Open Doors Mean Open Books

Posted on October 30, 2013 by  
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Know Knew BooksIf Bill Burruss and Cate Nelson seem to be displaying some wide grins these days, there’s a good reason behind it.

Burrus and Nelson, owners of former longtime Palo Alto fixture Know Knew Books, opened the doors to their new home at 366 State St. Oct. 20. The move to Los Altos comes after a 24-year stint on Palo Alto’s California Street – a tenure that ended shortly after learning that their lease renewal would include a significant bump in monthly rent. The used-bookstore duo discovered their new Los Altos home, formerly the site of flower shop Alabasta, after venturing to the downtown triangle to scout for potential store locations.

Overall, Nelson deemed the store’s first week in Los Altos fruitful, with plenty of curious customers coming by to check out some of the store’s 35,000 titles. Nelson added that her new merchant neighbors have rolled out the welcome mat as well. Among other things, Nature Gallery owner Carol Garsten, herself a Palo Alto transplant, welcomed the new store with a gift – geode bookends for some of the bookstore’s most prized collections.

“People have been very friendly, excited and warm to us,” said Nelson, a book enthusiast who one year ago purchased a stake in the store as it faced financial challenges.

Similar to their “all are welcome” approach in Palo Alto, Nelson and Burruss noted that they aim to turn their new retail home into “the place to be” downtown. The store is in the midst of planning several events – from poetry readings to local music performances and anything in between. Nelson and Burruss plan to keep the store open regularly until 10 p.m. in order to give downtown visitors a place to hang out.

“We just want to give people a place to go at night – a place to browse and pick up a book before going home or simply as a place to go at night in Los Altos,” said Nelson, who is soon rolling out a Know Knew Books e-newsletter to keep customers informed of new arrivals and upcoming store events.

For more information, visit


Chic & Elegant Living

Posted on October 24, 2013 by  
Filed under Sold Properties · Tagged:


1942 Churton Ave, Los Altos CA 94024
Listed at $2,685,000 / Sold at $2,728,000
5 Bed / 3.5 Baths / Home: 3,496 sqft / Lot Size: 10,000 sqft +/-
Single Family Detached
Represented: Buyer


Operating At Net Zero Energy

Posted on October 24, 2013 by  
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The David & Lucile Packard FoundationThe David and Lucile Packard Foundation has achieved the goal of operating its headquarters building at net zero energy by generating more than enough electricity to meet its needs during the first full year of occupancy.

The 49,000-square-foot building at 343 Second St. in Los Altos is the largest building to date to receive Net Zero Energy Building Certification through the International Living Future Institute. It is one of few buildings worldwide to carry both that designation and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum certification.

Foundation officials showed off the new building to the public during an open house Thursday.

“We’re just so pleased it worked out as well as it did,” said Susan Packard Orr, chairwoman of the foundation board.

Carol Larson, foundation president and CEO, added that the foundation “managed to make a sustainable building that (also) turned out to be a beautiful building.”

The architects and builders achieved the goal of generating enough electricity to serve the foundation’s needs with solar panels that should pay for themselves within 10 years.

“When the foundation was designing the building, we made a conscious effort to live the values we support. The building is a physical manifestation of our long-term commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Larson said in a statement. “Our hope is that the building will serve as an inspiration to other organizations, businesses and individuals.”

Materials used for the interior finishes are low in volatile organic compounds emissions, and the ventilation system uses 100 percent outside air.

The building, which houses 110 employees, was designed to reduce water consumption by 40 percent by capturing and reusing rainwater for irrigation and toilet flushing. The landscaping includes 90 percent California native plants to eliminate pesticide use.

For more information, visit


Mutual Aid Plan Shares Fire Resources

Posted on October 17, 2013 by  
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Los Altos Fire TruckWhen an emergency call comes in reporting a fire, a fire engine arrives at a Los Altos or Los Altos Hills home within minutes ready to battle the flames. Depending on the address, the fire personnel arriving could be from Los Altos or Palo Alto fire stations.

“People really don’t care if a red engine or white engine shows up or what uniform they have on – as long as someone shows up,” said John Jarvis, Santa Clara County Fire Department assistant chief.

Jarvis uses the distinction as an everyday example of how cities partner with neighboring towns to provide the most efficient service for residents through Mutual Aid and Automatic Aid, collaborative efforts to streamline emergency operations.

Sometimes the nearest fire station may not be located in a resident’s jurisdiction – for example, some Los Altos residents live closer to Palo Alto fire stations than those in Los Altos.

Jarvis explained how integral Automatic Aid, the day-to-day, predetermined cooperation between adjacent cities, and Mutual Aid, sporadic cooperation across jurisdictions, have become to response operations.

Although homeowners may experience the benefits of Automatic Aid through personal experiences in their own neighborhoods, Mutual Aid is often witnessed from afar. During the summer’s active fire season, the public observed the power of Mutual Aid on their television screens as battalions of engines and firefighters quickly appeared on the scene through a process that has been perfected over 50 years of cooperation.

First introduced to California in the 1960s when local fire departments struggled to extinguish large wildfires with limited resources, Mutual Aid enables districts to call on adjacent, regional and statewide fire departments for resources and personnel, with the understanding that the agencies would return the favor in the event an emergency occurs in their neck of the woods.

During the 2013 fire season, the Santa Clara County Fire Department was asked to mobilize teams to assist in Southern California, the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park and the recent Mount Diablo fire in the East Bay.

The county’s local fire service and Mutual Aid rescue plan includes four predetermined strike teams, allowing for quick dispatch when calls for mutual aid come in to the Santa Clara County fire coordinator. Each strike team comprises five fire engines and one chief.

For more information on the Santa Clara County Mutual Aid plan, visit


Boosting STEM Delivery In Schools

Posted on October 11, 2013 by  
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STEM at Gardner BullisIt’s not unusual to see kindergartners in Los Altos School District classrooms this year learning the basics of robot programming.

Supported by funding from the Los Altos Educational Foundation, the school district hired a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teacher for each elementary school campus.

Content and classroom-to-classroom needs drive the program, still in its early stages. The main focus of the STEM teachers this year is to assist in physical science instruction, introduce computational-thinking activities and host Making/Tinkering lunch clubs.

“The idea now is to have a STEM teacher who is really helping in a co-teaching situation to provide cross-disciplinary lessons where students have to use design challenges to solve real-world problems using science, technology, engineering and math,” said Alyssa Gallagher, district director of strategic initiatives and community partnerships.

Kindergartners through second-graders use Bee-Bot robots and iPad applications as the basis for their computational thinking. Third- and fourth-graders use LEGO WeDo, a more advanced robotics tool, and scratch programming to advance toward 3D design in fifth grade and computer science in sixth grade.

The STEM teachers also contribute to the science curriculum by supplementing each classroom teacher’s physical science instruction. The goal is for classroom and STEM teachers to collaborate to add experiments beyond the previous offerings, said Karen Wilson, STEM coach for the school district.

Gallagher said the STEM enhancements meet the new Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards, recently adopted by the California Department of Education.

Both Wilson and Gallagher stressed that the program is a work in progress, but added that they are excited to be on the cutting edge of delivering STEM to students. They have been asked to discuss the district’s STEM program at a statewide conference.


Property Tax Growth Projections

Posted on October 8, 2013 by  
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LASD Property Taxes Future YearsProjections for property-tax growth, the Los Altos School District’s major revenue source, are rising, district officials said at a board meeting earlier this month.

Reporting numbers from the 2012-2013 district budget, Randy Kenyon, assistant superintendent for business services, said the property-tax projections for the current school year stand at 8.7 percent, a significant jump from the 5 percent growth rate estimated in June.

Kenyon said property-tax growth is based primarily on housing turnover, which boosts the assessed value of the property.

The average assessed value of local homes is $1.18 million, with 55 percent of parcels assessed lower than the average. Eighteen percent of the parcels in the district are assessed at less than $200,000. Seven years ago, 26 percent of homes were assessed at less than $200,000, and 60 percent were assessed at less than the $834,000 average.

With the growth larger than predicted and the district’s current reserve fund 5 percent higher than its target level, the district may have funds to add to its educational offerings.

With the unexpected revenue, Superintendent Jeff Baier asked trustees to consider the possibility of rolling out full-day kindergarten across the district. The district currently offers full-day kindergarten only at Gardner Bullis School.

“The decision on full-day kindergarten is one that as a district we need to make soon if the intent is to install it next year,” Baier said. “We begin (promoting our program at) preschools in early November.” 


Fabulous Home In Prime Location

Posted on October 8, 2013 by  
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1164 Truman Street, Redwood City CA 94061
Listed at $989,000 / Sold at $1,200,000
3 Bed / 2 Baths / Home: 1,470 sqft / Lot Size: 8,400 sqft +/-
Single Family Detached
Represented: Buyer


Stunning Los Gatos Estate

Posted on October 4, 2013 by  
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101 Las Uvas Court, Los Gatos CA 95032
Purchased Off Market for $1,895,000
4 Bed / 3 Baths / Home: 3,088 sqft / Lot Size: 15,682 sqft +/-
Single Family Detached
Represented: Buyer