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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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Parking management plan clears final hurdle


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
One recommendation in the Downtown Parking Management Plan includes graduated parking fines for repeat offenders.

The Los Altos City Council unanimously approved the city’s Downtown Parking Management Plan last week, but not before holding line-item votes to establish priorities on the recommended parking management practices.

The council’s unanimous approval came after it accepted the report’s downtown parking data by a narrow 3-2 vote in May. At that time, the council directed staff to explore and further detail some of the report’s management recommendations.

The data calculated that the downtown area’s current parking supply reaches 88 percent occupancy during a midweek peak – slightly above the 85 percent threshold commonly accepted by parking consultants. Once Safeway’s 129 shared parking spaces become available, peak occupancy should drop slightly to 86 percent but is slated to increase to 93 percent over the long term under certain scenarios.

As part of its approval, the council requested that staff include an additional section outlining line-item votes and comments on several report recommendations, including graduated parking fines, the continuation of a holiday valet parking program that debuted last year and the possibility of parking enforcement through enhanced technology.

According to Los Altos public information coordinator Erica Ray, the line-item recommendations detailed in the additional sections are expected to return to the council for consideration as future individual agenda items.

Future parking supply

In addition to seeking approval for the parking plan, city staff sought further suggestions on how to augment the downtown triangle’s parking supply. One of those strategies called for exploring the construction of a downtown parking structure.

Councilwoman Jan Pepper said she opposed funding further exploration of a parking structure, calling it “overkill” to solve what the report outlined as a downtown-parking crunch at lunchtime on weekdays.

“I think part of it is, people want to park near where they’re going,” she said. “So if you build a parking structure and people still don’t want to walk two or three blocks to where they need to go, then I don’t think the parking structure is going to meet the needs.”

Councilwoman Megan Satterlee countered that she could support a parking structure study, but only after the city explored the feasibility of establishing a parking assessment district to help fund future parking needs. A special district would require 50 percent approval by stakeholders – namely, downtown property owners.

In addition, Satterlee suggested looking at ways to add on-street parking on numbered streets – such as Third Street – “as a potential supply increase.” She noted that the city should explore establishing a policy on whether developers should be allowed to fund the reconfiguration of downtown parking plazas to meet their projects’ parking requirements.

“I think that we need to have some method by which a developer or property owner could come in and say, ‘I’m going to reconfigure 20 percent of a plaza’ or whatever it is. … I just think we need to have some sort of policy around how we would manage that,” she said.

Councilwoman Val Carpenter countered that allowing such a developer incentive would be akin to “the fox guarding the henhouse.”

Line-item votes

Councilmembers offered detailed comments on several recommendations regarding how to manage the area’s current parking supply, including a system of fines that would increase the cost of tickets issued to repeat offenders.

According to the parking report, 22 percent of the 1,750 tickets issued between June 2012 and June 2013 were issued to offenders with three or more violations within a calendar year. Still, councilmembers appeared split on whether to waive or continue the current $54.50 fine for a first offense, which nets the city approximately $65,000 annually.

The council approved exploring the future use of automatic License Plate Reader technology as a way to augment current parking enforcement. Use of the technology, according to the report, could cost the city an additional $70,000 over a five-year period.

Pepper cast the only dissenting vote, calling the use of License Plate Readers “overkill.”

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