Thu09182014

News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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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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