Wed05042016

News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Updated 11:28 a.m.:

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 R...

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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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Los Altos councilmembers split over Fallen Leaf Lane


Courtesy of City Of Los Altos
One of the concepts included in the Stevens Creek Feasibility Study calls for the installation of green directional signs for bicyclists riding along Fallen Leaf Lane in Los Altos.

The Los Altos City Council last week voted 3-2 in favor of scheduling a future public meeting – likely in early 2014 – to discuss the final outcome of a four-cities Stevens Creek Trail Feasibility Study.

Councilwomen Val Carpenter and Jan Pepper cast dissenting votes Oct. 22 after each expressed a desire to eliminate Fallen Leaf Lane as a possible connection for the trail between Mountain View and Cupertino. Fallen Leaf is one of the routes under consideration as the study seeks to find a technically feasible way to align the trail through Los Altos or Sunnyvale.

A group of residents – including members of the Fallen Leaf Lane Neighborhood Association (FLLNA) – recently urged the council to remove the street from consideration as a connector by the study – which includes the cities of Los Altos, Mountain View, Cupertino and Sunnyvale. A handful of FLLNA members asked the council Oct. 8 to adopt a policy requiring a 75-percent approval rate by affected residents before a trail is designated in Los Altos. The group has presented the council with two petitions totaling approximately 800 residents signatures opposing a Fallen Leaf trail.

Carpenter and Pepper cast “no” votes after many of the 30-plus residents in attendance spoke out against the study listing Fallen Leaf Lane as a potential trail route.

“I’d like to remove the angst that the residents of this neighborhood are feeling and stop the time and effort that is being spent on this option,” said Pepper, who unsuccessfully sought council support in scheduling the item for further discussion in November.

Carpenter, meanwhile, told her colleagues that while she continues to support the goal to connect the regional trail, she couldn’t support any new trail options in Los Altos.

“At this point, I really lack confidence that the process will result in an outcome that works for the people who live in the city of Los Altos, especially in view of the petitions we’ve received and that have been signed by more than 800 of our residents,” she said.

Residents voice concerns

The council’s decision came after several Fallen Leaf Lane residents told the council that they do not want a trail connection on their street. Several said they favor a 2008 feasibility study by Los Altos that lists a preferred trail connection using Fremont Avenue, Grant Road and Foothill Expressway.

“We don’t want this bike trail. We don’t want it going down Fallen Leaf Lane. It’s as simple as that,” Fallen Leaf resident Nancy Claunch said.

Some residents who spoke said the ranking criteria that lists grades for possible connector routes is flawed, while others cited the potentially increased liability for the city if a trail connector is established through Los Altos.

“You owe it to all of us to get independent individuals to come in and look at what’s going on here, in terms of how these decisions are being made,” said Fallen Leaf resident Larry Thompson, who added that a trail connection on the street would be “highly destructive to a substantial community in Los Altos.”

Local realtor Kathryn Tomaino said such a trail could negatively impact home values in the area.

“Never do (buyers) request to be adjacent to a bike path … buyers will buy in spite of bike paths, but not because of bike paths,” she said.

El Sereno Avenue resident Susan Murphy, however, offered a different take on the matter, noting that having Stevens Creek Trail run through the city would leave a “positive legacy for families in the future.”

Dissenting council views

Despite concerns by Carpenter and Pepper, the remaining members of the council – Megan Satterlee, Jeannie Bruins and Mayor Jarrett Fishpaw – said they favored completing the study first before making any decisions.

Satterlee noted that while she wasn’t certain the study would end up with a clear solution, making changes midstream could result in a negative outcome.

“If we are to take action before we know where the (trail) connection is, we may very well go in a direction that doesn’t make any sense,” she said. “To me, that would be a waste of the money that has been spent so far. … I just think this is the wrong point in time to be making a decision.”

Fishpaw added that other cities in the study would likely follow suit if Los Altos started picking out which connections should be considered.

“Personally, I have concerns with taking any particular street off this study, because I don’t want other cities to take streets off the study,” he said. “I want to understand what is technically feasible.”

Bruins, who represents the city on the four-city study, conceded that it “remains a work in progress” but urged patience and trust in the process. Bruins noted that study elements, such as ranking criteria, have yet to pass her “sniff test,” and that it appears that the study will “probably not” put forward a specifically preferred route recommendation.

“We haven’t finished fleshing this out and we have a lot of questions,” she said of the four-city group conducting the study. “We have more questions than answers.”

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