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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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Smart start


Photo By: Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
Photo Gary Anderson/Special To The Town Crier

Mercedes-Benz shows off one of its new Smart electric-drive cars during a recent tour stop in San Francisco.

Imagine a bright Saturday morning in April on the Embarcadero along the San Francisco waterfront, under the clock tower of the Ferry Building. Fresh produce spills from the stalls at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market, classic trolleys pass on their steel tracks and Giants fans whisk by on their way to AT&T Park.

Now visualize a fleet of shiny subcompact Smart electric-drive cars by Mercedes-Benz – led by one Smart brilliantly painted with the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline – soundlessly cruising up and down the Embarcadero in front of the very view painted on the car.

This scene was as exciting as watching the circus unload as a youngster. The event resembled a circus – of the most modern kind.

Mercedes is introducing its Smart electric vehicles to “eco-minded urbanites and early adopters” in an 11-city tour across the country. With a base price of only $25,000, the Smart will be the most affordable electric vehicle on the market, competing with the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi MiEV and Ford Focus EV. It uses much of the same technology as the Tesla.

The tour’s goal is to showcase the new car, now available at Smart dealers, by giving the younger city-dwellers a chance to drive it in the setting for which it was designed. It also allows them to inspect the zero-emission car’s particular attributes, from unlimited customization opportunities to its structure, built around a rigid tridion safety-cell exoskeleton.

The most noticeable attribute of these cars in this setting is their size – just under 9 feet long, 5 feet high and 5 feet wide – dimensions that work well in dense downtown traffic, tight city parking and even tighter spaces in urban garages.

What was equally obvious during the test-drive up and down San Francisco’s steep hills was the torquey responsiveness of the electric motor, perfect for a dash across crowded intersections and able to make easy work of the hills that are typical of the city. The zero-to-60 time of 12 seconds and top speed of 78 mph provide a more than adequate performance envelope for use in city applications, even if part of the commute includes freeway miles.

With the advanced Mercedes-developed lithium-ion battery stowed in the area where the fuel tank usually goes, and the motor replacing the engine between the rear wheels, the car retains its standard interior space and cargo room. And it’s easily capable of handling routine city errands.

As for answers to frequently asked questions: The Smart EV can travel between 50 and 80 miles on a single charge and recharge from 20 to 80 percent full in 3.5 hours on a 240-volt outlet.

And yes, cities are increasingly making these outlets available in downtown parking structures. A smartphone app manages power and recharging – there’s no reason for range anxiety in typical city use, even if that use includes a trip to the airport or errands around town on weekends. The best part is that the Smart EV gets the equivalent of 122 miles per gallon, more than most motor scooters.

Increasing the Smart EV’s convenience and efficiency is that it can be programmed while plugged into the power grid to heat or cool the interior to a comfortable level just before use.

The bottom line from our brief time running around San Francisco on a busy Saturday morning: This may be the most practical transportation for use around a suburban village like Los Altos.

The Smart in either body style may be purchased like any other new or leased car from Mercedes.The Smart Fortwo electric-drive coupe lease price is $199/month, $269/month for the convertible, and includes “Battery Assurance Plus.” This program allows customers to rent the battery on their Smart car, including maintenance and replacement for up to 10 years, and is also available as part of a purchase package.

Although the Smart has been at dealers for only a few weeks, we’ve already seen two in downtown Los Altos. But that’s not surprising, given the early-adopter mentality of the village and the attraction of the price, efficiency, comfort, flexibility and style.

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