Wed02102016

News

SPLAT targets data, outreach as airplane noise continues

SPLAT targets data, outreach as airplane noise continues


Graphic courtesy of Don Gardner
Activists claim that a new SFO flight path leaves a “sound shadow” that impacts Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

Sky Posse Los Altos Team – more simply known as SPLAT – seeks to squelch the noise...

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Schools

Los Altos High student-run charity plans '5 Gallon Gala'

Los Altos High student-run charity plans '5 Gallon Gala'


Courtesy of Lia Evard
Water by Youth members gave Egan students a chance to carry a 40-pound Jerry can, to see how difficult it is to obtain water in developing nations.

Water by Youth, a club at Los Altos High School, is making a splash by pla...

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Community

What would you do with a box of cookies? Local Girls Scouts help Tanzanian orphanage

What would you do with a box of cookies? Local Girls Scouts help Tanzanian orphanage


Courtesy of Alicia Madden
Sales of local Girl Scout cookies support service projects, such as funding an orphanage in the village of Mto wa Mbu in Tanzania.

Girl Scout cookies – whether you think of them as a treat, a tradition or a diet comp...

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Sports

Scoreless spells sink LA boys

Scoreless spells sink LA boys


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High point guard Nolan Brennan attempts a shot in Friday’s game versus Palo Alto. He scored eight points in the loss.

There have been several games this season in which the Los Altos High boys basketball t...

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Comment

New 'York' values

New 'York' values


Hughes

 

As we have witnessed California suffer through one of its worst droughts in history over the past few years, all of us, I’m sure, have been keenly aware of our surroundings and have done a small part in trying to conserve wa...

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Special Sections

Getting a charge  out of the Volt

Getting a charge out of the Volt


Courtesy of Chevrolet
The 2016 Chevrolet Volt can be driven up to 50 miles on the power stored in its batteries.

Just five years ago, we wondered in this column what the power supply would be for the car of the future. Gasoline, diesel, electric ba...

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Business

Nearing V-Day: Shops stock sweets, treats

Nearing V-Day: Shops stock sweets, treats


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos resident Ella Roosakos, 11, with her mother, Gail, puzzles over which Gourmet Works sweets to buy as a valentine for Ella’s friend.

The gift-buying rush isn’t exclusive to Christmas. It may jump over...

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People

ALAN RODNEY MILLS

ALAN RODNEY MILLS

Alan Rodney Mills, PhD, 83, of Los Altos passed away peacefully on Saturday, January 30th, 2016. He was born in Rochdale, England in 1933 and came to California in 1962. He was a proud alumni of Manchester Grammar in England, University of Liverpoo...

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Stepping Out

PYT 'Gets Famous'

PYT 'Gets Famous'


Lyn Flaim Healy/Spotlight Moments Photography
Renee Vetter of Palo Alto, left, and Megan Foreman of Los Altos star in Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Judy Moody Gets Famous.” Performances are scheduled Friday and Saturday.

Peninsula...

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Spiritual Life

A time to prepare: Fasting for Lent isn't limited to food

 

Today is Ash Wednesday, which in the Christian calendar marks the beginning of Lent – the 40 days of preparation for Resurrection Sunday, otherwise known as Easter.

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Inside Mountain View

New right-to-lease ordinance promises relief for renters

New right-to-lease ordinance promises relief for renters


Mountain View Tenants Coalition/Facebook
Residents gather in the fall to protest Mountain View’s rising rents. Rent relief is on the way in the form of a new ordinance.

A controversial Mountain View law requiring landlords to provide lease opt...

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Los Altos libraries face uncertain future with county affiliation: Officials explore ways

Charging nonresidents a fee to check out materials at Los Altos’ main and Woodland libraries is unacceptable, several speakers said at the North County Library Authority (NCLA) special meeting June 13.

Los Altos Hills Councilman Jean Mordo, an NCLA member, voted in favor of the $80 library card fee April 28 as a member of the Santa Clara County Library District Joint Powers Authority (JPA) board but said he regretted his action soon afterward. Mordo called the five-member meeting to discuss ways to offset the fee, effective July 1 for district nonresidents – especially students and volunteers.

“The issue is how to help nonresidents with the $80 fee,” he said. “We need a study to figure out the numbers.”

Eight of the 11 members on the JPA board voted unanimously for the fee to mitigate the impending $1.3 million in state budget cuts for the county library district, part of $30.4 million in cuts for libraries statewide. Cuts include approximately $800,000 in Transaction Based Reimbursement funds the Los Altos libraries receive for being a net lender to nonresidents.

The use of Los Altos’ libraries will remain free for residents of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, but those who live in cities that do not belong to the county library district – like Mountain View – will have to pay for the privilege beginning next month.

The county library district serves residents of Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Saratoga and the county’s unincorporated areas.

Of 67,647 total Los Altos libraries cardholders, 20,739 are nondistrict residents subject to the $80 annual library card fee, according to Melinda Cervantes, county librarian.

Reacting to criticism from the community – especially regarding nondistrict students who often study together and use the same library – JPA staff members June 2 adopted a free limited student card. Students attending preschool through high school whose district boundaries overlap the county library district boundaries are eligible for the card, which allows students to check out five items and place two on hold.

“The student card is a significant improvement,” Mordo said. “I wanted all the students in the county to have access to the libraries – including community college students – but got no support from the other (JPA) members.”

Mordo’s wife, Barbara, a longtime community volunteer and member of the Foothill College Commission, said she finds turning college students away “abhorrent.”

NCLA members decided to have their city councils communicate to the district library staff their suggestion that the JPA board consider an exemption for all students, from preschool to college.

Another segment of the population Mordo and other members want to subsidize is library volunteers, many of whom live outside the district. “Our communities thrive on volunteerism,” Los Altos mayor and NCLA member Ron Packard said.

Val Carpenter, Los Altos councilwoman and NCLA member, suggested using the $10,000 contingency amount toward 125 library cards to allow volunteers free access to materials.

NCLA members supported Carpenter’s motion to form a subcommittee to work with members of the Los Altos Library Endowment and Friends of the Los Altos Library and Community to develop a plan to implement her suggestion and report back at the next meeting, scheduled 5 p.m. June 29.

Will Los Altos and LAH check out of district?

Numbers show that it doesn’t make fiscal sense for Los Altos and Los Altos Hills to remain part of the Santa Clara County Library District, according to Los Altos Hills Councilman Jean Mordo.

Mordo called a special meeting of the North County Library Authority (NCLA) June 13 to begin exploring the cities’ withdrawal from the library district.

“(The county library district) is an outstanding system, but this is purely due to economics,” he said. “We contribute more than we get back. I’m concerned about not getting our fair share.”

According to county librarian Melinda Cervantes, the district’s estimated operating budget for 2011-2012 totals $35.8 million. A major share of its $32.2 million revenue – $23.6 million, or 74 percent – comes from property taxes from the cities it serves: Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Saratoga and the unincorporated areas of the county.

Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and the unincorporated areas contribute approximately 22.2 percent in property taxes to the district. But their share back from the district for next year, according to a predetermined formula based on a combination of circulation, property taxes and population, is less – 16.87 percent.

The calculations are very complex, but it’s apparent that there’s a “significant shortfall,” which could translate to several thousand dollars, Mordo said. Comparing the pros and cons of remaining part of the district, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages, he said.

The recent approval of an $80 library card fee for nondistrict users of the Los Altos libraries left Mordo frustrated. He felt the district was turning away users from nonmember cities including Mountain View and San Jose.

“We subsidize more than anyone else,” he said. “We can do the functions they do – only much cheaper. (The district) has an expensive and restrictive labor contract with high benefits.”

When asked by Los Altos Mayor Ron Packard, an NCLA member, how much revenue the $80 fee would generate for the district, Cervantes said “about $200,000 – it’s a complicated situation.”

District staff has already engaged in several cost-cutting measures, according to Cervantes.

When Packard asked for clarification on the financial repercussions of withdrawing from the district, Cervantes replied that cities would have to forfeit the funds previously received from the district should they withdraw.

“The library district offers a significant economy of scale through centralized services that would need to be duplicated if withdrawing from the district,” she said. “Size does matter when it comes to negotiating contracts with vendors and suppliers.”

Packard agreed that Los Altos and Los Altos Hills do contribute much more than they receive per the complicated formula.

“I’m in favor of conducting a study (to withdraw from the district),” he said.

“We have a new set of circumstances, and I think it’s about time,” Los Altos Hills resident and NCLA member Jim Lai said.

The five-member NCLA voted 4-1 to have their city councils discuss and possibly support the issue before embarking on an exploratory study. Los Altos Councilwoman Val Carpenter cast the dissenting vote.

“I’m opposed to spending that kind of money, or even half that,” she said. “We have an award-winning library district. We offer longer hours, better selections and better services.”

The two city councils are scheduled to discuss the issue at their meetings before the next NCLA meeting, scheduled June 29.

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