The Los Altos Hills Town Council gave a unanimous go-ahead for the town to apply to be an Age-Friendly City from the World Health Organization on Thursday night, a move that would only be made in conjunction with the city of Los Altos.
"It would be a singular honor," said Anabel Pelham, who said she had led research with graduate students using a small grant from the Health Trust. Pelham, a member of the Los Altos-Los Altos Hills Senior Committee, will go before the Los Altos City Council in June.
The designation also would pave the way to attracting private foundation grant money, she said, for improvement projects in the areas of housing, transportation, communication and five other areas in the criteria.
Santa Clara County is expected to see a growth of its over-60 population from 15-23 percent in 2020. Los Altos and Los Altos Hills are already dramatically older. The two cities reached and surpassed that over-60 percentage back in 2005 and are at 24 percent.
"I think there are many factors that are appealing," said Mayor Ginger Summit. "It opens doors for potential funding and for the issues that are identified. There are a lots of positives; I can’t see any negatives."
The proposal acknowledged that the appearance of affluence in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills can be deceiving. It masks the existence of those who are especially at risk: people who lack family and support networks, and older people who are "house-rich but income poor."
Pelham said that both Los Altos and Los Altos Hills already have a good database from the senior questionnaire that was sent out in January, and the joint Senior Committee, which spearheaded that effort, is a deep bench with knowledgeable volunteers. The criteria fits neatly into existing city structures already under way, and she said she felt that an application could be submitted without much delay.
Plus, Pelham noted, "For reasons that are difficult to explain, we have five gerontologists in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills."
In terms of costs to execute any wish list of making the communities age-friendly, some alterations "could be something as simple as something like a bench at a bus stop," Pelham said.
For a full look at the proposal, click on the PDF above and watch the video of the council meeting when it becomes available on the town website.