Mon09152014

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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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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