Tue09302014

News

Meet the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors candidates

Meet the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors candidates

Two candidates have filed to run for the District 7 seat on the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors in the Nov. 4 election. The water district, established in 1929, oversees and protects water resources in Santa Clara County....

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Schools

New LAHS assistant principal focuses on school activities

New LAHS assistant principal focuses on school activities


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Suzanne Woolfolk, assistant principal at Los Altos High, teaches a leadership course for Associated Student Body leaders.

Suzanne Woolfolk – new assistant principal at Los Altos High School – said she is happy...

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Community

Petting zoo, car show highlight Chamber's annual Fall Festival

Petting zoo, car show highlight Chamber's annual Fall Festival


Courtesy of Los Altos Chamber of Commerce
The petting zoo is a highlight of the Los Altos Fall Festival. This year’s event is slated Oct. 4 and 5.

The Los Altos Chamber of Commerce has scheduled its 23rd annual Fall Festival 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oc...

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Sports

Burlingame bowls over Los Altos

Burlingame bowls over Los Altos


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High halfback Sean Lanoza looks for running room against Burlingame in Saturday’s home opener.

The opening drive of Saturday’s game against Burlingame couldn’t have gone much better for the Los Altos High fo...

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Comment

Does Los Altos have a parking problem, or is it a symptom? : Other Voices

Yes, and yes. It appears that the downtown Los Altos parking problem is a symptom of the city’s “Sarah Winchester” approach to planning that instead of resulting in staircases to nowhere resulted in a hotel without parking required by code.(1)

From ...

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Special Sections

Los Altos landmark Four families later, Shoup House goes on the market

Los Altos landmark Four families later, Shoup House goes on the market


Courtesy of Matthew Anello
The Shoup House dining room, above, features original elements. The 100-year-old house on University Avenue earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, a nod to its legacy as the home of city founder Paul S...

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Business

Longtime banker readies for retirement

Longtime banker readies for retirement


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Joanne Kavalaris is retiring at the end of October after spending the past 25 years of her banking career in downtown Los Altos.

A longtime Los Altos banker is calling it a career in a few weeks.

Joanne Kavalaris, Bank o...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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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

Pear builds wonderful 'House'

Pear builds wonderful 'House'


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Betsy Kruse Craig portrays Trish in the Pear Avenue Theatre production of “House,” which closes Oct. 5.

Mountain View’s Pear Avenue Theatre is staging an unusual theater-going experience – producing two plays...

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Spiritual Life

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 add ...

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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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