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News

Obama visits Los Altos area

Obama visits Los Altos area

President Obama made a fundraising stop today at a private residence in Los Altos Hills, an appearance that spurred traffic disruptions, helicopters scouting overhead and protesters. In the wake of his visit, unknown persons, apparently no fans of ...

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Schools

MVLA rolls out laptop integration this fall

MVLA rolls out laptop integration this fall


Town Crier File Photo
Starting in the fall, daily use of laptops in the classroom will be standard operating procedure for students at Los Altos and Mountain View high schools as the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District launches a pil...

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Community

Generations blend behind the scenes at 'Wizard of Oz'

Generations blend behind the scenes at 'Wizard of Oz'


Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.” ELIZA RIDGEWAY/ TOWN CRIER

A massive troupe of young people and grownups gathered in Los Altos this summer to stage the latest iteration of a childhood sta...

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Sports

Football in July

Football in July


Town Crier file photo
Mountain View High’s Anthony Avery is among the nine local players slated to play in tonight’s Silicon Valley Youth Classic.

Tonight’s 40th annual Silicon Valley Youth Classic – also known as the Charlie...

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Comment

Pools should be included: Editorial

Los Altos residents should be receiving calls this week from city representatives conducting a survey to determine priorities for a revamped Hillview Community Center.

Notice that we did not say “civic center” – chastened by a lack of public support...

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Special Sections

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas


Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Dr. Trang Ly, left, reviews blood sugar readings on a smartphone with Los Altos resident Tia Geri, right, and fellow participant Noa Simon during a closed-loop artificial pancreas study for Type 1 diabetics.
...

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Business

Palo Alto law firm coming to 400 Main

Palo Alto law firm coming to 400 Main


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Longtime Palo Alto law firm Thoits, Love, Hershberger & McClean plans to open an office at 400 Main St. in Los Altos after construction is complete in November.

A longtime Palo Alto law firm plans to expand into L...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

RICHARD PATRICK BRENNAN

RICHARD PATRICK BRENNAN

Resident of Palo Alto

Richard Patrick Brennan, journalist, editor, author, adventurer, died at his Palo Alto home on July 4, 2014 at age 92. He led a full life, professionally and personally. He was born and raised in San Francisco, joined the Arm...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

PYT stages 'Shrek'

PYT stages 'Shrek'


Lyn Healy/Spotlight Moments Photography
Dana Cullinane plays Fiona in Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Shrek The Musical.”

Peninsula Youth Theatre presents “Shrek The Musical” Saturday through Aug. 3 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts...

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Spiritual Life

Foothills Congregational: 100 years and counting

Foothills Congregational: 100 years and counting


Courtesy of Carolyn Barnes
The newly built Los Altos church in 1914 featured a bell tower and an arched front window. Both continue as elements of the building as it stands today.

Foothills Congregational Church – the oldest church building ...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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Home business draws ire of resident

Statistics show that someone starts a home-based business every 12 seconds in the U.S., and hundreds of them can be found among the expensive neighborhoods of Los Altos.

According to city data, there are 369 licensed home-based businesses in Los Altos. Approximately 60 percent of them are categorized as “services,” which include child care, pool cleaning and consultation.

Most home businesses are legal and discreetly nestled behind closed doors, but at least one resident argues that some of these operations – even those with city-issued licenses – are inappropriate for residential neighborhoods.

“As a longtime Los Altos resident, all I can say is that we are absolutely astounded that a corp-yard-type business … is allowed in an R1 (residential) neighborhood,” wrote Los Altos homeowner Warren Young in a letter to city staff this month. “This is totally contrary to the stated permitted uses in my opinion and inconsistent with Los Altos’ typical residential character.”

After living peacefully alongside a home business on Mundell Way for the past 30 years, Young said he doesn’t want to cause any trouble. Over the past few months, he noted that “eyesores” – including deliveries by flatbed truck, as many as eight vehicles from the business parked on the side of the street and open shed storage – have worsened. Multiple inquiries to the city have resulted in some site improvements, including the removal of surplus chemicals that were being inappropriately stored on-site.

Even with the infractions, city officials verified the legality of the aforementioned business. Young wonders why the city would license such a business in a residential area in the first place.

Legal or not

Zoning and Business License codes in the Los Altos Municipal Code classify a home occupation as one that is “carried on in a home, provided no assistants are employed, … does not change the residential character or appearance of the dwelling or adversely affect the uses permitted in the residential district of which it is part,” and sells “no product, other than those produced on premises.”

Monitoring home businesses is challenging for a small city like Los Altos, according to City Manager Marcia Somers, who said Los Altos enforces municipal codes by complaint or when staff observe a possible violation. She said the city responds to an average of five to six business-related complaints every year.

Some exceptions to the code for businesses are grandfathered in.

“It’s important to note that we have legal nonconforming businesses in Los Altos that have a right to exist, although the current zoning no longer provides for those uses,” Somers said.

For Young, even if the business on his street is legal, he’s disappointed that the city won’t see what he views as the bigger picture.

“We pay a lot of money to live there, like everyone in Los Altos,” he said. “I just think that in a city like Los Altos, having an operation being able to exist in a community trying to improve is not right.”

Residents concerned about businesses conducted in their neighborhoods can contact the city’s Code Enforcement Office at 947-2775.

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