Wed08052015

News

Residents help police nab burglary suspects

Residents help police nab burglary suspects


Courtesy of Los Altos Police Department
Police used security-camera footage to identify two burglary suspects.

With assistance from the public, Los Altos Police identified two suspects in a residential burglary earlier this year. Police arrested...

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Schools

BCS parents host summer bridge camp for students in need

BCS parents host summer bridge camp for students in need


Zoe Morgan/Town Crier Editorial Intern
Bullis Boosters Summer Bridge Camp counselor Sonia Uppal teaches students the basics of computer coding last week.

The Bullis Boosters Summer Bridge Camp aims to reduce the achievement gap by offering a hands-...

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Community

Los Altos resident continues work toward eradicating No. 1 cause of infant deaths

Los Altos resident continues work toward eradicating No. 1 cause of infant deaths


Courtesy of Marge Shively
Kathy Radford, from left, Ann Roper, Sandy Harapat, Betty Gillmore, Jane Halligan and Laura Griswald stuff envelopes to raise money for spinal muscular atrophy research.

Proceeds from the 13th annual NorCal Walk-n-Roll,...

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Sports

Lovin' Levi's

Lovin' Levi's


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Mountain View’s Austin Johnson, running after the catch, played multiple positions in Saturday’s game.

For Mountain View High’s Austin Johnson and Homestead’s John Rak, the highlight of playing in Saturday’s 41st annu...

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Comment

My solar clothes dryer: A Piece of My Mind

My cousin periodically sends me Internet nostalgia with comments along the lines of “Are you old enough to remember this?” One of her recent items struck me as newly useful in our energy-conservation-conscious times:

The Basic Rules for ...

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Special Sections

Killer crossover

Killer crossover


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC crossover is scheduled to debut this fall in the United States.

After a press drive through the Alsace wine region between France and Germany in the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC, we have ...

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Business

Cetrella ventures from seaside to Silicon Valley

Cetrella ventures from seaside to Silicon Valley


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Managing partner M’hamed Bahet oversees the new downtown Los Altos restaurant Cetrella, which features coastal cuisine and decor that celebrates the Peninsula region.

“Rustic,” “worldly” and ...

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Books

Book Signings

• Fritz and Nomi Trapnell have scheduled a book-signing party 4-6 p.m. Aug. 1 at their home, 648 University Ave., Los Altos.

Fritz and his daughter, Dana Tibbitts, co-authored “Harnessing the Sky: Frederick ‘Trap’ Trapnell, ...

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People

LILLIAN FLORENCE SLAVIN

LILLIAN FLORENCE SLAVIN

April 9, 1921 – July 17, 2015

Lillian Florence Slavin, long-time resident of Los Altos and The Forum at Rancho San Antonio, died peacefully on July 17, 2015.  She was 94 years old.

Lillian was born on April 9, 1921 to William Broadley and Fl...

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Travel

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories


Eren Göknar/Special to the Town Crier
San Francisco-based humangear Inc. sells totes, tubes and tubs for traveling.

In travel, as in romance, it’s the little things that count.

Beyond the glossy brochures lie the travel discomforts too mun...

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Stepping Out

Funny 'Forum'

Funny 'Forum'


David Allen/Special to the Town Crier
Foothill Music Theatre’s “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” features, from left, Tomas Theriot, Todd Wright, Mike Meadors and Ray D’Ambrosio.

Some plays are meant to be quite serious, while oth...

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Spiritual Life

Life is fleeting – and you can't take stuff with you

Anyone who knows me knows that I love going to garage and estate sales. I love a bargain. I have enough stuff to live on, so now I seek out things that are interesting to me. I like looking for interesting artwork, though now my wife has tasked me ...

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Magazine

Inside Mountain View

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
NASA Ames’ Pluto Flyover event kindles the imaginations of young attendees.

Sue Moore watched the July 20, 1969, moon landing beside patients and staff members of the San Francisco hospital where she worked as a nurse...

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Preserving heritage trees

I would like to follow up on an article in the Town Crier on Heritage Oak trees (“Neighbors mourn, but Los Altos justifies removal of giant oak trees,” Oct. 9). I do appreciate that our neighbors and city officials followed the letter of the law and probably had the best of intentions. Still, I believe that this case and the removal of a third Heritage Oak on an adjacent property within the last year raise several issues, namely, tree stewardship and homeowner vs. community rights and responsibilities.

The main problem with the current law is that it does not allow for an independent assessment of a tree’s health, provide for public notification or specify the homeowner’s responsibility for caring for heritage trees. I know what such care entails because I have two Heritage Oaks on my property. There are always risks involved living near such trees, and costs can easily average up to $1,000 per year. But I assumed those risks and responsibilities when I purchased my property.

Without an independent assessment or clear lines of responsibility drawn, it is too easy for conflicts of interest to arise or for lawsuits to be threatened. For example, my arborist, who did not inspect the trees on these two other properties, is aware of cases where there was a clear conflict of interest, with the arborist providing the tree assessment the same one who would eventually earn thousands of dollars to remove it.

Also, the homeowner may not have a clear incentive to maintain the tree. The tree that was taken out earlier this year developed a fungus that the prior owners ignored while they sought to sell the property. The new owners told me that they would not have purchased the property if they could not have removed the tree to make way for their new large home, which maximizes the lot’s buildable footprint.

I also don’t believe that you can look at a tree and think it is like a carton of milk with an expected expiration date. Normally, if properly maintained, these trees can provide benefits for generations, hence the term “heritage.” But an owner may not want to incur maintenance costs, especially if a tree limits remodeling options.

I respect homeowners’ rights to develop their property, but what rights should we afford the tree and the community? Heritage trees that may have been around for more than 50 years become part of the community landscape and provide countless environmental benefits.

A city planner told me that it is neither difficult nor expensive to notify neighbors when the city issues a tree-removal permit. Mountain View’s Heritage Tree Ordinance, Chapter 32, Article II, requires public notification when a removal permit is issued and public hearings to review any appeals. It also clearly states that a homeowner is “responsible for maintaining and preserving all Heritage Trees in a state of good health.”

Los Altos Hills delineates its policies in Title 12, Article 4 of its Municipal Code. It requires, in part, that the town mail written notice of the removal permit application to owners of all abutting properties, with limited exceptions. If the town receives protests within 10 days of the date of the mailing, the Los Altos Hills Site Development Committee schedules a hearing.

I and other neighbors gladly would have paid my arborist to inspect my neighbor’s trees, even if it only gave us peace of mind that the trees required removal. For a small administrative cost, our community could have avoided shock and suspicion and gained consensus.

If this column awakens your inner Lorax and you agree that the city of Los Altos should modify its policy toward heritage trees, please contact the city council and/or write to the Town Crier to make your voice heard. Perhaps this is also an issue for GreenTown Los Altos.

Terese Blockus is a Los Altos resident.

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