuary city and join the other brave cities that have already done so. We cannot let ourselves be blackmailed by the threat of the federal government withholding funds for needed projects. This will be challenged in the courts, and let us hope that democracy will win over prejudice, fear and threats.
Civic center needs city engagement
I attended the Community Center Alliance meeting April 17. We discussed the benefits of looking at the civic center site holistically, and within the context of our downtown, including:
1. What are the best land-use options for our valuable and irreplaceable city-owned land (downtown, Hillview Community Center and Grant Park), which will carry our community into the next 50-plus years?
2. Should a new library be relocated downtown, with the direct advantage of bringing more folks to our downtown business area throughout the day and evening, or should a new library be built in conjunction with the community center, to achieve economies of scale?
3. Should a new theater be built downtown or in conjunction with a new library or community center to achieve economies of scale?
4. When looking at questions 1 and 2, how would these scenarios affect the design and placement of a rebuilt community center (the biggest capital expenditure our city has ever undertaken)?
5. How can various public and private funding sources be leveraged to build the solutions we need?
6. How do these questions tie into the current Downtown Vision project?
That’s where the crux of the issue lies: How can we separate the Downtown Vision from Hillview and still make smart decisions? I would very much like to see the city at a minimum hold one or more study session(s) on the bigger picture before moving forward.