Tue09302014

News

Meet the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors candidates

Meet the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors candidates

Two candidates have filed to run for the District 7 seat on the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors in the Nov. 4 election. The water district, established in 1929, oversees and protects water resources in Santa Clara County....

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Schools

New LAHS assistant principal focuses on school activities

New LAHS assistant principal focuses on school activities


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Suzanne Woolfolk, assistant principal at Los Altos High, teaches a leadership course for Associated Student Body leaders.

Suzanne Woolfolk – new assistant principal at Los Altos High School – said she is happy...

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Community

Petting zoo, car show highlight Chamber's annual Fall Festival

Petting zoo, car show highlight Chamber's annual Fall Festival


Courtesy of Los Altos Chamber of Commerce
The petting zoo is a highlight of the Los Altos Fall Festival. This year’s event is slated Oct. 4 and 5.

The Los Altos Chamber of Commerce has scheduled its 23rd annual Fall Festival 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oc...

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Sports

Burlingame bowls over Los Altos

Burlingame bowls over Los Altos


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High halfback Sean Lanoza looks for running room against Burlingame in Saturday’s home opener.

The opening drive of Saturday’s game against Burlingame couldn’t have gone much better for the Los Altos High fo...

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Comment

Does Los Altos have a parking problem, or is it a symptom? : Other Voices

Yes, and yes. It appears that the downtown Los Altos parking problem is a symptom of the city’s “Sarah Winchester” approach to planning that instead of resulting in staircases to nowhere resulted in a hotel without parking required by code.(1)

From ...

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Special Sections

Los Altos landmark Four families later, Shoup House goes on the market

Los Altos landmark Four families later, Shoup House goes on the market


Courtesy of Matthew Anello
The Shoup House dining room, above, features original elements. The 100-year-old house on University Avenue earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, a nod to its legacy as the home of city founder Paul S...

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Business

Longtime banker readies for retirement

Longtime banker readies for retirement


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Joanne Kavalaris is retiring at the end of October after spending the past 25 years of her banking career in downtown Los Altos.

A longtime Los Altos banker is calling it a career in a few weeks.

Joanne Kavalaris, Bank o...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

Pear builds wonderful 'House'

Pear builds wonderful 'House'


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Betsy Kruse Craig portrays Trish in the Pear Avenue Theatre production of “House,” which closes Oct. 5.

Mountain View’s Pear Avenue Theatre is staging an unusual theater-going experience – producing two plays...

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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 add ...

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Community engagement pitch hits dead end: Proposal to improve communication goes nowhere

A bid by two Los Altos city councilwomen to examine the city’s community engagement efforts ended without a vote Sept. 17 after their council colleagues deemed it too broad.

Councilwomen Jeannie Bruins and Jan Pepper sought the council’s approval at a special meeting last week to form an ad hoc task force that would examine the city’s current community engagement endeavors, review best practices in other cities and identify possible areas of improvement.

According to a staff report, Bruins and Pepper proposed forming a committee of residents, staff members and themselves, citing residents’ concerns about a lack of two-way communication on certain issues voiced during their 2012 election campaigns. Bruins and Pepper added that the effort would also fulfill a 2013 council priority to “encourage and employ effective community engagement practices.”

“People want to know up front, ‘What’s the problem we’re trying to solve? Don’t ask me about whether I want a traffic light – let’s agree first on the problem we’re trying to solve,’” Bruins said, explaining the motivation behind the effort.

The remainder of the council expressed doubts about which problem Bruins and Pepper were attempting to solve.

Councilwoman Megan Satterlee said she couldn’t support voting to form a task force “at this point” because the scope of the project was too broad, suggesting instead a more narrowed focus on a specific issue, such as examining ways to engage the public on traffic issues.

“I think just a generic call, ‘Hey, everyone, let’s talk about public engagement’ – really, I’m struggling as to what that’s going to get us,” she said.

Satterlee also rebuffed the assertion that a lack of effective community engagement was a central issue during the 2012 election campaign.

“I did go through (the 2012) campaign and this was not something that I heard a lot,” she said. “So if there is a lot of resident concern about the engagement process, I have not heard it.”

Councilwoman Val Carpenter said the issue appeared to lack public interest, noting that she received no emails on the topic. She also pointed to a lack of public speakers at the meeting. Carpenter suggested instead calling a study session on the matter, “so the entire council, the mayor and myself, can hear from those who have expressed concerns.”

Pepper countered that the lack of public speakers and emails on the issue were proof that the city should examine community engagement practices in the first place.

“The methods we’re using now are not reaching the people who might be interested, which is maybe why there isn’t anyone here to talk about this with us tonight,” she said.

Pepper also expressed frustration at her colleagues’ resistance to examining the issue from a broader perspective.

“Part of community engagement is getting more people in our community involved – utilizing the talents and ideas that they have,” she said. “Basically what I’m hearing back from my fellow councilmembers is that we don’t want to do that. We want to just kind of keep doing the same thing we’re doing. I don’t know – are we afraid to see what the community has to say?”

Without the necessary votes to move forward, Bruins told the council that she was “comfortable taking no action” on the item so that she and Pepper could “noodle on this a little bit more.”

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