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News

LA council votes to delay community center update

LA council votes to delay community center update


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council voted to delay adoption of a community center conceptual design plan last week. The plan includes elements from a design charette held earlier this fall, left.

The Los Altos City Council last...

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Schools

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
During a Science is Learning geology lesson, Theuerkauf Elementary School students learn about igneous rocks by observing how sugar changes form when heated.

Hundreds of local elementary students perform experiments w...

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Community

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'


Courtesy of Peninsula Youth Theatre
PYT’s “Oklahoma!” features, from left, David Peters of Mountain View, Jenna Levere of Los Altos and Kai Wessel of Mountain View.

Time is running out to catch Peninsula Youth Theatre’s production of “Oklahoma!”...

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Sports

Eagles advance

Eagles advance


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High’s Carmen Annevelink, left, and Kristen Liu put up a block against Mountain View. Annevelink totaled 20 kills.

Mountain View High’s out-of-the-gate energy could last for only so long against rival and he...

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Comment

Coping with addictions: Haugh About That?

Preparing to deal with my lifelong addiction, I stood in front of the mirror ready to confess the shame I’d been hiding. The first step to healing, I reminded myself, is to admit something is wrong.

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Special Sections

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One


Bruce Barton/Town Crier
Hangar One, pictured here last January, will be restored under an agreement between Google and NASA.

NASA and Google Inc. forged an agreement last week that allows Google to lease a portion of NASA’s historic Moffett Fede...

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Business

State Street science center closing Nov. 30

State Street science center closing Nov. 30


Ellie Van Houtte/
Helix at 316 State St. is closing after the completion of a one-year grant from Passerelle Investment Co. The science center became a popular destination because of its various exhibits. Town Crier

A popular downtown destination...

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Books

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree


Author Tiffany Papageorge is scheduled to sign copies of new her book 11 a.m. Dec. 6 at Linden Tree Books, 265 State St., Los Altos.

Papageorge’s “My Yellow Balloon” (Minoan Moon, 2014) is a Mom’s Choice “Gold” winner. In the book, the Los Gat...

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People

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

January 11, 1939 – November 6, 2014
Resident of Mountain View

James Windell Smith, a 40 year resident of Los Altos, passed away from complications after a post-surgery stroke November 6th, 2014 in Los Gatos, California.

Born on January 11, 1939 on...

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Travel

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine


Eren Göknar/ Special to the Town Crier
While many day-trippers may think that Sonoma is all about the grapes, the region boasts other delights. Try a biplane ride over the patchwork landscape.

Sonoma, a scenic two-hour drive from Los Altos, boa...

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Stepping Out

LA Stage Company opens 'Fairway'

The Los Altos Stage Company production of Ken Ludwig’s new comedy “The Fox on the Fairway” is slated to run Thursday through Dec. 14 at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

A tribute to the English farces of the 1930s and 1940s, “Fox” is a romp that p...

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Spiritual Life

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am


The Beth Am Women have scheduled “A Conversation with Author Maggie Anton” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills.

Anton, winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, will discu...

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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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City report calls for sewer rate hikes

The price of doing, ahem, business may be going up for Los Altos residents.

An update to the city of Los Altos’ 2005 Sanitary Sewer Master Plan calls for annual service-charge increases that would more than double the average single-family monthly bill by fiscal year 2027.

The updated plan was set for review at Tuesday’s Los Altos City Council meeting, held after the Town Crier’s press deadline.

According to the report – presented Feb. 12 during a council study session – the monthly single-family bill in Los Altos could rise incrementally from its current average of $28.96 to approximately $63.60 per month by 2027. Residents now pay a rate of $3.25 per 100 cubic feet for sewage services.

Gradual increases

The report recommends annual 6 percent increases beginning fiscal year 2014 to fund, in part, a capital improvement program for the city’s aging sewer system. Nearly one-third of the annual service-charge increases would go toward debt service for upgrades to Palo Alto’s aging Regional Water Quality Control Plant. The plant has been in operation since 1934 and serves Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Mountain View and Stanford.

The report also suggests updating Los Altos’ geographic information system; expanding its fats, oil and grease control program; and adding one maintenance lead-worker position to meet the city’s maintenance and repair demands.

Reached by the Town Crier, Los Altos Public Works Director Jim Gustafson said that under Proposition 218, the rate

increases are subject to local voter approval after a formal study by the city.

Capital improvements for the more than 50-year-old system would address immediate and long-term structural issues, including corrosion rehabilitation and sewer-pipe replacement, as well as annual maintenance costs over the 15-year period. Representatives from consulting firm Brown and Caldwell specifically noted that 36 reaches (sections of sewer between structures) in the city’s trunk sewer main, which flows to the regional plant in Palo Alto, have moderate to severe corrosion.

“Sewers, if properly designed, should be self-cleaning,” said Gustafson, who attributed the proposed service charge increments to water rate increases, the need to replace aging equipment and rising labor costs. “In reality, there are going to be a few trouble spots that need to be repaired over time. … All cities are under pressure to do capital work on their systems.”

Addressing the report, Gustafson noted that Los Altos residents now pay less on average than some nearby cities. Specifically, the average monthly Los Altos sewer service bill in 2012 – $27.51 – is approximately $10 less than the average monthly bill paid by Milpitas residents. Sunnyvale residents paid on average a $30.84 monthly bill during 2012.

The average monthly bill in Los Altos has dropped considerably since 2009, from $37.96 to its current average of $28.96, according to Gustafson. He attributed the change in part to a 13 percent decrease in water use by residents since 2008 – a trend he expects to continue.

“We have designed and developed a strategy to make the rate increases very gradual,” Gustafson said, noting that replacing the sewer system could cost the city more than $100 million.

In terms of service quality, the report credited the city’s upgraded maintenance. Inspection and repair schedules since 2005 have resulted in an 80 percent reduction in dry weather sanitary sewer overflows, from an average of 15 in 2002 through 2004 to 2.5 overflows during the past two years. It also noted that 93 percent of the city’s system has been inspected since 2005, resulting in 5 percent rated in poor condition.

“We have sewer crews out there every day doing sewer-main flushing that allows the city’s lines to keep passing sewage,” Gustafson said.

He estimates that a five-year rate study will be “locked in” by July. He added that city officials should begin notifying residents about the results of the study in early June.

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