From the City Manager's Desk: Fulfilling our mission


For those of us who work for Los Altos, the mission is “to foster and maintain the city of Los Altos as a great place to live and to raise a family.” The city’s employees take this mission seriously and – individually and collectively – do our best to make Los Altos a special place to live, work and play.


Some goals to accomplish in 2016: Editorial

The start of a new year always brings the hope of accomplishing goals that proved elusive in years past. We offer the following goals for 2016 – goals a lot easier said than done, but ones that must be accomplished for our community to move forward.

• Finalize the Los Altos School District enrollment growth plan. After an anticlimactic 2015, we hope that this will be the year the district’s strategy takes shape, whether it be purchasing land for a new campus or restructuring its existing ones. The district has $150 million at the ready, thanks to the 2014 voter-approved Measure N bond. We understand district officials want to make the best decision possible, and any decision is bound to be criticized in some quarters. But the passage of time won’t make purchasing land any easier. To repeat Superintendent Jeff Baier’s comment, “If not now, when?”


Editorial: A dedicated senior center makes sense

There are many sound arguments in favor of dedicated space for a senior center as part of the proposed Hillview Community Center and Park renovation. There are few sound arguments against – that we’ve heard, anyway. Therefore, the city should collectively get behind its Senior Commission and support a dedicated space.

As it stands, the city proposes constructing a 55,000-square-foot “multigenerational” facility, with the idea that the details for its use would be figured out after (and if) the $65 million bond measure needed for the overhaul passes on the Nov. 3 ballot.


Peek into the Past

This photograph shows the Class of 1931 on the front steps of Mountain View High School. Principal “Captain” Brunton is seated behind the back row. Mountain View High was founded in 1902 at the corner of El Camino Real and Calderon Avenue. The school served students from Mountain View and the unincorporated areas that would later become part of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. In 1922, a new, expanded campus was built on Castro Street. The young woman second from right in the front row is Phyllis Steffan (Windeler). Her father, Jacob Steffan, was a dentist. The family lived on the corner of Pepper Drive and San Antonio Road.


Council not enchanted with decision: Editorial

Not so fast! That seemed to be the Los Altos City Council’s message to Enchanté Boutique Hotel owner Abigail Ahrens last week after the city’s Planning and Transportation Commission (PTC) had the week before unanimously approved use of the hotel’s outdoor plaza for serving customers.

Mayor Jan Pepper and Councilmember Megan Satterlee have appealed the PTC’s Aug. 6 decision. “I called it up to review the changes made by the PTC to the staff recommendation,” Satterlee wrote in an email to the Town Crier Friday. The council is scheduled to discuss the hotel’s plaza use Tuesday.


It's about time: Yes on Measure A: Editorial

Personality conflicts and misinformation – on both sides – have obscured what we think should be the true focus of Measure A. The $65 million bond measure on the Nov. 3 ballot is a viable opportunity for us to rebuild the crumbling Hillview Community Center. It’s a chance to invest in something we all have a stake in, that we all can be proud of. A vote for Measure A is a vote for better quality of life. We say “yes” on A – it’s about time. 

Unlike the school bonds, this is a chance to invest in something for everyone, throughout their lifetimes. It’s a place for learning how to swim in a safe environment, exercising, mastering new skills and socializing. This isn’t just for now, but for Los Altos 50-plus years into the future.


Lesson learned from Cal Water scare?: Editorial

First the good news: The July 26 notice from California Water Service Co. officials about possible E. coli and total coliform contamination, was, upon reflection, a nonstarter as far as emergencies go. Subsequent tests revealed no E. coli in the water supply, and the total coliform contamination was limited to one fire hydrant. Beyond a few cases of diarrhea, we heard of no serious illnesses among the 900-plus Los Altos residents in the affected South El Monte Avenue area.

Now the bad news: Cal Water communications snafus in notifiying residents proved the bigger cause for concern. The water-main break that prompted the problem occurred July 24. Test results and notification happened nearly two days later. Many residents were notified too late about the need to boil water or not use it at all. Had the contamination been more lethal and widespread, the outcome could have been nothing short of a disaster.


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