Council considers nicer chambers, but decides to look at city’s priorities first

The Los Altos City Council dais. Photo courtesy of the city.
The Los Altos City Council dais. Photo courtesy of the city.

BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer

Some Los Altos City Council members obviously aren’t happy with their current council chambers. Six months after deciding to spend $1.2 million to renovate the chambers, they talked about moving the council meetings to the city’s Youth Center.

But Mayor Lynette Lee Eng said she wanted to hold off on making any decisions until the council sorts out its priorities for fixing up all city-owned buildings.

“The police are suffering because they have no HVAC, and I think that’s a higher priority,” Lee Eng said.

The discussion occurred June 25 when council considered moving its meetings from city hall to the Los Altos Youth Center, which is in the same block. This year, the city made a few improvements to the council chambers, such as adding carpeting. Council in January also approved spending $1.2 million to update technology in the council chambers. The technology is used to record and stream council meetings.

City Clerk Jon Maginot said in his report that the council chamber’s seating capacity is between 65 and 70, but 100 people can comfortably fit in the Youth Center’s room.

Most of the council members on Tuesday said they were in favor of moving the meetings to the Youth Center.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins said. She said the council chambers space could be repurposed so that it could be used as office space for city employees.

Bruins urged the council to make a decision, saying she didn’t want the city to pay the money to outfit the current chambers with new equipment and then do the same thing at the Youth Center.

But Councilwoman Anita Enander said she is comfortable with spending the money to revamp the chamber’s technology, because by the time the council decides whether to move the chambers and the project is completed, the technology will be obsolete.

Councilwoman Jan Pepper suggested that some of the technology will move with the council if it decides to go to youth center, and by that point, the city will have more money in its technology funds to buy more equipment if needed.

Councilwoman Nesya Fligor suggested that the council hold a couple of meetings to youth center on a trial basis to see if moving there full time would work out.

But Lee Eng said the council needs to figure out what its priorities are regarding all city buildings, not just the council chambers.

Lee Eng said a higher priority is the historic Halsey House at 482 University Ave., which is boarded up and is in desperate need of a renovation.

The council ultimately decided to add the Youth Center building to a longer list of buildings and other projects that might get attention with dollars from the city surplus and reserves. The city has about $80 million it can use, city Financial Commission member Gary Kalbach said.

6 Comments

  1. This article confirms City staff (led by City Manager Jordan) and some Council members (namely, Bruins, Pepper and Fligor) abet each other in wasteful expenditures all paid for by taxpayers. Perhaps it is all a ploy to distract residents and taxpayers from the real issues which those same members of Council are not addressing (deceit, fabrications, misconduct, and their cover up by staff led by City Manager Jordan), self-help by Bruins, attempts to introduce new taxes under false pretexts (Bruins, Pepper, Fligor), and so on. Residents’ complaints are dismissed or disregarded by Council and City staff. When residents’ voices become too loud to be ignored City managers throw lower level employees under the bus (e.g., the flashing lights at Portola X Los Altos Ave) and continue on with their charades.

    Time to kick out the rascals in City Hall and their enablers/co-conspirators in Council. It is heartening and reassuring to see Mayor Eng provide the leadership in these times. Unless Pepper and Fligor wake up (Bruins seems beyond redemption…or shame) they too need to be held accountable.

  2. This council has lost its mind. Time to recall them all. Maybe not Lee Eng and Enander, but something has got to go. How is replacing the council chambers even on the top 100 list of council priorities? Or top 1000?

  3. I read this article when it was printed on Monday morning and I’ve got to say thanks to Mayor Lee Eng to putting a halt to this silliness. Council need to re-focus its attention to improving life for residents and not on the council members and staff.

  4. >“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins said.
    >She said the council chambers space could be repurposed so that it could
    > be used as office space for city employees.

    WAITAMINUTE! City Manager Jordan 2018 unilaterally and arbitrarily gave himself and his staff alternate Fridays off. That move, without public notice, leave alone discussion, was endorsed by Bruins and her cohorts on Council, with current Mayor Eng (admirably, then as now) the lone vote against. Jordan then also admitted to Ms Levitsky of the Daily Post there was no system to monitor when employees come in/leave for their work days and there’s plenty evidence they, especially the senior ones, come in as late as 9:30 and leave as early as 3:30. In short the mess at Los Altos City Hall and City Council go together. No oversight, no management, no checks, no balances.

    Bruins’ suggestion would reward city employees who get alternate Fridays off, come in late and leave early…with no reduction in salaries or benefits. I have an answer for that: let Bruins first pay for her nonsensical proposals and her “foreign travel” junkets out of her own pocket and demonstrate respect taxpayers’ monies more than her own. The clock is ticking and it is a matter of time before she is voted out like her former peer Mordo.

  5. Jordan wants the city council chambers for his throne room. He seems to think he rules Los Altos, disregarding and disrespecting Council. He knows he can get away with it because he’s never held accountable.

  6. Wow! If you think this is wasteful, you should look at the police department. If you want to see serious mismanagement that is affecting your safety ask for the GPS logs of the patrol cars, you’ll be shocked how little officers are actually leaving the police station. This is the direct result of the gross negligence and incompetence of former city manager Marcia Somers, former police chief Younis, current chief Galea and captain McCrossin. They have essentially run the police department into the ground. Why do you think some officers were named in a recent lawsuit of discrimination? Chris Jordan has only made things worse. I’m quite certain a grand jury would find significant fraud, waste and abuse within the entire city.

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