What Defines Village Character?

Posted on February 28, 2015 by  
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There are as many descriptions of Los Altos, as there are resident.  Carol & I enjoy hearing about the characteristics residents use to define this community they love so much. The most common title used is that Los Altos is a Village.

There are a number of projects underway around the community.  During each planning phase, the community has had the opportunity to participate in framing what they would like to see improved, and/or retain.

So, what exactly defines Village character?  Well, the Town Crier dove into the subject, and below is a slightly edited version of their article.  Enjoy …

As construction moved toward completion on streetscape improvements in downtown Los Altos, the disruption to traffic – autos and otherwise – became a distant memory after the newly planted flowers began to bloom and pedestrians replaced detour placards.

After all, the impetus for infrastructure improvements was to boost business, draw developers and create a lively and vibrant village for visitors. But before the streetscape construction began, city officials adopted Downtown Design Guidelines, outlining architectural and design elements for the residential and commercial areas within the triangle bordered by Foothill Expressway, San Antonio Road and West Edith Avenue. Read more

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Celebrate Love At First Friday

Posted on February 6, 2015 by  
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Ellen BiolsiLos Altos Forward has scheduled a Valentine-themed First Friday event – “Celebrating Love” – 6-8 p.m. Friday in downtown Los Altos.

The evening will feature activities for all ages. Visitors are invited to browse and shop at more than 60 stores and galleries, many of which offer First Friday discounts as well as complimentary refreshments. Participating stores will have red and white balloons out front. Many restaurants will serve a “First Friday Special.”

Live entertainment will include performances by six local bands: Sunday Seven at Le Boulanger, 37th Parallel at Chase Bank, Fully Funded at the Costume Bank, Mollie & Scott at BK Collections, Influx at Linden Tree Books and Mars at On Your Mark.

Programs will be available at the First Friday Headquarters outside Village Stationers at 222 Main St. For a list of participating businesses and more information, visit: losaltosfirstfriday.org

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Pharmacy Headed To Main Street

Posted on January 2, 2015 by  
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Pharmaca coming to 400 Main StreetA new tenant is slated to call the recently completed 400 Main St. development its new home early next year.

Colorado-based Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy has signed a lease to open a new location at the Jeffrey A. Morris Group’s mixed-use development, according to a company spokesperson. A grand-opening date has been tentatively scheduled for Feb. 28.

The company was founded in 2000 and is currently headquartered in Boulder, Colo. It offers a variety of traditional and holistic products, as well as services provided by a wide range of practitioners, including herbalists, naturopathic physicians, acupuncturists and chiropractors.

Pharmaca currently has 27 locations throughout Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and California, including pharmacies locally in Los Gatos and Menlo Park.

For more information, visit pharmaca.com.

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New Year’s Day Fun Run

Posted on December 27, 2014 by  
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New Year Fun Run

Free run, walk, roll 5k race is held every New Year’s Day rain or shine!

The race begins at 9:00 a.m. at the corner of Main Street and State Street. All ages are welcome to attend. No pre-registration required.

Note: Dogs must be on a leash, and please, no bikes!

Contact the Recreation Department for more details at (650) 947-2790.

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Los Altos’ Annual Holiday Parade

Posted on November 22, 2014 by  
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Ferris WheelBehind every float at Los Altos’ Festival of Lights Parade, there’s a story of Boy Scouts, dust cloths, light design and elf scavenging.

Before dancers flit across Main Street among parade floats Nov. 30, a zealous cadre of volunteers will have spent the year fundraising, shellacking giant gumdrops with glitter sugar and mood lighting a tableau of tree-decorating bears.

In mid-October, volunteers remove the two-story plastic shrouds that entomb their floats, testing generators, lights and sound systems and repairing the petty deteriorations of time and age. But long before that, a process of creative design begins, according to Deborah Baker, who has served on the festival’s board for six years.

“This small town can do something that brings such joy to kids,” she said. “I haven’t missed a parade since I started coming 16 years ago.”

Baker’s story is typical of the local residents drafted into the parade’s cause. She started as a parent volunteer helping Boy Scouts who worked on the parade and over time was drawn deeper into the tradition. On parade night, Boy Scouts patrol the waiting floats and Baker cues the successive parade groups as they amass at the starting line.

Baker has also worked on six floats over the past few years with Troop 37 Scouts, her son Kyler among them. This year, a Girl Scout from Cupertino – Isabel La Plain – has joined the enterprise, building a “Nutcracker” tableau with giant clock, mouse king and nutcracker.

The parade includes three types of floats – those pushed by humans, those towed as a trailer and those driven under their own locomotion. Watch for four completely rebuilt floats at the parade this year – “Nature’s Christmas,” which sports festive bears, “Santa’s Workshop,” “Nutcracker” and “Gingerbread House.”

The parade association has been switching to LED lights over time, which are more efficient than standard bulbs – making generators last longer – and don’t take down half a string when one bulb blows.

The Festival of Lights was in many ways modeled on Disneyland’s Main Street Electrical Parade, and the parade association continues to put a creative premium on the play of tiny lights across darkened downtown. Volunteers work to incorporate motion where possible – not just in the forward trajectory of floats, but also in the sword-clashing, wood-sawing, ornament-hanging actions of its cast of characters.

This year for the first time a dance class will swirl parts of “The Nutcracker” ballet around the new float as it proceeds along the parade route. A multitude of local groups march each year, but they seldom form an extension of the floats themselves.

The 38th annual Los Altos Festival of Lights Parade is slated to begin 6 p.m. Nov. 30. Admission is free. For more information, visit: losaltosparade.com

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Le Boulanger Seeks Building Facelift

Posted on October 12, 2014 by  
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Proposed LeBoulangerA new look may be in store for downtown bakery and cafe Le Boulanger.

According to a staff report by Los Altos Senior Planner Zach Dahl, Le Boulanger owner Dan Brunello is planning an interior and exterior remodel at 301 Main St., which served as the original home of Los Altos Pharmacy.

The building, originally constructed circa 1941, is listed as a historic resource on the city’s Historic Resources Inventory. Los Altos resident Kent Nelson owns the building, designated a historic resource in 2011. It has been remodeled twice in the past 70 years – the latest in 1992.

In a letter to the Los Altos Historical Commission, Brunello noted that the remodel is part of a larger plan to expand his 32-year-old Los Altos business. The bakery plans to introduce dinner service, including the sale of beer and wine, in “a new contemporary dining space, with new interior finishes and furniture, new bathrooms and new service line and service area,” Brunello wrote.

As for the exterior, Brunello intends to replace the current storefront and entryway with a collapsible system to create a more open dining environment. Other proposed features include a gas fireplace and patio heaters for outdoor dining.

Brunello noted in his letter that while he preferred a contemporary look for the downtown structure, he was “willing to discuss and consider preserving elements that are important to the historical value of the building.”

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Petting Zoo & Car Show Highlight Fall Festival

Posted on September 26, 2014 by  
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Fall FestivalThe 23rd annual Fall Festival is scheduled for 10 am to 5 pm, this Oct. 4th and 5th, in the South Parking Plaza in downtown Los Altos.

More than 150 arts and crafts booths will offer a variety of unique handmade items, many of them showcasing fall and holiday themes. Food selections will include Chef Chu’s, Armadillo Willy’s and a variety of vendors selling tamales, burritos, crepes, smoothies, kettle corn, frozen yogurt and gyros. Soft drinks, select wines and Gordon Biersch beers will be available.

The Children’s Alley will include rides, slides, bounce houses and the Little Explorer’s Petting Zoo, which provides opportunities for hands-on interaction with goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, rabbits, guinea pigs, a pot belly pig, an alpaca and giant tortoises. Lisa the Facepainter will paint children’s faces.

The festival will feature a variety of activities and games hosted by local schools and organizations, including pumpkin painting, removable tattoos, fishing for prizes, beaded necklaces, a lollipop tree, toss games, crafts and more.

Several local musicians will perform on the KFC Main Stage, including The Mary Ellen Duo, featuring Mary Ellen Duell and Randy Cszaro; Fenny & Rossi, playing New Orleans blues; Ryan & Cece, contemporary country; Bluehouse, acoustic rock; Drive, contemporary rock; and Old School, classic ’60s rock.

A classic car show will feature more than 100 vintage cars, from a 1931 Franklin to a 1966 Volkswagen Beetle and Bus. British sports cars, including Austin Healeys, Jaguars, Triumphs, MGs and Morgans, will be showcased Sunday. Car show judges will include Los Altos Mayor Megan Satterlee, Los Altos Hills Mayor John Radford and Los Altos Police Chief Tuck Younis.

For more information, call 948-1455 or visit losaltoschamber.org.

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Modern Art Exhibit Comes To Town

Posted on September 3, 2014 by  
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Christies 2014The Los Altos-based Passerelle Investment Co. is teaming up with Christie’s auction house to host a pop-up exhibition of post-war and contemporary art Sept. 10-18 at 359 and 242 State St. in downtown Los Altos.

The event will showcase major works by Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Richard Diebenkorn and Tracey Emin, as well as contemporary art. Displays will feature highlights from the coming auction season and works of art to be offered for private sale.

The exhibition includes an opening reception 6-10 p.m. Sept. 10.

The schedule will also feature a panel discussion, StART Up: Beginning (and Growing) Your Art Collection, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 13. Panelists will include Janet Bishop, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s curator of painting and sculpture and co-curator of “Project Los Altos: SFMOMA in Silicon Valley;” Sabrina Buell, art adviser at Zlot Buell & Associates; Claudia Altman-Siegel, gallery founder and director at Altman Siegel; and art collector Ravin Agrawal.

Charlie Adamski, Christie’s specialist on Post-War and Contemporary Art based in San Francisco, noted that while it is well-known that the Bay Area is home to some of the “most impressive” collections in private hands, it has recently become evident that it is also one of the most robust emerging markets for art collecting with a growing group of young and new collectors.

“We are particularly excited to open a dialogue with the community and new collectors at StART Up: Beginning (and Growing) Your Art Collection,” she said.

For more information, visit: Christie’s

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Draeger’s Looking To Expand

Posted on August 14, 2014 by  
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Draeger'sDraeger’s Market has its sights set on expanding its grocery store at 342 First St., according to city planning officials.

Los Altos Senior Planner Zach Dahl told the Town Crier that the family-owned grocer – which has additional locations in Menlo Park, San Mateo and Danville – submitted plans in early July to expand the rear portion of its existing 21,000-square-foot store. Draeger’s has called its First Street store home since December 1986, when the company purchased the former Whitecliff Market property and remodeled the building. A call to Draeger’s management was not returned by the Town Crier’s press deadline.

Los Altos Planning Services Manager David Kornfield added that initial plans call for expanded storage area and a new loading dock in the rear of the building. The expansion incorporates the former dry-cleaning property adjacent to Draeger’s. Plans call for a net increase of approximately 3,000 square feet.

“Essentially what they want to do is add to the back of the building and improve their loading activities by getting big trucks (unloading goods) off the street,” Kornfield said.

In addition, Dahl noted, plans include a new stone facade for the market and an improved seating area near the store’s front entrance.

Other features, he added, include new wood trellises and updated landscaping. The grocer also plans to reconfigure its parking lot in a bid to add 15 more parking spaces. The current lot holds 72 cars.

As part of the reconfiguration, Kornfield noted that Draeger’s plans to relocate its driveway closer to the midblock point of the parking lot. The current entry point is near the entrance of the store and a crosswalk. The grocer, he added, is also expected to make sidewalk improvements as part of the project.

Overall, Dahl said the project remains in the city staff review phase. A public hearing on the project at the commission level has yet to be scheduled.

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Downtown Movie Nights Return

Posted on August 5, 2014 by  
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Movie NightLos Altos’ free outdoor movie nights light up starting Friday evening, and this year’s roster of films introduces young viewers to high-flying, witch-battling, sorcerous adventures spanning the last century. The lineup will also likely delight parents who’ve gone too long without remembering Falkor and Atreyu, Mr. Tumnus the Faun and, of course, Dorothy.

The Los Altos Village Association (LAVA) hoists a screen across Main Street for Friday Movie Nights as families spread out blankets, chairs and picnics at downtown’s core. Beginning at 6 p.m., bounce houses, a face painter and a balloon artist entertain children, and stores and restaurants remain open across downtown.

Friday evening, local merchants and other First Friday organizers are sponsoring a “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”-themed scavenger hunt to complement the first film of the season, “The Wizard of Oz.” LAVA plans to offer movie theater-type snacks on-site, and the curtain rises at 8:30 p.m.

In the weeks after “The Wizard of Oz,” LAVA has scheduled “The Indian in the Cupboard (Aug. 8), “The NeverEnding Story” (Aug. 15), the BBC adaptation of “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (Aug. 22) and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (Aug. 29).

Themed family activities precede each film – after the “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” scavenger hunt, LAVA has scheduled a craft night for “The Indian in the Cupboard,” a favorite stuffed animal show-and-tell for “The NeverEnding Story,” a mythical creature bingo game for “Narnia” and a costume night for “Harry Potter.”

LAVA has hosted the summer film series for more than a decade. The organization acquired its own audio/visual equipment in the early days of the event.

“I’ve had many calls over the years wanting to know how we do it,” LAVA Executive Director Nancy Dunaway said, noting that the movie-night phenomenon has spread through neighboring cities. “It’s just so much fun – it’s Americana. The moment 6 o’clock hits, people are running out with their blankets and chairs.”

The series attracts anywhere from 400 to 700 participants, as families return from holidays and the event crescendos in the waning days of summer.

For more information, visit downtownlosaltos.org.

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