Last updateTue, 17 Jan 2017 4pm

Bay Area home sharing the new norm as housing costs soar

An-Li Herring/Peninsula Press
Mountain View High School teacher Nicole Higley, left, chats with colleague and roommate Evan Smith in their Mountain View apartment after school last month. Higley and Smith decided to find an apartment together after confronting the steep cost of living in Silicon Valley.

Nicole Higley couldn’t afford to rent her own apartment when she began teaching Japanese at Mountain View High School three years ago. So she did what many other Bay Area residents are doing: look for a roommate.

Evan Smith, who has taught math at Mountain View High for 13 years, meanwhile, was looking for an apartment at the same time. Although he owns a house in Santa Clara, he had leased it for a reduced price to a family of five, choosing to rent an apartment until the family’s three children finish elementary school. During a coffee break one day at school, Smith and Higley decided to find housing together, and they now rent a two-bedroom apartment in Mountain View for $2,495.

Toyon provides spectacular berries in winter

Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
The deep golden berries of the Davis Gold cultivar of toyon contrast with the clean evergreen foliage.

It took me a few years to appreciate toyons, with their often-gangly branches and irregular forms when newly planted in garden settings. But while walking in a local park at the beginning of the year, I was once again reminded how spectacularly beautiful a toyon can be in the middle of winter, with the sun lighting up the profusion of berries in the high-dappled shade of an oak woodland.

New book unlocks the key to identifying manzanitas

Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Santa Cruz Manzanita boasts boat-shaped leaves and sticky, depressed- globose fruit. In general, you can find a few fruit year-round on most manzanitas, even though the fruit is seasonally abundant and eaten by lots of wildlife.

Plant nerds, rejoice! Gardeners who hike and who favor local natives will welcome a new book devoted to “nature’s shrubby rock stars.”

Staying organized can help for disaster preparation

Courtesy of Amanda Kuzak
Storing nonperishable essentials on a shelf in the garage can help in case of an emergency.

As a professional organizer, I look inside dozens of homes every week, and it always shocks me when I don’t find an emergency kit.

Orange decor galore: Two Los Altos neighborhoods bring Halloween to life

Megan V. WInslow/Town Crier
A family on University Avenue, above, prepares for Halloween with a scary skeleton hanging from their porch, left. Homes in the Orange and University avenues neighborhood have been decorating their homes for trick- or-treaters for decades.

This is a tale of two Los Altos neighborhoods that attract hordes of trick-or-treaters on Halloween. One is old, the other fairly new.

The oldie but goodie is Orange and University avenues in old Los Altos, where orange decor and pumpkins galore herald the advent of All Hallows’ Eve.

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The Town Crier welcomes letters to the editor on current events pertinent to Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Write to us at 138 Main St., Los Altos 94022, Attn: Editor, or email editor Bruce Barton at bruceb@latc.com. Because editorial space is limited, please confine letters to no more than 200 words. Include a phone number for verification purposes. Anonymous letters will not be printed.

You can also have your say right here at losaltosonline.com – scroll to the bottom of any story to add a comment. 

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