Former symphony director sentenced

Disgraced executive director Steve Carlton has been sentenced to nine years in state prison for a host of crimes, among them embezzlement and forgery, that nearly brought down the Los Altos-based Peninsula Symphony.

Carlton, convicted in December, was sentenced Thursday (June 4) in Santa Clara County Superior Court with approximately 30 onlookers in attendance – most of them longtime supporters of the 64-year-old symphony.

Symphony board members Dick Bennett and Alan Bien were among four speakers urging the harshest punishment possible for Carlton, who drained nearly $700,000 from the symphony’s endowment and operating funds. 

Among the transgressions, Carlton pocketed $228,000 for his own personal use – with the remaining amount simply gone. Carlton kept online records, and they’ve been erased. In addition, he wrote checks forging the signatures of symphony board members.

Barely subduing his anger, Bennett spoke of feeling betrayed and took responsibility for hiring Carlton. Carlton resigned in September 2013 when symphony board members discovered the missing funds.

Carlton, his shackled hands shaking, stood to face his victims and offered his “sincere apologies” for his actions, which he said, were a result of an addiction. It was not specified in court what that addiction was.

This marked the second major crime in which Carlton was convicted and sentenced. He pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the death of his first wife in 1991, and served four years in prison. Since the conviction came before the voter-approved three strikes law, Superior Court Judge Allison Danner did not allow it to factor in with this case. Under three strikes, Carlton could have faced 25 years to life in prison.

For more on this story, read the June 10 edition of the Town Crier. 

Hills council strikes down proposed moratorium on substandard lots

With a divided vote, the Los Altos Hills City Council Wednesday (June 3) struck down a proposed 45-day moratorium on substandard lot development.

Mayor Courtenay C. Corrigan and Councilmember John Radford cast dissenting votes opposing the moratorium on conditional development permit (CDP) applications. For the moratorium to pass, at least four of the five councilmembers needed to vote in favor of it.

“I’m not happy with some of what’s going on, but I think our current rules are sufficient,” Radford said.

Councilmembers John Harpootlian, Rich Larsen and Gary Waldeck voted in support of the moratorium.

CDP applications are required for expansion or new development when a residential property’s Lot Unit Factor – indicating how large a home can be – is less than half an acre. Although the town’s founding documents indicate a standard of 1-acre lot sizes, there are at least 50 lots of half an acre or less in Los Altos Hills.

Planning commission members have formed an ad hoc committee to examine existing CDP regulations, including the acceptable number of variances and exceptions allowed in conjunction with CDPs.

Approximately 20 Los Altos Hills residents and developers spoke during the public comment session of the morning meeting, an estimated half of whom favored the moratorium.

LAH measure could boost sewer rates significantly

The Los Altos Hills City Council’s approval of a series of sewer service rate increases means residents could soon see a hefty jump in their tax bills.

There are 1,749 single-family residential units within Los Altos Hills and each currently pays $733 a year for sewer service. But with the council’s unanimous adoption of a May 21 resolution, that rate will likely increase 39 percent during fiscal year 2015-2016 (July 1 to June 30, 2016), with 39 percent, 3 percent, 3 percent and 3 percent increases in each of the following fiscal years.


Residents weigh Stevens Creek Trail options

Courtesy of city of Sunnyvale
An illustration accompanying the Stevens Creek Trail Joint Cities Feasibility Study shows various options for connecting the trail from Mountain View to Cupertino.

Michael Eiger loves trails. The Fallen Leaf Lane resident isn’t convinced, however, that his street is the right place for one.

Eiger is a member of Citizens for Responsible Trails, a group comprising residents of Los Altos, Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Cupertino that last month weighed in on the recently completed Stevens Creek Trail Joint Cities Feasibility Study. The study sought to determine routes that would connect the Mountain View and Cupertino segments of the multiuse trail.


Report recommends increased salary ranges for Los Altos Hills staff

Courtesy of Koff & Associates
A report from Koff & Associates details the proposed increases in salary ranges for Los Altos Hills town staff.

By and large, most Los Altos Hills town staff members make less than their counterparts in similar-sized, nearby communities, but proposed changes to salary ranges could eventually remedy that.

With a unanimous vote May 21, the Los Altos Hills City Council formally received a 2015 townwide compensation report bumping up the salary ranges for the town’s 18 staff positions. But the report’s adoption of the new guidelines merely increases the salary range for each position; actual salary adjustments are based on performance.


LA City Council considers splitting Hillview bond

Town Crier File Photo
A proposal to split a city bond measure would prioritize replacing the aging buildings at Hillview Community Center.

Los Altos voters may see more than one bond measure in November.

The Los Altos City Council May 27 preliminarily supported developing two bond measures to fund construction of a new Hillview Park and Community Center. Measure A would fund replacement of the aging buildings and playing fields. Measure B – an added feature that couldn’t pass without Measure A – would underwrite an aquatic center.


'Prowler' proves benign in Los Altos

It turns out that video footage of a man entering a Los Altos backyard last week was a painter looking for his job site – not a prowler.

The Los Altos Police Department Monday (June 2) issued an alert to the media that included a screen capture of the man wearing a Golden State Warriors playoffs T-shirt. He entered a backyard on Delphi Circle, looked around and into a window, then left.

After police began circulating his description, the man contacted the department with details about his work. Tuesday, the police updated their alert as resolved.

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