Big changes proposed for downtown Los Altos — beer gardens, Ping Pong and a parking structure

The consultants hired by the city of Los Altos proposed this pedestrian bridge over San Antonio Road as part of their plan for downtown.

Editor’s note: The version of this story printed in today’s Post gave the wrong date for the hearing. The hearing is actually Tuesday, Aug. 28, at 7 p.m., at City Hall, 1 N. San Antonio Road.

Daily Post Staff Writer

A consultant hired by the city of Los Altos is expected Tuesday (Aug. 28) night to recommend turning the downtown public parking lots into theaters, hotels and outdoor “community living rooms.”

To make up for the loss in parking, the RRM Design consultants will recommend that the city build a new 775-space parking structure and double the cost of parking permits from $36 to $72 a year.

The recommendation is expected to take place tonight in one of the final presentations of the Downtown Vision Plan that started in 2016.

A nearly 300-page report includes suggestions to turn parking plazas into areas for outdoor dining, public seating, landscaping, play structures and event spaces and leasing some out to build an affordable housing development on parking plaza No. 8, a new performing arts theater and a new hotel on parking plaza No. 2 and office developments on plaza Nos. 1, 3 and 7.

“Programmed plazas” targeting specific demographics could include Ping-Pong tables and cellphone-charging stations for teens, beer gardens and bocce ball for adults and play areas for kids.

And the consultants recommend the city look into setting up public Wi-Fi and outdoor electrical outlets that would allow for outdoor concerts.

Other ideas include leveling sidewalks to create “shared streets,” so that pedestrians, cyclists and motorists are all on the same plane.

The consultants have also suggested introducing a free trolley connecting other parts of Los Altos to downtown and building a pedestrian bridge connecting the Civic Center on North San Antonio Road to downtown.

They’re also recommending a roundabout at the intersection of Edith and Main streets and San Antonio Road and boosting building heights to three stories, or 40 to 45 feet, along San Antonio Road and First Street.

A citizens initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot poses a threat to the plan to lease out the parking plazas. The initiative would require a vote every time the city wants to sell or lease city-owned land, which includes the public parking lots downtown.

The consultants argue in the presentation that a societal trend away from car ownership will lower the need for parking spaces downtown.

The council meeting is set to start at 7 p.m. Tuesday (Aug. 28) at 1 N. San Antonio Road.


  1. Los Altos residents have every reason to reach for and protect their wallets and interests when the same entities (staff and Council) present “their vision” which is mere pretext for selling off public lands to private entities (usually the cronies of Council members) for their private and commercial use. E.g.,

    Be aware, be informed the City (staff and Council) misled, misrepresented, and outright deceived you in several matters, including the passage of recent ordinances. Ask the Mayor and the City re: evidence given them by residents of fraud and bad faith by staff and Council members, demands for an investigation, lawsuits filed by residents, etc.

  2. >The consultants argue in the presentation that a societal trend away
    >from car ownership will lower the need for parking spaces downtown.

    That is a ruse for Council to argue they need sole control over dispensing with the downtown parking spaces–i.e., public lands owned by the public for which the Council members serve as trustees–which they would then sell away to private entities. As they have in the past with public lands.

    Let’s ask the Council and their consultants this Q: what if the “societal trend” does not manifest within the envisaged timeframe? what if this City is caught with a crisis over downtown parking and lack of public spaces having dispensed with the public lands/parking spots as recommended in this study? why not wait until there is broad agreement the “societal trend” is upon us?

    Those Council members voting for reducing the public lands, citing a “societal trend” conveniently found by their hired help, should sign up to be held accountable, through assets owned by them or their descendants which the City can seize if the members’ actions today result in harm tomorrow.

  3. This is a brazen attempt to turn our pleasant downtown into the Vegas Strip or Times Square. I’m disappointed the Town spent money on this report or whatever you call it. If I wanted to live in the downtown of a big city, I would have moved there already. In the upcoming election for counsel, I’ll be listening to see which candidates favor or oppose this crazy scheme, and I’ll vote accordingly.

  4. This sure reminds me of Anne Wojcicki’s First St. Green project that was as big as a 747. Remember she pulled that project a year ago when the DA started asking questions about how she was going to get all that town owned land to build it. Now it’s been reincarnated.

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