The Book Nest: Gone but not forgotten: Other Voices


By Ryan C. Fowler

I want to encourage others to remember The Book Nest, a mainstay of the downtown landscape for many of us who grew up in Los Altos, and to thank the man behind the counter. It would be a shame for the community to forget the bookstore and what Ed Schmitz did for Los Altos and for me.

I recall walking into that unostentatious house my sophomore year at Los Altos High School. I selected books from the shelves and wandered into the front room, with its built-in red wooden desk and an old cash register. An older gentleman with a wide smile and a very large, fluffy cat glanced at me. After I had read for a bit, the cat plopped down on the book on my lap and the man and I struck up a conversation about author John Steinbeck. That was our first conversation, more than 28 years ago. The numerous others we shared affected my path and resulted in what I do today.


No. 1 priority: Relocate the charter school campus: Other Voices

Los Altos voters must keep in mind the legal requirement for the Los Altos School District to provide school facilities for Bullis Charter School, and how this requirement might be met if Measure N doesn’t pass. Consider this sequence of events.

Currently, the district houses 10 schools on nine campuses. Although the charter school will have 900 students in 2016, it does not have a campus. Its facilities are divided and housed on the edges of the Blach and Egan middle school campuses. If Measure N passes, the first priority for the funds is enrollment growth management, and clearly the Bullis Charter School/Blach/Egan situation is the severest example of crowding in the district. The charter school needs its own campus, and the district needs to recover its space at Blach and Egan.


Vote 'yes' on Measure N: Other Voices

It’s a clear fact: Student enrollment in the Los Altos School District is surging. In the past 10 years, enrollment has increased by more than 1,100 students. Our schools haven’t had this many children since the 1970s, when we had 12 K-8 school sites instead of the nine we have today. Including Bullis Charter School, housed on both junior high campuses, there are 10 schools housed on nine sites with a student population that continues to grow, which is just not sustainable.

Measure N is all about protecting our small schools and avoiding classroom overcrowding in order to keep the top-quality education we expect from our local schools.


Facts, not faith, behind support for Measure N : Other Voices

When there are facts, there is no need to rely on blind faith to support Measure N – and this is a ballot measure bolstered by facts.


Does Los Altos have a parking problem, or is it a symptom? : Other Voices

Yes, and yes. It appears that the downtown Los Altos parking problem is a symptom of the city’s “Sarah Winchester” approach to planning that instead of resulting in staircases to nowhere resulted in a hotel without parking required by code.(1)

From April 2008 to November 2012, the Los Altos City Council eliminated 139 parking spaces in the downtown Public Parking District (9 percent of the total) and allowed two developments to provide 76 fewer parking spaces than required by code (5 percent of the downtown Public Parking District supply). (2) The city’s Downtown Parking Management Plan projects the cost to replace these 215 parking spaces ranges at from $8.18 million cash to $27.3 million with financing and maintenance costs over 30 years.(3)


Vote 'no' on Measure N: Other Voices

It’s best to vote “no” on the Measure N school bond in November. Strangely, there is a real danger that the Los Altos School District is underestimating its own growth needs. The district’s plans show a strong bias toward improvements on existing schools that do not provide adequately for the projected growth. An extra year or two will provide clarity on several important issues that are as yet indeterminate. These include:

• The state has plans outstanding to require every school district to offer not just one but two years of kindergarten to every student.


School lunch: Opportunity to improve health, academics: Other Voices

The Town Crier’s article “Evolving with regulations, Los Altos’ school lunch programs retain local ties” (Aug. 13) presents a bleak view of the Los Altos School District’s efforts to meet school lunch guidelines.

The parents interviewed perpetuate the false dichotomy that healthful food must necessarily taste bad. A more positive perspective is that food can be both nutritious and delicious, and that habits learned early in life can help children grow into healthy adults without sacrificing their taste buds.


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