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News

Meet the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors candidates

Meet the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors candidates

Two candidates have filed to run for the District 7 seat on the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors in the Nov. 4 election. The water district, established in 1929, oversees and protects water resources in Santa Clara County....

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Schools

New LAHS assistant principal focuses on school activities

New LAHS assistant principal focuses on school activities


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Suzanne Woolfolk, assistant principal at Los Altos High, teaches a leadership course for Associated Student Body leaders.

Suzanne Woolfolk – new assistant principal at Los Altos High School – said she is happy...

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Community

Petting zoo, car show highlight Chamber's annual Fall Festival

Petting zoo, car show highlight Chamber's annual Fall Festival


Courtesy of Los Altos Chamber of Commerce
The petting zoo is a highlight of the Los Altos Fall Festival. This year’s event is slated Oct. 4 and 5.

The Los Altos Chamber of Commerce has scheduled its 23rd annual Fall Festival 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oc...

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Sports

Burlingame bowls over Los Altos

Burlingame bowls over Los Altos


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High halfback Sean Lanoza looks for running room against Burlingame in Saturday’s home opener.

The opening drive of Saturday’s game against Burlingame couldn’t have gone much better for the Los Altos High fo...

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Comment

Does Los Altos have a parking problem, or is it a symptom? : Other Voices

Yes, and yes. It appears that the downtown Los Altos parking problem is a symptom of the city’s “Sarah Winchester” approach to planning that instead of resulting in staircases to nowhere resulted in a hotel without parking required by code.(1)

From ...

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Special Sections

Los Altos landmark Four families later, Shoup House goes on the market

Los Altos landmark Four families later, Shoup House goes on the market


Courtesy of Matthew Anello
The Shoup House dining room, above, features original elements. The 100-year-old house on University Avenue earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, a nod to its legacy as the home of city founder Paul S...

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Business

Longtime banker readies for retirement

Longtime banker readies for retirement


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Joanne Kavalaris is retiring at the end of October after spending the past 25 years of her banking career in downtown Los Altos.

A longtime Los Altos banker is calling it a career in a few weeks.

Joanne Kavalaris, Bank o...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

Pear builds wonderful 'House'

Pear builds wonderful 'House'


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Betsy Kruse Craig portrays Trish in the Pear Avenue Theatre production of “House,” which closes Oct. 5.

Mountain View’s Pear Avenue Theatre is staging an unusual theater-going experience – producing two plays...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Museum storage shed prompts city staff approval discussion


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The two-story shed at the Los Altos History Museum, left, approved by Los Altos city staff nine months ago, resulted in a lengthy city council discussion last week on the city’s administrative approval process. Town Crier

The construction of a two-story shed for the Los Altos History Museum drew the ire of one councilmember, prompting a two-hour discussion last week on the city’s internal administrative approval process.

The discussion occurred at the council’s Jan. 7 special meeting – scheduled as a continuation of its Dec. 14 annual retreat.

City Manager Marcia Somers told the Town Crier that the museum storage shed – located on the civic center campus – was constructed approximately nine months ago after it was “inadvertently” approved at the administrative level instead of undergoing the public review process.

Somers specifically noted that the city’s Historical Commission initially reviewed the project but that it should have continued moving up the city’s approval ladder – ending with a final vote by the city council. Instead, the shed’s construction was approved at the city staff level after the lone round of commission review. She attributed the item’s approval to a staff miscommunication.

“There was no ill intent,” said Somers, who apologized for the administrative error at the outset of the discussion, which also included Assistant City Manager James Walgren. “It should have gone to the council because it was built on public property.”

The error prompted Councilwoman Val Carpenter to initiate a discussion on the city’s internal approval process. Reached by the Town Crier, Carpenter said she only learned of the shed’s construction via a personal inquiry by a resident. She added that knowledge of the item was a matter of transparency.

“It’s on public land. … How is it that this didn’t go through a full public process?” asked Carpenter, who noted that she initially sought a discussion on the item in April. “I never want to be surprised by anything that happens in the city.”

Carpenter also sought information on other projects approved at the city staff level, including the redevelopment of 242 State St., formerly the home of Ristorante Il Porcino. The new-look space is currently the site of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s “Project Los Altos” exhibits.

Somers noted that the administrative-level approval of 242 State St. fall within city regulations, which allow internal approval of redevelopments if the existing structure is increased by 500 square feet or less.

The lengthy discussion included review of other small projects approved by city staff, including a pool at The Terraces at Los Altos. Ultimately, the council opted for just one change: that any projects or changes related to the city’s downtown parking supply be brought to the council for review and final approval.

“In general, I was glad we finally got a chance to talk about it. … I think we did make some progress,” Carpenter said.

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