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News

E. coli found in Los Altos water indicated breach, but only low risk

E. coli found in Los Altos water indicated breach, but only low risk


Courtesy of Microbe World
Colorized low-temperature electron micrograph of a cluster of E. coli bacteria

When E. coli and other bacteria were discovered in some Los Altos water last week, officials from the local water supplier, California Water...

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Schools

BCS hosts Stretch to Kindergarten program for underserved youth

BCS hosts Stretch to Kindergarten program for underserved youth


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The six-week, tuition-free Stretch to Kindergarten program, hosted at Bullis Charter School, serves children who have not attended preschool. A teacher leads children in singing about the parts of a butterfly, above.

Local un...

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Community

Google car painting project calls on artists

Google car painting project calls on artists


Google self-driving car

Already known as an innovator in the tech field, Google Inc. is now moving in on the art world.

The Mountain View-based company July 11 launched the “Paint the Town” contest, a “moving art experiment” that invites Califo...

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Sports

Pedaling with a purpose

Pedaling with a purpose


courtesy of
Rishi Bommannan Rishi Bommannan cycled from Bates College in Maine to his home in Los Altos Hills, taking several selfies along the way. He also raised nearly $13,000 for the Livestrong Foundation, which supports cancer patients.

When R...

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Comment

The truth about coyotes: Other Voices

The Town Crier’s recent article on coyotes venturing down from the foothills in search of sustenance referenced the organization Project Coyote (“Recent coyote attacks keep residents on edge,” July 1). Do not waste your time contac...

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Special Sections

Grant Park senior program made permanent

Grant Park senior program made permanent


Photos by Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Local residents participate in an exercise class at the Grant Park Senior Center, above. Betsy Reeves, below left with Gail Enenstein, lobbied for senior programming in south Los Altos.

It all began when Betsy Reev...

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Business

New State Street rug retailer has downtown Los Altos covered

New State Street rug retailer has downtown Los Altos covered


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Los Altos Rug Gallery owner Fahim Karimi stocks his State Street store with a wall-to-wall array of floor coverings.

A new downtown business owner plans to roll out the red carpet – along with rugs of every other color –...

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Books

Book Signings

• Fritz and Nomi Trapnell have scheduled a book-signing party 4-6 p.m. Aug. 1 at their home, 648 University Ave., Los Altos.

Fritz and his daughter, Dana Tibbitts, co-authored “Harnessing the Sky: Frederick ‘Trap’ Trapnell, ...

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People

GRACE WILSON FRANKS

GRACE WILSON FRANKS

Resident of Los Altos

Grace Wilson Franks, our beloved mother and grandmother, left us peacefully on July 16, 2015 just a few weeks short of her 92nd birthday. She was born to Ross and Florence (Cruzan) Wilson in rural Tulare, California on Septem...

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Travel

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories


Eren Göknar/Special to the Town Crier
San Francisco-based humangear Inc. sells totes, tubes and tubs for traveling.

In travel, as in romance, it’s the little things that count.

Beyond the glossy brochures lie the travel discomforts too mun...

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Stepping Out

Going out with a 'Bang'

Going out with a 'Bang'


Richard Mayer/Special to the Town Crier
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” stars, clockwise from top left, Alexander Sanchez, Sophia Sturiale, Deborah Rosengaus and Danny Martin.

Los Altos Stage Company and Los Altos Youth Theatre’s joint production of t...

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Spiritual Life

Build a 'light' house and get out of that dark place

Most of us have a place inside our hearts and minds that occasionally causes us trouble. For some, it is sadness, depression or despair. For others, it may be fear, anger, resentment or myriad other emotional “dark places” that at times seem to hij...

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Magazine

Inside Mountain View

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
NASA Ames’ Pluto Flyover event kindles the imaginations of young attendees.

Sue Moore watched the July 20, 1969, moon landing beside patients and staff members of the San Francisco hospital where she worked as a nurse...

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City approves sewer rate plan following protest hearing


The Los Altos City Council voted unanimously to adopt a five-year sewer service charge schedule following a formal protest hearing last week.

The city received 10 formal written protests to the new charges, which call for a hybrid service charge model consisting of annual base fees of $209 per dwelling, as well as a sewer-use charge of $1.66 per unit (745 gallons of wet-season metered water use) beginning in fiscal year 2013-2014.

California Proposition 218, which addresses local government finances, includes the requirement to hold a public hearing on such matters. A majority of written protests by the 11,700 affected parcel owners would have mandated the city to reject the new charges.

The five-year rate schedule includes annual increases of 7 percent, which would result in an annual base charge of $261.35 and sewer-use rates of $2.07 per unit in the final year of the schedule.

As previously reported in the Town Crier, the city opted to move forward with the new hybrid charging model in April – a change from its former service charge method, based solely on a parcel’s sewer use ($3.25 per sewer unit in fiscal year 2012-2013).

At the time, a staff report justified the change to cover fixed maintenance and administrative costs for the city’s aging sewer system. A portion of the funds generated under the new model will be applied toward upgrading the aging Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant, which has been in operation since 1934 and serves Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Stanford.

Councilwoman Megan Satterlee noted that the new model is a more equitable way to charge residents for the benefits of sewer service than the previous method.

“It became quickly apparent to me in the very first year (of the water-based use model) that we created a very inequitable system in that some users were paying significant amounts and some users were being subsidized. … The hybrid model really shares the costs much more equitably,” Satterlee said.

Water conservation efforts by residents resulted in lower than expected sewer charges under the old model, an April staff report noted. During the previous fiscal year, 36 percent of Los Altos parcels paid less than $240 annually under the old rate method. Prior to switching to the consumption-based method in 2008-2009, the city had charged an annual fixed fee of $285 per parcel in 2007-2008.

“I do appreciate that (the new charge schedule) is going to increase some people’s bills substantially,” Satterlee said in addressing residents at the hearing, “but your bill went down substantially from what it was prior to us going to a (water) usage model.”

Two residents at the July 9 hearing protested that the new charges posed an unfair burden.

Resident Stephanie Munoz said the new sewer charges “seem way too much. I resent the city’s position that everyone has to pay his or her fair share. Have we not been paying our fair share all these years?”

Joe McDonald added that he paid $91 last year and that the new model would result in a 263 percent increase for him. He said the 7 percent annual increases would result in a fifth-year base rate that is 25 percent higher than the first-year charge.

“Both my wife and I are retired and living on fixed incomes,” McDonald said. “I don’t think this is any way to treat a senior citizen.”

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