Thu05052016

News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Updated 11:28 a.m.:

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 R...

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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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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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