Thu10022014

News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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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

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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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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MV Council: Castro St. plan needs a debulking


City of Mountain View staff report
Plans for 801 W. El Camino Real include 162 apartment units and 10,800 square feet of retail space. This view is from Castro Street with El Camino at right.

The Mountain View City Council last week scrutinized plans for a large apartment and commercial complex at one of the more high-profile locations in the city.

Parking and bulk were the chief concerns of the project, proposed by the Greystar real estate company of San Francisco. Plans call for 164 apartment units in three- and four-story buildings, as well as 10,800 square feet of commercial space, all on a 2.38-acre site at the southwest corner of Castro Street and El Camino Real.

Members of the council and the Environmental Planning Commission shared the same concerns last September at project study sessions. Greystar architects have since scaled back the 801 W. El Camino Real plans – for example, the developers decreased the number of units from 175 to 164. But feedback at the Jan. 21 council study session indicated that the structures are still too big for council approval.

Councilmembers agreed with staff recommendations that called for further scaling back on bulk, with staff suggesting architectural changes to the second and third floors.

Although current plans call for 204 parking spaces for apartments and 78 additional commercial parking stalls, residents continue to worry about overflow parking onto nearby streets.

Responding to a suggestion that the city issue parking permits for surrounding streets, resident Denise Pinto noted, “The burden has been thrust onto us as residents. It’s not up to residents to pay for parking around our homes.”

Neighborhood resident Mary Hodder foresaw traffic issues for the alley running through the project to a city-owned parking lot – a lot the developer proposes to purchase for project use.

“You need metrics and accountability for this particular project,” she said. “I would propose that the developer pay for any permit program.”

Most of the current businesses on the site of the proposed development would be retained as part of the new project, according to the developer. Greystar has provided long-term leases to Rose’s International Market, Tanya’s Hair Design, Le’s Alterations, Peet’s Coffee & Tea and Sufi Coffee Shop and Cultural Center. However, tenants would have to wait out two years of construction if plans are approved.

Some residents saw the project as a big improvement and liked it as currently constituted.

“When I compare the mixed-use project with what’s there, this looks like a huge step forward to me,” said Bruce Karney.

Councilmembers concerns ranged from impact on the surrounding neighborhood to reduction in retail space and a shortage of parking.

“I would like to see the fourth floor removed,” said Councilman Jac Siegel. “I think it’s too much for the neighborhood.”

Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga noted significant reductions in space and parking for retail businesses.

“We’re taking away good businesses that are doing well to add housing. That’s troublesome for me,” she said. “Why aren’t we asking for more retail space?”

Vice mayor John McAlister voiced concerns over traffic and restraints on future development in the surrounding area.

While four councilmembers agreed that more retail space would be nice, the council did not require the developer to add any.

Next steps include the start of a design review process next month, followed by an Environmental Impact Report and a return to the planning commission and City Council.

City officials anticipated bringing a final plan before the council by November.

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