BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer
Four newcomers are challenging Los Altos Mayor Jean Mordo for two open seats on City Council — with controversial plans to develop the downtown area hanging in the balance.
The Downtown Vision Plan, a long-term program for revitalizing the city’s downtown area by putting a performing arts center, a hotel and office development on the parking plazas, is threatened by Measure C, which would require a vote every time the council sells or leases city land.
Jean Mordo, 73, opposes Measure C and has expressed strong support for some, but not all of the ideas in the Downtown Vision Plan.
Last year, cost and a threat of a lawsuit from neighbors led 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki to pull her plan to build the First Street Green project, an office development that would have encroached onto one of the parking plazas, but built a park and plaza and more than replaced the lost parking spaces underground.
Mordo said Wojcicki’s development would have been a win-win for the city.
“We were getting a very attractive plaza on top, and they replaced all the parking underneath, plus give us 40 parking spaces in addition,” Mordo said.
Mordo said he would be open to raising some building heights to 45 feet in some parts of downtown and to raise building densities to 2.5 square feet of development per square foot of lot size.
He also said he wants to see more office space downtown, which he thinks would help support restaurant business.
Nancy Bremeau, 58, lives near downtown on University Avenue and has been following the Downtown Vision Plan for two years as a member of the Los Altos Village Association and Chamber of Commerce — as a resident, not a business owner.
She supports the downtown development plan and opposes Measure C because, she said, it would make it difficult for the city to enter public-private partnerships that would allow for new development.
Bremeau praised the First Street Green project and said it’s too bad that the city will lose out on the “$15 to $20 million gift.”
Instead, Wojcicki will probably build housing on the lot, Bremeau said.
“The community was really behind it as a whole,” Bremeau said.
Bremeau said she wants to create more spaces for teenagers to spend time and is advocating for a new performing arts center, as well as more open space, including a California Native Garden.
Bremeau also said she wanted to standardize the size of Los Altos’ large parking spaces to 8.5 feet by losing 3 inches on each side. Currently some spaces are 9 feet while others are 7.5 feet.
Anita Enander, 65, said she thought that Los Altos residents would probably say the city had gotten worse in the last four years, citing densifying housing and looser restrictions with in-law units as decisions that were not in the interest of neighborhoods.
Enander supports Measure C and, having participated in several parts of the Downtown Vision process, said she has serious concerns about how the city collects data and conducts surveys on downtown vibrancy and development.
“The mayor tends to grab whatever numbers suit him without really giving the full information,” Enander said.
She said she feels residents haven’t been listened to about wanting to maintain the “village character.”
Enander is a former planning commissioner and member of the Downtown Buildings Committee. She has a master’s in public administration and worked in the public sector for 10 years, including in five management positions.
Neysa Fligor, 43, lost by six votes to Vice Mayor Lynette Lee Eng when she ran for council in 2016.
She has been involved in Los Altos’ city government since moving to the city in December 2010, including stints as vice chair of the Grant Writing Committee, chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission and a member of the El Camino Hospital board.
Fligor, a corporate attorney who also worked as deputy county counsel for Santa Clara County from 2006 to 2015, said she opposes Measure C and would support some of the development proposed in the Downtown Vision Plan, such as a performing arts theater and outdoor dining.
Fligor said she wouldn’t want the city to touch all of the parking plazas, though, and would be in favor of reducing parking spaces by 3 inches to make more room in the lots.
She said she thought Wojcicki had been painted as an evil developer out to flip the property, but Fligor said she thinks Wojcicki cares about the community and doing the right thing for it.
Teresa Morris, 57, has advocated for neighborhood issues since 2005. She formed a group called Los Altos for Neighborly Development and supports Measure C.
Morris said that contrary to some proponents of Measure C, she doesn’t have issues parking downtown but wanted to keep the parking spaces large enough to accommodate big cars, seniors who may have trouble parking, walkers, wheelchairs and strollers.
The Downtown Vision Plan proposes to replace the parking plazas with a parking garage or underground parking, or both. “The residents really like their surface parking. They’re not that interested in having above-ground parking, and they’re not that interested in having below-ground parking,” Morris said.