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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Los Altos City Council puts limits on food trucks: Regulations place area and time restrictions on mobile vendors


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos City Council took action after residents lodged complaints about the noise and litter food trucks generate.

By Diego Abeloos

Staff Writer/This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Los Altos City Council last week unanimously voted in favor of an ordinance that restricts food-truck operations within the city – but doesn’t ban them outright.

The approved first reading of the ordinance calls for a 100-foot ban on mobile food vendors from Los Altos intersections and at least 15 feet from residential driveways. In addition, the regulation bans food trucks from operating within 300 feet of each other and limits operation hours to 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

The regulation requires all mobile vendors to secure permits through the city, provide trash receptacles for customers and pick up any litter generated within 100 feet of their operations. The amended ordinance must return to the council for a final reading and vote.

The ordinance appeared before the council after more than 70 residents near Los Altos High School – a popular site for food trucks – submitted a petition in July asking for a ban on vending operations in residential areas. Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District officials also sought the ban, citing childhood obesity as a concern.

City Attorney Jolie Houston’s staff report noted that an outright ban of mobile food wasn’t allowed, based on California case law and the vehicle code.

The council approved a less-restrictive ordinance, eliminating a provision in the original draft that banned vendors within 300 feet of public schools, parks, playgrounds or recreational facilities.

Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins noted that the 300-foot rule would simply result in mobile food trucks moving business to other areas – such as surrounding residential areas near Los Altos High.

“The lesser of the two evils may be keeping it where it is allowed to abut the high school,” Bruins said before her vote.

Reaction from residents

A handful of residents living near the high school told the council that the 300-foot provision could potentially make things worse in their neighborhood and other areas where food trucks operate.

John Wagner told councilmembers that 300 feet wasn’t sufficient to curb the problem, instead favoring “something much bigger,” such as a quarter-mile radius ban from public schools, parks and more.

Casita Way resident Nadim Malouf added that the provision “simply shifts the problem from one corner to the next. The sense is, all you’re doing is creating another set of problems, another set of issues, with trucks now moving up the street on Casita and perhaps other streets to continue what they’ve been doing for the last year or so.”

Judy Hannemann, MVLA district board trustee, reiterated the school district’s original stance that it was “very concerned” about teenage obesity issues. Hannemann agreed that a 300-foot ban wouldn’t make “that big of a difference.”

Council responds

Councilmembers agreed to strike the 300-foot provision after some noted that its inclusion wouldn’t make the grass greener on the other side.

Bruins specifically said eliminating the provision would allow vendors to continue operating on public property abutting the high school – while also keeping operations and potential problems such as litter and noise from moving into residential areas.

“The good news about that, if there is such a thing, is that it’s parked against the school property, the kids are congregating on the school property for the most part. … You move it 100 feet, 300 feet, 500 feet – I don’t care where it is – you’re now putting them where the food truck is going to be (located) with houses on both sides,” she said. “Some poor resident ends up with that food truck in front of their house, and that means the congregating is going to occur on someone’s front lawn.”

Councilwoman Val Carpenter added that the opposite tack of adopting a larger restriction – such as an 1,800-foot ban from schools and other public areas by San Francisco – wouldn’t keep Los Altos High students on campus, because many routinely walk downtown for lunch.

Councilman Jarrett Fishpaw said students gathering for lunch at food trucks abutting the school shouldn’t be accused of nefarious activity.

“To be quite honest, I believe the kids have the right to congregate on the sidewalk behind the high school, especially during lunchtime, when they have an hour or 40 minutes between classes,” he said. “Congregating on the sidewalk behind the school is not a shady operation – it’s a place to be.”

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