The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

What’s your take on affordable housing? What would be your priorities for implementing the Downtown Vision Plan? How do you plan to best support local businesses?

Note: The Downtown Vision Plan, approved by the City Council in 2018, lays out a variety of things Los Altos can do to better downtown.

Kalkat says the hardest challenge with the Downtown Vision Plan, which was approved by the Council in 2018, is figuring out which items the City is going to fund. He believes that without a long term plan it will be difficult to progress, and suggested private partnerships as a way to do that faster. Kalkat wants to see shopping centers become destinations for residents, and believes that the local government has to take a strong position in favor of affordable housing, as a capitalist market does not prioritize below-market housing.

Spielman, like Kalkat, says the Vision Plan is “great” but lacks funding. To help small businesses, Spielman wants to promote more outdoor restaurant activity, as well as fund heat lamps to allow restaurants to operate outside late at night and during the winter months. Spielman wants to consider all options available to the City and wants to recover lost affordable housing subsidies.

Weinberg “loves” the Vision Plan, but believes that due to the pandemic and resulting economic crisis, the City should not move forward with the plan immediately. Weinberg also believes that the City has to follow the rules and regulations when it comes to giving grants to small businesses, and supports a joint program between the Chamber of Commerce and City Council. Weinberg said that the City has a moral and legal obligation to provide more affordable housing and transparency.

Couture mentioned “a lot” of vacant businesses and commercial properties, and pointed to the City recently receiving a 14 million dollar loan to work on the community center, as a prime example of Los Altos’ lacking financial state. Couture has seen many restaurants expand into the streets and acknowledges that many are still afraid of the coronavirus, but hopes those unafraid will come to Downtown. She also wants to increase affordable housing in Downtown Los Altos as well as El Camino and hopes that encouraging developers to build there will help in the long term.

Meadows believes that the best approach to the Vision Plan is to mix and match different items, prioritizing items that help small businesses. She would also like to see the City rezone the ground floors to allow for more small businesses. Meadows acknowledges that the City was unprepared for the pandemic and would like to collaborate with the Chamber of Commerce to provide more services to small businesses. When it comes to affordable housing, Meadows is a supporter of allowing more accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and working with developers to provide more units.

Lee Eng wants to generate more parking, implement some of the ideas brought forth by the Vision Plan and would like to open a conversation about how to fund these items on the Vision Plan. To protect small businesses, Lee Eng has already started working with the Chamber and retailers, and wants to encourage further donations to businesses. Lee Eng said that there are too many luxury units being constructed, and would like to encourage more rental units and give grants to individuals with special needs and veterans.

Rubashevky said the pandemic serves as an opportunity to work with developers and implement items from the Vision Plan. Rubashevsky wants to allow more businesses to have outdoor space, and proposes making some streets one way to reduce traffic. Rubashevsky hopes that by incentivizing ADUs, the City will allow residents to choose whether or not to increase density.


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