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News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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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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