Wed04012015

News

Council eyes bond for Hillview center

Council eyes bond for Hillview center


Rendering courtesy of city of Los Altos
The Los Altos City Council accepted an $87.5 million cost model for its preferred layout for replacing Hillview Community Center. Red lines indicate vehicle access points, and yellow lines represent pedestri...

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Schools

Oak students showcase creativity in Destination Imagination competitions

Oak students showcase creativity in Destination Imagination competitions


Courtesy of Jane Lee Choe
The Sharp Cheddars, a team of Oak Avenue School sixth-graders, perform at the Destination Imagination state competition Saturday in Riverside.

A team of seven Oak Avenue School sixth-graders traveled to Riverside last week...

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Community

Heising-Simons Foundation relocates to 400 Main St. property in Los Altos

Heising-Simons Foundation relocates to 400 Main St. property in Los Altos


Bruce Barton/Town Crier
All in the family: Mark Heising, from left, Caitlin Heising and Elizabeth Simons make up the board of the eight-year-old Heising-Simons Foundation, now in its new headquarters at 400 Main St. in downtown Los Altos.

The He...

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Comment

What would Bob do?: Editorial

The recent passing of an extraordinary Los Altos resident, Bob Grimm, has generated a range of heartfelt reaction, from sympathy to fond memories, from all corners. That’s because Bob did not discriminate in his desire to help others with his money, ...

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Special Sections

Cars that are right on track

Cars that are right on track


Courtesy of BMW
The BMW M4 is packed with power, featuring 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque.

There’s nothing more fun than driving a responsive automobile that feels alive in the curves and eager to go when given more than a touch ...

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Business

First Street's 'Fort Knox' up for sale

First Street's 'Fort Knox' up for sale


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
The Los Altos Vault and Safe Deposit Co. is on the market for $4.5 million. Its fortified steel and concrete structure has been compared to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s gold depository.

A downtown Los Altos structure “b...

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Books

'Pope Joan' Book weaves tale around legend of female pontiff

'Pope Joan' Book weaves tale around legend of female pontiff


The idea that there may have a female pope at one time in history has generated much speculation throughout the centuries. “Pope Joan” (Crown, 1996) by Donna Woolfolk Cross, does not answer the question; rather, the author has created a detai...

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People

JOHN BATISTICH

JOHN BATISTICH

John Batistich of Los Altos Hills died peacefully on March 12 surrounded by his family. John is survived by his wife Claire Batistich (Vidovich) of 67 years and children Gary Batistich of Lodi and Gay Batistich Abuel-Saud of Menlo Park. He is also ...

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Travel

Eat, hike, soak: Cavallo Point Lodge offers Marin experience

Eat, hike, soak: Cavallo Point Lodge offers Marin experience


Eren Göknar/ Town Crier
Cavallo Point Lodge comprises former U.S. Army buildings, like the Mission Blue Chapel, repurposed for guests seeking a luxurious getaway.

It used to be a place where batteries of soldiers lived, with officers’ quarter...

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Stepping Out

'Fire' ignites in Mtn. View

'Fire' ignites in Mtn. View


Courtesy of Kevin Berne
The cast of “Fire on the Mountain,” includes, from left, Tony Marcus, Harvy Blanks, Molly Andrews and Robert Parsons.

TheatreWorks is slated to present the regional premiere of the musical “Fire on the Mountain” this wee...

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Spiritual Life

Spiritual Life Briefs

Oshman JCC hosts Judaism and Science Symposium

The Oshman Family Jewish Community Center has scheduled its inaugural Judaism and Science Symposium, “An Exploration of the Convergence of Jewish & Scientific Thought,” 5 p.m. April 12 at the JCC’s ...

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Magazine

Food for thought: Hidden Villa programs offer teens training in sustainability on the farm

Food for thought: Hidden Villa programs offer teens training in sustainability on the farm


/Town Crier It’s not all cute and cuddly for teens participating in the eight-week Animal Husbandry Apprenticeship program at Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills. Mia Mosing of Palo Alto, left, and Sophia Jackson of Los Altos clean the pigpens – one of...

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Report urges changes in county fire department

The vast majority of calls the Santa Clara County Fire Department receives are for medical emergencies, but firefighters “over-deploy” costly resources and respond with equipment and personnel better suited for battling a blaze, according to a county civil grand jury report released last week.

Los Altos, with fire stations on Almond and Fremont avenues, has contracted with the Santa Clara County Fire Department since 1996.

The 12-member civil grand jury, a watchdog group, claims that ambulance personnel, who respond after fire engines if necessary, could more effectively and inexpensively handle the “overwhelming” number of medical calls currently served by $500,000 engines. Now, one EMT-trained firefighter rides with three to four other non-EMTs on a call.

“Taxpayers can no longer afford to fund the status quo,” the report asserted. “Given that approximately 70 percent of calls to the department are reporting medical emergencies rather than fire … there appears to be a mismatch between services needed and services provided.”

The civil grand jury report suggests that firefighters began obtaining paramedic certification in the 1970s to remain relevant when building codes started to require flame-retardant materials. According to the report, approximately 4 percent of the department’s calls are for actual fires.

County fire chief Ken Kehmna, appointed to the top spot in May, has 90 days to formally respond to the report’s findings. He said in an interview last week that he looks forward to exploring opportunities to increase efficiency.

“This gives us an opportunity to open dialogue and talk about various things, which is good,” he said, declining to say whether or not he agreed with the grand jury’s findings. “We’re always looking for opportunities to improve our operational model.”

Los Altos spends approximately $5 million of its $28 million annual budget on its contract with the county fire department, according to Los Altos Assistant City Manager J. Logan.

“Having worked very closely with county fire … they provide a gold-plate service to the community,” she said. “But it’s very costly – it’s a very rigid business model and does not give us the ability to control costs. … That’s what we’re concerned about.”

The civil grand jury report agrees that maintaining response times amid any protocol changes is crucial, but it insisted that the current situation could force cities’ departments to close altogether. Spreading resources more broadly, it says, would prevent shuttering doors.

But standing in the way of change, the report noted, is the politically powerful firefighters’ union, which the grand jury said focuses on “sustaining old models, entrenched expectations and ongoing entitlements at the expense of better-performing, more efficient fire departments.”

Kehmna, who isn’t part of the union, said he preferred to issue a response in writing, saying only that the agency has an “outstanding relationship with its union.”

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