Tue09162014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JEANNE PACKARD

After suffering a stroke in May, Jeanne Packard died August 10, 2014 at age 83. She was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of Emily Channel and Frank Howe Packard of Chicago, IL. Jeanne is survived by 5 great grandchildren. She was a lon...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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First and Main: Get a better deal: Editorial

The city’s handling of its 0.78-acre property at First and Main streets continues to bother us.

Apparently, it bothers others, too. At last week’s Los Altos City Council meeting, resident Robin Abrams offered the results of her research on the city’s sale of the property to developer Jeffrey A. Morris. Her numbers, comparing sales of nearby properties during the same period, appear to show that the city could have asked for much more than the $3.1 million it agreed to in 2010.

City officials counter that they got the best deal at the time, considering a lackluster economy and a lack of serious bidders.

However, the city forged a deal despite the fact that there were other bidders the city did not pursue (a revelation made public due to the efforts of downtown property owner Kim Cranston). As a result, the city sold low, when the market was still low, to a developer with an underwhelming track record of projects.

The city has an agreement in place, true. While councilmembers could break the agreement, absorb the legal costs and turn around and sell the project at a higher price, that’s not likely to happen. Four of the five councilmembers last week (Jan Pepper was the only member willing to further review the agreement) agreed that the city did the right thing and didn’t want to hear any more of it.

We understand that breaking an agreement could further scar the city’s reputation among developers. However, when civic-minded and financially savvy people like Abrams question such a deal, we should pay attention.

Many prominent residents, including former city leaders, don’t like the proposed project and would prefer something better. The city did nothing illegal in the sale. But merely settling for a project just to get something built is a crime.

Monday morning quarterbacking? You bet. But today the site is still a parking lot. It’s never too late to challenge the deal until there’s actual construction on the property – and hopefully a new owner with guaranteed tenants that bring real vibrancy to downtown. This goal has been discussed endlessly and, in fact, led to the formation of the downtown advocacy group Los Altos Forward.

We think the city should ask for more. Any structure built at First and Main could stand for at least 100 years. The city could still negotiate a better deal and get a better project. But councilmembers must be willing to make it happen. That’s why, Los Altos residents, they need to hear from you.

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