Thu05052016

News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill Road home April 27 and...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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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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