Tue09302014

News

Meet the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors candidates

Meet the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors candidates

Two candidates have filed to run for the District 7 seat on the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors in the Nov. 4 election. The water district, established in 1929, oversees and protects water resources in Santa Clara County....

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Schools

New LAHS assistant principal focuses on school activities

New LAHS assistant principal focuses on school activities


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Suzanne Woolfolk, assistant principal at Los Altos High, teaches a leadership course for Associated Student Body leaders.

Suzanne Woolfolk – new assistant principal at Los Altos High School – said she is happy...

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Community

Petting zoo, car show highlight Chamber's annual Fall Festival

Petting zoo, car show highlight Chamber's annual Fall Festival


Courtesy of Los Altos Chamber of Commerce
The petting zoo is a highlight of the Los Altos Fall Festival. This year’s event is slated Oct. 4 and 5.

The Los Altos Chamber of Commerce has scheduled its 23rd annual Fall Festival 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oc...

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Sports

Burlingame bowls over Los Altos

Burlingame bowls over Los Altos


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High halfback Sean Lanoza looks for running room against Burlingame in Saturday’s home opener.

The opening drive of Saturday’s game against Burlingame couldn’t have gone much better for the Los Altos High fo...

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Comment

Does Los Altos have a parking problem, or is it a symptom? : Other Voices

Yes, and yes. It appears that the downtown Los Altos parking problem is a symptom of the city’s “Sarah Winchester” approach to planning that instead of resulting in staircases to nowhere resulted in a hotel without parking required by code.(1)

From ...

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Special Sections

Los Altos landmark Four families later, Shoup House goes on the market

Los Altos landmark Four families later, Shoup House goes on the market


Courtesy of Matthew Anello
The Shoup House dining room, above, features original elements. The 100-year-old house on University Avenue earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, a nod to its legacy as the home of city founder Paul S...

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Business

Longtime banker readies for retirement

Longtime banker readies for retirement


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Joanne Kavalaris is retiring at the end of October after spending the past 25 years of her banking career in downtown Los Altos.

A longtime Los Altos banker is calling it a career in a few weeks.

Joanne Kavalaris, Bank o...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

Pear builds wonderful 'House'

Pear builds wonderful 'House'


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Betsy Kruse Craig portrays Trish in the Pear Avenue Theatre production of “House,” which closes Oct. 5.

Mountain View’s Pear Avenue Theatre is staging an unusual theater-going experience – producing two plays...

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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 add ...

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City responds to frustrated First Street merchants


Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Photo Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier Merchants along First Street in downtown Los Altos express frustration with ongoing construction in front of their businesses.

Sometime in the near future, the First Street streetscape project in downtown Los Altos will be completed and existing businesses should benefit from the improvements. But conducting business during the construction phase is a hardship and a source of endless frustration for some merchants.

Ongoing work on the project has longstanding businesses like California Automotive and Silicon Valley Mediation Group struggling to get by, with the restricted or no-access conditions shooing away potential customers. The project, which includes rebuilding the sidewalks, has left trenches in front of the businesses.

“California Automotive is directly next door, and although they are suffering terribly from the disruption and customer inability to get their cars in, at least they have been given a metal ramp for access,” wrote Carol Millie of Silicon Valley Mediation Group in a June 12 letter to Los Altos City Manager Marcia Somers. “It is our building alone that has been completely inaccessible from the street for nearly one month, in spite of the fact that we mediate ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) cases. … I also have tenants who offer professional services (law and financial consulting) who are finding the conditions deplorable.”

Millie’s letter last week received an immediate response from Somers, who directed Public Works Director Jim Gustafson to visit Millie’s offices at 141 First St. to assess the problem. By Friday, the driveways in front of both businesses had been paved.

“We are very sorry for the inconvenience,” Somers said. “Construction is disruptive. We understand it can be frustrating. … There was no intent to help some and not others.”

“They were very responsive,” Millie said Monday.

The work addressed concerns the businesses had about how the city was prioritizing the project.

“The sidewalk project was started so as to give first completion to open space between the driveways on the plaza where no one is disturbed,” Millie said. “We have asked ourselves, is this a considerate way to prioritize?”

“I’m the only one on First Street who requires automobile access in order to operate,” said Al Pickett, owner of California Automotive at 139 First St. for 20 years.

Dependent on drive-by traffic, Pickett said construction has been “absolutely murder – it’s killing me.” He estimated that business has been down 30 to 40 percent since work began.

Further, Pickett said the city promised multiple signs pointing to businesses that remain open during construction. He was also told work in front of his shop would stop at 10 a.m. but said that has not been the case.

“Although access to his driveway has generally been open at 10 a.m., it seems that occasionally it’s been delayed,” Somers said. “The contractor (Redgwick Construction of Newark) is trying very hard to accommodate everyone’s individual concerns and constraints and still stay on target with the schedule.”

As for signs, Somers said three are currently posted that say “Welcome – Pardon our dust – Downtown open for business,” two on Foothill Expressway and a third at the intersection of First and Main streets.

“We anticipate a fourth sign to go up at Second and State when the street/block closure occurs (at State and First),” she said.

The current work is part of Phase 1B of the city’s streetscape project, which extends along First from the State Street intersection to Shasta Street across from the old Safeway site. The work involves narrowing the street, replacing and expanding sidewalks and adding new streetside adornments such as streetlights, trees and landscaping. Somers said the current phase is on schedule for completion prior to the Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival July 13 and 14.

Work will then commence on the intersection of First and State streets, which city officials expect to be closed for up to six weeks and reopen by Labor Day.

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