Mon10202014

News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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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 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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