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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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Residential speeding demands substantive solutions: Other Voices

The Town Crier’s Aug. 21 article on speed limits (“Slow down: LA City Council rejects proposed speed-limit increases”) deserves some clarification and commentary, including the question: What is your better solution?

Believing that a radar feedback speed sign is “miraculous” and that implementing one will “make all the problems go away” is pure fantasy. It may help to a minimal degree for a short period of time. However, once drivers understand that it has no enforcement component, it simply becomes another sign to ignore. To believe that irresponsible drivers will somehow suddenly convert to responsible drivers based on one of these signs is sophomoric.

Narrowing streets? Visually shrinking the roadway may slow down some drivers, but others will simply use more of the bike lane.

How about speed tables? They do work to help control speeds and enhance pedestrian safety if designed and installed correctly. The speed table in front of Los Altos High School is an example of a functional design. The speed table at the back of Almond School is an example of a failed design that both city staff and council have known about for six years yet refuse to correct, risking public safety. Why?

Installing “Yield to Pedestrians, State Law” signs in crosswalks? While effective, they don’t represent a “rural atmosphere.” It’s OK for virtually all other cities, but we are above such banal displays, as our “rural atmosphere” appears to include unabated running of occupied crosswalks. Why?

Blaming crosstown commute speeders as the source of the problem is an easy way to duck personal responsibility. Drivers speeding on El Monte Avenue, for example, continue that speeding habit on South Clark, a street that can be radar enforced and is, almost exclusively, used by Los Altos residents (oh my!). Yet there is no radar enforcement on South Clark. Why? There are numerous other enforceable street examples, yet little, if anything, is being done.

Reality check: Educating drivers in an attempt to promote responsible driving is folly. Based on my 13 years of working with the city on the Traffic Commission and Neighbor Advisory Task Force, I can assure you that the only substantive tool that gets a driver’s attention is a red and blue light in the rearview mirror. It applies to those crosstown commuters as well as Los Altos residents, including business executives, parents shuttling kids to school, students and seniors.

If you don’t like residential speeding, what is your substantive solution?

Los Altos City Councilwoman Val Carpenter hits the target on the real problem – the 85th percentile rule. Until that rule is removed from street surveys, the inmates (drivers) will run the asylum, determining speed limits while ignoring street design, residential density and bicycle and pedestrian safety.

It’s time for all councilmembers and all Los Altos residents concerned with residential traffic safety to write, call and email state representatives and demand that the 85th percentile rule be removed as the determining survey factor within the Caltrans Manual of Traffic Control Devices. Enough is enough. The root cause is known. It is time for our representatives to man up and resolve this issue in Sacramento with assistance from cities all across California that have the same problem with no resolution in sight.

Kurt Ayers is a Los Altos resident and former member of the Traffic Commission (now the Planning and Transportation Commission).

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