Wed03042015

News

Council considers freezing First St. development

Council considers freezing First St. development


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A pedestrian walks along First Street in downtown Los Altos last week. Future construction on the street could soon be barred by an emergency moratorium on development.

Further construction along First Street could be t...

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Schools

Santa Rita students put on Kranky Kids Radio Show

Santa Rita students put on Kranky Kids Radio Show


Traci Newell/ Town Crier
Neighborhood volunteer Lishka DeVoss, center, introduces members of Santa Rita School’s Kranky Kids Radio Club to their interviewee last week. The students star in the Kranky Kids Radio Show, which airs Fridays on KZS...

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Community

Music for Minors partners with Harvard to expand efforts

Music for Minors partners with Harvard to expand efforts


Palmer

When the thriving Music for Minors began to outgrow its capacity, the local nonprofit organization made new friends.

Beginning in late February, Music for Minors – a Town Crier Holiday Fund recipient – partnered with Harvard Business Sch...

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Sports

Eagles rally past Rams


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High’s Patrick McColl scores on a breakaway dunk Saturday against Willow Glen. He scored 12 points in the victory.


Patrick McColl’s breakaway dunk emphatically ensured Los Altos High’s greatest comeback win ...

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Comment

Dangerous streets: A Piece of My Mind

I’m driving along El Monte Avenue between Foothill Expressway and Springer Road at approximately 6 p.m. on a midwinter evening. In keeping with the “village feeling” of our town, there are no sidewalks and no streetlights.

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Special Sections

Lions, lambs and Cab Franc for March

Lions, lambs and Cab Franc for March


Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Oven fries, a slice of feta cheese and the bite of harissa mayonnaise make for a late-winter, early-spring dinner perfectly paired with Cabernet Franc.

I can’t help but wonder whether March will come in ...

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Business

Los Altos scientist named Inventor of the Year

Los Altos scientist named Inventor of the Year

Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Robert Showen, above, the Silicon Valley Intellectual Property Lawyers Association’s Inventor of the Year, began researching his ShotSpotter technology in his Los Altos home. Sensors are placed around a city, below, and fou...

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Books

French novel

French novel "Hunting and Gathering" offers character-driven suspense


Anna Gavalda is a well-known author in her native France, where she has published six books, most of which have met with considerable praise and commercial success. Her fourth novel, “Hunting and Gathering” (Riverhead Books, 2007), is filled ...

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People

JACK JOSEPH CRANE

JACK JOSEPH CRANE

Long time Los Altos resident, Jack Joseph Crane, loving husband and devoted father of two children, passed away peacefully at the Terraces in Los Altos, Saturday, February 21, 2015. He was 95 years of age. Jack was born on June 22, 1919. He is prec...

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Travel

Seoul of the city: Korean capital offers mix of old and new

Seoul of the city: Korean capital offers mix of old and new


Ramya Krishna/Special to the Town Crier
Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon public recreation space, above, features an elevated pedestrian bridge.

Seoul, South Korea, is a study in contrasts. Having grown quickly, the city is a mix of old and new.

Using...

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Stepping Out

TheatreWorks jumps into ‘Lake’

TheatreWorks jumps into ‘Lake’


Kevin Berne/Special to the Town Crier
Jason Bowen, from left, Adam Poss and Nilanjana Bose star in “The Lake Effect,” opening this weekend at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto and running through March 29.

The TheatreWorks production ...

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Spiritual Life

Is your thought life sabotaging your spiritual journey?

My computer started having problems – there seemed to be some sort of malware running in the background. At first it was just annoying, then it began to slow down my computer, interfering with its basic operations. What is it doing? Why can...

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Magazine

Local events serve up family fun

Local events serve up family fun


Courtesy of Peninsula Youth Theatre
Peninsula Youth Theatre’s production of “Pecos Bill: A Tall Tale” is slated to open March 20 in Mountain View.

For families seeking a break from the daily routine, events abound this month and next in Los Alto...

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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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