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News

DUI, fireworks warnings issued for holiday weekend

DUI, fireworks warnings issued for holiday weekend

Drive Sober

With the Fourth of July holiday weekend unfolding, local law enforcement agencies are eagerly issuing two safety warnings: leave the fireworks to the pros and don’t drink and drive.

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Schools

St. Nicholas Catholic School goes solar

St. Nicholas Catholic School goes solar


Courtesy of SilRay
St. Nicholas School recently added 105 SilRay solar panels to its roof to help reduce energy costs and spread environmental awareness to students.

Los Altos-based SilRay recently completed a solar installation project at St. Nich...

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Community

Bill Almon: LAH resident led fight against quarry to the end

Bill Almon: LAH resident led fight against quarry to the end


Bill Almon, a Los Altos Hills environmental activist who led a prominent campaign to shut down the Lehigh Hanson Cement Plant and quarry, died June 13 after a lengthy illness. Mr. Almon was 83.

A native of St. Louis, Mr. Almon earned a bachelor...

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Sports

SF baseball coach switches to softball

After 10 years as St. Francis High’s baseball coach, Mike Oakland is making the switch to softball.

Oakland – who guided the Lancers to three Central Coast Section titles and six consecutive West Catholic Athletic League crowns – w...

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Comment

Letters to the Editor

Los Altos coyotes must be removed

There have been several coyote attacks in highly populated areas, in broad daylight, in the South Clark Avenue area of Los Altos recently.

These aggressive hunter-scavengers represent a clear danger, not only to pe...

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Special Sections

From derelict to desirable: House flipper transforms old properties into showstoppers

From derelict to desirable: House flipper transforms old properties into showstoppers


Megan V. WInslow/Town Crier
Amy Randazzo purchases older homes in Mountain View to “flip” after they undergo a makeover. Her transformed houses feature open floor plans and she searches for properties with “good bones.”

Amy Randazzo is improving ...

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Business

Young skaters learn to push,  carve and yield downtown

Young skaters learn to push, carve and yield downtown


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Skateworks instructor Andrew Langi teaches Mountain View resident Carter Cox, 8, the rules of the sidewalk.

You’ve seen them downtown: pint-sized athletes, decked in pads and helmets, learning the etiquette of four-wh...

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People

RICHARD MILTON LEWIS

Richard Milton Lewis of Ponte Vedra, Florida, passed away peacefully at home on 13 June 2016. He will be reunited with his wife of 49 years, Claudia Stoney Lewis. He is survived by his four children, twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren...

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News

DUI, fireworks warnings issued for holiday weekend

DUI, fireworks warnings issued for holiday weekend
Drive Sober

With the Fourth of July holiday weekend unfolding, local law enforcement agencies are eagerly issuing two safety warnings: leave the fireworks to the pros and don’t drink and drive.

Readmore

Business

Young skaters learn to push, carve and yield downtown

Young skaters learn to push,  carve and yield downtown

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Skateworks instructor Andrew Langi teaches Mountain View resident Carter Cox, 8, the rules of the sidewalk.

You’ve seen them downtown: pint-sized athletes, decked in pads and helmets, learning the etiquette of four-wheel, two-sneaker navigation from an overseer. But ...

Readmore

Sports

SF baseball coach switches to softball

After 10 years as St. Francis High’s baseball coach, Mike Oakland is making the switch to softball.

Oakland – who guided the Lancers to three Central Coast Section titles and six consecutive West Catholic Athletic League crowns – will try to turn around a softball team coming off ...

Readmore

Community

Bill Almon: LAH resident led fight against quarry to the end

Bill Almon: LAH resident led fight against quarry to the end

Bill Almon, a Los Altos Hills environmental activist who led a prominent campaign to shut down the Lehigh Hanson Cement Plant and quarry, died June 13 after a lengthy illness. Mr. Almon was 83.

A native of St. Louis, Mr. Almon earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the U....

Readmore

Comment

Letters to the Editor

Los Altos coyotes must be removed

There have been several coyote attacks in highly populated areas, in broad daylight, in the South Clark Avenue area of Los Altos recently.

These aggressive hunter-scavengers represent a clear danger, not only to pets, but to children and fragile adults. Humans tha...

Readmore

Spiritual Life

Islam's holy month of fasting, prayer and charity ends with joyful holiday

For the more than 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, Ramadan has begun.

Observed the ninth month of the Islamic calendar (this year beginning at sundown June 6 in the U.S. – dates vary slightly by country), Ramadan is a time of fasting, prayer and charitable activities. It is considered on...

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People

RICHARD MILTON LEWIS

Richard Milton Lewis of Ponte Vedra, Florida, passed away peacefully at home on 13 June 2016. He will be reunited with his wife of 49 years, Claudia Stoney Lewis. He is survived by his four children, twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Richard was born in Topeka, Kansas and was a chi...

Readmore

Schools

St. Nicholas Catholic School goes solar

St. Nicholas Catholic School goes solar

Courtesy of SilRay
St. Nicholas School recently added 105 SilRay solar panels to its roof to help reduce energy costs and spread environmental awareness to students.

Los Altos-based SilRay recently completed a solar installation project at St. Nicholas Catholic School.

Readmore

Special Sections

From derelict to desirable: House flipper transforms old properties into showstoppers

From derelict to desirable: House flipper transforms old properties into showstoppers

Megan V. WInslow/Town Crier
Amy Randazzo purchases older homes in Mountain View to “flip” after they undergo a makeover. Her transformed houses feature open floor plans and she searches for properties with “good bones.”

Amy Randazzo is improving neighborhoods one house at a time.

In fact, that’...

Readmore

Stepping Out

LA Stage Company reveals lineup for 21st season

Los Altos Stage Company recently announced its lineup for its 21st season, scheduled September to June at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

The season’s lineup features two musicals and three plays.

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Obituaries

RICHARD MILTON LEWIS

Richard Milton Lewis of Ponte Vedra, Florida, passed away peacefully at home on 13 June 2016. He will be reunited with his wife of 49 years, Claudia Stoney Lewis. He is survived by his four children, twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Richard was born in Topeka, Kansas and was a chi...

Readmore

Magazine

Aging Matters: Take preventive steps to avoid slips and falls

Aging Matters: Take preventive steps to avoid slips and falls

Courtesy of silver sneakers
An exercise program like Silver Sneakers Fitness can help seniors with strength, balance and flexibility.

The statistics on seniors who slip and fall are startling. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

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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.

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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