Mon09222014

News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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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

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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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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