Mon12222014

News

Council seeks more options for community center

Council seeks more options for community center


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos City Council approved an appropriation to examine options for a new community center to replace the aging Hillview facility.

The Los Altos City Council last week voted narrowly in favor of examining further opti...

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Schools

Local schools participate in  national Hour of Code activities

Local schools participate in national Hour of Code activities


Ellie Van HOutte/Town Crier
Himan Shu Raj, a volunteer from Microsoft, advises Los Altos High ninth-graders, from left, Serhat Suzer, Jamie Bennett and Chris Yang as they participate in the school’s Hour of Code Showcase.

Local schools participa...

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Community

Take a dive into the holiday archive

Take a dive into the holiday archive

Town Crier staff made a quick cruise back through the newspaper's archives to find some late-December reading as inspiration for eating, drinking, decorating and more:

Beloved holiday books build the spirit of the season and staff at Los Altos’ Li...

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Sports

Pinewood poised for another title run

Pinewood poised for another title run


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Pinewood’s girls basketball team is receiving contributions from several new players, including freshman Stella Kailahi, above.

Complacency shouldn’t be a problem for the defending Division V state champion Pinewood S...

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Comment

Letters to the Editor

Ticket motorists for U-turns on Main Street

As I was walking downtown on Main Street recently, something came to me out of the blue. The town of Los Altos is missing out on a huge revenue stream. I realized that if all the cars – there were th...

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Special Sections

Looking Ahead

Looking Ahead


s in line to be mayor of Mountain View in 2015.

Mountain View anticipates the following changes in 2015:

• Beginning Jan. 1, Mountain View City Councilmembers will receive a raise to $1,000 per month as a result of the passage of Measure A in...

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Business

Your 2015 stock market game plan

It’s been a maddening month because of oil and gas, especially in stocks and bonds. Then, consumer spending pushed stocks higher Thursday, easing investors’ jitters about the global economy and prompting them to consider how to invest in ...

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Books

Gawande's

Gawande's "Being Mortal" proves an important book on aging


Books about death and dying are usually not on my list of “must reads.”

I couldn’t resist, however, the best-selling “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” (Metropolitan Books, 2014) by Atul Gawande.

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People

SANGEETA SACHDEVA

SANGEETA SACHDEVA

Sangeeta Sachdeva, 55, wife of Subhash Sachdeva and mother to Natasha and Tanya, died at 8:54pm, Sunday, December 7, 2014 from respiratory failure.

Sangeeta was born on October 18, 1959 in Delhi, India. She was born to Moti Sagar and Raj Kapoor an...

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Travel

South Tahoe renovations enhance off-mountain seasonal fun

As any enthusiast knows well, there is more to the enjoyment of winter sports than skiing or snowboarding.

While many winter resorts make minor upgrades each season, the off-mountain attractions and amenities can be as enticing as the activities on ...

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Stepping Out

Aurora Singers to emit 'Musical Glow' Friday

Aurora Singers to emit 'Musical Glow' Friday


courtesy of Aurora Singers
The Aurora Singers are scheduled to perform a seasonal concert Friday night in Palo Alto.

The Aurora Singers’ “Winter’s Musical Glow” holiday concert is set for 7 p.m. Friday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pal...

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Spiritual Life

Enter the superhero: Finding the God who loves you

In my life-coaching practice, I see a lot of pain. Much of it stems from fear and guilt, often expressed as low self-esteem, anxiety, a lack of forgiveness both for oneself and others, anger – and so on.

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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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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