Fri08012014

News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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Stormwater Master Plan in the works

A plan that could cost as much as $25 million for stormwater drainage improvements is winding its way through the city’s approval process.

According to Public Works Director Jim Gustafson, the Stormwater Master Plan essentially outlines the city’s maintenance and capital improvement needs over a 20-year period to address various drainage system problems and conform to federal regulatory requirements such as the Clean Water Act of 1972. An initial draft, which took approximately two years to complete, was presented last week during a Los Altos City Council session.

Gustafson said the plan is the first of its kind in Los Altos since the 1966 storm drainage study.

“The last time this was done, the regulatory requirements were very different,” said Gustafson, who anticipates final adoption of the plan in June. “For instance, the Clean Water Act had not yet been adopted by the federal government.”

He added that the updated inspection of the city’s stormwater drainage uncovered more than 30 trouble areas throughout Los Altos. The plan calls for the replacement of several dry wells – also known as French drains – with new inlets and piping that directs stormwater to nearby creeks. Dry wells, according to Gustafson, serve as grated pits that allow stormwater to seep into the ground. The city’s plan specifically outlines costs of more than $3 million to replace the dry wells.

“The problem with them is that over time, they get clogged with sediment and fine grit and they don’t function properly anymore,” he said. “They’re not a good long-term solution.”

Gustafson noted that of the nearly $25 million in potential capital projects listed over a 20-year time frame, approximately $6 million covers high-priority improvements along areas like Fremont Avenue, which needs more than 1,300 feet of stormwater piping and new inlets. By comparison, nearby cities like Palo Alto ($55 million) and Burlingame ($39 million) need far costlier capital upgrades, he added.

In addition to capital improvements, the plan includes ongoing maintenance and staffing requirements for the city’s system, which has 1,350 inlets that regularly need litter and vegetation removed during fall and winter.

Gustafson said the city has the equivalent of two halftime positions dedicated to stormwater maintenance. Typically, he added, a maintenance worker can clean approximately 25 inlets per day, which at times during rainy seasons requires diverting maintenance workers from other city departments to help with cleaning efforts.

“They don’t stay clean,” Gustafson said of the city’s inlets. “If you clean them one day, you’ll typically have to come back again a couple of weeks later. … We do have to throw a lot of other resources at it, and that detracts from being able to do some other things.”

Gustafson added that the city’s effort to finalize the master plan would include a robust look at funding future upgrades and maintenance for the system. The city does not have a dedicated funding source, he noted, which may require it to examine the possibility of assessing “some kind of parcel tax or (establishing) an assessment district” in the near future.

The city council is slated to study funding options for the stormwater system in approximately three months, according to Gustafson. He added that a California Environmental Quality Act Initial Study would be required before the final master plan is adopted.

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