Last updateWed, 20 Sep 2017 9am


2012 in review: Los Altos enjoys a year of growth and change

Photo By: Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Photo Photo By Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier The new David and Lucile Packard Foundation headquarters opens for business

With the dust of 2011 construction settled, 2012 invited downtown Los Altos visitors to take stock of all the new development in its wake: a new headquarters for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, a three-story condominium project on First Street and a three-story office-retail-housing project on Third Street. A construction crew broke ground on the first downtown hotel, and two other sites on First Street saw old structures demolished, with the promise of new retail, office and condominiums in 2013.

But buildings were far from the only “developments” in 2012. Changes of the guard occurred with local elections for the Los Altos City Council and the Los Altos School District, to name two governing bodies. The legal and verbal squawking over Bullis Charter School facilities hid the more encouraging news that students were still performing amazingly well in local schools, as this year’s round of test scores proved.

Below are brief reviews of the major stories we covered, organized by month. For our most memorable stories of the year, see the editorial on page 8.


• Closed sections of First Street reopen after six months of streetscape upgrades.

• El Camino Hospital announces a plan to expand its board by three new members.

• The Service Employees International Union, the El Camino Hospital worker’s union, is preserved after a vote nixes possible decertification.

• The California Supreme Court rejects the Los Altos School District’s appeal of a ruling claiming that the district did not provide “reasonably equivalent” facilities for Bullis Charter School.

• The community honors retired Santa Clara County Judge Leonard Edwards, named 2011 Los Altan of the Year.

• The Mountain View City Council approves a flood-detention basin for the 12-acre Cuesta Annex open space.


• The Los Altos City Council approves Safeway’s proposal for a two-story, 45,265-square-foot store at 160 First St.

• Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School officials meet informally to explore a long-term facilities solution.

• El Camino Hospital’s longtime benefactor Norma Melchor passes away.

• Los Altos hires Marcia Somers as new city manager.


• Bullis Charter School and Los Altos School District representatives begin closed-door formal mediation.

• The Los Altos School District discusses sharing Covington School with Bullis Charter School, spurring community concern over formation of a “super campus.”

• Construction begins at The Terraces at Los Altos, the senior living community formerly known as Pilgrim Haven.

• Foothill College’s radio station KFJC earns recognition as Best Community College Station in the U.S.

• The Santa Clara County School Boards Association honors the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District for its Latino outreach programs.


• The Los Altos City Council delays placing a $65 million bond measure on the ballot to partially fund a new civic center after a community survey reveals less than adequate support.

• Police apprehend Brian Rathjen, 45, in Los Altos Hills after he intentionally runs over two Sunnyvale pedestrians with his vehicle. Edgar Quiroz, 59, dies as a result of injuries.


• Bullis Charter School reluctantly accepts the Los Altos School District’s final facilities offer for the 2012-2013 school year.

• Downtown property owner Kim Cranston files a lawsuit against the city of Los Altos seeking the release of an internal staff memo discussing the sale of city-owned land at First and Main streets.

• Bullis Charter School and the Los Altos School District reach a tentative joint agreement that guarantees the charter school its own campus by fall 2014 and suspends litigation between the parties.

• Residents flock downtown for the 65th Annual Kiwanis Pet Parade.

• Heart and double-lung transplant recipient Sharlie Kaltenbach heads home to San Diego after living in Los Altos as she awaited her successful surgery at Stanford Hospital.


• Los Altos, Mountain View and St. Francis high schools hold commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2012.

• Bullis Charter School files papers with the Santa Clara County Superior Court challenging the Los Altos School District’s 2012-2013 facilities offer, effectively rebuffing a joint tentative agreement.

• An audit for the Santa Clara County Local Agency Formation Commission suggests dissolving the El Camino Hospital District.

• Talk of Hillview Community Center as a 10th school site looms large at a joint meeting of the Los Altos City Council and the Los Altos School District.

• More than 400 people attend the ninth annual Relay For Life of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

• The Los Altos City Council unanimously rejects the Sorensen brothers’ proposed construction project at 40 Main St.

• Los Altos is abuzz over the filming of “jOBS,” a Steve Jobs biopic, at the Apple co-founder’s childhood home on Crist Drive.


• The Securities and Exchange Commission freezes assets of a Los Altos company, Small Business Capital Corp., after alleging that CEO Mark Feathers operated a Ponzi-like scheme. The SEC claims that Los Altos resident Feathers, 48, raised $42 million from more than 400 investors by claiming to invest in mortgages that could provide a 7.5 percent annual return. Feathers vehemently denies the charges.

• After 18 months of construction, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation opens its new headquarters at 343 Second St.

• The Santa Clara County sales-tax rate increases from 8.25 to 8.375 percent.

• Los Altos hosts thousands of visitors and sells nearly 5,000 wine glasses at the 33rd annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival.

• Bullis Charter School officials file papers with the Santa Clara County Superior Court challenging the Los Altos School District’s 2012-2013 facilities offer.

• A dead crow found in Los Altos tests positive for West Nile virus – the first case of the virus in Santa Clara County in 2012.

• Real estate developer Passerelle Investment Co. receives approval from the Los Altos Council to create redevelopment concepts for 170 State St.


• U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Matthew Patrick Manoukian, 29, a Los Altos Hills native, dies in action in Afghanistan. First Lt. Todd Allen Lorell, 24, a Los Altos native, dies in a vehicle collision in Southern California.

• The Los Altos Hills City Council votes to cancel the Nov. 6 election and appoint the three candidates running for the three open seats.

• Assessment test scores from the 2012 ACT show that Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District students’ scores exceed state and national standards in all test areas.


• The old post office at 100 First St. is demolished to make way for a 48-unit condominium project.

• The Los Altos Town Crier celebrates its 65th anniversary.

• The Securities and Exchange Commission charges Los Altos resident Hyung Lim, 45, with conspiracy to commit securities fraud.

• Safeway purchases the Los Altos Pharmacy, a 78-year-old business at 255 Second St.

• El Camino Hospital District officials announce a new three-year contract with Professional Resource for Nurses and Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West.


• Local youth gain a new hangout in downtown Los Altos as arcade Area 151 opens on First Street.

• Los Altos Police detectives investigate more than a dozen residential and commercial burglaries that occur over a 12-day stretch.

• The Los Altos City Council approves a plan for the city-owned property at the corner of First and Main streets in downtown Los Altos. Jeffrey A. Morris Group’s mixed-use development will bring a pair of two-story structures as well as underground parking to the 0.78-acre site.


• Los Altos voters elect three women to city council seats – newcomers Jeannie Bruins and Jan Pepper and incumbent Megan Satterlee. They join Val Carpenter to make a four-woman super-majority on the council, a city first.

• Stormy weather doesn’t stop the groundbreaking for Los Altos’ first and only downtown hotel, Enchanté. Developer Abigail Ahrens is building 18 guest rooms, a bistro and an outdoor gathering space at the corner of Main Street and San Antonio Road.

• Voters approve a measure capping executive pay at El Camino Hospital at $330,000. If it stands up in court, it will more than halve the CEO’s current salary.

• Los Altos releases a long-withheld internal memo questioning whether sufficiently competitive bids ensured a fair price for the city-owned First and Main streets property, which sold for $3.1 million. City officials say the memo “contains many factual omissions and inaccuracies.”


• Los Altos celebrates its 60th anniversary of incorporation with a public gala featuring dinner, a historical video, skits and musical entertainment.

• Jarrett Fishpaw, 25, takes the gavel as the youngest mayor in Los Altos’ history. Fishpaw’s council colleagues don black bow ties during his swearing-in ceremony in deference to his trademark accessory.

• Los Altos launches a pilot valet parking program to encourage shoppers to park downtown. Workers park more than 36 cars during the first three hours of operation.

• The Los Altos School District Board of Trustees narrows its options for accommodating Bullis Charter School next year, considering Covington School, a split between Egan Junior High and Blach Intermediate schools or a new site for the charter school, possibly outside district boundaries. Meanwhile, lawsuits continue to fly and several recent court decisions side with the district, spurring Bullis’ appeals.

• City flags fly at half-staff to memorialize victims of the shooting tragedy in Newtown, Conn.

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