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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 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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