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Last updateThu, 29 Sep 2016 12pm

News

MV police seek smash-and-grab suspect

MV police seek smash-and-grab suspect

Mountain View Police Department detectives are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a man who smashed the window of a parked vehicle with his hand and stole a laptop inside.

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Schools

Local Scout's Eagle project evolves into pilot program at Sunday Friends

Local Scout's Eagle project evolves into pilot program at Sunday Friends


Courtesy of Terence Lee
Los Altos High School students, from left, Terence Lee, Jane Zhao, Emma Kwan and David Ding are part of EqOpTech, a student-run nonprofit organization that works with Sunday Friends.

What began as an idea for a Boy Scout ...

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Community

Rotary Club of Los Altos speaker shares stories of wrongfully incarcerated

Rotary Club of Los Altos speaker shares stories of wrongfully incarcerated


Aguas-Rao
 

Although incarceration can result in great injustice, lawyers at the Northern California Innocence Project have succeeded in uncovering proof of innocence and restoring freedom to many inmates.

Aaron Aguas-Rao, case manager fo...

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Comment

Letters to the Editor

How to select a councilmember

How to select a councilmember in the Nov. 8 election:

The Los Altos City Council has five members. Three seats are vacant. We need to elect or re-elect three of the six candidates running.

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Special Sections

Home Brief

Filoli has scheduled a new volunteer recruitment event 9:30-11:30 a.m. Oct. 15 at Filoli’s Visitor & Education Center, 86 Cañada Road, Woodside.

Attendees can learn about the many volunteer opportunities at Filoli, including house and gar...

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Business

Owners seek landmark status for LA farmhouse

Owners seek landmark status for LA farmhouse


courtesy of Daniil Reouk
A home on Grant Road in Los Altos built circa 1913 is considered by an architect to be a prime example of the Craftsman style. Originally constructed as a farmhouse, the property stayed within the family until a 2015 sale. ...

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People

KATHLEEN R. GARDNER

KATHLEEN R. GARDNER

February 7, 1924 – September 11, 2016
Resident of Los Altos

Kay passed peacefully away of old age at 92 with her family and caregiver at her son’s house in Los Altos on September 11, 2016. Kay was born in Casper, Wyoming on February 7, 1924 to Earl...

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News

MV police seek smash-and-grab suspect

MV police seek smash-and-grab suspect

Mountain View Police Department detectives are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a man who smashed the window of a parked vehicle with his hand and stole a laptop inside.

Readmore

Business

Owners seek landmark status for LA farmhouse

Owners seek landmark status for LA farmhouse

courtesy of Daniil Reouk
A home on Grant Road in Los Altos built circa 1913 is considered by an architect to be a prime example of the Craftsman style. Originally constructed as a farmhouse, the property stayed within the family until a 2015 sale. The Historical Commission is considering landmark ...

Readmore

Sports

St. Francis steamrolls Riordan

St. Francis steamrolls Riordan

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
St. Francis High defensive lineman Tyler Manoa takes down Riordan receiver Max Mezie. Manoa had eight tackles, including two sacks – the first for a safety – in Friday’s home win.

St. Francis High’s offense – and defense – outscored Ri...

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Community

Rotary Club of Los Altos speaker shares stories of wrongfully incarcerated

Rotary Club of Los Altos speaker shares stories of wrongfully incarcerated

Aguas-Rao
 

Although incarceration can result in great injustice, lawyers at the Northern California Innocence Project have succeeded in uncovering proof of innocence and restoring freedom to many inmates.

Aaron Aguas-Rao, case manager for the Northern California Innocence Project, spoke...

Readmore

Comment

Letters to the Editor

How to select a councilmember

How to select a councilmember in the Nov. 8 election:

The Los Altos City Council has five members. Three seats are vacant. We need to elect or re-elect three of the six candidates running.

Readmore

Spiritual Life

Spiritual Briefs

Baja orphanage founders share experiences Sunday

Bill and Kaye Lawrence, founders of the Rancho Santa Marta orphanage and school for developmentally challenged children in Baja California, are scheduled to speak 9:30 a.m. Sunday at Union Presbyterian Church of Los Altos, 858 University Ave. A light...

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People

KATHLEEN R. GARDNER

KATHLEEN R. GARDNER

February 7, 1924 – September 11, 2016
Resident of Los Altos

Kay passed peacefully away of old age at 92 with her family and caregiver at her son’s house in Los Altos on September 11, 2016. Kay was born in Casper, Wyoming on February 7, 1924 to Earl William Oliver and Annie Catherine (McCagherty) O...

Readmore

Schools

Local Scout's Eagle project evolves into pilot program at Sunday Friends

Local Scout's Eagle project evolves into pilot program at Sunday Friends

Courtesy of Terence Lee
Los Altos High School students, from left, Terence Lee, Jane Zhao, Emma Kwan and David Ding are part of EqOpTech, a student-run nonprofit organization that works with Sunday Friends.

What began as an idea for a Boy Scout Eagle project – which earned Terence Lee a Congres...

Readmore

Special Sections

Home Brief

Filoli has scheduled a new volunteer recruitment event 9:30-11:30 a.m. Oct. 15 at Filoli’s Visitor & Education Center, 86 Cañada Road, Woodside.

Attendees can learn about the many volunteer opportunities at Filoli, including house and garden self-guided tour docents, weekend tour docents...

Readmore

Stepping Out

Fall means Follies at Bus Barn

Fall means Follies at Bus Barn

Richard Mayer/Special to the Town Crier
The cast of the 2016 Los Altos Follies will perform a musical parody titled “Bloviation, Obfuscation and Trepidation” this week at Bus Barn Theater.

The 23rd annual Los Altos Follies, “A Salute to Bloviation, Obfuscation and Trepidation,R...

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Obituaries

KATHLEEN R. GARDNER

KATHLEEN R. GARDNER

February 7, 1924 – September 11, 2016
Resident of Los Altos

Kay passed peacefully away of old age at 92 with her family and caregiver at her son’s house in Los Altos on September 11, 2016. Kay was born in Casper, Wyoming on February 7, 1924 to Earl William Oliver and Annie Catherine (McCagherty) O...

Readmore

Magazine

Local downtowns offer a variety of events and activities in fall and winter

Local downtowns offer a variety of events and activities in fall and winter

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A family walks through the Children's Alley at last year's Los Altos Fall Festival. This year's event, located in the South Parking Plazas between First Street and San Antonio Road, is scheduled Oct. 1 and 2.

As the new school year brings busy times for parents and s...

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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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