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News

E. coli found in Los Altos water indicated breach, but only low risk

E. coli found in Los Altos water indicated breach, but only low risk


Courtesy of Microbe World
Colorized low-temperature electron micrograph of a cluster of E. coli bacteria

When E. coli and other bacteria were discovered in some Los Altos water last week, officials from the local water supplier, California Water...

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Schools

BCS hosts Stretch to Kindergarten program for underserved youth

BCS hosts Stretch to Kindergarten program for underserved youth


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The six-week, tuition-free Stretch to Kindergarten program, hosted at Bullis Charter School, serves children who have not attended preschool. A teacher leads children in singing about the parts of a butterfly, above.

Local un...

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Community

Google car painting project calls on artists

Google car painting project calls on artists


Google self-driving car

Already known as an innovator in the tech field, Google Inc. is now moving in on the art world.

The Mountain View-based company July 11 launched the “Paint the Town” contest, a “moving art experiment” that invites Califo...

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Sports

Pedaling with a purpose

Pedaling with a purpose


courtesy of
Rishi Bommannan Rishi Bommannan cycled from Bates College in Maine to his home in Los Altos Hills, taking several selfies along the way. He also raised nearly $13,000 for the Livestrong Foundation, which supports cancer patients.

When R...

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Comment

The truth about coyotes: Other Voices

The Town Crier’s recent article on coyotes venturing down from the foothills in search of sustenance referenced the organization Project Coyote (“Recent coyote attacks keep residents on edge,” July 1). Do not waste your time contac...

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Special Sections

Grant Park senior program made permanent

Grant Park senior program made permanent


Photos by Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Local residents participate in an exercise class at the Grant Park Senior Center, above. Betsy Reeves, below left with Gail Enenstein, lobbied for senior programming in south Los Altos.

It all began when Betsy Reev...

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Business

New State Street rug retailer has downtown Los Altos covered

New State Street rug retailer has downtown Los Altos covered


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Los Altos Rug Gallery owner Fahim Karimi stocks his State Street store with a wall-to-wall array of floor coverings.

A new downtown business owner plans to roll out the red carpet – along with rugs of every other color –...

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Books

Book Signings

• Fritz and Nomi Trapnell have scheduled a book-signing party 4-6 p.m. Aug. 1 at their home, 648 University Ave., Los Altos.

Fritz and his daughter, Dana Tibbitts, co-authored “Harnessing the Sky: Frederick ‘Trap’ Trapnell, ...

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People

GRACE WILSON FRANKS

GRACE WILSON FRANKS

Resident of Los Altos

Grace Wilson Franks, our beloved mother and grandmother, left us peacefully on July 16, 2015 just a few weeks short of her 92nd birthday. She was born to Ross and Florence (Cruzan) Wilson in rural Tulare, California on Septem...

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Travel

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories


Eren Göknar/Special to the Town Crier
San Francisco-based humangear Inc. sells totes, tubes and tubs for traveling.

In travel, as in romance, it’s the little things that count.

Beyond the glossy brochures lie the travel discomforts too mun...

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Stepping Out

Going out with a 'Bang'

Going out with a 'Bang'


Richard Mayer/Special to the Town Crier
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” stars, clockwise from top left, Alexander Sanchez, Sophia Sturiale, Deborah Rosengaus and Danny Martin.

Los Altos Stage Company and Los Altos Youth Theatre’s joint production of t...

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Spiritual Life

Build a 'light' house and get out of that dark place

Most of us have a place inside our hearts and minds that occasionally causes us trouble. For some, it is sadness, depression or despair. For others, it may be fear, anger, resentment or myriad other emotional “dark places” that at times seem to hij...

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Magazine

Inside Mountain View

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
NASA Ames’ Pluto Flyover event kindles the imaginations of young attendees.

Sue Moore watched the July 20, 1969, moon landing beside patients and staff members of the San Francisco hospital where she worked as a nurse...

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Councilmembers seek more expansive polystyrene ban


Town Crier File Photo
Some Los Altos City councilmembers last week sought to expand a polystyrene ban to include foodware products sold at local retail stores.

A broader ban on the use of expanded or extruded polystyrene (EPS) – commonly known as Styrofoam – could be coming to Los Altos as early as next year.

The Los Altos City Council last week continued discussions on an ordinance that would ban EPS containers in food service establishments after some members wanted a more far-reaching law on the books. Specifically, some members expressed interest in including bans on the use of EPS foodware in retail stores and at Los Altos events, as well as a ban on the sale of EPS ice coolers. The council voted unanimously to revisit the topic during its first regularly scheduled meeting Jan. 14.

The original ordinance called for the ban to take effect for national food vendors April 22, Earth Day. A deadline for compliance for local vendors was set for exactly one year later. The ordinance came to the council after the city participated in a California Environmental Quality Act process led by San Jose that resulted in a negative declaration of environmental impact.

The council wasn’t alone in its desire to see a more expansive law in Los Altos. Michael Barnes, a five-year volunteer for GreenTown Los Altos, told the council that “it would make sense to take that extra step” and include additional bans on polystyrene coolers and food serviceware at local retail stores and events.

“Logically, if a product is being sold in the community, it’s going to get used in the community,” said Barnes, who added that cleanup of littered EPS is often difficult, as it breaks into smaller pieces and pollutes local waterways. “And if it’s going to get used in the community, it sort of defeats the purpose of what we’re trying to do.”

GreenTown volunteer Michael McTighe noted that a larger ban was “important” to local efforts to preserve the environment.

“It ends up where we’re trying to get it out of, which are the creeks and the streams,” said McTighe, who added that many Los Altos restaurants have already voluntarily switched to compostable materials as food containers. “It just makes sense.”

Barnes said a move to ban EPS – either through the original ordinance or an expanded one – was a step in the right direction for the city. He added that a planned 2015 deadline to phase out EPS locally was “way more time” than needed because most Los Altos small businesses tend to stock EPS products in limited supply.

“I would encourage the council to move it forward and join the other 20 communities around the Bay Area that have already made this move,” he said. “It is the right thing to do. This is a very difficult product to deal with and we should get rid of it.”

Council decides on second look

Some councilmembers agreed with Barnes and McTighe.

Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins told her colleagues that she supported continuing the discussion so that the city could further examine the feasibility of expanding the EPS ban. Bruins and Councilwoman Jan Pepper said national and local establishments should face the same deadline for phasing out the product as well.

“I’m not sure why we have the two tiers. … I just don’t know why there’s a year’s gap between those two,” Bruins said of the two separate dates proposed in the original ordinance.

Councilwoman Val Carpenter also supported looking into an expanded ban and offered an alternate deadline for the ban to take effect, July 4, the date this year that Los Altos implemented its single-use plastic bag ban.

Not everyone on the council was convinced of the need for an expanded ban.

Mayor Megan Satterlee conceded that she was “on the fence” about some elements of the extension.

Councilman Jarrett Fishpaw added that moving a deadline for local compliance to 2014 could result in some financial hardships for local businesses. Beyond that, he added, a more restrictive law might result in legal action down the road.

“There’s going to be litigation around this, just as there was with the single-use plastic bags (ban),” he said. “I don’t necessarily think that Los Altos is going to be in a position to be the flagship for banning every EPS (product) under the sun.”

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