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Drama queens Arts & events | P.25 November 27, 2009 VOLUME 17, NO. 47

INSIDE: weekend | PAGE 19


Does city give a hoot about owls? Audubon Society calls for preserve at Shoreline site slated for ball fields By Daniel DeBolt


ith the burrowing owl as its poster child, the Audubon Society has started a campaign to make Shoreline Park into an owl preserve, and hopes to halt development of two playing fields planned to go on 12 acres of owl foraging grounds there. The campaign comes as a surprise to the city’s youth sports leagues, which have been waiting hopefully for the long-sought-after

Twi-hards come out for ‘New Moon’ Teen girls, older women admit love for the latest ‘Twilight’ movie By Kelsey Mesher


cross the country last week, die-hard fans of the vampire saga “Twilight” flocked to theaters for the latest installment of the film series, “New Moon.” The Associated Press reported that after midnight showings early Friday morning, “New Moon” had See twi-hards, page 11


Shoreline ball fields ever since the City Council signaled its support for them in January of last year. As of press time, 150 people had signed an Audubon Society petition calling for a “large and contiguous burrowing owl preserve to protect and enhance (the) burrowing owl’s natural habitats” at Shoreline. The local Audubon chapter is advertising the campaign on its Web site (, and members have been writing letters to City Council members, posting on the Voice’s Town Square forum and advocating for a preserve during General Plan hearings. “We want more than policies, we want a dedicated preserve,” said Shani Kleinhaus, environmental advocate for the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, a local chapter of 3,000 bird lovers and bird watchers. “It’s time Mountain View, in its 2030 General Plan, looks at nature preservation as a high priority.” The owls are a California “species of concern” that live in squirrel holes at Shoreline Park. There were once hundreds of the owls on the Bay’s shoreline, Kleinhaus said, but she now believes there are now fewer than 40 pairs in Santa Clara County. The 500-acre landfill turned regional park was home to about 14 owls on Monday, according to a count by Phil Higgins, a cityemployed biologist who counts the owls every week. Higgins pays particular attention to their numbers during the spring breeding season. This year, he said, there were three mating pairs and 10 chicks; the highest number counted was during the spring of 2003, when See owls, page 9

Michelle Le

Patri Friedman, executive director of The Seasteading Institute, in his office located on University Avenue in Palo Alto.

The biggest idea ever floated Mountain View resident Patri Friedman — Milton’s grandson — wants to start his own country, on the sea By Daniel DeBolt


atri Friedman believes that some day humans might live on platforms in the middle of the sea. The Mountain View resident is so dedicated to the idea, in fact, that he received a half-million dollars from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel to study it further. So with Thiel’s gift as seed money, Friedman quit his job as an engineer at Google in 2008 to start The Seasteading Institute with co-founder Wayne Gramlich. The 33-year-old is the grandson of famous libertarian economist Milton Friedman, whose philosophy he largely shares. But in a Silicon Valley twist, Friedman believes technology will play a significant part in


solving social problems. “You might not think this is the place to start a political revolution,” Friedman said of Silicon Valley. “But (sea steading) is a

“Mostly I’m a libertarian, and we live in a very non-libertarian world.” Patri Friedman

technological solution to the problems of politics. Rather than saying ‘Can we get people to go with this ideology?’ and trying to

convince people, if we can invent this technology to build cities on the ocean, it will increase competition between governments” and fix many problems. He envisions small communities, or countries on prefabricated platforms, where switching citizenship would involve simply floating from one platform to another. Currently, he said, “you have to win a war or an election or a revolution” to start your own country, “which is just ridiculous.” What began as a part-time interest for Friedman is now a full-time job. He employs three staffers and three interns, who spend their work days in a Palo Alto office generating ideas about how to sustain sovereign See friedman, page 12

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009 5:30 p.m. — 7:30 p.m. Join us in downtown Mountain View for a great community event that will focus on Public Safety featuring...

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“I’m a book nerd, and I like that ... it’s a safe story for (my daughter) to read.” Susie Welch, Mountain View In the Spirit of the season, bring a can of food to help build the Giving Tree which benefits the Community Services Agency of Mountain View/Los Altos Holiday Sharing Program.

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For more information call (650) 903-6331 — Event will take place rain or shine! NOVEMBER 27, 2009 ■ MOUNTAIN VIEW VOICE ■





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The Mountain View Voice is published every Friday by Embarcadero Publishing Co. 450 Cambridge Ave, Palo Alto CA 94306 (650) 964-6300. Application to Mail at Periodicals Postage Rates is Pending at Palo Alto, CA and additional mailing offices. The Mountain View Voice is mailed free to homes and apartments in Mountain View. Subscription rate of $60 per year. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Mountain View Voice, 450 Cambridge Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306.

LocalNews Mountain View Voice

■ city council updates ■ Community ■ Features

Council debates protection for tenants

From the Editor’s Desk

Sports feed

Some worry that Proposals may be counterproductive, hurt landlords

By Don Frances


HE GOOD PEOPLE at KMVT are tireless in coming up with new ways to deliver content to Mountain View residents without hurting their own bottom line. The Internet has been instrumental in this regard. So the announcement made by the station earlier this month should perhaps come as no surprise: KMVT “has begun webcasting all of its high school sports programming at,” station managers said in a press release. “This is exciting news, since previously only Comcast and AT&T U-verse viewers in Mountain View, Los Altos and Cupertino could see these games.” The change means dramatically better coverage of high school athletics for local sports fiends. According to the station, KMVT offers “by far the most comprehensive high school sports coverage produced by any TV station in the country. With repeats, the station offers over 500 hours of sports viewing on Channel 15, and over 125 hours of ondemand sports videos at www. Fans enjoy 3-camera coverage, multiple angles, instant replays, lively commentary, as well as the special excitement of post-season playoffs.” That’s serious bragging rights. Want to watch games from the 2009-10 season, sorted by sport, school, etc.? Go to www.kmvt15. org/sports/sports-videos.html. AROUND HERE, we’ve been cooking up our own ways of getting out the word on local students’ achievements, be they in sports or otherwise. The latest effort (also utilizing this newfangled Internet thing) is a blog we call extra!credit — or e!c for short. This is a new forum for highlighting the awards, successes, good works and any other accomplishments of our many busy, creative and competent students. Watch for e!c at www.mountain V

By Daniel DeBolt



Volunteers survey a morning’s work outside the police station Sunday. In all, 270 baskets of food were prepared for delivery to needy families.

Police brighten Thanksgiving for region’s less fortunate ‘Cops and Gobblers’ campaign collects and delivers food to 270 local families

By Kelsey Mesher


ore than 150 Mountain View community members gathered last Sunday morning to organize and deliver baskets filled with Thanksgiving food, vouchers for turkeys and

stuffed animals — all destined for families in need as a part of the annual “Cops and Gobblers” event. “The day went very well,” said organizer Bruce Barsi, adding that there were many See gobblers, page 17

■ s e e pa g e 1 0


liday o H und F

Voice launches new online ‘virtual edition’ Staff Reports


new enhanced digital version of the Mountain View Voice is now available for online readers. The new “virtual edition” enables users to flip through the paper electronically — turning pages and zooming in on specific stories or ads — and to print out pages of interest. The edition is similar to a PDF

(which also remains available on the Voice Web site) but doesn’t take as long to load and offers intuitive tools and features that resemble the process of reading a physical newspaper. In addition to current and past issues of the Voice, special publications such as Info, Neighborhoods and Living Well will also be available in the new format. The “virtual edition” can

be accessed at by scrolling down to “Recent Issues” on the lower right, or by clicking on “The Voice” in the teal navigation bar on the site’s left-hand side. The virtual edition is powered by Issuu, Inc., a Menlo Park company offering digitalpublishing platforms. Founded in 2006, it was named one of the 50 best Web sites in 2009 by V

he City Council is considering an ordinance designed to protect low income tenants, but several council members worry that it might have “unintended consequences.” “This incentivizes landlords not to rent to very low income people, and I don’t want to do that,” said council member Jac Siegel. Siegel strongly opposed it along with council member John Inks, who said language in the ordinance would discourage landlords from making improvements to properties. Under the proposal for dealing with displaced low income tenants — a proposal the council declined to approve last Tuesday, Nov. 17 pending changes made by the city attorney — certain landlords would be required to help tenants relocate when a rental is demolished, redeveloped or converted to condos. Under those circumstances, landlords must pay very low income tenants the equivalent of two months rent, while an additional $2,000 would go towards households with “special needs” such as children, seniors or a disability. Tenants would also get a full refund of their security deposit, a 180-day notice to vacate, a subscription to a rental agency and bilingual assistance, if needed. A third party, such as the Community Services Agency, would have to be retained by the landlord to administer the requirements and verify income. The ordinance would apply to buildings with two units or more where the majority of the tenants are of “very low income,” which means 50 percent or less of the county’s median household income — $105,500 for a See tenant, page 12

November 27, 2009 n Mountain View Voice n



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Patti Beck sent in this photo of a local Girl Scout troop, proud of the tree decorating done last Wednesday at the Senior Center. “Fifth grade Junior Girl Scout Troop 61169, based at Springer School in Mountain View, has decorated the Mountain View Senior Center’s holiday trees for the fourth year in a row,” she wrote. “The girls handmake the ornaments every year, paying for the supplies out of the funds they receive from the yearly cookie sale. This year they also taught the younger Brownie Troop 61258 to make decorations and were joined by them for the event.” She added, “The girls had a good time and the seniors present admired and praised the decorations.” If you have a photo taken around town which you’d like published in the Voice, please send it (as a jpg attachment) to


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An agenda item to vote on the elimination of 11 full-time positions in the Mountain View Whisman School District’s special education program was pulled before last week’s board meeting. The reason: The California School Employees Association — a union representing the special ed workers — asked the district to engage in conversation with them before taking action, administrators said. Stephanie Totter, assistant superintendent, said administrators have evaluated their students’ educational needs and that the current special ed population no longer requires the services of 11 full-time staff members. She said the district’s plan is to create 11 part-time positions

and to offer those to the laidoff personnel. The agenda item caused a stir among local parents of special ed students. Three parents attended Thursday evening’s board meeting to voice their concerns about “transparency.” Totter said the district is in talks with the union, the parents and the instructional assistants, and that administrators are working to “mitigate” impact as possible. The district board is scheduled revisit the issue at its regular meeting on Dec. 10.

Student film takes first in nearby festival Two Mountain View High School seniors recently nabbed first prize, and $2,000 in scholarship money, for an animated

film they created in the district’s Freestyle Academy. Irene Lee and Raime Shah, both 17, wrote, drew and produced the film “Eggs Have Dreams Too” for a class in the Freestyle program, which gives students hands-on training in artistic professions such as film production and communication. The pair decided to enter their film in the Bay Street Animation Film Festival, located in Emeryville, and beat out nearly 100 other entries in the “under two minute” category. Their winning film depicted several eggs talking about their life ambitions before being purchased and fried in pan. The students received $500 each and an additional $1,000 for Freestyle. — Kelsey Mesher

LocalNews Cabinets, Remodeling, more... Since 1994

MV Reads inspires discussion on PTSD By Dana Sherne


ountain View Reads Together is wrapping up this weekend, drawing to a close another monthlong, citywide reading session. As in past years, it sparked a series of interesting conversations on the subject book â&#x20AC;&#x201D; â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Mailboxâ&#x20AC;? by Audrey Shafer â&#x20AC;&#x201D; but perhaps none was more interesting than a talk on post traumatic stress disorder that took place Nov. 12 in the library Community Room. Titled â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Impact of Traumatic Stress on Peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Lives,â&#x20AC;? the discussion began with a presentation by Eve Carlson, a researcher at the National Center for PTSD. A question-andanswer session followed. In her presentation, Carlson focused on the prevalence, causes and symptoms of PTSD, and explained treatments for those suffering from it, such as psychotherapy, medication and family support. If you know someone who has gone through traumatic events, she said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The most important thing is to be available, to listen.â&#x20AC;? Charlene Viera, a Mountain View resident, came to learn more about how people react to traumatic events. Her brother is

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a Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even have a clue what he deals with,â&#x20AC;? she said of her brother. Viera found the presentation helpful in explaining why some people have trouble â&#x20AC;&#x153;moving on.â&#x20AC;? According to Karin Bricker, supervising librarian for youth services, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Mailboxâ&#x20AC;? was inspired by the authorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s experiences with veterans suffering from PTSD. Shafer, a Mountain View resident, works in the Veterans Affairs hospital in Palo Alto. Carlson gave examples from the book where the character Uncle Vernon, a veteran of the Vietnam War, exhibits symptoms of PTSD. After her presentation, Carlson told the Voice that no childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s book could depict PTSD exactly as it is, since the subject is too terrifying for children. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s so horrible that youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not going to explain it to a kid,â&#x20AC;? she said. Now finishing up its third year, MV Reads picks a work of fiction or nonfiction and encourages residents of Mountain View to read it together and discuss topics based on the bookâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s themes. Discussions for adults, activities for kids, and meetings and book signings with the authors are held in conjunction with the event. V

Increased patrols helping to keep gang violence down, police say By Kelsey Mesher


oncern over rising gang activity earlier this fall has led to extra patrol cars to monitor weekend activity, and Mountain View police say the strategy seems to be working. An undisclosed number of two-man units from Mountain Viewâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gang Suppression Team have been patrolling Fridays, Saturdays or both ever since the evening of Saturday, Sept. 26, when three teens were stabbed at a birthday party at the Mountain View Community Center. Police spokesperson Liz Wylie said the additional cars coincidentally began patrolling on the night of the incident, and that despite the violence that occurred that evening, they were able to dispel the group of about 50 before the situation got worse. Since then, she said, officers believe the additional patrols have helped keep Mountain View gang violence at a minimum. Though

there have been some instances of violence since then â&#x20AC;&#x201D; like a stabbing that occurred at Shoreline Cinemas on Oct. 5 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Wylie said those incidents have not been caused by local residents, which are the focus of the new patrols. â&#x20AC;&#x153;What members have definitely noticed is far less people congregating,â&#x20AC;? Wylie said of the Gang Suppression Teamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s observations. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Anecdotally, they think that crime is down.â&#x20AC;? The offers on patrol believe their presence has deterred large groups from forming in front of complexes and on street corners, Wylie said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Fights start when they congregate,â&#x20AC;? she added. Wylie noted that Mountain View police â&#x20AC;&#x153;have a very intimate knowledge of our gang members. ... Most of the people that we find congregating are our own gang members.â&#x20AC;? She also said the officers on extra patrols have taken a â&#x20AC;&#x153;zero tolerance stance on some of the lower-level stuff â&#x20AC;&#x201D; curfews, underage drinking.â&#x20AC;? V

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City mulls forming new arts foundation By Kelsey Mesher


erforming arts could get a major boost in Mountain View if the city’s Performing Arts Committee has its way. At a City Council study session last week, the committee opened discussion on starting a nonprofit foundation to support the arts in Mountain View. Though the proposal is only in the initial planning stages, committee members said they envisioned a foundation which could raise $1 million a year. “The Performing Arts Committee has been working really hard on different arts advocacy efforts these past few years,” said Patricia Cheng, who has been a committee member since 2003. “The idea of starting a nonprofit to support the community has been brewing already for quite awhile.” The foundation, she said,

members supported the general concept of ramping up awareness and advocacy of the arts. “We under-appreciate the arts in Silicon Valley,” said council member Jac Siegel. “I would like to see a self-sustained thing,” he added. Over the past year the Performing Arts Committee has organized three free community events related to the arts. Those events, Cheng said, were funded mainly through private donations and partnerships with organizations like the Community School of Music and Art. The committee is already planning for next year, soliciting small grants to fund specific projects. “We’ve always felt a limitation of resources in terms of not just money but time and people,” Cheng said. “All along the way we’ve been lucky.” She added that “We’re looking

“The fact that we’ve come this far is really showing that the people in the community care about the performing arts. We want it to be part of the fabric of Mountain View.” Patricia Cheng, committee member

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would primarily support the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, helping to support more diverse programming and possibly attracting a wider variety of performers to the city. Some council members thought it could be a good thing, though others were wary of the idea. “It could make our downtown even more attractive,” said council member Ronit Bryant. “Let’s start small and see where it leads to. Someday we’ll have money again.” However, “We had a foundation when we built the center,” noted council member Mike Kasperzak at Tuesday’s meeting. “It struggled and it went away eventually.” City attorney Michael Martello said the original, now-defunct foundation was “well intentioned,” but that “operating costs became a burden to the city” and eventually the city had to “let the thing die.” He added that it was difficult to find community members to sit on its board. Despite the demise of the original foundation, some council

for a long-term strategy that will enable us to be a better spokesgroup ... better advocates for performing arts in the Mountain View community.” Cheng said that forming a nonprofit would make community members more likely to recognize it and donate to it. And with official 501(c)3 status, donors could write off their donations. Donors “want a 501(c)3 number for their tax return,” Martello said at the meeting. Cheng said the committee has been looking into how nearby organizations run, like the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation, which supports a variety of special events and art-oriented programs for families. “The PAC members, we serve as volunteers,” Cheng said. “The fact that we’ve come this far is really showing that the people in the community care about the performing arts. We want it to be part of the fabric of Mountain View.” V

E-mail Kelsey Mesher at


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curfew, or if their water main is broken, or any other issue that city staffers may be able to help with. The feature uses drop-down menus for common issues people contact the city about. Those menus then point to appropriate city departments, names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses. A link to the feature can be found on the front page of the city’s Web site, — Daniel DeBolt

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This burrowing owl was photographed in June by Mountain View resident Marti Wright, who reported being “on a bird count” “near the Baylands.”


Continued from page 1

the city counted 13 pairs and 22 chicks. Records go back as far as spring 1998, when three pairs and four chicks were counted. The ball field plan would put a 90-foot baseball diamond and a soccer field on the eastern edge of Garcia Avenue north of the Googleplex and south of the Shoreline Golf Links. Though no owls have been seen nesting there, owls have been seen using the area for foraging of mice, voles and insects. Elaine Spence, president of Mountain View Babe Ruth baseball league, was shocked upon hearing news of the burrowing owl campaign. “I can’t believe it,” she said. “Where are we supposed to put our ball fields? It’s a perfect spot. The youth need to have baseball somewhere in this town.” Spence noted that the site is a small portion of the 500-acre park and no one complained when Google built a soccer field next to the site on property it plans to develop someday. She says local youth baseball leagues are outgrowing the one 90-foot baseball diamond in the city at McKelvey Park, which is shared by several Little League teams, the Mountain View Marauders football team and Saint Frances High School. And McKelvey may soon be closed for a year for construction if a proposal by the Santa Clara Valley Water District for a flood basin there is approved. Earlier this year the city budgeted $9 million for the Shoreline ball fields and has conducted feasibility studies for the project, which should have a preliminary design for the City Council to examine early next year. “The assumption at this point is that we will move forward unless something goes real-

ly massively wrong,” said City Council member Ronit Bryant during a study session on the ball fields in January of last year. On Monday, Bryant didn’t appear to think anything had gone massively wrong yet. “I met with the Audubon Society and I’m actually very optimistic we can work together on something very great for the owls,” she said. “Mountain View is really good at coming up with all kinds of creative and out-ofthe-box solutions. I bet there is a solution out there.” Environmentalists say development of the area, including at neighboring Moffett Field, has been steadily encroaching on the habitat of burrowing owls and other birds, including raptors, ducks and shorebirds. The usual mitigation measure, which involves the city purchasing land for an owl preserve elsewhere, is not good enough, Kleinhaus said. Mountain View’s burrowing owls lost some of their habitat last year when the city began leasing nine acres of what is known as “Charleston East” to Google for a new office building at Shoreline Boulevard and Amphitheatre Parkway. Owls there were removed by placing one-way doors over their burrows, which were plowed under once the owls left. The office building — and a hotel planned on nine acres next door — has yet to be built. Mike Fuller, assistant public works director, said a possible mitigation measure is to create a new foraging area at Shoreline to replace the one lost to ball fields. That involves landscaping existing park areas to attract the owl’s prey. Parks section manager Jack Smith said the city already maintains owl habitat under a “burrowing owl management plan.” Among other measures, Higgins, the city biologist and owl expert, cuts vegetation around the owls’ burrows because they like to see what’s around them. V

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How to Give

In hard times, local kids lean on CHAC

Your gift helps children and others in need Contributions to the Holiday Fund will be matched dollar for dollar, to the extent possible, and will go directly to the nonprofit agencies that serve Mountain View residents. Last year, Voice readers contributed more than $40,000, which with matching grants, provided more than $10,000 to each agency No administrative costs are deducted from the gifts, which are tax-deductible

as permitted by law. All donations will be shared equally with the seven recipient agencies listed here.


ay d i l o H und F


Trains volunteer mentors who work with local youth in education and community programs.

Operates a 24-hour bilingual hotline, a safe shelter for women and their children, and offers counseling and other services for families facing this problem.

■ THE COMMUNITY HEALTH AWARENESS COUNCIL Serves Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and seven school districts. Offers schoolbased programs to protect students from highrisk behaviors, such as drug and alcohol abuse.

■ COMMUNITY SCHOOL OF MUSIC AND ARTS Provides hands-on arts and music projects in the elementary classrooms of the Mountain View-Whisman School District. Nearly 40 percent of the students are low-income and 28 percent have limited English proficiency.

■ MOUNTAIN VIEW ROTACARE CLINIC Provides uninsured community residents with medical care and medications, and is frequently the last resort for this under-served clientele.



Provides a secure place for workers and employers to negotiate wages. Serves 50 or more workers per day with job-matching, English lessons and guidance.

Assists working poor families, homeless and seniors with short-term housing and medical care and other services.

Name of donor ______________________________________________ Amount $ ____________ Street address ___________________________________________________________________ City _______________________________________________ State _____ Zip _______________ ❏ I wish to contribute anonymously.

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TO DONATE ONLINE GO TO: PLEASE MAKE CHECKS PAYABLE TO: THE HOLIDAY FUND Enclose this coupon and send to: The Voice Holiday Fund The Mountain View Voice, P.O. Box 405, Mountain View, CA 94042 By Credit Card: ❏ Visa or ❏ MasterCard

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Exp. Date ________________________________________________________ Signature ________________________________________________________


n Mountain View Voice n November 27, 2009

greater this year as the economic climate brings in a higher voltaffers at the Community ume of clients. Health Awareness Council “It’s the year to give, if you (CHAC) have seen just can,” she said. about every problem a child The stress of the economic cricould have, from substance sis, she said, has affected people abuse to low self-esteem. These irrespective of age or socioecodays, they’re adding economic nomic background. anxiety to the list. Jamie Freeman, CHAC’s public Monique Kane, CHAC’s exec- relations manager, said she has utive director, told of one local seen a very powerful trickle-down girl in elementary school whose effect, where a parent’s stress can family’s economic needs led to harm the child’s mental well a sudden decline in her grades, being and translate into diminwhich previously had been very ished performance in school. high. When her But it’s the goal school counselof the counselor turned to a ors and interns CHAC staffer for at CHAC to help help, they learned combat t his “It’s the year that 12 other peoeffect, which ple had moved in to give, if you can. works to everywith the child’s one’s benefit. Profamily. With The stress of the viding therapy to so many more a child will help adults suddenly economic crisis has his or her family, living in one Kane. Simiaffected people said small apartment, larly, the child’s she couldn’t conclassroom will irrespective centrate and her function better, homework sufas the teacher can of age or fered. devote more time “We were socioeconomic to all students. amazed at how “If you save the background. many little pairs child, you save of shoes were the community,” Monique Kane, outside the door,” Kane explained. CHAC’s executive director said Kane. Sarah Ross is a This situation first-year intern at is not unusual, CHAC who works she added. Many closely with chilfamilies in the area are doubling dren toward this goal. Through and tripling up to cover the cost CHAC’s collaboration with local of rent. elementary schools, Ross pro CHAC provides counseling vides counseling during the to children, teens and their school day, mostly to children families for a wide variety of identified by their teachers. therapy including group thera- Ross recalled one boy whose py, couples’ therapy, one-on-one class was busy painting when she counseling and after-school came to pull him out for counselprogramming. The eclectic ing. When she gave him the choice approach and sliding payment to stay and paint, or join her, he scale allow the organization struggled to answer. Finally he to serve many different people replied, “I want to go with you with different kinds of prob- because you’re my friend.” lems, said Kane. Ross says that for children CHAC also works in partner- experiencing a lot of sadness, ship with other local organiza- stress or loneliness, counseling tions to best meet the needs of is very important to them. their clients. For example, if a “It’s really clear that it’s pretty homeless family comes in for meaningful to children to have counseling, CHAC staff can also a space where they can just be put the family in touch with a themselves,” she said. “Children shelter. experience a lot ... and for a child This year, CHAC will benefit to be able to talk about that to an from the Voice’s annual Holiday adult is really powerful.” Fund, which allows readers to E-mail Dana Sherne at donate to seven local charities. According to Kane, the need is By Dana Sherne

This year, the following agencies will be supported by the Holiday Fund: ■ PARTNERS FOR NEW GENERATIONS

Community Health Awareness Council is once again a Holiday Fund recipient




Continued from page 1

earned over $26 million â&#x20AC;&#x201D; more than the opening nights of the most recent Harry Potter flick ($22.2 million) or 2008â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Dark Knightâ&#x20AC;? (a mere $18 million). Online reviews of the film on popular sites like tear it to pieces. One reviewer called it â&#x20AC;&#x153;a steaming pile of crap.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Awful ... just plain awful,â&#x20AC;? said another. â&#x20AC;&#x153;A never-ending stream of awkward moments,â&#x20AC;? bemoaned a third. But despite the jabs at Kristen Stewartâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s acting and the horrible dialogue, fans who lined up at Shoreline Cinemas in Mountain View to see the film on opening day had less biting things to say. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I read every single book,â&#x20AC;? said 13-year-old Jackie of Los Altos, who was on her way into a 5:40 p.m. showing Friday night with her friend Lexi. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s always something going on. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a romantic book, but thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also a lot of action in it.â&#x20AC;? Friends Ruth, 13, of Redwood City and Briona, 13, of Palo Alto, said they watch the original â&#x20AC;&#x153;Twilightâ&#x20AC;? film every week-

end together and can tell you all the gossip about what celebrities were considered for each role of the latest movie. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the best movie ever,â&#x20AC;? avowed Briona, sporting an â&#x20AC;&#x153;Edwardâ&#x20AC;? T-shirt and carrying popcorn and a soda. Though the two obviously

â&#x20AC;&#x153;My room is full of Edward, Edward and more Edward!â&#x20AC;? she said, explaining that she owns two Edward T-shirts, one Edward poster, one Robert poster and a smattering of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Twilightâ&#x20AC;?-themed school supplies. The majority of patrons were on â&#x20AC;&#x153;Team Jacob,â&#x20AC;? however. Teen

There was one issue on which fans were divided: Whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cuter, Edward, the godlike vampire, or Jacob, the boy next door who is really a werewolf?

shared a mutual love for â&#x20AC;&#x153;Twilight,â&#x20AC;? there was one issue on which they were divided: Whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cuter, Edward, the godlike vampire, or Jacob, the boy next door who is really a werewolf? Briona claimed to be part of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Team Edwardâ&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; that nationwide group of girls swooning over the lead vampire, played by teen heartthrob Robert Pattinson.

girls were not shy in explaining why: actor Taylor Lautner. He is â&#x20AC;&#x153;so hot,â&#x20AC;? said one. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t wait until he takes his shirt off!â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have an Edward T-shirt, even though Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m part of Team Jacob,â&#x20AC;? said Jordan, of Redwood Shores. She admitted she hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t read the books in full â&#x20AC;&#x201D; only the Spark Notes versions. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I thought it was going to be

lame, like â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Harry Potter,â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;? she said. Eventually, however, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I gave in, so here I am.â&#x20AC;? Though the girls gushed freely about the hunky guys, they were more reserved when it came to Kristin Stewart, who plays the protagonist, Bella Swan. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s kind of annoying in the movies,â&#x20AC;? said Katie, 12, of Sunnyvale. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know, she bugs me, the way she acts.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;She looks like sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s meant to be Bella,â&#x20AC;? offered Ruth, after describing the actress as plain. Though the majority of â&#x20AC;&#x153;New Moonâ&#x20AC;? patrons appeared to be teenage girls, there were a few older fans at Shoreline Cinemas, and at least one selfless older brother, who was treating his sister to the film for her 13th birthday. Those older fans watching the movies for themselves tended to be a bit more sheepish about it. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have a love-hate relationship with it,â&#x20AC;? said a 31-year-old woman who works in Mountain View, who insisted on anonymity. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The logical side of my brain says itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bad. But the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Twilightâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; side thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s obsessed still canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t help it.â&#x20AC;? V

E-mail Kelsey Mesher at

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NOVEMBER 27, 2009 â&#x2013; MOUNTAIN VIEW VOICE10:05 â&#x2013;  AM 11 10/29/09

LocalNews friedman

Continued from page 1

nations at sea. Friedman lives in Mountain View with his wife Shannon and his son in a co-housing community near Dale Avenue, where he and a group of people bought two fourplexes to create a community they called â&#x20AC;&#x153;Tortuga.â&#x20AC;? But his ultimate goal is to live with like-minded people who have taken over a piece of the unclaimed ocean. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Mostly Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m a libertarian, and

we live in a very non-libertarian world,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It really bothers me to live in a country that operates with such a dramatically different moral system. I would like to live in a society that I actually think is moral and with people who agree with me on what moral is.â&#x20AC;? To do that, though, heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll need entrepreneurs, and â&#x20AC;&#x153;Entrepreneurs donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want barriers,â&#x20AC;? Friedman said. In order to attract businesses into the middle of the sea, â&#x20AC;&#x153;you have to get the cost down enoughâ&#x20AC;? by eliminating unnecessary regulations. To that end, The Seasteading Institute has commissioned

design of a $110 million, 200guest hotel and resort called â&#x20AC;&#x153;Club Steadâ&#x20AC;? that would â&#x20AC;&#x153;outVegas Vegasâ&#x20AC;? in the middle of the sea, he said. The patented design â&#x20AC;&#x201D; its construction would cost an estimated $310 per square foot â&#x20AC;&#x201D; is based on large floating dumbbells that hold the platform above the waves. Friedman hopes to build a prototype platform within the next two years in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. Above board Over the years people have come up with numerous ideas

for businesses that would support a sea steading community. The list tends to include lessthan-desirable businesses, often illegal in the U.S., such as online gambling or illicit data storage â&#x20AC;&#x201D; an application useful for those trafficking child porn or similar contraband. But Friedman has some less shady business ideas as well. Lately, his favorite idea is to allow low-cost â&#x20AC;&#x153;medical tourismâ&#x20AC;? on the ocean â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a place where regulations and malpractice lawsuits havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t driven up the price of health care. Friedmanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s interest in medical



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tourism got a boost, he said, when he and his wife looked into the costs of in-vitro fertilization in other countries and found that it could be done in Panama for onethird of what it costs in the U.S. Recently Friedman held the firstever conference on sea steading in San Francisco. Among the attendees were wealthy tech executives like Joseph Lonsdale, executive vice president of Palantir Technologies, which rents office space to The Seasteading Institute for $500 a month. Lonsdale also sits on the instituteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s board. Friedman brushes off criticism from those who say sea steading is a crazy idea. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bound to happen,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Having done a huge amount of research on this, I think there are significant challenges, but it has a shot at working.â&#x20AC;?




E-mail Daniel DeBolt at


Continued from page 5

family of four last year. The proposal is the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s response to a situation in 2007 when 64 households were displaced from the Summerhill apartment complex at 291 Evandale Ave. The city spent $127,000 of its own below market rate housing funds to relocate 33 of the households. Affordable housing advocates were pleased to see that, under this proposal, the cost would be placed on landlords instead of on the city. Meanwhile, the Silicon Valley Realtors Association and the Tri County Apartment Association announced that they agreed with the principle of the ordinance, but had concerns with its language, which they say that might deter landlords from making improvements to their properties. Council member Mike Kasperzak said Tuesday that he shared those concerns, and that those â&#x20AC;&#x153;issues are being resolvedâ&#x20AC;? with new language in the ordinance written by city attorney Michael Martello. Council members also directed staff to shorten the notification period required in the ordinance. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I believe youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll have a policy that gets it right,â&#x20AC;? said Joshua Howard, executive director of the California Apartment Associationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Tri County Division, at the meeting. Council members Laura Macias and Ronit Bryant supported the ordinance, with Macias saying the ordinance wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t enough to be a â&#x20AC;&#x153;game changerâ&#x20AC;? for the rental market. V

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at


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NASA Ames breakthrough: Algae makes sustainable biofuel By Daniel DeBolt


hanks to technology developed at Moffett Fieldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s NASA Ames, fuel for cars, trucks and planes can now be produced at your local sewage treatment plant. NASA has developed a â&#x20AC;&#x153;bioreactorâ&#x20AC;? that it calls the Offshore Membrane Enclosure for Growing Algae (OMEGA). It floats in municipal wastewater and grows algae inside special plastic membranes. Once harvested, oil can be extracted from the algae for diesel or jet fuel, leaving remains that can be used for cosmetics, animal feed, fertilizer and other â&#x20AC;&#x153;valuable products.â&#x20AC;? The breakthrough is NASAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;forward osmosis membranes,â&#x20AC;? which extract freshwater from the algae using relatively little energy compared to other methods of algae production. Ames has licensed the technolo-

gy to Nevada-based Algae Systems for further refinement in Tampa Bay, Fla. Eventually, the company plans to create â&#x20AC;&#x153;biorefineriesâ&#x20AC;? with the technology, possibly at sewage treatment plants, where the technology could play a role in the water treatment process. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The OMEGA technology has transformational powers. It can convert sewage and carbon dioxide into abundant and inexpensive fuels,â&#x20AC;? said Matthew Atwood, president and founder of Algae Systems, in a press release. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The technology is simple and scalable enough to create an inexpensive, local energy supply that also creates jobs to sustain it.â&#x20AC;? Unlike biofuel production methods that involve grass, corn or soybeans, OMEGA doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t compete with agriculture for land or freshwater, nor does it require added fertilizers or the use of diesel-powered tractors to harvest.

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POLICE: TEEN EMBEZZLER, GUN-TOTING FELON ARRESTED Mountain View police say an 18-year-old female from Concord tried to cash a forged check at a downtown bank last week but was caught in the act by officers, who also arrested her friend waiting outside â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a 21-year-old felon from Concord in possession of a semiautomatic handgun. According to police, at about 3:10 p.m. last Wednesday, Nov. 18, Melissa Vongphakdy tried to cash a forged $3,500 check at the Bank of America at the corner of Castro and Mercy streets. Bank employees, noticing something amiss, notified police, who arrived to find Vongphakdy still inside the bank along with an unidentified 16-year-old Hayward girl. Outside, police found two other unnamed juveniles and 21-yearold Michael Collins, a convicted felon who allegedly was keeping his bulletproof vest and semiautomatic handgun in the trunk of the car he drove. Police say the car turned out to belong to the father of the Hayward girl. Vongphakdy was arrested on charges of attempting to pass a fraudulent check, conspiracy and suspicion of burglary. Collins was arrested on charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and suspicion of conspiracy. The Hayward girl, who allegedly lied about her identity, was arrested on charges of providing false information to a police officer and suspicion of burglary and was released to her parents.

Police say they are still investigating the case and believe there may be more suspects who came in a second car. Anonymous tips about the case can be made to police by calling (650) 903-6344. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Daniel DeBolt

MAN BEATEN, ROBBED AT 7-ELEVEN Police say a 40-year-old Mountain View man was beaten and robbed by four attackers in a 7-Eleven parking lot Sunday evening. According to reports, the victim, who was extremely intoxicated, was walking down Latham Street toward a 7-Eleven store at 615 S. Rengstorff Ave. at approximately 5:10 p.m. on Nov. 22. The man was approached by four men, described by the victim as Hispanic males in their 30s, who wanted his money, reported Liz Wylie, police spokesperson. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When he refused they punched him a couple of times, kicked him and stole his money,â&#x20AC;? Wylie said, adding that they took $40 before fleeing the scene on foot. The victim had some lacerations on his face and was taken for the hospital for treatment. His injuries were not believed to be serious. Wylie said the incident does not seem to be gang-related, but that this particular 7-Eleven is known to be a place where gang members congregate. There were no witnesses, she said, and detectives are continuing to investigate the case. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Kelsey Mesher


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nce again, the city is joining forces with Santa in hosting the annual Mountain View Tree Lighting Celebration. And this year organizers have something special planned: snow. So long as it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t rain that day â&#x20AC;&#x201D; next Wednesday, Dec. 2 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Recreation Division intends to have a

mini snow area created somewhere in Civic Center Plaza. The event will also feature crafts for children, face painting, refreshments and entertainment. Santa Clause will be available for photos. The city is asking attendees to bring a can of food to support the Giving Tree, which

benefits the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Holiday Sharing Programâ&#x20AC;? organized by the Community Services Agency of Mountain View and Los Altos. The Tree Lighting Celebration is Wednesday, Dec. 2, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Civic Center Plaza, 500 Castro Street. According to a city press release, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Arts and crafts will begin at 5:30 p.m.,

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Celebration. This year there is something special planned for the event: SNOW! Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s correct; there will be snow in Mountain View, as long as it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t rain. This will be the first time that the city has provided snow for the event. The celebration is from 5:30 to 7:30 on December 2 at the corner of Castro and Mercy Streets. Be sure to bring your camera to take a photo of your child with Santa. There will also be crafts, facepainting and refreshments. Afterwards would be the perfect time to try out a restaurant that you havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t been to before. Have you tried Sakoon, Minhâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, or The Kitchen Table? Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re all fabulous. And we have some really fun shopping destinations that absolutely must not be missed. Alpine World is a tiny store on Dana Street that carries all kinds of handmade items from Nepal, Tibet and India. Everyone loves the East West Bookstore on Castro Street. And we canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t forget BookBuyers or Books Inc. All of these restaurants and stores are within walking distance of the Annual Community Tree Lighting Celebration. Have a wonderful evening and we look forward to seeing everyone at the big tree on the corner of Castro and Mercy Streets on December 2nd. For ideas on things-to-do around Mountain View, please visit the website.


n Mountain View Voice n November 27, 2009

■ h o l i d ay b r i e f

Students at Saint Francis High School collected $17,000 to fund the school’s annual Thanksgiving food drive, and last weekend they used the money to buy canned goods, dry goods and turkey vouchers for 500 needy families. On Friday, Nov. 20, 130 students stayed after school to help box the food. Later that weekend the boxes were distributed to families from the Catholic Worker of Redwood City and the El Camino, Rose Garden and Evergreen Dialysis centers. Though in the past students have collected both monetary donations and groceries, their Service Club found that by purchasing food in bulk they could stretch donations by as much as 50 percent. “This is our biggest event, and to be able to help others is phenomenal,” said senior Patrick Crowley, co-president of the Service Club, in a press release. “It’s a good feeling knowing these families can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner just like I can,” said senior Rebecca Lim. “The main purpose of the club is to reach out to those who are disadvantaged.” The annual food drive has been a Saint Francis tradition for more than 30 years.


Ukranian Egg by Laurel Rezeau

Saint Francis students box 500 Thanksgiving meals

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P.O. Box 391557, Mtn. View 650-526-3500 x1030


Continued from page 5

families receiving baskets of food and stuffed animals that probably would not have otherwise had a Thanksgiving dinner at all. Barsi said the volunteer turnout also made the day a success. “They get as much, if not more, out of it than the recipients,” he said. In all, the 13-year-old Cops and Gobblers event, sponsored by the Mountain View Police Officer’s Association, supplied 270 families with holiday necessities this year. Help came from community partners like Mountain View’s Kiwanis and Rotary clubs and the Challenge Team. In a perfect world, Barsi said, Cops and Gobblers wouldn’t exist. But, he added, “If people need the help we’d like to be able to help them.”

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Visit the Web site, click on the Shop Local November 27, 2009 n Mountain View Voice n


Viewpoint Founding Editor, Kate Wakerly

Publisher Tom Gibboney

Editorial Managing Editor Don Frances Staff Writers Daniel DeBolt, Kelsey Mesher Intern Dana Sherne Photographer Michelle Le Photo Intern James Tensuan Contributors Dale Bentson, Angela Hey, Sheila Himmel, Jennifer Pence, Monica Schreiber

Design & Production Design Director Raul Perez Designers Linda Atilano, Laura Don, Gary Vennarucci

Advertising Advertising Representatives Anna Mirsky, Dianna Prather Real Estate Account Executive Rosemary Lewkowitz Real Estate Advertising Coordinator Diane Martin Published every Friday at 450 Cambridge Avenue Palo Alto, CA 94306 (650) 964-6300 fax (650) 964-0294 E-mail news and photos to: E-mail letters to: News/Editorial Department (650) 964-6300 fax (650) 964-0294 Display Advertising Sales (650) 964-6300 Classified Advertising Sales (650) 964-6490 • (650) 326-8216 fax (650) 326-0155 E-mail Classified E-mail Circulation The Voice is published weekly by Embarcadero Publishing Co. and distributed free to residences and businesses in Mountain View. If you are not currently receiving the paper, you may request free delivery by calling 964-6300. Subscriptions for $60 per year, $100 per 2 years are welcome. Copyright ©2009 by Embarcadero Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Member, Mountain View Chamber of Commerce

■ WHAT’S YOUR VIEW? All views must include a home address and contact phone number. Published letters will also appear on the web site,, and occasionally on the Town Square forum.

TOWN SQUARE FORUM POST your views on the Town Square forum at E-MAIL your views to Indicate if it is a letter to be published. MAIL to: Editor Mountain View Voice, P.O. Box 405 Mountain View, CA 94042-0405 CALL the Viewpoint desk at 964-6300






dmittedly, it is difficult for a city like Mountain View to provide venues for every recreational interest that comes along. After all, we’ve already set aside links, courts, fields and a lake for golf, tennis, basketball, baseball, softball, football, kite flying, wind surfing, boating, etc. — not to mention the skateboarding park at Rengstorff. But BMX biking apparently doesn’t qualify. Last week, the City Council deadlocked 3-3 on an idea to have the Parks and Recreation Commission consider developing a new BMX park here, sending Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga’s proposal down the tubes, for now. The inaction (a tie vote equals a defeat) was a shame, and in our opinion the city should feel somewhat responsible for helping the BMX bikers out due to the unceremonious way it bulldozed an ad-hoc park on Stevens Creek Trail last August. Local riders had built this tiny outlaw spot The city should on their own and had been safely feel somewhat using it for at least 20 years. But responsible for fear of injuries and liability finally convinced the city that the park, helping the BMX which was located on city propbikers out. erty, had to go. Certainly the city is right to be concerned about liability, and the need for oversight and maintenance, if a park were to be built. By one estimate, a BMX park would cost about $400,000 an acre and $70,000 a year to maintain, according to a September report by parks section manager Jack Smith. This seems like a needlessly high estimate, and far more than the $60,000 set aside for a BMX park by the council in 2007. But Abe-Koga’s proposal would have merely sent the idea to the Parks and Recreation Commission. Such a perusal would have cost nothing, and no action could be taken until the council considered the measure again, probably in the next six months or so. The city does have some potential sites for a park picked out. One, preferred by staff members, would use a parcel at North Road just east of the city’s dog park at Shoreline. Another possible location is the Crittenden overflow basin, located next to the North Road parcel, which was a recommended site years ago. Council member Mike Kasperzak has also suggested a meadow made accessible by the recent extension of the Stevens Creek Trail south of El Camino Real. Currently, however, site selection is a moot point. Without four votes, the idea for even studying a new BMX park is dead in the water. We hope that fourth vote can be found. In the meantime, BMX enthusiasts would do well to put the past behind them and work directly with the city on creating a new park somewhere in Mountain View.




Give BMX park a chance

■ S TA F F


ON CALLS FOR A BURROWING OWL HABITAT INSTEAD OF BALL FIELDS AT SHORELINE PARK The city of Mountain View has a chance to do something significant in preserving habitat for native species. Yes, it’s important to have athletic fields for recreation, but surely there’s a better place if the city really needs another one. We must preserve one of the last remaining places in this area where burrowing owls can live and breed. It would be a shame to have them disappear from our city when we can do something to prevent it. I live near Shoreline Park and I go to the park often to walk and to watch and photograph birds. Having as much land as possible in the park in a more or less natural state is important to me. Laurel Rezeau, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood As a longtime Mountain View resident and frequent visitor at Shoreline Park, the possibility that the city would not prioritize habitat there for a threatened species is beyond me. Please consider that a commitment to biodiversity might actually mean committing to habitat preservation, rather than making sports fields, and that many, if not most, humans in the community prefer this. Don’t let the well being of the owls be hijacked by private or special interests! Daniel Foor, a resident of the The Crossings neighborhood

I reside in Sunnyvale, a city which has long since decimated its burrowing owl population. Mountain View has always stood out within Santa Clara County as a beacon of civic responsibility, biodiversity, and environmental sustainability. It seems unfair that the burden of preserving this wondrous species for our entire county now falls to Mountain View alone. But, alas, that is so. Please adhere to Mountain View’s great principles and consider building the athletic field at a different location. Marianne, a resident of another community I know that I am very interested in doing what the city can to help the burrowing owls, their habitat and ongoing protection for them. The initial city reviews (years ago now) of placing the ballparks and fields at Shoreline did not identify this damning aspect of the fields to other council members’ and my attention. I appreciate a recent in-depth conversation about the owls with our own burrowing owl Mountain View biologist. We do need to keep the burrowing owls. Last year at Moffett Field, I saw two owls close up and they are indeed precious and fragile. It is great to see the support for the owls on Town Square. I don’t think the ball fields are an evil plot to kill the owls but (a case of) the city not fully knowing what the impact was, especially on the owls. This is still fixable I believe. Laura Macias, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood

Weekend MountainView Voice

■ Restaurant Review ■ Movie times ■ Best bets for entertainment

■ r e s ta u r a n t r e v i e w

Piemonte luminary New chef, new menu bring star quality to La Strada in Palo Alto By Dale F. Bentson


Shawn Fender

The veal rib eye plate from La Strada restaurant in Palo Alto.

svaldo Tomatis is a celebrity chef of sorts. He was the executive in charge of food services at Pixar Animation Studios during the filming of the hit film “Ratatouille.” His kitchen was used to film many scenes, with the images of line cooks translated into animation. Tomatis had been the executive chef at Il Fornaio in San Francisco when Apple’s Steve Jobs, who was CEO of Pixar at the time, recruited him to take over on-site food services at the studio’s hightech digs in Emeryville. Tomatis is now the chef at La Strada in downtown Palo Alto.

He is a native of Turin (Torino), in Italy’s food-conscious Piedmont (Piemonte) region. There his family owned both a farm, where he was exposed to produce and livestock, and a restaurant, where he began working at age 14. By age 18, he was eager to make his own mark on the culinary world and relocated to Redwood City to live with an uncle. He started cooking part-time and worked his way up with stints in the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest. Tomatis took over the helm at La Strada four months ago, reshaping the menu and infusing new life into the five-year-old restaurant. He See La strada, page 20


  

Pizzeria Venti LET US CATER OR HOST YOUR HOLIDAY PARTY Make the Holidays truly special  with a visit to Pizzera Venti   



 


 Whether it’s a Private party for 20 or quiet dinner for two, PV has you  covered. Off menu and special request items available. Don’t let the  Holidays stress you out. PV is Holiday Pary Central! 

£Î™äÊ*i>ÀÊÛi°Êˆ˜ÊœÕ˜Ì>ˆ˜Ê6ˆiÜÊUÊÈxä‡Óx{‡££ÓäÊÊUÊÊÜÜÜ°“Û«ˆââiÀˆ>Ûi˜Ìˆ°Vœ“   November 27, 2009 n Mountain View Voice  




SINCE 1945




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Shawn Fender

Inside of La Strada restaurant in Palo Alto.

la strada

Continued from page 19

replaced chef Donato Scotti, who recently opened his own restaurant in Redwood City. “My menu is traditional Italian but with local produce. I am market-sensitive, and use what is seasonal at farmers markets,” Tomatis said. “The menu will adjust seasonally.” The food at La Strada is less Americanized than the fare at most of our local Italian restaurants, and far tastier. Physically, the restaurant is both contemporary and functional. The kitchen and wood-burning brick oven line one side while zesty shades of mustard- and ochrecolored walls add a spacious feel to the two dining rooms. There is a small enclosed patio for year-round semi-al fresco dining. At a recent meal, the focaccia was house-made and came with an

ice-cold tomato tapenade. Too bad the tapenade wasn’t served at room temperature, because the flavors were locked in, leaving the paste nearly flavorless. The antipasti were all firstrate, though. Crostone was warm porcini mushrooms, radicchio and fontina cheese layered over grilled ciabatta bread ($9). A meal in itself: fresh, earthy, flavorful and pretty on the plate. Maialetto e lenticchie ($12) was the tenderest crispy suckling pig belly imaginable. The pork had been slow-cooked but remained juicy and luscious. Umbrian lentils shored up the generous slab of meat. A half-dozen thin-crusted pizzas were on the menu, all of which sounded terrific. I settled for the Sicilian tuna with caramelized onions, mozzarella cheese and olives ($14) and wasn’t disappointed. The crust alone would have made a credible flatbread. It

■ diningnotes

La Strada 335 University Ave., Palo Alto (650) 324-8300 Hours: Lunch: Daily 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Dinner: Mon.-Thu. 4-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 4-11 p.m., Sun. 4-9 p.m.


n Mountain View Voice n November 27, 2009

Reservations Credit Cards Alcohol Takeout Highchairs Banquet Catering Outdoor Seating Noise Level moderate Bathroom Cleanliness excellent Parking city lots




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was the same dough used to make the focaccia. The combination of the tuna, olives, caramelized onions and cheese was almost like eating a warm crusty Nicoise salad. The pastas were uncommonly good. I loved the housemade black olive spaghetti with Niman Ranch lamb cheeks (jowls), fava beans and pecorino cheese ($16). The perfumed pasta was a pale lavender color speckled with flecks of black olive. The lamb was fork-tender and the fava beans added chewiness, while the cheese supplied a note of sharpness. The paccheri pasta ($15) with heady lamb ragu, creamy ricotta and sharp pecorino cheese was irresistible, rustic and elemental. Ragu refers to a meat-based sauce, in this case with tomato, and the paccheri were large, hollow, tube-shaped pasta. Another favorite was the casonsei alla Bergamasca sausage ravioli ($15) made with a splash of amaretto, and brown butter and guanciale — pig jowls this time. The ravioli were stuffed and wrapped with pork; the dish played like a symphony of bacon. The meat had a resonant note of sweetness and the butter added creaminess. It was good enough to mop up with that last piece of focaccia. The marinated and grilled veal rib-eye ($24) was mellow and yielding and delicately flavored, with the meat milky-rose and tender as butter. Roasted asparagus and eggplant contributed slightly more acid tones while a dash of Aceto Balsamico added sweetness. Aceto Balsamico is the original balsamic, aged at least 12 years, mellow and syrupy. Whole branzino, a Mediterranean sea bass, was offered two ways — grilled or oven-roasted ($25). My dining partner opted for the grilled version, which came with roasted potatoes and arugula salad. When the fish dish was brought to the table, the waitress asked if my companion wanted it boned. Of course, but rather than boning it at the table, she took it back to the kitchen. By the time it returned, the potatoes were ice-cold. Also, I waited to eat until we were both served and my food was barely warm by then. There has to be a better way. The wine list is fairly priced and offers practical selections from both California and Italy. The wines of Piedmont were, happily, much in evidence: Barolos, Barbarescos and Barberas along with Tuscan, Umbrian and Sicilian wines. Prices range from the low $30s to $200plus, with most wines under $100. Corkage fee is $15. Chef Tomatis has charged new life into La Strada, but he is more star-maker than star. The dishes on his plates are the real stars of the show.

Wild Salmon Baked in an Almond Crust

Mountain View, CA 94040 El�Camino Real 650.948.0123 Fax 650.948.0125 November 27, 2009 n Mountain View Voice n


Weekend Serious Man” is a serious film that makes you squirm, laugh, and ponder all at the same time. Rated R for language, some sexuality/nudity and brief violence. One hour, 45 minutes. — R.P.


2012 ✭✭


(Century 16, Century 20) An Oscar-caliber cast and dazzling visual effects can’t rescue this formulaic disaster flick from a script flooded with generic dialogue and preposterous plot points. American scientist Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) has made a startling discovery: The planet will see cataclysmic changes in the year 2012, fulfilling an ancient Mayan prophecy foretelling the end of days. Helmsley, government PR pro Carl Anheuser (Oliver Platt) and U.S. President Thomas Wilson (Danny Glover) struggle with breaking the news to the public as the world quickly tumbles into a downward spiral. Powerful earthquakes rip apart entire cities, massive tidal waves barrel down on fleeing citizens and volcanoes fill the sky with fire and ash. Rated PG-13 for intense disaster sequences and some language. 2 hours, 38 minutes. — T.H.

(Century 16) “Bad” doesn’t even begin to describe the behavior of New Orleans Police Lt. Terence McDonaugh (Nicholas Cage), protagonist of Werner Herzog’s “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.” Snorting coke is just the beginning; stealing drugs from suspects, from the police department’s property room, and from wherever else he can score it, comes next. How about soliciting bribes (money, dope, sex) from suspects? Terrorizing an old lady by pulling the oxygen leads out of her nose? McDonaugh is in charge of investigating the murder of five members of a family of illegal African immigrants connected to the drug trade. “Bad Lieutenant” may sound like a total downer, but it’s not. Elements of black humor lighten the generally depraved tone. However, Herzog and scriptwriter William Finkelstein can’t resist piling nastiness on top of nastiness. Rated R for language, some violence, sexuality and drug use. Two hours, one minute.— R.P.

A SERIOUS MAN ✭✭✭✭ (CineArts) Professor Larry Gopnik’s wife wants a divorce; Larry’s bar-mitzvah-boy son Danny is smoking dope; his daughter Sarah steals money from his wallet to save up for a nose job. One of his students is trying to bribe him to change a failing grade. And on it goes. In their blend of black comedy and existential bafflement, the Coen brothers pose the ultimate question: What is the meaning of life? (Without, of course, making it seem as portentous as that.) “A

THE BLIND SIDE ✭✭ (Century 16, Century 20) “The Blind Side” merges uplifting social drama with uplifting sports drama. Homeless African-American youth Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) was blessed to get a break from a tony Christian school and then from the Tuohy family, whose spitfire matriarch Leigh Anne takes him into her heart. As Michael in turn

THE KING'S ACADEMY Christ-centered College Preparatory Junior and Senior High School • Grades 6-12


F a i t h


K n o w l e d g e


I n t e g r i t y


P a s s i o n

teaches the Tuohys the true meaning of family, he becomes the archetype Spike Lee acidly called the “super-duper magical Negro,” who lowers his face and steps aside to let the white star have her Oscar clip. Rated PG-13 for one scene involving brief violence, drugs and sexual references. Two hours, eight minutes.— P.C.

DISNEY’S A CHRISTMAS CAROL ✭✭✭ (Century 16, Century 20) This latest adaptation of the Dickens classic is rich with vibrant imagery and boasts an impressive cast, with funnyman Jim Carrey at the forefront. The story itself — first published in 1843 — has been adapted and retold so many times that even those who have never opened a book are familiar with its plot and characters. One chill Christmas eve, humorless old miser Ebenezer Scrooge (Carrey) is haunted by the specter of his former business partner Jacob Marley (Gary Oldman) and warned to learn compassion or suffer eternal consequences. Although Dickens has been translated time and time again, this animated adventure is no humbug. Rated PG for scary sequences and images. 1 hour, 36 minutes. — T.H.

LAW ABIDING CITIZEN ✭ (Century 16, Century 20) Gerard Butler plays Clyde Shelton, who must watch helplessly as his wife and daughter are slaughtered by two random, home-invading sickos. When the case reaches the Philadelphia courts, it lands with hotshot prosecutor Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx), who touts his 96-percent conviction rate. In part because he’s unwilling to risk his record, Rice insists on cutting a deal with one perp in order to ensure conviction for the other. Ten years later, Nick is still upwardly mobile, missing his daughter’s violin recital (yet again) to attend an execution. The man strapped to the table is one of Clyde’s tormenters, and when the execution goes horribly wrong, it’s not long before the authorities realize that Clyde has begun his own search for vigilante justice. Rated R for strong bloody brutal violence and torture, a scene of rape, and pervasive language. One hour, 48 minutes. — P.C.

PRECIOUS✭✭✭1/2 (Aquarius) The plight of the protagonist, Claireece Precious Jones, is articulated early on by her school principal: “You’re 16. You’re in junior high school. And you’re pregnant with your second child.” And that’s not the worst of it: Both children were conceived by paternal rape. Plagued by suicidal thoughts and all-but-impossible dreams of fame, fortune and a light-skinned boyfriend out of a BET music video, the overweight Precious languishes in the squalor of a Harlem walk-up, circa 1987, under the thumb of her cruel, fearsome mother Mary (Mo’Nique). Gabourey Sidibe brilliantly embodies the understandably bitter Precious, who shares her heartbreaking despair through extensive narration. Precious begins her longest journey toward hope with the single step of showing up to an alternative school, where patient teacher Blu Rain (Paula Patton) makes a difference with a class of a half-dozen students. Rated R for for child abuse including sexual assault, and pervasive language. One hour, 49 minutes. — P.C.


2012 (PG-13) ★★ Century 16: Fri. at 11:45 a.m; 3:10; 6:45; 8:05 & 10:10 p.m. A Serious Man (R) ★★★★ Century 16: Fri. at 11:50 a.m.; 5:10 & 10:20 p.m. An Education (PG-13) (Not Reviewed) Century 16: Fri. at 2:30 & 7:45 p.m. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (R) ★★ Century 16: Fri. at 11:05 a.m.; 1:55; 4:45; 7:35 & 10:30 p.m. The Blind Side (PG-13) ★★ Century 16: Fri. at 10:05 a.m.; 1:05; 4:05 ;7:05 & 10:05 p.m. Disney’s A Christmas Carol (PG) ★★★ Century 16: Fri. at 11:10 a.m.; 2:20: 4:55; 7:20 & 9:50 p.m. Fantastic Mr. Fox (PG) (Not Reviewed) Century 16: Fri. at 10:55 a.m.; 1:15; 3:25; 5:35; 7:50 & 10:10 p.m. The Men Who Stare At Goats (R) (Not Reviewed) Century 16: Fri. at 11:35 a.m.; 2:05; 4:30; 7:25 & 10:15 p.m. Ninja Assassin (R) (Not Reviewed) Century 16: Fri. at 11:30 a.m.; 2:15; 4:50; 7:30 & 10:25 p.m. Old Dogs (PG) (Not Reviewed) Century 16: Fri. at 10:50 a.m.; 1:05; 3:25; 5:40; 7:55 & 10:20 p.m. Pirate Radio (R) ★★★ CinéArts at Palo Alto Square: Fri. at 1:45, 4:30, 7:15 & 9:55 p.m. Planet 51 (PG) (Not Reviewed) Century 16: Fri. at 10:10 a.m.11:25 a.m.; 12:35; 1:50; 3:05; 4:20; 5:30; 6:55 & 9:25 p.m. The Road (R) (Not Reviewed) CinéArts at Palo Alto Square: Fri. at 2, 4:40, 7:20 & 10 p.m. The Twilight Saga: New Moon (PG-13) (Not Reviewed) Century 16: Fri. at 10, 10:40, 11 & 11:40 a.m.; 12:20; 1; 1:40; 2, 2:40; 3:20; 4; 4:40; 5, 5:40; 6:20; 7; 7:40; 8:40; 9:20; 10 & 10:40 & 11 p.m. Note: Some Movie Times are incomplete. Please see for up-to-date listings.

AQUARIUS: 430 Emerson St., Palo Alto (266-9260) CENTURY CINEMA 16: 1500 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View (800-326-3264) CENTURY PARK 12: 557 E. Bayshore Blvd., Redwood City (800-326-3264) CENTURY 20 DOWNTOWN: 825 Middlefield Road, Redwood City (800-326-3264) CINEARTS AT PALO ALTO SQUARE: 3000 El Camino Real, Palo Alto (493-3456) GUILD: 949 El Camino Real, Menlo Park (266-9260) SPANGENBERG THEATRE: 780 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto (354-8263) For show times, plot synopses and more information about any films playing at the Aquarius, Guild and Park, visit

■ MOVIECRITICS Please contact Diana Peña, Admissions Coordinator: 408.481.9900 Ext. 4248 or 562 N. Britton Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94085-3841 P: 408.481.9900 • • f: 408.481.9932 ACSI AND WASC ACCREDITATION



S.T.-Susan Tavernetti, J.A.-Jeanne Aufmuth, T.H.-Tyler Hanley

✭ Skip it ✭✭ Some redeeming qualities ✭✭✭ A good bet ✭✭✭✭ Outstanding

For show times, plot synopses, trailers and more movie info, visit and click on movies.



‘Pirate Radio’ rocks

Stars: ★★★ Rating: R for language and some sexual content including brief nudity Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes

By Susan Tavernetti


he 1960s soundtrack can almost float this boat all by itself. And when the DJs on board the British pirate radio ship aren’t spinning vinyl by The Who, The Kinks, Jimi Hendrix, Martha and the Vandellas and other rock ‘n’ roll legends, the exuberant performances of the cast keep this comedy by writerdirector Richard Curtis (“Love Actually”) upbeat. Operating in the North Sea, the pirates transmit the mid1960s explosion of pop rock to British portable radios, homes and workplaces. While the stuffy government-sanctioned BBC won’t play the popular music for even an hour a day, Radio Rock (based on the famed Radio Caroline) offers a “countdown to ecstasy” all day and all of the night. Twenty-three million listeners tune in. Upper-class Quentin (Bill Nighy) helms the old fishing trawler and its motley radio crew who gain star status across the U.K. Philip Seymour Hoffman is electrifying as The Count, an American who lives for the music and threatens to utter the F-word on British radio for the first time. He shares the airwaves with a legendary DJ (Rhys Ifans), an unlikely ladies’ man (Nick Frost), a sweet-natured Irishman (Chris O’Dowd) and an assortment of distinct personalities. But the coming-of-age story really belongs to the sensitive Carl (Tom Sturridge), whose free-spirited mother (Emma Thompson) shipped him off to his godfather’s boat. Expelled from an all-boys school, Carl moves to the all-male ship (with the exception of a lesbian cook played by Katherine Parkinson), and the frat-house atmosphere is just what you’d expect: lots of smoking and drinking — and girls every second Saturday. Scenes cut back and forth from the antics on Radio Rock to the rapt listeners and austere government minister (Kenneth Branagh) who wants to shut the pirates down. Danny Cohen’s lensing, the costuming and the production design capture the period well. The narrative, though, goes adrift. More character- than conflict-driven, the story floats aimlessly in the middle of the film, buoyed only by acting and music. Often the song selections seem too pat. When the fetching Marianne (Talulah Riley) hops onboard, you know Leonard

Cohen will soon be growling “so long” to her. Eleanor (January Jones of “Mad Men”) offers the perfect excuse for the eponymous song by The Turtles. Ultimately, though, the bonds of friendship and a willingness to live and die for the music give the movie what it seeks: a reason for being.

Rhys Ifans from Pirate Radio





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n Mountain View Voice n November 27, 2009

Mountain View Voice 11.27.2009 - Section 1  

Section 1 of the November 27, 2009 edition of the Mountain View Voice

Mountain View Voice 11.27.2009 - Section 1  

Section 1 of the November 27, 2009 edition of the Mountain View Voice