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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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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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