Mon10202014

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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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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