Yes. Very simply, we need them because they provide a valuable service to the community. We have a nice variety of banks including national and local brands. There's a debate in City Hall about the presence of two banks at the corner of 3rd and Main Streets in downtown Los Altos. There is a committee being formed to discuss the merits of removing those banks. The idea is that they take up a lot of space, don't generate much foot traffic, and break up the retail on Main Street. That's all true, but...
We need those banks downtown. They offer an important service that our residents need. They also do bring foot traffic as people come downtown for the banks then head off to run other errands. So, the solution to this issue is to approach these banks and the land owners with a proposition:
- Identify locations on 1st-3rd streets as alternate locations
- Identify smaller spaces that cost less to operate (better for the banks)
- Work with the bank on a relocation strategy
- Work with the land-owners of the existing sites on future uses
- Develop a real plan to implement strong retail at those corner locations
Personally, a bank located in a smaller space next to a high-traffic retail store is a huge win for both the bank and the town. However, this has to be approached as a partnership all the way around. If we want Anthropologie or Pottery Barn where the Chase Bank is located, that's a HUGE win for Los Altos. It could be a big win for the bank too with more people just walking by who might need their services. That's the sort of "co-location" strategy that creates a winning proposal for everyone. It just needs to be discussed openly with everyone involved and not just a unilateral debate in City Hall.
My advice for everyone involved in this is to sit down and really hash out something along the lines of the proposal above. Identify the "wins" for everyone and work out a real strategy to implement them.