Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The mayors of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills offered plenty to smile about during their reports on the “State of the Cities” last week.
The annual event, held May 23 at Fremont Hills Country Club in Los Altos Hills, featured Los Altos Mayor Val Carpenter and Los Altos Hills Mayor Rich Larsen, who provided glowing appraisals of the performance of their respective city governments, using slide-show visuals to illustrate their points.
The Los Altos Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event drew a full house of community leaders and city and school district officials.
Quality of life
Displaying a pastoral photo of Byrne Preserve, Larsen remarked, “This is my vision of what quality of life means in Los Altos Hills.”
After giving a few vital statistics about Los Altos Hills (average home price is $2.6 million, average yearly salary is $175,000), Larsen outlined the town’s special events. He noted the annual Pathways Run; the “Hoppin’ Hounds” hunt, in which “well-heeled dogs search for their dog biscuits”; and the upcoming town picnic, scheduled Sunday, which is usually well attended.
Among other highlights, Larsen mentioned an internship program involving the town, Foothill College and Silicon Valley companies designed to nurture local job talent. He cited nearly 200 residents actively involved in neighborhood emergency-preparedness programs. He also noted the $1 million Arastradero Trail improvement project approved this year, and town government solvency – a balanced budget and a paid-off $1.4 million loan for construction of the new town hall.
“We also have a sense of shared responsibility (with Los Altos),” Larsen said, acknowledging that Los Altos Hills residents use services and do business in Los Altos. “We’d like to think together on how we increase the downtown traffic.”
Carpenter said the city of Los Altos’ investment in rebuilding downtown intersections is aimed at attracting more businesses and increasing vitality.
“There’s more (construction) to come,” she said, including streetscape work along First Street from State Street to Edith Avenue, and work along San Antonio Road.
Carpenter said Los Altos has very few vacancies compared to a year ago, pointing to 10 new businesses that have moved to the city in the past year.
She noted ongoing and upcoming construction on new downtown buildings – the new Packard Foundation headquarters, two condominium projects along First Street, a retail-office-residential complex on Third Street and a rebuilt Safeway market. Outside downtown, Carpenter highlighted the newly renovated Rosita Park.
Carpenter boasted of solid city government finances, with a balanced budget and “no cuts in services or staff.” The city is throwing itself a party Dec. 1, recognizing its 60th anniversary of incorporation, she added.
Business Leader of the Year
Also recognized at the event was Kamrin Knight Desmond, who received this year’s Walter and Marie Singer Business Leader of the Year Award for her active involvement in Chamber of Commerce activities.
Knight Desmond, a longtime Los Altos resident and downtown businesswoman, first joined the Chamber in 2003. The 1973 Los Altos High School graduate jump-started her accounting career in the downtown area working in the family business, Altos Associates.
Previous honoree Dennis Young described Knight Desmond as someone not afraid of hard work.
“She gets her hands dirty and leads by example,” he said.
Knight Desmond, who also was celebrating her 30th anniversary with her husband, Tony, said the late Walter Singer, a community-minded businessman for whom the award is named, often told her she needed to get involved and join the Chamber.
“To have things (you want) in your community, you need to get involved in your community,” she said.