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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill Road home April 27 and...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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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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