Wed02102016

News

SPLAT targets data, outreach as airplane noise continues

SPLAT targets data, outreach as airplane noise continues


Graphic courtesy of Don Gardner
Activists claim that a new SFO flight path leaves a “sound shadow” that impacts Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

Sky Posse Los Altos Team – more simply known as SPLAT – seeks to squelch the noise...

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Schools

Los Altos High student-run charity plans '5 Gallon Gala'

Los Altos High student-run charity plans '5 Gallon Gala'


Courtesy of Lia Evard
Water by Youth members gave Egan students a chance to carry a 40-pound Jerry can, to see how difficult it is to obtain water in developing nations.

Water by Youth, a club at Los Altos High School, is making a splash by pla...

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Community

What would you do with a box of cookies? Local Girls Scouts help Tanzanian orphanage

What would you do with a box of cookies? Local Girls Scouts help Tanzanian orphanage


Courtesy of Alicia Madden
Sales of local Girl Scout cookies support service projects, such as funding an orphanage in the village of Mto wa Mbu in Tanzania.

Girl Scout cookies – whether you think of them as a treat, a tradition or a diet comp...

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Sports

Scoreless spells sink LA boys

Scoreless spells sink LA boys


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High point guard Nolan Brennan attempts a shot in Friday’s game versus Palo Alto. He scored eight points in the loss.

There have been several games this season in which the Los Altos High boys basketball t...

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Comment

New 'York' values

New 'York' values


Hughes

 

As we have witnessed California suffer through one of its worst droughts in history over the past few years, all of us, I’m sure, have been keenly aware of our surroundings and have done a small part in trying to conserve wa...

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Special Sections

Getting a charge  out of the Volt

Getting a charge out of the Volt


Courtesy of Chevrolet
The 2016 Chevrolet Volt can be driven up to 50 miles on the power stored in its batteries.

Just five years ago, we wondered in this column what the power supply would be for the car of the future. Gasoline, diesel, electric ba...

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Business

Nearing V-Day: Shops stock sweets, treats

Nearing V-Day: Shops stock sweets, treats


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos resident Ella Roosakos, 11, with her mother, Gail, puzzles over which Gourmet Works sweets to buy as a valentine for Ella’s friend.

The gift-buying rush isn’t exclusive to Christmas. It may jump over...

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People

ALAN RODNEY MILLS

ALAN RODNEY MILLS

Alan Rodney Mills, PhD, 83, of Los Altos passed away peacefully on Saturday, January 30th, 2016. He was born in Rochdale, England in 1933 and came to California in 1962. He was a proud alumni of Manchester Grammar in England, University of Liverpoo...

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Stepping Out

PYT 'Gets Famous'

PYT 'Gets Famous'


Lyn Flaim Healy/Spotlight Moments Photography
Renee Vetter of Palo Alto, left, and Megan Foreman of Los Altos star in Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Judy Moody Gets Famous.” Performances are scheduled Friday and Saturday.

Peninsula...

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Spiritual Life

A time to prepare: Fasting for Lent isn't limited to food

 

Today is Ash Wednesday, which in the Christian calendar marks the beginning of Lent – the 40 days of preparation for Resurrection Sunday, otherwise known as Easter.

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Inside Mountain View

New right-to-lease ordinance promises relief for renters

New right-to-lease ordinance promises relief for renters


Mountain View Tenants Coalition/Facebook
Residents gather in the fall to protest Mountain View’s rising rents. Rent relief is on the way in the form of a new ordinance.

A controversial Mountain View law requiring landlords to provide lease opt...

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Neighbors mourn, but Los Altos justifies removal of giant oak trees


Courtesy of City of Los Altos
Residents complained after the city approved the removal of two diseased Majestic Oak trees.

Los Altos residents have little recourse if their neighbors want to cut down a mature tree on their own property. However, the city has strict guidelines for tree removal, most notably proof that the tree is dying and at risk of falling.

That’s little consolation to some residents of Cypress Drive, who last week mourned the loss of two 50-foot Majestic Oaks deemed diseased and a threat to homes they towered over. Neighbor Terese Blockus called their removal “heartbreaking. We’re just so sad that these trees are gone.”

“It’s sad for us, too,” said Stacey Niermann, the homeowner who ordered the trees removed. “I’ll always feel like I’ve lost something.”

Although Niermann and other homeowners before her loved the oaks – the garage was altered several times to give way to the encroaching front tree – safety became the paramount concern.

“We knew when we purchased the home that they had about 10 years to live,” she said. “When it came up on the 10-year mark, I became worried.”

She noted that another oak fell last year and missed her neighbor “by a foot.” Her front-yard oak leaned in her neighbor’s direction.

“At the end of the day, is (the tree) more valuable than the neighbor’s life?” Niermann asked.

She added that the tree in back posed a threat to her own family.

Blockus said she understood that her neighbor had a legitimate reason for the trees’ removal. But she also thought that there was a 10-day period during which the removal permit could be appealed. The city is not required to provide neighborhood notification.

“That’s a flaw in their policy,” Blockus said.

Assistant City Manager James Walgren indicated that the 10-day period is to enable the homeowner to appeal a permit denial. He said tree protections are tighter now than they were prior to 2007, when the council moved to protect all mature trees with a more restrictive policy.

Present-day criteria include “condition of the tree with respect to disease, imminent danger of falling, proximity to existing or proposed structures and interference with utility services” and “the effect the removal would have upon shade, privacy impact, scenic beauty, property values … of the area.”

“We’re very cautious with the permits we do issue,” Walgren said, estimating that the city issues approximately 100 tree-removal permits annually. “While only a small percentage are denied, a large percentage are averted at the front counter based on the criteria.

Walgren said he thought past councils were comfortable with not requiring neighbor notification based on the careful analysis that goes into approving a tree-removal permit.

He added that replacement trees are typically required, and “hundreds of new trees get planted annually as a result of development approvals.” Niermann said she planned to replant.

Los Altos officials issued the permit Aug. 29.

City Manager Marcia Somers said the permit for the Cypress Drive property was granted “because in part, per an arborist’s report, the trees were severely diseased. I know from my own past experience, sometimes the ill health of a tree is not evident to the casual observer.”

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