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News

Street crack-sealing project begins Monday, May 4

The City of Los Altos is beginning a city-wide street crack-sealing project on Monday (May 4).

City officials said the traffic impact for this project will be minimal. No streets will be closed and vehicles can resume normal traffic flow shortly aft...

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Schools

Homestead students use projects  to solve environmental problems

Homestead students use projects to solve environmental problems


Alisha Parikh/Special to the Town Crier
Homestead High School junior Maya Dhar, a Los Altos resident, left, and classmate Carolyn MacDonald support the school’s AP Environmental Science classes at the Arbor Day Festival April 23.

As summer app...

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Community

CHAC appoints new leader

CHAC appoints new leader

Naomi Nakano-Matsumoto, LCSW, has been named the new executive director of the Community Health Awareness Council (CHAC). A seasoned nonprofit leader, Nakano-Matsumoto is scheduled to assume duties July 1. She takes over for outgoing executive direct...

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Sports

St. Francis swimmers shine

St. Francis swimmers shine


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Benjamin Ho competes against Sacred Heart Cathedral Thursday. The junior swam on all three victorious relays at the home meet, which the Lancers won easily.

Flexing its power in the pool, host St....

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Comment

Halsey House deserves preservation: Other Voices

Halsey House deserves preservation: Other Voices


Many contributing supporters to the Friends of Historic Redwood Grove believe that the Halsey House, designated a historic landmark by the Los Altos City Council in 1981, deserves to be saved and renovated for adapted use by the community.

Set in ...

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Special Sections

Sneaky shots: A photographer’s guide to capturing the proposal

Sneaky shots: A photographer’s guide to capturing the proposal


Elliott Burr/Special to the Town Crier
A stealthy photographer scouts locations ahead of time to find not just a place to perch, but also the ideal position for the subjects.

It’s showtime.

You’re about to ask the person in front of...

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Business

Pharmaca celebrates grand opening over weekend

Pharmaca celebrates grand opening over weekend


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Pharmaca is coming to 400 Main St. with a grand-opening celebration scheduled Saturday and Sunday.

If natural health and beauty products are your cup of tea, expect to find them – and hot tea – this weekend at the gran...

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Books

People

JANE BUTTERFIELD PRINGLE LYND

JANE BUTTERFIELD PRINGLE LYND

October 30, 1924 - April 8, 2015

Jane Butterfield Pringle Lynd, daughter to Liebert and Elise Butterfield of San Francisco, passed away quietly at her home in Palo Alto surrounded by her family, following a short illness. Jane was a proud third ge...

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Travel

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers


Natalie Elefant/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident Natalie Elefant noted the vibrant street performances as a traveler in Cuba.

The U.S. restored diplomatic relations with Cuba late last year, enabling Americans to import $100 worth of cig...

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Stepping Out

'Birds' landing in Mtn. View

'Birds' landing in Mtn. View


Ray Renati/Special to the Town Crier
The Pear Avenue Theatre production of Paul Braverman’s “Birds of a Feather” stars Troy Johnson as mafia boss Sean Kineen, left, and Diane Tasca as private eye Frankie Payne.

Pear Avenue Theatre’s world premi...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon


tanya kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Shrub manzanitas are known for their sinuous mahogany trunks and branches. If the foliage hides the bark, prune selectively to open the center so that the bark is visible year-round. This Montara manzanita is ...

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Inside Mountain View

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth


Courtesy of Challenge Team
Jeanette Freiberg, bottom of pile, has fun with family members. The Challenge Team named Freiberg, a student at Mountain View High School, its 2015 Youth Champion.

There’s an ongoing joke among members of the Challenge...

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Plastic bags not gone yet, but council puts vote in motion

If the Los Altos City Council acts quickly, a ban on single-use bags for large retailers in town could take effect as early as April 22 – just in time for Earth Day.

At last week’s meeting, councilmembers struggled to define the parameters of ordinances prohibiting carryout bags and polystyrene food containers in local retail and food operations. Councilmembers outlined their concerns about environmental responsibility and the potential economic impact on local business but ultimately directed staff to prepare legislation for a future vote.

“There are better uses for petroleum for plastic bags,” said Councilwoman Jan Pepper. “It’s time for Los Altos to be on the leading edge versus the trailing end.”

Several residents at the meeting shared Pepper’s view, including Sybil Cramer, parent liaison for the Los Altos High School Parent Teacher Student Association’s Go Green Committee, and a handful of the group’s student members.

According to Cramer and the students, the committee collected hundreds of signatures in support of a bag ban on campus and successfully implemented a switch from polystyrene foam trays to a greener alternative at an additional cost of $216. Should a bag ban be implemented, the students expressed willingness to volunteer their time for outreach efforts.

“On the surface, there appears to be no reason why we shouldn’t support it,” Mayor Jarrett Fishpaw said, “but it does have a cost-of-doing-business impact.”

Councilwoman Val Carpenter echoed Fishpaw’s reservations, encouraging the council to be “aware of the consequences before we jump on this trendy bag ban.” With a mandatory ordinance requirement that would impose a 10-cent charge on consumers per bag dispensed, Carpenter expressed concern that a bag ban could put Los Altos businesses at a competitive disadvantage with online stores and their counterparts in neighboring communities without such bans.

Although Palo Alto enacted a bag ban for large supermarkets, the city has yet to institute the measure for all retail outlets and does not charge a fee for paper bags.

Mountain View enacted a reusable-bag ordinance in December and is expected to approve a plastic-bag ban and fee that would take effect by April 22.

Reflecting the momentum of area cities, the Los Altos City Council decided that a tiered phase-in for a bag ban would work best – a polystyrene food container ban and a single-use bag ban for retailers totaling more than 5,000 square feet by April 22, and a single-use bag ban on all retailers in late 2013.

Councilmembers proved reluctant to earmark $30,000 for ordinance awareness and outreach, requesting city staff to provide a more detailed plan for how taxpayer funds would be spent. Councilmembers were particularly adamant that local retail businesses be involved in the process, as retailers are best able to address ways to make a bag ban transition seamless.

The council initially discussed the possibility of a bag ban in January 2011 as an effort to reduce trash in waterways and to cut down trash loads in the city by 40 percent by July 2014, requirements of a San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board stormwater permit. After the council’s first discussions, the city decided to participate in a regional Environmental Impact Report that included a model reusable bag ordinance that cities could adopt.

According to an Environmental Impact Report issued last year, 552 million bags are used annually in the study area, which includes 24 cities in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

Local Girl Scout Reyna Hulett worked with GreenTown Los Altos in October to survey local shoppers and discovered that 90 percent of shoppers polled own reusable bags, but only between 20 and 30 percent of them remembered to bring the bags shopping.

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