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M-A’s Jeremy Chow designs huge mural to inspire students at Belle Haven School | Section 2


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Seeing the big picture

Menlo Park native, 27, becomes leader in green-building movement | Page 5

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Light Touch Key Lime Pie

Principal: ‘I was a bratty teen’ By Dave Boyce

Before her time at Prospect High, Ms. Burbank spent five years as principal of Aptos High School in Aptos in Santa Cruz County. Prior to that, she worked at Cupertino High School, Gunn High School and

Almanac Staff Writer


f students with attitudes at Woodside High School try to claim that Diane Burbank, the new principal, doesn’t understand them, that may not wash. “I was one of those bratty teenagers,” Ms. Diane Burbank Burbank said in an interview with the Almanac. brings lots of experience She wanted to graduate as to her new job as a junior so she could enter principal of Woodside college and get going on High School. a career in education, but her parents wouldn’t agree to it so she spent her senior JLS Middle School in Palo Alto, year in a snit. “I was very angry,” and Newark Junior High School she said. in Newark. Ms. Burbank comes to WoodThe Sequoia district adverside and the Sequoia Union High tised statewide and received School District from four years about 30 applicants, Superintenas principal of Prospect High dent Jim Lianides said. A team School in Saratoga. A Saratoga of teachers, administrators, staff address may sound exclusive, and parents interviewed eight but the school’s demograph- candidates,. ics are about what they are at “Diane Burbank emerged as Woodside: Hispanic and white the strongest candidate and best students evenly share about fit for Woodside High School two-thirds of the student popu- as a result of this process,” Mr. lation. Lianides said.

Why did she pick Woodside? It’s larger than Prospect by about 500 kids, decisions are discussed among parents, teachers and administrators in the Shared-Decision-Making Council, it’s a high-school-only district, and there are “beautiful” facilities, Ms. Burbank said. “I thought that it was really interesting.” Woodside’s recent re-accreditation in March also figured in her decision, she said. The school’s action plan lays out two priorities: ■ Close the academic achievement gap by emphasizing literacy skills. ■ Build a spirited school community through the principles of a well-established program at Woodside that, among other things, builds student confidence, creates a sense of belonging and accomplishment, and fosters a spirit of adventure. The action plan is “a really clear mandate for me as a leader,” Ms. Burbank said. A

Atherton: Lewis files for re-election By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor


ith only one week left before the filing deadline, Elizabeth Lewis turned in her papers Aug. 3 to run for re-election to the Atherton City Council, making her the only official candidate to date. Ms. Lewis is completing her first term on the council, and now serves as vice mayor, which puts her in a prime position for being handed the gavel in December if she wins re-election.

Other residents who have taken out papers, but not filed them, are: Cary Wiest, Denise Kupperman, Bob Roeser, JoAnn Byrne Sockolov, and Greg Conlon. Councilwoman Kathy McKeithen told the Almanac on Friday that she has made a decision on whether she will run for reelection, but she will not make the decision public yet. Asked why not, she said, “I just want a certain amount of privacy in my life right now.” Councilwoman Lewis is a

member of the Town Center Task Force Committee, and has been a leader in the push to rebuild the center using private funds. She and Councilman Jerry Carlson often cast the minority votes in divided council decisions. The filing deadline for running for the two open council seats is Friday, Aug. 10. If Ms. McKeithen doesn’t file papers by then, the filing period will be extended to Wednesday, Aug. 15, for all non-incumbents. A

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Taking on the big challenges Menlo Park native, 27, becomes leader in the green-building movement By Elena Kadvany Special to the Almanac


n 2005, a self-described “annoying student advocate” got the University of California at Santa Barbara to replace all of the campus’ carpets with “green,” environmentally sustainable carpets. She went on to write the entire UC system’s first sustainable purchasing policy, transforming the way companies do business with the UCs. Now, Ashleigh Talberth, 27, of Menlo Park has taken on an even bigger challenge: persuading California companies to reduce their building’s energy, water and waste by 20 percent in just two years. This is not just some idle wish. As director of special projects for the Northern California Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, Ms. Talberth is leading the charge on the project, known as the California Best Buildings Challenge, which has won the backing of former president Bill Clinton and his Clinton Global Initiative.

Menlo Park native

Born and raised in Menlo Park, Ashleigh Talberth attend-

ed Hillview Middle School and graduated from Menlo-Atherton High School in 2003. She went on to study business economics at UC Santa Barbara, but it wasn’t until her sophomore year that any interest in environmental issues was sparked. “I had kind of an ‘aha’ moment,” she said. She attended an on-campus screening of a documentary called “The Corporation,” a film that takes an in-depth look at the concept of the modern-day corporation. She was struck by a particular interview with Ray Anderson, chairman and founder of an international carpet company called Interface Inc. In the film, Mr. Anderson explains his own “aha” moment. After reading “The Ecology of Commerce,” by Paul Hawken, he decided to transform his entire life and company. “He (Mr. Anderson) basically had this epiphany and realized his company was contributing to a lot of environmental destruction,” Ms. Talberth explained. Carpets can use a lot of oil and give off chemicals that pose a multitude of potential health

Menlo Park election: Carlton pulls papers By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


s the deadline to file draws near, another candidate seems ready to jump into the Menlo Park City Council race. Catherine Carlton, currently serving as vice chair on the Parks and Recreation Commission, pulled papers on Aug. 2, according to the city clerk’s office. Ms. Carlton’s background includes an MBA with international business management experience. “As a businesswoman, I started and managed suc-

cessful companies, balanced a budget, created jobs, met a payroll, paid taxes, and understand employee issues,” she said. “I offer voters both my financial management and business skills, and my desire to work collaboratively to bring the highest quality services for the best value to Menlo Park residents.” She said she’s running because she’s passionate about helping Menlo Park be a vibrant, outstanding community with a fiscally responsible council. “As a mother, I care See CARLTON, page 8

Almanac photo by Michelle Le

Ashleigh Talberth works in her office at the at the U.S. Green Building Council in downtown San Francisco. Cover photo: Ms. Talberth in the conference room of the Building Council. Photo by Michelle Le.

dangers. “He changed his whole company to make it uber green and to contribute toward making the world a better place rather than the alternative,” said Ms. Talberth. “That really inspired me.” So she decided to start with what she had: the college she was attending and an inspiring story about an environmentally conscious carpet company. After extensive research, Ms. Talberth learned that UC Santa Barbara could go “green” and reduce its environmental impact, as well as save thousands of dollars, just by changing the

carpets. She approached the facilities people, first at UCSB, and then devoted lots of time to persuading all 10 UC campuses to change their practices with regard to carpets. Ms. Talberth eventually helped change the way the UC campuses do business by writing their first sustainable purchasing policy. “Now, when companies go to do business with the UC system, it’s not just about cost,” she said. “They’re not just bargaining over that; they’re bargaining over recycled content and sustainability and that kind of thing.” As a business economics major

with a passion for the environment, Ms. Talberth says she thrives at this intersection of business and sustainability. Her introduction into the sustainability world was through carpets, but she soon moved onto green building. “Carpets go into buildings, but buildings are so much bigger than that. I really believe that the way to have the biggest impact in the most cost-efficient way toward sustainability is through buildings,” she said. This belief led her to her current position at the Northern See TALBERTH, page 8

Hanretty pleads no contest to six felonies By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor


ormer Portola Valley schools superintendent Tim Hanretty is still likely to serve county jail time even if he avoids state prison after pleading no contest to six felony charges stemming from his work at the Portola Valley and Woodside school districts. The felonies include embezzling $101,000 from the Portola Valley district. Steve Wagstaffe, San Mateo County’s district attorney, said that even though Judge Mark Forcum indicated during Mr. Hanretty’s July 31 plea hearing that he would strongly consider a probationary sentence if the former superintendent made substantial restitution before his Oct. 11 sentencing, proba-

tion can include up to a year in county jail. “If he got probation with no time — that would be totally out of step with what the case deserves,” Mr. Wagstaffe said. “This is a violation of public trust.” After last week’s court hearing, Mr. Hanretty’s attorney, Mike Markowitz, said his client “fully intends to pay the full amount back.” When asked by a reporter how much that would be, Mr. Markowitz cited the $101,000 amount Mr. Hanretty embezzled from the Portola Valley district to pay for construction work on his Woodside home. But Mr. Wagstaffe said that his office wants Mr. Hanretty to repay at least a portion of

interest now burdening the Woodside district as a result of Mr. Hanretty’s falsifying papers to take out a school construction loan for nearly $2 million more than what was authorized by the school board. He said Mr. Markowitz’s position is likely to be “a significant issue” as the sentencing hearing approaches. “There’s the indebtedness that he ran up,” he said. “Why should the taxpayers have to pay for that?” After the court hearing, Mr. Markowitz noted that his client had not stolen any money from the Woodside district, where he served for a number of years as the chief business officer. The district “got 100 percent benefit See HANRETTY, page 8

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Workshops: Where to build more housing? By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer






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icking their housing update process into higher gear, Menlo Park will hold two community workshops to discuss where to include higher density housing zones and affordable units. The workshops are scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 16, at 6:30 p.m. at the Arrillaga Family Recreation Center (700 Alma St.) and Thursday, Aug. 23, at 6:30 p.m. at the senior center at 100 Terminal Ave. Go to to view the city’s project website on the housing element update, which includes a list of 23 preliminary sites to be evaluated as potential high density zones. Several locations along Sand Hill Road near the I-280 intersection, parcels owned by Stanford University on El Camino


Real, and 3.45 acres on Derry Lane are among those under consideration.

Commission vacancies Civic-minded residents could enter the increasingly crowded race for a seat on the City Council this year .. or they could throw their hats into the ring for appointment to one of many positions open on Menlo Park’s commissions. Open commission seats: Three on Planning, two on Environmental Quality, one on Parks and Recreation, one on Library and one on Bicycle. Applications are due Thursday, Aug. 9. Contact City Clerk Margaret Roberts at 330-6625 or to apply. A

Tour de Menlo rolls out Aug. 18 at M-A High


ome 500 cyclists are expected to take off from MenloAtherton High School on Saturday, Aug. 18, for the annual Tour de Menlo bike ride, an annual community event since 2006. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Menlo Park and the Almanac, the Tour features three routes of 65, 45 and 35 miles and attracts many riders, some of whom return every summer. As in prior years, the ride will start and finish at M-A. The $50 entry fee includes a T-shirt and lunch prepared by Lutticken’s Deli at the Picchetti Open Space Reserve in Cupertino, as well as fully stocked rest stops and a water stop along the way. The Rotary Club provides emergency and technical support (SAG) over all three routes that is accessible by phone. Proceeds from the ride support various Rotary projects, including tutoring Englishlanguage learners and providing need-based scholarships to local high school students. In addition, funds from the Tour support the Almanac’s Holiday

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Fund, which makes donations to 10 local nonprofit agencies that help the hungry, homeless and youths who need counseling in southern San Mateo Country. In last year’s ride, the 65-mile route was by far the most popular, taking riders up to Belmont and the first rest stop on Polhemus Road. Then, after climbing up to the bike bridge, riders headed south to Canada Road in Woodside and then to the Portola Road firehouse near Alpine Road to the second rest stop. Riders on the 45-mile route also stopped at the firehouse and then both routes circled around to Page Mill Road, with the longer route climbing up to Altamont Road and the others over to Arastradero Road and Los Altos. Those choosing the 35-mile route headed south on Junipero Serra and met all other riders in Los Altos before heading up a short climb on Montebello Road for lunch. All riders returned to M-A via the Foothill Expressway. Go to for more information and to find a link to sign up online, which is open until Aug. 17. Riders may also sign up at M-A until 9 a.m. on ride day. It is still possible to order this year’s tour jersey, which will be delivered about eight weeks after the ride. For more information, call Tom at 223-6507. A


El Camino Real facelift begins Menlo Park council approves Matteson Companies housing project By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


lot left vacant at 389 El Camino Real when a car dealer abandoned Menlo Park will now come to life again as a housing development. You don’t often see neighbors cheering alongside developers, but that’s what happened after the City Council voted unanimously on July 31 to let Matteson Companies build 17 townhomes and nine single-family homes on the 1.23-acre site. Given the city’s current struggle to meet the state’s affordable housing requirements, three units will be set aside as belowmarket-rate (BMR) housing, at no small cost to the developer, who estimated the units will cost $1.45 million out of pocket to build. Matteson will also pay $1.1 million in fees to the city and other agencies. Developer Matt Matteson told the Almanac that it was important to actually build the BMR units instead of paying in-lieu fees, given the city’s difficulty in translating those fees into housing. “I’ve lived my entire life in Menlo Park. We rely on a whole lot of people to make our life go, people behind the checkstand at Safeway, the guy changing oil, city staff, teachers, police. If we don’t watch out, all of those people end up living in Tracy and Modesto and commuting in.” On top of contributing to

traffic, the commute steals time and volunteers for activities like after-school programs away, he said, and it’s important to the fabric of a community to have the people who fill critical roles to live closer. He thinks those proclaiming that only people who can afford to live in Menlo Park should live here have the wrong perspective. “People are people. Just because their income isn’t as high as someone else’s doesn’t mean they don’t make a great neighbor.” “It was easier in the ’60s and ’70s, for those of us lucky enough to buy many years ago. I would bet a massive percentage of people in Menlo Park could not afford to buy their home today.” He noted that his two adult daughters will have a hard time buying a home in the town they grew up in on their own salaries. The BMR housing will be integrated into the project site. Years of negotiation led to the project’s current design, meant to blend in with the Allied Arts neighborhood bordering the property. Originally, in 2008, Matteson Companies proposed packing 48 homes onto the small lot, a plan that inspired protest from the neighbors. And now: “I don’t know how you could possibly vote against this,” Menlo Park resident Preston Butcher said of the scaleddown project. “It’s absolutely

Rendering courtesy, the Matteson Companies

This rendering shows the College Avenue view of the Matteson Companies planned housing development at 389 El Camino Real in Menlo Park. The townhouses end on the left, there is a pocket park in the center, and on the right is a College Avenue house meant to be different from the rest of the project, said Matt Matteson, CEO of the Matteson Companies.

magnificent.” Indeed, the council could not, voting 5-0 to approve the project after some discussion on the tree canopy and sidewalk widths. Councilman Peter Ohtaki noted that he used to live near the empty lot, and sounded pleased to know the landscape would be changing in the near future. Mr. Matteson said he hoped the recently approved downtown/El Camino Real specific plan would shorten the approval process for other projects by removing uncertainty and some of the city’s discretion to disallow projects that do meet the code. “There are cities in our area that are doing this in a year and a half,” he said. “Formerly the city didn’t have to grant you

Ceremony to honor Michelle Mazzei The Oak Knoll School community and the friends and family of former fourth-grade teacher Michelle Mazzei invite the public to an event on Sunday, Sept. 9, to honor the memory of Ms. Mazzei, who died in 2005 at age 34 when her bike was struck by a car. Environmental Volunteers, whose mission is to educate students and the public on

environmental issues, will dedicate a room at its EcoCenter in the Palo Alto Baylands in her memory. Ms. Mazzei was an active member of Environmental Volunteers. The two-hour event will start at 3 p.m. at the center, located at 2560 Embarcadero Road. Ms. Mazzei died at Stanford Hospital in October 2005 after being struck by a car while

riding her bike on Woodside Road near Interstate 280. The 68-year-old driver was looking for the entrance to the freeway and his vehicle entered the bike lane and struck her, according to a Sheriff ’s Office report. Write to for more information. Go to for directions to the EcoCenter.

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approval even if the zoning code said the uses were possible with a conditional use permit. You were trying to count heads on the planning commission and council to see if you were going to get through. When you don’t even know how many units you can build and how high they can go — that’s a problem.” As someone who lives 12 blocks away from the project site, Mr. Matteson wants to be able to go to Peet’s Coffee and hear that people like what he’s done. He praised the willingness

of the Allied Arts residents, led by Annie Berlin, to collaborate on a site design instead of stonewalling any development. “It was a really effective process,” he said. “I hoped it’s used by others.” The changes included wider setbacks, two-story homes instead of three, and reworking exterior finishes and landscaping until they matched the neighborhood. Construction should start some time next spring, according to the developer, after the rains pass. A

R EAL E STATE Q&A by Gloria Darke

Taking Possession Before The Close Of Escrow Q. The sale of our home will be delayed a couple of months until the buyers’ home sells. Since we have a place to move the buyer is asking to move in before we close escrow. Is this a good idea or not? A. Giving early occupancy is rarely a good idea because too many things could go wrong. For instance, what if your buyers’ home doesn’t sell on schedule or, worse yet, what if it doesn’t sell at all? However, if you must give early occupancy make certain that your contract covers critical items. First, how much rent will be charged and when is it due? What kind of penalty will the buyers’ incur if the rent is late?

Who will pay the utilities after you move out? Will the buyers’ be covered by adequate insurance while occupying your property? What recourse will you have if the buyers’ sale falls through and they cannot but your house? What if they decide they don’t like the house as well as they thought or decide they over-paid? What if they don’t want to leave? The buyers “walk through” inspections should be done before occupancy, just in case something happens to the property after they move in. Even if you can satisfactorily answer these questions, this would be one area of real estate I would stick with “never!”

For answers to any questions you may have on real estate, you may e-mail me at gdarke@apr. com or call 462-1111, Alain Pinel Realtors. I also offer a free market analysis of your property. August 8, 2012NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN7

N E W S HANRETTY continued from page 5

from that loan. ... There was no loss. The district got what (it) paid for,” Mr. Markowitz said. The attorney’s claim that no money was stolen from the Woodside district echoes the conclusion announced by the DA’s office after auditors pored over the Woodside district financial records of the school construction project. Karen Guidotti, chief deputy district attorney, said the probation department will determine the amount of appropriate restitution, and will present a recommendation to the court. The determination will be based in part on what the school districts request, she said. With the plea deal, two of three felony charges stemming from the Woodside case were dropped; the remaining count was misappropriation of public funds. One of six felony charges was dropped in the Portola Valley case. Mr. Hanretty remains out of custody after posting bail. Mr. Hanretty was appointed superintendent of the Portola Valley School District in 2010, succeeding Anne Campbell after she became superintendent of CARLTON continued from page 5

that these valuable community assets, which belong to all Menlo Park residents, are here for children to enjoy.” Her community involvement includes volunteering with the Junior League and the Sharon Heights Homeowners Association, in addition to serving on the city commission, which she was appointed to in 2010. Ms. Carlton said she also volunteers with programs such as HIP Housing, Vista Center for the Blind, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula. She joins five other likely candidates: incumbents Kelly Fergusson and Andy Cohen; firefighter Dave Bragg; Housing Commissioner Carolyn Clarke; and Transportation Commissioner Ray Mueller. “Catherine has many strengths, and I am really excited about all the perspectives and the experience base of the candidates in this field, and the conversation that will occur during this election as a result,” Mr. Mueller said. She will have a ways to go to catch up with Mr. Muel-

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county schools. He resigned his post in January after the DA’s office launched its investigation of the misappropriation of funds from his tenure with the Woodside district. A subsequent investigation of the Portola Valley district finances turned up the theft of public funds as well as numerous bookkeeping irregularities that overstated the district’s available funds. ‘Philosophical dilemma’

Although the judge capped the possible state prison term at four years, “we wanted the plea to be open for the full nine years,” Mr. Wagstaffe said, referring to the maximum sentence Mr. Hanretty had faced before the plea bargain. Mr. Wagstaffe said that, in recent years, the trend for judges has been to focus on “making the victim whole” by compelling the wrongdoer to make restitution. This sometimes involves shortening prison time to give the convicted person the ability to raise the money to repay his or her victims. “It’s a real philosophical dilemma,” he said, noting that the trend sometimes puts judges and prosecutors at odds. A

ler’s endorsements, as he seems to announce a new supporter almost on a daily basis. His list now includes the entire county Board of Supervisors; all seven Menlo Park planning commissioners; Mayor Kirsten Keith; Councilman Rich Cline; and Assemblyman Jerry Hill. Meanwhile Mr. Bragg’s campaign had a slight setback as news of a bankruptcy filing in 2010 surfaced. He said his second job running Thor Construction came about as an attempt to recoup investment losses in 2008. “Unfortunately for our personal finances it was too little too late and we lost our home and several rental properties,” he said. By 2010 he and his wife’s assets trailed their debt by $800,000, and the couple is still working to pay the remaining balance. They sold their Menlo Park home and rented a house four doors down in the same neighborhood. “This whole experience has been very humbling for us and I get a daily reminder driving by our old house,” Mr. Bragg said, noting that he’s become a much more cautious investor as a result. “I cannot express enough about how much more I learned when we lost everything than when we were making it. This experience has been extremely educational and an expensive one at that.” The filing period remains open until Aug. 10, with a five-day extension if one of the incumbents decides not to run. A

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Taking on the big challenges TALBERTH continued from page 5

California chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council in San Francisco, where she went to work after graduating from UCSB in 2007. From architects to engineers to lawyers, she has worked on educating people and companies about green building. But her strong interest in public policy and advocacy eventually led her beyond education. In the spring of 2011, President Obama issued a “Better Building Challenge,” which calls on businesses in the U.S. to reduce energy consumed in buildings by 20 percent by 2020. Ms. Talberth said she was inspired by the president’s idea and originally thought the local chapter of the Green Building Council could contribute by recruiting California companies to join the campaign. But should they go beyond that? Last November, she convened a group of Silicon Valley company leaders to discuss what California’s green building role should be. “What came out of those conversations was this very California attitude: We’re California, we don’t just do what the rest of the country does. We’re leaders, we’re innovators, we set the bar,” she said. She took the president’s “better” and made it “best,” proposing the California Best Buildings Challenge, which calls on companies to reduce their building’s energy, water and waste by 20 percent in just two years. After much collaboration with other Green Building

Photo by Michelle Le

Ashleigh Talberth, 27, of Menlo Park is working to persuade California companies to reduce their building’s energy, water and Ü>ÃÌiÊLÞÊÓäÊ«iÀVi˜Ìʈ˜ÊÕÃÌÊÌܜÊÞi>Àð

Council staff members, executive director Dan Geiger, the Green Building board, and the national office, Ms. Talberth got six companies to commit to her project: Google, Zynga, Genentec, SAP, Prudential Real Estate Investors and Adobe. She also spearheaded an effort to win support of the Best Buildings Challenge by the Clinton Global Initiative. Former president Bill Clinton founded this initiative in 2005 with the goal of inspiring global leaders to find innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems, from poverty to pollution. The initiative selects companies or projects, and issues “commitments” that bring together leading company executives and “gets them to commit to doing good things,” she said. The California Best Buildings Challenge was selected by the Clinton Global Initiative as a 2012 commitment. It was officially launched on June 11 at a Clinton Global Initiative

event in Chicago. Although Ms. Talberth did not join the Green Building Council CEO, Rick Fedrezzi, on stage with President Clinton at the event, the president did come by to “chime in” on a breakout session that she attended earlier in the day. “This has been a huge step in my career. I’ve always kind of had this theme of the connection between business and sustainability,” she said. “This has really taken it to a whole new level.” Now she is working on building momemtum in this area for a Greenbuild conference in November when she says 40,000 people are expected to show up at Moscone Center in San Francisco. A

INFORMATION Visit for more information on California’s Best Buildings Challenge. Here are links to videos on the Challenge: UÊ̈˜ÞÕÀ°Vœ“ÉÀii˜‡näÎ UÊ̈˜ÞÕÀ°Vœ“ÉÀii˜‡nä{

Peet’s Coffee will go private in deal Peet’s Coffee & Tea Inc., which opened its Menlo Park store in 1971, says it will continue to be operated by its current management and employees after it is acquired by the German company, Joh. A. Benckiser. Peet’s, founded in Berkeley in 1966 by Alfred Peet (Menlo Park’s was the second store), will go private as a result of the $1 billion acquisition, the Emeryville-based Peet’s said in a July 23 announcement. Peet’s will remain based in the Bay Area, with its home office in Emeryville and its roast-toorder facility in Alameda, said


Patrick O’Dea, president and CEO of Peet’s. Joh. A. Benckiser is a privately held company focused on longterm investments in premium consumer-goods brands. — Sue Dremann

Oracle buys Menlo Park software firm Oracle’s recent buying spree will include Skire, a Menlo Park company founded in 2000 that specializes in construction and facilities management software. “The capital construction

and facilities industry has for decades sought a tighter relationship and greater synchronization between owners and service providers, and the Oracle-Skire combination makes that vision a reality,” said Massy Mehdipour, founder and CEO of Skire, in a July 19 announcement. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Oracle has bought five other companies so far this year, including spending $300 million to acquire Vitrue, a company that focuses on social media marketing applications for platforms like Facebook.


Owed a property tax refund? Wait in line By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor


arol Flaherty waited a long time before she could claim victory in her effort to have her Atherton property reappraised at a lower value. It had taken 17 months from the time she filed an appeal with the San Mateo County Assessment Appeals Board in 2010 to the day she stated her case before the board. When the board ruled in her favor after her appeals hearing in early March, she thought a refund check for the overpayment of property taxes she and her husband John had paid since 2010, plus interest, would arrive in the mail within a few weeks. She was wrong. And now, she’s fighting mad. Ms. Flaherty’s anger is the result of what she learned last month after making inquiries about her case — that the county had a backlog of hundreds of such cases because the solo clerk of the appeals board was in a serious accident in March, and went out on a months-long medical leave. And because no one had been cross-trained to do his work, “everything is in limbo,” she told the Almanac in an interview in late July. The clerk’s job involves processing the appeals board’s decisions, notifying appellants, and, in the case of a successful appeal, sending along the new assessment information to the appropriate county office so that refunds checks can be sent out. Greg Goumas, a real estate agent and appraiser who represented the Flahertys before the appeals board, said that since the clerk, Jack Yaco, went out on leave, he and his clients have received “no written notice of judgments” made by the board. He had received an email saying that the Flahertys’ appeal had been successful because the judgment was issued shortly before Mr. Yaco’s accident, he said. “No back-up person? This is so egregious and so outlandish that

it merits ... a full investigation,” Ms. Flaherty said, adding that she had written to Supervisor Don Horsley and board President Adrienne Tissier about the matter. Late last week, the Flahertys received their refund check, with 1.5 percent interest, but she’s not letting the county off the hook. Attributing the action on her case to inquiries made by Mr. Horsley’s office as a result of her complaint, she noted that “the squeaky wheel gets the oil. But if you’re not a squeaky wheel, you sit at home wondering” what’s happening. New staffing

The appeals board is independent of the assessor’s office, and is overseen by the county manager’s office. Assistant County Manager David Holland told the Almanac that he has been the person officially overseeing the board for only about six months. “It wasn’t really assigned before,” he said. Mr. Holland confirmed that no one had been cross-trained to pick up Mr. Yaco’s work load if necessary, but he said that’s changing. After the clerk went out on leave, Mr. Holland said, temporary help was brought in while someone with experience was sought and eventually found. That person, he said, will remain in the full-time position even when Mr. Yaco returns to work full time. (Mr. Yaco returned to work part time several weeks ago.) Mr. Holland noted that the law allows counties to take up to two years to process property assessment appeals, and added that San Mateo County has complied with that requirement. But “we’re looking at how we can move things forward to be done more quickly” in the future, he said. That includes the installation of new software that should be in place in four to five months, he said. Rough few months

Despite the hiring of a new

Almanac photo by Daniella Sanchez

Relay for life Luminaria bags are placed along a walking path that supporters of Menlo Park’s Relay For Life followed at Burgess Park on Saturday night. The bags are decorated with images, words and drawings of people who have fought with cancer, such as former Menlo Park police sergeant Andrew Kline who died in 2005 at age 47 from cancer. Relay for Life is an annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society that involves a 24-hour walk from 10 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday.

clerk, business since Mr. Yaco’s accident hasn’t gone smoothly, according to Mr. Goumas, who said he has some 200 clients with active appeals in the county right now — about 150 from the Almanac’s coverage area. When Mr. Yaco went out on leave, “the processes within the appeals board office, from my perspective, came to a pretty sudden halt,” Mr. Goumas said.

County assessment appeals process jammed up after clerk’s unexpected medical leave. “For example, when I went before the appeals board to appeal a case (in the past), I would usually get a notice of the decision within a week,” he said. “Those have stopped coming — I haven’t received any notices” since Mr. Yaco’s accident. Also, he said, since the clerk went on leave, he has received notices of scheduled appeals

Portola Valley posts ‘affordable’ housing info By Dave Boyce Almanac staff writer


he town of Portola Valley has posted a new page on its website with answers to questions about the town’s housing policy, including plans to build homes that would be affordable to people of moderate incomes.

The town is negotiating to purchase a 1.68-acre site at 900 Portola Road, the former site of Al’s Nursery, with plans for about eight homes there that would fulfill some of the town’s affordable housing obligations under state law. Go to to see the new page, which

has answers to 41 “frequently asked” questions, links to relevant sections of the town’s general plan and municipal code, and resources from regional and state agencies. The light green box on the right of the page links to an online form for comments and questions. The homes at the nursery

hearings, “and after people arrived, we’d find (the hearing) was not on the docket for the day.” Other times hearings were scheduled, but no advance notices were sent out, he said. Santa Clara County

Mr. Goumas said he has also represented a number of clients before the Santa Clara County Assessment Appeals Board over the years, and although the process can be slow in both counties, Santa Clara County has enacted new practices to keep up with the increase in assessment appeals since 2008, when property values began to plummet. That hasn’t happened in San Mateo County, he said. Anika Campbell-Belton, assistant clerk of the board in Santa Clara County, confirmed that her office in 2010 increased the number of three-member appeals boards from two to three to meet the increased demand. The county also began offering appellants the option of having their cases heard by only one appeals board memsite would be intended for people who live or work in town — teachers, firefighters and residents with changed circumstances — but who have “moderate incomes” and cannot afford the multi-million-dollar homes in Portola Valley. In San Mateo County, a moderate income is around $86,500 for an individual and $123,600 for a family of four, according

ber, thereby allowing quicker processing of claims overall. Santa Clara County processes considerably more appeals per year: In 2011-12, it heard nearly 9,600 appeals, and in prior recent years, that number has topped 10,000, Ms. CampbellBelton said. San Mateo County has only one three-member appeals board. Mr. Holland said. In 2008, the county heard 1,472 appeals; the following year, that number rose by slightly more than 300. Last year, there were 2,400 appeals, he said. Watchful eye

Ms. Flaherty said that although her business with the appeals process has finally been wrapped up for this assessment year, her concern about the county’s handling of property tax assessments and appeals has not ended. She said that she intends to keep an eye on the process, noting that “just because we got our checks, that doesn’t mean that other people will be taken care of soon.” A

to the California Department of Housing and Community Development. The town is planning to finance the purchase of the site through the sale of four parcels designated for affordable housing in the Blue Oaks neighborhood. Plans to build homes in Blue Oaks have run aground on the high cost to the developer of preparing the topographically complex site. A

August 8, 2012NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN9


Parking downtown: Menlo Park revises task force By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


hich comes first, defining the mission, or choosing the crew? The Menlo Park City Council pondered that question on July 31 as it discussed the proposed downtown parking task force. The task force would study implementation of parking changes included in the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan and conduct a parking

management study, according to staff. Public Works Director Chip Taylor clarified that it would not evaluate trial installations proposed in the plan, such as the trial installation of a small marketplace off a Chestnut Street paseo; those features would be overseen by the city’s capital improvement process. While staff suggested first figuring out exactly how the task force should accomplish those objectives, the council decided

to focus on who the advisory group should include. The staff initially suggested appointing five people to the group: two Chamber of Commerce representatives, one resident at large, one transportation commissioner, and one planning commissioner. That did not sit well with groups such as the Lions Club, which runs the Farmers’ Market, and the Downtown Alliance, a coalition of business and property owners. Both have a vested

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10NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNAugust 8, 2012

interest in downtown parking The question then arose as to and have been vocal in their how many members the task criticisms of the specific plan. force should have. Although no The Environmental Quality decision was reached, it seemed Commission also wants to par- seven might work, allowing ticipate in the hope of evaluating representatives from two more parking strategies in terms of groups to participate while greenhouse gas and other envi- maintaining an odd number of ronmental impacts, according members. to an email sent C ou nc i l ma n to the council by Andy Cohen C om m i s s ione r suggested stick‘I don’t want to Adina Levin. ing with five, but do this too fast.’ dropping the resiMr. Taylor said that the goal is to dent at large in COUNCILMAN RICH CLINE construct a task favor of adding force with a stable an environmencomposition that could remain tal quality commissioner, and intact throughout a lengthy pro- replacing another representative cess. He said the city therefore with someone from one of the focused on groups like the com- downtown groups. missions that had been around As it became clear that the task for a long time. force was not ready for prime But some on the council time, the council directed staff thought the groups had a point. to adjust the proposal and “The Lions Club has been return at a later date. “I don’t around a long time,� Mayor want to do this too fast,� CounKirsten Keith noted. cilman Rich Cline said. A

Local donations to presidential campaigns By Dave Boyce Almanac staff writer


he presidential campaign of Barack Obama has raised $1.25 million in contributions from local individuals, nearly twice as much as the $682,832 the Mitt Romney campaign has raised, according to data through June 30, compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics. These are contributions made directly to the presidential campaigns and do not include donations to other organizations that support the campaigns, such as political parties and super PACs. This report deals with contributions by people who report associations with ZIP codes from one of the four Almanac towns: Atherton, Menlo Park, Portola Valley or Woodside. There is an explanation for why the Romney campaign trails the Obama campaign by such a wide margin. Because Mr. Obama was running unopposed, donors to his campaign committee have been able to give the maximum ($2,500) for each election, both the primary and the general, a total of $5,000. That’s not true of Mr. Romney, who faced substantial opposition in the primaries. While he faced opposition, donors to his campaign committee could give only up to $2,500 for the primary election . Mr. Obama’s campaign has received 148 local donations of $5,000 each, whereas Mr. Rom-

N EL EC TI O N 2012

ney has received eight, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the source of data for this story. The gap between the Obama and Romney campaigns narrows considerably when you look at only primary election donations and the individuals who gave the maximum $2,500 for the primary elections. In that case, Mr. Romney’s campaign raised about $493,000 from local individuals and Mr. Obama’s, $529,000. Using this measure, the candidates are essentially tied in Portola Valley in terms of dollar donations, while in Woodside Mr. Obama is up by 14 percentage points, and in Menlo Park by 34 points. In Atherton, Mr. Romney leads by 20 points. In addition to limits on donations to presidential campaigns, there are limits on contributions to a national party committee ($30,000 per calendar year) and to a state, district or local party committee ($10,000 per year), according to the Federal Election Commission. As for socalled super PACs, an individual may give an unlimited amount to advance a political point of view if the organization does not “coordinate� its efforts with a candidate or campaign. A

Obama campaign Following are local donors who have given at least $2,500 to Barack Obama’s

See DONORS, page 11


Local donations to super PACs, bundlers Dave Boyce Almanac staff writer


few local people have been responsible for gathering and/or contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. For the Democrats, the money came in bundles. A bundler is someone who collects checks from individuals and delivers them as a bundle to a candidate. The Federal Election Commission requires disclosure of bundlers who are registered lobbyists. The Democrats are disclosing bundling by non-lobbyists, whereas Republican presidential candidates in 2012 have chosen not

DONORS continued from previous page presidential campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics: ■ Portola Valley: Polly W. Bredt, Thomas H. Bredt, Lise J. Buyer, Gayle Collat, Laura Cornish, Dennis Debroeck Eileen Donahoe, John Donahoe, Donna L. Dubinsky, Anne S. Galli, Judith Hasko, Nancy Heinen, Jeffrey D. Jordan, Vinod Khosla, Gregory King, Karen King, Joseph C. Krauskopf, Steven Krausz, Chong-Moon Lee, Richard J. Lee, Joann Loulan, James McGeever, Armand Neukermans, Elaine Neukermans, Steve Newman, Dorothy Polash, Kathy Reavis, Elizabeth B. Ross, Nicole Rubin Diana Sunshine, Arlene B. Tenenbaum, Jay M. Tenenbaum, Lawrence Tesler, Leonie Walker. ■ Woodside: Roger J. Bamford, Andrew Bridges, Susan Z. Breyer, Victoria Burns Humphrey, Diane M. Chesler, Joy Covey, Laura H. Covington, John C. Dean Jr., John Doerr, John Doyle, Elizabeth C. Dressel, Cindy Goldberg, Evan Goldberg, Alan C. Herzig, Grant Huberty, Roberta Kameda, Deepak Kamra, David Klausner, Elizabeth Korman, Mitchell Lasky, Mary Ellen Lemieux, Ronald Lemieux, Shirley Ludwig, James E. Lyons, Laird McCulloch, Ann K. McNamee, Laura Nibbi, Yagyensh Pati, Lois Ann Porter, Caitlyn Symone Prather, Sally Rau, Erica J. Rogers, Dan Rosenweig, Eve Shaw, Nicole Sheehan, John Shoch, Robert E. Sims, Deborah Suppes, John Thompson, Sandra Thompson, Frank Van Veenendaal, Lisa Wan, Maurice Werdegar, Pegi Young. ■ Atherton: Fred Alvarez, Alan Austin, Vinod Bhardwaj, Jennifer Blakely, Jennifer Carrico, Bita Daryabari, Jorge Del Calvo, Caroline Donahue, Marilee Gardner, David Goldberg, John D. Goldman, Marcia L. Goldman, Noosheen Hashemi, Caitlin Heising, Mark Heising, Matthew Heising, David Henig, Manuel Henriquez, Felicia Horowitz, Lawrence Horowitz, Susan Hyatt, Ross Jaffe, Edward D. Johnson, David Keller, Chris M. Kelly, Steven Kleiman, Ross Koningstein, Hilarie Koplow-McAdams, Omid Kordestani, James M. Koshland, Jim Koshland, Patricia Kubal, Joan Lane, Gary Lauder, Laura Lauder, Gregory Loew, Giacomo Marini, Steve Markoulis Charles L. Marks, Steve McAdams, Beth McLellan Marjorie McMorris, Agnes Mendelson, Alan C. Mendelson, Dianne Morton, James Neupert John O’Farrell, Renuka Prasad, Geoff Ralston, Arvind P. Relan, Sheryl K. Sandberg, Komal Shah Elizabeth Simons, Patrisia Spezzaferro, Jim Stephens, John Suttle, Richard Thesing, Lida Urbanek, Arthur Wong, Brenda Woodson. ■ Menlo Park: Sheri Anderson, Clarence Andresen, Joseph S. Andresen, Jody Beecher, Eugene James Boyle, Jody Buckley, David C. Burke, Brook H. Byers, Andrea Corney, Lee Courtney, Lance Dixon, Melissa P. Draper, Timothy Draper, Judith Estrin, Robert Alan Eustace, Diane Frankle, Gregory M. Gallo, Penny Gallo, Venky Ganesan, Maria Gomes, Peter

to, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group that tracks money in politics. A prominent bundler for Democrats is Woodside attorney Sandra A. Thompson. Ms. Thompson gathered $966,556 in contributions for Mr. Obama, according to records at, the website of the Center for Responsive Politics. The Democrats had the services of five other local bundlers, all listing Menlo Park ties: $437,200 from Steve Westly of the Westly Group, $240,200 from Noosheen Hashemi of The H.A.N.D. Foundation, $36,900 from Steve Spinner of Sports Potential, $9,650 from former

state assembly candidate Josh Becker of New Cycle Capital, and $5,250 from Craig Hanson of Next World Capital. A super PAC is a political action committee open to unlimited contributions from individuals and corporations. Super PACs cannot give to or coordinate with candidates, campaigns or parties, but are free to make unlimited independent expenditures that support the cause of a candidate or political party, or a political point of view. The super PAC became a legal entity in 2010 following the U.S. Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Ms. Thompson, the Woodside attorney, also gave $75,000 to Priorities USA Action, a

pro-Obama super PAC. Of $21 million given to Priorities USA, Ms. Thompson is the only donor listed from the Almanac’s circulation area of Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley and Menlo Park, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. By contrast, the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, with total assets of $82 million, lists several local donors: ■ From Portola Valley: $200,000 from Dick W. Boyce of TPG Capital, $100,000 from Richard Boyce of TPG Capital, and $20,000 from Kurt Jaggers of TA Associates. ■ From Atherton: $100,000 from Hewlett-Packard Corp. CEO Meg Whitman, and

Gregory, Karen Grove, Stephen J. Harrick, Judy Heyboer, Bill Hinman Donna Ito, Cathryn Jenkins, Michael Jung, Scott Kaspick, Kathy Ann Kwan, Craig Lewis, Angela MacFarlane, Michael Malecek, Wendy Malecek, Bonnie Matlock, Beth Ellyn McClendon, Roderick McInerney, John McMurtry, Beverly Mitchell, Sally Morton, Brad O’Brien, Judy O’Brien, Carol Orton, Kay Pauling, Claire E. Perry, Joyce Pharriss, Shervin Pishevar, Andrew Rappaport, Heyward Robinson, Diane W. Savage, Catherine Selleck, Nancy B. Serrurier, Susan Termohlen, Immanuel Thangaraj, Stephen J. Venuto, Babette Vllasenor, Jeff Weiner, Steven Westly, Jason Wheeler, Jackie Wood, Eric Wright.

James McLean, Mervin G. Morris, Missy Morris, Robert O’Donnell ,Tom P. Palecek, Patricia Perkins-Leone, Vivek Ranadive, Christine Rogers, Jennifer Rogers, Jesse T. Rogers, Mindy Rogers, Mario Rosati, Laurie Shepard, Roderick Shepard, William C. Sonneborn, Catherine R. Spieker, Tod Spier, Barbara Stephenson, Thomas F. Stephenson, Mark A. Stevens, Mary V. Stevens, George Joseph Still Jr., Barbara Alison Walecka, John Walecka, Frank Walters, Alan Waxman, Mary J. Wheeler George, Margaret C. Whitman, David B. Wright, Arthur F. Zafiropoulo, Lisa Zafiropoulo, Delon Zinn, Ray Zinn. ■ Menlo Park: Katherine Herbert Alden, Jeff Bird, Mary Jo Brimhall, B. J.

Cassin, Bebe Cassin, David Castagna, Karen Castagna, Jeff Chambers, Robert Dean, Timothy C. Draper, Victoria Huff Eckert, Diego Gilbert Fonstad, Saul Fox, Cassius L. Kirk Jr., John Knoll, Donald Lucas, Grant L. Malquist, David F. Marquardt, Lori Marquardt, George E. McCown, J. Sanford Miller, Amity Susan Millhiser, Ellen H. Moran, R. Matthew Moran, Sanjay Morey, Roslyn Morris, Greg Mrva, Marion Oster, Robert J. Oster, Stephen Peters, Carolee R. Petterson, Dale J. Petterson, Jeanette S. Ritchie, Jeffrey A. Rodgers, Doug Roeder, Bryan Taylor, Pyeatt Taylor, Alan R. Thompson, Jon A. Woodruff, Tiffany A. Woodruff, Geoff Yang.


See SUPER PACS, next page

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Romney campaign Following are donors who have given at least $2,500 to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics: ■ Portola Valley: Robert R. Allen Jr., Michael J. Boskin, Carter Boyce, James D. Boyce, Richard W. Boyce, Sandra Boyce, Travis Boyce, Laird Cagan, Douglas C. Carlisle, Andrew Chase, Jacquelyn S. Curtis, Mark T. Curtis, Jeff Epstein, Sue Epstein, William S. Floyd, Daniel Gilbert, Amy Gurley, John Gurley, Judith H. Hamilton, Kenneth L. Hirsch, Kurt Jaggers, Suzanne K. Jaggers, Denny Lanfear, Karen Lanfear, George McCown, John M. McGraw, Dorian McKelvy, Scott McNealy, Susan McNealy, Christopher J. Molumphy, Ralph A. Pica, G. Kirk Raab, Maryann Raab, Daniel Webb. ■ Woodside: Deborah E. Addicott, Betty Bialek, Fred Bialek, H. Raymond Bingham, Kristin Bingham, Lawrence Bowman, Jonathan Coslet, Frederick Degrosz, Kenneth Diekroeger, Oliver Evans, Mary E. Finlayson, Norris Finlayson, Kenneth Fisher, Sherrilyn Fisher, Rhodine Gifford, Emma Goltz, Frederick Goltz, John Hamilton, Fredric W. Harman, Stephanie C. Harman, Gregory J. Hartman, Bruce Isackson, Robert C. Kagle, Ann M. Livermore, Thomas H. Livermore, Armas C. Markkula, Linda Markkula, Marissa E. Matusich-Kagle, Matthew K. McCauley, Mary Meeker, Harold M. Messmer Jr., Daniel W. Morehead, Helen O’Neill, Gary Pinkus, Erik D. Ragatz, Kendra L.H. Ragatz, Jeanne Rosner, Larry Solomon, Barbara Sonsini, Larry Sonsini. ■ Atherton: Douglas C. Allred, Carol Bartz Bruce Basso, Peter Bell, Douglas Bergeron,Sandra Bergeron, Ivan J. Brockman, James Carrathers, Noreen N. Carrathers, John D. Carter, George W. Cogan, Bret E. Comolli, David Crawford, Brenden P. Cullen, John D. Diekman, Donald R. Dixon, Bruce Dunlevie, Barbara H. Edwards, Jennifer Fonstad, Stephen B Gaddis, Susan Gaddis, Lainie Garrick, Gary George, Michael L. Goguen, Kenneth Goldman, Linda Grais, Dr. Griffith R. Harsh IV, David A. Haynes, Stanley J. Hiller Jr., Jeffrey Housenbold, Ruth Housenbold, Bradford C. Koenig, Lauren Koenig, Pierre Lamond, Pierre R. Lamond, Steven A. Laub, William P. Laughlin, David Mark, Nancy H. Mark, Debra McLean,

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August 8, 2012NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN11


Menlo names interim police chief By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


eteran police chief Lee Violett stepped in on Aug. 6 as departing Menlo Park chief Bryan Roberts stepped out, the city announced. City staff said he’ll make $90 an hour in addition to retirement benefits as Menlo Park’s interim police chief, a role that is not entirely new to him. He previously filled the gaps in Millbrae and Half Moon Bay. He

left the latter post after nearly a year, moving on in 2011 as that police force consolidated under the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Lee Violett Prior to that he served 26 years with the city of San Mateo and then as police chief for San Bruno,

according to the Menlo Park announcement. “I’m looking forward to working with the talented and dedicated police men and women in Menlo Park,” Chief Violett said in the announcement. “It’s a great department with an excellent reputation in the law enforcement community and I am honored to be able to support them in their work.” Menlo Park is currently searching both internally and

NOTICE OF PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD Draft Remedial Action Plan Available for Menlo Park West Campus (Facebook) Menlo Park, California Public Comment Period: August 6 – September 6, 2012 WHAT IS BEING PROPOSED? The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) invites the public to comment on the draft Remedial Action Plan (RAP) for the proposed Facebook Menlo Park West Campus (Site), located at 312 – 314 Constitution Drive, Menlo Park, CA. The draft RAP describes the investigations and proposed cleanup activities for the Site. DTSC has prepared a proposed Negative Declaration/Initial Study to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). DTSC wants you to review and comment on the draft RAP and proposed Negative Declaration/Initial Study. The Site is south of Highway 84, west of Willow Road, north of the Dumbarton rail corridor, and east of the current TE Connectivity facility. It has been purchased by Facebook for an expansion of office space. Previous uses of the Site resulted in contamination of the soil and groundwater. The previous owners conducted a DTSC-approved cleanup action that included removal of a large amount of contaminated soil, installation of an engineered cap over PCB-impacted soils, a groundwater monitoring program, and a Land Use Covenant (LUC) that continues to restrict uses of the Site. These actions cleaned up the property to levels protective for commercial/industrial land uses. Even though the Site meets standards required by law Facebook wants to voluntarily make the Site even cleaner than it currently is. More contaminated soil would be excavated and disposed of at a permitted facility. Shoring and dewatering of an engineered cap area will probably be needed as it will be excavated as well. Soils currently capping the contaminated areas will be stockpiled and reused with other clean fill for backfilling the excavated areas. An updated LUC would be put in place. Current groundwater monitoring and Site inspections would continue. HOW DO I PARTICIPATE? During the 30-day public comment period, from August 6, 2012 to September 6, 2012, DTSC encourages you to review the draft RAP and to provide your comments by attending the Public Meeting. Your participation is encouraged. PUBLIC MEETING – Wednesday, September 22, 2012, Belle Haven Senior Center, 110 Terminal Ave., Menlo Park, CA, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Comments may also be submitted in writing, postmarked or e-mailed no later than 5:00 p.m. on September 6, 2012: Chip Gribble, Project Manager DTSC Berkeley Office 700 Heinz Avenue Berkeley, California 94710 Phone: 510-540-3773 WHERE DO I GET MORE INFORMATION? A copy of the draft RAP is available at the following locations: Belle Haven Community Library 413 Ivy Drive

Department of Toxic Substance Control 700 Heinz Avenue

Menlo Park, California 94025

Berkeley, California 94710

(650) 330-2540

(510) 540-3800 (call for appointment)

Documents are also available online at the DTSC EnviroStor web site: Contact Information: If you have any questions or wish to discuss the project, contact Chip Gribble, DTSC Project Manager (510) 540-3773 or For public participation activities, contact Wayne Hagen, DTSC Public Participation Specialist (510) 540-3911 or Members of the media should contact Sandra Friedman, DTSC Public Information Officer (714) 484-5383 or

12NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNAugust 8, 2012

externally for a new police chief. Bryan Roberts gave notice in July, 23 months after taking the job. He cited family concerns as among the reasons for accepting a new position as chief in Draper

City, Utah. Finance director Carol Augustine said that the recruitment process used to hire Chief Roberts cost the city $18,518 in 2010. A

Menlo specific plan spurs Crittenden development By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


he home of one of the Menlo Park’s landmarks may become something new, according to property owner Howard Crittenden. He told the Almanac on Aug. 4 that the Park Theatre, long defunct at 1275 El Camino Real, may give way now that the city has passed the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan. He declined to elaborate on what it may become, saying that it depends on the completion of architectural studies. Another developer, Sunil Suri, had expressed interest in renovating the theater or converting it to office space, according to an email sent to the council, but declined to check with Mr. Crittenden first.

1 truck + 2 bikes = 3 arrests Just as many Menlo Park residents prepared to leave work Aug. 2, police officers found themselves busy responding to a report of a suspicious truck. Officers were called to the 700 block of Roble Avenue around 4:21 p.m., and then discovered the truck a few blocks away on Yale Avenue. According to the police report, the truck contained two bikes, burglary tools, drugs, stolen property, and three people. The trio of suspects became a duo for a few short moments as one tried to run away on foot. Police gave chase and detained all three in time to hear the owners of the bikes report that a short while ago, the bicycles had been sitting in their carport. Paul Gunning, 40, and companions Eric Espino, 26, and Maria Soreque, 32, all of San Jose, were arrested on charges including possession of burglary tools, stolen property and conspiracy to commit crime. Police SUPER PACS continued from previous page

$25,000 from Donald Dixon of Trident Capital. ■ From Menlo Park: $25,000 from Katherine Alden of Woodside Hotels & Resorts, $12,500



continue to investigate. Anyone with information may contact Menlo Park police at 330-6300.

$3.2 million granted for Caltrain upgrade Caltrain’s goal of “faster, quieter, more frequent service” using electric trains instead of diesel got another step closer to reality when the federal government awarded the agency $3.2 million in August to upgrade its signals. The new signal systems are a component of the $1.5 billion Caltrain modernization initiative, and includes a federally mandated safety feature that automatically stops a train when another train is detected up ahead on the tracks. The federal grant may also be used for safety improvements at vehicle crossings according to a press release.

Need for blood spikes during the summer Demand for blood has spiked recently at hospitals served by the Stanford Blood Center, including Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, according to Harpreet Sandhu, administrator of the Stanford Blood Center. Demand often rises in the summer, due to car accidents and other factors, while supplies decline because people are off on vacations. Students, who give 20 percent of donations, often give at mobile on-campus blood drives held only during the school year. The center urges people to fill the gap by making an appointment to give blood. Vist BloodCenter.Stanford. edu or call 888-723-7831 for more information or to make an appointment. A

from Jennifer Fonstad of Draper, Fisher & Jurvetson, and $425,000 from Mercury Trust. Mercury Trust also gave $500,000 to American Crossroads, a Republican super PAC with assets of $40 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. A


Motorcyclist dies in crash Portola Valley to honor Martin Litton Martin Litton, a renowned to block dams today. In a bid to protect trees on Woodside Road environmental activist and a that would on a property near the Sequoia By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


27-year-old San Francisco man was killed Friday on Woodside Road when his motorcycle collided with a car heading out of the Menlo Country Club. The motorcylist, identified as Sahil Cooner, was driving his Suzuki motorcyle westbound on Woodside Road at about 1:30 p.m. when it collided with the side of a four-door Lexus heading east out of the country club and making a left turn across Woodside Road, authorities said. Mr. Cooner, who had been wearing a helmet, was pro-

nounced dead at Stanford Hospital of blunt force trauma, Sgt. Jason Peardon of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office told the Almanac. Mr. Cooner had been traveling at the speed limit, Sgt. Peardon said. Driving the Lexus was a a 72-year-old man from Menlo Park. He stayed at the scene after the accident and was cooperative, deputies said. Authorities are not releasing his name pending an investigation that could determine whether or not he will be ticketed. Deputies closed westbound Woodside Road for about two hours. “We want to make sure of what we have, that everything’s correct,” Sgt. Peardon said. A

N P O L I C E C A L L S This information is from the Atherton and Menlo Park police departments and the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. Under the law, people charged with offenses are considered innocent until convicted. MENLO PARK Residential burglary reports: ■ Losses estimated at $3,900 in entry through unlocked bedroom window and theft of handgun, laptop computer, two gold rings and two gold necklaces, Ivy Drive, July 30. ■ Losses estimated at $820 in breakin and theft of two handguns from bedroom, Willow Road, July 28. ■ Losses estimated at $650 in theft of camera and pocket watch, Olympic Ave., July 30. ■ Losses estimated at $550 in theft of bicycle from open garage, San Mateo Drive, July 30. Commercial burglary report: No losses but hole cut into siding of exterior wall, Menlo Clock Works at 961 El Camino Real, July 29. Auto burglary report: Losses estimated at $520 in break-in through smashed window and theft of two purses containing $180 in cash and

cell phone, Marsh Road, July 27. Theft reports: ■ Losses estimated at $1,100 in theft of miscellaneous tools from unlocked tool locker on vehicle, Henderson Ave., Aug. 1. ■ Loss estimated at $500 in theft of unlocked bike, University Drive, Aug. 1. ■ Losses estimated at $400 in theft of purse from unlocked office, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church at 950 Santa Cruz Ave., July 30. Fraud report: Unpaid balances of $21,502 on three recently opened but unauthorized credit card accounts, Santa Cruz Ave., July 27. WOODSIDE Theft report: Losses estimated at $1,000 in unauthorized access to grocery account and several purchases, including recent purchase attempt in which suspect would not provide identification and left in white pickup truck, 3000 block of Woodside Road, July 28. ATHERTON Theft report: Unknown losses in theft of copper wire, Almendral Ave., Aug. 2.

Tuesday: New Belle Haven foundation kick-off event On a quest to change the quality of life for Menlo Park’s Belle Haven community, a group of residents has formed a new nonprofit, according to council candidate and co-founder Carolyn Clarke. The Belle Haven Community Foundation will be a 501(c)(3) organization working to get the community engaged in reaching common goals, Ms. Clarke said, as a “diverse, educated, economically self-sustaining and empowered” full-service neighborhood. The foundation currently seeks start-up funding. Its kick-off event takes place in collaboration with Mount

Olive Church and the Menlo Park police on Tuesday, Aug. 7, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the church on 605 Hamilton Ave. and at nearby Hamilton Park as part of free “National Night Out” festivities. A

Portola Valley resident since 1958, will be honored at the Blues & Barbecue Festival at the Portola Valley Town Center on Sunday, Sept. 16. Mr. Litton, who is 95, has a lifetime of activism behind him, including successful efforts in partnership with Friends of the Earth founder David Brower and desert preservation activist Edward Abbey

have flooded the Grand Canyon and Dinosaur National Monu m e nt in Colorado. Proceeds Photo by Virginia Bacon from the festival go to the Portola Valley Open Space Acquisition Fund. Mr. Litton is still active

National Forest, he is engaged in a campaign to persuade members of Congress to sign a letter to President Obama that would authorize the transfer of the property to the National Park Service from the National Forest Service, according to a story on the Portola Valley town website. Go to to see the story. A

Phil Sorensen (Philip H. Sorensen, Ph.D.) Phil Sorensen was a man who loved and lived his life. Sixty-two years to the day he and B.J. (Betty Jo) Lyon applied for their marriage license, Phil died. His beloved B.J., daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren were with him when he ascended his last mountain. Phil was born in Bellingham, WA on December 26, 1924, and thereafter, that became ‘the’ holiday to celebrate. The family later settled in Vancouver, WA, where Phil joined the Boy Scouts and progressed quickly through the ranks, earning his Eagle Scout by age 14. Throughout high school he was an active Scout and summer camp counselor, a member of the swim team, newspaper editor, and student body officer. Phil enlisted in Naval Officer Training in 1942, a month shy of his 18th birthday. He served as a navigator aboard the USS Adair in the Pacific until 1946 and as an Intelligence Officer in the Naval Reserve until 1985, reaching the rank of Commander. After he and B.J. married in Spokane, they settled in Portland where Phil was a teacher and counselor in the public schools. In 1952 the family moved to Manhattan, KS and Phil served as the Assistant Dean of Students at Kansas State. Daughters Chris and Carolyn were born in Portland, OR and Cathy in Manhattan, KS. Taking advantage of the GI bill benefits, Phil enrolled at Stanford University in 1954 to complete his Ph.D. in Psychology. He earned both his BA in 1948 in Education and Social Science (awarded Phi Beta Kappa) and his Masters in Educational Psychology in 1950 at Washington State University. He was a lifelong member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. Phil accepted a position at Stanford Research Institute in 1956. For the next 27 years he worked as a Senior Research Psychologist and Director of the Education Research Department. He commuted to SRI from his Palo Alto home on his 3-speed bike. His work at SRI took him across the country and around the world, to Nigeria and Micronesia, and later, as independent

consultant from 1983-1990, to Saudi Arabia. On the golf course, Phil scored five holesin-one, relishing competing against himself, fellow duffers, his sons-in-law and grandsons. He was a strategic and spirited bridge player and once he gave up golf, he replaced it with lawn bowling. His ever-present pipe smoke announced his arrival and lingered upon his departure. He and B.J. were enthusiastic travelers. When at home, they cherished time with their three daughters Chris, Carolyn (Steve Balling) and Cathy (Jon Buurma). Phil was proud of his grandsons Erik and Kevin Buurma, Corey Scher, and his granddaughter, Jordan Scher. Phil loved to measure, evaluate, and report and spent hours tallying and analyzing trends and numbers on behalf of the Stanford Men’s Golf Club, the Fellowship Forum, and the Palo Alto Jazz Alliance, among many other community organizations and committees at the Sequoias. He took great joy in gardening and his expert touch with the pruning shears lingers in the gardens of homes he and the family occupied and in The Sequoia’s ‘Philoli’ Arboretum. Phil shared his remarkable memory with friends and family, describing when asked, every mountain climbed, math problem solved, story heard, and place explored. He loved his wife and dancing with her, mountain climbing, golf, his daughters and their husbands, making puns, his grandchildren, analyzing and solving problems, his sisters and their families, jazz of all kinds, his mother-in-law and her family, a generous pour of bourbon, his lifelong friends, and voting as a Democrat. A celebration of Phil’s life will be held August 18, 2012 from 3:00 pm-5:00 pm at The Sequoias, 501 Portola Road, Portola Valley, CA. Gifts in memory of Phil can be made to The Sequoias-Portola Valley Tomorrow Fund Endowment, which assists residents who run short of financial resources. Please make checks payable to Senior Services for Northern California and mail to 501 Portola Road, Box 8053, Portola Valley, CA 94028.

Join today:



August 8, 2012NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN13

Serving Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley, and Woodside for 44 years. Editor & Publisher Tom Gibboney

Newsroom Managing Editor Richard Hine News Editor Renee Batti Lifestyles Editor Jane Knoerle Staff Writers Dave Boyce, Sandy Brundage Contributors Marjorie Mader, Barbara Wood, Kate Daly Special Sections Editors Carol Blitzer, Sue Dremann Photographer Michelle Le

Design & Production Design Director Shannon Corey Designers Linda Atilano, Lili Cao, Diane Haas, Rosanna Leung, Paul Llewellyn, Scott Peterson

Advertising Vice President Sales and Marketing Tom Zahiralis Display Advertising Sales Adam Carter Real Estate Manager Neal Fine Real Estate and Advertising Coordinator Diane Martin Classified Legal Advertising Alicia Santillan Published every Wednesday at 3525 Alameda De Las Pulgas, Menlo Park, CA 94025 Newsroom: (650) 223-6525 Newsroom Fax: (650) 223-7525 Advertising: (650) 854-2626 Advertising Fax: (650) 854-3650 Email news and photos with captions to: Email letters to: 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 December 21, 1969. Subscriptions are $60 for one year and $100 for two years.

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

TOWN SQUARE FORUM Post your views on the Town Square forum at EMAIL your views to: and note this it is a letter to the editor in the subject line. MAIL or deliver to: Editor at the Almanac, 3525 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park, CA 94025.

CALL the Viewpoint desk at 223-6507.



Is prison appropriate in Hanretty case?


t is hardly a surprise that the district attorney and no costs are ongoing as the district struggles to pay interest on $2 doubt more than a few citizens of Portola Valley would million that Mr. Hanretty borrowed without the school board’s like to see prison time included in the sentence that will consent. Hindsight shows that trustees of the Portola Valley and be handed down Oct. 11 for Tim Hanretty, who on July 31 pleaded no contest to embezzling $101,000 from the Portola Woodside districts apparently were so charmed by Mr. HanValley School District and mismanaging funds at the Wood- retty that they neglected to take adequate precautions against such an insider attack. Most embezzlers are clever enough to side Elementary School District. The final call will be made by Superior Court Judge Mark hide their tracks for a time, but ultimately fall victim to an Forcum, who will base his decision on a report by the county’s innocent inquiry or in the case of Mr. Hanretty, school officials probation department. At the plea hearing, Judge Forcum who suspected that something was amiss. Sadly, it is the Portola Valley students who will be the bigsaid he would strongly consider a probationary sentence if the gest losers in this case. The district already former superintendent of the Portola Valley has eliminated teachers’ aides and canceled district made substantial restitution before the EDI TORI AL or cut summer school, K-5 Spanish, support sentencing. The opinion of The Almanac and instruction from some outside technolEven probation can mean up to a year in ogy staff, janitorial and supply budgets, and the county jail, according to District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, who strongly believes jail is called for in this district office staff, as well as the traditional eighth-grade trip. And teachers will be asked to cover a major part of the budget case. “If he got probation with no time — that would be totally out shortfall, getting hit with a possible salary freeze and eliminaof step with what the case deserves,” Mr. Wagstaffe said. “This tion of as many as 10 school days. School families and other supporters in Portola Valley already is a violation of public trust.” In our view the sentence for violating the “public trust” provide hundreds of thousands of dollars to the district every should also include full repayment of the stolen funds from year that is used to upgrade the curriculum or cover other the Portola Valley district, and at least partial restitution to the special needs. In light of the financial woes left behind by Mr. Woodside district. Both districts spent thousands of dollars on Hanretty’s embezzlement and other mismanagement of funds, forensic auditors to track and document Mr. Hanretty’s laby- we hope this tightly knit community will provide even more rinthine scheme to defraud both districts. In Woodside, the support to help the district recover in the next few years.

Atherton blog has two points of view By Charles Marsala

However, I am concerned ast week’s guest opinion that the town might build a by Walter Sleeth was 10,000-square-foot or larger titled: “Misuse of social library in the park at the media by ‘Athertonians’ Blog” expense of other park resourcI have been friends of Mr. es and that it will have trouble Sleeth and his wife Judy for filling the library. The ballot statement does not state a size more than a decade. limitation for the In early June, Wally library. and I respectfully Last October the discussed our posiAthertonians contions on having a ducted a detailed town vote regarding survey of its memmoving the library bership regarding to Holbrook-Palmtheir opinion about er Park and those moving the library GUEST positions have been to the park. One OPINION posted on the Atherhundred and eightytonians website since one people respondJune 5. While I support a town vote, ed. Comments both pro and Mr. Sleeth believes our elected con are posted on the website. representatives are empow- Approximately 30 percent ered to make the decision. of those responding favored And he believes I am a mod- moving the library to the erator of the Athertonians park, and several expressed website. I am not. I have stated their reasons why. Thus the this frequently. I do not know site contains an exchange of Yahoo Group policy and do viewpoints. After this survey was taken, not have any beliefs regarding such a policy. I did not make one member of the City Couna decision to remove anyone Continued on next page from the list.


14NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNAugust 8, 2012

Atherton Historical Association

Our Regional Heritage The roots of the Menlo Circus Club go back to the early 1920s when some Fair Oaks girls decided to use their ponies in a circus and charge admission with the proceeds benefiting charity. The event grew quickly and raised $10,000 or more a year from ticket sales and other activities. At first called the “Riding and Driving Club,” the group became the Menlo Circus Club that still exists today in Atherton. Here Rowena Dunphy performs for an early Circus Club audience.


L ET T ER S Our readers write

Grateful for clear thoughts on C-1 trail Editor: Thank you, Steve Schmidt, for your accurate and enlighten-

GUEST OPINION continued from previous page

cil who favored moving the library to the park instructed the city attorney to “shut them (the Athertonians) down.” I believe this position violates the First Amendment and have expressed that position at council meetings. The Almanac published an editorial with a similar viewpoint. Since that editorial there have been several letters critical of the moderators of the Athertonian blog. Yet questions asked about the library in the park go unanswered. Hopefully, in the future those questions will be answered. Can the energy to shut down the Athertonians and discredit them be focused on answering questions about the library?

ing explanation of the C-1 trail fiasco on last week’s Viewpoint pages. We are proud to be neighbors of Stanford University, but it is certainly time for Stanford to recognize its huge impact on the surrounding communities and to cooperate accordingly. Marilyn Walter Coyote Hill, Portola Valley

How many Atherton residents a day visit the library? For how long per visit? Atherton residents make up what percentage of the usage? With the Menlo Park library so close, why do we need a larger Atherton library? Would it be less of an environmental impact to just do a seismic upgrade of the existing 4,800 square foot facility? What happens during the winter when the park closes at 5 p.m. and the library is still open? What are the traffic concerns? Would residents prefer to keep the library near other town buildings? Is there a better use for the park land than moving a library to the park?


Charles Marsala is a former Atherton Town Council member.

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16NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNAugust 8, 2012

The Almanac 08.08.2012 - section 1  

Section 1 of the August 8, 2012 edition of theAlmanac

The Almanac 08.08.2012 - section 1  

Section 1 of the August 8, 2012 edition of theAlmanac