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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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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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Part 2: Laves reflect on changes in city



Roy and Penny Lave have lived in Los Altos since 1964. Both of them have served as mayor of the city. Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

Roy and Penny Lave, Los Altos residents since 1964, have the rare distinction of both serving as mayors of the city. Roy’s recent retirement from the Los Altos Community Foundation, which he co-founded in 1991, and the couple’s nearly half-century of service prompted the following “e-terview,” the second in the two-part series.

TC: What were the landmark changes that happened in the city during your reign in office? Penny, we assume you wore a tiara?

Penny: We went through all the obligatory studies that keep getting repeated in Los Altos – parking study, civic center study, downtown renovation study. We enlarged city hall to add the council chambers, which moved the council meetings out of the city hall foyer. In 1993, we took down the large deodara tree at the confluence of State and Main streets and filled in the turn lane to create the Community Plaza, which was a Rotary Club project, and closed Main Street for resurfacing and intersection updates. There were the usual complaints. Some merchants sued the city, but the project came in early and we have all enjoyed the plaza in the ensuing years.

I was more often wearing a hard hat – not a tiara.

Roy: The folks who recruited me to run for the council did so to rectify the paucity of public land in Los Altos. During my first term, the city acquired Hillview School, Redwood Grove and Heritage Oaks Park. It also developed Marymeade Park. The consent calendar was introduced at council meetings. The Historical Commission was created and the J. Gilbert Smith House outfitted as a museum.

TC: What was your biggest disappointment in terms of what did not get done during your tenure?

Penny: We never seemed to get anywhere with the parking studies. We tried to establish an in-lieu development fee to build a fund to be used for a parking garage or alternative parking solutions, but there was an active clique of citizens who opposed any new taxes, so we never could get it approved.

Roy: The two major disappointments were mitigated when subsequent councils rectified both mistakes. The first was the failure to rezone the properties in public use (city land, schools and churches) to a Community and Public Facility zone (from the residential zoning), which would have allowed a process during which the community could decide if the public use should and could be maintained.

The second was refusing the federal Community Development Block Grants, which we wanted to use to purchase the Hillview site, for fear among a group of activists that the funds would be used for low-cost housing. We made a bargain that the city would not accept the block-grant funds for Hillview but would raise the property tax approximately 10 percent (when cities controlled their property tax). The city now accepts those funds, which have no housing strings.

TC: One of the major opportunities to advance “feet on the street” downtown was the city’s purchase of the First and Main site in the late 1990s. What did you expect to be there as you have watched the development – or lack thereof – over the past 16 years?

Penny: When I was on the council, we hired the city’s first economic development coordinator. We were fortunate to have Carol Curran in that position. She brokered a great deal with Leon (Pete) Harmon for the city to purchase the corner of First and Main – convincing him that the city needed additional parking space to enhance the downtown. I am extremely disappointed that there is no public parking component in the current development. It’s a missed opportunity.

Roy: Penny is the expert on First and Main. I favored a mixed-use development including public parking, retail, offices and a movie theater, which I estimate would put at least 500 feet on the street daily. Another group, including the Town Crier, pushed for a hotel. The council rejected both proposals and nothing happened for years.

TC: What do you like best about Los Altos today?

Penny: There is a new vitality downtown that I hope spreads to our other commercial areas. Finally, after at least 25 years, Safeway is giving us a new store. Our storefronts are nearly full to capacity. I hope the refrain we have heard from prospective business owners for so many years – not enough foot traffic – is no longer a truism.

Roy: We have made good friends who share our passion for the community. The community has so many interesting folks doing so many interesting things.

TC: You have been on site watching the Town Crier evolve over the past 35 years. What suggestions do you have for ways it could improve its performance in the electronic era?

Roy: In every survey in the city in the past 40 years, respondents identify timely information on matters that affect them as one of the greatest needs. Certainly electronic communication makes describing the “what” in a timely fashion possible. How one makes a viable business model from this need is not clear, but a paid daily email subscription might work.

I think folks also want to know not only the “what,” but the “why,” judging from the number of streetside conversations we’ve had with folks pondering the various construction, “unstruction” and reconstruction that we’ve seen in the downtown area.

Finally, I think folks are interested in what others think about the goings-on. Your editorials serve that need, but you provide only one view on issues that have many.

TC: What is your hope for the future?

Penny: I hope the young families that are moving to Los Altos will find time to become involved in civic activities. The Community Foundation’s LEAD program is a good introduction to opportunities in the community.

Roy: I have this utopian ideal of a community that understands the importance of preserving the commons – everyone understanding that all must give a little so that all can benefit, everyone is engaged, everyone takes responsibility for being informed. On occasion, folks ask me why Los Altos should have a community foundation, because it is a community that already has extraordinary privileges. My thought is that because we have so much, we should be able to be an extraordinary model of what a community could be.

TC: What’s the secret to maintaining a 50-plus-year marriage?

Penny: Roy traveled a lot.

Roy: The usual three little words: “You are right.”

TC: Penny, how has Roy influenced your life?

Penny: From the time I met him, Roy has always encouraged me, even pushed me, to do my best and maybe more importantly, attempt things beyond my comfort zone.  He is an adventurer. He has taken me along to far-off places like China, much of South America, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia – often while he consulted in those places. He encouraged me to snorkel – I didn't want to, but then loved it. We took scuba lessons together. We planned to bungy jump from Victoria Falls Bridge in Zimbabwe, but I went alone when his back disqualified him. He advised me to apply for the Planning Commission and that led to more city involvement. Skydiving is on our bucket list. It has been an exciting ride.

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