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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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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

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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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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The Boardwalk races to renew lease


Rendering courtesy of City of Los Altos
The Boardwalk’s ownership asked the Los Altos Planning and Transportation Commission last week to delay a recommendation on improvements at 4940 El Camino Real, superimposed above.

A public hearing last week on plans to expand and upgrade a more than 40-year-old El Camino Real building turned into a plea for help from one of its tenants.

Michele LaBarbera, daughter of The Boardwalk restaurant founders Bernie and Doris Tougas, asked the Los Altos Planning and Transportation Commission (PTC) Thursday to postpone a design review recommendation for renovation plans at 4940 El Camino Real “so we can sit down and negotiate our deal so this restaurant can stay in your community.”

LaBarbera specifically noted that she was seeking the postponement so that she could negotiate the terms of a new five-year lease extension – but has just three weeks remaining to accomplish it.

“We want to stay in Los Altos and we’re trying to figure out how we can remain in this building,” she said.

As previously reported in the Dec. 4 issue of the Town Crier, ownership group RKT Group LLC, led by Vish Agarwal, is seeking approval for a 3,647-square-foot addition to the two-story building, which has been the restaurant’s home since 1975.

Among the changes sought by Agarwal’s group is a 915-foot addition at the front of the 1960s-era building that faces El Camino Real – something LaBarbera said was a cause for concern.

She noted that the addition would cause the current restaurant area to lose its frontage to El Camino Real. Adding 915 square feet, she added, is appealing but comes at a price that ultimately may prove too costly.

“Obviously, we’d love to have El Camino (Real frontage),” LaBarbera told commissioners. “That’s what we bargained for when we signed up for a lease, but we’re concerned. We’re concerned with the rent increase as well as the additional square footage that we’re asked to take.”

Reached by the Town Crier, Agarwal characterized his negotiations with LaBarbera as “in good faith,” adding that he understands the restaurant’s place in the community. Agarwal said he’s confident negotiations will eventually result in a positive outcome.

“There are no hard feelings – we’re good friends,” he said of LaBarbera. “We’re each just trying to protect our interests.”

PTC reactions

Several commissioners were quick to point out that the lease issue was outside of the appointed body’s purview. Still, Commissioner Jon Baer offered that while he personally believes in progress, it shouldn’t necessarily come at the expense of longtime Los Altos businesses like The Boardwalk.

“If a new Los Altos means that we lose the things that make Los Altos special, then we haven’t made any progress – and that’s not good,” he said, pointing to the recent loss of longtime businesses like Beausejour Restaurant and the pending relocation of the European Cobblery.

“I understand that we need to make progress, but we need balance,” Baer said. “We need to maintain the feel, the character (and) some of the traditions in this town if we’re going to maintain what makes us special. I’m not interested in us becoming Mountain View.”

Commission Chairman Jerry Moison, himself a commercial property owner, added that The Boardwalk is a rare commodity for landowners, noting that restaurants are often the “most difficult” tenants in terms of longevity.

“If I had a tenant that had been in a property for 38 years, I would absolutely find a way to keep that tenant,” he said, while reiterating that the matter was outside of the commission’s scope.

As to the original purpose of the meeting, the PTC voted to continue the building’s design review to a future date – but not out of concern over LaBarbera’s negotiations with Agarwal. Instead, the committee agreed to continue the matter because Agarwal didn’t provide a sample board showcasing the materials he plans to use to upgrade the building’s exterior – a city requirement.

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