December 26, 2001    Los Gatos, California  Since 1881

Los Gatos Weekly-Times
Classifieds Advertising Archives Search About us
Cover Story

    Police and Dog
    Photograph by Paul Myers

    Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police officers Sam Wonnell (left) and Erin Lunsford work with their K-9 unit partners Quarz and Eddie, respectively. An article in the Los Gatos Weekly-Times about Wonnell and Quarz prompted a Los Gatos couple to donate $20,000 so the department could add one more dog to the department.

    The Year in Review 2001

    Developing a sense of community


    The Town of Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce found itself without a staff leader as its executive director, Sheri Lewis, announced her retirement effective Jan. 15.

    Longs Drugs won a double-victory as the Los Gatos Town Council approved not only opening a store at the Rinconada Hills Shopping Center, but also allowing the store to offer film-processing services. Two months earlier, the town's planning commission had approved the opening but put in a place a ban on film-processing services in order to protect an existing shop that offered photo processing. While Longs tried to appeal the ban, Longs' opponent Edie Morad-Ross fought the approval altogether. Council members unanimously upheld the approval and voted 4-1 to lift the ban.

    A construction worker found a child's skull near the intersection of Soda Springs Road and Weaver Street near Lexington Reservoir. DNA tests later revealed that the skull belonged to missing Vallejo girl Xiana Fairchild.


    San Jose couple David and Elizabeth Slavin were sentenced to varying prison or probation terms after they pled guilty to extortion and other financial crimes. The Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department and IRS initiated the investigation in late 1998 after police received complaints that David Slavin had extorted money from and threatened Los Gatos business owners. Slavin, a self-proclaimed martial-arts expert, also blackmailed thousands of dollars from a Monte Sereno woman. The police department's SWAT team arrested Slavin and his wife in June 1999.

    Two-year Council member Barbara Nesbet was unanimously elected mayor of Monte Sereno. Nesbet replaced Suzanne Jackson; Councilman Jack Lucas was appointed vice-mayor.

    The Los Gatos Town Council said yes to a three-lot subdivision on Nina Court after a long game of planning ping-pong. Dividend Homes successfully appealed the planning commission's denial of its application several months earlier, after council members expressed a satisfaction with the road conditions and proposed traffic safety members.

    Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police arrested Santa Cruz County resident Lee Thomas Bjorn, 54, on 11 counts of child molestation after he was spotted at the Los Gatos post office. Bjorn was accused of molesting two Los Gatos girls in the 1970s. He was arrested twice in January for similar allegations in Santa Cruz County but posted bail and disappeared each time. Those arrests followed America's Most Wanted airing of a brief profile on Bjorn.

    Two Los Gatos preschools planned to close, adding to the preschool shortage in the area. Shannon Nursery School faced losing most of its staff; Harwood Hills Country School lost the lease on its property. Preschool staff attributed the shortage to lack of interest in the profession as well as an increase in demand in the Bay Area.

    The Valley Transit Authority released its 2000 congestion management report, which indicated that most major Los Gatos roads would receive a letter grade of C or lower. VTA's John Pilger said, however, that traffic would be alleviated by ramp modifications on highways 17 and 85 and Lark Avenue. The nine improvements planned for Los Gatos would total $50 million and would be funded by a nine-year county sales tax called Measures A + B.

    Bud Lortz
    Photograph by Kathy De La Torre

    The year was marked by many new faces, as town Manager Debra Figone put her management team together. Her team includes a familiar face in a new role--in the spring, Bud Lortz (above) was named director of community development.


    Bud Lortz was appointed to the fill the position of Los Gatos director of community development after two months of doing the work on an interim basis and three years of serving as the assistant director. Lortz, a Santa Cruz resident, replaced Paul Curtis, who left the position in late 2000.

    The saga of the Alma fire station continued as the California Department of Forestry and landowners discovered that there were boundary issues on the site. The leaching field for the station was found to belong to neighboring property owner Jim Rogers. According to the terms of the department's lease, Rogers' property had to return to its natural condition by April. While the state was in the midst of negotiations to purchase the 1 acre from Rogers for around $400,000 they discovered that there was a second leaching field on their own property. They then backed out of the deal and decided to proceed with the existing resources.

    Kansas man Fallon Woodland, 48, was arrested by FBI agents for sexual acts with a minor. Woodland had allegedly driven to Los Gatos in spring 1998 to have sex with a 15-year-old girl he had met on the Internet. After a five-month relationship, the girl cut off all communication with Woodland. A grand jury returned an indictment for traveling across state lines with the intent to engage in a sexual act with a juvenile, and Woodland was arrested in his hometown of Roeland Park.

    Los Gatos Town Council agreed to enter into a $76,000 contract with Kaku Associates for what it said was the downtown parking study. Consultant Pat Gibson repeated that he was going to work with the data that had been collected from previous parking studies.

    After a month of picketing that culminated in an overnight mediation session, teachers in the Loma Prieta Joint Union Elementary School District received two-year contracts and higher salaries. Although the teachers didn't receive the 15 percent raises they wanted, they received retroactive 12 percent raises from the period that covers Feb. 1 to June 30 and a 13 percent raise after June 30. They received another raise in September.

    Council members voted 3-2 to approve the design of the bandstand for the historic Lyndon cupola. The 46-foot-high and 30-foot-wide bandstand will serve as a venue for musical and theatrical performances. Town council did not, however, approve a specific location within Oak Meadow Park for the bandstand because the park was also being considered as the site for a skatepark.

    Photograph by Kathy De La Torre

    Former Los Gatos council member Jan Hutchins realized a dream when he opened the Los Gatos Yoga Center.


    Cupertino Development Corporation's 42-unit apartment complex was approved by the Los Gatos Town Council after the developer agreed to some minor changes. The complex, on Blossom Hill Road and Placer Oaks Drive, included seven below-market-price units. Council members approved the project in spite of fierce opposition from neighbors.

    The Gay-Straight Alliance Club at Los Gatos High School wore black clothing and ate lunch together in silence to mourn the prejudice faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Club members called the event "Day of Silence" to symbolically show how homophobia silences people. Club members said the silence was both ironic and powerful, in that they used silence to end silence and promote discussion about homophobia.

    Washington transplant and motorcyclist Janice Balfour took the position of new executive director for the Town of Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce.

    Four of the five members of Monte Sereno's Historic Preservation Committee resigned in protest after the city allowed a 110-year-old Victorian residence to be demolished to make room for a 6,000-square-foot home. Committee members said they thought the city was unwilling to change its ineffective historic preservation ordinance and develop one with teeth.

    The state announced the amounts awarded as a result of Proposition 12, a bond act passed in March 2000. Los Gatos was given $276,000 and Monte Sereno $39,000 to use on projects for local parks. Because Monte Sereno residents use Los Gatos parks, the city predicted that the $39,000 would go to Los Gatos.

    In a rare move, the Los Gatos Planning Commissioners approved a hillside home the first time it came before them. The applicant, Jay Pochop, had spent time doing extensive research and sitting in on town meetings before submitting his plans for a 5,000-square-foot, single-story home on Larga Vista Drive. Commissioners commended Pochop for taking the time to understand what the commissioners were looking for.

    Three local men were indicted by a federal grand jury on several different tax-related charges. Los Gatan Yong Uk "Paul" Ko, 44, was charged with one count of filing false federal income tax returns and one count of conspiracy. Ko's brother Yong Ho "James" and co-worker Jungah "Joanne" Choi, both of San Jose, were also arrested on similar charges. Yong Ho Ko was allegedly the ringleader of the financial crimes that were committed.

    Trouble brewed at Los Gatos High School as the dismissal of sprinting and jumping coach Chioke Robinson led to friction between the administration and the head track coach. Coach Willie Harmatz claimed that Robinson had not been dismissed and was still on campus serving in official capacities, while Principal Trudy McCulloch said a letter had been sent to Robinson more than a month earlier, which made the school's actions clear.

    Photograph by Paul Myers

    Luke Hansen moves debris during a ceremony marking the demolition of Guadalupe College. The property, long uninhabited, will become six luxury homes and nearly 30 acres of open space.


    San Jose police arrested Lester Bernard Decker, 55, at the 7-Eleven on E. Main Street. Decker, an outdoor education teacher who lived in Watsonville, was charged with two counts of attempting to send harmful materials to a minor via the Internet and one count of attempted child molestation. Decker had allegedly chatted online with a 13-year-old boy--in actuality a San Jose police officer--and set up a meeting with the "boy" to perform sexual acts. Bail was set at $1 million.

    After being on the job for a mere 10 months, Larry Perlin resigned as the Los Gatos director of parks and public works. Perlin said he was frustrated with the job's long hours and the administrative duties he was forced to face. He did, however, agree to stay on as an interim town engineer to oversee several projects that he had managed as the director.

    The Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District Board of Trustees authorized the district to borrow $5 million for its construction projects, after construction workers encountered unexpected obstacles on the Los Gatos High School campus. Board members decided to repay the loan with revenues received through the town redevelopment agency.

    Riviera Terrace of Los Gatos apartments were sold to Sobrato Development, leading to an increase in rent of at least $400 for a one-bedroom unit, to as much as $1,800. The increase on the 30-year-old complex was made possible through the town's rent ordinance, which allowed new owners to pass through to tenants their losses incurred by the sale. Residents said the rent increase was unreasonable; at the same time, they also said the new management team was an improvement over the previous management.

    The town filled two key positions with the hiring of Monica Pagani and Steve Conway. Pagani, 33, started working 30 hours a week as the town's senior case manager. An advocate for Los Gatos seniors, Pagani was an employee of Jewish Family Service of Silicon Valley. The town entered into a yearlong contract with the organization for a part-time senior case manager. Conway, 45, left his position as controller for the Santa Clara Valley Water District to become Los Gatos' director of finance and administrative services. The position opened up in January after Michele Braucht resigned.

    Developer Bill Errico managed to get his Farley Road mixed-use proposal through the Los Gatos Planning Commission after promising to reserve three of the six one-bedroom apartments for teachers. Errico said he would enter into an agreement with the Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District to fill those apartments. In addition, one of the apartments would rent at below-market price. The project also comprised a 46,000-square-foot storage building and an existing single-family home.

    It only took developer Joe McCarthy four years of working with the town and neighbors to finalize his proposal to demolish the former Guadalupe College and build six luxury homes in its place. Planning commissioners approved of the plan after McCarthy proposed to form an independent mutual water company for the development, since the homes could not be serviced by the San Jose Water Company. More than half of the 58-acre property would be dedicated as open space.

    LGHS Graduates
    Photograph by Paul Myers

    Graduates from the Class of 2001 head for their seats at the Los Gatos High School commencement in June.


    Voters in the Los Gatos Union School District approved a $91 million general obligation bond to renovate and repair the aging 40-to-50-year-old schools in the district. The bond passed with an 85 percent vote. A nine-year, $150-per-parcel tax to pay for a teacher salary increase in the Loma Prieta Joint Union Elementary School District, however, fell short of the mark.

    The Los Gatos Elks Club's idea for a development on the corner of Newell Avenue and Winchester Boulevard came under heavy fire by residents of the neighborhood. More than 100 residents signed a petition opposing the Elks' application for a 7,700-square-foot office building across the street from the Elks Lodge.

    Budget talks went relatively smoothly, as the Los Gatos Town Council gave the biggest slice of the $23.3 million pie to the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department, which received 35 percent of it. Part of the money would go toward two new police motorcycles. The town's parks and public works department was given 20 percent of the total budget.

    Linda Gallo became the town's first senior coordinator, hired to develop a senior program for the town and to work with other agencies.

    As required by law, Santa Clara County redrew its supervisorial district boundaries in order to distribute the population equally over all five districts. It was proposed that Monte Sereno be shifted from Supervisor Don Gage's district--which included Los Gatos--into Supervisor Liz Kniss' district, encompassing Palo Alto, Saratoga and Los Altos. Monte Sereno Mayor Barbara Nesbet criticized the redistricting process, saying the city had received insufficient notice. Nesbet pointed out that the city identified with Los Gatos more than it did with Saratoga.

    Two major projects were approved by the Los Gatos Town Council with little to no controversy. Local teachers scored when developer Bill Errico's mixed-use development on Farley Road passed muster--three of the six apartments would be reserved for teachers from the Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint High School District and the Los Gatos Union School District. An additional apartment would be rented out at below-market rate. The commercial component of the project was a 46,000-square-foot storage facility.

    Fourth of July
    Photograph by Paul Myers

    Some 3,000 Los Gatans participated in the town's first ever all-day downtown Fourth of July celebration that included games at the civic center.


    Los Gatos celebrated the Fourth of July with a big old-fashioned patriotic celebration. The town spearheaded the event and received a lot of support from the Chamber of Commerce and a number of community organizations and service clubs. The activities started early and lasted through an evening of Yankee Doodle Dancing. The day began with lunch, entertainment and games at the civic center, followed by the traditional pop concert on the Los Gatos High School lawn. Following the concert, the Chamber hosted an ice-cream social, serving some 2,500 people. Twilight concert and dancing followed from 7 to 10 p.m. in the Town Plaza. An estimated 3,000 Los Gatos residents participated in the day's activities.

    Alta Transportation Consulting held a community meeting to discuss the proposed Union Pacific Railroad trail through Los Gatos, Campbell, Saratoga and Cupertino. The trail would start near Highway 280 and Foothill Boulevard on the northernmost point and end at Winchester Boulevard, near the Los Gatos Creek Trail. If approved, the trail was expected to serve as a transportation corridor for commuters and De Anza and West Valley College students.

    Former Los Gatos High School softball coach Todd Lafferty, 27, waived his rights to a preliminary trial for the charges against him of sexual acts with minors. The preliminary trial would have been an opportunity for the judge to determine whether or not there was sufficient evidence to proceed with a formal trial. Lafferty was arrested in September 2000 for sexual crimes involving four underage girls from Los Gatos High School and Westmont High School.

    Sobrato Development came to the town's conceptual development advisory committee with its proposal to build 100 new housing units and rent 123 existing apartments at below-market rates. Riviera Terrace of Los Gatos, a Sobrato-owned complex off University Avenue, was at its maximum land density. In order to add more housing on the site, Sobrato had to provide a significant benefit to the town--which was to add 123 apartments to the town's low-income housing pool. Members of the committee, however, said the traffic and other effets on the surrounding neighborhood would outweigh the community benefit.

    Redwood trees on the 1,071-acre Bear Creek Open Space Preserve near the Lexington Reservoir were caught in a struggle between a Los Gatan and the open space district. Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District had acquired the land in June 1999, and the timber rights to the land had been sold under the old owner to Big Creek Lumber Company. Los Gatos resident Candi Wozniak was enraged by Big Creek's plan to harvest 460 acres of redwoods. Wozniak attempted to negotiate several agreements that would save 45 trees near her property, with no success and eventually got a temporary restraining order against Big Creek. Finally, Wozniak paid the lumber company $50,000 not to touch the 45 redwoods.

    Georgette and Jess Sanchez
    Photograph by Paul Myers

    Georgette Sanchez, and her husband, Jess, listen as Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police talk to an audience in the Los Gatos Town Council Chambers about the disappearance of their daughter, Jeanine Sanchez Harms.


    The Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department added a second K-9 unit when officer Erin Lunsford partnered up with 20-month-old German shepherd Eddy von Pinienwald. Lunsford was selected as dog handler after a series of interviews early in the year. A Los Gatos couple read about the first K-9 unit, officer Sam Wonnell and Quarz, and donated $20,000 of the $50,000 that it cost to acquire Eddy.

    Greenbriar Land Company's application to build 19 homes on an 80-acre hillside parcel was denied by the town, even though the developer scaled back its initial 30-home plan. The Los Gatos Town Council instead sent the project back to the town's planning commission, recommending that Greenbriar put a maximum of 14 homes at the Shannon and Hicks roads site. Greenbriar's plan was to set aside 46 of the acres as open space.

    Campbell native Jeanine Sanchez Harms, who disappeared from her Los Gatos home in July, was described by friends and family as outgoing and responsible. Harms, 42, was a purchasing manager for the Sunnyvale company Amdahl and lived in a duplex on Chirco Drive. She spent an evening socializing in Campbell, went back to her home with an acquaintance, and has not been heard from since.

    Longtime Los Gatan and former town manager Russell Cooney, 87, died in a Los Angeles nursing home of natural causes. Town manager from 1967 to 1976 and Los Gatos resident for more than 30 years, Cooney was involved in several town committees and social organizations. Friends and family eulogized Cooney as "outstanding," "straightforward," "knowledgeable" and "well-liked."

    Los Gatos Mayor Joe Pirzynski and Los Gatos Cinema owners Jack NyBlom and Jim Zuur worked on the concept of creating the inaugural Los Gatos Film Festival, a free, two-day event for the community. Pirzynski pitched the idea to his fellow council members, saying the event would "enhance the community." The initial proposal was to reserve a Friday evening and Saturday during the fall or spring, using Oak Meadow Park and Los Gatos Cinema to show family-friendly films. Zuur and NyBlom envisioned an event similar to one evening of the Telluride Film Festival, which had locals watching movies under the stars.

    The town made preparations to hold its first Leadership Los Gatos program, intended to increase participation in the community. The nine-month program was focused on getting people involved in town committees and commissions. Participants would meet once a month and learn about town issues and institutions such as education, the police department and media relations, at a cost of $250 per person.

    Project Sentinel held an informal mediation session between management and resident representatives of Riviera Terraces of Los Gatos apartments. Most tenants had received notices of a $429 rent increase since the complex was purchased by Sobrato Development in April. According to the tenants, the rent was too great for the quality of the apartments, and such a rent increase was unreasonable with the current economic condition of the area.

    A gateway project for Los Gatos was more complicated than it looked because its location on Los Gatos Boulevard and Burton Road brought a host of town development issues and transportation questions. As a result, Los Gatos planning commissioners decided to postpone making a decision on developer Bill Errico's plan for a two-story office and retail building until more research was done on the Valley Transportation Authority and town policy.

    After less than five months on the job, Janice Balfour resigned as the Town of Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce executive director. Balfour's abrupt resignation came because of personal reasons and not an unhappiness with the job, said her temporary replacement, Shelly Huff.

    SummerHill Homes' application to build two homes in its existing development took a strange twist at a Los Gatos Planning Commission meeting when development residents said SummerHill was not to be trusted. The Heritage Grove homeowners spoke of poor construction and maintenance of their homes by SummerHill. A motion to approve SummerHill's application was tied, with only four of the seven commissioners present, leading to a rescheduling of the hearing.

    Photograph by Paul Myers

    First-graders at St. Mary's School participate in a morning prayer service on Sept. 12 for victims and families of those affected by the terrorist attack on Sept. 11.


    The Carole Sund/Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation held a press conference to announce its contribution of $5,000 to Jeanine Sanchez Harms' reward fund. Harms, a Los Gatos resident, had been missing for more than a month when the announcement was made. The foundation was named after the Modesto woman who, along with her daughter and a friend, was killed by Yosemite man Cary Stayner in 1999.

    The New Millennium Foundation held its first-ever fundraiser to raise $250,000 for construction cost overruns and new classroom supplies at Los Gatos High School. The foundation's fundraising weekend, held the same weekend as two class reunions, included a reception for alumni football players and a silent auction after a varsity football game. At the game, Town Manager Debra Figone proclaimed the weekend "New Millennium Foundation Official Reunion Weekend."

    Consultant Pat Gibson presented the findings of a six-month study on the parking situation in downtown Los Gatos to the town council, resulting in passage of several parking measures. Council members voted to consider changing the parking restrictions around the high school and in the Almond Grove area, increasing the cost of parking tickets to $35, and doing some lot restructuring to gain more spaces.

    Todd Lafferty, 27, pleaded guilty or no contest to sex charges involving four underage girls. The former Los Gatos High School softball coach entered in the pleas more than a year after he was arrested for crimes with girls ranging from 15 to 17 years old.

    When United Airlines flight 93 went down in Pennsylvania from a terrorist hijacking, two Los Gatos High School graduates perished with it: Mark Bingham, 31, and Todd Beamer, 32. Bingham, a public relations executive who commuted between San Francisco and New York, spent his teenage years in Redwood Estates. He graduated from Fisher Middle School and Los Gatos High School in 1988. Beamer only lived in Los Gatos for the 1986 to 1987 school year but established a name for himself as a basketball and baseball player.

    Monte Sereno hired a consultant to come up with a plan to build 76 housing units as required by state law. The state required each jurisdiction to have a certain amount of housing and for a plan to meet that amount to be contained in the jurisdictions' housing element.

    Racial tensions from the terrorist attacks hit home when Los Gatos business owner Jahan Dohkt Hill received several strange phone calls and her car was vandalized. Hill, who is Iranian by birth, was told in anonymous phone calls to leave the country. Her Land Rover was also damaged, evidently on purpose and singled out.

    Friends and family members of West Valley student Nicole Miller moved shakily forward in the aftermath of her death on Sept. 11, holding on to the relationships they had built with her in her short life and the fact that passengers on her Flight 93 had thwarted another major disaster by forcing the plane down in rural Pennsylvania.

    Kids and Pumpkin
    Photograph by Paul Myers

    Emilia Zanardi (right, back) and her friend Meg Franklin get the giggles while carving pumpkins at Franklin's house in Los Gatos.


    Los Gatos and Monte Sereno were at odds over which traffic improvements were needed at the intersection of Winchester Boulevard and Daves Avenue. At a Los Gatos Town Council meeting, council members voted to install a stoplight at the intersection, despite opposition from residents. Two days later, the public successfully lobbied for Monte Sereno to consider other alternatives, such as a roundabout. Both jurisdictions were paying for half of the $25,000 traffic engineering study of Winchester Boulevard, between Vineland Avenue and Blossom Hill Road.

    A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge sentenced Todd Lafferty, 27, to two years in a state prison and three years' probation. In September, former Los Gatos High School softball coach Lafferty had pleaded guilty or no contest to seven charges of sexual crimes involving four minors. The father of the victim known as Jane Doe Three said he had hoped for an apology from Lafferty at the sentencing, but Lafferty did not apologize.

    Perhaps the town's biggest development to date, Sobrato's 12.3-acre mixed-use project, came before the Los Gatos Planning Commission. The proposal included a 328,000-square-foot research facility and 105 apartments. The major benefits of the proposal, Sobrato representatives said, was that it would add affordable housing to the town and its location at Winchester Boulevard and Highway 85 would facilitate the anticipated light rail station. Planning commissioners had concerns with traffic, land density and Sobrato's assumption that light rail was a sure thing, and continued the hearing to Jan. 9.

    An old pipeline near Lexington Reservoir forced the San Jose Water Company to close part of Los Gatos Creek Trail for five months. The closed area started just south of Main Street and ended at the reservoir. Along with fixing the pipeline, the water company improved the trail by planting additional trees, smoothing the walking path and installing benches.

    At a study session, Los Gatos Town Council decided that developer Barry Swenson's housing proposal would not justify demolishing the Los Gatos Mobile Home Park. Swenson wanted to replace the 71 mobile homes with 53 single-family homes and eight apartments. Swenson's decision to make 16 of those units below market price was not enough of a community benefit to get rid of the 71 existing affordable housing units, the town concluded.

    As part of state redistricting, Los Gatos and Monte Sereno were moved into new state Assembly and Senate districts. Monte Sereno was also moved into a new congressional district. Those changes would not take place until after the next election in each district, some in 2002, others in 2004.

    John Curtis, 60, left his position as Belmont's public works director and became Los Gatos' new director of parks and public works. The Redwood Shores resident had a track record for bringing stability to the job.

    Developer Bill Errico's proposal for a gateway project on Los Gatos Boulevard and Burton Road hurdled through the Los Gatos Planning Commission with little controversy. Commissioners approved the design of the office and retail building and recommended that the town council approve the requested zone change.


    The county postponed a decision on a hillside residential application that could have necessitated moving the Alma fire station's helipad. Developer Jim Rogers' proposal to build two luxury homes directly under the flight path of the CDF helicopter enraged locals and town officials, who said the helicopter was essential to the safety of the town. The town asked the county to consider allowing the helicopter to remain and to require an environmental impact report of the condition. The county held off making a decision until it checked out the legality of the town's requests.

    A debate among West Valley and Mission College District board members over the placement of flags in classrooms spread to national radio and television talk shows. Trustee Don Wolfe's proposal to make flags mandatory in all classrooms at both colleges failed in a 4-3 vote of the trustees. Another vote to make flags available to all instructors at the college's expense was approved by the trustees. But Wolfe and several residents in attendance argued that the original vote was unpatriotic and alerted the Bay Area and national media.

    Damage inflicted on Santa Rosa Drive homes led to the town's receiving permission to shoot and kill feral pigs that dug up town property. Approximately 15 pigs caused hundreds of dollars' worth of damage to front yards and landscaping in the neighborhood. Town ranger David Gray applied for and was granted a depredation permit, allowing the town to remove any feral pigs from town property.

    Residents came before the Los Gatos Parks Commission with a proposal for an off-leash dog park at Belgatos Park. The Unchained Love Project proposed to change the upper meadow of Belgatos into a fenced-off enclosure for dogs. The facility would include water fountains for canines, an agility center and plastic bag dispensers. In response, the parks commission formed a subcommittee to work on the proposal.

    A town-conducted car count of the vehicles leaving Hillbrook School indicated that Hillbrook had gone over its maximum allowable number of cars and violated its conditional-use permit. Hillbrook parents and staff gave reasons for the violation, but Los Gatos Planning Commissioners said the school was making excuses. The commission gave Hillbrook one month to bring the numbers down or face revocation of the permit.

    The annual changing of the mayorship gave Randy Attaway, 52, his third term as mayor of Los Gatos. Attaway said his primary goal was to ensure that the town's capital improvement projects--such as the Town Plaza Park renovation and intersection work--were completed in 2002. Councilwoman Sandy Decker, 60, was appointed vice mayor. Former Mayor Joe Pirzynski, 57, ended his term by thanking his wife, town staff and the community.

    Hotel Construction
    Photograph by Tsutomu Fujita

    Los Gatans kept watch during the year of the progress of the Los Gatos Hotel on E. Main Street.


    Los Gatos developer Pete Denevi was awarded a judgment of $10 million against San Jose developer Barry Swenson, after a judge determined that Swenson had failed to make payments on Denevi's golf course land deal. Denevi had planned to turn 210 acres of land near Lexington Reservoir into a country club and golf course. Denevi argued that he lost the property because Swenson, Denevi's partner, failed to make a payment to Arlie Land and Cattle Co. As a result, Denevi lost the land when Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District acquired the property and turned it into the Beer Creek Open Space Preserve.

    Local pediatric specialist Richard Fox, who spearheaded a drive two years ago to build a children's hospital in the undeveloped area of town known as the North Forty, returned with a scaled down version of a children's health clinic that could be up and running in short order and at considerably less cost. Fox said the proposal was to renovate the former Akamba Corporation headquarters on Los Gatos Boulevard beginning in January. Problem was, he had not sought town approval for the change in land use.

    The Los Gatos General Plan Committee voted to recommend denial of the Los Gatos Elks Club's requested zone change. Although the Elks changed their Newell Avenue project from an office building to an office building with four apartments, neighbors and committee members were still unsatisfied. Committee members said they would only make a positive recommendation if the project showed more of a community benefit or if it was residences only.

    Anna Esparza's ability to multitask was one of her attributes that got her the job of new executive director of the Town of Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce. Most recently, Esparza, 47, was the San Jose Jazz Festival's director of festival operations.

    Jack Lucas, 71, was named mayor of Monte Sereno for the fifth and final time. Councilman Erin Garner opposed his nomination, saying either he or Councilman David Baxter would lose a chance to become mayor if Lucas was mayor again. Fellow council members, however, disagreed with Garner and voted for Lucas. Baxter was nominated as vice mayor.

    Further car counts on Hillbrook School's campus indicated that the school was again in compliance with the town's requirements. Although Los Gatos planning commissioners let Hillbrook keep its conditional-use permit, neighbors complained about speeding, excessive use of the school and parents who dropped students off in nearby locations to avoid being included in the car count. Commissioners recommended that the neighbors call the police when such incidents happened.

    McHugh Lincoln Mercury, a Los Gatos business for 33 years, closed the doors of its Los Gatos Boulevard location and Swanson Ford moved in. Harlan McHugh said he moved his dealership to Capitol Expressway because he was given the chance to have a 3.5-acre space, instead of the Los Gatos Boulevard 2.1 acres. McHugh struck a deal with the Swanson dealership to take over the property, allowing Swanson to expand its dealership at Blossom Hill Road and Los Gatos Boulevard.

    Representatives from the Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center presented plans to demolish the existing buildings on its Oka Road property and build one large building in its place. Planning commissioners and residents agreed that the community center was an asset to the community; however, commissioners had some reservations about traffic, facility use and design and continued the hearing to Feb. 27.

    Los Gatos Councilman Steve Glickman and other town officials showed the county parks and recreation commissioners the town's plans for a skatepark at Vasona Lake County Park. Commissioners gave mixed reviews of the proposal, saying although a skatepark would be a good thing, Vasona may not be the right place for it. Commissioners decided to tour the park together in January 2002 and review the application at a February meeting.

    Having worked with various town officials in the past, Marty Woodworth, 45, was excited about becoming the town's first redevelopment agency manager. Woodworth knew Town Manager Debra Figone and Finance and Administrative Services Director Steve Conway while each was working in San Jose and Campbell, respectively. Woodworth's new duties included focusing on development and infrastructure in the downtown area, helping the business community in Los Gatos and working on affordable housing in town.

    The Los Gatos Town Council approved spending $1.5 million on designing and constructing improvements for Town Plaza Park, more than twice the previously budgeted amount. The difference in cost was attributed to inflation over time and added improvements, including a new fountain. Town staff said they would come back to the council in February 2002 with a finalized design for the park.

    The Year in Review was compiled by Gloria Wang, with assistance from Oakley Brooks and Rebecca Ray.

Cover Story
2001 Year in Review

News Briefs

Undercover operation culminates in drug arrests at LGHS

Town Plaza slated for major makeover

Photo: Out of this world Christmas

Letters & Opinions

Editorial: Looking ahead to 2002

Town focused on community-building in 2001

Valley Homes
The Real Deal

Realtors create gift packages for needy families through Operation Reindeer

Local Home Sale Listings

Around Town
The Prowler

New Forbes Mill exhibit features toy favorites from the past

Main Street

Picture From the Past

Sensitive species require frost protection

Oakville Grocery features gourmet gift items


Sports Briefs

Quarterback Trent Edwards named CCS player of the year

Lectures, readings, auditions, sports & recreation,announcements, theater & arts, kids' stuff, clubs, public meetings...

Something to say?

Copyright © SVCN, Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.