Wed10222014

News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Suzanne Bell chimes in with fashion tips online

Suzanne Bell chimes in with fashion tips online


Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Suzanne Bell strikes a pose in downtown Los Altos recently. Having fun with fashion – and offering good advice – is the basis for Bell’s new website, ask-suzanne-bell.com.

Suzanne Bell of Los Altos has, as s...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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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

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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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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Officials say Brown Act suspension won't cloud transparency


Photo By:
Somers

Transparency hawks who watch council meetings online or expect posted agenda notices in advance of public hearings can thank the 1953 Brown Act. The state’s budget shortfall, however, could throw a wrench in the transparency cherished by watchdogs.

The State Legislature last month deferred portions of the act, which mandates transparency and reporting accountability from local legislative bodies and guarantees open meetings.

The Budget Act of 2012 (AB 1464) suspends state reimbursement of expenses incurred by local governments under the Brown Act until 2015, allowing cities to legally bypass mandates such as posting agendas 72 hours in advance of meetings and disclosing closed-session decisions.

City officials in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills said they do not plan to alter their level of transparency, even if it comes at their own expense.

 

No change in Los Altos

The suspended Brown Act mandates won’t change anything in Los Altos, according to Mayor Val Carpenter.

“I’m confident that the city of Los Altos will continue to comply with all aspects of the Brown Act, including posting meeting agendas and reporting out of closed sessions,” Carpenter said in a statement released to the Town Crier. “The Los Altos City Council and staff are committed to being as transparent as we can be to ensure that our residents and other stakeholders are kept fully informed on issues that matter to them.”

In an email to the Town Crier, City Manager Marcia Somers noted that the July 24 city council meeting agenda includes an item affirming the city’s commitment “to continue following existing Brown Act procedures despite the state suspending reimbursement for a portion of those costs.”

The city currently webcasts live and archives all city council meetings (except closed sessions), special meetings and Planning and Transportation Commission meetings, at a cost of approximately $150,000 for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

In addition, the city posts agendas, staff reports and additional documents online and publicizes regular meetings 72 hours in advance.

Somers said the city last submitted a $33,000 invoice for partial reimbursement of Brown Act mandates during the 2010-2011 fiscal year. She conceded that the city hasn’t received a reimbursement check “in the last few years,” noting the state’s budget woes.

Nevertheless, Councilman Ron Packard told the Town Crier the city would continue its Brown Act practices in a business-as-usual manner.

“I think that Los Altos residents expect a level of transparency that only can result from continued full compliance with the Brown Act,” he said.

 

Los Altos Hills still onboard

Los Altos Hills City Clerk Deborah Padovan said the town won’t change any of its practices and will continue to adhere to the Brown Act mandates.

The town makes meeting agendas and minutes available to residents and broadcasts its council meetings live. According to Padovan, the video feed received 200 views from May 1 through June 29, and the tool is growing in popularity.

Los Altos Hills officials said measures that require transparency are important even without state mandate.

“More people watching at home means more people attending meetings,” Padovan said.

 

LASD moves forward

Los Altos School District Superintendent Jeff Baier said the district’s legal counsel claimed that the recent updates to the Brown Act don’t affect school districts.

Despite the immunity, the district plans to broadcast its board meetings on KMVT and catalog them on the Internet beginning in the fall, Baier said.

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