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News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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California living: Los Altos couple update ranch house

photos by elliott burr/town crier Los Altos residents Fran and Bruce Dougherty remodeled their home to showcase wood and light.

It’s apparent that Fran and Bruce Dougherty love this area and have a passion for California-style living.

“The people here are so nice and the area is so beautiful,” said Fran, who wanted their new Los Altos home to blend into the neighborhood of mostly ranch-style houses while capitalizing on the views from their property.

So the Doughertys built a “ranch house updated for today.” They wanted a house with a lot of wood and light – a “simple” house that would bring the outdoors in. And it is simply sensational from an architectural standpoint.

The modest one-story house, with its cedar siding and dark framing, blends into the wooded site and mature landscaping. Inside, materials are traditional but the openness of the floor plan is contemporary.

“These two contrasting effects are complementary and help bridge the history of the neighborhood with today’s lifestyle,” said architect Tanvi Buch of Los Altos. “Many details are reminiscent of Craftsman style, yet it also has Asian touches, which the Doughertys wanted.”

Bruce calls it a “Japanese-American modern ranch.” The tops of the door and window casements, for example, resemble torii gates. And the flat, dark exterior trim gives it the look of a Japanese country house.

“We went through all styles of houses – Tuscan, Mediterranean, two-story – as we moved around the country,” Fran said. “So we were ready for something simple that we could put all kinds of things in.”

The couple lived in Colorado, Minnesota and Ohio before moving to Los Gatos in 1986, where they lived until moving to Los Altos in early 2007.

“We had our first extensive remodel/build experience there by taking two-thirds of a 2,000-square-foot ranch down to the subfloor and rebuilding,” Bruce said.

They decided to move to Los Altos to be nearer to their family and because Bruce had begun selling real estate in this area after retiring from a career in high-tech. (Fran is a former schoolteacher.) They bought a 1950s ranch-style home and lived in it for a year to get the feel of the site, the orientation to the sun.

One day, Bruce happened by the house Buch was building for herself in Los Altos (featured in the Jan. 30, 2008, Town Crier) and liked it so much he later knocked on the door. The rest, as they say, is history.

Rather than remodel, the Doughertys scrapped the old house. Fran remembers the day in April of last year.

“We had just moved out and went by to see what was going on and the house had been leveled. I said to Bruce, ‘It looks like we’re doing it.’”

They moved in last April and the house was finished around them. Dean Di Benedetto of San Jose served as project manager.

The entrance to the house, rather than opening on the street, faces a lush hillside. The back of the property has a fence screening it from a well-traveled road so that all the Doughertys see is a vista of distant foothills.

The double front doors, featuring horizontal wood panels and vertical clear-glass panes, open to an obstructed view through the living room to the backyard, where a pool reflects the sky and trees. An austere stamped-concrete deck adds a Japanese aesthetic to the pool.

A pool house with shower, concealed behind a glass-brick wall, was constructed in a former utility area.

The beamed ceiling in the living room soars to 13 feet at its highest point, with collar beams running horizontally.

There’s a game that’s played in the living room. Look at the granite floor-to-ceiling fireplace wall and see how many figures can be discerned from the occlusions. It’s like modern art, only centuries old, or a Rorschach test. It took a five-man crew two days to install the slabs that appear as a seamless piece of granite nearly 8 feet wide by 13 feet high.

Large undivided glass windows and double glass sliders open the room to the outdoors. Adjacent to the comfortable sitting area in front of the fireplace is the dining area, distinguished by hanging art-glass pendant lights over an heirloom oval rosewood table. Along one wall, Asian artifacts and family treasures are displayed in built-in cabinetry.

Cabinetry and detailing throughout the house is Douglas fir, a warm, visible-grain wood used in Japanese houses. The floors are polished Santos mahogany.

The kitchen/great room is the pièce de résistance with its clerestory windows, collar-beamed ceiling and five-sided island (the angle matches the angled front wall of the room). The island houses a freezer, storage space, shelves for Fran’s cookbooks and a Viking gas cooktop.

Kitchen countertop surfaces are green-ocean granite with a leather treatment – an unpolished, rich finish that emphasizes the striations in the stone. Backsplashes, something called “Falling Water,” resemble a mini brick wall.

The end wall features a modular built-in unit for books, TV and the like. Its horizontal lines are continued on the same plane throughout the house.

A cherrywood harvest table in the great room can seat 10 people – a good thing, because two of their three children and their spouses live in Palo Alto, and the Doughertys frequently have a houseful.

Daughter Melissa, whose husband, Andrew Zeif, is an attorney, was Fran’s “design consultant” and helped with every step of the project. They have two children.

Son Dirk and his wife, Keiko Sato, have three children.

The Doughterys’ other son, Bret, and his wife, Jaydee Cabral, live in New Zealand, where he is a family practitioner. They have two children.

The four-bedroom, 3 1/2-bath house is 3,500 square feet of flowing space.

One of the bedrooms, which Bruce uses as an office, is separated by a pocket door from the master suite. So it’s like an addendum but can be closed off. The large walk-in closet in the master suite has a 10-foot ceiling with built-in storage space to the top.

Fran had wanted a simple house to display favorite “things,” and the bedroom is a good example. A pair of tonsu chests blends perfectly with the contemporary furnishings. In the pantry, she has used an old cupboard from her family’s ranch in Hanford, and in the laundry room is a washboard from her mother’s playhouse.

The architectural style provides the perfect background for their eclectic furnishings. Even the grand piano seems right at home in the living room.

And, everywhere you turn, there are original oil paintings of California scenes, a testament to their love of where they live.

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