Thu04022015

News

Council eyes bond for Hillview center

Council eyes bond for Hillview center


The Los Altos City Council accepted an $87.5 million cost model for its preferred layout for replacing Hillview Community Center. 

Residents could cast their votes as soon as November on a bond measure to partially fund the redevelopment of...

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Schools

Oak students showcase creativity in Destination Imagination competitions

Oak students showcase creativity in Destination Imagination competitions


Courtesy of Jane Lee Choe
The Sharp Cheddars, a team of Oak Avenue School sixth-graders, perform at the Destination Imagination state competition Saturday in Riverside.

A team of seven Oak Avenue School sixth-graders traveled to Riverside last week...

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Community

Heising-Simons Foundation relocates to 400 Main St. property in Los Altos

Heising-Simons Foundation relocates to 400 Main St. property in Los Altos


Bruce Barton/Town Crier
All in the family: Mark Heising, from left, Caitlin Heising and Elizabeth Simons make up the board of the eight-year-old Heising-Simons Foundation, now in its new headquarters at 400 Main St. in downtown Los Altos.

The He...

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Comment

What would Bob do?: Editorial

The recent passing of an extraordinary Los Altos resident, Bob Grimm, has generated a range of heartfelt reaction, from sympathy to fond memories, from all corners. That’s because Bob did not discriminate in his desire to help others with his money, ...

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Special Sections

Cars that are right on track

Cars that are right on track


Courtesy of BMW
The BMW M4 is packed with power, featuring 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque.

There’s nothing more fun than driving a responsive automobile that feels alive in the curves and eager to go when given more than a touch ...

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Business

First Street's 'Fort Knox' up for sale

First Street's 'Fort Knox' up for sale


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
The Los Altos Vault and Safe Deposit Co. is on the market for $4.5 million. Its fortified steel and concrete structure has been compared to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s gold depository.

A downtown Los Altos structure “b...

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Books

'Pope Joan' Book weaves tale around legend of female pontiff

'Pope Joan' Book weaves tale around legend of female pontiff


The idea that there may have a female pope at one time in history has generated much speculation throughout the centuries. “Pope Joan” (Crown, 1996) by Donna Woolfolk Cross, does not answer the question; rather, the author has created a detai...

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People

JOHN BATISTICH

JOHN BATISTICH

John Batistich of Los Altos Hills died peacefully on March 12 surrounded by his family. John is survived by his wife Claire Batistich (Vidovich) of 67 years and children Gary Batistich of Lodi and Gay Batistich Abuel-Saud of Menlo Park. He is also ...

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Travel

Eat, hike, soak: Cavallo Point Lodge offers Marin experience

Eat, hike, soak: Cavallo Point Lodge offers Marin experience


Eren Göknar/ Town Crier
Cavallo Point Lodge comprises former U.S. Army buildings, like the Mission Blue Chapel, repurposed for guests seeking a luxurious getaway.

It used to be a place where batteries of soldiers lived, with officers’ quarter...

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Stepping Out

'Fire' ignites in Mtn. View

'Fire' ignites in Mtn. View


Courtesy of Kevin Berne
The cast of “Fire on the Mountain,” includes, from left, Tony Marcus, Harvy Blanks, Molly Andrews and Robert Parsons.

TheatreWorks is slated to present the regional premiere of the musical “Fire on the Mountain” this wee...

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Spiritual Life

Spiritual Life Briefs

Oshman JCC hosts Judaism and Science Symposium

The Oshman Family Jewish Community Center has scheduled its inaugural Judaism and Science Symposium, “An Exploration of the Convergence of Jewish & Scientific Thought,” 5 p.m. April 12 at the JCC’s ...

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Magazine

Food for thought: Hidden Villa programs offer teens training in sustainability on the farm

Food for thought: Hidden Villa programs offer teens training in sustainability on the farm


/Town Crier It’s not all cute and cuddly for teens participating in the eight-week Animal Husbandry Apprenticeship program at Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills. Mia Mosing of Palo Alto, left, and Sophia Jackson of Los Altos clean the pigpens – one of...

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Slow down LA City Council rejects proposed speed-limit increases


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week rejected proposed speed-limit increases on a number of city streets. Mayor Jarrett Fishpaw said it’s up to residents to set a good example and adhere to the law.

The Los Altos City Council last week put the brakes on a proposal to raise speed limits on several city roads.

The Aug. 13 decision came after a city traffic survey – conducted in late 2012 through early 2013 – resulted in a proposal to increase speeds by 5 mph on 18 of 19 city road segments. One segment along Grant Road – ending at Homestead Road – called for a 10 mph hike, from 25 to 35 mph.

Prior to rejecting the proposal, Councilwoman Val Carpenter called speed-limit increases “an endless upward spiral.”

“To me, what’s much more important is to have our residential streets be as safe as possible for pedestrians and bicyclists – especially children traveling to and from school – than to increase through-put for commuters,” she said.

The survey was required under California Vehicle Code and California Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices regulations mandating the re-examination of city speed limits at five-, seven- and 10-year intervals. Proposed speed limits, according to a city staff report, are determined “at the nearest 5 mph increment to the 85th percentile speed of (observed) free-flowing traffic” on affected road segments. Per state regulations, cities can reduce determined speed limits by no more than 5 mph based on factors such as a road’s accident rates.

The report also noted that state regulations require a valid traffic study – and that cities approve speed-limit adjustments – prior to radar enforcement by police. The only speed enforcement method currently available to police is “pacing,” which requires a police officer to trail a violator to measure speed.

Public reaction

More than 20 residents spoke out against the proposed speed increases at the council meeting. Several of them cited safety for pedestrians and bicyclists – and particularly children – as their top concern.

Cuesta Drive resident Roger Hayes called for the installation of a radar feedback sign as a traffic-calming measure instead of raising his street’s posted speed from 25 to 30 mph.

“(Drivers) hit the brake pedal when they see that flashing 25 (mph sign),” Hayes said. “It’s miraculous. … We think it’ll work. We think it’ll ease the burden on the police department and it’ll make all of the problems go away.”

Covington Road resident Geoffrey Spencer – the father of four – noted that it was “sad that 85 percent of the people driving down my street are going 10 mph or higher” than the posted speed limit.

“I think that even if we’re going to keep the speed limit where it is, something needs to be done to slow people down,” he said, suggesting the use of a radar feedback sign as a potential traffic-calming device for his street.

Cameron Hamblin, another Covington Road resident, added that commuters cutting through Los Altos are partly to blame for excessive speeds.

“(Speed-limit increases) will only benefit the people who live outside of this town,” Hamblin said.

Los Altos Environmental Commissioner Gary Hedden, speaking on his own behalf, offered potential measures to reduce speeds, such as narrower roadways that force drivers to slow down.

“It’s harder to go fast in a narrow space, especially if you’re texting,” he said, drawing chuckles from those in attendance.

He added that raising speed limits to allow enforcement by radar “defies common sense.” He encouraged residents to voice their concerns to state lawmakers in an effort to change state requirements.

Council says no

Councilmembers appeared united in their opposition to the proposed speed-limit increases.

Councilwoman Megan Satterlee told residents that while she wasn’t supporting an increase to current speed limits, she was interested in re-examining the possibility of raising the limits from 25 to 30 mph along Grant Road and one section of Fremont Avenue – between Grant and Highway 85 – in the future.

“The way those roads are set up, I think they can support 30 mph, so it’s worth the discussion,” she said.

Mayor Jarrett Fishpaw cautioned that the council would go through the same exercise in future years because of the city’s requirements as set forth by the state. He added that it’s the responsibility of residents to set a good example.

“I think it’s important to note that a lot of the people who are driving on streets near your homes are individuals who live near your homes. … It is us in these cars who are traveling above the speed limit,” he said.

Carpenter added that the speed-limit issue begins with the law itself.

“I just want you all to understand here that the real villain is not the city staff or the city council, it’s the state’s 85th-percentile rule that basically lets the fastest drivers set the speed limits on our residential streets,” she said. “That’s kind of like the fox guarding the henhouse.”

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