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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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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

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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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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