Thu03052015

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...

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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 KZSU.
...

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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 make school history

Eagles make school history

Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos High School Eagles defeated Santa Clara High School Tuesday to advance to the Central Coast Section basketball finals Saturday.

The Eagles are headed where no Los Altos High boys basketball team has gone...

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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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Owner of historical house hedged in by neighbor

Over the past two years, Los Altos resident Guido Van Thillo has been able to see less and less. It’s not because his eyesight is failing – it’s because the neighbor’s hedge in front of his house has now comfortably cleared two stories, and is still growing, Van Thillo said.

Van Thillo’s house on Eleanor Avenue, designed and built by Gustav Stickley in 1909 in the American Craftsman style, formerly belonged to an apricot orchardist. The Los Altos Historical Commission has deemed the house a historical landmark.

The Van Thillos have lived in the house since 1994. Van Thillo, a designer and contractor himself, built another house on the land he purchased in the same Craftsman style, diagonally in front of his own, and sold it.

According to Van Thillo, his neighbors, the Hetzlers, asked permission two years ago to grow the hedge along the fence, on the corners of their property facing his house.

“I said OK, because the area in front of the house would still be clear,” Van Thillo said. “But then they just kept growing and growing.”

When Van Thillo built the second house, he said he abided by the conditions approved by the Los Altos City Council, one of which specified that the “landscaping shall be of species that are low-growing and will not interfere with views of Parcel 2’s house from Eleanor Avenue,” with Parcel 2 referring to Van Thillo’s property.

Van Thillo noted that his porch now faces an approximately 10-foot-high wall of bushes and trees, including a redwood tree struggling for light under a palm tree.

Van Thillo said he attempted to stop the hedge growth once by approaching the Hetzlers, and a second time by calling firefighters and claiming the hedge was a fire hazard. He was rebuffed both times, as the hedge is on private property.

Since his attempts, the Hetzlers have hired an attorney, according to Van Thillo. The Hetzlers were unavailable for comment.

Van Thillo said he turned to the Historical Commission, which agreed to review the situation.

“The city is currently working on seeing whether we can preserve the view across the property without an easement,” said Zachary Dahl, senior city planner for Los Altos. “The question is whether (the condition that low landscaping be planted) is just a condition for a building permit or a condition that runs with the property.”

Regardless of the final outcome, “it’s just a condition specific to this circumstance,” Dahl added.

According to Dahl, the commission doesn’t have an ordinance that requires the city to limit the height of landscaping for other historical buildings – the Van Thillo property was a special case where a clear view of the street was outlined in the building plan.

However, one commissioner said the historical nature of Van Thillo’s property has played a role in the commission’s decision to become involved.

“The bottom line is, it’s a historic building,” said Janis Baer, vice chairwoman of the Historical Commission. “The point isn’t just preservation, it’s also so that people who are in the community can see our historic structures. That’s why the rule is in place.”

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