Why has Los Altos continued to losebusinesses and tax revenues for the last 17years? Competition? Poor Location? Poor planning? Lack of understanding of what is needed to attract and retain businesses in the downtown?
Learn and understand the general tools and process that city planners, city council and communities use to: • Attract great restaurants and shops downtown • Breathe new life into the community • Encourage day and evening use • Create the synergy to get “feet on the street” • Understand the economic engines that make downtowns work • Increase tax revenue to the City Encourage you to get more involved in important upcoming planning commission and city council meetings that directly effect the future of our downtown.
Existing general plan (1992) No master plan Existing zoning ordinances updated in 2004 through 2009 Existing parking plans (1992) and Downtown Parking Opportunities Study 2009 Existing downtown design review guidelines (2009 & 2010)
All of theseexistingresources are thetools we use toimplement ourmaster plan.
Normally a master plan is updated prior to updating the supporting documents. In our particular case, Los Altos proceeded with updating design review guidelines and parking opportunity studies, and downtown zoning without first creating the downtown master plan. (2004 – 2009) This approach can complicate the process, keep us from reaching our goals and have other unintended consequences.
Traditionallywe have only included the downtown triangle. Should we include the Civic Center Master Plan in the downtown master plan. Should these two plans be related to one another. How are these two plans connected, and how do they impact one another.
May affect our Master Planning Process: Downtown Parking and Traffic study. This document will provide us with current base line information so we can project and estimate future parking needs based upon proposed changes to the downtown master plan and zoning. (This is a good thing! ) Proposed rezoning of portions of downtown that will limit and reduce the current 3 story form based height limitation to two stories. (This may not be a good thing, and could have damaging results – we will discuss later on in this presentation.)
It represents our overall goals and visions for our future downtown. It gives specific direction to all the other documents used to promote growth, preserve and enhance architectural elements, and implement the overall goals of the Master Plan.
Engage the general community and public to determine the long term vision for the downtown triangle and civic center. Ask lots of questions Formalize the community and master plan concept. Match Master Plan concepts with any existing City Plan documents to note the differences. Update all related documents as required.
How do you increase vitality and feet on the street? Do we have businesses, offices, retail and/or residential uses that we want downtown? Do you have the services and businesses you want downtown? Do you want to increase density so that more businesses, offices and residences can move downtown? Do you want to create more open space, meeting space and outdoor social spaces? Do you have enough parking? Will we need more parking in the future? Is the downtown accessible for pedestrians and bicyclists How do I get my favorite store to move here?
General Plan (city wide) Master Plan (sometimes there is a Specific Plan if very detailed) Zoning including permitted uses, FAR, building heights, set back in parking req., etc. Parking plans / shared parking / plaza etc. Architectural design review guidelines
Is the project (or Master Plan) economically viable for the developer and the City? Does the project (or Master Plan) meet socio-economic and community needs? Is the project economically sustainable, both socially and environmentally?
Itgives them clear rules of engagement for creating successful projects.
Statistically for every primary job that is created 3 additional support jobs are create to either service the new employees or the company directly. These include the restaurant and coffee shop jobs, support retail and support service directly to the primary job created.
20,000 sq. ft of new office space provides approximately 100 new employees downtown (5 per 1000; First and Main) • The average office employee eats lunch out 2.5 times per week. • Purchases breakfast / coffee 2.5 times per week. • Stays after work 1x per week for cocktails and /or dinner. Thisresults in approximately 600 more meals per week consumed at downtown restaurants and coffee shops.
Residential Units provide approximately 3 persons per household to the downtown area. They normally provide 2.5 breakfast / coffee shops per week and 2.5 dinners per week and one lunch per week / per person. Each new residential unit would provide approximately 18 new restaurant visits per week complimenting existing office employees during the day. There is a strong benefit to mixed use projects that include retail and office / residential components.
Vibrancy within a downtown area is created by the synergy of a good mix of office, retail and residential. Good local and regional restaurants will choose to locate in a downtown that has enough daytime population. Site criteria for strong regional and national retailers--as well as unique independents-- require both good daytime population and residential demographics.
Downtown Office Space – very telling Total comparison between the cities: Inventory (sq. ft.) Los Altos 420,450 Mountain View 1,244,860 Palo Alto 1,928,860 Menlo Park 657,400
Historically,it has been very difficult to attract good restaurants and retailers to Los Altos, due to the lack of office workers. Unique independents and vibrant regional and national chains look for strong co- tenancy, and thus this amplifies the negative of not enough daytime pop. Los Altos viewed by soft goods retailers and restaurants as “bedroom community.”
If we encourage the developer to build a stepped back 3 story building rather than the two story currently proposed that provides: * Ground floor retail * More community open space * Wider side walks * More outdoor usable restaurants / retail space * More office space without providing more on- site parking * One floor of underground parking Would this achieve our master planning goals and provide desired community benefits?
Should the City Council abruptly change from the well studied (2004 thru 2010), recently approved form based 3 story zoning, to a new zoning ordinance limiting buildings to two stories? Should we first understand the unintended consequences of such a dramatic change? What kind of economic effects will this have on the downtown?
Threeseparate City committees spent six years getting public input and updating the current zoning ordinances.
Existing Zoning Code, developed from six years of Downtown Development Committee work, was created with a goal to “increase feet on the street.” Their stated goal was to add 895,000 sq. ft. of office space. Limiting downtown buildings to two stories does just the opposite. Most important factor for developers in deciding which cities to enter is consistency of the rules and their application. Constant switching of the zoning rules will inhibit future development and re-development.
There are many unintended consequences when a City does not implement a Master Plan. Those consequences are compounded when either existing rules are not consistently applied or when they are changed without understanding the long term impact. Why are certain City Council members pursuing this zoning change without going through a master planning process? Why are they in such a hurry?
Impact on Existing Merchants Impact on the City’s credibility Impact on existing and new developers Impact on the competition Impact on others in the community Impact on the City’s financial health Impact on the City’s image and long term vision for the downtown
Participate in the current First and Main gateway project public review process. Let the City Council know how you feel. Participate in the public review process regarding council’s current request to restrict downtown zoning to two stories. Next Planning Commission meeting is June 21 st, 2012. Stay connected and informed through participation in Los Altos Forward and other events.
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