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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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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

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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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 ad...

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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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