City Council may put weaker public land measure on same ballot as citizen’s initiative

Los Altos officials wanted to give city property to Los Altos Community Investments to build this 77,000-square-foot office building on First Street last year. The development company, headed by Anne Wojcicki, pulled the proposal last October. But a citizens initiative that has qualified for the November ballot will require all similar sales of city land to receive voter approval. Illustration by EHDD Architecture of San Francisco.
Los Altos officials wanted to give city property to Los Altos Community Investments to build this 77,000-square-foot office building on First Street last year. The development company, headed by Anne Wojcicki, pulled the proposal last October. But a citizens initiative that has qualified for the November ballot will require all similar sales of city land to receive voter approval. Illustration by EHDD Architecture of San Francisco.

BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer

Los Altos City Council on Tuesday (June 12) will consider countering a citizens initiative to keep the city from selling public land without voter approval with a version that would only protect park land.

It would cost the city $50,000 to place each measure on the November ballot. Both measures would cost $100,000.

The city’s ballot measure would also reclassify Hillview Park as park land in order to require voter approval for its sale.

The citizens initiative would keep the city from selling more than 7,500 square feet of public land without voter approval.

The group Pro Parks Los Altos has collected more than 2,900 signatures, though only 1,943 were required to put it on the ballot.

Supporters say the city has tried to sell public land for years despite residents’ opposition, citing a proposed theater at Village Park and a school at Rosita Park.

Last year, 23andMe founder Anne Wojcicki’s development firm, Los Altos Community Investments, pulled its application to build an office building that encroached onto a city parking lot. The agreement by the city to allow the firm to use city land sparked a furor in the community.

Unlike the citizens initiative, other public land, including parking lots, could be sold with a City Council vote. Council could also still decide whether to approve the citizens initiative without putting it on the ballot.

1 Comment

  1. >Unlike the citizens initiative, other public land, including parking lots,
    >could be sold with a City Council vote.

    Los Altos residents, and the reporter too, would do well to recall the “Parking Commissions” fraud memo perpetrated by Los Altos City staff 2015-2016. A resident noticed discrepancies in the memo, called for investigations, and senior City staff lost their jobs as did the City Attorney too. The same resident earlier had also filed suit vs the City concerning sale of public land by Council to their favorites without due transparency and oversight.

    With that history does it make sense to allow City Council to dispense with “public lands, including parking lots” without review by the residents who actually own the lands? No, it doesn’t make sense. What makes sense is to restrain Council from treating public lands as less than their own, engaging in “philanthropy” to their friends and favorites with what they doesn’t belong to them.

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