Mon06292015

News

LAH council approves  Page Mill Road expansion

LAH council approves Page Mill Road expansion


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
The Los Altos Hills City Council endorsed a plan to widen the congested Page Mill Road to six lanes between the Interstate 280 interchange and Foothill Expressway.

Infamously congested Page Mill Road should be widened to ...

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Schools

Local muralist tells a story of young Los Altos at two schools

Local muralist tells a story of young Los Altos at two schools


Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
Los Altos muralist Morgan Bricca, above, created a work at Covington School commissioned by the Class of 2015.

Just as school ended this year, new color bloomed on two Los Altos campuses – public art projects commissi...

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Community

Los Altos girl out to 'squash' inequality: 10-year-old raises funds for female players with motto Equal pay for play

Los Altos girl out to 'squash' inequality: 10-year-old raises funds for female players with motto Equal pay for play


Courtesy of Lisa Bardin
Mika Bardin displays a certificate of participation she received at the 2015 U.S. Junior Squash Championships. Although Mika is not competing in the upcoming NetSuite Open Squash Championships, she is helping other female pl...

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Sports

Hurdling adversity

Hurdling adversity


courtesy of Nicole Goodwin
Ella Goodwin, hurdling, above, has come a long way since her early-childhood battle with leukemia.

While Nicole Goodwin is proud of daughter Ella’s athletic achievements, it’s not her skills on the soccer field...

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Comment

No confidence in civic center proposals: Editorial

Few Los Altos issues have become more convoluted than the development of the 18-acre Hillview civic center property. Most agree that the area, as currently configured, needs improvement. But nothing has happened in the nearly 10 years since serious d...

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Special Sections

Star-spangled manor: Orange Avenue home boasts Americana theme

Star-spangled manor: Orange Avenue home boasts Americana theme


Megan V. WInslow/Town Crier
Los Altos resident Pinky Whelan’s Orange Avenue home features a patriotic theme, evident in her living room decor, her historical collections and displays and her welcoming entrance.

Let’s hear it for the red...

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Business

Thai Silks shutters Los Altos store this month

Thai Silks shutters Los Altos store this month


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
After more than 50 years in business in downtown Los Altos, Thai Silks is closing up shop at 252 State St. by the end of the month. The store will continue to offer its inventory online and via phone.

A longtime downtown ...

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Books

People

ALAN FRAZIER KREMEN, MD, PHD

ALAN FRAZIER KREMEN, MD, PHD

Alan Frazier Kremen, MD, PhD, aged 68, loving father & surgeon, of Stockton peacefully passed away on June 13th, 2015.

Born in Minneapolis on December 17, 1946, he received a BA from Stanford University, 1968, a PhD in Philosophy from the Univ...

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Travel

Venetian spa offers ways to de-stress

Venetian spa offers ways to de-stress


Courtesy of The VEnetian
The HydroSpa in the Canyon Ranch SpaClub at The Venetian in Las Vegas offers a muscle-relaxing bath and radiant lounge chairs.

Vegas cab drivers usually ask if you won or lost as soon as you get in their vehicles. They assum...

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Stepping Out

'Town' closes down

'Town' closes down


Chris Peoples/Special to the Town Crier
Hope Cladwell (played by Krista Joy Serpa) and Bobby Strong (Lewis Rawlinson) get romantic during their duet in “Urinetown: The Musical.”

The Los Altos Stage Company production of “Urinetown: The Musical” ...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Living it up Older adults aim to age in place

Living it up Older adults aim to age in place


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Local enthusiasts flock to the Los Altos Senior Center to play bocce ball. The center hosts informal games four days a week and occasional tournaments.

As baby boomers in Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View nose...

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Inside Mountain View

Carrying the torch

Carrying the torch


Members of the Mountain View Police Department carry the Special Olympics torch as they run along El Camino Real between Sunnyvale and Palo Alto June 18. Members of the department participate in the relay annually to show their support for Spec...

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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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