Downtown Los Altos

Current Downtown Hot Topic:

A second Downtown Vision Community Workshop will take place Wednesday, November 29, 2017 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Los Altos Youth Center, 1 N San Antonio Road. Community members are invited to review and provide input on the four future scenarios for the Downtown. The consultant team will conduct a number of activities with the workshop participants that are intended to elicit which, or which combination, of the four scenarios best represent how the Downtown should evolve over time. The workshop will be followed by an online engagement opportunity that will run to mid-December so those who did not have an opportunity to attend can provide their thoughts and ideas online. Be on the lookout for a postcard in the mail that will provide more details and information about this opportunity to help shape the future of the Downtown.

Downtown Background

For half a century, Los Altos has retained its village character. It continues to be a primarily residential city.

Los Altos was incorporated as a primarily residential community with limited commercial development. That has changed very little since the city was founded in 1952. Today, more than 80% of Los Altans live in homes they own. The city’s tiny commercial districts continue to play a very small part in Los Altos’ economic life.

For half a century, downtown development was controlled by city codes that limited building heights and required each development to provide for its own parking.

In the twenty-first century, the city began making some exceptions to these codes with the first changes coming at the edges of the downtown triangle, eventually bringing big changes to both First Street and Second Street. The new discussion is about potential changes to the heart of downtown, along Main and State Streets.


In the spring of 2017, the Los Altos City Council issued a $300,000 contract with RRM Design Group to develop a vision for the future development of downtown. Some of the recommendations of the Downtown Buildings Committee and the truncated Parking Committee are expected to be integrated into the final outcome. The consultants designed a survey, in which 1400 people, in a city population of more than 30,000, took part.

The survey closed at midnight, July 7, 2017. Before analyzing the data, the survey’s designers made assumptions that the results would include changes to the present downtown. As they told residents in an email July 8, 2017: “Next, the consultant team will develop a few scenarios of how the Downtown could be altered to meet the community’s desires based on the input collected from the questionnaire as well as information gathered at other community events and the market/economic analysis completed earlier this year.” RRM says it plans to report back to the Los Altos City Council in late August or early September.

More Information

Sign up for official city announcements on the Downtown Vision by clicking here. The City of Los Altos does have a legal vision for downtown, filed with the state under regulations required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which continues through the year 2020. Here’s a link: Community Design and Los Altos.
Read the “Community Engagement” presentation by clicking here.
Read the “Economic Analysis” by clicking here.