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LAH Dedicates A Stronger Corp Building

After the work that was done on the town's rickety old corporation building, it's probably the safest building to be in during an earthquake.

With as much fanfare as you can possibly devote to a building meant to house tools, trucks and signs, Los Altos Hills dedicated its spiffed up, earthquake-strenghthened maintenance facility on Purissima Road, known as the Corporation Yard Building.

Before using a chain saw as sight gag for the ribbon-cutting, Mayor Rich Larsen recalled how he was taken on a bike ride to see the aging building in 2009 with then-Mayor Breene Kerr and City Manager Carl Cahill.

"Rich, this place is going to fall down," he said they told him. "If you sneeze hard it will go." 

Not anymore. After the council authorized $300,000 to retrofit and improve the building, Larsen only half-joked that if there is an earthquake, "run here, it's the safest place to be."

The appreciative crowd of council member Jean Mordo and Vice Mayor Gary Waldeck, city workers and fire district representatives applauded and celebrated with a barbeque lunch and cake.

The project came in substantially under budget. The town's engineers estimated it would cost $205,000 to do. And the town actually spent $160,465, in large part because the town's three-man maintenance staff, headed by Jacob Asfour, elected to do much of the finish work themselves, painting, putting in the baseboard, installing cabinets, building custom shelves when they needed.

Jitze Couperus described—to much laughter—how the building first got built by an irascible retired contractor, Phil De Rosa, who had built a "kinda rickety barn" on his property on Lupine that "kinda looked like Westwind Barn." He parlayed his building skills and industry contacts into an agreement to build the town a maintenance building that "kinda looked like his barn, which kinda looked like Westwind Barn" if they didn't go after him not getting permits in the first place.

Larsen called the corporation yard building "the backbone of the town," being the base from which 57 miles of road and 96 miles of pathways were serviced.

Street signs are replaced, grass whacked from the roadsides, asphalt compressed, trees cut and chipped, all with the machinery, tools, and supplies here. The repair bays, the workbenches, the breakroom and the training room are here. The town's flail machine for cutting roadside grass, its two backhoes, its trucks and compactors, drills and chippers are housed here.

It was dank and dark and rickety. Now it's a bright and clean, and an everything-in-its-place, big-boys' big-toy workshop.

"This is a first-class town, and we're going to give you first-class service," said a clearly pleased Asfour.

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