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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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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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