02272017Mon
Last updateMon, 27 Feb 2017 10am

News

LA city manager is

LA city manager is "speechless" at council priorities


 

The Los Altos City Council had an opportunity to set its 2017 goals at last week’s council meeting, but a lack of consensus led to a moment of exasperation from the city manager.

After the five councilmembers offered their feedback on th...

Readmore

Loading...

Schools

LAHS student raises money for cause  close to her heart

LAHS student raises money for cause close to her heart


Courtesy of Megan Tsern
Los Altos High School junior Megan Tsern shows her contract to fundraise for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Student of the Year campaign. Tsern hopes to raise $50,000 in memory of her brother, Matthew, who died ...

Readmore

Loading...

Community

'Pre-History of the iPhone' talk set for March 2 in Mtn. View

The Computer History Museum’s latest presentation, “Computing in Your Pocket: The Pre-History of the iPhone in Silicon Valley,” is scheduled 7 p.m. March 2 at the museum, 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View.

The panel discussion, moderated by Com...

Readmore

Loading...

Sports

Mtn. View falls 50-45 in OT to Gunn

Mtn. View falls 50-45 in OT to Gunn


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Emma Bice tries to shoot over Gunn’s Archer Olson.

Plagued by foul trouble and turnovers for most of the game, the Mountain View High girls basketball team had to feel fortunate just to ge...

Readmore

Loading...

Comment

Letters to the Editor

Outcry against ‘fake news’ warranted

This letter is in response to Jacqueline Degner’s Feb. 8 letter “Fighting against ‘alternative facts.’”

Ms. Degner correctly points out that many people pass around fake...

Readmore

Loading...

Special Sections

Outdoor kitchens provide an extension of the home

Outdoor kitchens provide an extension of the home


Courtesy of Lisa Parramore
This outdoor kitchen and gathering space, left, offers a cozy spot to enjoy the smells wafting from the pizza oven.

Part of what makes living in the Bay Area such a delight is its mild, temperate climate. More and m...

Readmore

Loading...

Business

Present will not move far in a Main Street

Present will not move far in a Main Street "win-win" swap


Photos by Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Present is slated to move across Main Street after more than four years in its old spot.

What do you get for the gift store that has everything? A new and larger location, apparently.

Present, the locavore ...

Readmore

Loading...

People

YVONNE E. STEINDORF

YVONNE E. STEINDORF

In Loving Memory

6/26/1933- 1/23/2017

Yvonne Steindorf passed away peacefully on 1/23/2017 following a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Readmore

Loading...

News

LA city manager is "speechless" at council priorities

LA city manager is

 

The Los Altos City Council had an opportunity to set its 2017 goals at last week’s council meeting, but a lack of consensus led to a moment of exasperation from the city manager.

After the five councilmembers offered their feedback on the city’s 2017 Strategic Priorities, City Manager C...

Readmore

Business

Present will not move far in a Main Street "win-win" swap

Present will not move far in a Main Street

Photos by Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Present is slated to move across Main Street after more than four years in its old spot.

What do you get for the gift store that has everything? A new and larger location, apparently.

Present, the locavore goodie shop entering its fifth year in Los Altos, ...

Readmore

Sports

Mtn. View falls 50-45 in OT to Gunn

Mtn. View falls 50-45 in OT to Gunn

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Emma Bice tries to shoot over Gunn’s Archer Olson.

Plagued by foul trouble and turnovers for most of the game, the Mountain View High girls basketball team had to feel fortunate just to get to overtime last week against Gunn.

But the Spa...

Readmore

Community

'Pre-History of the iPhone' talk set for March 2 in Mtn. View

The Computer History Museum’s latest presentation, “Computing in Your Pocket: The Pre-History of the iPhone in Silicon Valley,” is scheduled 7 p.m. March 2 at the museum, 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View.

The panel discussion, moderated by Computer History Museum historian John Markoff, will ...

Readmore

Comment

Letters to the Editor

Outcry against ‘fake news’ warranted

This letter is in response to Jacqueline Degner’s Feb. 8 letter “Fighting against ‘alternative facts.’”

Ms. Degner correctly points out that many people pass around fake information they find on the internet that fits t...

Readmore

Spiritual Life

Longtime Foothills Congregational Church pastor retires

Longtime Foothills Congregational Church pastor retires

Foothills Congregational Church in Los Altos bid farewell last month to the Rev. Matt Broadbent, who retired after 17 years of service.

Broadbent and his wife, Barbara, are retiring to a condominium in Aptos. Barbara has served as spiritual director for the Northern California Nevada Conference U...

Readmore

People

YVONNE E. STEINDORF

YVONNE E. STEINDORF

In Loving Memory

6/26/1933- 1/23/2017

Yvonne Steindorf passed away peacefully on 1/23/2017 following a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Readmore

Schools

LAHS student raises money for cause close to her heart

LAHS student raises money for cause  close to her heart

Courtesy of Megan Tsern
Los Altos High School junior Megan Tsern shows her contract to fundraise for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Student of the Year campaign. Tsern hopes to raise $50,000 in memory of her brother, Matthew, who died of leukemia when she was 7 years old.

Following i...

Readmore

Special Sections

Outdoor kitchens provide an extension of the home

Outdoor kitchens provide an extension of the home

Courtesy of Lisa Parramore
This outdoor kitchen and gathering space, left, offers a cozy spot to enjoy the smells wafting from the pizza oven.

Part of what makes living in the Bay Area such a delight is its mild, temperate climate. More and more homeowners view their outdoor spaces as an ext...

Readmore

Stepping Out

Behind the 'Show'

Behind the 'Show'

David Allen/Special to the Town Crier
Jessica LaFever, left, and Lauren Meyer play conjoined twins in Foothill Music Theatre’s production of “Side Show.”

While it takes just a few hours of one’s day to attend a play, it can take nearly a year to prepare the production for the stage.

Milissa C...

Readmore

Obituaries

YVONNE E. STEINDORF

YVONNE E. STEINDORF

In Loving Memory

6/26/1933- 1/23/2017

Yvonne Steindorf passed away peacefully on 1/23/2017 following a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Readmore

Magazine

Art for superfans: Classical skills find new subjects in the modern art class

Art for superfans: Classical skills find new subjects in the modern art class

From Hermione Granger to "Avatar: The Last Airbender," unconventional subjects are making classical portraits for today’s young painters.

Fan art - drawings inspired by popular characters from books, movies and graphic novels - have long languished in the margins of school notebooks. But student...

Readmore

Los Altos builder crafts signature homes


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bob Owen of Owen Signature Homes has built hundreds of local homes, including the Los Altos Hills residence above. Bob and his son Shawn are currently constructing a steel home in Los Altos, below.

Bob Owen loves to build houses. In fact, he’s built so many that he’s lost count.


“It’s in the hundreds,” said Owen, a product of Los Altos whose firm, Owen Signature Homes, is marking its 43rd year.


Construction runs in his blood. His father, who died at 42, founded G.H. Owen Construction in Los Altos.


“I was just a kid then,” said Owen, who raised his then 9-year-old brother.


Although Owen liked helping out in the family business as a youth, he wondered why anyone would want to be a building contractor given the ups and downs of the economy. With his parents’ hard times in mind, he changed course, graduating with a degree in finance and business from Brigham Young University.


He worked in the finance departments at Westinghouse Electric Corp. and Varian Associates Inc. before becoming disenchanted with the corporate world.


“Business is all politics, and I wanted to do something on my own,” Owen said. “I loved construction as a kid. It was so gratifying at the end of the day to stand back and look at something I had done.”


With that in mind and lessons learned from his father, he purchased a lot in Los Altos on a handshake – “I had no money” – and built his first spec house. He drew the plans, poured the foundation and did the framing and just about everything himself.


His “signature” home led to contracts for 10 more. Intel Corp.’s Andy Grove was among the first potential buyers to tour the house.


Since then, Owen’s business has grown – along with his reputation.


“He’s intensely professional,” said Peter Detkin of Los Altos Hills. “He and his team were good about communicating with us every step of the way.”


Detkin and his wife, Michelle, are “thrilled” with their custom home.


“We moved in a few weeks ago and continue to get very good service,” he said.


The couple’s spacious home with its media and exercise rooms is worlds away from the ranch homes popular when Owen started out.


Changing with the times


“In the ’70s, living spaces were defined. Every house had a living room, dining room, kitchen and family room,” Owen said. “Now there are open floor plans and great rooms.”


More people today eschew living rooms, but Owen believes a house should at least have a parlorlike area away from the action for sitting and relaxing.


“Homes in the ’70s and ’80s were pretty dark inside – now it’s just the opposite,” he said, citing the desire for volume, high ceilings, skylights, more glass and natural light.


“Houses were more budget-driven when I started out,” Owen added. “Now people have more money to venture out. And, the clientele is getting younger.”


Among the other trends Owen has noted as his construction career has evolved:


• Kitchens. There are more appliances and convenience items, such as built-in coffeemakers priced upwards of $2,000. Everything is gas. Islands are prevalent and are being “loaded up,” although Owen disdains cooktops in islands. Four or five ovens in a house are not uncommon. He recently installed a steamer oven.


• Basements and elevators. Owen has been building basements for 10 to 15 years, but they’re au courant because “people want a house as big as it can possibly be,” he said, which means going underground. He cited the example of a 12,000-square-foot house being built on a 1-acre lot. Elevators are becoming more commonplace because of multilevel dwellings and an aging population.


• Bigger rooms and specialty rooms. One of Owen’s clients wanted 20-foot-by-20-foot bedrooms for the children and a 20-foot-by-25-foot master bedroom. Media rooms, home theaters, game rooms, gyms, home offices and storage rooms have replaced dens and TV rooms.


• High-tech electronics. Think smart houses.


Builder and customer satisfaction


Does Owen have a favorite house or project?


“I love them all” is his ready reply.


What about a favorite architectural style?


“I like Mediterranean and traditional,” he paused. “And comfortable houses and ones that have a little more country feeling. I’m often asked what style I am noted for. My answer is, ‘Yes.’ Doing something different is exciting and so much fun. I like to be a trendsetter.”


His main goal is to satisfy his clients. His son Shawn, vice president and active in the business for a quarter of a century, shares the mission.


“We work hard to make clients think their house is the only one we’re building, although we may have 10 to 15 projects going at a time,” Owen said.


He is able to control costs more and accommodate clients’ needs because he is both architect and builder. There are four sets of eyes on every project – his, Shawn’s, the architect’s and the supervisor’s.


“There are two rewards for me – to see what I’ve built and to have happy clients move in,” Owen said.

Submit a Letter to the Editor

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. 

Reader Comments

Schools »

Schools
Read More

Sports »

sports
Read More

People »

people
Read More

Special Sections »

Special Sections
Read More

Photos of Los Altos

photoshelter
Browse and buy photos