Thu03052015

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...

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Schools

Santa Rita students put on Kranky Kids Radio Show

Santa Rita students put on Kranky Kids Radio Show


Traci Newell/ Town Crier
Neighborhood volunteer Lishka DeVoss, center, introduces members of Santa Rita School’s Kranky Kids Radio Club to their interviewee last week. The students star in the Kranky Kids Radio Show, which airs Fridays on KZSU.
...

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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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Sports

Eagles make school history

Eagles make school history

Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos High School Eagles defeated Santa Clara High School Tuesday to advance to the Central Coast Section basketball finals Saturday.

The Eagles are headed where no Los Altos High boys basketball team has gone...

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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

Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Robert Showen, above, the Silicon Valley Intellectual Property Lawyers Association’s Inventor of the Year, began researching his ShotSpotter technology in his Los Altos home. Sensors are placed around a city, below, and fou...

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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

JACK JOSEPH CRANE

JACK JOSEPH CRANE

Long time Los Altos resident, Jack Joseph Crane, loving husband and devoted father of two children, passed away peacefully at the Terraces in Los Altos, Saturday, February 21, 2015. He was 95 years of age. Jack was born on June 22, 1919. He is prec...

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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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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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