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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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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