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News

Street crack-sealing project begins Monday, May 4

The City of Los Altos is beginning a city-wide street crack-sealing project on Monday (May 4).

City officials said the traffic impact for this project will be minimal. No streets will be closed and vehicles can resume normal traffic flow shortly aft...

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Schools

Homestead students use projects  to solve environmental problems

Homestead students use projects to solve environmental problems


Alisha Parikh/Special to the Town Crier
Homestead High School junior Maya Dhar, a Los Altos resident, left, and classmate Carolyn MacDonald support the school’s AP Environmental Science classes at the Arbor Day Festival April 23.

As summer app...

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Community

CHAC appoints new leader

CHAC appoints new leader

Naomi Nakano-Matsumoto, LCSW, has been named the new executive director of the Community Health Awareness Council (CHAC). A seasoned nonprofit leader, Nakano-Matsumoto is scheduled to assume duties July 1. She takes over for outgoing executive direct...

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Sports

St. Francis swimmers shine

St. Francis swimmers shine


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Benjamin Ho competes against Sacred Heart Cathedral Thursday. The junior swam on all three victorious relays at the home meet, which the Lancers won easily.

Flexing its power in the pool, host St....

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Comment

Halsey House deserves preservation: Other Voices

Halsey House deserves preservation: Other Voices


Many contributing supporters to the Friends of Historic Redwood Grove believe that the Halsey House, designated a historic landmark by the Los Altos City Council in 1981, deserves to be saved and renovated for adapted use by the community.

Set in ...

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Special Sections

Sneaky shots: A photographer’s guide to capturing the proposal

Sneaky shots: A photographer’s guide to capturing the proposal


Elliott Burr/Special to the Town Crier
A stealthy photographer scouts locations ahead of time to find not just a place to perch, but also the ideal position for the subjects.

It’s showtime.

You’re about to ask the person in front of...

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Business

Pharmaca celebrates grand opening over weekend

Pharmaca celebrates grand opening over weekend


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Pharmaca is coming to 400 Main St. with a grand-opening celebration scheduled Saturday and Sunday.

If natural health and beauty products are your cup of tea, expect to find them – and hot tea – this weekend at the gran...

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Books

People

JANE BUTTERFIELD PRINGLE LYND

JANE BUTTERFIELD PRINGLE LYND

October 30, 1924 - April 8, 2015

Jane Butterfield Pringle Lynd, daughter to Liebert and Elise Butterfield of San Francisco, passed away quietly at her home in Palo Alto surrounded by her family, following a short illness. Jane was a proud third ge...

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Travel

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers


Natalie Elefant/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident Natalie Elefant noted the vibrant street performances as a traveler in Cuba.

The U.S. restored diplomatic relations with Cuba late last year, enabling Americans to import $100 worth of cig...

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Stepping Out

'Birds' landing in Mtn. View

'Birds' landing in Mtn. View


Ray Renati/Special to the Town Crier
The Pear Avenue Theatre production of Paul Braverman’s “Birds of a Feather” stars Troy Johnson as mafia boss Sean Kineen, left, and Diane Tasca as private eye Frankie Payne.

Pear Avenue Theatre’s world premi...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon


tanya kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Shrub manzanitas are known for their sinuous mahogany trunks and branches. If the foliage hides the bark, prune selectively to open the center so that the bark is visible year-round. This Montara manzanita is ...

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Inside Mountain View

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth


Courtesy of Challenge Team
Jeanette Freiberg, bottom of pile, has fun with family members. The Challenge Team named Freiberg, a student at Mountain View High School, its 2015 Youth Champion.

There’s an ongoing joke among members of the Challenge...

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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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