New owner seeks to remodel $117 million Woodside mansion | Page 3
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T H E A L M A N AC O N L I N E . C O M
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The property at 360 Mountain Home Road sold for $117.5 million, a new U.S. record for a single-family home, according to news reports.
New owner applies to remodel $117 million Woodside mansion By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer
he new owner of the mansion at 360 Mountain Home Road in Woodside has applied to the town to redesign parts of the main house and three accessory buildings on this 8.74-acre estate that sold in November for $117.5 million. The sale was a new U.S. record for a single-family home, according to news reports. The proposed remodel, according to a May 6 report to the townâ€™s Architectural and Site Review Board, would expand the main house to 8,000 square feet from the current 7,750, and match some 35-foot-high elements by raising the heights of other parts of the house. For the existing house, completed in 2007, the town granted exceptions to the 6,000-square-foot and 30-foot maximums for floor area and height. This remodel would require additional exceptions. This remodel would also â€œsignificantly change the architec-
Proposal includes a new dome, oval windows and some entry columns. tural style of the structures,â€? the staff report said. Among those changes: replacing the white exteriors with light beige stone siding, installing matching roofs of gray slate, and adding oval windows in various locations. On the main house, which sits near the center of the property, the remodel would enclose an upper-floor balcony under a slate dome that includes dormers. At the entrances to the accessory structures, the remodel would add formal elements such as columns at the entries. The property owner listed on the application is SV Projects, LLC. The listed applicant, Noel Manerud of Van Acker Construction in Mill Valley, met with the seven-member ASRB on May 6 for a conceptual design review. The town recently insti-
tuted this new first step in the permitting process for major projects. The applicant brings drawings in â€œvarious states of roughnessâ€? to discuss, and because the discussion is conceptual, going back to the drawing board is less of an ordeal, ASRB member Nancy Reyering said. â€œApplicants havenâ€™t become financially invested and emotionally attached.â€? The ASRB was unanimous in making several recommendations and asking the client to return for another meeting, Ms. Reyering said. â€œItâ€™s a big valuable estate and I think theyâ€™re really going to try to make it complyâ€? with town regulations, she said. â€œThey were very respectful in the meeting.â€? Planning Director Jackie Young summarized the ASRBâ€™s recommendations in a letter advising the applicant to â€œreconsider the project by carefully reviewing the residential design guidelinesâ€? concerning building scale, architectural See WOODSIDE MANSION, page 15
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Residents: Don’t ‘dump’ housing in Belle Haven By Barbara Wood Special to the Almanac
he Menlo Park City Council met in Belle Haven on May 7 so council members could receive an update on their quest to figure out how to improve the neighborhood. They, instead, received an earful from local residents on something that wasn’t even on the agenda: putting more lowincome housing in the area. The city is working on a revision of its state-required plan for providing more housing in town, and recently identified
five properties as sites for additional high-density housing, all of which were either in the Belle Haven neighborhood or right outside it. More potential high-density housing sites are expected to be identified in the future. Nina Wouk, who said she has lived in Belle Haven since 1986, was one of 11 people who spoke against putting more housing in Belle Haven. “No high-density housing,” she said. “Dumping it on Belle Haven is really not a moral option. We do not want to be stacked like cordwood.” Speakers talked about exist-
‘No high-density housing. Dumping it on Belle Haven is really not a moral option.’ B ELLE HAVEN RESIDENT NINA WOUK
ing traffic problems and lack of basic services, such as banking and good schools, that would be made worse by adding more housing. Vicky Robledo told the council that putting more housing in Belle Haven could be the issue
to finally pull the community together. “We want to be one community, but we haven’t been,” said Vicky Robledo. “Do you want 217 new homes on your street? I don’t think so.” The council will discuss the housing plan at its May 21 meeting. The topic that was on the agenda was a report on what the city is calling a “Neighborhood Vision” project for Belle Haven. In September a divided council approved spending $90,000 on the project. Derek Schweigart, Menlo Park’s assistant director of com-
munity services, told the council that since last fall, city staff and the consulting firm MIG have reached out to Belle Haven through events, a website and a newsletter, and with a crew of four Belle Haven residents hired as an outreach team. Preliminary results of the conversations in the neighborhood, including from 86 people who filled out a city survey, show that the top concerns in the area include improving schools, safety and security, more programs for youth and See BELLE HAVEN, page 8
Robert Taylor honored for pioneering work on computers, Internet Robert W. Taylor, a Woodside resident for 30 years and a visionary in the development of computer networks and modern personal computing, including the availability of information online, has been inducted into the Computer History Museum Hall of Fellows in Mountain View. Mr. Taylor was instrumental in the formation of a computer network at the famed Advanced Research Projects Agency for the Department of Defense in the 1960s, and during the 1970s led a computer lab at the equally famous center of innovation, the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). As head of a new research center in Palo Alto for Digital Equipment Corp., Mr Taylor was involved in the development of technologies that led to digital books, modern workstations, and the Java programming language. In past recognitions of his
achievements, Mr. Taylor was awarded the National Medal of Technology in 1999 and the Charles Stark Draper Prize in Robert Taylor 2004, the highest award of the National Academy of Engineering and one he shares with Computer History Museum fellows Charles Thacker, Butler Lampson and Alan Kay. Go to tinyurl.com/TaylorCHM for the page celebrating Mr. Taylor’s most recent recognition. Go to tinyurl.com/RWTaylor for a comprehensive Almanac story about Mr. Taylor, written by Marion Softky in 2000. He was inducted into the Hall of Fellows on April 27. The Computer History Museum is located at 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd. in Mountain View. Call 810-1010.
Shopping center’s new entrance The main entry to the Sharon Heights Shopping Center, at 375 Sharon Park Drive in Menlo Park, is getting a makeover for the first time since the center was built in the mid-1960s. This artist rendering shows the entrance with new plantings, flowers and stonework. The entry will also be safer and more accessible for shoppers, says Tom Scott of Cambridge Management. The work is estimated to be completed in four to five weeks.
Firefighters contain remote brush fire in Huddart Park By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer
irefighters on the ground declared a small brush fire in a remote part of Huddart Park in Woodside under control on Friday afternoon (May 10) after some two hours of trying to find it and reach it using hiking trails and fire roads. The fire, first reported shortly after 2 p.m., had been
slowly burning in an area about 50 feet square, Woodside Fire Protection District Fire Chief Dan Ghiorso said. A downed power line is the suspected cause, but the investigation is ongoing, Chief Ghiorso said. A row of tall electrical towers crosses Interstate 280 and heads toward Skyline Boulevard through the park along the Richards Road Trail and the Crystal Springs Trail.
Firefighters drove these trails in their trucks, according to radio dispatches. In an interview at about halfway through the effort to reach the fire on the ground, Chief Dan Ghiorso described the fire as “not going anywhere real fast.” And a dispatcher around that time described it as “not doing much” and “just smoking.” A crucial element in the suc-
cessful effort were nine air drops of fire retardant and water, four from fixed-wing aircraft and five from helicopters, the chief said. The tree canopy did hinder the effort somewhat because the fire was in the underbrush where the airdrops could not easily reach. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Calfire) operated the aircraft. Since wildfire season has offi-
cially begun, crews at Calfire stations near Highway 17 and in Morgan Hill automatically respond with “everything they have,” including aircraft, bulldozers and ground crews, Chief Ghiorso said. “That’s really what knocked it down,” the chief said. “A lot of kudos to Calfire.” The San Mateo County Fire Department also responds automatically in wildfire season, the chief said. Also fightSee BRUSH FIRE, page 8
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fter much discussion, the Menlo Park Planning Commission voted 4-2 on May 6 that if the city turns over a piece of land in the public right-of-way on Louise Street to adjacent homeowners, it would follow the general plan. A group of Louise Street residents has asked the city to abandon the wedge of land, and plans to implement an agreement to preserve the green space in perpetuity with easements for pedestrian access. Developer Sam Sinnott and investment partner Mircea Voskerician want to build a driveway exiting on Louise Street from a property — 1825 Santa Cruz Ave. — that they purchased for redevelopment. The council revoked the driveway permit after opposition from neighbors, but the applicants haven’t given up. During the commission meeting, Louise Street residents Michael Hubly and Louise DeDera argued the general plan supports preserving neighborhood character and stability, in addition to pedestrian access, all of which abandonment would accomplish. Mr. Sinnott’s counterargument focused on the legal rights of property owners who abut a right-of-way, as well as the general plan’s emphasis on traffic safety and housing creation. Exiting on Louise Street rather than Santa Cruz Avenue is safer, he suggested, and moving the driveway would make it easier to build a granny unit on the lot. He put forth a redesigned driveway that he said preserves more green space than his initial design, as well as an existing oleander bush. Intricate legal issues arose during the commission’s discussion, including whether the city is allowed to give away the public land and whose property rights took precedence. Several commissioners, as well as planning staff, concluded the general plan supports both abandonment and a driveway. So the commission cast a 4-2 vote that abandonment fit the general plan, with Henry Riggs and John Onken dissenting and Ben Eiref absent. Commissioner Vince Bressler, who voted yes, described his
stance as protecting community property rights. “That’s really what we’re here to try and protect.” Commission chair Katie Ferrick said that while she thought abandonment technically followed the general plan, she wasn’t convinced the best answer was handing over public land to private ownership. Voting in the minority, Mr. Onken commented, “I’m not swayed by the argument that one extra car is going to suddenly turn Louise Street into a freeway.” Two commissioners had some suggestions for the neighbors after the vote was taken. Ms. Ferrick and Katherine Strehl found a petition presented by the neighbors a “distraction,” and questioned whether everyone signing it understood the issue. “I think they thought a park was in danger,” Ms. Ferrick said, and cautioned that the petition may not represent the best evidence available in favor of abandonment when the council hears the issue. The online petition, which has now gathered 328 signatures, describes the green space as “a dense foliage screen” and flowering “wooded buffer zone.” City staff and a few council members are now researching how to create a formal process for submitting petitions that would include guidelines for how to describe projects and verify signatures. The Louise Street residents expressed concern that Mr. Sinnott will install the driveway anyway, despite the permit revocation, and said he’s threatened to sue. Resident Michael Schwarz told the commission the developer has already cut down fruit trees and other foliage without permission. “This is some good neighbor,” he said. For his part, Mr. Sinnott said he’d rather not sue, but views the city’s actions as disregarding his access rights as an abutting owner and the attempt to simply give away the land as illegal. Asked whether he might build the driveway without a permit, he replied: “Of course not.” The City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the abandonment request on July 16. A
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Council upends decision allowing artificial grass at Priory School By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer
he forces of a plastic modernity were politely shown the door last week in Portola Valley. After more than two hours of comments by residents for and against an artificial grass soccer field at the Woodside Priory School, a slim majority on the Town Council told Priory officials that they must use real grass. Aside from one instance of raucous clapping by a couple of artificial grass advocates at the May 8 council meeting, the two sides argued respectfully and passionately, clearly articulating their points. The 3-2 vote overturns a March 20 decision by an equally slim majority on the Planning Commission to allow an artificial surface at this private Catholic school for grades 6-12. The council chose to review the commissionâ€™s decision in April after a public outcry by those who opposed a step they viewed as inconsistent with the townâ€™s environmentally conscious vision of itself. That issue â€” the consistency of artificial grass with the townâ€™s vision as expressed in the general plan â€” was the matter before the council. In finding that there was a sufficient inconsistency, voting with the majority were Mayor John Richards and council members Maryann Derwin and Jeff Aalfs. Council members Ann Wengert and Ted Driscoll dissented. Tim Molak, the Prioryâ€™s head of school, was gracious in defeat. â€œThe Priory is so happy to be in this community and this is a great place,â€? Mr. Molak said, standing with his colleagues in
School is required to use real grass in rehabilitating its field. the parking lot of the Historic Schoolhouse and holding a milk crate of presentation materials. â€œWe won on one end and we lost on the other, and weâ€™ll move forward.â€? Mr. Molak said the school may be talking with the staff of the San Francisco 49ers about options for a real-grass field. Former Portola Valley mayor Jon Silver, a point man for the real-grass side, said after the councilâ€™s vote that he was exhausted but satisfied. â€œIâ€™m glad for the community. I think itâ€™ll be a watershed moment for this town,â€? he said, adding rhetorically that the campaign to overturn the Planning Commissionâ€™s decision has probably taken 10 years off his life. Unplayable fields
During wet winters, a soaked natural-grass playing field has limited utility for human activities. Even the natural grass at Rossotti (soccer) Field, which is built on sand so that it drains quickly, can be unplayable after a rain â€” â€œin order to preserve the field for optimum conditions,â€? as the application for use of the field puts it. Priory backers returned repeatedly to water conservation and the fact that artificial grass doesnâ€™t need irrigation. â€œThis is a green solution,â€? said Sally Ann Reiss, a Priory parent. â€œI donâ€™t know why weâ€™re on different sides of the fence.â€? Proponents of natural grass say that workable combinations of
grass species and field maintenance can reduce water requirements and field recovery times. Reliable playability is at the heart of the issue. The Priory, located within a scenic and semi-rural 65 acres, is a business and has competitors, Mr. Molak told the council. Among them: Menlo School and Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton, Castilleja School in Palo Alto, and Crystal Springs Uplands School in Hillsborough, all of which have artificial grass fields, he said. Athletes apparently prefer them. Not having such a field â€œdefinitely impacts our admissions and our recruiting,â€? Mr. Molak said. â€œOurs, in the sense of fairness, is a reasonable request to allow us to continue to operate as a competitive school. ... Weâ€™re asking you for one field so that we have options.â€? The artificial field was one element in the Prioryâ€™s 2011 proposal to improve its grounds and correct another competitive disadvantage: a non-standard â€œrunning track,â€? really a dirt circuit around a rectangle with rounded corners. The new track will be a standard 400-meter oval enclosing a 2.4-acre soccer field. Slowing things way down â€” as the Priory was warned would happen, town officials said â€” has been the issue of real versus artificial grass on the field. Both sides have plenty of factual evidence to support their arguments. Early in the public testimony, resident Andy Browne noted that decisions on this issue would always be subjective. He asked the council to remember their childhoods. â€œHow did you feel when rolling down a hill of grass?â€? he asked. â€œIâ€™d like you to vote accordingly.â€? A
Nancy Reyering named environmental champ By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer
oodside resident Nancy Reyering, an active volunteer in the civic affairs of the town, received the townâ€™s Environmental Champion Award for 2013 at the Earth Day Fair on April 27. Ms. Reyering is one of seven residents serving on the Architectural and Site Review Board, a panel that reviews construction and design plans for new homes and major remodeling projects. The green remodel
of her own home won her and her husband Martin Walker recognition from county, state and federal officials in 2009, said Sustainability and Conservation Committee member Rob Flint. Ms. Reyering is on the townâ€™s Open Space Committee and was key in setting up Woodsideâ€™s Backyard Habitat program to recognize residents working to improve their properties to create wildlife corridors for native plants and wild animals. Her favorite topics include orienting homes for best use
of solar heating and cooling, using sustainable design and minimizing grading, Mr. Flint said. Her efforts can hit hard. In Mr. Flintâ€™s recollection, Ms. Reyering recalls an applicant who named her in a 20-page complaint over her views about grading. â€œI was proud to be seen as thwarting to their intentâ€? to cut into a 32 percent slope for an arena, she said. She is a member of the California Public Interest Research Group and the Environmental Working Group, both ardent watchdogs intent on protecting the interests of the public.
REAL ESTATE TRENDS by Samia Cullen
Top Regrets When Buying a Home ! HOT MARKET LIKE TODAYS CREATES MAS SIVE COMPETITION AMONG BUYERS AND PUTS PRESSURE ON BUYERS TO MAKE QUICK DECI SIONS THAT CAN LEADS TO REGRETS 7HAT ARE THE MOST COMMON REAL ESTATE REGRETS ! RECENT SURVEY BY 4RULIA LISTS THE TOP REGRETS OF HOME BUYERS ! REVIEW OF THIS LIST CAN HELP BUYERS MAKE DECISIONS THEY FEEL GOOD ABOUT IN THE LONG RUN 4HIRTY FOUR PERCENT OF BUYERS WISHED THEY HAD BOUGHT A LARGER HOME "UY A HOME THAT WILL WORK FOR YOUR FAMILY TO YEARS FROM NOW !NALYZE YOUR FUTURE FAMILY NEEDS CAREFULLY 0LAN YOUR SPACE AROUND THE FAMILY MEMBERS AND ACTIVITIES 4WENTY SEVEN PERCENT OF BUYERS WISHED THEY HAD DONE MORE REMODELING WHEN THEY BOUGHT THE HOME 3TATISTICS SHOWS THAT IF A HOMEOWNER DOESNT UNDER TAKE THE REMODEL THEY PLAN WITHIN THE lRST YEAR AFTER CLOSING CHANCES ARE THEY WONT DO SO FOR MANY YEARS IF AT ALL -AKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE A BUDGET AND A lRM PLAN OF ACTION FOR THE HOME UPGRADES YOU WANT THAT YOU CAN EXECUTE AS SOON AS YOU CLOSE ESCROW 4WENTY PERCENT OF BUYERS WISHED
THEY HAD MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE HOUSE BEFORE THEY BOUGHT IT #AREFUL PLAN NING ALLOWS BUYERS TO INVESTIGATE THE PROP ERTY THOROUGHLY )N OUR AREA ALMOST EVERY HOUSE HAS A PACKAGE OF DISCLOSURES AND RE PORTS !CT FAST GET THE PACKAGE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE READ IT CAREFULLY ASK QUESTIONS AND ORDER FURTHER INSPECTIONS FOR THE KEY ISSUES BEFORE PRESENTING AN OFFER %IGHTEEN PERCENT WISHED THEY HAD PUT MORE MONEY DOWN FOR THE DOWN PAYMENT AND SIXTEEN PERCENT WISHED THEY HAD BEEN MORE lNANCIALLY SECURE BEFORE THEY BOUGHT THE HOUSE &INANCIAL PREPARATION TO BUY A HOME IS A MUST )T IN VOLVES CAREFUL PLANNING AND SAVINGS FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME AND REQUIRES THAT YOU STAY ACCOUNTABLE TO YOUR PLANS &IFTEEN PERCENT WISHED THEY HAD CHOSEN A NEIGHBORHOOD WITH A SHORTER COMMUTE TO WORK 3OME BUYERS CHOOSE TO BUY A LARGER HOME WITH A LONG COMMUTE TO WORK -Y ADVICE HAS BEEN TO OPT FOR QUAL ITY OF LIFE BY BUYING A SMALLER HOME THAT SHORTENS YOUR COMMUTE AND INVESTING THE EXPENSES OF THE COMMUTE IN YOUR HOME
)F YOU HAVE A REAL ESTATE QUESTION OR WOULD LIKE A FREE MARKET ANALYSIS FOR YOUR HOME PLEASE CALL ME AT !LAIN 0INEL 2EALTORS OR EMAIL ME AT SCULLEN APRCOM &OR THE LATEST REAL ESTATE NEWS FOLLOW MY BLOG AT WWWSAMIACULLENCOM
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Voters pass schools’ parcel tax measure By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor
emi-official results reported by the county elections office on May 7 show that Measure O, which renews the Portola Valley School District’s annual parcel tax for eight years and increases it by $123 per parcel, has passed by a comfortable margin. With all 11 precincts counted, the county reported that 1,507 voters (69.07 percent) cast “yes” votes, while 675 voters (30.93 percent) opposed the measure. A two-thirds vote was needed to pass Measure O, which renews the existing tax of $458 per parcel for eights years and authorizes increasing the tax to $581, effective July of this year. The school district board authorized the all-mail ballot in February after discussing
options at several public meetings. Ballots, which were mailed to all registered voters in the district beginning in mid-April, were due at 8 p.m. May 7. The district has raised almost $1 million annually with the current tax — nearly 10 percent of its budget. District officials estimate that the renewed and increased tax will add about $265,065 on top of that. The exact amount is uncertain because property owners who are 65 and older can apply for an exemption, as can people with disabilities who are receiving supplemental security income (SSI), if they live on the property. Revenue from the tax is earmarked for educational programs, with emphasis on math, science, reading, writing, art and music, and would also be used to maintain “qualified and experienced teachers” and small class size. A
Menlo Park man arrested in drug sales investigation A weeks-long investigation culminated in the arrest of a Menlo Park man for allegedly selling cocaine, Menlo Park police announced. On May 7, a multi-agency team of officers from Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and the FBI served a search warrant on a residence in 2300 block of Menalto Avenue in East Palo Alto, police said. John Wayne Price, 38, was arrested after investigators allegedly found a large amount of cocaine base and a stolen 9 mm semi-automatic pistol during the search. After being booked into San Mateo County jail for possession for sale of cocaine base and having a firearm as a felon, he posted $100,000 bail
and was released. Menlo Park Acting Commander Eric Cowans said investigators were led to the suspect after receiving a complaint of ongoing drug sales. He declined to release the value of the drugs investigators confiscated, but said “it was much more than personal use amount.” The home in East Palo Alto reportedly belonged to friends of Mr. Price, police said. Also arrested was a woman found in the residence during the search, 49-year-old Yolanda Wright of East Palo Alto, who was wanted on a probation violation warrant related to a prior narcotics charge, Cmdr. Cowans said. — Sandy Brundage
Menlo Park man found guilty of robbery, grand theft By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer
jury found 27-year-old Garry Ronald Darnell guilty of robbery, grand theft, possession of methamphetamine and four other felonies on May 7, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office. Mr. Darnell was arrested on Oct. 11, 2012, when a car’s owner surprised him rummaging through her vehicle that night, the police log reported. The victim confronted the suspect, who was holding her backpack, and got shoved to
the ground as he f led. Menlo Park police arrested him a short while later and said they found methamphetamine in his possession as well as items allegedly stolen during five other automobile burglaries and thefts. During the trial, Eric Hove, the defendant’s lawyer, suggested that police were lying about some circumstances of the case, but apparently did not sway the jury in his client’s favor. He was not available for comment. The court scheduled Mr. Darnell’s sentencing for Aug. 2. He remains in custody on $90,000 bail.
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New housing site Artisan, Matt Matteson’s new housing development at 389 El Camino Real, near College Avenue, broke ground on April 24. Nine single-family homes and 17 townhomes will be built on the site; three homes will be designated as below-market-rate housing. The project got the stamp of approval from the Menlo Park City Council last fall after years of collaboration between the developer and the nearby Allied Arts neighborhood.
BELLE HAVEN continued from page 5
families, job training, community beautification, and ways to allow the community to work together. A final report on the project is expected to be released in July, according to the city. Council members emphasized that they need to give the community more than just a report telling them what their neighborhood needs and wants. “There’s nothing in this report I didn’t already know,” said council member Ray Mueller. “We have leaders in Belle Haven. ... What we need to do is give them resources,” he said. “All the data’s great,” he said. “We have the data now — it’s confirmed what we know. How do we give them tools to do what they need to do?” Council member Rich Cline also warned the residents that money to pay for improvements
BRUSH FIRE continued from page 5
ing this fire, which never got beyond one alarm, were firefighters from Redwood City and the Kings Mountain Volunteer Fire Department. Some of the firefighters were ferried in by helicopter, the chief said.
is the real problem. “I want to tell the community when you really need to listen is not at this meeting. It’s when the budget comes out,” he said. “It’s going to take money for police stations, money for police officers, money for the library, money to staff it.” One of the priorities for Belle Haven residents has been a new police substation for the neighborhood. Menlo Park police chief Robert Jonsen, who started his job in February, promised that he is working hard on the issue as well as making other improvements to improve safety in the area. “We’re very excited about the possibility of the new substation,” Chief Jonsen said. The new station will be discussed at a May 16 community meeting planned as part of the Belle Haven Neighborhood Vision project, he said. The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. at the Senior Center, 110 Terminal Ave. in Menlo Park.
There will be more bike patrols in the area and two additional motor officers, Chief Jonsen said. “I really want to build our neighborhood watch programs,” he said. He also promised to crack down on any gang activity in the area. “If any gang member comes into this community and inflicts violence on anyone in this community, we will find them.”
Firefighters relied on the aircraft to direct them, according to radio dispatches. At one point, firefighters reported being three-quarters of a mile to a mile away from where they thought the fire was. At another, they reported being blocked by a downed power line. “Our biggest challenge was access to the fire,” the chief said.
Workers from Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. eventually arrived and shut down the power, firefighters said. Low wind and moderate temperatures helped, Chief Ghiorso said. “I hope this is a wake-up call for people. It’s not a matter of when, but if. We throw everything we can at (incidents like) this,” he added.
Online forum Go to tinyurl.com/MP-vision to participate in an online forum, set up by the city of Menlo Park to get people’s views on the future of Belle Haven. You don’t need to live in the Belle Haven neighborhood to participate. Users will be required to enter their names and addresses, but may post anonymously. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 330-2267 to contact Assistant Community Services Director Derek Schweigart for more information.
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PV district superintendent resigns
By Renee Batti
WEEKLY REAL ESTATE REPORT
Almanac News Editor
arol Piraino, who picked up the reins at the Portola Valley School District last year in the wake of her predecessor’s abrupt resignation while under investigation for financial irregularities, has announced she will resign as superintendent at the end of the school year. Ms. Piraino will be leaving her post only one year into her two-year contract. She told the Almanac that she was under no pressure from the school board to resign. Instead, she said, she decided to explore other areas in the field of education. “I have a number of irons in the fire,” she said of her prospects for a new position. “I’m looking at a variety of opportunities.” In a written statement announcing the resignation, school board president Jocelyn Swisher said Ms. Piraino “has shared with the board that she believes the district is now well-positioned for a new leader to take the helm.” In a statement included in the district’s weekly online post, Ms. Piraino said she is committed to completing several projects before she leaves the district.
“These include working with the interview panel and board to select an outstanding new principal for Ormondale School; working with the Strategic Plan Steering Committee, community, and board to finalize a dynamic, forward-thinking strategic plan; and working with (finance officer) Sandra Lepley and the board to create a balanced, fiscally sound 2013-14 budget.” Ms. Piraino told the Almanac that she feels she’s “leaving the
on May 13, after the Almanac’s press time. The district is also seeking comments through an online survey available beginning May 10. Ms. Piraino served as the district’s assistant superintendent until early 2012, when she was appointed interim superintendent to take over from thensuperintendent Tim Hanretty. Mr. Hanretty resigned from the post in January 2012 after an investigation was launched into financial irregularities uncovered in the Woodside ‘I have a number School District from the Mr. Hanretty served of irons in the fire.’ time as that district’s finance officer. CAROL PIRAINO, After that investigation SUPERINTENDENT, PORTOLA began, the Portola Valley VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT district audited its books, and what unfolded led to district in a good place” and Mr. Hanretty’s admission that that she has “committed to play he had embezzled more than whatever role I can in making it $100,000 from the district. a very smooth transition” for the In June 2012, several months new superintendent. before Mr. Hanretty pleaded no The district is working with contest to embezzlement and the Hazard, Young, Attea & other charges, Ms. Piraino signed Associates firm to manage the a two-year contract to take over search for a new superintendent, the top post. and hopes to have someone in Prior to being named assisplace by the end of June, Ms. tant superintendent in midPirainio said. 2010, Ms. Piraino served for A community forum on the two years as Corte Madera superintendent search was held School principal.
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Police contract talks on Atherton agenda By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor
session to allow the public to comment on upcoming contract talks between the town and the police union, and potential changes in the city manager’s contract, are on the agenda when the Atherton City Council meets on Wednesday, May 15. The town has prepared an eightpage report detailing current compensation and staffing levels of the police department, as well as of non-emergency employees. In an unprecedented move, the council is asking residents to comment on what they think should be considered as contract talks with the police union get under way this month. City Manager George Rodericks said he is modeling the session on a recent Menlo Park City Council meeting giving residents in the neighboring town an opportunity to raise concerns and offer suggestions on how that city should proceed with labor talks. The contract with the 22 represented employees of the police department expires Sept. 30, and the police union, the Atherton Police Officers’ Association (APOA), has sent mailings to residents warning them of a
potential exodus of officers if the town demands compensation cuts similar to those recently imposed on non-represented employees, including the police chief and city manager. The report shows that 87.5 percent of the town’s personnel costs go toward police department compensation. The high figure is accounted for, in part, by the fact that the police department has 25 employees; there are only nine non-emergency employees. The report also includes facts and figures dealing with the escalating post-employment costs the town must pay, such as for retirement and postretirement health care. Go to tinyurl.com/AthertonPay and search (using Ctrl-f) for “Item No. 16” to see the report. Regarding Item No. 21, a discussion and possible action on proposed changes to the city manager’s contract, Mr. Rodericks said he doesn’t know what changes might be proposed. “The council is set to meet in closed session (before the public meeting) that same evening regarding my performance appraisal,” he said in an email. “The item is on the agenda should they desire to
make adjustments.” In January, Mr. Rodericks asked the council to consider adjusting his salary upward after deciding he wouldn’t be living in the town-owned house in Holbrook-Palmer Park, a residence traditionally occupied by the city manager and considered part of his or her compensation. Mr. Rodericks was hired last October with an annual salary of $160,000 and a monthly transportation allowance of $2,500 until June, when the move to Atherton would occur. In a staff report for the January council meeting, Mr. Rodericks said that, since his hiring, “personal challenges to using the house” as his primary residence had developed. At that time, it was apparent that not all council members would be agreeable to such an adjustment. Mayor Elizabeth Lewis appointed herself and Councilman Jerry Carlson as a subcommittee that would try to work out a plan to allow Mr. Rodericks to continue living in his Marin County home while possibly increasing his salary. The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at 94 Ashfield Road, in the Town Center.
Sunday, May 19, 2013 3:00 - 5:00 pm Join us for a garden party honoring the significant professional and community contributions of six seniors:
Tom Fiene Ruth and Ben Hammett Al Russell Judith Steiner Katsy Swan Call (650) 289-5445 or visit www.avenidas.org for tickets
May 15, 2013 N TheAlmanacOnline.com N The Almanac N 9
C O V E R
By Barbara B B b Wood W d Photos by Michelle Le hen Louis Arenas opened his barbershop in downtown Menlo Park, he wanted it to be an oldfashioned type of place, where customers could feel as if they were returning to another era when they settled in an antique barber chair for a shave or a haircut. Of course, the opening of Golden Shears, on April 7, 1963, half a century ago, actually was in another era. While Golden Shears still feels like a portal into the past, about a decade ago, a few changes were made. The antique chairs in the waiting area had to be replaced, and the original flocked wallpaper had to come down. The barber chairs are still antiques, though, dated around 1890, Mr. Arenas says. The Santa Cruz Avenue shop also boasts elaborate oval gold-framed mirrors and a checkered floor. Straight razor shaves are still available. Old photos, including several taken soon after the
shop opened, have a place of honor in the front windows and on interior walls. “I try to make it authentic as it would be in the 1890s,” Mr. Arenas says. “The shop hasn’t been changed,” Mr. Arenas says. “Downtown Menlo Park has changed, but not here.” Not that he dislikes change. “The improvements that they have done on the street since 1963 have been very comfortable and very useful and very decorative,” Mr. Arenas says. Golden Shears, located on downtown Santa Cruz Avenue near Crane Street,
will belatedly celebrate its 50th anniversary this month, with refreshments and live mariachi music on Saturday, May 18, from 1 to 3 p.m. “The whole town’s invited if they want to come in,” says Mr. Arenas “This is going to be a big one.” In addition to the replacement of the old waiting-room chairs and the flocked wallpaper, there have actually been a few other changes in the shop over the years. Two years after Golden Shears opened, despite the old-time feel, it was considered innovative enough to garner front-page coverage in the Dec. 16, 1965, San Jose Mercury. “Men’s Beauty Salon a Smashing Success,” the headline says, w with the story and photos detailing servvices such as hair coloring, straightening, ffacials, manicures, shoe shines, saunas aand massages, as well as the hairpieces tthen offered by the shop. However, Mr. Arenas says, the demand ffor plain old haircuts soon became so ggreat that he removed the sauna and massage tables and added more barber m cchairs. Ever since, Mr. Arenas says, the shop’s eeight chairs (seven of them leased to other hair professionals) have been in o ssteady use. “I have been very fortunate tto have the volume of clientele,” he says. ““Very steady and very loyal.” He says his staff has also been “very sstable and productive.” “I could never have done it alone,” he ssays. Barber Wayne Slocum has been with Golden Shears owner Louis Arenas since 1972.
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The shop has both male and female customers, and two female stylists. The hair professionals who lease chairs in the shop have been there for between five years (Woody Jackson) and 41 years (Wayne Slocum). Other Golden Shears haircutters are Sam Valero, Dwight Stark,
S T O R Y
Above: Yvonne Soliz cuts the hair of Steve Sharbrough, a client for 25 years. Left: Louis Arenas holds up a mirror to show first-time client Max Weigl his finished haircut.
Left: Golden Shears owner Louis Arenas works on first-time client Max Weigl. Above: A collection of shears at Golden Shears.
Yvonne Soliz, George Guiterrez, and Valerie Jamison. Mr. Arenas, 83, still works four days a week in the shop. Mr. Arenas grew up on a farm in the San Joaquin Valley, but he comes from a family of barbers, with four of his five brothers also in the profession, as well as nine other family members, including his granddaughter. He took up barbering after serving in the military in Germany. “I started thinking I’m not going back to the farm — I know
everything about farming. I want something different,” Mr. Arenas says. He attended barber college in Fresno and
then moved to San Jose, where he worked for two years before opening his own shop in Sunnyvale and then his “full-service” shop in Menlo Park. Mr. Arenas says many of his customers, or their offspring, as many as 30 or 40 o percent, have been getting their haircuts p tthere since the shop opened. Those loyal customers include a few wellkknown names, many of them connected with the San Francisco 49ers. Dwight w C Clark used to bring his children in for h haircuts, and Jim Plunkett, Harris Barton, JJohn Brodie and Matt Hazeltine were also ccustomers, Golden Shears barbers say. Y.A. T Tittle is a long-timer who “still comes in aand gets his trim,” Mr. Arenas says. Other longtime customers include the llate John “Jack” Beckett, who worked in SSan Francisco for Transamerica and is cconsidered responsible for building the iiconic pyramid building, and Mervin Morris, the original owner of Mervyn’s, M Mr. Arenas says. M Another long-time customer is Harry Cook, a former U.S. Geological Survey C ggeologist once profiled in the San Franccisco Chronicle as the “Indiana Jones of tthe USGS.” Mr. Cook, who lives in Redwood Shores, has been coming to Golden w SShears since he moved to the Peninsula in
1 1974. For nearly 40 years, Mr. Cook says, Golden Shears barber Wayne Slocum has G ccut his red hair and beard. “We just hit it off,” he says, when asked why he’s continued going back for so many w decades. “He has seen me through two d divorces and I’m on my third marriage d now,” Mr. Cook says. “Wayne knows more n aabout me than anybody.” In fact, Mr. Cook says, he considers his monthly visits to Golden Shears a sort of m ttherapy. “I’m in the therapy chair for 30 minutes and it’s $40,” he says. Apparently the Golden Shears staff feels Mr. Cook is family, as well. Louis keeps a copy of that Chronicle article about him “and once in a while he’ll pull it out and show it to some of his customers,” Mr. Cook says. “I just hope it keeps going as long as possible,” Mr. Cook says of Golden Shears. “It’s a landmark.” As far as Mr. Arenas is concerned, Mr. Cook has nothing to worry about. “I’m not planning retirement,” he said. “If I knew how to do nothing, I would retire tomorrow,” he says, but “I’m still 90 percent healthy so I’ll stick around for a while.” Barbara Wood is a freelance writer, photographer and gardener from Woodside, and the author of the Almanac’s “Dispatches From the Home Front” column for more than 20 years. Party Golden Shears barbershop, at 814 Santa Cruz Ave. in downtown Menlo Park, will hold a party from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 18, to observe its 50th anniversary. Refreshments and live mariachi music are planned. “The whole town’s invited,” says Golden Shears owner Louis Arenas.
On the cover Barbers, from left, Woody Jackson, Wayne Slocum and Yvonne Soliz work on clients during a Saturday afternoon at Golden Shears barbershop.
Longtime Golden Shears barber Wayne Slocum waits for his next client. Photo by Michelle Le.
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City plans to pay $2.5M for new housing on VA campus By Barbara Wood