Last updateWed, 20 Sep 2017 9am


The other LA

Photo By: Town Crier File Photo
Photo Town Crier File PhotoThe small-town charms of Los Altos including outdoor dining on a Friday night appeal to many.

I’m originally from the other LA – Los Angeles, city of the angels, home of those dreadful, hated Dodgers and birthplace of the modern gourmet food truck phenomenon. I’ve been living in the Northern California LA, Los Altos (NorCal LA), for the past 15 years and have been a Peninsula resident since the 1980s. I’m still attached to the Southern California LA (SoCal LA) and visit often, yet I definitely prefer NorCal LA for the obvious reasons: less crime, less traffic, less pollution and less hassle.

But NorCal LA took a while for me to get used to. It’s all so charming now, but when I first laid eyes on the area, I thought the lack of sidewalks in so many neighborhoods was strange. Couple that with the absence of street lights and exacerbate the problem with small, dull-brown street signs and you might as well have plopped this native Angeleno in a patch of vacation cabins in the mountains. Everything appeared rustic to me.

I wasn’t the only one, either. The first time my father visited me in our newly acquired home, he commented on the immense and plentiful trees and the potential horror of leaves and bird droppings piling up on our driveway or along the streets. He was surprised that I lived within walking distance of a large hospital, a middle school and a farmstand, having never seen those types of dissimilar institutions sharing space. He enjoyed the area – the quiet, the green, the amicability – but I think he also felt sorry for me because there was only one, just one, modestly sized Japanese market nearby.

But small scale suits me. I love going to the same shoe store time and again and finding knowledgeable, friendly salespeople who can get me in and out with a purchase in roughly the same amount of time it takes me to find a parking space in a large mall. I like restaurants that seat 30, especially when I’m parked right outside and can actually see my dog in the backseat of the car waiting patiently for his doggie bag.

And as far as “living large,” NorCal LA isn’t a wasteland – at least as far as my needs and interests go. I’m a voracious reader but rarely need to buy any books because my little neighborhood library almost never disappoints when it comes to stocking the titles I want. I find gluten-free food products in every market. I attend high-caliber sporting events at Stanford, or even local high school gyms. The foothills that feel like a personal backyard often inspire my daily meditations. And, much to my surprise, I have become enamored with trees.

However, things have changed on me as well. Local restaurants come and go at quite a clip, library hours have diminished and the farmstand is completely gone.

So the dance of getting used to NorCal LA continues for me, but at this point I’m pretty clear on the basic steps. In other words, Los Altos is home – except when it comes to baseball. I’ll never abandon the LA Dodgers for the SF Giants. Ever.

Grace Acosta is a longtime Los Altos resident. Email her at the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. m

Schools »

Read More

Sports »

Read More

People »

Read More

Special Sections »

Special Sections
Read More

Photos of Los Altos

Browse and buy photos