MV council advances controversial business-license tax hike


Data courtesy of City of Mountain View

Mountain View City Council members spent hours last week wrestling with a business-license fee increase meant to boost city revenues while being fair to businesses of all sizes.

When the dust settled, the council opted for a model that would generate appoximately $6.1 million annually – a considerable jump from the $260,000 per year the city currently collects. Los Altos, by contrast, collects approximately $453,000 in such fees annually.

Global shifts alter the business of what goes in your bin


Courtesy of Bill Watson
Karen Gissibl, Sunnyvale’s environmental program manager, provides perspective beside the plastics bales at the SMaRT Station serving Mountain View and Sunnyvale. The bales are sold for industrial reuse – when the market will buy.

It would be reasonable to assume that industrial innovation or chemical engineering limit what goes into local recycling bins and what gets consigned to the trash. But the contents of your bin respond to big business – the vast networks of scraps transported and repurposed across borders.

When China drastically changed its recyclables import policy this year, it caused a ripple effect across U.S. waste management, particularly on the West Coast. And the effects were felt in Los Altos and Mountain View.

Rummage sales benefit community at every stage of the resale business


Photo courtesy of LAUMC
Shoppers find treasures and oddities at the Los Altos United Methodist Church rummage sale.

Rummage sales have survived many of the disruptions reconfiguring retail – the spread of online networks may have only strengthened the tradition of assembling a mass of secondhand goods as a community fundraiser.

May represents a boom time in local rummage sales, with Los Altos United Methodist Church and Foothills Congregational Church holding decades-old efforts that draw shoppers from around the Bay Area and, in a few cases of nostalgia and longtime participation, even out of state. The city of Mountain View recently hosted a citywide garage sale, mapping out 175 participating homes and groups who opened their card tables of excess goods to the community. Other community sales dot the year’s calendar.

LA council hashes out next steps for retail sales of cannabis

Retail and delivery cannabis shops could soon be budding in Los Altos after the city council directed staff to conduct outreach and prepare an ordinance on taxing marijuana businesses.

After Proposition 64 legalized recreational cannabis in November 2016, the city adopted an urgency ordinance to temporarily prohibit medicinal and adult-use commercial cannabis sales within city limits. Since then, the council asked staff to research allowing cannabis businesses in Los Altos and imposing a local tax on them.

Mtn. View council blazes forward with cannabis zoning

The Mountain View City Council largely signed off on preliminary plans to license and zone cannabis retail within the city earlier this month, a move that could make it one of the first cities on the Peninsula to join San Jose in permitting recreational marijuana shops later this year.

The city’s staff recommended a lottery-based approval process for selecting shop operators, citing the intensive volume of applications received by some cities, a desire for fairness and the need to not violate land-use requirements that bar favoring any one specific applicant based on his or her perceived characteristics. At their May 8 council meeting, council members questioned how a streamlined permitting process could still privilege applicants that appeared to demonstrate prior experience or other signals of likely future success, but overall supported the staff’s proposed approach.

Comings and Goings: New shops appear, while old favorites breathe new life


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Art of capital cities from countries that ring the Mediterranean has been arriving at Yusuf Tosun’s expanded space for Cafe Nur, above, a restaurant on Main Street with Turkish specialties.

A shop exclusively devoted to Taiwanese tea and snacks has secured a spot in downtown Los Altos. T4 Los Altos is scheduled to take over 131 Main St., previously the longtime home of women’s clothing store Shoko Los Altos, this summer.

The boba tea cafe offers chilled black tea with big, chewy tapioca pearls floating in its depths – the signature drink for the style – but also smoothies, snacks and other teas.


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