Mon10202014

News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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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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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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