Mon05042015

News

Water district reps address LAH concerns over project taxation

Water district reps address LAH concerns over project taxation

 Gary Kremen

Los Altos Hills residents, city councilmembers and even the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board chairman have protested taxes for water the district doesn't deliver.

"We're getting taxed for something we're not receiving, ...

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Schools

Homestead students use projects  to solve environmental problems

Homestead students use projects to solve environmental problems


Alisha Parikh/Special to the Town Crier
Homestead High School junior Maya Dhar, a Los Altos resident, left, and classmate Carolyn MacDonald support the school’s AP Environmental Science classes at the Arbor Day Festival April 23.

As summer app...

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Community

SVGives matching grant to benefit TC Holiday Fund

SVGives matching grant to benefit TC Holiday Fund

The Silicon Valley Community Foundation has received an Silicon Valley Gives matching grant to benefit the Los Altos Town Crier Holiday Fund.  All donations made to the Holiday Fund through SVGives up to $1,000 will be matched by the Krishnan Sh...

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Sports

St. Francis swimmers shine

St. Francis swimmers shine


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Benjamin Ho competes against Sacred Heart Cathedral Thursday. The junior swam on all three victorious relays at the home meet, which the Lancers won easily.

Flexing its power in the pool, host St....

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Comment

Halsey House deserves preservation: Other Voices

Halsey House deserves preservation: Other Voices


Many contributing supporters to the Friends of Historic Redwood Grove believe that the Halsey House, designated a historic landmark by the Los Altos City Council in 1981, deserves to be saved and renovated for adapted use by the community.

Set in ...

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Special Sections

Sneaky shots: A photographers guide to capturing the proposal

Sneaky shots: A photographers guide to capturing the proposal


Elliott Burr/Special to the Town Crier
A stealthy photographer scouts locations ahead of time to find not just a place to perch, but also the ideal position for the subjects.

It’s showtime.

You’re about to ask the person in front of you to spen...

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Business

Pharmaca celebrates grand opening over weekend

Pharmaca celebrates grand opening over weekend


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Pharmaca is coming to 400 Main St. with a grand-opening celebration scheduled Saturday and Sunday.

If natural health and beauty products are your cup of tea, expect to find them – and hot tea – this weekend at the gran...

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Books

People

JANE BUTTERFIELD PRINGLE LYND

JANE BUTTERFIELD PRINGLE LYND

October 30, 1924 - April 8, 2015

Jane Butterfield Pringle Lynd, daughter to Liebert and Elise Butterfield of San Francisco, passed away quietly at her home in Palo Alto surrounded by her family, following a short illness. Jane was a proud third ge...

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Travel

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers


Natalie Elefant/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident Natalie Elefant noted the vibrant street performances as a traveler in Cuba.

The U.S. restored diplomatic relations with Cuba late last year, enabling Americans to import $100 worth of cig...

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Stepping Out

'Birds' landing in Mtn. View

'Birds' landing in Mtn. View


Ray Renati/Special to the Town Crier
The Pear Avenue Theatre production of Paul Braverman’s “Birds of a Feather” stars Troy Johnson as mafia boss Sean Kineen, left, and Diane Tasca as private eye Frankie Payne.

Pear Avenue Theatre’s world premi...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon


tanya kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Shrub manzanitas are known for their sinuous mahogany trunks and branches. If the foliage hides the bark, prune selectively to open the center so that the bark is visible year-round. This Montara manzanita is ...

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Inside Mountain View

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth


Courtesy of Challenge Team
Jeanette Freiberg, bottom of pile, has fun with family members. The Challenge Team named Freiberg, a student at Mountain View High School, its 2015 Youth Champion.

There’s an ongoing joke among members of the Challenge...

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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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