Ride-hailing App Caters To Kids

Posted on May 11, 2016 by  
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Los Altos Hills resident rides with her regular Zum driverLiving in the land of on-demand, Los Altos Hills resident Frank Willemsen often found himself with an immediate problem: finding a trustworthy person to help cart his kids from point A to point B.

As he discovered, there’s an app for that.

Zum, which supplies rides for children ages 5-15, last week officially introduced its iOS and Android apps and carpools after launching solo rides throughout the South Bay and Peninsula in January.

Willemsen first heard the start-up’s pitch last year, then researched the company for himself. Five months ago, he decided to give it a try.

The father of two kids – a daughter in volleyball and son in soccer – Willemsen said Zum swoops in during planned rush-hour activities or unscheduled doubled-up sports days.

When Zum CEO and founder Ritu Narayan first considered on-demand ride hailing for kids, she knew she’d have to clear one high hurdle – gaining parents’ trust. Herself a Silicon Valley working mom, she started the company with her own needs in mind.

When Narayan founded Zum in Menlo Park, she entered a growing market of Uber-for-kids apps – Kango, HopSkipDrive and the now-defunct Shuddle, to name a few. Narayan said she set her company apart by assigning families a limited pool of caretaking drivers – or “Zumers” – based on parents’ preferences.

All Zumers undergo a rigorous hiring process. Applicants must pass California’s child care Trust- Line certification and national-level FBI and Department of Justice background checks, as well as ongoing reviews of driving records and referrals. They also go through personal interviews covering reactions to various situations and their sense of purpose.

Narayan said Zum mostly hires through internal referrals, and according to the company’s website, many are part-time professionals, stay-at-home moms and nannies. Drivers can earn between $30 and $35 per hour, according to Zum’s website.

One of Willemsen’s Zumers, Khaterah Atefy, the mother of three children, has been driving with the company for a couple of months. “I have a busy family,” she said. “It’s flexible work and I set my own hours.”

Parents can tap the app for on-demand rides or recurring transportation up to one year in advance. During each trip, they can track the car’s location, speed and arrival time.

Zum charges based on time and mileage, starting at $16 per ride. Rides average $24 at 10 miles. Additional child care – say, if a parent is running late or a Zumer oversees an activity – costs $6 per 15 minutes. “The great thing about it is that parents only need to pay for what they use,” Narayan said.

With the new Zum apps, parents can pool rides; when families split the fare, the cost per child drops.

Since piloting the service last July, Zum has provided more than 40,000 rides to kids around the Bay Area. With the collapse of competitor Shuddle in April, Zum signed up more than 600 new families and more than 100 ex-Shuddle drivers. The company now operates throughout the Bay Area.

For more information, visit: ridezum.com


Los Altos Hills Surveying Residents

Posted on March 16, 2016 by  
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LAH Town HallThe proposal for a new Los Altos Hills community center has lost momentum, but the town survey it triggered has revealed facts expected to shape future city council priorities.

City council members and staff reviewed the results of the survey – and highlights from the 1,100 pages of detailed cross tabs it generated – during a special meeting last week.

“By summary, I’d say things in Los Altos Hills are great,” said market researcher Bryan Godbe. “The quality of life is very highly regarded, the quality of city services is highly regarded. At the overall level, when we drill down into specific services, people are, by and large, very, very happy.”

Residents who have recently applied for a building permit could expect to hear from city officials soliciting feedback about their experience.

Although only half of survey respondents indicated having personally navigated the process, doing so ranked lowest in satisfaction among 14 town-provided services.

“I’m not too surprised to see some of this when I realize we’ve had a number of meetings where every seat is full and they’re standing when we talk about a permit that we are reviewing,” Mayor John Harpootlian said.


Foothill Hosts Annual Physics Show

Posted on January 10, 2016 by  
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Foothill College physics instructor Frank CascaranoFoothill College has scheduled its annual 90-minute Physics Show this weekend.

Shows designed to introduce children ages 5 and older and their parents to science concepts and demonstrations are slated for January 23rd & 24th in Smithwick Theatre (Room 1001) at the college, 12345 S. El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills.

The Physics Show spotlights scientific concepts such as light, sound, resonance and pressure. From breaking glass with sound to a professor emerging unharmed after reclining on a bed of nails while being hit with a sledgehammer, each demonstration links physics explanations to everyday experiences.

“Physics is fun – that’s the most important lesson we want audiences of all ages to take away from the Physics Show,” said Foothill College physics instructor Frank Cascarano, M.S., the show’s creator. “Physics is all around us, so we want youngsters and adults to think about physics when they’re playing on a swing at recess, navigating a drone, shooting hoops after school, answering a cellphone, cooking dinner and many other daily activities.”

Now in its 10th year, Cascarano estimates that more than 70,000 Bay Area residents have attended the Physics Show. Faculty and staff from the Foothill College Physics Department sponsor the event. Proceeds fund scholarships for Foothill students, science education outreach activities at local elementary and middle schools, and future Physics Show performances.

For tickets and more information, visit thephysicsshow.com


July 4th Celebrations Set For Saturday

Posted on July 2, 2015 by  
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Dunk TankResidents seeking a local celebration to attend on the Fourth of July have several to choose from Saturday, though not as many as in past years. Three long-running celebrations continue this year, and here they are:

• The annual Los Altos Hills Fourth of July Parade is scheduled 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Paradegoers will march on Fremont Road, from town hall to Gardner Bullis School, where they will enjoy refreshments and watermelon. Participants are asked to refrain from bringing fossil-fueled vehicles or horses.

• The “Glorious Fourth” celebration is slated 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Shoup Park, 400 University Ave. The free event features an array of family-friendly activities, including a bounce house and slide, face painting and a reptile farm. Ye Olde Towne Band is slated to provide live music.

• The 29th annual Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular is scheduled 8 p.m. Saturday at Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View. The San Francisco Symphony, led by musical director Michael Tilson Thomas, is slated to perform a variety of songs, including a tribute to the musical “The Sound of Music.” Fireworks will follow.  Tickets start at $24. For tickets and more information, visit theshorelineamphitheatre.com/events.


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 losaltosca.gov/recreation/page/egg-hunt-teen-egg-launch.

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 facebook.com/pages/los-altos-live/384838871544571.

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 downtownlosaltos.org/events/fm.html.

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 info@losaltoskiwanis.org

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 rotaryartshow.com.

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 downtownlosaltos.org/events/aw_main.html.

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 downtownlosaltos.org/events/fmn.html.


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 losaltoshills.ca.gov.

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 losaltoshills.ca.gov.

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 lahpathwaysrun.org.

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 calpops.org.



Deer Hollow Schedules Farm Tours

Posted on March 27, 2015 by  
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Deerhollow GoatThe nonprofit Friends of Deer Hollow Farm has scheduled spring farm tours 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 18 and May 9 at the farm, located in Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve.

“They have always been very popular and well attended by Los Altos and Los Altos Hills families,” said Friends spokeswoman Elizabeth Montgomery.

The tours offer an opportunity for participants, especially families with children, to visit the animals in their pens, stroll through the garden, catch the orchard in bloom and learn about homestead farming as it was practiced 150 years ago.

Guests will be able to visit Luna the cow, her offspring Roxie and new calf Zoe. They can also see new farm babies, including kids and lambs, pet the rabbits and chickens, and visit ducks in their new habitat.

“We’ll have some fun, interactive activities for the kids in our bountiful garden, too,” Montgomery said. Trained docents will be available to share information and answer questions.

The farm’s Nature Center, which features exhibits of the local flora, fauna and wildlife, will be open for hands-on learning.

The Friends’ merchandise booth will offer T-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, photo cards, reusable farm-themed shopping bags and handcrafted items for sale on a cash or check basis.

Tours are $7, free for children 1 and under. Proceeds support the farm and its educational programs. For more information, visit deerhollowfarmfriends.org.


$25 Million For Stonebrook Court

Posted on January 14, 2015 by  
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12335 StonebrookAfter years on the market, the Los Altos Hills historic estate known as Stone- brook Court has a new owner. Sacramento-based biotech executive Norah Lacey recently purchased the 7.5-acre property for $25 million.

Percy Tredegar Morgan, a British capitalist, acquired the l35 acres in l9l0 and built Morgan Manor as a near-replica of Speke Hall, a mansion built in 1598 in Liverpool, England. Morgan and his wife, Daisy, an Oakland native, were the first to add an Italianate influence to the property when they imported a 16th-century Venetian palace’s ceiling for the ballroom.

The property shrunk in size over time and passed through a variety of owners after Morgan’s 1920 death. At times, it was rumored to have housed a brothel, a speakeasy or neither.

In 1955, Los Altos educator John Ford opened the Ford Country Day School in the house, where it operated for 30 years. The property returned to private ownership in 1988. By the time Kelly and Christina Porter bought the property in 1999, the house was in a state of disrepair.

The Porters spent the next six years renovating the estate with an English Tudor exterior and an interior inflected with the gildings of the Italian Renaissance and the carved wood of Tudor England. Lacey acquired the seven-bedroom house with many of its furnishings included, according to Christina Porter.

Because the home is listed on the National Historic Register, its owners pay lower taxes in exchange for constraining their development of the site to meet Department of the Interior standards and hosting a minimum of two semipublic events each year.

The 30,000-square-foot house sits at the end of a long private driveway and thus can’t be spotted easily from the street. The property includes a ballroom, living quarters and separate outbuildings.



Waldorf Sponsors Holiday Faire

Posted on December 3, 2014 by  
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Waldorf Holiday FaireWaldorf School of the Peninsula has scheduled it 29th annual Holiday Faire 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 6 at its Los Altos campus, 11311 Mora Drive.

The event will feature a variety of hands-on activities for the entire family, including dipping beeswax candles, making wreaths with fresh greenery and handcrafting small gifts and holiday decorations from natural materials. Returning this year is the Russian Tea Room, where guests can enjoy tea, treats and quiet music.

In the Gnome Adventure, children can crawl through a passage lined with seasonal vignettes that show gnomes celebrating the four seasons. At the end of the journey, each child will receive a small gem to remind them of the magical journey.

The day will also include a catered buffet and old-fashioned games of skill for younger children, such as Treasure Mountain, Leap of Faith, Troll Bridge and Catapult Castle. Every game will end with a small prize.

A Children’s Workshop will offer youth the opportunity to make gifts such as rolled beeswax candles and jump ropes. A fairy-tale puppet show is scheduled several times during the day.

The holiday boutique will feature more than 10,000 handmade and unique items available for purchase, including European wooden toys, candles, knit scarves, shawls, children’s books, parenting and craft books, yarn and knitting materials, natural arts and craft supplies, dolls and lotions.

Free on-site parking and shuttles to and from nearby lots will be available. For more information, visit waldorfpeninsula.org.



Local Pilot Program For Degrees

Posted on October 10, 2014 by  
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Foothill College PathwayBy the start of the 2017-2018 school year, students may be able to earn a bachelor’s degree through the Foothill-De Anza Community College District.

At an estimated total of $10,560, the cost of pursuing a four-year degree in the district would be several thousand dollars less than one year’s tuition and fees at the University of California.

Gov. Jerry Brown last week signed the pilot bachelor’s degree program, which passed unanimously in the state legislature. By the 2017-2018 school year, 15 community colleges will offer four-year degrees that are not available in the University of California or California State University systems. Senate Bill 850 enables the designated community colleges to confer bachelor’s degrees for the first time in state history, joining 22 other states that offer similar programs.

“Demands in the workplace have changed and there is a need for higher-skilled workers,” said Foothill-De Anza Community College District Chancellor Linda M. Thor, who has been lobbying to expand students’ educational opportunities at community colleges in California since 2010. “Professions that used to require associate degrees now require more. It’s only natural that community colleges respond and award bachelor’s degrees.”

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Ohlone Day At Deer Hollow Farm

Posted on October 5, 2014 by  
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Friends of Deer Hollow FarmFriends of Deer Hollow Farm has scheduled its annual Ohlone Day Living History Festival and fundraiser noon to 3 p.m. Oct. 11 at the farm, located in Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve, 22500 Cristo Rey Drive, Los Altos.

The festival offers visitors a once-a-year chance to tour Deer Hollow Farm’s replica Native American Ohlone Village and learn about the Ohlones, who lived in the Bay Area for thousands of years. Attendees can participate in a range of hands-on traditional Native American activities, including acorn grinding, shell drilling and rope making.

Festival highlights will include fire-starting and archery demonstrations and skilled artisans making handcrafted Ohlone tools.

According to organizers, the event is ideal for elementary school students who study Native American cultures as part of their core curriculum, Boy and Girl Scouts working to earn merit badges and families looking for an educational outing.

Admission is $7 per person, free for children under 1. Proceeds benefit Friends of Deer Hollow Farm, a volunteer nonprofit group that supports the farm.

For more information, visit deerhollowfarmfriends.org or facebook.com/FriendsOfDeerHollowFarm.


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