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 ad...

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Forum features ideas for "Complete Streets:" Editor's Notebook

City officials working on a new Pedestrian Master Plan proved open to new ideas by attending last week’s Community Conversations forum on “complete streets” principles. The forum, sponsored by the downtown advocacy group Los Altos Forward, featured recently uprooted Seattle urban planner Darby Watson. Watson, now living on the Peninsula, offered a wide range of ideas for improving downtown streets – many of which were inspiring.

Attendees included Los Altos City Councilwomen Jan Pepper and Jeannie Bruins and Public Workers Director Jim Gustafson.

Watson said she looks at two key factors in improving streets: safety and mobility. Obviously, safety is paramount. Watson showed the sizable gathering a slide from peds.org that recorded the survival factor of pedestrians in auto accidents in relation to miles per hour. If hit by a car traveling 20 mph, an estimated nine out of 10 pedestrians survive; at 30 mph, five out of 10 survive; and at 40 mph, only one out of 10 survives.

Slowing traffic becomes vital in any improvement project. Watson singled out one Seattle project that accomplished just that. She applied “a road diet” to Columbian Way, adding full sidewalks and bike lanes. Most importantly, she converted the four-lane road into two lanes and designated a middle lane for left turns.

“Reducing four lanes to three lanes reduced the top speeders, reduced collisions and (resulted in) enormous reductions in the severity of collisions,” she said.

The statistic that nine out of 10 pedestrians hit by vehicles moving at 40 mph do not survive? The “road diet” plan resulted in a 92 percent reduction in motorists traveling at 40 mph – down from 17 percent of the 16,000 daily trips on Columbian to 1.5 percent.

Other factors critical for ideal street design include “intelligently” synchronized traffic signals, roundabouts, raised sidewalks and, yes, painted intersections. With a majority of residents agreeing, neighborhoods have turned black pavement into artwork, which has proven to slow motorists for a better look.

Watson applauded Los Altos’ strategy of expanding the curbs and narrowing the intersections along Main and State streets. She commended the ongoing First Street streetscape project for being “gold-plated,” allowing “great separation” between pedestrians and moving vehicles.”

On the other hand, she characterized the intersection at Edith Avenue and San Antonio Road as “one of the toughest (to improve) intersections I’ve ever seen.”

Although the forum focused on downtown streets, the city’s pedestrian plan encompasses all of Los Altos. It strives to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety in a city with few bike lanes and residential areas that often lack sidewalks – while retaining the bucolic feel of Los Altos neighborhoods. In other words, it seeks to achieve the impossible.

I’m kidding. Nevertheless, the plan continues its goal of striking that balance, despite the challenges. We look forward to the suggestions harvested from this unprecedented effort.

In the meantime, city officials continue to solicit residents’ input on solutions. We recently reported that the city plans to schedule an outreach meeting in late November or early December. A draft of the plan won’t be available until next spring, with a target for council approval next summer.

Bruce Barton is editor-in-chief of the Town Crier.

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