Fri10242014

News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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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

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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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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School district ups property-tax growth projections


Courtesy of LASD
The Los Altos School District hiked its property-tax growth projection for 2013-2014, exceeding expectations calculated in June (blue line) by nearly 4 percent.

Projections for property-tax growth, the Los Altos School District’s major revenue source, are rising, district officials said at a board meeting earlier this month.

Reporting numbers from the 2012-2013 district budget, Randy Kenyon, assistant superintendent for business services, said the property-tax projections for the current school year stand at 8.7 percent, a significant jump from the 5 percent growth rate estimated in June.

Kenyon said property-tax growth is based primarily on housing turnover, which boosts the assessed value of the property.

The average assessed value of local homes is $1.18 million, with 55 percent of parcels assessed lower than the average. Eighteen percent of the parcels in the district are assessed at less than $200,000. Seven years ago, 26 percent of homes were assessed at less than $200,000, and 60 percent were assessed at less than the $834,000 average.

With the growth larger than predicted and the district’s current reserve fund 5 percent higher than its target level, the district may have funds to add to its educational offerings.

“Property-tax growth is a foreseeable ongoing revenue source for funding items with an ongoing cost,” Kenyon said.

Kenyon used graphs at the Sept. 9 board meeting to illustrate the costs of restoring certain programs. The numbers showed that programs with ongoing costs become extremely difficult for the district to carry – for example, adding $500,000 a year for facilities projects.

“Ongoing commitments without assurance of ongoing revenue leads to a financial death spiral,” he said.

Kenyon said property-tax growth and projections are important moving forward, but many “moving parts” are key to determining the future of the budget.

With the unexpected revenue, Superintendent Jeff Baier asked trustees to consider the possibility of rolling out full-day kindergarten across the district. The district currently offers full-day kindergarten only at Gardner Bullis School.

Introducing a full-day program throughout district would be a one-time cost of $450,000 for additional facilities and an ongoing cost of $230,000 per year for additional staff.

“The decision on full-day kindergarten is one that as a district we need to make soon if the intent is to install it next year,” Baier said. “We begin (promoting our program at) preschools in early November.”

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