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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Some question effectiveness of new bike law: Police say 3-foot rule easier to enforce, but some cyclists uncertain


Town Crier File Photo
The Three Feet for Safety Act, which takes effect in September, will require California motorists to give a 3-foot buffer on roadways to cyclists.

A new state law scheduled to take effect in September is intended to add a level of protection for cyclists sharing roads with motorists.

Assembly Bill 1371, known as the Three Feet for Safety Act, will require motorists to provide at least a 3-foot buffer in most instances when passing cyclists on roadways. The bill, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in September, carries with it a base fine of $35 (approximately $150 with additional fees) for violators and a $220 fine in the event of a collision that causes bodily harm.

Los Altos Police Capt. Andy Galea said the city’s vast cycling community should see some benefits from the new law as it takes effect. He added that the law makes enforcement less of a judgment call for patrol officers than previous laws, which called for motorists to pass cyclists on the road “at a safe distance without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken vehicle or bicycle.”

“Three feet is very definitive – and it’s easier to judge,” Galea said of enforcing the new law. “Really, anyone coming within 3 feet of cyclists – it’s just too close. Hopefully it will cut down on collisions and make it safer for the cycling community.”

Hard to enforce?

Two local cyclists say they’re not sure the new law will change much of anything.

Los Altos resident and avid cyclist Gary Hedden said that while the law could make enforcement easier for police, it likely wouldn’t change the overall habits of motorists in Los Altos.

“People who are careful drivers, and that’s the majority in Los Altos, leave 3 feet or more when they pass a bicycle, and they will continue to leave 3 feet or more next year,” Hedden stated in an email to the Town Crier. “The small group of people who are careless will continue to be careless. The law won’t easily change that.”

Hedden said the same logic holds true for motorists who have complained to him that the new law will make it “impossible” for motorists to pass a bike on a narrow road.

“The law allows drivers to slow down and carefully pass when road conditions don’t allow 3 feet. That’s what careful drivers do now, and will continue to do next year,” he said.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) Chairwoman Suzanne Ambiel, meanwhile, believes that enforcement of the new law won’t be as easy as it seems.

“The 3-foot law is nice, but is it enforceable? It’s going to be hard to do that,” said Ambiel, speaking on her own behalf, not as a representative of BPAC. “I mean, if you don’t have a way to really measure it, how could you know for sure?”

If anything, Ambiel said, the new law should be more effective in rural areas and would at least spread awareness to motorists about the dangers cyclists face on roads.

“It’s more recognition that bicycles belong on the roads, too,” said Ambiel, who noted that she’s had countless close calls “on any street you can imagine in every city.”

Galea agreed, noting that the new law should make some drivers more cautious when turning or executing other movements where potential conflicts exist.

“As this law begins to take effect and starts to get reinforced, hopefully people will become more aware of it,” he said. “That’s the big benefit of this.”

Ambiel concluded that the best advice she could give to motorists and cyclists sharing the roads is rather simple – at least in concept.

“It all boils down to everyone using some common sense and common courtesy – whether in a car or on a bike,” she said. “Common sense and courtesy go a long way in everything you do.”

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