New Affordable Housing Options

Posted on July 7, 2015 by  
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Colonnade Los AltosMore affordable housing options are coming to Los Altos, and prospective residents have until the end of the month to submit their applications for a lottery drawing.

“It’s a terrific opportunity for very high-quality apartments in an urban setting so close to shopping on El Camino,” said David Kornfield, the city’s planning services manager.

Colonnade Los Altos at 4750 El Camino Real will rent 17 below-market-rate (BMR) apartments – 16 one- and two-bedroom apartments for residents with very low incomes and a one-bedroom unit for a renter with a low income.

The salary range for those qualifying under the “very low income” requirement is $37,250 for one person to $57,450 for five people. The “low income” requirement limits the range from $59,400 for one person to $76,4000 for three people. The amounts are based on Santa Clara County’s median income of $106,300 for a four-person household.

The rent on the BMR units will run between $923 and $1,561 monthly. Comparatively, market-rate apartments are in the $3,000-$5,250 range.

In addition to income limits, the city will assign prospective renters priority rankings, with preference given to salaried employees of the city, school districts and fire department serving Los Altos residents. Other rankings include current Los Altos residents and workers. Final priority will go to those who either live or work in Santa Clara County.

According to Sares-Regis Group property manager Justin Whitsitt, the Colonnade’s management team has received 60 BMR preapplications and expects “a lot more.” To include more eligible applicants, Sares-Regis Group extended the deadline for preliminary applications from July 17 to July 31.

Of 167 units total, Stanford University leased 150 apartments for staff housing. The 17 BMR units will be spread throughout the complex and include the same amenities as the rest.

“We’ve found that you don’t want to segregate anyone,” said Karen Bowman, Sares-Regis Group regional vice president. “You just want it to have one sense of community.”

Kornfield said the Colonnade features the city’s largest number of BMR rentals in one location. Los Altos has 105 affordable multiple-family BMR units, including 32 rentals, 22 senior units and 44 second-living units, he added.

After the preliminary application deadline, the Colonnade management team will schedule a lottery drawing for the apartments. Whitsitt anticipates that four apartments will be available by the end of summer and the others will open through four project phases.

To submit a preapplication for the lottery process, visit


LAEF Increases Grant For 2015-2016

Posted on June 29, 2015 by  
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LAEF STEM LabsOfficials from the Los Altos Educational Foundation reported earlier this month that they plan to raise a record-setting $3.5 million for the Los Altos School District next year.

The foundation raised $3.3 million last year to fund enrichment programs and smaller class sizes for all nine schools in the Los Altos School District. The foundation’s grant is built into the district budget annually to pay for targeted staff and programming.

Designed to benefit every K-8 student in the district, the foundation’s grant helps fund Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM); computer science; libraries; art; music; physical education; class-size reductions in grades K-3 and 7-8; and junior-high electives.

The foundation conducts a survey each year to determine parents’ priorities for their contributions. Survey participation was up this year, with approximately 1,800 parents providing input.

The boost in participation was attributable in part to the foundation’s distributing the online survey in Mandarin and Spanish for the first time. Foundation Executive Director Amy Peabody said approximately 10 parents submitted feedback in Mandarin and 40 in Spanish. As far as Peabody could tell, this was the first time the foundation had received input from these parent groups.

The foundation bases the following year’s grant on the survey results. This year’s results revealed that parents wanted additional PE programming at the schools and an expansion to the district’s sixth-grade computer science curriculum, Peabody said.

The $200,000 bump in the grant will fund an additional PE instructor, ensuring the presence of a PE teacher at each elementary campus and increasing weekly physical education to twice a week for all K-6 students. The money will also fund the expansion of the district’s computer science program into the junior highs, with an eye to offering coding instruction to all grades in the district in the future, Peabody said.

“We are grateful to our engaged and caring community for supporting excellent public schools,” said Susan Longyear, president of the foundation board.

Peabody said that in addition to parent contributions, the foundation receives $500,000 annually in corporate matching funds and donations from alumni, community groups and the foundation’s Honor Roll of Realtors.

The foundation is one of three contributors to local education, according to Peabody. She explained the synergy among the district, the PTAs and the foundation.

“Take the STEM lab, for instance,” she said. “The district created the lab, we help by paying for the STEM teacher and the PTA helps by buying the technology and tools used in the lab. It takes all three pieces.”

For more information, visit


Past Meets Present In Los Altos Home

Posted on May 27, 2015 by  
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Dauer’s Los Altos homeThe past and the present meld in the Cotswold-style home of Stephanie and Chris Dauer on University Avenue in Los Altos. It looks as if it were lifted from a Beatrix Potter storybook because of its ivy-covered chimney and whimsical wavy cedar-shingle roof.

However, behind this cottage like facade is a spacious, light-filled home that combines early-20th-century details with 21st-century amenities.

The house was built circa 1931 and most likely had two bedrooms. Access to the kitchen was via the living room and dining room. Today, a slate foyer welcomes visitors and provides views of the courtyard through floor-to-ceiling divided-light windows.

Extensively remodeled in 1995, the house now features 3,300 square feet of living space on two levels. The Dauers purchased the house three years ago to be closer to Chris’s job at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. It was love at first sight for Stephanie, who was resigned to living in a ranch home.  “This has the character of an older house but with modern features,” she said.

Their first order of business was to replace the random-pattern roof in front. They also updated the kitchen and the lighting.

The living room, original to the house, has a high coved ceiling with exposed hand-hewn beams, parquet wood flooring and a Rumford fireplace with classic mantelpiece. Recessed display shelves are built in on either side of the room’s entrance.

Opposite the dining room, French doors open to a brick-paved loggia, garden and pool. The loggia is the family’s favorite place to eat dinner.  The kitchen and adjoining family room are just down the hall from the loggia. They’re unified by a wood paneled ceiling that rises to a center peak.

The Dauers updated the kitchen, replacing countertops, appliances and lighting fixtures. What once was all white is now warmed up with earth-toned granite on the island, creamy Caesarstone counters and handmade ceramic-tile backsplashes. The base of the island is painted a sage color.

Divided-light windows wrap the family room, which boasts an elevated fireplace with a slate hearth. They added a banquette to a corner of the room for casual dining. Stephanie refinished the banquette’s round oak dining table.

In addition to the office, there are two bedrooms and two bathrooms downstairs. The master suite – with skylights, coved ceiling with exposed beams, en suite marble bath, dressing area and built-in closets and dressers – occupies the entire upper level. There’s only one problem: The closets and drawers are unusual in size because they’re tucked under the eaves of that undulating Cotswold roof.


Smartest Public High Schools In The US

LAHS 2015

Los Altos was just ranked among the 50 smartest public high schools in the US.  Coming in at #43, Los Altos High School (LAHS) achieved a SAT composite range of 1980-2010, among other criteria used.

Sixty percent of LAHS students are involved in the AP curriculum. Additionally, the school has an extensive college-readiness program. The school encourages students who aren’t ready for college to get involved in an enriching gap-year program; LAHS even hosts a gap-year fair so students know their options.

Some people believe that the best high-school educations come from private schools, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Public schools can provide first-class global educations that prepare students for college and successful careers.

The experts at college data website Niche put together a list of the smartest public high schools in the US based primarily on state-assessment proficiency, the colleges that students go on to, AP enrollment and exam pass rates, graduation rates, and composite ACT and SAT scores. Because there isn’t a good 1-to-1 ratio for ACT to SAT score comparison, the SAT composite scores are expressed as a range.

Read more


Annual Events Herald Spring & Summer

Posted on March 29, 2015 by  
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Rotary Fine ArtThe end of the school year brings a lull to the hustle and bustle of daily life for parents and students alike as they have more time on their hands. What better way to spend it than outdoors. Los Altos and Los Altos Hills offer a wide variety of family-friendly events, some of which are long-standing traditions.

Los Altos …

Easter Egg Hunt

10 a.m. to noon March 28

Main and State streets The Los Altos Village Association-sponsored event for children ages 1-10 features crafts, face painting, a balloon artist and the Easter Bunny. Attendees should bring their own baskets.

Egg Hunt & Teen Egg Launch

9:30 a.m. April 4

Hillview Soccer Field 97 Hillview Ave.

The Los Altos Recreation Department’s Egg Hunt is open to children up to age 10. There are different start times depending on age group. Attendees should bring their own baskets.

The Teen Egg Launch is open to youth 11-17. The challenge is to build a container that protects an egg from breaking when launched onto the soccer field. Admission is free. Register by April 1. For more information, visit

Los Altos Live! talent show

7:30 p.m. April 25

Eagle Theater, Los Altos High School, 201 Almond Ave.

Local residents unveil their musical, theatrical and dance skills at the annual community talent show, sponsored by the Los Altos Cultural Association. For more information, visit

Los Altos Farmers’ Market

4-8 p.m. Thursdays May 7 through Sept. 24

State Street, between Second and Fourth streets

Local farmers offer fresh seasonal fruits, vegetables, plants and cut flowers. A host of vendors sell a variety of specialty foods, including cheeses and dairy products, meats, breads and baked goods. The weekly events feature family-friendly entertainment and food trucks. For more information, visit

Kiwanis Pet Parade

10-11 a.m. May 16

Main and State streets

A community tradition since 1948, the Kiwanis Pet Parade attracts thousands of spectators. Children walk, pull wagons and ride bicycles in downtown Los Altos, showcasing their pets. Youth groups, marching bands and local dignitaries in vintage cars travel the route. For more information, call 988-9900 or email

Fine Art in the Park

10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. May 16 and 17

Lincoln Park, University Avenue

Attendees can browse the fine art, ceramics, sculpture, jewelry and unique gifts from more than 180 artists in the juried open-air art show, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Los Altos. The annual event features live entertainment, food and beverages. Proceeds support the Rotary Club’s local and international service projects. For more information, visit

Arts & Wine Festival

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 11 and 12


The Arts & Wine Festival, sponsored by the Los Altos Village Association, showcases the work of artisans from more than 12 states. The 36th annual event will feature a select group of vintage wines and a variety of cuisines from Thai to Mexican in addition to all-American choices like sausage and roasted corn. The festival includes booths to browse, wine to sample and free concerts. For more information visit

Friday Movie Nights

8:30-10:30 p.m.

Intersection of Main and Third streets

The Los Altos Village Association is scheduled to host family-friendly outdoor movie nights Fridays Aug. 7-28. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Participants should bring chairs, blankets, pillows, sleeping bags and picnics. For more information, visit


Los Altos Hills …

Hoppin’ Hounds Easter Biscuit Hunt

9 a.m. April 4

Byrne Preserve 27210 Altamont Road

Owners and their on-leash dogs can search for dog biscuits at the 12th annual event. A $5 donation benefits Palo Alto Animal Services. For more information, visit

Earth Day Celebration

1-4 p.m. April 26

Westwind Community Barn 27210 Altamont Road

The annual Earth Day Celebration includes a farmers’ market and Live Wild Cats and Reptiles education presentations by Leopards Etc. Los Altos Hills committees, school groups and local environmental organizations sponsor exhibits and an electric-vehicle car show. Attendees are encouraged to bring a reusable water bottle and reduce their carbon footprint by walking, cycling or carpooling to the event. Due to the wildcat presentation, no dogs are allowed. For more information, visit

Pathways Run/Walk

9 a.m. for 5K/10K, 10:30 a.m. for 1-mile Fun Run

May 9

Westwind Community Barn

27210 Altamont Road

The annual event wends through Byrne Preserve and extends into the Los Altos Hills Pathways system. 5K/10K registration is $35 ($40 on race day), $25 for group registration of 10 or more and $20 for the 1-mile run ($25 on race day). An awards ceremony is scheduled at 10:15 a.m. Those who preregister can pick up a race packet including a T-shirt, bib number and information between 3-7 p.m. May 8 at town hall, 26379 W. Fremont Road. Free food and drinks are provided for runners, families and friends. The event includes music and local massage and exercise specialists. For more information, visit

California Pops Orchestra Season Finale

3 p.m. May 17

Foothill College, Smithwick Theatre 12345 S. El Monte Road

The California Pops Orchestra will perform classical music parodies and a compilation of musical numbers from superhero movies, vintage radio shows, TV and movies. For more information, visit



Los Altos Home Values Rank #1

Posted on November 18, 2014 by  
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Estrellita-Front(photo of 1030 Estrellita Way, Los Altos, sold by David & Carol Casas)

Los Altos just barely beat out Newport Beach as the most expensive real estate market in the country for larger homes, according to a new industry analysis. The report analyzed the average listing price of over 50,000 four-bedroom, two-bath homes across the country and found that Los Altos topped the list with an average of $1,963,100 for a home of that size.

Lack of inventory is a strong reason behind that high average price tag. Other than Newport Beach, which was just about $60,000 shy of stealing the top honors, the rest of the top-five most expensive markets were all in Silicon Valley as well. Saratoga came in third, with an average listing price of $1,867,980.

There was a sizable drop to $1,430,329 for Redwood City/Woodside at number four, followed by Los Gatos at $1,307,408. San Francisco was in the number six position—coming in just $30K over Sunnyvale’s seventh place average listing with $1,294,250. Moraga and San Mateo took the eighth and ninth spots with an average listing of $1,129,300 and $1,093,346, respectively.

Finally, rounding out the top ten was an actual non-California city: Wellesley, Massachusetts ($1,090,088). On the other end of the spectrum, Cleveland took the top spot for the most affordable city to buy a larger home with an average list price of $64,993—which is equivalent to about three years of property taxes on the same-sized home in Los Altos.


Earthquake Safety Tips For Residents

Posted on September 18, 2014 by  
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quakeIn light of the 6.0-magnitude earthquake that struck the Napa Valley region last month, we are encouraging residents to follow safety measures in the event of another earthquake.

According to the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, major earthquakes registering magnitudes between 6.3 and 8.3 have occurred in California every 5.4 years, on average, for the past 200 years. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that there is a 90 percent chance of a major earthquake striking an urban area in California within the next 30 years.

A 2010 California Earthquake Preparedness Survey conducted by the UCLA School of Public Health revealed that fewer than 20 percent of California households have structurally reinforced their homes or had their homes inspected for earthquake resistance and only 40 percent have made family disaster plans and keep the recommended minimum of three gallons of water stored per person.

We encourage you to adhere to the following earthquake safety measures from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Ready campaign site (, California’s Department of Conservation ( and the U.S. Geological Survey (

• Identify potential hazards in your home and fix them. Start now by moving furniture away from beds, sofas or other places where people sit, sleep or spend a lot of time.

• Move heavy objects to lower shelves. Move flammable or hazardous materials stored in garages and utility rooms to low, more secure areas.

• Retrofitting before an earthquake is relatively cheap and could reduce damage and save you money.

• Create a disaster supply kit and keep it in an easily accessible location. See the sidebar above for a list of items to include in the kit.

• Create a disaster preparedness plan. Decide how and where your family will reunite if separated during a quake. Select an out-of-state friend or relative to call and alert other relatives and friends that you are all right.

• During an earthquake, drop, cover and hold on. You cannot tell from the initial shaking of an earthquake if it will suddenly become intense, so drop to the ground, take cover by getting under a sturdy desk or table and hold on to your shelter until the shaking stops.

Homeowners’ kits should include:

• First aid supplies with medications not requiring refrigeration.

• Spare eyeglasses (if needed) and essential hygiene items.

• Drinking water (minimum one gallon per person per day).

• A whistle (to alert rescuers).

• Emergency cash in small bills.

• Snack foods high in calories, plus canned and packaged foods.

• Cooking utensils, including a manual can opener.

• Food and a leash or carrier for your pet.

• A working flashlight with extra batteries.

• Baby formula, disposable diapers, baby wipes, bottles, pacifiers, powdered milk for infants and comfort items for children, like stuffed animals and other toys.

• A battery-operated radio (and spare batteries).

• Warm clothing, gloves, sturdy shoes, extra socks and blankets/sleeping bags.

• Heavy-duty plastic bags for waste and other uses.

• A-B-C-type fire extinguisher.

• Copies of vital documents such as insurance policies, personal identification and medical consent forms for dependents.

• Remember to replace perishable items on a yearly basis.


LASD Hosts Educational Conference

Posted on September 12, 2014 by  
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LASD Learning PrinciplesIn an effort to expand connections in the education world, Los Altos School District officials are hosting an educational conference this month.

EdSummit LASD is a three-day event open to educators in the Bay Area. It includes a keynote event, followed by a full-day conference of more than 70 educational sessions and an Edcamp collaboration event.

Alyssa Gallagher, the district’s director of strategic initiatives and community partnerships, describes the conference as a regular professional development day open to the broader educational community that offers many opportunities in varied subjects.

While surveying district teachers last year, Gallagher learned that teachers feel very isolated. So district officials identified ways to break the “Silos of Education.”

“Part of what we are trying to do is to encourage our teachers to build connections beyond just the Los Altos School District,” Gallagher said. “We recognize that if we are going to make a difference for kids, we can’t be insulated in our own school or district. We really have to open it up and see what the community is doing and begin building those relationships.”

EdSummit will open with a presentation from two best-selling business book authors. Warren Berger, author of “A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas” (Bloomsbury USA, 2014), and Lisa Kay Solomon, author of “Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations that Accelerate Change” (Simon & Schuster, 2014), will discuss “Creating Conditions of Discovery & Inquiry in Our Schools.”

“Their books are about creating those moments of impact for change and questioning,” Gallagher said. “Their presentation will cover how to bring those moments into the classroom.”

The keynote speaker presentation is scheduled 6:30 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. It is free and open to the public.

The following day, all Los Altos School District teachers, in addition to teachers from around the Bay Area who have registered, will participate in the all-day conference at Covington School. The conference is free to district teachers as part of their regularly scheduled professional development. There is a fee for nondistrict teachers.

The conference has scheduled more than 70 sessions, including Teach like a Pirate, App Smashing, Improv for Educators, Hack Your Classroom and Minecraft.

The final day will be the Edcamp, where teachers can mingle and create their own half-day of collaboration and discussions on education topics that interest them. “Saturday is a chance for teachers to interact and bounce thoughts and ideas off each other,” Gallagher said.

For more information, visit


National Blue Ribbon Nominations

Posted on March 5, 2014 by  
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National Blue Ribbon NominationsThe California Department of Education nominated two Los Altos School District schools – Blach Intermediate and Egan Junior High schools – for the National Blue Ribbon award from the U.S. Department of Education.

Only 35 of the more than 12,000 public, charter and private schools in California received nominations for the award, which recognizes sustained exemplary achievement of students and school communities.

The Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private schools that are either high performing or have significantly improved student achievement. The program is part of a larger Department of Education effort to identify and disseminate knowledge on best practices in school leadership and teaching. Since 1982, the department annually selects schools whose students attain and maintain high academic goals.

Blach and Egan have maintained high state test scores over a sustained period of time and regularly rank among the top-scoring schools in the state. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson nominated Blach and Egan for the federal award.

“Blach and Egan are shining examples of excellence, thanks to the tireless efforts of the teachers, staff members and administration and the strong support from our community,” said Jeff Baier, Los Altos School District superintendent. “Just like every LASD school, these two are focused on the academic, social and emotional needs of each and every student and work diligently to ensure their success. Both schools have cultures of total commitment, strong parent involvement, collaboration among teachers, high expectations and, ultimately, success for the students.”

Following the validation process through the Department of Education, representatives from Blach, Egan and the Los Altos School District are scheduled to attend a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in the fall.


Visit Highlights New Teacher Project

Posted on February 27, 2014 by  
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LASD VisitorsTwo representatives from the Singapore Ministry of Education visited the Los Altos School District recently to observe the district’s New Teacher Project.

The Singapore Ministry of Education, which is scheduled to adopt the district’s two-year mentor program for new teachers, assigned the representatives to visit local schools and shadow new-teacher mentors to experience the program firsthand.

The New Teacher Project is part of a larger consortium of Silicon Valley and Santa Cruz groups that support and assess the advancement of skills and knowledge in a continuous flow from preservice through the first years of teaching and beyond.

The program model assists participating teachers as they enter the teaching profession through two years of induction. The focus is to improve classroom practice, ensure student academic success and develop reflective teachers who are responsive to the diverse cultural, social, academic and linguistic backgrounds of all students.

Twenty-seven teachers in the Los Altos School District currently take part in the program. For more information, visit


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