Fri08012014

News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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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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