Thu10302014

News

Police stress need for low speed in school zones

Police stress need for low speed in school zones


Town Crier File Photo
After two recent accidents involving cyclists and motorists, police urge caution – on both sides.

After two recent incidents of vehicles striking student bicyclists, Los Altos Police urge residents to exercise caution whe...

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Schools

Gardner Bullis School debuts new Grizzly Student Center

Gardner Bullis School debuts new Grizzly Student Center


Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Students line up to check books out of the library in the new Grizzly Student Center at Gardner Bullis School.

Gardner Bullis School opened its new Grizzly Student Center earlier this month, introducing a lea...

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Community

Home improvement workshop scheduled Wednesday (Oct. 29)

The County of Santa Clara is hosting a free informational workshop on 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Los Altos Hills Town Hall, 26379 Fremont Road.

The workshop will offer ways single-family homeowners can increase their homes’ energy efficiency. Eligible i...

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Comment

Off the fence: TC recommends 'yes' on N

The Town Crier initially offered no position on the controversial $150 million Measure N bond on Tuesday’s ballot. But some of the reasons we gave in our Oct. 15 editorial were, on reflection, overly critical and based on inaccurate information.

We ...

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Special Sections

Long-term solutions emerge as water conservation goes mainstream

Long-term solutions emerge as water conservation goes mainstream


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Forrest Linebarger, right, installed greywater and rainwater harvesting systems at his Los Altos Hills home.

With more brown than green visible in her Los Altos backyard, Kacey Fitzpatrick admits that she’s a little e...

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Business

Local realtors scare up money for charity

Local realtors scare up money for charity


Photo courtesy of SILVAR
Realtors Gary Campi and Jordan Legge, from left, joined Nancy Domich, SILVAR President Dave Tonna and Joe Brown to raise funds for the Silicon Valley Realtors Charitable Foundation.

Los Altos and Mountain View realtors raise...

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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

DAVID S. NIVISON

DAVID S. NIVISON

David S. Nivison, 91 years old, and a resident of Los Altos, California since 1952, died Oct. 16, 2014 at home.  His neighbors had recently honored him as the “Mayor of Russell Ave., in recognition of 62 years of distinguished living” on that ...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

ECYS opens season Sunday

ECYS opens season Sunday


Ramya Krishna/Special to the Town Crier
The El Camino Youth Symphony rehearses for Sunday’s concert, above.

The El Camino Youth Symphony – under new conductor Jindong Cai – is scheduled to perform its season-opening concert 4 p.m....

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Spiritual Life

Christian Science Reading Room hosts webinar on prayer and healing

Christian Science practitioner and teacher Evan Mehlenbacher is scheduled to present a live Internet webinar lecture, “Prayer That Heals,” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Christian Science Reading Room, 60 Main St., Los Altos.

Those interested ...

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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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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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