Jump Start Your New Year With A Run

Posted on December 26, 2013 by  
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Fun RunThose looking to start the new year with some exercise can participate in the 11th annual New Year’s Day 5K Family Fun Run, sponsored by the city of Los Altos.

The event is scheduled for a 9 a.m. start Jan. 1 at Community Plaza, located at the corner of Main and State streets in downtown Los Altos.

The free, noncompetitive Fun Run welcomes runners and walkers, strollers, skaters and dogs on short leashes. Bikes are prohibited.

“Rain or shine, the Los Altos community turns out in force,” said Recreation Director Beverly Tucker. “The community event draws as many as 1,500 participants of all ages, from babies to seniors, who gather downtown to jump-start their New Year’s resolutions.”

Tucker added that the event “illustrates the Los Altos community’s enjoyment of the outdoors, socializing with family and friends – and it creates a great community feeling. It truly is a great start to the new year.”

Fun Run sponsors include Whole Foods Market, Hobee’s Restaurants, De Martini Orchard and Starbucks on Main Street, which will be open during the holiday run.

The Los Altos Youth Commission and Boy Scouts from Troop 37 will distribute water and fresh fruit along the route. Community volunteers will direct participants along the course.

No preregistration is required.  For more information, visit losaltosrecreation.org

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2013 Los Altans Of The Year

Posted on December 19, 2013 by  
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Packard Foundation Courtyard

The Los Altos Town Crier has named the people of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation – founders, employees and board members – its 2013 Los Altans of the Year. Modeled after Time Magazine, the annual honor recognizes local residents or groups whose goodwill building and positive impact enhance Los Altos’ reputation as a quality community.

This year’s recognition deviates from past awards, which were limited to individuals or couples. But several factors played into the choice.

“The Packard Foundation’s presence in our community has existed for a long time, building goodwill through philanthropy,” said Town Crier Publisher Paul Nyberg. “The extent of its work around the world is mind boggling. Virtually every continent on the planet has felt the impact of the Packard vision.”

Next year will mark the foundation’s 50th anniversary. Led by president and CEO Carol Larson and a strong board of directors, the foundation continues to address worldwide issues such as curbing overpopulation and protecting the environment.

At the same time, the foundation remains committed to funding nonprofit organizations in its own backyard. Foundation members leverage their resources wisely, choosing to fund organizations and causes that make the most impact, while also supporting methods to assist organizations in improving efficiency.

According to its website, the foundation has $5.8 billion in assets and distributed appproximately $253 million in 2012.

The foundation operates by core values that include honesty, integrity and respect, values put forward by the Packards. It also leads by example.

Committed to conservation, Packard officials built their new downtown Los Altos headquarters at 343 Second St. to be self-sustaining. The building generates all the energy required for its operation, using state-of-the-art green construction. As a result, the 49,161-square-foot headquarters is currently the largest net-zero energy structure in the world. Foundation members hope others follow their lead.

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Valet Parking Returns For Holidays

Posted on December 11, 2013 by  
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Valet Poster 2013Originally launched last year, a pilot program designed to make parking easier for downtown holiday shoppers returns this month.

The city of Los Altos announced last week that it will again partner with the Los Altos Village Association and the Los Altos Chamber of Commerce to provide complimentary valet parking service for downtown patrons.

The free valet parking program is scheduled to run Monday through Dec. 24 in Central Parking Plaza 5, located between Second and Third streets and Main and State streets, except for Dec. 22 because of the lower demand for Sunday parking last year.

A statement released by the city last week noted that the valet parking program aims to “maximize the available parking spaces in the highest-demand area of town and facilitate easy parking for customers shopping downtown this holiday season.”

City-hired Corinthian Parking is slated to operate the valet parking 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily in Central Parking Plaza 5. The plaza will be closed to motorists seeking their own parking spots until 4 p.m. each day. The valet parking area will be accessible via the Third Street entrance to the parking plaza.

Customers who use the valet service will not be subject to the two-hour time limits normally posted in the plaza. The city strongly discourages employees from using the valet service because it will not displace any “white dot” employee permit spaces. Employees who park in Plaza 5 are encouraged instead to purchase quarterly employee parking permits from the Los Altos Police Department for $12.

For more information, visit losaltosca.gov

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Local Retailers Forecast A Merry Holiday

Posted on December 4, 2013 by  
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Los Altos' 2013 Holiday StrollIf you ask downtown retailers how business has been, most will respond that sales are on the upswing.

“So far things are steady,” said Belinda Chung of BK Collections, a specialty gift and jewelry shop in business in Los Altos for 35 years. “People are picking things up and buying them.”

Chung’s regular customers are already visiting the store to purchase hand-blown glass ornaments for their children and grandchildren, but she said it’s a little too early to predict overall sales for the holiday season.

Consumer spending in Los Altos has remained relatively steady year-to-year at just below $2,000 per capita, according to the city of Los Altos’ sales tax data for the second quarter of 2013 (April through June).

Restaurants and consumer-goods sectors saw the highest increase over 2012 numbers at 23 percent and 26 percent, respectively.

Family apparel, women’s apparel, sporting goods and restaurants serving no alcohol all experienced increases in sales of more than 20 percent – a number that exceeds county and state increases by more than double digits.

The city’s revenue data rings true for many retailers, including Jim Daley, co-owner of Present, an artisanal food, beauty and spa business that has been in Los Altos for just more than a year.

“We tripled what we did last year,” said Daley of sales during the Holiday Stroll in comparison to last year.

The Holiday Stroll was the shop’s busiest day of the year, and Daley is struggling to get products out of boxes and onto shelves fast enough. Even though he ordered three times more inventory this year than last, he’s already had to reorder more product for the holiday season.

High-end businesses, including jewelry retailer Smythe & Cross, are also experiencing indications of a positive holiday sales season. President Khatchig Jingirian Jr. reports a steady increase in shoppers and sales. More customers are making early seasonal purchases, a trend that is unusual for his business. Khatchig expects a fair share of men rushing into the store to purchase last-minute gifts in the two to three weeks before Christmas.

“I want to be in the position to have to camp out back because business is so good,” he said.

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