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[whitespace] News From Silicon Valley's Neighborhoods

Believing in Ferries
A billion-dollar plan to ease traffic jams with commuter ferries has the Bay Area bubbling with joy, but it won't offer much help for Silicon Valley.

Complex Issue
Cupertino--Several weeks ago Cupertino's councilmembers joined the forces of light when they approved architectural guidelines aimed at quashing the dreaded "monster house" syndrome. But as the good folk in City Hall are finding, oversized ugliness is positively epidemic! Take apartment buildings, for example. The giant-stucco-box look just isn't compatible with Cupertino's new vision of esthetic correctness, and the privacy of single-story neighbors has become a grave issue of late. Last week the council voted to investigate ways of making apartment buildings less intrusive and reduce their size.

Los Gatos Gordos
Los Gatos--Are fat cats running independent storeowners out of Old Town Los Gatos? Lately, small boutique merchants have been packing up their knicknacks and potpourri and seeking cheaper pastures, citing unmanageable rent hikes that have climbed as much as 50 percent since big chain stores like The Gap and Banana Republic came to town. A new Economic Development Subcommittee of the Chamber of Commerce is looking to Palo Alto and other posh downtowns for inspiration on balancing moneymaking chain stores with image-making local shops.

It's the Pits
Sunnyvale--Open space, schmopen space! What this valley needs is more strip malls and apartments! Good thing Irvine Apartment Communities has proposed a 300-apartment, 1,000-parking-space, seven-store development for the old 15-acre Olson cherry orchard at El Camino Real and Mathilda Ave. The Olson place was Sunnyvale's last orchard, and now the city won't even have a museum piece to celebrate its agricultural heritage, but the cherry tree shall not disappear altogether. Oh, no: a row of them will line the perimeter of the massive parking lot. So even if you pave Paradise, you can use its plants for landscaping.

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