Sun10262014

News

Election flyer mimics newspaper coverage

Election flyer mimics newspaper coverage

A flyer is being distributed across Los Altos that looks like it is from the Los Altos Town Crier but was neither created nor distributed by the community’s weekly newspaper. The flyer, pictured at right, is being distributed by workers from Pyrami...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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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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