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News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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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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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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