MVLA Foundation’s Grant Sets Record

Posted on July 27, 2014 by  
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MVLA FoundationWhat a difference a decimal point makes.

In 1982, when the Mountain View Los Altos High School Foundation was founded, the parent-organized group raised $13,000. This year, the foundation awarded the Mountain View Los Altos High Union High School District a $1.3 million grant, the largest in the 32-year history of the nonprofit organization that raises money to fund academic programs. The grant represents a 40-fold increase in contributions since the foundation’s inception.

Foundation Executive Director Laura Roberts and board President Mike Maciag presented a check to Superintendent Barry Groves and Joe Mitchner, district school board president, at a dinner celebrating the milestone.

“Hundreds of people in our communities contributed to reach this ambitious fundraising goal for our students,” Roberts said. “For the third consecutive year, we’ve increased not just the amount of donations, but also the number of participating families and local businesses. No matter what their dreams and goals, each student benefits when foundation dollars provide reduced freshman class sizes, the newest science lab equipment and investments in STEM programs.”

The foundation continues to fund district schools’ tutorial centers, the SIS online grading system, extended library hours, PSAT tests and College and Career Centers.

In addition to individual gifts from families of high school students, the foundation received support from local real estate agents, AmazonSmile, UpToUs and area merchants.

“The generous support from the MVLA Foundation makes an enormous difference in our schools’ and teachers’ abilities to manifest academic excellence in our public high schools,” Groves said. “We have record numbers of students graduating and continuing in the colleges and careers of their choosing. Students tell me that they feel prepared for their futures. This is attributable in large part to the many programs funded by the MVLA High School Foundation.”


Downtown Green Park Returns In August

Posted on July 24, 2014 by  
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Third Street GreenAnother temporary park is poised to pop up in downtown Los Altos this summer.

According to Brooke Ray Smith, community development director for Passerelle Investment Co., the Third Street Green is slated to open Aug. 3 and will remain in place through the end of the month. Located on Third Street between State Street and Plaza North, the pop-up park is the second of its kind to appear in the downtown triangle this summer.

A second rendition of the State Street Green, which debuted in the summer of 2013, popped up for three weeks in late May along the 300 block of State Street.

City officials agreed to open the park at that time while Safeway closed the State and First streets intersection to complete crosswalk construction work. In late March, the Los Altos City Council approved the placement of a temporary park on Third Street after the conclusion of the annual Arts & Wine Festival.

Smith said the upcoming Third Street Green – though similar in concept – would vary slightly from its predecessors on State Street.

“It’s much smaller – only about 2,500 square feet,” said Smith, who added that the park would feature seating areas with tables, among other amenities also available at the recent State Street Green. “It will make it more intimate, and it’s a lot more shaded.”

Smith added that she’s finalizing the park’s entertainment programming, which will be free and open to the public on a drop-in basis.

“There will be a range of activities for kids and adults during the day and evening,” said Smith, who is working on scheduling some Saturday night musical performances geared toward adults.

According to Smith, the Third Street Green will also feature a multicolored LED string-lighting display by Arup, a San Francisco-based lighting design company. The display will run nightly from sundown to midnight, depicting different sequences of lights fading in and out above the park. The Bay Lights art project in San Francisco inspired the concept, she noted.

“Basically, people will be able to come and watch light performances every night at the park,” said Smith, who hopes that the park feature will attract residents to the downtown area at night.

In addition, the park will feature a grand piano donated by the Sunset Piano Project in Half Moon Bay. It will remain at the park for three weeks, available to anyone interested in entertaining park visitors.

“Anyone can play – there’s no need to schedule anything,” Smith said.  For more information, visit


Theater Companies Join Forces For ‘Oz’

Posted on July 21, 2014 by  
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The Wizard of OzLos Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company are partnering to present “The Wizard of Oz,” scheduled Friday through Aug. 3 at Bus Barn Theater.

The production is based on the 1900 book by L. Frank Baum and adapted by John Kane from the classic film with music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg.

Nearly 40 local youth divided into two casts fill out the production. Ian Leonard directs, with vocal direction from Sheila Townsend and choreography by Jillian Toby Cummings.

Pati Bristow, LAYT business manager, said that although her group and Los Altos Stage Company (formerly Bus Barn Stage Company) have shared the same theater for nearly 20 years, the organizations had never before collaborated on a production or shared production resources in any significant way.

Based on the success of the pilot project, Bristow said, Los Altos Stage Company and Los Altos Youth Theatre intend to mount additional co-productions on an annual basis with the goal of creating greater integration and synergy between the two organizations.

Due to the expected high demand for tickets, according to Bristow, there will be 14 performances instead of the usual 10 by Los Altos Youth Theatre. Evening performances are scheduled 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays (no show July 24) and July 23; matinees are slated 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The two opening-night galas (one for each cast) are set for Friday and Saturday.

Ticket are $15 for youth/seniors, $20 for adults. For tickets and more information, call 941-0551 or visit


Brand New Custom-Built Executive Home

Posted on July 19, 2014 by  
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428 Avenue Del Ora - Kitchen

428 Avenue Del Ora, Redwood City, CA 94062
Listed at $1,940,888 / Sold at $1,905,000
6 Beds / 4.5 Baths / Home: 3,479 sqft / Lot Size: 7,067 sqft +/-
Single Family Detached
Represented: Buyer


Life On Canvas: Longtime Los Altos Artist

Posted on July 16, 2014 by  
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artist Helene BarberLos Altos artist Helene Barber fondly recalls the moment she caught the bug to create works of art.

A 4-year-old Barber found herself one day with a purple crayon in hand, drawing large scrolls on the freshly papered wall near the entryway of her parents’ home in Santa Rosa.

“My parents had just hung this paper, and I can remember, believe it or not, these great arm movements,” said Barber, a 60-year Los Altos resident who grew up in the North Bay during the Great Depression. “I was making these circles and I was so happy. But money was an object and they didn’t have any to repaper.”

Because of the lean times during the Depression, the crayon scrolls stayed on her parents’ wall well into her teenage years. The desire to create art, however, did, too.

“I was totally obsessed with drawing and painting. … Sometimes you just have no choice,” said Barber, whose work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions from Los Altos to New York City. “I’d be studying my French lessons and I’d be doodling all the time. I guess it was a compulsion, I don’t know.”

But what began as an obsession as a child eventually turned into a full-fledged career as an artist who creates her work through a wide variety of media, from etchings to oil- and water-based paints. The Artist’s Equity Association, the Art Commission of San Francisco and the San Francisco Art Institute, among several others, have recognized Barber’s work throughout her decades as an artist.

Barber noted that her long career as an artist included a pause or two in between. At age 18, she began attending The California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland and soon found herself taking on an entirely different identity – as mother and wife.

In her 30s, Barber began attending outdoor art shows throughout the Bay Area in a bid to sell her work and fund her return to school at the San Francisco Art Institute. She later found a willing partner in her husband, who helped her budding art career by taking on various tasks such as packing and shipping original and commissioned artwork to galleries and clients around the country.

In her 40s, Barber found herself taking on yet another role out of necessity – teacher – when Perry died suddenly in 1970 from heart complications.  “I could no longer depend on selling my work or just exhibiting it,” she recalled.

Aside from exhibiting and selling her art, Barber began teaching various art courses at Pacific Art League of Palo Alto, where she earned the 1987 Kenneth Washburn Distinguished Service Award for Teaching. She later taught courses at Mountain View Los Altos Adult Education.

These days, Barber can be found twice a week teaching art to seniors at Hillview Community Center. She said the classes offer others the opportunity to foster a passion for art and escape from problems in everyday life.

“I really enjoy the people – and they’re serious about their work, which helps,” she said. “They’re very thoughtful people.”  As for Barber, the inspiration to create and teach art continues – even in her later years.

“I’m not as hale and hearty as I used to be,” she quipped, “but I do still make it to my classes.”


35th Annual Art & Wine Festival

Posted on July 10, 2014 by  
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Los Altos Art & Wine FestivalCome to downtown Los Altos this Saturday & Sunday, July 12 and 13 from 10am to 6pm.  The weather should be perfect as the downtown transforms into the largest two-day mid-summer event in the Bay Area.

The highly-rated Arts & Wine Festival showcases the distinctive works of artists and craftspeople from over a dozen states. The Festival also features select vintages by the glass from local wineries as well as a wide variety of foods including Thai, Chinese, Mexican, All American favorites like sausages, hot links and roasted corn, sweets of all kinds, and more.

Enjoy our day long free concerts from performers such as Sage, The Cocktail Monkeys, The House Rockers, Debbie Thacker, and Fred McCarty.

The Festival is a great event for the whole family with a large selection of rides, activities and entertainment for children all weekend in the Kidzone.

For more information, visit the Los Altos Village Association at:


Amber India Coming To Los Altos

Posted on July 8, 2014 by  
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A delicious optionAmber India is coming to Los Altos and picked a storied location for its new restaurant – the huge eatery at 4926 El Camino Real already has a place in local history books.

Passersby can be forgiven for not noticing the sprawling three-story structure tucked away among office buildings a few blocks south of San Antonio Road. But long before housing a series of kebab restaurants, before its stint as an Italian bistro, the building saw music legend being made.

When Larry Hancock created Chuck’s Cellar in the late 1960s, it drew headliners ranging from the Kingston Trio to John Stewart, who recorded part of an album there. Grainy footage of one folk performance still lives on, courtesy of YouTube.

Vijay Bist, Amber India’s founder, aims to recapture some hint of ’60s nostalgia in the space, paired with a north Indian-style menu he’s made famous on the Peninsula. Over the past 20 years, Amber India has worked its way onto best-of lists from its Mountain View location farther south on El Camino Real, and recently opened new outposts in San Francisco, Palo Alto and San Jose.

Bist said the new Los Altos Amber would have an old-Hollywood feel, with tapas-style Indian and Californian food in the downstairs lounge, and Amber’s traditional offerings (famous for: butter chicken) in the main dining room upstairs, which includes a large outdoor patio space. The cooking staff from the original Amber will move to the new location, he said, and add new seasonal, healthful additions to the classic menu.  Stay tuned.


Beautiful Santa Clara Townhouse

Posted on July 3, 2014 by  
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1890 Garzoni Place

1890 Garzoni Place, Santa Clara, CA 95054
Listed at $729,800 / Sold at $750,000
3 Bed / 2.5 Baths / Home: 1,458 sqft / Lot Size: 2,614 sqft +/-
Represented: Buyer


Celebrating 20 Years Of “Portfolio Day”

Posted on July 2, 2014 by  
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Portfolio DayEgan Junior High School eighth-graders marked the end of their time in junior high by presenting their work and reviewing their progress in seventh and eighth grades for an audience of adults.

The students participated in the 20th annual Portfolio Day June 5. Through personal interviews with community members, the students showcased their academic achievements during their studies at Egan.

Divided into small groups, students were assigned to one or two adults from the community. Students shared their most valuable work as the adults provided feedback, asked pertinent questions and commended students for their achievements. The interchange offered students the opportunity to demonstrate the skills of communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.

According to organizers, Portfolio Day increases student motivation, builds a sense of accomplishment and fosters community involvement in the school.

New to the process this year was a streamlining of the student portfolios, which the adults browsed through before meeting with students. Students now develop their own websites to showcase their work and the assignments they choose to highlight in their presentations.

In small groups, students prepare a presentation for the beginning of the meeting that highlights a day in the life of an Egan student.

For more information, visit