Wed03042015

News

Council considers freezing First St. development

Council considers freezing First St. development


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A pedestrian walks along First Street in downtown Los Altos last week. Future construction on the street could soon be barred by an emergency moratorium on development.

Further construction along First Street could be t...

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Schools

Former NFL player huddles with Blach students about life choices

Former NFL player huddles with Blach students about life choices


Ellie Van HOutte/Town Crier
Former NFL tight end Eason Ramson visited with Blach Intermediate School students, Feb. 13 to share the perils of drug use. Now a motivational speaker, Ramson works with at-risk teens in San Francisco.

Although former ...

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Community

Music for Minors partners with Harvard to expand efforts

Music for Minors partners with Harvard to expand efforts


Palmer

When the thriving Music for Minors began to outgrow its capacity, the local nonprofit organization made new friends.

Beginning in late February, Music for Minors – a Town Crier Holiday Fund recipient – partnered with Harvard Business Sch...

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Comment

Dangerous streets: A Piece of My Mind

I’m driving along El Monte Avenue between Foothill Expressway and Springer Road at approximately 6 p.m. on a midwinter evening. In keeping with the “village feeling” of our town, there are no sidewalks and no streetlights.

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Special Sections

Lions, lambs and Cab Franc for March

Lions, lambs and Cab Franc for March


Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Oven fries, a slice of feta cheese and the bite of harissa mayonnaise make for a late-winter, early-spring dinner perfectly paired with Cabernet Franc.

I can’t help but wonder whether March will come in ...

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Business

Los Altos scientist named Inventor of the Year

Los Altos scientist named Inventor of the Year


Above Photo by Alicia Castro/Town Crier; Below Rendering Courtesy of SST inc.
Robert Showen, above, the Silicon Valley Intellectual Property Lawyers Association’s Inventor of the Year, began researching his ShotSpotter technology in his Los A...

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Books

French novel

French novel "Hunting and Gathering" offers character-driven suspense


Anna Gavalda is a well-known author in her native France, where she has published six books, most of which have met with considerable praise and commercial success. Her fourth novel, “Hunting and Gathering” (Riverhead Books, 2007), is filled ...

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People

HELEN KNOFLOCH

HELEN KNOFLOCH

Aug. 14, 1920 – Feb.12, 2015

Resident of Cupertino

Helen Knofloch, 94, loving wife and devoted mother passed away on Feb. 12th. She was born in Vienna, Austria and moved to Los Altos in 1949, where she met Andy, the love of her life. They resided...

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Travel

Seoul of the city: Korean capital offers mix of old and new

Seoul of the city: Korean capital offers mix of old and new


Ramya Krishna/Special to the Town Crier
Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon public recreation space, above, features an elevated pedestrian bridge.

Seoul, South Korea, is a study in contrasts. Having grown quickly, the city is a mix of old and new.

Using...

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Stepping Out

TheatreWorks jumps into ‘Lake’

TheatreWorks jumps into ‘Lake’


Kevin Berne/Special to the Town Crier
Jason Bowen, from left, Adam Poss and Nilanjana Bose star in “The Lake Effect,” opening this weekend at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto and running through March 29.

The TheatreWorks production ...

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Spiritual Life

Is your thought life sabotaging your spiritual journey?

My computer started having problems – there seemed to be some sort of malware running in the background. At first it was just annoying, then it began to slow down my computer, interfering with its basic operations. What is it doing? Why can...

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Magazine

Local events serve up family fun

Local events serve up family fun


Courtesy of Peninsula Youth Theatre
Peninsula Youth Theatre’s production of “Pecos Bill: A Tall Tale” is slated to open March 20 in Mountain View.

For families seeking a break from the daily routine, events abound this month and next in Los Alto...

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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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