01222017Sun
Last updateTue, 17 Jan 2017 4pm

News

New LA council agrees to discuss proposed park

More than six hours after the Los Altos City Council welcomed its newest member, councilmembers voted narrowly in favor of entering an exclusive negotiating agreement with Los Altos Community Investments to discuss the possibility of a park and under...

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Schools

Covington hosts Abilities Awareness Week

Covington hosts Abilities Awareness Week


Traci Newell/Town Crier
Covington School sixth graders learn about fine motor school difficulties some students might have by trying to button up a coat with socks on their hands.

Covington School students gained an understanding of the struggles o...

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Community

Chaperone facilitates parent carpools to ease traffic at school drop-off times

Chaperone facilitates parent carpools to ease traffic at school drop-off times


Photo Courtesy of Shrikant Nasikkar
Los Altos resident Shrikant Nasikkar developed the Chaperone app to facilitate the process of establishing carpool rides to and from school. He said carpools are not only environmentally beneficial, but they als...

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Sports

MV boys use speed, top Mustangs 54-40

MV boys use speed, top Mustangs 54-40


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Tommy Resnick led the Mountain View High boys in scoring Friday night.

Friday against Homestead, the Mountain View High boys showed off the versatility that makes them such a dangerous basketball team.

Although the h...

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Comment

Letters to the Editor

Rest in peace, Dr. Hardy Jones

We lost a true Los Altos icon and a man of great warmth, artistic talent, intelligence, love and, definitely (beyond a shadow of a doubt), a positive attitude that was unmatched. Dr. Hardy Jones passed away Dec. 28 wi...

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Special Sections

Health care on demand from Mountain View service

Health care on demand from Mountain View service


Courtesy of Direct Urgent Care
Dr. Ceasar Djavaherian is the president of Direct Urgent Care.

For most doctors in Silicon Valley, melding technology and medicine means cutting-edge machines performing high-powered work backed by Sand Hill Road ventu...

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Business

New business promises spa service, without the spa

New business promises spa service, without the spa


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Mountain View resident Brooke Rankins receives an in-home pedicure from Lily Ly. Ly has a contract with Wilo Spa, a new company which offers spa services in customers’ homes. Wilo Spa opened in November and allows ...

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People

News

New LA council agrees to discuss proposed park

More than six hours after the Los Altos City Council welcomed its newest member, councilmembers voted narrowly in favor of entering an exclusive negotiating agreement with Los Altos Community Investments to discuss the possibility of a park and underground parking on First Street.

The agreement pas...

Readmore

Business

New business promises spa service, without the spa

New business promises spa service, without the spa

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Mountain View resident Brooke Rankins receives an in-home pedicure from Lily Ly. Ly has a contract with Wilo Spa, a new company which offers spa services in customers’ homes. Wilo Spa opened in November and allows customers to arrange appointments by text. About 8...

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Sports

MV boys use speed, top Mustangs 54-40

MV boys use speed, top Mustangs 54-40

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Tommy Resnick led the Mountain View High boys in scoring Friday night.

Friday against Homestead, the Mountain View High boys showed off the versatility that makes them such a dangerous basketball team.

Although the host Spartans couldn’t match the Mustangs’ size, th...

Readmore

Community

Chaperone facilitates parent carpools to ease traffic at school drop-off times

Chaperone facilitates parent carpools to ease traffic at school drop-off times

Photo Courtesy of Shrikant Nasikkar
Los Altos resident Shrikant Nasikkar developed the Chaperone app to facilitate the process of establishing carpool rides to and from school. He said carpools are not only environmentally beneficial, but they also facilitate friendships by bringing people togeth...

Readmore

Comment

Letters to the Editor

Rest in peace, Dr. Hardy Jones

We lost a true Los Altos icon and a man of great warmth, artistic talent, intelligence, love and, definitely (beyond a shadow of a doubt), a positive attitude that was unmatched. Dr. Hardy Jones passed away Dec. 28 with, according to his wife, Jane, a smile on his fa...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos church parishioners mourn drowning deaths of mother, child

Los Altos church parishioners mourn drowning deaths of mother, child

Courtesy of Fritz Schneider
The Claassen family

Christ Episcopal Church and Ventana School in Los Altos are mourning the loss of Polly and Trent Claassen, a mother and son who died Jan. 6 after drowning in a pond while on a trip to Kansas.

Polly Claassen was the church’s friendly, outgoing y...

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Schools

Covington hosts Abilities Awareness Week

Covington hosts Abilities Awareness Week

Traci Newell/Town Crier
Covington School sixth graders learn about fine motor school difficulties some students might have by trying to button up a coat with socks on their hands.

Covington School students gained an understanding of the struggles of fellow students with learning challenges Jan. 5 ...

Readmore

Special Sections

Health care on demand from Mountain View service

Health care on demand from Mountain View service

Courtesy of Direct Urgent Care
Dr. Ceasar Djavaherian is the president of Direct Urgent Care.

For most doctors in Silicon Valley, melding technology and medicine means cutting-edge machines performing high-powered work backed by Sand Hill Road venture capital. But for Caesar Djavaherian, M.D., medi...

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Stepping Out

TheatreWorks commits (to) 'Crimes'

TheatreWorks commits (to) 'Crimes'

Kevin Berne/Special to the Town Crier
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s “Crimes of the Heart” stars, from left, Therese Plaehn, Lizzie O’Hara and Sarah Moser as sisters Lenny, Babe and Meg McGrath, respectively.

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley is scheduled to perform “Crimes of the Heart” through Feb....

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Magazine

Holidays in the heat: Commemorate Christmas south of the equator

Holidays in the heat: Commemorate Christmas south of the equator

Courtesy of Camping
Patrons of Camping, a restaurant in Buenos Aires, enjoy the warm weather during last year’s holiday season.

When I relocated from Mountain View to Buenos Aires in July, I knew I’d be stepping into winter. I packed my rain boots and heavy coat, and I set aside my longing for a p...

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Los Altos builder crafts signature homes


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bob Owen of Owen Signature Homes has built hundreds of local homes, including the Los Altos Hills residence above. Bob and his son Shawn are currently constructing a steel home in Los Altos, below.

Bob Owen loves to build houses. In fact, he’s built so many that he’s lost count.


“It’s in the hundreds,” said Owen, a product of Los Altos whose firm, Owen Signature Homes, is marking its 43rd year.


Construction runs in his blood. His father, who died at 42, founded G.H. Owen Construction in Los Altos.


“I was just a kid then,” said Owen, who raised his then 9-year-old brother.


Although Owen liked helping out in the family business as a youth, he wondered why anyone would want to be a building contractor given the ups and downs of the economy. With his parents’ hard times in mind, he changed course, graduating with a degree in finance and business from Brigham Young University.


He worked in the finance departments at Westinghouse Electric Corp. and Varian Associates Inc. before becoming disenchanted with the corporate world.


“Business is all politics, and I wanted to do something on my own,” Owen said. “I loved construction as a kid. It was so gratifying at the end of the day to stand back and look at something I had done.”


With that in mind and lessons learned from his father, he purchased a lot in Los Altos on a handshake – “I had no money” – and built his first spec house. He drew the plans, poured the foundation and did the framing and just about everything himself.


His “signature” home led to contracts for 10 more. Intel Corp.’s Andy Grove was among the first potential buyers to tour the house.


Since then, Owen’s business has grown – along with his reputation.


“He’s intensely professional,” said Peter Detkin of Los Altos Hills. “He and his team were good about communicating with us every step of the way.”


Detkin and his wife, Michelle, are “thrilled” with their custom home.


“We moved in a few weeks ago and continue to get very good service,” he said.


The couple’s spacious home with its media and exercise rooms is worlds away from the ranch homes popular when Owen started out.


Changing with the times


“In the ’70s, living spaces were defined. Every house had a living room, dining room, kitchen and family room,” Owen said. “Now there are open floor plans and great rooms.”


More people today eschew living rooms, but Owen believes a house should at least have a parlorlike area away from the action for sitting and relaxing.


“Homes in the ’70s and ’80s were pretty dark inside – now it’s just the opposite,” he said, citing the desire for volume, high ceilings, skylights, more glass and natural light.


“Houses were more budget-driven when I started out,” Owen added. “Now people have more money to venture out. And, the clientele is getting younger.”


Among the other trends Owen has noted as his construction career has evolved:


• Kitchens. There are more appliances and convenience items, such as built-in coffeemakers priced upwards of $2,000. Everything is gas. Islands are prevalent and are being “loaded up,” although Owen disdains cooktops in islands. Four or five ovens in a house are not uncommon. He recently installed a steamer oven.


• Basements and elevators. Owen has been building basements for 10 to 15 years, but they’re au courant because “people want a house as big as it can possibly be,” he said, which means going underground. He cited the example of a 12,000-square-foot house being built on a 1-acre lot. Elevators are becoming more commonplace because of multilevel dwellings and an aging population.


• Bigger rooms and specialty rooms. One of Owen’s clients wanted 20-foot-by-20-foot bedrooms for the children and a 20-foot-by-25-foot master bedroom. Media rooms, home theaters, game rooms, gyms, home offices and storage rooms have replaced dens and TV rooms.


• High-tech electronics. Think smart houses.


Builder and customer satisfaction


Does Owen have a favorite house or project?


“I love them all” is his ready reply.


What about a favorite architectural style?


“I like Mediterranean and traditional,” he paused. “And comfortable houses and ones that have a little more country feeling. I’m often asked what style I am noted for. My answer is, ‘Yes.’ Doing something different is exciting and so much fun. I like to be a trendsetter.”


His main goal is to satisfy his clients. His son Shawn, vice president and active in the business for a quarter of a century, shares the mission.


“We work hard to make clients think their house is the only one we’re building, although we may have 10 to 15 projects going at a time,” Owen said.


He is able to control costs more and accommodate clients’ needs because he is both architect and builder. There are four sets of eyes on every project – his, Shawn’s, the architect’s and the supervisor’s.


“There are two rewards for me – to see what I’ve built and to have happy clients move in,” Owen said.

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Submit a Letter to the Editor

The Town Crier welcomes letters to the editor on current events pertinent to Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Write to us at 138 Main St., Los Altos 94022, Attn: Editor, or email editor Bruce Barton at bruceb@latc.com. Because editorial space is limited, please confine letters to no more than 200 words. Include a phone number for verification purposes. Anonymous letters will not be printed.

You can also have your say right here at losaltosonline.com – scroll to the bottom of any story to add a comment. 

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