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News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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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

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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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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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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