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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.

Los Altos returns to the big screen in latest Jobs movie


Courtesy of De Anza College
A “Steve Jobs” crew filmed at De Anza College last week, re-creating an Apple product launch.

Town Crier readers who watch the upcoming movie about the late Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs – part of which was filmed in and around Los Altos in recent weeks – might want to keep an eye out for a familiar bell ringer.

The filmmakers recently contacted the Town Crier for help with their plans to re-create editions of the paper from 1976 and 1984 as background for scenes in the movie.

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Mtn. View pursues housing near Googleplex


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
With three new members elected in November, the Mountain View City Council voted to revisit housing options for the North Bayshore area, home to Google headquarters.

The Mountain View City Council unanimously voted to change course last week and pursue housing in the North Bayshore area, just beyond where Shoreline Boulevard crosses Highway 101 and Google has its corporate headquarters.

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Parents upset with enrollment-growth options


Traci Newell/Town Crier
Parents and concerned residents turned out in force for the Los Altos School District Facilities Master Plan Committee meeting last week to voice their frustrations over the enrollment-growth scenarios under discussion.

More than 100 concerned parents and community members packed the Los Altos School District Board Room last week as the Facilities Master Plan Committee (FMPC) conducted its 11th meeting on enrollment growth.

The committee, comprising parents, teachers, principals, district officials and representatives from Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View, is reviewing seven possible scenarios for absorbing expanded enrollment in the district.

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LA council approves amended medical-parking ordinance


The Los Altos City Council recently gave its initial approval for an amended medical-parking ordinance that more clearly defines the various types of medical businesses in Los Altos – and their parking demands.

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Sentencing of former symphony director continues this week

Former Peninsula Symphony Executive Director Stephen Jay Carlton is scheduled to return to court this week as sentencing continues for his embezzlement conviction.

Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Judy Lee told the Town Crier that she anticipates a motion from the defense to dismiss a previous strike that would add time to Carlton’s sentence.

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Mobile food vendors to operate 24/7 in Mtn. View

The city of Mountain View is in the process of amending portions of its 2013 ordinance that regulates food trucks and other mobile vendors that sell outdoors on public and private properties.

The Mountain View City Council was scheduled to review a second reading of the revised ordinance Tuesday, after the Town Crier’s press deadline.

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