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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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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