Mon09152014

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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Parking study remains a work in progress


Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Photo Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier Parking continues to be a hot topic as the Los Altos City Council instructed city staff to further explore some short-term

Like a motorist trying to find a downtown parking spot during lunch, the Los Altos City Council last week went round and round discussing the merits and pitfalls of the city’s Downtown Parking Management Plan.

The plan – or at least portions of it – remains a work in progress although the council voted 3-2 in favor of accepting the report’s downtown parking data. In addition, the council directed city staff to further explore some of the parking management recommendations outlined in the report and requested a future study session. Councilwomen Jeannie Bruins and Jan Pepper voted against the motion, which passed after nearly two hours of debate among councilmembers May 28.

Some councilmembers questioned the short- and long-term parking demand forecasts and management practices listed in the report. Councilwoman Megan Satterlee said that while the $157,000 report contained “excellent data,” she was reluctant to accept its parking management ideas without further exploring their respective returns on investment. Accepting the report as a whole, she added, would leave the public with the wrong impression.

“The perception and the understanding is always, if you accept the plan, then you must have accepted all the embedded recommendations,” Satterlee said.

The report

The report, in part, examined the adequacy of the downtown triangle’s current public parking supply, which consists of 245 on-street and 1,204 off-street spaces.

It revealed that on-street parking occupancy reached a peak of 95 percent from noon to 1 p.m. midweek in December 2012 – exceeding the 85 percent practical capacity threshold used by parking consultants. In addition, off-street parking reached a high of 87 percent midweek from 1-2 p.m. during the same month.

An additional parking count in September 2012 showed slightly less demand, with a Saturday on-street peak of 92 percent from 1-2 p.m. and an off-street parking peak of 81 percent midweek during lunch.

Parking plazas 5, 6, 7 and 10 were deemed the most impacted off-street public parking areas during midweek counts in December and September. Overall occupancy in the parking district was calculated at 82 percent midweek in September and 87 percent midweek December.

Among its findings, the report noted that nearly 50 percent of downtown workers without city-issued employee parking permits (for white-dot spaces) re-parked their cars in an apparent effort to avoid tickets. Only 54 percent of observed downtown employees had white-dot permits.

The report also outlined future scenarios which showed parking occupancy levels increasing from 86 percent overall in the short term (0-2 years) and 90 percent midterm (5-10 years) to 93 percent long term (10-20 years). According to the report, the scenarios assumed a turnover in existing retail space to uses with higher parking demands, such as national retailers and restaurants.

Finally, the report listed a handful of short-term parking management recommendations, which include increasing the city’s supply of white-dot spaces, escalating parking fines for repeat offenders and the use of enhanced enforcement technologies. The recommendations could cost the city between $4,000 and $80,000 to implement.

Long term, the report noted that reconfiguring the parking plazas could gain as many as 134 additional spaces, but at a cost of more than $8 million. A second long-term recommendation called for the construction of a three-level parking garage, which would add 276 spaces for approximately $10.5 million.

Council reactions

While Councilwoman Val Carpenter noted she was “delighted” with the outcome of the report, her colleagues offered varying opinions on its forecasting scenarios and management ideas.

Mayor Jarrett Fishpaw said reconfiguring downtown plazas was “not a cost-effective way” to add to the city’s parking stock, while Satterlee said some of the recommendations lacked clearly defined outcomes – both qualitatively and quantitatively.

“What do I expect to get from these costs?” she said of the short- and long-term recommendations listed. “I don’t think that level of analysis was done in this study, and I think that’s very likely because that wasn’t asked of them. But to me, that’s what I have to understand. What am I buying with this money?”

Pepper called the report “a good start” in identifying which issues to solve in the downtown area and how to go about it. She noted that one issue related to parking might be a matter of perception.

“People think there is a parking problem because they can’t park right in front of the store that they want to go to,” she said, also citing concern about employees’ parking behaviors.

Bruins echoed some of Satterlee’s sentiments about the need “to be able to measure” the recommendations listed while also calling for greater input and involvement from the downtown business community regarding parking issues. She also said the onus – in terms of expectations versus execution of the report – was ultimately a “failure” on the part of the council.

“When we’re spending tax dollars to go off and do any study, we need to ensure that as an executive team, we’re giving goals that are actually measurable that we can do something with because otherwise we end up with circular discussions and such,” Bruins said. “So the failure is with us, not with the team that has done this (report).”

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