Tue09162014

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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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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