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News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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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

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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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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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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