Second animal shelter bid search concludes with little response

Stephanie Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Rosie Chen tends to one of the dogs at Palo Alto Animal Services.

It’s round No. 2 for Palo Alto Animal Services.

After attracting only a single agency interested in assuming operations of the financially troubled facility, the city launched a second solicitation period in January. The new results, however, are not much better: A mere three registered vendors responded, and representatives of one – Humane Society Silicon Valley – have indicated that they do not intend to actually bid.


Gardner Bullis crosswalk could soon feature guard

Courtesy of Lauren Weingram
After a spate of accidents at the Fremont Road crosswalk near Gardner Bullis School, Boy Scout Isaac Weingram took matters into his own hands and implemented a flag system for safe passage.

The Gardner Bullis School community could see a crossing guard directing pedestrians across the Fremont Road crosswalk as soon as this week, school principal Katie Kinnaman said.

That’s news Los Altos Hills City Councilmembers should welcome after frustration with delays led to some ultimatums at the last council meeting.


Cannabis conundrum: Will LAH permit medical marijuana deliveries?

Somewhere off a winding road in Los Altos Hills lives an elderly glaucoma patient anxiously awaiting her next joint. But she won’t need to fret about receiving her medical marijuana if the town’s planning commissioners get their way – they believe its delivery should be legal and sanctioned.

“I want a 94-year-old woman at the end of her life, who has legitimate use of medical marijuana, to have it delivered and not have to find a way to pick it up,” said Planning Commissioner Susan Mandle.


ECH taps MayView for low-cost healthcare

Megan V. Winslow/ Town Crier
With the imminent closure of the RotaCare Clinic Mountain View, the El Camino Healthcare District voted to grant MayView Community Health Center, left, $2.4 million.

Effective this month, El Camino Hospital will begin referring uninsured and underinsured patients to MayView Community Health Center, replacing the volunteer-driven RotaCare Clinic Mountain View that will likely close this summer.

The El Camino Healthcare District Board of Directors voted Jan. 19 to grant MayView $2.4 million over three-and-a-half years. The district will continue to fund RotaCare through June, and possibly longer, to support patients’ transition. Board member Dennis Chiu abstained from the vote, voicing a wish to fund RotaCare through December.


El Niño conditions expected to continue

Photos Megan V. Winslow/ Town Crier
Local residents brave the wet weather, expected to continue into next week.

Better keep those umbrellas and galoshes on hand: It’s raining. And it’s gonna keep on raining.

The National Weather Service last week announced that current El Niño conditions have “tied” those of the 1997-1998 season as the strongest on record and will remain powerful throughout the winter and neutralize in late spring or early summer. That means persistent storm systems and wet weather for much of the Bay Area. The strong, wet system of widespread rain and gusty winds that began Tuesday will continue today and potentially bring up to nearly an inch of rain to urban areas and up to 2.5 inches in coastal areas, according to the National Weather Service’s local forecast. By Thursday, a weaker system will move in from the west, and three or four additional systems could strike the region this weekend.


Local leaders share their professional goals and resolutions for 2016

BaierJeff Baier, Los Altos School District Superintendent:

“Support our teachers in reporting the very best information to parents about student learning and identify a solution for the enrollment growth in the Los Altos School District by utilizing the bond money entrusted to the district by our residents.

“Personally, I am hoping I can talk my wife into getting another dog!”

Max Bosel, Mountain View police chief:

“Well, there is a lot to do. We have a very ambitious work plan that encompasses tackling crime, engaging with the community and making us a better organization.

“Mountain View lost six people to fatal collisions through Dec. 21, 2015, and we hope to contribute to reducing that number to zero through proactive education and enforcement programs.

“I’m excited about our expanded youth services presence in our elementary schools and look forward to making a positive impact in the lives of our community’s children.

“On a personal note, starting the new year means looking forward to birthdays, holidays and family vacations.”

Phil Faillace, Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees president:

“To be as highly academically esteemed as the nation’s best private or magnet schools is within our reach. We have already climbed within the top 1 percent of public high schools. Therein lies the rub: The best private or magnet schools cherry-pick their students by imposing formidable academic and behavioral prerequisites; we do not. Consequently, for us to earn similar accolades requires showing evidence that we add value to students’ educations that matches the value those selective schools add.

“Objective measures of each student’s intellectual and emotional growth make the best evidence. Although possible for academic achievement, such measures are problematic for emotional maturity. Yet emotional growth is as important as intellectual growth. The best educations cultivate an interaction of intellect and emotion whereby each enhances the other. That’s the lifelong value MVLA strives to add.

“To that end, we’ll teach techniques for monitoring emotions and harnessing them to inform good choices. Those choices should begin from comprehensive academic baselines measured immediately after eighth grade. We’ll start with the measure being developed this year for ninth grade math placement and use it to encourage students to stretch themselves without tearing themselves apart.

“For personal improvement, I’ll try body-building.”

GualtieriSarah Gualtieri, Los Altos Hills community services supervisor:

“I want to continue working with the town’s volunteer committees to expand and enhance our array of community-building events. Two examples include the annual Los Altos Hills Town Picnic, which reached 20-25 percent of the community last year, and the town’s annual Pathways Run/Walk, which saw an 11 percent uptick in attendance. We want to keep our community events fresh and fun for all residents.

“I recently joined Toastmasters, which is an educational program to develop confidence in one’s ability to communicate and lead in any situation. I am looking forward to challenging myself and working through that program throughout the new year. I am also recently engaged, with a wedding scheduled for fall 2016, so I am looking forward to making it official!”

Jeff Harding, Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Superintendent:

“It might sound cliché, but I want every student to find his or her passion while in school. Adults who follow their passion tend to live more satisfying lives. Our mission is to help students find their passion and prepare (them) with the prerequisite skills and knowledge they’ll need to be successful. We want our students to make meaningful contributions to our multicultural society through passionate endeavors. To reach this goal, every decision must be centered on our mission – What’s best for students?

“My personal goals are more easily attainable. I want to find more balance in my personal life: yoga every Saturday morning; more brussels sprouts and fewer baby back ribs; more sleep and less late-night computer; more biking and fewer TV shows; more dates with my wife and fewer work memos. So here’s the paradox: When I spend more time finding my life balance, I perform better at work. I feel healthier and can serve our students better, a two-for-one proposition.”

HarpootlianJohn Harpootlian, Los Altos Hills mayor:

“Every mayor walks into his office with a series of goals preset by the responsibilities of the city council. I hope to successfully address these tasks as my fellow councilmembers have when they were mayor and, importantly, in a manner that leaves the residents comfortable as they watch and judge our

“One goal should be a challenge that may be beyond our abilities. Over the 16 years that I’ve been involved in the town, residents have steadily come forward asking for infrastructure improvements, mostly beyond the financial capabilities of the town. These include undergrounding of utilities, upgrading of private streets and accepting them as public, and cable and Internet connections for all residents – everyone has an additional wish or two. My goal is to develop some additional source of funding that will allow the town, over time, to make infrastructure improvements.

“My personal goal is to use my year as mayor to inspire those who are fortunate and blessed to live in Los Altos Hills – to enjoy good health, prosper and continue to contribute to the goals and culture of the town.”

Pablo Luther, Los Altos School District Board of Trustees president:

“My three most important professional goals for 2016 for our wonderful Los Altos School District:

• Find a solution for the 10th site. Our constituents have placed enormous trust in us by granting us the bond money, and we need to come up with a feasible solution soon. This would include doing our due diligence in looking at all of the alternatives, including procuring a new site, developing a joint use with the city of Los Altos on publically owned land and co-locating another full school on an existing campus.

• Evaluate the renewal of the parcel tax, which expires in a couple of years.

• Establish a simple and effective method of clearly communicating students’ academic progress and development to the students as well as to their parents.

“On a more personal note, I am hopeful of rekindling my pursuit of playing percussion instruments after a 30-year hiatus and cutting back my consumption of candy and Diet Coke.”

MinerJudy Miner, Foothill-De Anza Community College District chancellor:

“My top goal for Foothill-De Anza in 2016 is the wildly successful opening of the Foothill College Sunnyvale Center. I have every confidence in the administration, staff and faculty who have been conscientiously planning over the past four years to establish the center as a regional hub for workforce training. Classes will be offered in fall 2016 and will feature high-demand areas that include computer science, business, geospatial technology and EMT/paramedic. Proximity to Moffett Business Park is likely to be helpful in identifying internship opportunities for our students and curricular suggestions for our faculty.

“As to a personal improvement goal, I need to get more exercise!”

Tomi Ryba, El Camino Hospital president and CEO:

“Our work for the next year will be to continue to focus on the continuum of care and partner with primary and specialty care physicians to best serve and care for our community’s health beyond our hospital walls.

“My New Year’s resolution is to always model the way through my own life-work balance and to more frequently honor the remarkable talent at El Camino Hospital, in service to our community.”

Marcia Somers, Los Altos city manager:

“The No. 1 goal I would like to see accomplished is enhanced avenues for communicating with Los Altos residents about matters that are important to them. Not everyone has the opportunity to attend a commission or council meeting to provide input, so we want to make sure that everyone has multiple ways to share their thoughts and ideas and engage in meaningful dialogue with the city.

“One effort recently initiated to address this goal is Open City Hall, an online engagement tool. The first question posed: ‘How do you receive your news and information about what is happening in Los Altos?’ We are still seeking input on the question, and I encourage everyone to go to the city’s website at to respond. The greater number of participants will help to ensure that we are reaching a broad cross-section of the Los Altos community and focusing on addressing the various preferences for receiving information and providing feedback. Other more specific topic- or project-related questions will be posted throughout the year. So stay tuned!

“In 2016, I want to improve my piano playing. My fingers are rusty and will benefit from a regular practice schedule!”

SpreenRoger Spreen, Los Altos Hills city councilman:

“When volunteering on a town committee, each year we would choose for ourselves one major goal we could all work towards. Now, however, as the newest councilmember, my biggest surprise has been the constant barrage of unpredictable issues that require a reaction, which take my full time to learn about, and the solutions to which even our most expert residents (whom I turn to for advice) can’t always agree on. So my goal is really a personal one: that a year from now, regardless whether someone is a long-time resident, an active volunteer or a brand-new homeowner, they can look back and see that every decision we made, whether they agreed with it or not, was our best effort to keep the town beautiful, quiet, safe and special.

“(Regarding personal goals), first, I’m putting my money where my mouth has been about how valuable the town’s Neighborhood Emergency Network is by taking the Community Emergency Response Team training classes myself. And second, a personal goal is that somehow this year, my wife and I can figure out how to take a trip together without our kids!”

Capt. Rick Sung, Santa Clara County Sheriff West Valley Patrol Division commander:

“I would like to enhance our communication with residents and build more cohesive relationships with various communities within the town of Los Altos Hills and unincorporated Los Altos. I’m a true believer that collaboration between law enforcement and our residents is key to effectively fighting crime. I’ve been providing safety presentations to various neighborhoods, and I’m hoping to do more next year as this is an excellent way to connect with our residents.

“I love to cook for my wife and kids whenever I get a chance. However, I’ve been noticing more and more leftovers on their plates lately. As a cop, I can sense that they are getting tired of my limited menu items. As a former chef, this is like a slap in my face. For Christmas, I asked my wife to get me a copy of ‘The Pioneer Woman Cooks’ to further expand meal choices so that I can bring my family’s appetite back.”

YounisTuck Younis, Los Altos police chief:

“The No. 1 goal I and all members of the Los Altos Police Department would like to accomplish in 2016 is to continue to foster and maintain strong community partnerships, which promote an enhanced quality of life for our community and ensure that the city of Los Altos is safe and remains a great place to live and raise a family.

“We plan on achieving this goal by focusing our policing efforts on, and staying committed to, the community’s public safety priorities: child and school safety, traffic safety, safe and secure neighborhoods, safe shopping districts and emergency preparedness. In addition to these priorities, the department has two other endeavors. First, work toward reducing domestic violence by partnering with community-based organizations. And second, assist members of the community experiencing a mental health crisis by providing support and obtaining necessary resources to address their needs.

“I firmly believe that by the community and police department working together, we can achieve our goal.

“On a personal note, my goal for 2016 is to spend more time traveling with my wife and experiencing new and different parts of our country.”

Julie Rose, Los Altos Chamber of Commerce president:

“2016 marks the chamber's 65th anniversary. For the past 20 years that I have been involved with the chamber, one topic has been consistent: lack of adequate downtown parking. In the coming year I hope the chamber is successful in convincing our Los Altos decision makers to take concrete and positive action to begin the multi-year process of building a downtown parking structure.

“On a personal level, my only goal is continued enjoyment of my job, family and friends.”

New laws raise minimum wage, mandate vaccinations

The California State Senate and Assembly passed several hundred bills that Gov. Jerry Brown signed last year, most of them taking effect this week.

New minimum wage and vaccine rules number among the biggest changes on the statewide level. The senate bill requiring that all children in child care and public and private schools be up-to-date on vaccines took full effect this week. Because vaccination status is only verified at certain points during a student’s school career, the change won’t be sweeping for already-enrolled, unvaccinated children.


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