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News

Meet the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors candidates

Meet the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors candidates

Two candidates have filed to run for the District 7 seat on the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors in the Nov. 4 election. The water district, established in 1929, oversees and protects water resources in Santa Clara County....

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Schools

New LAHS assistant principal focuses on school activities

New LAHS assistant principal focuses on school activities


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Suzanne Woolfolk, assistant principal at Los Altos High, teaches a leadership course for Associated Student Body leaders.

Suzanne Woolfolk – new assistant principal at Los Altos High School – said she is happy...

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Community

Petting zoo, car show highlight Chamber's annual Fall Festival

Petting zoo, car show highlight Chamber's annual Fall Festival


Courtesy of Los Altos Chamber of Commerce
The petting zoo is a highlight of the Los Altos Fall Festival. This year’s event is slated Oct. 4 and 5.

The Los Altos Chamber of Commerce has scheduled its 23rd annual Fall Festival 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oc...

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Sports

Burlingame bowls over Los Altos

Burlingame bowls over Los Altos


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High halfback Sean Lanoza looks for running room against Burlingame in Saturday’s home opener.

The opening drive of Saturday’s game against Burlingame couldn’t have gone much better for the Los Altos High fo...

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Comment

Does Los Altos have a parking problem, or is it a symptom? : Other Voices

Yes, and yes. It appears that the downtown Los Altos parking problem is a symptom of the city’s “Sarah Winchester” approach to planning that instead of resulting in staircases to nowhere resulted in a hotel without parking required by code.(1)

From ...

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Special Sections

Los Altos landmark Four families later, Shoup House goes on the market

Los Altos landmark Four families later, Shoup House goes on the market


Courtesy of Matthew Anello
The Shoup House dining room, above, features original elements. The 100-year-old house on University Avenue earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, a nod to its legacy as the home of city founder Paul S...

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Business

Longtime banker readies for retirement

Longtime banker readies for retirement


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Joanne Kavalaris is retiring at the end of October after spending the past 25 years of her banking career in downtown Los Altos.

A longtime Los Altos banker is calling it a career in a few weeks.

Joanne Kavalaris, Bank o...

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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

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

Pear builds wonderful 'House'

Pear builds wonderful 'House'


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Betsy Kruse Craig portrays Trish in the Pear Avenue Theatre production of “House,” which closes Oct. 5.

Mountain View’s Pear Avenue Theatre is staging an unusual theater-going experience – producing two plays...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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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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