Wed03042015

News

Council considers freezing First St. development

Council considers freezing First St. development


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A pedestrian walks along First Street in downtown Los Altos last week. Future construction on the street could soon be barred by an emergency moratorium on development.

Further construction along First Street could be t...

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Schools

Former NFL player huddles with Blach students about life choices

Former NFL player huddles with Blach students about life choices


Ellie Van HOutte/Town Crier
Former NFL tight end Eason Ramson visited with Blach Intermediate School students, Feb. 13 to share the perils of drug use. Now a motivational speaker, Ramson works with at-risk teens in San Francisco.

Although former ...

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Community

Music for Minors partners with Harvard to expand efforts

Music for Minors partners with Harvard to expand efforts


Palmer

When the thriving Music for Minors began to outgrow its capacity, the local nonprofit organization made new friends.

Beginning in late February, Music for Minors – a Town Crier Holiday Fund recipient – partnered with Harvard Business Sch...

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Comment

Dangerous streets: A Piece of My Mind

I’m driving along El Monte Avenue between Foothill Expressway and Springer Road at approximately 6 p.m. on a midwinter evening. In keeping with the “village feeling” of our town, there are no sidewalks and no streetlights.

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Special Sections

Lions, lambs and Cab Franc for March

Lions, lambs and Cab Franc for March


Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Oven fries, a slice of feta cheese and the bite of harissa mayonnaise make for a late-winter, early-spring dinner perfectly paired with Cabernet Franc.

I can’t help but wonder whether March will come in ...

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Business

Los Altos scientist named Inventor of the Year

Los Altos scientist named Inventor of the Year


Above Photo by Alicia Castro/Town Crier; Below Rendering Courtesy of SST inc.
Robert Showen, above, the Silicon Valley Intellectual Property Lawyers Association’s Inventor of the Year, began researching his ShotSpotter technology in his Los A...

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Books

French novel

French novel "Hunting and Gathering" offers character-driven suspense


Anna Gavalda is a well-known author in her native France, where she has published six books, most of which have met with considerable praise and commercial success. Her fourth novel, “Hunting and Gathering” (Riverhead Books, 2007), is filled ...

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People

HELEN KNOFLOCH

HELEN KNOFLOCH

Aug. 14, 1920 – Feb.12, 2015

Resident of Cupertino

Helen Knofloch, 94, loving wife and devoted mother passed away on Feb. 12th. She was born in Vienna, Austria and moved to Los Altos in 1949, where she met Andy, the love of her life. They resided...

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Travel

Seoul of the city: Korean capital offers mix of old and new

Seoul of the city: Korean capital offers mix of old and new


Ramya Krishna/Special to the Town Crier
Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon public recreation space, above, features an elevated pedestrian bridge.

Seoul, South Korea, is a study in contrasts. Having grown quickly, the city is a mix of old and new.

Using...

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Stepping Out

TheatreWorks jumps into ‘Lake’

TheatreWorks jumps into ‘Lake’


Kevin Berne/Special to the Town Crier
Jason Bowen, from left, Adam Poss and Nilanjana Bose star in “The Lake Effect,” opening this weekend at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto and running through March 29.

The TheatreWorks production ...

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Spiritual Life

Is your thought life sabotaging your spiritual journey?

My computer started having problems – there seemed to be some sort of malware running in the background. At first it was just annoying, then it began to slow down my computer, interfering with its basic operations. What is it doing? Why can...

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Magazine

Local events serve up family fun

Local events serve up family fun


Courtesy of Peninsula Youth Theatre
Peninsula Youth Theatre’s production of “Pecos Bill: A Tall Tale” is slated to open March 20 in Mountain View.

For families seeking a break from the daily routine, events abound this month and next in Los Alto...

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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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