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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
Local

Town of Los Altos HillsCandidate for City Council

Photo of Garo K. Kiremidjian

Garo K. Kiremidjian

Retired CEO
1,802 votes (18.29%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Preserve the Town’s semi-rural character and the direction laid out in the Town's General Plan
  • Manage the Town’s inevitable evolution caused by changes occurring in Bay Area society
  • Continue the Town's path to fiscal stability

Experience

Education

Columbia University Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Mathematics (1970)

Who supports this candidate?

Individuals (3)

  • William J. Perry; Frm. CEO of ESL, Frm. Secretary of Defense
  • Gilbert F. Decker; Frm. CEO of ESL, Frm Asst. Sec. of the Army
  • Sandy Decker; Fmr Mayor of Los Gatos, CA

Political Beliefs

Position Papers

The Most Prominent Issues Currently Facing Our Town

Summary

The position paper presents the main priorities that a Councilmember needs to keep in mind and provides a more detailed look at some of these topics.

 

I firmly believe that the main priorities that a Councilmember needs to keep in mind are:

 

  • Preserve the Town’s semi-rural character and the direction laid out in the

 

     General Plan;

 

  • Manage the Town’s inevitable evolution caused by changes occurring in Bay

 

     Area society and the communities around us;

 

  • Continue our path to fiscal stability;
  • Continued preparations to deal with major catastrophes;

 

·         Create and maintain effective alliances with neighboring communities and other agencies as appropriate, as a way of influencing the external pressures that might impact our town's way of living.

 

 

 

Following is a more detailed look at how I see some of these topics.

 

Traffic Congestion

 

During the last decade Stanford has undertaken one of the largest construction projects in its history while Palo Alto and Mountain View have issued numerous permits for high density commercial development. Substantially increased traffic congestion on I-280, the Page Mill Corridor, El Monte, and other County and city roads has been the result of this overgrowth. Our Town has already been affected. Heavy traffic in peak hours is causing more vehicles to divert through the Town’s interior roads such as Fremont, Purissima, Arastradero and the feeders off El Monte. The Town’s traffic situation would have been much worse if in 2014 Caltrans had installed traffic signals in six locations of the Page Mill/I-280 interchange. Thanks to a petition signed by over 500 Los Altos Hills residents Caltrans withdrew the signalization project. The County’s Expressway Plan 2040 Study has several proposals for improving the County expressways. Most of the proposed concepts for the Page Mill corridor would result in further increases of traffic backups. We must continue our interactions with the County and Caltrans and emphasize two important points. First, sprinkling more traffic signals on expressways and their interchanges with freeways would further aggravate traffic conditions. Second, long term solutions of the traffic congestion problem can be realized through concepts other than traffic signals (e.g., roundabouts, grade separation, etc.). We also have to do our best to work with committees and advocacy groups in neighboring communities that have similar or even worse problems like ours. The goal is to present a unified front for sensible traffic congestion solutions.

 

 

 

Pathways

 

Pathways are an important element in the preservation of our Town’s character. For some time the Town has been engaged in updating the maps of the pathways system. A major challenge in this process is handling pathways in annexed areas. Built-up annexations to the town may offer little opportunity for off-road pathways because of rugged and steep terrain. Creating roadside pathways may be a very expensive proposition for the residents. As a Council member, I will work toward finding reasonable and workable solutions to residents’ concerns in the context of a town where our pathways form a large part of our identity.

 

Rentals

 

In the last several years there has been a boom in two types of rentals – short term (from 2 days to 2 weeks) and long term or co-living (from 6 months to 3 years). AirBnB is probably the most active rental company for short term rentals in our town with prices ranging from several hundred to tens of thousands of dollars per night. Co-living is about several thousand dollars per month.

 

At a first glance it would seem that our town would significantly benefit from rentals by introducing the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). Unfortunately, a number of our serene neighborhoods are already negatively impacted by side-effects such as noisy weekend parties and large numbers of cars parked on narrow roads. Furthermore, AirBnB is maturing into longer term bachelor-pad rentals for the army of singles in their twenties working for startups, or one of the Silicon Valley giants, or as post-doc researchers at Stanford. New business models have the potential to disrupt our town’s character if left unchecked. Living next to an upscale frat-house can be a big blow to the peace and tranquility of neighborhood residents.

 

It is time to develop solutions that accommodate new business models while preserving the character of the town.

 

Other External Issues Threatening the Town’s Character

 

Besides the booming economy, our town is also affected through its interactions with (or dependence upon) external agencies who can (and do) impact the way our town is run. Here are some examples:

 

 

 

·         Both the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCO) lay down requirements that cities in the nine Bay Area Counties have to meet. An example of such a requirement is meeting a quota for “low-cost housing”. Thus far the town has been managing this requirement by easing the rules for “secondary dwellings” (also known as in-law units) to encourage the creation of these as new homes are developed or redeveloped. But every 5 years, and as jobs growth takes place, the quota is increased and becomes increasingly harder to meet.

 

 

 

·         New State rules and requirements are constantly being created that impact our town in one way or another. Sometimes the town can choose to formulate its own rules that supersede the State rules (e.g. water conservation, marijuana farming) but sometimes the town just has to comply (e.g. facilities for homeless people, zoning rules that do not block the creation of residential “institutions” such as for the elderly or the handicapped).

 

 

 

·         If a group of residents within the town’s “sphere of influence” desire to be annexed into the town, then this has to be accommodated again as per County requirement. However, a host of problems occur with these acquisitions. The primary ones among these are:

 

 

 

-         the presence of sub-standard lots (i.e. less than one acre in size) and the way the town’s development ordinances can be applied on such lots as they are redeveloped;

 

 

 

-         the planning for pathways through newly annexed areas (a central tenet of the town’s “look and feel”) that was sub-divided, laid out, and developed a long time ago, and without regard to pathways.

 

 

 

·         In theory, the County’s regional traffic and most of its funding is managed by the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). However, other entities (State Highways, County Roads, neighboring municipal jurisdictions) also have an impact. Unless the Town makes a concerted and deliberate effort to be heard in these forums, our desires and the impact on our town will be lost in the sea of competing interests.

 

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