Thu03052015

News

Council considers freezing First St. development

Council considers freezing First St. development


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A pedestrian walks along First Street in downtown Los Altos last week. Future construction on the street could soon be barred by an emergency moratorium on development.

Further construction along First Street could...

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Schools

Santa Rita students put on Kranky Kids Radio Show

Santa Rita students put on Kranky Kids Radio Show


Traci Newell/ Town Crier
Neighborhood volunteer Lishka DeVoss, center, introduces members of Santa Rita School’s Kranky Kids Radio Club to their interviewee last week. The students star in the Kranky Kids Radio Show, which airs Fridays on KZSU.
...

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Community

Music for Minors partners with Harvard to expand efforts

Music for Minors partners with Harvard to expand efforts


Palmer

When the thriving Music for Minors began to outgrow its capacity, the local nonprofit organization made new friends.

Beginning in late February, Music for Minors – a Town Crier Holiday Fund recipient – partnered with Harvard Business Sch...

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Sports

Eagles make school history

Eagles make school history

Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos High School Eagles defeated Santa Clara High School Tuesday to advance to the Central Coast Section basketball finals Saturday.

The Eagles are headed where no Los Altos High boys basketball team has gone...

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Comment

Dangerous streets: A Piece of My Mind

I’m driving along El Monte Avenue between Foothill Expressway and Springer Road at approximately 6 p.m. on a midwinter evening. In keeping with the “village feeling” of our town, there are no sidewalks and no streetlights.

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Special Sections

Lions, lambs and Cab Franc for March

Lions, lambs and Cab Franc for March


Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Oven fries, a slice of feta cheese and the bite of harissa mayonnaise make for a late-winter, early-spring dinner perfectly paired with Cabernet Franc.

I can’t help but wonder whether March will come in ...

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Business

Los Altos scientist named Inventor of the Year

Los Altos scientist named Inventor of the Year

Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Robert Showen, above, the Silicon Valley Intellectual Property Lawyers Association’s Inventor of the Year, began researching his ShotSpotter technology in his Los Altos home. Sensors are placed around a city, below, and fou...

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Books

French novel

French novel "Hunting and Gathering" offers character-driven suspense


Anna Gavalda is a well-known author in her native France, where she has published six books, most of which have met with considerable praise and commercial success. Her fourth novel, “Hunting and Gathering” (Riverhead Books, 2007), is filled ...

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People

JACK JOSEPH CRANE

JACK JOSEPH CRANE

Long time Los Altos resident, Jack Joseph Crane, loving husband and devoted father of two children, passed away peacefully at the Terraces in Los Altos, Saturday, February 21, 2015. He was 95 years of age. Jack was born on June 22, 1919. He is prec...

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Travel

Seoul of the city: Korean capital offers mix of old and new

Seoul of the city: Korean capital offers mix of old and new


Ramya Krishna/Special to the Town Crier
Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon public recreation space, above, features an elevated pedestrian bridge.

Seoul, South Korea, is a study in contrasts. Having grown quickly, the city is a mix of old and new.

Using...

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Stepping Out

TheatreWorks jumps into ‘Lake’

TheatreWorks jumps into ‘Lake’


Kevin Berne/Special to the Town Crier
Jason Bowen, from left, Adam Poss and Nilanjana Bose star in “The Lake Effect,” opening this weekend at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto and running through March 29.

The TheatreWorks production ...

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Spiritual Life

Is your thought life sabotaging your spiritual journey?

My computer started having problems – there seemed to be some sort of malware running in the background. At first it was just annoying, then it began to slow down my computer, interfering with its basic operations. What is it doing? Why can...

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Magazine

Local events serve up family fun

Local events serve up family fun


Courtesy of Peninsula Youth Theatre
Peninsula Youth Theatre’s production of “Pecos Bill: A Tall Tale” is slated to open March 20 in Mountain View.

For families seeking a break from the daily routine, events abound this month and next in Los Alto...

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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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