Last updateWed, 24 Aug 2016 12pm

Where to vote early or get a party ballot

Early voting has already begun for Tuesday’s California Presidential Primary Election, and Los Altos hosts one of the county’s six early-voting locations.

The Los Altos main library will be open to voters noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for early voting at 13 S. San Antonio Road. The Registrar of Voters’ Office at 1555 Berger Drive in San Jose is open for voting 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through Monday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Voters can also visit either the Registrar or the library during those hours to request a ballot.

One downtown pharmacy closes, another arrives soon

Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos Pharmacy closed its doors at the end of 2014 after more than 80 years in business. Staff moved compounding operations to San Jose.

The final chapter for Los Altos Pharmacy on Second Street ended this winter when Safeway – the pharmacy’s new operator – shuttered the Los Altos compounding location.

The pharmacy’s employees transferred to new jobs at Safeway’s compounding pharmacy facility in South San Jose, according to Bart Nelson, a member of the family that ran the pharmacy from 1934 to 2012.

Despite rain, drought still a concern; Local residents conserving water, but it’s only a drop in the bucket

In a review of year-over-year water consumption data, local residents may believe that they deserve a pat on the back.
    Compared with 2013, water use per capita dropped in Los Altos and Mountain View in 2014 by 39.8 percent and 21.9 percent, respectively, according to the State Water Resources Control Board. Improvement aside, conservation is still in order.
    With only two major storms this winter, a fourth year of drought conditions looks likely in California. The winter months of November through March normally deliver 75 percent of all rainfall for the year. Even with the storm system last weekend, the Mtn. View Corp Yard registers 13.31 inches of rainfall season-to-date (November through March), less than Los Altos’ 15.71 inches of average annual rainfall.
    The deficit in groundwater and reservoir reserves is so great that even a succession of vigorous storms in the spring may not bring precipitation to normal averages. A pivotal winter snowpack measurement in the mountains east of Sacramento Jan. 29 revealed that water content remained at 33 percent of normal for this time of year. Local water districts – including the Purissima Hills Water District, which serves residents of Los Altos Hills – rely almost exclusively on water from melting snow in the Sierra, making the latest snowpack measurements potentially problematic.
    Even with regulations that restrict outdoor irrigation and potable water use to two days per week in August and impose fines of up to $500 on noncompliant homeowners, the Purissima Hills district may urge customers to take even greater conservation steps.

Measures in store
    As the drought continues, residents can expect increased conservation outreach from local water districts.
    Santa Clara Valley Water District officials reported that the district would maintain its water-reduction policies through June. The district plans to continue offering residential and commercial rebates for a variety of water-saving efforts, including installation of greywater laundry-to-landscape systems and high-efficiency toilets and clothes washers, upgrades to irrigation hardware and landscape conversions.
    In addition, several public outreach campaigns are underway. Through its “A Drop in the Bucket” campaign, the Santa Clara Valley Water District is distributing thousands of free 3.5-gallon buckets to encourage residents to reuse their shower water for flushing toilets or watering gardens.
    For more information on the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s conservation efforts, visit valleywater.org/programs/waterconservation.aspx.Ellie Van Houtte?Town Crier
Strong winds downed a powerline on First Street in Los Altos last week. Despite the heavy rains, local water districts continue to prepare for a fourth year of drought.

Water conservation events
    • “Innovations in Water Conservation,” 7-9 p.m. March 12 at Los Altos Hills Town Hall, 26379 W. Fremont Road. Garth Hall, deputy operating officer with the Santa Clara Valley Water District, and Forrest Linebarger, CEO of Inhabiture, are scheduled to discuss home and business innovations for curbing water use.
    • “How to Create Your Own Water-Wise Home Landscape,” 7-9 p.m. March 23 in the Program Room of the Los Altos main library, 13 S. San Antonio Road. Greywater Action co-founder Laura Allen is slated to offer information on plumbing alterations and landscape modifications, including how a greywater system could save users an average of 15,000 gallons of water annually.
    For more information on both events, visit valleywater.org/programs/events_and_workshops.aspx.

Sutter, Blue Shield reach terms on two-year agreement

Sutter Health forged a new two-year contract with Blue Shield of California that preserves patient access to the doctors and care centers Blue Shield sold to patients during the fall open-enrollment period.

The contract applies to all Blue Shield plans in which Sutter Health providers historically participated, including HMO, PPO and those offered through Covered California. The agreement, which comes after a two-month standoff, means no lapse in coverage for Sutter Health patients.

Health-care contract snafu hits PAMF customers

Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Palo Alto Medical Foundation, which has offices at 370 Distel Circle in Los Altos, warns patients of upcoming health coverage changes in the wake of a contract dispute between Blue Shield and Sutter Health.

Local residents who are insured by Blue Shield and rely on Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) for medical services may be in for a surprise this year.

Blue Shield has announced that it could not come to terms on a new contract with Sutter Health – PAMF’s parent company – by Dec. 31, according to a Santa Cruz Sentinel report last week.

New laws influence everything from football practice to college degrees

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed 930 new laws into effect for the new year, an increase over last year’s 800. Los Altos was ahead of the curve in some cases – a bag ban set to take effect statewide July 1 started locally in 2013. And though parking a pooch on a restaurant patio was technically illegal before this year, many of Los Altos’ eateries already looked the other way.

Local impacts

Foothill College is in the thick of one new law, a pilot program set to offer four-year degrees at select California community colleges. Foothill nominated its dental hygiene program as a candidate for the first round of new degrees under SB 850, and the college will find out Jan. 21 whether its program wins approval.

Report predicts home sales to increase slightly in 2015

California’s housing market will see fewer investors, more available homes and a return to traditional homebuyers as home sales rise modestly and prices flatten out in 2015, according to the California Association of Realtors’ 2015 California Housing Market Forecast.

Leslie Appleton-Young, the association’s vice president and chief economist, delivered an expanded forecast during the California Realtors Expo 2014, held in October at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Downtown continues to thrive, but some longtime businesses bid goodbye

Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Scenes from 2014, clockwise, from top left: Los Altos School District officials track election results; a construction crew puts the finishing touches on the new Safeway; local residents collaborate on the evolving design for a new civic center; the November election season generates a host of campaign signs; a dearth of downtown parking continues to confound city officials and residents alike; and then-Mayor Megan Satterlee, with umbrella, leads a walking tour highlighting downtown development.

The year 2014 was very good for the Los Altos community, by most standards. The booming economy meant better business for downtown merchants and the debuts of several new stores.

The heavy-duty construction on First Street had some local residents pondering either the end of one downtown era or the beginning of a new one. Los Altos welcomed a new Safeway, twice the size of the previous one, while work proceeded on a major three-story condominium project and a mixed-use, office-retail complex at the corner of Main and First streets. Enchanté, the three-story boutique hotel at Main and San Antonio Road, prepared to open its doors as the year drew to a close.

Breaking up with drugs isn't easy for teen users, but community can help

Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Adults in the community play an important role in supporting teens as they confront social pressures.

This is the second in a two-part series exploring adolescent substance abuse in Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Part 1, published Dec. 10, examined the causes and circumstances of substance abuse from the teenage perspective. Part 2 delves into the recovery process and resources available to youth in the community.

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