Wed09172014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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City manager reflects on upcoming projects, priorities


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
City Manager Marcia Somers claims that in terms of civic involvement, Los Altos “has everyone beat.”

Marcia Somers assumed duties as Los Altos city manager in April 2012. Part one of the Town Crier “e-terview,” an email interview, follows.Somers offers her account of how she stepped into a leadership position in a city bursting with activity.

TC: First off, Marcia, give us a bit of background on why you accepted this position, including where you had been working.

Somers: I have been in the Bay Area for almost 40 years and lived in San Francisco, Palo Alto and, for the last 30 years, Campbell. My good fortune has been to gain a broad range of experience working in the private, nonprofit, education and public sectors. I’ve always been drawn to jobs that are broad in scope and organizations that are known for being well managed, but I also have a desire to reach for the next level. Los Altos fit the bill.

TC: Danville, where you previously served, has certain qualities in common with Los Altos. What are some?

Somers: I had an incredibly stimulating and rewarding 19 years with the town of Danville. There are many similarities between Danville and Los Altos, including both being situated in beautiful areas of the Bay Area surrounded by hills and creeks and a unique semirural atmosphere. The residents also have a lot in common, including being well educated and interested in contributing their time and talents to the community.

TC: What were your responsibilities, and how did Danville prepare you for this undertaking?

Somers: As the community services director in Danville, I was responsible for a full range of recreation services as well as maintenance services, which included parks, roadsides, streets and facilities. As assistant town manager for the past six years of my tenure, I oversaw maintenance services, recreation services, information technology and public information and provided assistance to other departments as well as continuing to manage a number of significant parks and facilities projects and providing direct support to the city council and city manager.

TC: After a year and a half as city manager here in Los Altos, what have been your biggest surprises?

Somers: I’ve always been a big proponent of citizen involvement and participation. I have participated as a community volunteer in a number of school, city and professional endeavors. But I’m convinced that Los Altos has everyone else beat. The level of volunteer support by residents in this community is unmatched anywhere.

TC: Occasionally, some citizens have discussions about the structure of our city government, including the idea of electing a mayor for four- or six-year terms instead of the mayor simply rotating among councilmembers to serve for one year as mayor mainly just to chair council meetings. What do you think of that?

Somers: Large cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland, can benefit from directly elected mayors given the size of their cities and scope and significance of the issues they face. Small cities, like Los Altos, benefit more from the collegial, nonpolitical approach to city business as well as an annual mayoral rotation. The mayoral role tends to be very busy, as requests for his/her appearance and participation in community events is fairly significant. The rotation allows councilmembers the opportunity to experience all those extra activities.

TC: Creating a new civic center has been on the schedule for the past five years. Do you have ideas on how to proceed?

Somers: The city council indicated during its annual planning retreat last January that construction of a new community center in the first phase of civic center improvements was a high priority. We are now in the process of moving forward with planning the redevelopment of this very important community asset.

Since I have had experience planning and constructing community facilities in both my previous cities, I recognize the tremendous value that these structures offer to a community and its residents by creating central gathering places and multipurpose activity spaces for citizens of all ages.

TC: What are two or three main items on your agenda for the next year?

Somers: While there are several priority items that are important for me to focus on, the first three that come to mind are redevelopment of the Hillview Community Center, planning for implementation of initiatives identified in the Downtown Parking Management Study and continuing to enhance city staff’s communication with the public.

Part two of the Somers e-terview is scheduled to run next week.

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