Tue09162014

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

JEANNE PACKARD

After suffering a stroke in May, Jeanne Packard died August 10, 2014 at age 83. She was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of Emily Channel and Frank Howe Packard of Chicago, IL. Jeanne is survived by 5 great grandchildren. She was a lon...

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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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More parking needed for office development: Commission unanimously denies First St. project variance


Rendering courtesy of city of Los Altos
Developers of the 17,156-square-foot office building proposed for First Street and San Antonio Road unsuccessfully sought approval for a parking variance last week.

The Los Altos Planning and Transportation Commission (PTC) last week denied a parking variance for a downtown development slated for the corner of First Street and San Antonio Road.

The PTC voted unanimously to continue its review of a three-story, 17,156-square-foot office building at 467 First St. – at the corner of San Antonio – to a future date because it offered 45 total parking spaces instead of the 52 mandated by city zoning requirements. Prior to casting their votes, some commission members noted that they simply couldn’t support the variance because of the lack of parking in the downtown area already.

“I am really, strongly opposed to approving this unless the parking is solved. … Every time we approve one of these and we’re shy (spaces), it just keeps adding up,” said Commissioner Ken Lorell.

Some commissioners instead suggested that the project applicant – Southgate Partners LLC – explore alternatives like tandem parking spaces or vehicle parking lifts to fully supply the project, which currently calls for 29 underground and 16 surface-level spaces. Using alternate solutions like parking lifts or tandem parking systems to meet parking requirements would negate the need for a variance altogether, Assistant City Manager James Walgren said during commission discussion of the item.

“I just have a feeling there are options out there which have not been looked at in detail,” Commissioner Malika Junaid said prior to voting against the variance.

The commission’s decision came after project architect Ken Hayes said the variance was needed because of the site’s constrained configuration. The site, formerly home to a Chevron gas station, currently houses the Burger Town and The Barking Lot businesses.

Instead, Hayes said the project offers other amenities that could be considered in lieu of its parking shortage, such as 12 additional bicycle parking spaces. Offering transit vouchers for commuters working there is another possible mitigating measure, he added.

“If you provide all of the regular parking, everybody’s just going to drive to work,” Hayes said. “If you provide alternatives, people think differently.”

Hayes noted that the project could be credited for as much as six parking spaces as well because it was designed with approximately 25 percent “inefficient” space – unusable office space for amenities like restrooms, hallways and lobbies – in order “to make the building look nice.”

Still, some commissioners were quick to note that stomaching a project without the needed spaces would be tough, especially when parking in the downtown triangle already appears to be at a premium.

“I can’t imagine how this commission would be looked at if we allowed a variance in an already crowded city. It just doesn’t work,” Commission Chairman Jerry Moison said of the project’s current parking configuration.

Commissioner Ronit Bodner added that while she generally approved of the building’s design, green-lighting the parking variance could set a negative precedent.

“I’m a big fan of this building and of this project,” she said, “but it has to be (fully) parked. … The rules are not aspirational. They need to park it.”

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