Fri10242014

News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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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

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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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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Church schools’ enrollment increase rejected


Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Photo Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

The Los Altos City Council narrowly rejected a request from Union Presbyterian Church to amend its use permit to expand enrollment at the two schools on its site.

The Los Altos City Council last week narrowly voted against an enrollment increase request of 20 students by two private schools located at Union Presbyterian Church.

The council voted 3-2 against a combined enrollment bump from 100 to 120 students by Heritage Academy, a K-6 elementary school, and University Child Development Center (UCDC), a preschool. Heritage Academy sought an increase of 14 students, and UCDC wanted a six-student bump. Mayor Jarrett Fishpaw and Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins cast the two votes in favor of the request.

The request – which would have required an amendment to the church’s existing use permit – came after the council turned down a similar 2011 proposal by the schools, which resulted in an enrollment cap of 100 students.

Heritage Academy Principal Marilyn Davidson told the council the combined school expansion was necessary “for a successful business model.” She called the schools “a resource for families needing alternative education.”

“For viability and to pay our teachers a living wage in Silicon Valley, we are requesting that those 20 students be added,” said Davidson, adding that Heritage Academy’s enrollment of Los Altos students has increased from 20 to 29 percent since 2011.

Davidson said the schools, located at 858 University Ave., took steps to minimize traffic impacts since their last request. She pointed to staggered onsite drop-off and pickup times for students and noted that 38 percent of the schools’ families carpool to the site daily, as do one-third of faculty members.

“An increase of 20 students will not be 20 (more) cars because of carpooling and all of the families that are involved,” said Davidson, who added that several neighborhood children and adults use the church’s playground and other facilities.

“I don’t think that the neighborhood is going to be impacted by 20 additional kids,” said Union Presbyterian Church elder Ted Brown. “The church won’t be impacted by it – but 20 kids will. It’ll make a big difference to 20 kids and their families.”

Mixed public reaction

A handful of neighbors told the council they were wary of the schools’ request, citing the potential for increased traffic and noise.

“I like to see kids get educated in Los Altos, but I don’t want increased traffic, I don’t want increased noise and I don’t want increased pollution,” said Herbert Fong, a 40-year neighborhood resident.

Madonna Way resident Sangum Desai said the church was behaving “like a commercial enterprise” and that more students would negatively impact traffic. He noted that approval would be a “historically unprecedented burden on the neighborhood with really no benefit to our local community at all.”

Los Altos resident Richard Jackson, who has sons enrolled in both schools, countered that with more families calling Los Altos home, an increase was necessary to meet demand.

“For me, it’s a simple question of: How is the council going to respond to the growing needs of the community? There is a need for more education,” Jackson said.

Split council

Ultimately, the council’s vote appeared to echo the split opinions offered by neighborhood residents and school parents.

Bruins said the school had made “positive changes” since its 2011 request, with Fishpaw adding that the findings “strongly supported” the 20-student increase.

“I think the school has worked very hard with the parents to try and be good neighbors,” said Bruins, a Los Altos Planning Commissioner at the time of the church’s 2011 request. “I think they heard the feedback last time loud and clear. … I am inclined to support this. I do believe things have changed since this was before me as a planning commissioner.”

Councilwoman Val Carpenter, however, said that while she values diversity in education, she was equally “troubled by having the neighborhood negatively impacted by the traffic and noise created by nonresidents.”

At the time of the initial request in 2011, Carpenter unsuccessfully sought a cap at 90 students before voting for the 100-student limit. She noted that a traffic report for the church’s 2011 request was flawed, because existing conditions “understated the impact that the neighborhood already incurred.”

Carpenter added that the 6-acre church site might meet the “pressing need for a location for Bullis Charter School,” suggesting a potential land swap between the church and the Los Altos School District.

“For myself personally, I would much rather impact the neighbors for a local public school – and of course, 95 percent of current BCS students live within the Los Altos School District – rather than a private school whose students don’t really live in Los Altos,” she said.

Councilwoman Megan Satterlee, meanwhile, cited the schools’ staggered start times and efforts to mitigate its traffic impacts as a boon, calling the lack of opposition from neighbors not immediately near the school “a material change from two years ago.” Still, she noted that her decision came down to balancing competing interests and that her 2011 no vote hadn’t changed.

“I think the school has worked really hard to be a good neighbor, and I appreciate that, and I think that has had success in what we’re seeing today,” she said. “But it still on balance doesn’t change my mind.”

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