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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

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 Road home April 27 and...

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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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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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