Wed03042015

News

Council considers freezing First St. development

Council considers freezing First St. development


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A pedestrian walks along First Street in downtown Los Altos last week. Future construction on the street could soon be barred by an emergency moratorium on development.

Further construction along First Street could be t...

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Schools

Former NFL player huddles with Blach students about life choices

Former NFL player huddles with Blach students about life choices


Ellie Van HOutte/Town Crier
Former NFL tight end Eason Ramson visited with Blach Intermediate School students, Feb. 13 to share the perils of drug use. Now a motivational speaker, Ramson works with at-risk teens in San Francisco.

Although former ...

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Community

Music for Minors partners with Harvard to expand efforts

Music for Minors partners with Harvard to expand efforts


Palmer

When the thriving Music for Minors began to outgrow its capacity, the local nonprofit organization made new friends.

Beginning in late February, Music for Minors – a Town Crier Holiday Fund recipient – partnered with Harvard Business Sch...

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Comment

Dangerous streets: A Piece of My Mind

I’m driving along El Monte Avenue between Foothill Expressway and Springer Road at approximately 6 p.m. on a midwinter evening. In keeping with the “village feeling” of our town, there are no sidewalks and no streetlights.

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Special Sections

Lions, lambs and Cab Franc for March

Lions, lambs and Cab Franc for March


Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Oven fries, a slice of feta cheese and the bite of harissa mayonnaise make for a late-winter, early-spring dinner perfectly paired with Cabernet Franc.

I can’t help but wonder whether March will come in ...

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Business

Los Altos scientist named Inventor of the Year

Los Altos scientist named Inventor of the Year


Above Photo by Alicia Castro/Town Crier; Below Rendering Courtesy of SST inc.
Robert Showen, above, the Silicon Valley Intellectual Property Lawyers Association’s Inventor of the Year, began researching his ShotSpotter technology in his Los A...

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Books

French novel

French novel "Hunting and Gathering" offers character-driven suspense


Anna Gavalda is a well-known author in her native France, where she has published six books, most of which have met with considerable praise and commercial success. Her fourth novel, “Hunting and Gathering” (Riverhead Books, 2007), is filled ...

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People

HELEN KNOFLOCH

HELEN KNOFLOCH

Aug. 14, 1920 – Feb.12, 2015

Resident of Cupertino

Helen Knofloch, 94, loving wife and devoted mother passed away on Feb. 12th. She was born in Vienna, Austria and moved to Los Altos in 1949, where she met Andy, the love of her life. They resided...

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Travel

Seoul of the city: Korean capital offers mix of old and new

Seoul of the city: Korean capital offers mix of old and new


Ramya Krishna/Special to the Town Crier
Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon public recreation space, above, features an elevated pedestrian bridge.

Seoul, South Korea, is a study in contrasts. Having grown quickly, the city is a mix of old and new.

Using...

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Stepping Out

TheatreWorks jumps into ‘Lake’

TheatreWorks jumps into ‘Lake’


Kevin Berne/Special to the Town Crier
Jason Bowen, from left, Adam Poss and Nilanjana Bose star in “The Lake Effect,” opening this weekend at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto and running through March 29.

The TheatreWorks production ...

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Spiritual Life

Is your thought life sabotaging your spiritual journey?

My computer started having problems – there seemed to be some sort of malware running in the background. At first it was just annoying, then it began to slow down my computer, interfering with its basic operations. What is it doing? Why can...

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Magazine

Local events serve up family fun

Local events serve up family fun


Courtesy of Peninsula Youth Theatre
Peninsula Youth Theatre’s production of “Pecos Bill: A Tall Tale” is slated to open March 20 in Mountain View.

For families seeking a break from the daily routine, events abound this month and next in Los Alto...

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Town gives vendors another crack at Westwind

Candidates with equine management experience and the desire to assist Los Altos Hills with maintaining Westwind Community Barn as a public facility are invited to step forward before Friday with proposals. In a bit of a twist, the Los Altos Hills City Council determined at its Nov. 5 meeting that its first call for proposals was flawed.

“We were asking them to respond to so many things in so many ways,” said Councilman John Radford of the town’s first request for proposals. “It was impossible.”

Before soliciting new proposals, town staff and Radford, acting as the council’s liaison, spent the week interviewing concessionaires and vendors interested in serving as “inspirational community leaders who want to build the barn back up.” According to staff, an additional six individuals or organizations have indicated potential interest.

With the possibility of a subsidy on the table, councilmembers said the right barn operator(s) could devise a plan to reduce the town’s contribution, launching more profitable initiatives and reinvigorating the Year-Round Riding Program.

Jitze Couperus, a member of Friends of Westwind, a nonprofit organization that operated the barn for 30 years prior to the town’s management takeover in 2008, noted that the entity operated with a much smaller subsidy, approximately $1,000 a month, even without programs that offered significant profit potential.

Residents who spoke at the meeting attributed skyrocketing town subsidies for Westwind Barn’s operations in recent years to poor management and the steady loss of boarders and equestrian program participants as program facilitators and riding-arena conditions deteriorated. Numerous residents who moved their horses to alternate facilities over the past few years said they would return to Westwind if operations improve.

Proposal Evaluation Committee member Roddy Sloss noted that his analysis showed that significant savings were possible, but a subsidy of at least $75,000 to $100,000 would still be needed. Most members of the town’s Finance and Investment Commission found the subsidy level appropriate as long as operators have an incentive and opportunity to reduce the town’s burden.

Sloss said that unlike the model used by Friends of Westwind, the new operator(s) would have to contend with additional expenses, such as meeting the town’s code for 24-hour surveillance at commercial barns and hiring an accountant. The council requested that planning staff modify the code requiring on-site attendants to permit electronic surveillance if a new operator determined it a more financially and logistically palatable option.

Several residents expressed continued resistance to any barn subsidy based on the small percentage of boarders who are residents, but the council and most members of the public argued that the barn’s diverse programs benefit more than just a small group of equestrians and riders.

“People in town want to be able to drive by there and see a horse,” said former Los Altos Hills Mayor Breene Kerr. “People do care about it, even if they don’t own a horse.”

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