Wed03042015

News

Council considers freezing First St. development

Council considers freezing First St. development


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A pedestrian walks along First Street in downtown Los Altos last week. Future construction on the street could soon be barred by an emergency moratorium on development.

Further construction along First Street could be t...

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Schools

Former NFL player huddles with Blach students about life choices

Former NFL player huddles with Blach students about life choices


Ellie Van HOutte/Town Crier
Former NFL tight end Eason Ramson visited with Blach Intermediate School students, Feb. 13 to share the perils of drug use. Now a motivational speaker, Ramson works with at-risk teens in San Francisco.

Although former ...

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Community

Music for Minors partners with Harvard to expand efforts

Music for Minors partners with Harvard to expand efforts


Palmer

When the thriving Music for Minors began to outgrow its capacity, the local nonprofit organization made new friends.

Beginning in late February, Music for Minors – a Town Crier Holiday Fund recipient – partnered with Harvard Business Sch...

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Comment

Dangerous streets: A Piece of My Mind

I’m driving along El Monte Avenue between Foothill Expressway and Springer Road at approximately 6 p.m. on a midwinter evening. In keeping with the “village feeling” of our town, there are no sidewalks and no streetlights.

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Special Sections

Lions, lambs and Cab Franc for March

Lions, lambs and Cab Franc for March


Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Oven fries, a slice of feta cheese and the bite of harissa mayonnaise make for a late-winter, early-spring dinner perfectly paired with Cabernet Franc.

I can’t help but wonder whether March will come in ...

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Business

Los Altos scientist named Inventor of the Year

Los Altos scientist named Inventor of the Year


Above Photo by Alicia Castro/Town Crier; Below Rendering Courtesy of SST inc.
Robert Showen, above, the Silicon Valley Intellectual Property Lawyers Association’s Inventor of the Year, began researching his ShotSpotter technology in his Los A...

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Books

French novel

French novel "Hunting and Gathering" offers character-driven suspense


Anna Gavalda is a well-known author in her native France, where she has published six books, most of which have met with considerable praise and commercial success. Her fourth novel, “Hunting and Gathering” (Riverhead Books, 2007), is filled ...

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People

HELEN KNOFLOCH

HELEN KNOFLOCH

Aug. 14, 1920 – Feb.12, 2015

Resident of Cupertino

Helen Knofloch, 94, loving wife and devoted mother passed away on Feb. 12th. She was born in Vienna, Austria and moved to Los Altos in 1949, where she met Andy, the love of her life. They resided...

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Travel

Seoul of the city: Korean capital offers mix of old and new

Seoul of the city: Korean capital offers mix of old and new


Ramya Krishna/Special to the Town Crier
Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon public recreation space, above, features an elevated pedestrian bridge.

Seoul, South Korea, is a study in contrasts. Having grown quickly, the city is a mix of old and new.

Using...

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Stepping Out

TheatreWorks jumps into ‘Lake’

TheatreWorks jumps into ‘Lake’


Kevin Berne/Special to the Town Crier
Jason Bowen, from left, Adam Poss and Nilanjana Bose star in “The Lake Effect,” opening this weekend at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto and running through March 29.

The TheatreWorks production ...

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Spiritual Life

Is your thought life sabotaging your spiritual journey?

My computer started having problems – there seemed to be some sort of malware running in the background. At first it was just annoying, then it began to slow down my computer, interfering with its basic operations. What is it doing? Why can...

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Magazine

Local events serve up family fun

Local events serve up family fun


Courtesy of Peninsula Youth Theatre
Peninsula Youth Theatre’s production of “Pecos Bill: A Tall Tale” is slated to open March 20 in Mountain View.

For families seeking a break from the daily routine, events abound this month and next in Los Alto...

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City releases First & Main memo

The city of Los Altos Nov. 30 released an internal memo by a former city employee over developer interest in the city-owned First and Main streets property.

In a statement, the city noted that it released the memo to eliminate “an unnecessary distraction for the newly-elected Los Altos City Councilmembers,” who are slated to be sworn in today.

A PDF copy of the memo and the city's statement have been posted on the city's website, www.losaltosca.gov/pr.html.

The city previously declined to release the memo following a public records request by downtown property owner Kim Cranston in July 2011. Cranston, in turn, filed a lawsuit against the city in May seeking the release of the memo.

The city declined to release the memo on the grounds of deliberative process, according to the statement, “due to concerns that doing so would reflect poorly on a former employee, and would also have a chilling effect on robust City staff debate on internal, pre-decisional, strategic, legal and administrative issues, which increases the quality of City executive decisions.”

The draft memo "was written by a junior staff member who is no longer employed by the City,” the city’s statement continued. “The draft memo, which is now posted on the City’s website … discusses the sale of the City-owned property located at the corner of First and Main Streets, and presents the junior staff member’s opinion that the City should entertain additional proposals. However, the junior staff member did not participate in Council closed sessions in which these issues were discussed with senior City staff members and the City Attorney, and the draft memo contains many factual omissions and inaccuracies.”

The Feb. 14, 2010 memo, written by then-Economic Development Manager Anne Stedler to Assistant City Manager James Walgren and then-City manager Doug Schmitz, came after developer Jeffrey Morris had already expressed interest in developing the property following an unsuccessful 2008 Request for Proposal (RFP) process, the city’s statement noted.

Among other things, Stedler suggested in the memo the need for a third Request for Proposal (RFP) after an unnamed developer expressed interest in the property as well. Stedler noted that the unnamed developer – referred to in the memo as “ND” – expressed interest in purchasing and developing the property with the “caveat that their project would involve the relocation of Safeway.” The memo identifies “ND” as a developer who at the time was in negotiations for the Cottage Green site on First Street, among other details.

The city later finalized an agreement with Morris following a weeklong postponement “to allow the new, unnamed developer an opportunity to come forward,” but failed to do so within that time period and during subsequent public input opportunities at city council meetings in February and September of 2010, the statement read. The city council later approved Morris’ proposed project in September of this year.

The city’s statement also addressed allegations that the sale of the property to Morris was illegal, noting that it engaged the services of an outside law firm to seek an unbiased opinion about the legality of the sale by not issuing another RFP.

“The total cost to obtain that opinion was $25,698,” the statement read. “Once the opinion was received it was made public and is now posted on the City’s website … it found that the sale was legal and followed best practices.”

Finally, the statement noted that the city spent approximately $15,000 to prevent the release of the memo, instead of the $30,000 previously reported by various publications.

For more on this story, read the Dec. 5 edition of the Los Altos Town Crier.

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