BY SARA TABIN
Daily Post Staff Writer
Los Altos spends $5,000 per city council meeting at the youth center to rent audio equipment and the foot-tall stage on which the council members sit.
The cost was discussed in October emails between City Manager Chris Jordan and Rachel Shaw of HR Consulting in Newbury Park, the $70,000 disability consultant that Jordan hired over the summer. She also asked Jordan about the cost of renovating the youth center.
Shaw told him to keep their emails a secret from council.
Jordan moved council meetings to the youth center in April after Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins complained that the City Hall council chambers were triggering her asthma.
The Post obtained the emails between Jordan and Shaw by making a request under the California Public Records Act. The Post confirmed the rental costs with Assistant City Manager Jon Maginot. Maginot said the city pays $2,500 to rent the stage or platform on which the council members sit, $2,500 for the audio system and a few hundred for portable air conditioning units. He said the city did not purchase a stage because they weren’t sure where Shaw would advise the city to hold meetings in the future.
The youth center lacks many of the amenities of the council chambers including a raised podium. Residents have complained that the space is hot and has bad acoustics.
In the October emails, Shaw asked Jordan to look into replacing the carpet and ceiling in the youth center and adding a heating and air conditioning system.
$1 million in improvements
Jordan told Shaw that if the city makes those improvements it would have to make other ADA required changes. The total cost would be about $1 million.
Shaw told Jordan to make sure her inquiries were kept secret from the council.
“If there are leaks to council on the following they could start to get concerns with what I will recommend,” she wrote on Oct. 26.
Council members suspended Shaw’s contract in November after she told them they can’t move back to chambers because it is dangerous for one member of council, but wouldn’t say what is causing the danger.
Council meetings were moved to the youth center in April.
What’s the problem with City Hall?
Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins complained last year that the chambers in City Hall were triggering her asthma. At the time she said the problem might be the smell of regular council observer Roberta Phillips, who smokes. Bruins tried to get Phillips to leave a meeting but Phillips would not go.
Councilwoman Lee Eng, who also suffers asthma, told the Post at the time that she sometimes has to use her inhaler when she sits in the audience of the council chambers to attend commission meetings. She said the chambers’ carpet could be an irritant.
Air quality tests that Shaw had conducted found no dangerous chemicals or mold in the youth center or council chambers. City commissions still meet in the council chambers.