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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Fremont Hills Country Club rallies for night lights at tennis courts


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
The Los Altos Hills Planning Commission is considering a Fremont Hills Country Club proposal to add night lights to its tennis courts.

When dusk sets in on winter evenings in Los Altos, the lights above the tennis courts at Marymeade, McKenzie and Montclaire parks switch on for night games. Just around the corner in Los Altos Hills, however, game time concludes when natural light disappears – a 1985 town Outdoor Lighting Ordinance bans artificial light for tennis and other recreational courts.

At the request of Fremont Hills Country Club – a private club in Los Altos Hills with 430 member families – the Los Altos Hills Planning Commission last week reviewed a proposal to amend the town’s municipal code and/or modify the club’s conditional-use permit to allow outdoor tennis-court lighting.

“We really in essence want to expand recreational opportunities to members and the community overall,” said Fremont Hills representative Bart Carey. “Fremont Hills is a bit behind when compared to other clubs. … They all have tennis-court lights.”

Nearby clubs with lighted tennis courts include Los Altos Golf & Country Club, Foothills Tennis & Swimming Club and the University Club of Palo Alto.

Fremont Hills’ application seeks approval to illuminate five of the club’s 10 courts with fully shielded, metal halide luminaires until 10 p.m. To mitigate anticipated concerns from neighbors, the club submitted environmental reports estimating the impact of the added light and noise.

According to the report, there will be “no direct viewing of the light sources from any residence,” as all homes in the vicinity of the club are located above the height of the proposed 22-foot lights. The surfaces of the courts and the dark perimeter screening are expected to absorb light and reduce scattering of light upward.

Hits and misses

The proposal drew a variety of opinions at the study session.

Advocates claimed that the lack of lights limits tennis-court access in Los Altos Hills, particularly for residents who can’t play during the day because of school or work commitments. Some residents said the lack of lights put the club, players and town at a competitive disadvantage when compared to Los Altos and Saratoga, where lighted courts are available.

“I’m playing kids that are top in the nation, and I think we should have courts that are lighted so that kids like me can train,” said Jehan Godrej, a local high school student who plays tennis competitively.

Opponents cited concerns about increased traffic, light pollution and the precedent an updated municipal code could set.

“Allowing (outdoor lights) on a private recreational facility immediately begs the question of why we don’t allow it on a public facility,” said Planning Commissioner Susan Mandle.

Mandle and other commissioners feared that a change to town code could open the door to night lights at the ball fields at Purissima Park, the riding rings at Westwind Community Barn or the outdoor facilities at Pinewood and Gardner Bullis schools.

“It’s not our job to be setting policy,” said Planning Commissioner Richard Partridge. “This is more of a decision for council to make.”

The Planning Commission requested more information from town staff before issuing a recommendation to the council. Staff will research the outdoor lighting policies of similar communities, draft a proposal for a trial light demonstration at Fremont Hills Country Club, hire an environmental consultant to review the club’s reports and conduct a survey of residents to determine the community’s opinion on adding lights to recreational courts in town.

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