Fri03062015

News

Council considers freezing First St. development

Council considers freezing First St. development


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A pedestrian walks along First Street in downtown Los Altos last week. Future construction on the street could soon be barred by an emergency moratorium on development.

Further construction along First Street could...

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Schools

Santa Rita students put on Kranky Kids Radio Show

Santa Rita students put on Kranky Kids Radio Show


Traci Newell/ Town Crier
Neighborhood volunteer Lishka DeVoss, center, introduces members of Santa Rita School’s Kranky Kids Radio Club to their interviewee last week. The students star in the Kranky Kids Radio Show, which airs Fridays on KZSU.
...

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Community

Music for Minors partners with Harvard to expand efforts

Music for Minors partners with Harvard to expand efforts


Palmer

When the thriving Music for Minors began to outgrow its capacity, the local nonprofit organization made new friends.

Beginning in late February, Music for Minors – a Town Crier Holiday Fund recipient – partnered with Harvard Business Sch...

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Sports

Eagles make school history

Eagles make school history

Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos High School Eagles defeated Santa Clara High School Tuesday to advance to the Central Coast Section basketball finals Saturday.

The Eagles are headed where no Los Altos High boys basketball team has gone...

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Comment

Dangerous streets: A Piece of My Mind

I’m driving along El Monte Avenue between Foothill Expressway and Springer Road at approximately 6 p.m. on a midwinter evening. In keeping with the “village feeling” of our town, there are no sidewalks and no streetlights.

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Special Sections

Lions, lambs and Cab Franc for March

Lions, lambs and Cab Franc for March


Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Oven fries, a slice of feta cheese and the bite of harissa mayonnaise make for a late-winter, early-spring dinner perfectly paired with Cabernet Franc.

I can’t help but wonder whether March will come in ...

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Business

Los Altos scientist named Inventor of the Year

Los Altos scientist named Inventor of the Year

Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Robert Showen, above, the Silicon Valley Intellectual Property Lawyers Association’s Inventor of the Year, began researching his ShotSpotter technology in his Los Altos home. Sensors are placed around a city, below, and fou...

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Books

French novel

French novel "Hunting and Gathering" offers character-driven suspense


Anna Gavalda is a well-known author in her native France, where she has published six books, most of which have met with considerable praise and commercial success. Her fourth novel, “Hunting and Gathering” (Riverhead Books, 2007), is filled ...

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People

JACK JOSEPH CRANE

JACK JOSEPH CRANE

Long time Los Altos resident, Jack Joseph Crane, loving husband and devoted father of two children, passed away peacefully at the Terraces in Los Altos, Saturday, February 21, 2015. He was 95 years of age. Jack was born on June 22, 1919. He is prec...

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Travel

Seoul of the city: Korean capital offers mix of old and new

Seoul of the city: Korean capital offers mix of old and new


Ramya Krishna/Special to the Town Crier
Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon public recreation space, above, features an elevated pedestrian bridge.

Seoul, South Korea, is a study in contrasts. Having grown quickly, the city is a mix of old and new.

Using...

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Stepping Out

TheatreWorks jumps into ‘Lake’

TheatreWorks jumps into ‘Lake’


Kevin Berne/Special to the Town Crier
Jason Bowen, from left, Adam Poss and Nilanjana Bose star in “The Lake Effect,” opening this weekend at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto and running through March 29.

The TheatreWorks production ...

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Spiritual Life

Is your thought life sabotaging your spiritual journey?

My computer started having problems – there seemed to be some sort of malware running in the background. At first it was just annoying, then it began to slow down my computer, interfering with its basic operations. What is it doing? Why can...

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Magazine

Local events serve up family fun

Local events serve up family fun


Courtesy of Peninsula Youth Theatre
Peninsula Youth Theatre’s production of “Pecos Bill: A Tall Tale” is slated to open March 20 in Mountain View.

For families seeking a break from the daily routine, events abound this month and next in Los Alto...

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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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