Wed07302014

News

‘Brown is the new green,’ says local water district

‘Brown is the new green,’ says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spendi...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Special Sections

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas


Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Dr. Trang Ly, left, reviews blood sugar readings on a smartphone with Los Altos resident Tia Geri, right, and fellow participant Noa Simon during a closed-loop artificial pancreas study for Type 1 diabetics.
...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

CARSTEN HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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Slimmed-down sign project approved : City council trims cost to upgrade, replace city markers


Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Photo Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier The Los Altos City Council adopted a trimmed-down Wayfinding Sign Program to point motorists to key destinations.

A project to update and streamline the look of several directional and street signs received approval from the Los Altos City Council June 11, but only after nearly $300,000 was cut from the original proposal.

The council voted 4-0 – with Councilwoman Jan Pepper abstaining – to approve a slim-downed version of the Wayfinding Sign Program, which calls for the addition and replacement of signs directing motorists to key city destinations, including Los Altos business districts.

In approving only a portion of the two-phase project, the council managed to slice the price tag from $440,500 to approximately $150,000.

Citing a “tight” biennial city budget – slated for council approval Tuesday – Councilwoman Megan Satterlee noted that she could only support aspects such as directional signs on El Camino Real that guide motorists to downtown Los Altos. Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins added that she also favored a scaled-down version that addressed the city’s most immediate needs first.

“I don’t believe we have the financial means to fund everything that is before us,” Bruins summed up during discussion. “I think this must be pared down to a ‘must’ versus ‘want.’ Would it be nice to have beautiful signs? Absolutely. … (But) I don’t see a return on investment.”

The council voted to form the Wayfinding Sign Task Force in May 2012 to develop a concept that would unify the city’s signage. Task force members included Councilwoman Val Carpenter, former Councilman Ron Packard and representatives from the Los Altos Village Association and the Chamber of Commerce.

Support urged

Prior to the vote, some members of the Wayfinding Sign Task Force and the public urged approval of the complete proposed project, citing the need for the city’s commercial districts to compete with nearby business communities for customers.

“This is a really valuable expenditure in the face of this huge development (The Village at San Antonio Center) that is going on at the edge of our town, where a lot of new people are going to be coming in,” said task force member Phoebe Bressack, chairwoman of the Planning and Transportation Commission. “I’d like to divert some of them to our town.”

Los Altos resident Jim Wing, who did not serve on the task force, told the council “the No. 1 priority is to attract new customers (traveling) on El Camino (Real) and Foothill (Expressway) and give them some guidance to our downtown – period. That is kind of where I think we get bang for the buck.”

Packard noted that ongoing efforts like the city’s downtown streetscape projects have led to the private investments that benefit the city financially. Pointing specifically to Randy Lamb’s development of the former First Street post office site into a 48-unit condominium complex, Packard said the city would likely receive approximately $84,000 in tax revenue annually from that project.

“I hope this council is known as a pro-business council and not an anti-business council,” Packard said.

Council response

The council opted for a slimmer version of the project, calling for the installation – and in some cases, replacement – of directional and other signage along areas of San Antonio Road, El Camino Real and Foothill Expressway.

Other proposals, such as replacing and upgrading the city’s civic center and library signs, as well as downtown parking plaza identifier signs, didn’t make the cut.

Pepper said spending $500,000 “on signs is way too much money,” adding that it “morphed into a hugely expensive project. I can’t justify spending Los Altos taxpayer money at this level for this project.” She called for a maximum budget of $50,000-$75,000.

Bruins said that while she supported “making it a bit easier” for motorists to locate the city’s business districts and other destinations, the two-phase project was “overkill.” She noted that 37 of the 63 signs proposed in the first phase related to downtown parking.

“Quite frankly, you go down State or Main (street) and you can’t find (parking) on the street, it forces you to turn down one of our side streets,” she said. “Once you turn down one of our side streets, you can’t help but see the parking plazas. So I don’t think they’re as hidden as we like to think they are.”

According to Los Altos Economic Development Manager Kathy Kleinbaum, the project is scheduled for inclusion in the city’s five-year Capital Improvement Plan, set for council approval Tuesday, after the Town Crier’s press deadline.

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