On November 3, Los Altos residents will vote on the Los Altos Hillview Community Center Bond Issue, also known as Measure A. The proposition, if approved with a two-thirds city vote, authorizes the city to increase debt by $65 million in order to replace the Hillview Community Center and Park, behind the Los Altos Library, with new facilities and park space in a 55,600-square-foot center. To repay the debt, the city will tax residents based on city assessments of property owners’ property value across the 30 years estimated repayment time.
Proponents of Measure A address the plan’s ability to foster community, citing Hillview Community Center and Park’s 70-year-old facilities’ inability to meet recreational needs and current handicapped accessibility and earthquake safety codes. Measure A replaces the community center for more space and improved recreational facilities, builds new pool facilities, expands park space and meets these handicapped accessibility and earthquake safety codes.
To inform residents, residents received a Voter Information Pamphlet about the issue from the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters, detailing the ordinance text, tax rate statement and arguments in favor and against the measure.
“Los Altos is more than an address; it’s a community,” the “Argument in Favor of Measure A” section, signed by Mayor Janis Pepper, Los Altos School District Board of Trustees member Sangeeth Peruri and three other community leaders said. “We work together to make improvements that we and future generations will enjoy… Nearly 70 years old, the Community Center no longer meets the recreational program needs of Los Altos residents.”
The “Argument Against Measure A” section of the pamphlet, while conceding the community center’s need of replacement, cites Measure A’s unknown costs in contrast to an out-of-scope size. The section, signed by a collection of business executives and business owners, says the $65 million debt could exceed $100 million with interest. Although the tax rate statement estimated an average tax on property of $19.36 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, opponents say that no thorough studies have validated these claims, with maintenance and insurance payments unassessed.
“Taxpayers are being asked to partially fund this flawed Hillview Community Center project with limited details on the proposed projects details, total taxpayer costs or impact to the City and community,” the Los Altos Downtown Neighbors Networks website said. “[Measure A] is far beyond the size, needs, costs and priorities for Los Altos residents.”
Both proponents and opponents have taken up campaigns for their cause, and according to the Los Altos Town Crier, each campaign has distributed over 200 signs that stake residents’ claims on the plan. The Yes on Measure A campaign raised $25,149 and the No on Measure A an estimated $8,700 to fund their expenditures.
While optimistic, the Yes on Measure A campaign faces harsher odds, needing a two-thirds vote to pass the measure, a threshold many previous ordinances have failed to pass.
“A two-thirds election is very difficult to win without serious competition,” chairman of the Yes on Measure A campaign committee King Lear said to the Los Altos Town Crier. “With serious competition, it’s especially hard to win. You’re very vulnerable to misinformation and distortion of facts.”