Sat08022014

News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Special Sections

Long live the lawn: Los Altos native offers drought-resistant strategies

Long live the lawn: Los Altos native offers drought-resistant strategies


Bill Steiner’s grass is green, left, even amid the drought. He followed Max Todd’s water and maintainence instructions after having his lawn aerated, Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

Green lawns are not necessarily on the endangered list during the d...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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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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