Budding writer names Woodside Libraryâ€™s new mascot. | Page 10
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Midpeninsula district considers a future for The Hawthorns in Portola Valley | SECTION 2
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UP F RONT
Photo by Michelle Le
Students, faculty and parents participate in the inaugural “Walk-to-Washington Walkathon” on Nov. 2 to raise funds for the traditional eighth-grade trip.
Eighth-grade trip is a ‘go’ Corte Madera School community rallies to raise money in face of district’s financial crisis By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor
t’s Washington, D.C., or bust — and ìbustî isn’t an option for the students and school community of Corte Madera School, who managed to raise more than $21,000 in two weeks when funding for the traditional eighth-grade trip to the nationís capital was threatened by the districtís budget crisis. With only two fundraising events, students, parents, teachers and other school staff pulled together and surpassed the goal of raising $21,500 for the week-long springtime trip, with any additional funds reserved for future eighthgrade trips. The bulk of the funds were raised on Nov. 2, with a “Walkto-Washington Walkathon,” a festive afternoon event that generated $18,000 and whose participants included Corte Madera students at all grade levels — fourth through eighth grade.
The walkathon “was an inaugural CMS community-building event that brought all students, staff, administration and parents together in the true spirit of fundraising for a united educational cause,” wrote parent and organizer Lisa Bair in a letter after the event. In prior years, the district paid for all or most of the traditional trip. Last year, it kicked in more than $40,000, according to Sandra Lepley, the district’s interim business official. But this year, the ground crumbled beneath the tradition as a result of the fiscal crisis created by the misappropriation and embezzlement of funds by then-superintendent Tim Hanretty. For fiscal year 201213, the board cut the district’s funding for the trip, saying that the eighth-graders were still authorized to travel to D.C. if the trip was “cost-neutral” to the district. That’s when the community rallied. The warm-up to the walkathon was a car wash and bake sale, held on Oct. 20 at the school. Ron Ramies, owner and operator of Portola Valley Fuel, donated supplies and some of his crew for the car wash, the
kids rolled up their sleeves, and the effort raised $3,500. In addition to Ms. Bair, who has led the fundraising effort, parents Tricia Law and Sally Ann Reiss are co-chairs of the D.C. trip effort, working with Corte Madera principal Michael Corritone on all aspects of the trip, Ms. Bair said. The eight-grade trip to the nation’s capital “is definitely something that all Corte Madera students look forward to ... forever!” eighth-grader Regan Castillo said in an email to the Almanac. Calling it “an opportunity trip,” Regan said she and her classmates will have the chance “to absorb the historical aspects of our United States history and the Holocaust that we have been learning about from our teachers at school.” (They will visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as well as a number of national monuments.) “It is also an opportunity to be with our friends in a great city where we can reflect upon our nine years together in a very fun and memorable way before we go off to numerous high schools,” she said. A
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Menlo Park asks, ‘When is a hotel not a hotel?’ By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer
he 23 senior residents remaining at Casa on the Peninsula are OK with finding new homes, according to corporate executive director Ann Villapando, but they do need to know whether they’ll have to. The Menlo Park City Council wants answers to its own questions first before the seniors get theirs. Speaking before the council on Oct. 30, Ms. Villapando said 57 other tenants have already moved on, after rumors about the property’s possible sale began swirling in August. The rest are waiting to see if the city will support the sale. Sand Hill Property Co. proposes buying the 125-unit senior residential property at 555 Glenwood Ave. and converting it to a 138-room hotel, according to representative Reed Moulds. Branded as a Marriott Residence Inn, the hotel would provide extended-stay accommodations, with about one-quarter of guests projected to stay more than a month. That puts a dent in the amount of transient occupancy tax (TOT) the city would collect, as the tax excludes stays of 30 days or longer.
Thus the existential question of the erty based its calculations on the perforevening: What is a hotel? The council dis- mance of the Marriott Residence Inn in cussed whether an extended-stay facility Los Altos. like a Marriott Inn meets the definition “TOT is important, but it’s also the of “hotel,” given the projected percentage definition of what is a hotel,” Mayor of 30-day stays, and if so, whether to limit Kirsten Keith said, and noted that she the number of extended stays allowed. found the projected percentage of taxComplicating the question is whether free stays problematic. the city would consider available rooms “What could you limit it to?” she asked permanently contracted by a com- later. “Five percent?” pany such as Facebook to be extended “We’d like to discuss that with you,” stays regardless of how Mr. Lin answered, addlong individual guests ing that the discussion remain. should be based on Council studies Mark Lin, a hotel spe“what the market really cialist speaking on behalf impact of converting needs.” of the applicant, said that The council suggested senior home to Marriott doesn’t dictate further directions for extended-stay hotel research to city staff and the 23 percent ratio, but it does roughly require the applicant. that at least 40 percent of stays last longer “Parking is the huge issue here, I think,” than four nights. noted Mayor Keith. Sand Hill Property’s economic review The specific plan requires 173 off-street concluded the hotel would add about parking spaces for a hotel of this size. $660,000 annually to city revenue at the However, the applicant proposes 117 spaccurrent 10 percent TOT, or $770,000 if es — 78 on site and 39 spaces on Garwood voters approve a tax increase — from 10 Way currently used by the senior home, percent to 12 percent — on Nov. 6. but within the public right-of-way. The revenue from longer-term stays “I know you’re requesting the 39 spots would add $163,000 to $196,000 if not go to Marriott,” the mayor said. “Which excluded from the tax. Sand Hill Prop- I’m not comfortable with.”
She suggested partnering with Zip Car, Caltrain and the new owners of nearby 1300 El Camino Real instead to mitigate the amount of parking needed — an approach that found support with other council members, including Rich Cline, as well as the applicant. Another conversational gambit delved into whether the conversion would impact Menlo Park’s frantic search for increased housing capacity, particularly affordable and senior housing. In a word — no. Since the units sit on private property, Associate Planner Thomas Rogers explained, owners have a right to sell or shut down their businesses without the city’s permission. Since the rooms were leased at market rate, the conversion should not lead to the state’s asking the city to provide zoning for an equivalent number of affordable housing units elsewhere as part of the next housing plan update cycle. Mr. Lin pointed out that some longterm Marriott Residence Inn clients are seniors who don’t need medical assistance, drawn by getting a free breakfast and other benefits of hotel living. The proposal is expected to return to the city for formal submission and review in upcoming months. A
Charges fly over mailers as election season wraps up By Barbara Wood Special to the Almanac
therton residents should probably be forgiven if they were confused by a flurry of last-minute campaign materials they received last week, including a letter from the mayor sent to refute an earlier mailing by the Atherton Police Officers Association, which has now prepared a letter refuting the mayor’s letter, adding the claim that he wrongly spent taxpayer money to send his letter. Opponents of Measure F, which would approve locating a new library in Holbrook-Palmer Park, also sent out a last-minute email suggesting the public employees’ union representing county librarians had secretly funded the campaigns of the Yes on F library measure and of City Council candidate Denise Kupperman. Both Ms. Kupperman and Yes on F officials strongly deny the allegations in the email. At its Oct. 17 meeting, the Atherton council authorized