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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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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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