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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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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