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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill Road home April 27 and...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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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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