Drought Takes Toll On Golf Courses

Posted on July 29, 2015 by  
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Los Altos Golf & Country ClubResidents who’ve watched their lawns turn brown during the drought will soon have company on the local links.

Los Altos Golf & Country Club and Shoreline Golf Links in Mountain View recently turned off sprinklers to conserve water in light of statewide mandates and recommendations from the county.

The country club is no longer watering the first 100 yards of each hole (from the tee), along with areas on the course’s perimeter and rough.

Head golf pro Brian Inkster said club officials are using July as a trial run for water-reducing strategies months in the making – including less-thirsty alternatives to grass, like woodchips – to meet a 30 percent reduction by Aug. 1.

“Putting water in our drinking faucets is more important than watering our golf courses,” Inkster said. “That’s just the sacrifice we have to do. Everyone has to do their part.”

This means gameplay may get a little rougher for golfers unaccustomed to making the fairway.

“If you hit the fairway, you should be on grass. If you hit the green, you should be on grass,” Inkster said. “For those who aren’t hitting the fairways, it’ll be a little more challenging.”

Shoreline Golf CourseShoreline – a public course managed by TouchStone Golf – has complied with restrictions from the city of Mountain View, according to James Birchall, general manager of the course. He added that Shoreline has exceeded state minimums.

The greenskeepers have turned off sprinklers, Birchall said, and the course uses some recycled water. They continue to irrigate certain areas to prevent cracks in the “cap” that Birchall said covers the landfill the course rests on.

While many private properties comply with water-use guidelines and tiered pricing from water retailers such as Cal Water, Los Altos Golf & Country Club faces different restrictions from the Santa Clara Valley Water District because its water comes from private, on-site wells. However, the club still faces state mandates protecting groundwater reserves that are extremely low, according to Jerry De La Piedra, the district’s water supply planning and conservation manager. The district has no authority to increase prices or impose fines for overuse, though, De La Piedra said.

The state has imposed county-specific mandates to meet an overall 25 percent reduction in potable water use from 2013 levels for the current year.

“The state level is the minimum that needs to be reached, but locally we need to go above and beyond that,” De La Piedra said. “Even if we have a good rainfall year, it’ll take multiple years to recover. It’s going to take a while to get back to normal.”

De La Piedra added that his staff is looking to create a committee of golf course superintendents that will meet on a regular basis to discuss ways to adapt to the restrictions and further save water.


Children “Embark” On Careers In Coding

Posted on June 19, 2015 by  
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Embark Labs has embarked on a new path for teaching children computer science.

The Peninsula-based company, founded in November by Jessie Arora, works with children – some as young as 6 years old – using a project-based approach. Los Altos native Brian Van Dyck is Embark’s director of curriculum and instruction.

As part of its approach, Van Dyck and Embark’s other instructors spend more time on developing younger children’s critical-thinking skills, according to Arora, and focusing on the more creative aspect of the “learn-to-code movement.”

“Beyond coding, these are the skills that all students will need to be successful in the future – no matter what career or discipline they choose to pursue,” she said.

Early Embark events included “Scratch Day at Google,” during which participants ages 6-13 used Scratch, an interactive programming language, to create simple games and other apps. Arora said the best part of her job is “seeing how excited the kids get when they figure out how to debug something or get through a challenge they were struggling with.”

Arnav Deyal, a fifth-grader from Santa Clara, attended an Embark Labs program last year. He described how when the students “got on to Scratch, we got to explore without rules and explanations.” “After explanations, it all made sense,” he said.

According to Arora, more than 200 students have attended Embark programs. Rusi Batchu, a third-grader from Santa Clara, attended an Embark program in the spring. She said the most challenging aspect of the experience was “getting my program to mimic the intended solution.” Rusi added that her favorite part was “brainstorming ideas and coming up with solutions.”

Embark Labs offers three courses with 15-20 students per class. Students learn computer science basics through offline games and puzzles and use free coding software (Lightbot, Blockly and Scratch) to create projects. Arora said Embark intends to reserve 10 percent of its spaces for scholarship students.

Participants are asked to bring their own laptops, though this summer the company plans to offer Chromebooks for students to use at its pop-up lab in Menlo Park. For more information, visit embarklabs.com.


Local High Schools Build New Classrooms

Posted on August 22, 2013 by  
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The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District officially opened three new classroom buildings in preparation for the arrival of 3,800 students this week.

Voters approved the district’s Measure A construction program in June 2010, an initiative designed to accommodate enrollment growth. The incoming freshman Class of 2017 boasts 1,000 students.

In anticipation of a 500-student increase from 2010 to 2019, Los Altos High School added 12 general-education and art classrooms and repurposed existing art classrooms into science classrooms.

Mountain View High, with projected enrollment growth of 300 students from 2010 to 2019, added nine general-education and three physical science classrooms in two buildings and renovated two physical science classrooms into biology classrooms in the existing science building.

Both schools seek U.S. Green Building Council LEED Silver certification for features that include high-efficiency lighting and mechanical systems, superior natural lighting, superior acoustics, sustainable building products, native landscaping, bioswales to control storm runoff and solar panels on roofs. Kramer Project Development Co. Inc. managed the project, designed by Sugimura Finney Architects, with Linda Mao serving as project architect.

Construction began in May 2012 and is scheduled to complete on time and within budget. The Citizens Oversight Committee worked with the district throughout the planning, environmental impact report and construction phases to ensure that the district’s performance on the bond program met the purposes specified in the ballot language.

“The quality of these buildings is a direct result of the collaboration between our architects, staff and consultants and the tremendous dedication of Kramer Project Development,” said Joe White, associate superintendent of business services for the district.


Downtown Mountain View Condo

Posted on April 16, 2013 by  
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505 Cypress Point Drive, #62, Mountain View 94043
Listed at $298,000 / Sold at $343,000
1 Bed / 1 Baths / Home: 662 sqft / Lot Size: 2,000 sqft +/-
Represented: Seller


Monta Loma Charmer

Posted on August 29, 2012 by  
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2563 MARDELL AVE, Mountain View, CA 94043
Listed at $839,000 / Sold at $1,000,000
3 Beds / 2 Baths / Home: 1,216 sqft / Lot Size: 5,000 sqft
Single Family Detached
Represented: Buyer


Minutes to Downtown

Posted on August 29, 2012 by  
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2345 ADELE AVE, Mountain View, CA 94043
Listed  at $750,000 / Sold at $700,000
3 Beds / 2 Baths / Home: 1,389 sqft / Lot Size: 6,000 sqft
Single Family Detached
Represented: Buyer


Waverly Park Gem

Posted on April 13, 2012 by  
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481 CHESLEY AVE, Mountain View, CA 94040
Listed  at $1,189,000 / Sold at $1,275,000
4 Beds / 3 Baths / Home: 1,975 sqft / Lot Size: 9,700 sqft
Single Family Detached
Represented: Buyer