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MOUNTED PATROL honors chuck wagon cook and physician Walter Cole | PAGE 5


M A R C H 3 , 2 0 1 0 | VO L . 4 5 N O. 2 7

New Life in the Vineyard

Woodside ‘garagistes’ Paul Smith and his wife, Robin, turn acreage to vines, and offer small-production pinot noir to their community | SEE SECTION 2

W W W. T H E A L M A N AC O N L I N E . C O M Go to for the Bay Area’s only complete online open home guide.

AT H E R TO N Complete with a gracious backdrop of towering redwoods, this just-completed 2-story residence evokes the Old World ambiance of a Spanish colonial manor. Includes 5bd in the 7677+/sf main home each with their own bath. Multiple fireplaces, home theatre, custom wine cellar, and a 1bd guest house.


WO O D S I D E Gracious and lovely 5bd/5ba, 6200+/-sf home on 2 levels, on a 2.18+/-acre lot with views looking west to the hills and south to the Peninsula and Bay. Built in 1991, this home has a large, beautiful living room, library/den, generous dining room, chef's kitchen and family room.


WO O D S I D E Beautifully updated contemporary home sits tucked in a private Shangri-La of 1.12+/-acres. Country gardens and towering redwood trees encircle the 3bd/2ba home. Outdoor living at its best complete with spa, deck and out-door kitchen. Flowing floor plan with large expanses of glass promotes the natural setting.


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Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac

Here’s looking at you, Woodside Thousands of daffodils, heralds of the coming spring, preside over the passing scene from Village Hill in central Woodside. A group of residents who call themselves the Landscape Committee is responsible for having planted some 14,000 flowers on the hill.

Study: Atherton Library needs to double in size


Also Inside

On the cover

Community . . . . . . . . . . 18 Editorial. . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Guest opinion . . . . . . . . 15 Obituaries . . . . . . . . 12, 13 Regional Heritage . . . . 14

Winemaker Paul Smith and his wife, Robin, planted four blocks of vines on their Woodside property about 10 years ago. Now, they produce pinot noir ‘garagiste’ style, distributing only in Woodside, under the label GBH Vineyard. Photo by Michelle Le. See Section 2 for the story.

CALLING ON THE ALMANAC The Almanac Editorial offices are at 3525 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park, CA 94025. Classified ads: Newsroom: Newsroom fax: Advertising: Advertising fax:

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■ E-mail news, information, obituaries and photos (with captions) to: ■ E-mail letters to the editor to:

To request free delivery, or stop delivery, of The Almanac in zip code 94025, 94027, 94028 and the Woodside portion of 94062, call 854-2626.

THE ALMANAC (ISSN 1097-3095 and USPS 459370) is published every Wednesday by Embarcadero Media, 3525 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park, CA 940256558. Periodicals Postage Paid at Menlo Park, CA and at additional mailing offices. Adjudicated a newspaper of general circulation for San Mateo County, The Almanac is delivered free to homes in Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley and Woodside. Subscriptions for $60 per year or $100 per 2 years are welcome. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to the Almanac, 3525 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park, CA 94025-6558. Copyright ©2010 by Embarcadero Media, All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.







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lion, said Louise Ho, Atherton’s finance director. In researching the library’s needs, the consultants met with focus groups and conducted a survey of people who use the library. Ms. Lewis said she was concerned about the small sample size, with just under 150 survey responses. Councilman Charles Marsala pointed out that the survey failed to mention that there was money available for library improvements. Councilman Jerry Carlson expressed concerns about the library’s parking constraints and the possible impact of the planned high-speed rail line. The library study is certain to be the topic of more public meetings and debate before any decisions are made about expanding or improving it. Go to and scroll down to item No. 7 to see the full needs assessment report online.


therton’s quaint little branch library needs to more than double in size, expand its collection and make a number of improvements, according to a recently completed study. “Clearly, we need to enhance our library,” said Councilwoman Elizabeth Lewis after hearing a presentation on the library’s needs at the Feb. 17 council meeting. The library is housed in a renovated home near the Atherton train station, behind the Town Council chambers. Pamela Brule and Brad Cox of Anderson Brule Architects, the firm hired by the San Mateo County Library, presented the 100-page needs assessment report to the City Council. The library should be expanded from its current 4,790 square feet to approximately 11,100 square feet in order to better accommodate its

patrons, according to the report. At its current size, the library can’t accommodate an adequate collection of books and materials, according to the report. It should also increase seating areas and the number of public computers, provide a separate area for events and programs, and create dedicated spaces for children, teens and quiet study, the report said. Handicap accessibility improvements are also needed, as well as a reconfiguration of staff offices. While such grandiose improvements may sound like a pipe dream, the Atherton library has a large pot of “donor city” funds at its disposal. The Atherton branch library is one of three in San Mateo County that receives more income from property tax revenue than it costs to operate. The excess money goes into a dedicated fund for library improvements. By June, the Atherton library’s fund is expected to reach $4.6 mil-


Almanac Staff Writer


By Andrea Gemmet





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Mounted Patrol honors chuck wagon cook and physician By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


life of action in a white coat and, alternatively, in a Western saddle, has been the lot of Portola Valley resident Walter J. Cole, a Stanford dermatologist, cow roper, occasional veterinary consultant, community benefactor and chuck wagon mess cook, from all of which he has retired. In view of his many accomplishments in the community and his 57 years of participation in the Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County, the Woodside-based association has named Dr. Cole, now 94 and no longer riding, the Outstanding HorsepersonCitizen of 2009. “He (is one of) the last surviving members of a small group that organized and moved the patrol forward for our continuing enjoyment,” patrol member Bill Wraith wrote in announcing Dr. Cole’s award. “His fellow professionals, (Mounted) Patrol and other horse friends join us in honoring him with this special award.” Dr. Cole grew up with horses in Manitoba, Canada, where his father, a surveyor for the railroad, kept a herd of 40, Mr. Wraith said. He studied medicine in college, served as a surgeon in the Royal Canadian Navy, and completed post-graduate studies at Johns Hopkins and Stanford universities and the University of California at San Francisco, and was a medical school professor at the latter two. His local dermatology

practice started in 1955 and he retired in 1991, Mr. Wraith said. In the local hills, he helped cut trails from the Mounted Patrol grounds on Kings Mountain Road to Towne Ranch in La Honda, Mr. Wraith said. Dr. Cole was a regular on cattle drives and round-ups and co-authored “Chuck’s On,” a cowboy cookbook published by the California Beef Council, with whom he sponsored Mounted Patrol’s first barbecue pit. Dr. Cole had run the barbecue at county fairs for years, organized Mounted Patrol blood donations, participated in searchand-rescue missions, and arranged nursing scholarships at UCSF, Mr. Wraith said. Artist with rope

Much of Dr. Cole’s work with cattle took place in the hills above Portola Valley at ranches with names such as Marthin, Mariani, Piers and Conley, he said in an interview. On roping days, Dr. Cole would be part of a team of cowboys who gathered in a corral to brand, dehorn (if necessary), vaccinate and castrate (the males), one animal at a time. Since the cattle tended to be uncooperative to these ministrations, the mounted cowboys would capture them by “heading and heeling”: immobilizing the cow with rope lassos looped around the head and rear heels and pulled in opposing directions.

Photo courtesy of Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County

Walter Cole’s riding days are behind him, but not forgotten by his equestrian buddies. The Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County has named him Outstanding Horseperson-Citizen of 2009.

Dr. Cole was a header. “Cowboys, by and large, were either good headers or good heelers,” he said. A reporter commented that roping days must have been awful for the cattle. “They don’t know where they hurt the most,” Dr. Cole replied. Asked for the key to great cowboy beans, he gave up little by way of secrets: “Everybody’s got their own ideas,” he said. He soaks his beans — either Pinto

or maroon-and-white Anasazi — overnight and cooks them with salt pork and onions, he said. At one end of the spectrum for openfire cooking is food that tastes great, in part because you’re outside, and there’s a very clean pot when the meal’s over. At the other end, at least there’s plenty to eat. Where did his beans place on that scale? “If you don’t like it, don’t eat it,” Dr. Cole replied without hesitation. A

New rules may create major obstacles to Cargill’s plan to build on Bay infill

Goat survives mountain lion attack

By Renee Batti

Almanac Staff Writer

Almanac News Editor


he commission charged with protecting and regulating development in San Francisco Bay is poised to issue new rules that are likely to present major obstacles for the Cargill plan to build a community of up to 12,000 new homes on Bay infill, according to county Supervisor Rich Gordon. Mr. Gordon, who is also a member of the regulating body, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), said the new rules have been drafted to address rising sea levels resulting from climate change. Although no date has been set for the commission to act on the proposed rules — an amendment to the Bay Plan — Mr. Gordon said he

believes the vote will be scheduled by the end of June. A Democratic candidate for the state Assembly’s District 21 seat in the primary election in June, Mr. Gordon said his position on the BCDC makes it inappropriate to take a position on Cargill’s controversial proposal to build up to 12,000 homes on its 1,436 acres of salt ponds along the Bay between Woodside and Marsh roads. But, he added, he expects to support the BCDC’s proposed Bay Plan amendment as now drafted. Mr. Gordon alluded to the proposed amendment during a Feb. 24 forum for Assembly District 21 candidates. He described the new rules as representing See CARGILL, page 8

By Dave Boyce


t was surely 10 minutes of hell for the pygmy goat Henri in Portola Valley on the night of Feb. 18, when an adult mountain lion jumped a 5-foot fence at around 9:30 p.m. at the goat’s Wayside Road home and attacked, biting him in the neck. He’s recovering, owner Susan Nightingale told The Almanac. He has two puncture wounds to his trachea and what appears to be a claw scratch on his back, she said. Ms. Nightingale said she became aware that something was wrong when she heard an unfamiliar “throaty screaming” — a sound of fear — coming from outside. It might be an anguished bird in the nearby wild area, she said she thought. She didn’t see anything on her

Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac

The two scars seen here on the shaved throat of Henri, a pygmy goat, are harsh souvenirs of a Feb. 18 attack by a mountain lion in a fenced yard along Wayside Road in Portola Valley.

first trip outside, she said, but the second time her flashlight illuminated Henri on his side and 25

feet away and inside the fence, a See GOAT, page 8

March 3, 2010 N The Almanac N5

Community Health Education Programs Palo Alto Center 795 El Camino Real Lecture and Workshops 650-853-4873 Managing Chronic Pain Presented by Norman Banks, M.D., M.S., PAMF Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Tuesday, Mar. 9, 7 – 8:30 p.m.

Your Baby’s Doctor Wednesday, Mar. 17, 7 – 9 p.m.

Living Well Classes 650-853-2960 Functional Spine Training First Monday of each month, 5 – 6:30 p.m., 650-853-4873

What You Need to Know About Warfarin (Coumadin) Call for dates and time.

Mountain View Center 701 E. El Camino Real Lecture and Workshops 650-934-7373 Improving South Asian Health: Heart Disease and Diabetes Prevention Presented by Ronesh Sinha, M.D., and Seema Karnik, R.D. Thursday Mar. 11, 7 – 8 p.m.

Sleep and Your Child Marvin Small Memorial Parent Workshop Series Thursday, Mar. 25, 7 – 8:30 p.m.

Nutrition and Diabetes Classes 650-853-2961 Adult Weight Management Group Thursdays, 5:30 – 7 p.m.

Living Well with Diabetes Tuesdays, 4:30 – 7 p.m., or Fridays, 9:30 – noon

Bariatric Pre-Op Class First Tuesday of each month, 9:30 a.m. – noon

Heart Smart Class Third and fourth Tuesday of every other month, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Bariatric Nutrition SMA First Tuesday of each month, 10:30 a.m. – noon

Healthy Eating Type 2 Diabetes Every other month on the third Wednesday, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Prediabetes First Monday of the month, 9 – 11:30 a.m., and every other month of the third Wednesday, 4:30 – 7 p.m.

Gestational Diabetes Wednesdays, 2 – 4 p.m.

Feeding Your Toddler Thursdays every other month. Also in Los Altos, 650-853-2961

Preparing for Birth Thursdays, Mar. 4 – Apr. 8, 7 – 9:15 p.m., Saturdays, Mar. 6, 13 & 20, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., 650-853-2960 Preparing for Childbirth Without Medication Sunday, Mar. 21, 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., 650-853-2960 Breastfeeding: Secrets for Success Saturday, Mar. 27, 10 a.m. – noon, 650-853-2960

Free orientation session. Tuesdays, noon – 1 p.m., and Thursdays, 5 – 6:30 p.m.

Living Well Classes 650-934-7373 Teen Skin Care Saturday, Apr. 3, 10:30 a.m. – noon Supermarket Wise Thursday, Mar. 4, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Feeding Your Toddler Tuesday, Apr. 6, 7 – 9 p.m. For all, register online or call 650-934-7373.

Heart Smart Class Second Tuesday of each month, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. Diabetes Class (two-part class) Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. – noon and Wednesdays, 2 – 4:30 p.m.

Prediabetes Third Thursday of each month, 2 – 4 p.m. Fourth Tuesday of each month, 3 – 5 p.m. Sweet Success Gestational Diabetes Class Wednesdays, 9 a.m. – noon

Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Child Care Classes Feeding Your Preschooler Thursdays every other month. Also in Los Altos, 650-853-2961 Introduction to Solids Offered in Palo Alto. Please call for dates, 650-853-2961.

Support Groups Cancer 650-342-3749 CPAP 650-853-4729 Diabetes 650-224-7872

HMR Weight Management Program 650-404-8260

Nutrition and Diabetes Classes 650-934-7177

Pregnancy, Breastfeeding & Child Care Classes Moving Through Pregnancy Mondays, Mar. 1, 8 & 15, 7 – 9 p.m., 650-853-2960

Effective Communication Strategies with Children Marvin Small Memorial Parent Workshop Series Presented by Susan Stone-Belton, ParentsPlace Tuesday, Mar. 9, 7 – 8:30 p.m.

Drug and Alcohol 650-853-2904 Healing Imagery for Cancer Patients 650-799-5512

Kidney 650-323-2225 Multiple Sclerosis 650-328-0179

Infant Emergencies and CPR Wednesday, Mar. 3, 17 & Apr. 7, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

What to Expect With Your Newborn Tuesday, Mar. 16, 7 – 8 p.m.

OB Orientation Thursdays, Mar. 4 & 18, 6:30 – 8 p.m.

Baby Care Saturday, Mar. 27, 10:30 a.m. – noon

Childbirth Preparation Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays, Mar. 5, 6, 18 & Apr. 2 ,3 & 15. Times vary by class.

Breastfeeding Your Newborn Monday or Tuesday, Apr. 5 or 6, 6:30 – 9 p.m.

Preparing for Baby Tuesday, Mar. 9, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

For all, register online or call 650-934-7373.

Free Appointments 650-934-7373 HICAP Counseling, Advance Health Care Directive Counseling, General Social Services (visits with our social worker)

Support Groups 650-934-7373 AWAKE

Bariatric Surgery


For a complete list of classes and class fees, lectures and health education resources, visit: 6 N The Almanac NMarch 3, 2010



Habitat ready to rebuild more homes By Sean Howell Almanac Staff Writer


abitat for Humanity volunteers are tearing through disused homes in Menlo Park’s Belle Haven neighborhood at a remarkable rate, dismantling non-conforming units, gutting kitchens and bathrooms, installing new plumbing and electrical lines, replacing windows and doors and laying down sheetrock and stucco to prepare the homes for sale to working-class people. The renovations are moving so rapidly, in fact, that Habitat has asked Menlo Park to help it buy five homes in addition to the five purchases the city has already helped fund, as part of a program to purchase and repair bank-owned properties in a neighborhood that has experienced a rash of foreclosures during the economic recession. The City Council could vote at its meeting Tuesday, March 2, on whether to grant $625,000 of funds from land developers to Habitat to extend the program. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the council chambers, located in the Civic Center complex between Laurel and Alma streets. Habitat has bought five homes and finished renovating three since its work began in late May 2009. It plans to finish the remaining two homes by late spring, according to Menlo Park Housing Director Doug Frederick. More than 1,000 volunteers, representing 42 organizations, have put some 6,500 hours into the task thus far, according to Mr. Frederick, who said volunteers are already lining up to work on additional homes Habitat might buy. The foreclosure crisis is still chipping away at Belle Haven, Mr. Frederick said. One source estimates that there are currently 72 homes in the community that are either in default, at the point of a trustee sale, or owned by a bank.

Home Depot to fund 44 ECR trees Home Depot has provided a grant that will fund the planting of 44 London Plane trees along El Camino Real in Menlo Park, according to Chuck Kinney, founder of Trees for Menlo Inc. The new line of trees will occupy the El Camino median, stretching between Middle and Oak Grove avenues, Mr. Kinney said. Home Depot declined to disclose the dollar amount of the grant. Menlo Park’s public works department will help plant the trees.


More than 250 trees have been planted in the median and along both sidewalks since Caltrans approved the project in 2001.

City shaves budget deficit Menlo Park City Council members found more common ground than they did last year in their mid-year budget horsetrading, coming to unanimous agreement on which capital improvement projects to keep in the budget and which to cut on Feb. 23. Facing a projected deficit of $550,000 in the current fiscal year, the council agreed on costcutting measures that would leave the city only $300,000 in the red. The city will defer a $100,000 capital improvement project to put solar panels in its corporation yard, and a $45,000 project to retrofit the council chambers. A $100,000 project to repair a storm drain on Hermosa Way will be allocated to a fund separate from the general operating purse. The estimated deficit came amid sinking revenue projections eight months into the 2009-10 fiscal year, after the city entered the year with a balanced budget. The unanimous vote was the result of a compromise hashed out by council members John Boyle and Andy Cohen, both of whom voted against mid-year budget revisions this time last year, asking for deeper cuts. Councilwoman Kelly Fergusson initially proposed that the city continue with all scheduled projects, and Councilman Heyward Robinson seemed ready to join her, before both accepted the middle-ground proposal forged by Mr. Boyle and Mr. Cohen.

City revising housing law Menlo Park has revised the ordinance that governs its belowmarket-rate housing program, streamlining the document and adding several provisions to make life easier for people in the program. Among other things, the revised ordinance would add provisions aimed at better educating applicants, facilitating emergency repairs, and making it easier for one- and two-person households to obtain affordable housing. The revisions come as part of a joint effort between city staff and the Housing Commission, and some come in direct response

to frustrating experiences with program participants. The city tweaked the wording of one clause after being repeatedly nagged about it by one homeowner, and added a provision aimed at expanded its education efforts after one family repeatedly applied to purchase a home without understanding eligibility requirements. The City Council could approve the changes to the ordinance at its March 2 meeting.

City releases business plan Menlo Park has released a business development plan, outlining general strategies for aiding businesses that contribute to the city’s sales tax coffers, establishing metrics for evaluating business activity, and encouraging investment in the city. The City Council will review the plan at its March 2 meeting, having viewed an earlier draft in November 2008. Go to to view the plan.

Arbor Day March 5 Menlo Park Mayor Rich Cline will mark Arbor Day with students from the Belle Haven Community School during a ceremonial tree-planting event at 11:45 a.m. Friday, March 5. The event will take place at 415 Ivy Drive. For more information, call Regina Wheeler with the city at 330-6740.

LED correction In the Feb. 24 Almanac, we reported that Menlo Park was planning to embark on a project to install light-emitting diodes in city streetlamps, using either federal stimulus funds, or redevelopment funds. In fact, the city is planning to complete one project using redevelopment funds, and could carry out a separate project using stimulus funds, provided it receives a grant to do so. Assuming both projects are completed, about 20 percent of the high-pressure sodium bulbs in the city’s 2,300 streetlamps would be replaced with LEDs, saving the city about $28,000 per year in energy costs, according to Deputy City Manager Kent Steffens. The City Council approved the projects in a 4-1 vote at its Feb. 23 meeting, with John Boyle dissenting, questioning whether the city was getting enough bang for its buck. Go to to find out whether your block might be in line for LEDs. The Almanac regrets the error.

by Monica Corman

The Dynamics of the Market Q: I have been hearing that the current home market is a buyer’s market with low inventory. Isn’t this a contradiction in terms? A: It would be a contradiction in terms in a more typical real estate market. But under current conditions buyers are not rushing to buy and they keep waiting for more inventory to choose from and some potential sellers have been waiting to see if the market improves before listing their homes. However, there is a market and homes are sell-

ing, but pricing is key to whether they sell or not, especially in the higher price ranges. Pricing in this market is more of an art than a science largely because there is limited data to guide sellers in the process. Buyers too are affected by this lack of data and their response is usually to assume a lower value than a seller would. To be successful in this market, sellers need to look at their property the way a buyer would and be realistic in pricing their home. This will likely be the case at least in the near term.

For answers to any questions you may have on real estate, you may e-mail me at or call 462-1111, Alain Pinel Realtors. I also offer a free market analysis of your property.

GOT WRINKLES? The Aesthetics Research Center is participating in a research study for crow’s feet and forehead lines. Looking for women, age 30-70, with slight to deep wrinkles.

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Where age is just a number March 3, 2010 N The Almanac N7


Show of opposition to Cargill development plan ■ Save the Bay unveils list of opponents, some of them heavyweights, to mega-development. By Sean Howell Almanac Staff Writer


clutch of politicians, journalists, photographers and television crews congregated on a patch of dirt and scrub just inside the entrance to Bedwell Bayfront Park on a precipitationfree day Thursday, Feb. 25, partaking in the cordial if somewhat stiff ritual of the press conference. The gathering had been organized by environmental advocacy group Save the Bay, which used the occasion to announce that it had culled signatures from 50 current and 42 former Bay Area elected officials on a letter asking Redwood City to actively oppose a mega-development planned within its borders by agribusiness giant Cargill, on salt ponds that served as the event’s backdrop. David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay, stood in front of three of the letter’s signatories next to a channel that borders the park, a family of ducks swimming in its lazy tides. The three officials spoke after him in turn, staring into several digital video cameras marked with the logos of local television stations, and a couple of others of indeterminate affiliation. Their words were occasionally lost in the galumphing of passing cars, but their central message was unmistakable: We Don’t Build on the Bay. Period. Mr. Lewis hove close to that mantra while fielding questions from print journalists, using it to rebut the question that has become something of a refrain for the developer and project proponents: Why Won’t You Let the Process Play Out? Redwood City resident Barb Valley harangued Mr. Lewis with a series of variations on that question the minute the TV cameras turned off, as Mr. Lewis tried to make his way toward a semi-circle of print journalists. After a brief huddle with Mr. Lewis, the journalists wandered off in search of quotes from other members of the assemblage to balGOAT continued from page 5

pacing mountain lion. Remembering advice for lion encounters, she said she did not run or turn, but screamed and waved her flashlight to try to scare it away. The lion looked briefly at her, she said, then crouched, leapt, cleared the fence and disappeared into the brush. “I didn’t have to yell for very

ance their accounts. Some introduced themselves to Lou Covey, who argued that Save the Bay was stepping on Redwood City’s toes. Mr. Covey in 2008 founded a group called Sustainable Redwood City to support Cargill’s proposal. Of course, the real drama and ostensible occasion for the gathering stretched out behind the participants in the press conference: 1,400 acres of salt ponds, about two-thirds of which Cargill wants to fill and top with houses, offices, schools, sports fields and parks supporting a tidy, mostly self-sufficient civilization of some 25,000 inhabitants. Save the Bay representatives tried to delimit the boundaries of the territory, which on this day looked more pond than salt. But even the land in question was a point of contention. “It’s interesting that they chose to do it at Bayfront Park,” said Cargill spokesman Pete Hillan in a phone interview after returning from the event. “It’s not in Redwood City. ... The backdrop is part of the Bay, it’s not the salt ponds. They need to be honest about what’s being represented.” Isn’t the park as close as Mr. Lewis and company could have gotten to the salt ponds without being on them? Would Cargill have allowed Save the Bay to hold a press conference on land it owns? (Would the event have required a boat?) “They could have done it on Seaport Boulevard,” Mr. Hillan suggested, referring to a road that shoots along a spit of land beside the proposed development area. Letter signers

Save the Bay’s letter to Redwood City’s council in opposition to the project is heavy with local names: the entire Menlo Park City Council and a majority of Portola Valley Town Council members, along with four former Menlo Park council members, six former Portola Valley council members, and recently retired Woodside council member Carroll Ann Hodges.

long,” she said. Asked to describe the lion’s leap, Ms. Nightingale said it seemed effortless and was “beautiful, just beautiful.” A far cry from her first reaction: “Oh my God,” she said. “Can you imagine going into your backyard and seeing a mountain lion?” Aftereffects on Henri

The next day, Deputy Eric Sakuma from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office visited Ms. Night-

8 N The Almanac NMarch 3, 2010

Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac

David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay (second from left), gathered with several public officials at a press conference at Bedwell Bayfront Park to announce widespread opposition to a proposal to develop nearby salt ponds. Joining him, from left, were former state Assembly member Sally Lieber, Menlo Park Councilwoman Kelly Fergusson, and former Palo Alto council member Peter Drekmeier.

It includes Pete McCloskey, a celebrated environmental advocate who represented parts of The Almanac’s circulation area in the U.S. House of Representatives’ 11th District from 1968 to 1982. Mr. McCloskey, said to be the first congressman to call for the impeachment of President Nixon, is no stranger to voicing his opinion early and often. There are 10 current county supervisors, including the chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors and the president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, along with three former presidents of that board. There are eight Bay Area mayors, including the mayor of Oakland. Most striking, perhaps, the list includes the names of eight of the 27 people who sit on the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, which may have the authority to deny Cargill permits for the project. Mr. Lewis said his group pulled the signatures together over just two or three weeks, relying mostly on early signers to spread the word. Mr. Hillan pointed out that, while the list may appear impres-

ingale, verified that she had seen a lion, and found a couple of tracks in a likely spot. As for Henri, “It seems like he’s doing OK,” she said. He has shown signs of post-traumatic stress, she said. He’s skittish and not eating like he used to. Nor is he head-butting with his two male pygmy goat pals like he used to. “He is definitely more fragile at this time and I think he is avoiding them,” Ms.

sive, there are several hundred Bay Area officials who didn’t sign it. And very few of those who did have spoken with Cargill or visited the site, he said: “We would really like to see a more informed approach by a body that is being suggested as august.” He exchanged greetings with Mr. Covey as they walked to their cars after the press conference, though Mr. Hillan maintained that Mr. Covey and Ms. Valley came on their own. The unmarked digital

video cameras did not belong to his employer, as far as he knew, Mr. Hillan said. He suggested that Save the Bay’s announcement wasn’t all that momentous, but didn’t take issue with the fact that they staged a press conference to deliver it. “That’s how it’s done,” he said. Redwood City’s council several weeks ago opted to proceed with an environmental review of the project, a process that could take several years.


warming is expected to cause sea level in the Bay to rise by 16 inches by the middle of the century, and by 55 inches by 2100. A BCDC report states that by mid-century, “180,000 acres of Bay shoreline are vulnerable to flooding, and 213,000 acres are vulnerable by the end of the century.” The proposed Bay Plan amendment has been discussed during a number of public hearings and workshops since May 2008, according to the BCDC report. Go to to review the BCDC report and the draft of the Bay Plan amendment.

continued from page 5

a set of major obstacles to the Cargill plan, which also includes commercial development and athletic fields. In a subsequent interview, Mr. Gordon reiterated that statement, but noted that he didn’t know if the obstacles would be insurmountable. “I don’t know if this new element ... is a death knell” for the Cargill project, he said. According to state-funded studies on the effects of climate change in California, global

Nightingale said. A new threat?

Having attacked a goat, will this lion now be predisposed to attack humans? “No,” said a biologist. “There’s no evidence that that’s true,” Rick Hopkins, a San Josebased conservation biologist and student of mountain lions, told The Almanac. “We can’t predict the future,” he added. “We don’t know what any



cougar may or may not do.” Attacks on humans in all of North America tend to occur in remote parks or wilderness at a rate of one or two a year, Mr. Hopkins noted. The risk is “extremely small, very tiny,” he said. The fact that the lion did not kill Henri is a sign that he is unlikely to come back, Ms. Nightingale said she was told by Deputy Sakuma. Visit for more information on mountain lions. A


Teacher layoffs ahead as district looks to close $2 million budget gap By Andrea Gemmet Almanac Staff Writer


ore than 17 teaching jobs are on the line as the Menlo Park City School District struggles to close a projected $2 million shortfall for the coming school year. Close to 100 people gathered at Laurel School in Atherton on Feb. 25 to hear district officials’ proposals for slashing the roughly $30 million annual budget for the 2010-11 school year. Wide-ranging cuts would affect everything from counseling services to class sizes, art and foreign language instruction to supplies and summer school. Employee furloughs are a possibility, as is reduced teacher preparation time. Besides 17.6 teaching positions, the equivalent of 7.4 other positions are also on the line, including an elementary school assistant principal, a technol-

ogy coordinator, a custodian, a nursing assistant and classroom science aides. Of the teaching positions, nearly six are unfilled, but the district had planned to fill them to accommodate rising enrollment. Three current teachers announced plans to resign or retire at the end of the year, so the district would have to lay off eight current teachers, said Superintendent Ken Ranella. Fewer teachers mean larger classes. The teacher layoffs would save an estimated $330,000, and would raise class sizes as high as 29 students in grades 4-6. Mr. Ranella said that the programs he’s proposing to trim are the ones that he’s spent years trying to build up. “It’s professionally disappointing that we have to go in the other direction,� he said. “This is all about taking apart something that I spent eight years working on. Of course, it wasn’t all gloom

and doom. A $178 parcel tax on the May 4 ballot would spare the K-8 district the worst of the cuts, and would raise just under $1.4 million annually during its seven-year duration. While district officials can’t come right out and campaign for the parcel tax, they made clear that many of the cuts and at least some of the layoff notices could be rescinded if the parcel tax passes. The district is facing $1.4 million in cuts to state funding, Mr. Ranella said. Enrollment continues to rise, and property tax revenues are flat, tracking at less than 1 percent growth, he said. Last year’s cuts of $550,000 largely spared the classrooms, but with 87 percent of the budget going toward personnel costs, there’s no way to avoid layoffs, he said. Mr. Ranella’s proposal to dismantle the existing summer school program and replace it with a new, decentralized model

Pilot project offers financing option for greening homes By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


n invitation for financing help from the state government will be coming soon to local property owners who want to improve energy efficiency, and eventually water efficiency, at their homes and businesses. CaliforniaFIRST, a pilot program, will give property owners access to financing from bonds issued by the state on behalf of 14 counties. The counties, including San Mateo County, pooled $16.5 million in federal stimulus funds and engaged Oakland-based Renewable Funding Corp. to get the program up and running, Woodside Assistant Town Manager Kevin Bryant said in an interview. It has been well received. The Woodside and Portola Valley councils recently approved resolutions affirming their participation, as have councils in Menlo Park, Atherton and most other cities and towns in San Mateo County, Mr. Bryant said. Starting sometime this summer, residents in participating cities and towns can apply for financing of $5,000 to $75,000.

Commercial maximums will be based on property value. The pilot program includes Bay Area counties Alameda, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Solano counties. Later on, any California city or county can participate. Go to for more information. Under the plan, the state and a property owner enter into a contract for the financing, with an obligation levied against the property tax bill, Mr. Bryant said. Repayments will be tax-exempt and spread over 5 to 20 years, and the obligation transfers with the sale of the property, he said. The municipal-bond-like treatment lowers overall costs and “should really decrease initial capital costs,� Mr. Bryant said. An arm of the California Statewide Communities Development Authority is partnering with the Royal Bank of Canada to administer the program, leaving cities and towns the happy task of simply offering greener lifestyles to property owners. “Sounds like there’s no down side,� Woodside Mayor Dave Burow said, after hearing Mr. Bryant’s presentation. This program is appealing,

Portola Valley Councilwoman Ann Wengert said in an interview, because it allows homeowners to improve their homes without worrying about a large upfront cost working against the possibility of moving to a new home. “That’s a huge positive,� she said. The Portola Valley council had heard from town Sustainability Coordinator Brandi de Garmeaux and two representatives from the county on Feb. 24. The response was enthusiastic. “This is a marvelous example of inter-government cooperation,� Mayor Steve Toben said. “I’m very excited.� So was Councilwoman Maryann Moise Derwin. “I’m so excited I’m almost jumping out of my pants,� she said, to the amusement of all. “I have tights on,� she quickly added. “They are hard to jump out of.� Councilman Ted Driscoll, one of many residents who have improved the efficiency of their homes well before this program came on the horizon, asked the county officials if reimbursement was a possibility under this program. They will look into it, they said.

Leigh Ann Maze said. Left to its own devices, false brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum) replaces native plants, crowds out tree seedlings, and can cover ground by more than 90 percent, she said. The district is aware of large stands of false brome on private property in and around Woodside, she said. The eradication

struggling students. “I cannot support spending $97,000 on summer school given the other cuts we are looking at,� he said. Several of the people who spoke at the meeting asked about ways to help the district, either by volunteering or doing fundraising for the Menlo-Atherton Education Foundation. Others pointed out that the cuts would hit struggling students the hardest. Mr. Ranella’s proposed cuts total $1.8 million, and will be subject to a school board vote at its March 10 meeting. He’s recommending using up to $500,000 in reserves to bridge the remaining deficit and hedge against further cuts in state funding. Preliminary layoff notices to teachers and certificated employees must be given by March 15. “If things get better, we just rescind layoffs,� Mr. Ranella said. A


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Slender false brome eradication campaign is on again The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District is once again calling for residents in Woodside to participate in a search-and-destroy mission against slender false brome, a weedy and prolific bunch grass not native to North America. This “Class A noxious weed� has infested more than 10,000 acres in Oregon, district spokeswoman

was met with a passionate rebuttal by former school board president Bruce Ives, who was in the audience. The current program has proven effective in improving the performance of struggling students, Mr. Ives said. “The summer school we have was killed with no input or discussion. All the other cuts are presented as contingent, but summer school is permanent,� he said. “It’s more efficient to stick with the program we have, rather than start from scratch� with only 40 percent of the normal summer school budget, he said. Mr. Ranella called the current summer school program “extraordinarily expensive,� and proposed cutting $57,000 from its $97,000 budget for regular education students. His plan is to put each of the district’s four schools in charge of coming up with a flexible program for

campaign is in its second year. To encourage action, the district is offering to reimburse Woodside area residents for their costs up to $350 per acre in exchange for district-supervised removal of the weed. Contact Ellen Gartside at 6911200 for more information or to participate in the program.

$$*-$)%$#$(& !#'$#**)*$)  ))((#' "%'%#, +)*$#'        March 3, 2010 N The Almanac N9


There’s a new f lavor in town

Assembly candidates air views at forum By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor

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WORK BY THE RULES Working or playing in front of a computer screen may put on at increased risk for eye fatigue and related problems. This is particularly true of children, whose eyes are still developing. All computer users can reduce their risk of eyestrain by remembering to blink more. Studies show that, when sitting in front of the computer, we blink one-third as much as we normally do. The less we blink, the greater the risk of dry eye and its associated problems. Consider adopting the “20-20-20

rule,� which calls for taking a 20-second break every 20 minutes, during which time you should sit back and focus on an object 20 feet away. Doing so will also help refresh your mind and body. Spending long hours starting at a computer screen can be incredibly demanding on your eyes due to lack of eye blinking, glare and reflections off the computer screen, and pre-existing eye problems. This problem is not isolated to adults because children spend time playing video games and searching the web. Bring your eyewear prescription to MENLO OPTICAL at 1166 University Drive, on the corner of Oak Grove Avenue and University Drive. We carry computer, athletic, and occupational eyewear for the entire family. Please call us at 322-3900 if you have any questions about this week’s column. P.S. Following the “20-20-20 rule� will help your eyes vary their focus and not remain stuck in the near focus. Mark Schmidt is an American Board of Opticianry and National Contact Lens Examiners Certified Optician licensed by the Medical Board of California. He can be easily reached at Menlo Optical, 1166 University Drive, Menlo Park. 650-322-3900.


oters won’t be able to rely on differences of opinion on major issues to make up their minds in choosing the Democratic candidate for the state Assembly race for District 21, judging by the Feb. 24 candidate forum held in Redwood City. Instead, what seems to differentiate the candidates — Rich Gordon and Josh Becker of Menlo Park, and Yoriko Kishimoto of Palo Alto — are experience, leadership style, and ideas for helping the state climb out of its severe financial and governance problems. The candidates, who are running to replace termed-out Assemblyman Ira Ruskin, answered questions from a moderator and from the audience during the forum, generally agreeing that high-speed rail is a plus for the state, but the current process to put it in place needs fixing; that more “affordable,� transit-oriented housing is needed on the Peninsula, but each community needs to be involved in figuring out how to provide it; and that the two-thirds requirement for passing the state budget needs to go. All three also agreed: State government is broken, and must be fixed. Josh Becker

Mr. Becker, an entrepreneur with no experience in elective office, touts his ability to unite disparate groups of people to solve problems and bring about change. The founder of an “early stage� venture capital firm, he points to his business experience as proof of creative thinking that could be well applied to the state’s governance. Mr. Becker is also founder and chair of the Full Circle Fund, a philanthropic organization that gives grants to nonprofits. Regarding the state’s budget crisis, Mr. Becker said, “We have to grow our way out of it — we can’t cut our way out.� To do that, he

said, the state needs to help create clean-energy jobs. One way to do that is to retrofit all state-owned buildings to meet high energy-efficiency standards. He also suggested that jobs could be created by building cars for the high-speed rail system at the NUMMI auto-making plant in Fremont, which is likely to be closed after next month.

All three agreed that the two-thirds requirement for passing the state budget needs to go. Mr. Becker said the state also needs to make it easier for people to finance energy-efficient projects for their homes and businesses. Although he supports more housing on the Peninsula, he criticized the controversial Cargill plan to build up to 12,000 new homes on San Francisco Bay salt ponds. “Having a conversation on housing in the Bay is a little too retro for me,� he said. Rich Gordon

Mr. Gordon has by far the most experience as an elected official, having served five years on the San Mateo County Board of Education, and completing this year his 12th year on the county Board of Supervisors. He sits on numerous public boards, including the county’s transportation authority and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC). He agreed with Mr. Becker that the state has to grow jobs to get beyond its budget crisis, but in the short term, he added, it needs to make cuts as well. Those cuts, he said, must be surgical and strategic to ensure they won’t ultimately backfire and cost the state more in unemployment and other consequences. Mr. Gordon said the Legislature’s first priority must be “to change the way we govern the state� by eliminating the twothirds requirement to pass a budget and by reforming the initiative process, among other means. Another idea for improving governance: seating legislators by district during legislative sessions,

an arrangement that was the rule before the current situation, where Democrats sit on one side and Republicans on the other. If legislators had to sit with people who have different opinions and backgrounds, it would improve governance, he said. Because he sits on the BCDC, which will have to grant permits to Cargill if its development plans for the salt ponds are to proceed, Mr. Gordon said it’s not appropriate for him to take a stand on the project. But he said he plans to support new BCDC rules that will place additional obstacles in the way of the project. Yoriko Kishimoto

Ms. Kishimoto served on the Palo Alto City Council for eight years, and began her community service involvement as a neighborhood activist campaigning for traffic control. She is a businesswoman who co-authored “The Third Century: America’s Resurgence in the Asian Era,� described on her Web site as “a groundbreaking book on America’s strength as an open economy and diverse society during a time of great change.� The state’s budget crisis must be addressed on both the revenue and cost side, she said. Because of the boom-and-bust nature of the economy, the state must put aside more money in good times, and also commit more to infrastructure. Ms. Kishimoto emphasized her work on protecting the environment, and on behalf of regional transportation, noting that she has served on a number of boards dealing with the region’s transportation issues. She suggested merging some of the Bay Area’s transportation agencies, which she numbered at about 30, to reduce administrative costs and promote efficiency. She strongly opposes Cargill’s plan to develop its salt ponds on the Bay, which would create up to 12,000 new homes that would be “absolutely in the wrong place.� All candidates agreed that the high-speed rail project management needs better oversight and must be more responsive to Peninsula communities that will be affected, but Ms. Kishimoto was the only one who stated that the train’s line should stop in San Jose, and Caltrain should be tapped for travel to San Francisco from San Jose. A

Online. Anyplace. Anytime. 10 N The Almanac NMarch 3, 2010


Menlo Park smoking law could have broad reach By Sean Howell Almanac Staff Writer


eople who smoke cigarettes may find themselves pausing to examine their surroundings more often when they’re within the borders of Menlo Park, if the city tightens its smoking ordinance as expected. The changes the City Council will consider at its March 2 meeting would prohibit smoking in public parks, places of congregation such as ATM machines and bus stops, near openings to buildings such as windows and vents, and in common areas within multi-unit residences. Perhaps most significantly, the ordinance would declare second-hand smoke a nuisance — enabling people to take legal action against others who smoke in their vicinity, such as in an adjoining apartment or condo unit. The council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the council chambers, located in the Civic Center complex between Laurel and Alma streets.

The city drafted the ordinance in response to an extraordinary lobbying effort by Barbara Franklin, who decided to take up the issue after she was bothered by smoke wafting into her condominium unit from an apartment below hers. She began making presentations to the council about the dangers of secondhand smoke in late 2008, and has attended most council meetings since then, often sitting through the several hours of the meeting. The council has received a trickle of correspondence about the issue from residents since then, with several people making nuanced arguments about how far the ordinance should go. But there has not been much organized opposition thus far, from real estate agents or other groups. The revised ordinance would also enable the city to enforce a San Mateo County law, requiring tobacco vendors to obtain permits from the county. Some believe that requirement would decrease the incidence of vendors selling cigarettes to minors.

Big run of property crimes in Atherton, MP By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


hieves got away with almost $53,000 in stolen goods in some 19 property crimes in Atherton and Menlo Park over the week that started Friday, Feb 19, according to police logs for both communities. In Menlo Park, a take of $17,150 includes four residential burglaries, four thefts — in which breaking and entering was not a factor — and three auto burglaries. Atherton’s much higher loss of $35,800 includes a $31,000 heist of jewelry from a locked vehicle, along with two residential burglaries and one theft, according to the log.

There were also four Menlo Park vehicle thefts, two of which were recovered, police said. Menlo Park

In residential crimes, the take last week included a laptop and jewelry valued at $7,350 on Carlton Avenue, two rings valued at $4,900 from Monte Rosa Drive, a video game setup valued at $2,800 from O’Connor Street, and two turntables, a mixer and some jewelry for a total of $3,600 from a home on Carlton Avenue. On Noel Drive, someone stole a bicycle valued at $1,700 from a garage. At Robert Half International offices on Sand

Hill Road, thieves stole a TV valued at $2,500, police said. Losses from auto burglaries included a $2,300 theft of a laptop, briefcase and notebook. Someone stiffed the Chevron station on El Camino Real for $69.95 for a vehicle repair, police said. Atherton

The big jewelry burglary of a vehicle occurred on Palmer Lane after someone smashed the vehicle’s window and stole a jewelry box and its contents along with a purse, police said. At a construction site on Betty Lane, thieves got away with $4,400 in tools, police said.

Art, wine auction to benefit Alzheimer’s Association An art and wine auction to support art therapy services to Alzheimer’s sufferers is set for 6-9:30 p.m. on March 5 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. The event

benefits the Alzheimer’s Association’s “memories in the making” program, which is offered locally at Rosener House and Canyon House in Menlo Park. Tickets cost $125 and are avail-

able at the door. Go to www.alz. org/norcal to preregister or call 962-8111 for information. The Computer History Museum is located at 1401 Shoreline Ave. in Mountain View.

March 3, 2010 N The Almanac N11


Mary Victoria Neumeyer Longtime Portola Valley resident

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 6, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1105 Valparaiso Ave. in Menlo Park, for Mary Victoria Neumeyer. Ms. Neumeyer died Feb. 14. She was 88. Ms. Neumeyer lived in Portola Valley for 55 years. She was a neighbor of The Almanac’s cofounder Hedy Boissevain. She and her three children helped at various tasks putting the paper together during its first two years in the mid-1960s, say family members. Born in Ferndale, Michigan, Ms. Neumeyer helped raise six younger brothers after her mother died at an early age. She was athletic, taking part in gymnastics, volleyball, softball and basketball through high school. She studied design at Wayne State University in Detroit. She married Walter Neumeyer before he enlisted in the armed services during World War II. While her husband served in Europe, she moved to California with her mother-in-law. The Neumeyers moved to Portola Valley in 1955, where she was active in the PTA, the Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts, Ladera Community Church and United Church Women. After her husband died in 1980, she assisted many families, sitting with children when their parents were traveling or helping after the birth of a newborn. In 1985, she met Iceline Adams of Jamaica, who became a close friend. They went on many excursions and celebrated holidays and family events together, say family members. Surviving family members include children Dr. Terri Neumeyer and Walter Neumeyer of Portola Valley, and Lina Dillingham of Glenns Ferry, Idaho; three grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter. The family prefers donations to a favorite charity. To send remembrances of Ms. Neumeyer, e-mail walterneumeyer@ or call 851-7485.

Dennis Plank Longtime Woodside resident



N OBITUARI ES Obituaries are based on information provided by families and mortuaries.

In 1951, Mr. Plank moved to Kings Mountain from his home in Kansas and attended San Jose State University. He joined the U.S. Air Force, served in Korea, and in 1962, returned to Kings Mountain with his wife and children. He was the owner/operator of Dennis Plank Construction. Family members say he was happiest when salmon fishing, on the golf course, or cooking for friends and family. He is survived by his wife, Sybil, of Woodside; daughter Diana Cline of Montara; sister Barbara Martin of San Antonio, Texas; and three grandsons. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Coastside, P.O. Box 545, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019. Arrangements were under the direction of the Lifemark Center at Skylawn Memorial Park.

Dr. Richard Johnson Former Sequoia Hospital clinical medical director

Dr. Richard Boyd Johnson, a former Atherton resident, died Jan. Photo courtesy of Allen Studios, circa 1970 1 of pneumo- Dr. Richard nia in Tucson, Johnson Arizona. Dr. Johnson, who had a private practice in Redwood City for 44 years, was 84. A physician of internal medicine, Dr. Johnson was associated with Sequoia Hospital for more than 40 years and served as clinical medical director during his last years of practice. During his early years, he made house calls and once traded abalone for an office visit, say family members. Dr. Johnson was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and studied at Washington University, entering medical school at age 19. He completed his medical training by age 23 and was drafted into the U.S. Army as a captain. After serving with the occupational forces in Japan, he returned to start his practice in Redwood City. Dr. Johnson retired in 1994 and moved to Arizona, first to Scottsdale, then Tucson, to be near one of his daughters and her family. He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Mary K. Johnson, and daughter Jamin Collins of Arizona. He is also survived by his children by former wife Georgia Johnson-May: Dr. R. Boyd Johnson of Indianapolis, Stuart C.

A memorial gathering will be held beginning at noon, S at u rd a y, March 20, at the Kings Grove’s Tom May Center on Tunitas Dennis Plank Creek Road in Woodside for Dennis Plank. Mr. Plank died Feb. 15 with his family at his side. He was 75. 12 N The Almanac NMarch 3, 2010

‘Visions of California’ This oil painting by Jim Promessi, a Bay Area artist and Skyline College art professor, is among his works on exhibit during March at the Portola Art Gallery at Allied Arts Guild, 75 Arbor Road in Menlo Park. A reception for the artist will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 6, at the gallery. For more information, call the gallery at 321-0220.

Johnson of Redwood City, and Diane Johnson-Fussy of Portola Valley; and by 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Mary Yost 80-year Menlo Park resident

Mary Elizabeth Yost, a former ballroom dance i n s t r u c t o r, died Jan. 31 Mary Yost at Stanford Medical Center. She was 88. Ms. Yost was born in San Jose and moved to Willow Road in Menlo Park as a child. She attended Ravenswood and St. Joseph’s elementary schools and Sequoia High School. She graduated from San Jose State University with a degree in art in 1943. During World War II, she worked as a draftsman with Hendy Iron Works in Sunnyvale, which built engines for American ships. She later worked at the National Motor Bearing Co. in Redwood City. In 1946 she married Albert Yost at the Church of the Nativity in Menlo Park. The couple were ballroom dancers on the Peninsula and led their own dance club, the Jeff Jeffries Dancers. They sailed around South America twice as dance instructors on the Prudential Cruise Line. Ms. Yost was active with the Menertons, volunteering at the thrift shop, helping plan fundraisers, and doing artwork for its cookbook. She is survived by sons Walter Yost of Carmichael and Doug Yost of Palo Alto. Her husband of 62 years, Albert Yost, died in April 2009. A private service for Ms. Yost will be held at Holy Cross Cemetery in Menlo Park.

Frances Martin Former Menlo Park resident

Frances Sylvia Martin, a Menlo Park resident from 1963 to 1999, died Feb. 19 of multiple myeloma. A celebration of her life was held Feb. 27 at her home in Philo. She was 71. Ms. Martin was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and raised in Argentina and Uruguay. She attended high school at St. Swithun’s in Winchester, England. In 1961 she moved to Washington, D.C., to work as a bilingual secretary for the International Monetary Fund. She was married in Washington to Frederick Martin and the couple moved to Menlo Park, where they raised their three children. Ms. Martin worked as a legal secretary, then as an administrative assistant at Stanford University. After retiring, she returned to school and earned a bachelor’s degree in development studies from UC Berkeley. In 1999 the Martins moved to Philo in Anderson Valley. In 2007 she published the diaries of her great aunt, Eunice G. Murray, a Scottish suffragist, which she had transcribed. Surviving members of Ms. Martin’s family are her husband, Fred, daughters Stephanie and Fiona, and two grandchildren. Her son, Geoffrey, died in 1999. The family prefers donations to the Anderson Valley Health Center.

W. David Oke Advertising executive

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, March 4, at Stanford Memorial Chapel for W. David Oke Jr. of Menlo Park. Mr. Oke died Feb. 8 of heart failure. He was 65. Following the service, a celebration of his life will be held at Holbrook-Palmer Park, 150

Watkins Ave. in Atherton. Mr. Oke was a co-founder of the Roanoke Company, an advertising agency. For nearly four decades, he held a variety of positions with the company, including creative director, art director, editor and product supervisor, and, ultimately, president of the agency. The Roanoke Company provided public service advertising, political consulting and public relations for environmental causes. Roanoke conceived and produced all media for the CHP’s motorcycle safety campaign. The company also pioneered a “designated driver” approach to reduce drunken driving accidents, says a company spokesperson. Recently, Mr. Oke was campaign manager for the successful campaign of Dolores Carr for district attorney of Santa Clara County. Mr. Oke was born in Michigan and grew up in Southern California. He graduated from Santa Clara University in 1966 and earned a master’s degree from Stanford University in communications, broadcasting, and film specialization. He married Lorraine Luther of Los Altos in 1984. They recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary at Point Lobos, where they met. He was a coach in his son’s youth basketball league, and co-founder of Friends of the River. He was also an avid fisherman and sports enthusiast with a wonderful sense of humor, say family members. He is survived by his wife, Lorraine; son Adam; mother Hilda; sister Sherry; aunt Jo Harlow; and many friends and family members. Donations may be made to the Adam Oke Scholarship Foundation, Bank of the West, 5452 Sunol Blvd., Pleasanton, CA 94566.


Portola Valley OKs Stanford trail deal


By Dave Boyce

Truman Alexander Clark Economist and tomato gardener

Truman Alexander Clark, an economist, heirloom tomato gardener, and Portola Valley resident, died Feb. 21 of congestive heart failure at an assisted living center in Healdsburg, relatives said. Mr. Clark was 68. Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, March 5, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Healdsburg. Arrangements are by the Fred Young Funeral Home in Cloverdale. Mr. Clark and his wife Elizabeth moved to 195 acres in Healdsburg in the summer of 2009 from their home on Hayfields Road, where they lived for 18 years, Ms. Clark told The Almanac. He commuted to Santa Monica, but when at home in Portola Valley, his interests included Major League baseball, Civil War history, and growing heirloom tomatoes, his wife said. She used the tomatoes to make “everything possible,” including tomato pie, she said. They “loved” walking Portola Valley’s trails with their dog, Ms. Clark said. “We would take so many fabulous routes. It’s one the things I really miss about our (years there).” Portola Valley was just rural enough, she said. “You felt removed but still connected.”

David Palecek David Vaclav Palecek, an Atherton resident and a partner at McKinsey & Co. management consulting firm, died from complications of a staphylococcus infection at Stanford Hospital on Feb. 16. He was 37. A celebration of his life is

Almanac Staff Writer

They were members of the Christ Episcopal Church. Mr. Clark was a native Truman of HealdsAlexander Clark burg and a graduate of Menlo School in Atherton and Princeton University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in politics. After a time in Korea as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, Mr. Clark returned to California, where he met his future wife and worked for the Dean Witter brokerage firm, the first of several financial sector jobs. He had a doctorate in business finance from the University of Chicago. After a university teaching post in Buffalo, New York, he taught at the University of Southern California, then returned to the private sector for Dimensional Fund Advisors, from which he retired in 2005, relatives said. In addition to his wife, Mr. Clark is survived by son Alex Clark of Seattle; and daughter Shelley Clark of Mission Viejo. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or the Civil War Preservation Trust.

scheduled for March 14 at the Arrillaga Alumni Center on the Stanford campus at 11 a.m. Information is on the Facebook page, Support David Palecek. Go to for a full obituary, which will also appear in a future issue of the print edition.


he Portola Valley Town Council at its Feb. 24 meeting unanimously approved a proposal by Stanford University to pay some $2.9 million for permits, design and construction of a mile-long trail extending west along Alpine Road from the town’s border with Ladera. The project, known as the C-1 trail, resolves one element of an otherwise contentious initiative proposed by the university in 2006 to comply with its use permit as it makes plans to develop open land on the Santa Clara County side of San Francisquito Creek, which forms a boundary with San Mateo County. Stanford will deposit money with Portola Valley as needed to pay for the trail, thereby relieving the town of any upfront costs,

Public Works Director Howard Young told the council. Stanford has until Dec. 31, 2013, to complete the project, but work could begin as early as this year, Mr. Young said. “From the Stanford side, this has been a terrific experience (with) a highly professional (town) staff,” Stanford spokesman Larry Horton told the council. The council replied in kind. “It’s been a great process to interact with Stanford,” Mayor Steve Toben said. Stanford had also proposed improvements to the casual collection of poorly paved and uneven paths that continue from Portola Valley east along Alpine Road past Ladera, under Interstate 280 and past Stanford Weekend Acres. Residents of those communities said they prefer the trail’s informality and rejected Stanford’s

plan out of hand. An improved trail along Alpine Road would resemble a suburban sidewalk and draw new bicyclists and pedestrians to an arterial road that is already heavily trafficked, the residents said. The residents had the support of the San Mateo County supervisors and the Committee for Green Foothills, which argued in court that Stanford should put a trail on the Santa Clara County side of the creek. The state Supreme Court recently decided in Stanford’s favor. If the San Mateo County-based parties continue to reject an improved Alpine Road trail, and the December 2013 deadline passes, Stanford must pass along the $8.4 million it would have spent on the Ladera-Weekend Acres section of trail to the Santa Clara County Parks Department. A

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Rail authority needs PR lesson


or an organization that recently signed a $9 million contract with a national public relations firm, the High-Speed Rail Authority laid a PR goose egg with its performance at the Feb. 19 public meeting in Menlo Park. Facing a clearly skeptical audience that does not support the authority’s planned $40-billion-plus project that would run bullet trains between San Francisco and Los Angeles, rail authority officials had virtually nothing new to say to the crowd of more than 100 in the Menlo Park council chambers. ED ITORI AL For many, the authority was The opinion of The Almanac simply continuing to pay lip service to its critics by brushing off continuing questions about the project, including why a Peninsula route analysis that has been promised and then delayed since December is still not available. During the meeting the audience was told the analysis would be released March 3, but a few days later the authority announced it was again delayed until sometime in April. The rail authority’s decision on how two sets of tracks will be deployed on the route from San Jose up the Peninsula was the topmost issue on everyone’s mind at the meeting. Will the rails go underground in a tunnel? Or be elevated in some locations, which critics say will create a giant wall through the heart of their communities? And how much property will be taken away through eminent domain? Overlaying all concerns voiced that night was the continuing question about whether comments given at this hearing and

others will have any bearing at all on the final decision of route alignment, whenever it comes out. Again and again, audience members attempted to get an answer from the small panel of rail authority representatives, but to no avail, which only increased the public relations gap between the two sides. During the route alignment discussion, rail authority representatives offered a new piece of information that only worsened their rapport with the audience, when they put up an indecipherable projection of the Caltrain tracks overlaid with several illegible graphs showing track elevations and right-of-way widths. When the crowd protested that they couldn’t read it and asked for a handout, a member of the rail authority team said the information was not available to the public yet, a response that elicited groans and complaints from the audience. Such cavalier behavior from highly paid public officials and their consultants is unacceptable. Even if a final route analysis document is not ready to be released, the planners should have been able to share some parts of the work in progress and at least provided a legible handout to the crowd. It also is hard to believe that authority staff members at the hearing did not know that the analysis was going to be delayed a month or more. A cardinal rule of good public relations is to always tell the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it might be at the moment. Attempts to stonewall the public and dodge questions often come back to haunt those who are not forthcoming. The rail authority knew well in advance about the Feb. 19 meeting and had plenty of time to prepare its story and materials. Unfortunately, it did not.

The Almanac, established in September, 1965, is delivered each week to residents of Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley and Woodside and adjacent unincorporated areas of southern San Mateo County. The Almanac is qualified by decree of the Superior Court of San Mateo County to publish public notices of a governmental and legal nature, as stated in Decree No. 147530, issued November 9, 1969. Subscriptions are $60 for one year and $100 for two years.


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Our Regional Heritage Members of the Henry Bottger family relax on the porch of their Woodside home in this undated photo. The residence was located on the northeast corner of Kings Mountain and Greer roads, near Tripp Road.

CALL the Viewpoint desk at 854-2690, ext. 222.

14 ■ The Almanac ■ March 3, 2010


Atherton learns expensive lesson on illegal fees By Charles Marsala


disagree with the opening of last week’s story about Atherton refunding $1.6 million in road impact fees, which said, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” Many Atherton residents, myself included, thought it was a bad idea at the time. In the summer of 2006 many residents took issue with what we considered an illegal off-haul fee the council adopted in 2005, arguing that since trucks already pay state taxes and the state allocates a GUEST portion of OPINION those funds back to cities, off-haul fees and road impact fees are double taxation. In September 2006, the Atherton City Council rescinded the off-haul fee and issued refunds back to the start of its collection in May 2005. In June 2007, the council majority adopted (Jim Janz and I opposed) a plan to increase road impact fees 40 percent without any study to support the increase, which turned out to be a bad idea. Only a few cities (fewer than 30) charge road impact fees in the state and Atherton charges at least 40 percent more than any other city. Only a few charge off-haul fees and Atherton was charging four times what any other city was charging. Hence the likelihood for a lawsuit to challenge the fee’s legality was highest in Atherton. During the summer of 2008 residents and schools came before the council to complain about the business license tax increase of 2003 and the road impact fee increase of 2007. Interim City Manager Wende Protzman

advised the council in fall of 2007 that the business license tax increase of 2003 was illegal. In December 2008, the council rescinded the business license tax increase and was advised it legally had to issue refunds of taxes paid up to one year prior. The council opted to go back to December 2006, adding another year to the refund window advised by Ms. Protzman. It is my understanding that the 90-day legal obligation is only one part of the road impact fee problem and does not apply to the 40 percent increase of 2007 or the fees charged in 2006 before the town placed a clause at the bottom of the permit form stating applicants had 90 days to protest fees. As an example, Menlo School paid almost $300,000 in both business license tax and road impact fees to build a new gym in 2008. The school will be eligible for a refund in both these categories. Although the school had expressed its concern about the high fees to the town in e-mail messages, technically it had not filled out the correct paperwork to be eligible under the 90-day window to protest. More than 500 permits are processed a year for residents who do improvements to their existing properties. Those permits will be eligible for refunds. This is the third “fee” that was passed in the last eight years that has been refunded because it was actually a “tax.” Each time residents have had to organize, consult lawyers, and appear before the council for months to get action. As cities, counties, and the state struggle to make up budget shortfalls, understanding the difference between fees and taxes (which have to be approved by a vote of the residents) is paramount for elected officials. Charles Marsala is a member of the Atherton City Council.


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16 N The Almanac NMarch 3, 2010

The Almanac 03.03.2010 - Section 1  
The Almanac 03.03.2010 - Section 1  

Section 1 of the March 03, 2010 edition of the Almanac