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Cranston Announces Legal Action Over First and Main Property

Kim Cranston claims the city is violating the Public Records Act by not releasing a memo that reportedly shows other developers had interest in the city-owned, First and Main streets lot promised to Jeffrey Morris in a sale option agreement.

Downtown property owner Kim Cranston filed suit against the City of Los Altos on Tuesday for violating the California Public Records Act by refusing to release a February 2010 staff memo about the city-owned parcel at First and Main.

Cranston made his announcement of the legal action during the public comments section of Tuesday night's Los Altos City Council meeting.

He alleged that the memo between the city's former Economic Development Coordinator Anne Stedler and former City Manager Doug Schmitz and current Assistant City Manager James Walgren provides proof that city staff misled the city about other developers' interest in developing the property at 400 Main St.

In 2010, the city entered into a sale option agreement with Jeffrey Morris to develop the corner lot previously occupied by Kentucky Fried Chicken, and later a home consignment store. 

Cranston said on Tuesday that Morris' proposal to purchase and develop the property came a year after a city deadline on a request for proposals (RFP). Plus, it included a broker's commission, which he said is prohibited in the RFP process.

And, as a result of excluding other developers, Cranston claimed, the city "probably did not get the best price, nor the best project" for the lot.

Morris recently submitted plans for a two-story mixed use building.  to allow for three stories.

He also claimed that it could possibly cost the city $2 million to replace public parking lost by building Morris' project.

"Even worse, misleading the community about this violated the public trust and was a major disservice to Los Altos’ many honorable and dedicated public servants," Cranston said.

By law, the council cannot discuss any item not listed on the agenda. Members did not respond and asked no questions of Cranston after his statement.

While most of his comments were directed toward city staff, Cranston saved one comment about council for the end of his statement.

"Finally, I think the community deserves to know if any of you who were members of the council then knew that other developers were interested in the property and that the community was misled when it was told the city was open to proposals from other developers."

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