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Putting Burning Man on film Woodsider makes documentary on annual self-expression festival By Kate Daly Special to the Almanac


t’s a great time for a new generation of directors to enter the film industry,” says Steve Brown of Woodside, a first-time filmmaker who is releasing in August his documentary on Burning Man, the annual self-expression festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. A combination of factors — such as Hollywood’s dependence on blockbuster sequels, and new outlets for films (such as streaming video services) — may make more room for independent filmmakers like Mr. Brown. As a self-described “technology entrepreneur,” he founded Health Hero Network, sold it and serves on several boards of technology companies. But even after spending a chunk of the last two years not drawing a salary for co-directing, co-producing and now distributing “SPARK: A Burning Man Story,” he says what he really wants to do is make more movies. For him this project is his “beta.” Curiosity, he says, drew him to attend his first Burning Man in 2006. He felt attracted to the “environment where people can truly be themselves” and “the transient way in which people collaborating and being artists, burned down their works, so each year they’re born ... it’s like a chance to start over.” The event originated in 1986 when Larry Harvey gathered a small group to burn a wooden effigy of a man on Baker Beach in San Francisco. Over the years Burning Man grew into a weeklong party around Labor Day where artists, musicians and other fellow so-called “Burners” set up a temporary community of trailers and tents in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, 120 miles north of Reno. Numbering close to 60,000 these days, the participants bring in all the food, water and supplies they need. They are

Photo by Jason Mongue

Steve Brown says he plans to revisit Burning Man this year with a group of friends from Woodside, but this time he is not bringing a camera.

urged to follow basic tenets of self-expression and self-reliance, and to give and swap things. Some people collaborate to create art, while others decorate vehicles. An effigy of a man and some structures, such as a temple, are erected, and then burned. In the end the idea is to leave the desert without a trace of their being there.

On Aug. 16 the film will debut in theaters in Los Angeles and New York. This year Burning Man is taking place Aug. 27 through Sept. 3. Tickets went on sale in December for anywhere from $190 to $650 each and sold out. Mr. Brown is planning to go with a group of friends from Woodside and visit the people he filmed, but this time he is not bringing a camera. The year 2011 was pivotal for Mr. Brown. As co-organizer of TEDx Black Rock City, he met the team behind Burning Man and remembers the founder using the words “permission engine” to describe it, and telling him, “It’s a community, and a place designed to allow people to be whoever they want to be.” That theme hit home with Mr. Brown. He admits back then, “I was on a career path where I couldn’t be who I

wanted to be.” He realized Burning Man was going through growing pains and recognized a story unfolding where “a small community of artists and dreamers experience a collision with the outside world. ... It’s kind of a universal story every nonprofit, every startup, every band goes through this when they confront the world,” he says. So he decided to make a documentary about it. “My job was starting Spark Pictures, building a team, articulating the vision, raising the money (primarily from local investors), and gaining access to that story.” He procured “hundreds of hours of archival footage” and received permission to film everything at the event in 2011 and 2012 except for “illegal activities like taking drugs or porn.” “There are naked people out there,” Mr. Brown says, but most Burners wear costumes and clothing to protect themselves from harsh weather that ranges from thunder and dust storms to almost freezing temperatures at night, and to days when the temperature can climb well over 100. Through a Burning Man connection, he met the East Bay resident who became his codirector and co-producer, Jessie Deeter. She had already produced a documentary, “Who Killed the Electric Car?” They brought in Chris Weitz as one of five executive producers. He has worked on movies such as “American Pie,” “About a Boy” and “The Golden Compass,” so he lent some Hollywood expertise to the independent filmmakers. SPARK ended up focusing on the organization’s story, plus following three participants: a woman who welded together a large heart sculpture, a man who built and burned a multistory installation entitled “Burn Wall Street,” and then another man who organized a theme

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Local News M















SamTrans probe: Bus breaks rail crossing arm By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


amTrans says it could take weeks to complete an investigation into why a SamTrans bus broke off a lowering railroad crossing arm and hurtled across the tracks at Oak Grove Avenue in Menlo Park shortly before the train arrived. More than 24 hours after witnesses reported the incident at 9:23 a.m. Tuesday, July 30, SamTrans confirmed it was one of their buses. The driver, an employee of the transit agency for more than 10 years, did report the accident, according to SamTrans spokesperson Christine Dunn. She attributed the delay in confirming the vehicle’s involvement to work schedules and locations making it difficult to reach the right staff. Ms. Dunn said the driver

is now off work pending the completion of the investigation, as is standard procedure. Bus 119, running route 296, had just left the Menlo Park Caltrain station carrying five passengers before breaking off the railroad crossing arm, Ms. Dunn said. No one was injured. Further details were not available due to the ongoing investigation. Investigators will analyze eyewitness accounts, the GPS log from the bus as well as video footage from an onboard camera, according to the transit agency. An accident review committee that includes SamTrans Superintendent Karambir Cheema as well as the driver’s union representative will review the findings to determine whether the accident was preventable, who was at fault and what sort

The driver is on leave pending the outcome of an investigation that could take weeks. of discipline may be warranted. SamTrans asks that anyone with information about the accident contact Mr. Cheema by phone at 508-6401 or via email at The Almanac reported earlier that witnesses were sure it was a SamTrans bus. “There’s not a doubt in my mind that it was SamTrans,” one said. “VTA buses look really different.” According to the state vehicle code, buses must stop between 15 and 50 feet from a railroad crossing and listen for approaching trains before proceeding across the tracks. Ms. Dunn

confirmed that SamTrans buses follow the code, and added that if gates are down, drivers must wait until the arms rise and warning bells stop ringing. “I heard a loud snapping sound and looked up to see (the eastbound) SamTrans bus hurtling across the tracks, and the crossing arm flying through the air over the bus and coming to land on the tracks at Oak Grove Avenue,” a witness said. Seconds later, southbound train 230 arrived and ran over the broken crossing arm, she said. “The arm was lying across the tracks roughly perpendicularly when the train approached. The engine appeared to run right over the crossing arm, which eventually came to rest alongside the tracks.” Conductors got off the train and investigated the crossing. After about three minutes, the

train got underway to Palo Alto, according to a witness. “The bus clearly ran the crossing ... bells were ringing and arms were going down,” she said. “It was one of those big, double buses, heading eastbound on Oak Grove.” The bus continued down the street after crossing the tracks, she said. Multiple people called 911 about the incident. Menlo Park police responded to the scene for traffic control, but jurisdiction over the investigation lies with the transit division of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. SamTrans confirmed there was no damage to the train. Ms. Dunn said approaching trains were alerted to slow down as they proceeded through the crossing until work crews finished repairing the crossing arm. A

Nicholas Targ honored for environmental justice work By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


he American Bar Association has recognized Portola Valley resident Nicholas Targ, an attorney with the international law firm of Holland & Knight, for his efforts and those of two other attorneys in advancing environmental justice for communities without clean air and water. Mr. Targ shares the “Environment, Energy, and Resources Dedication to Diversity and Justice Award” with Quentin Pair of the U.S. Department of Justice, and Ben Wilson of Beveridge & Diamond PC. The award also recognizes the trio for their efforts to diversify the membership of the section of the ABA concerned with environmental issues. “What truly distinguishes these extraordinary attorneys is their tremendous investment in the lawyers of tomorrow and their unwavering commitment to the environmental bar,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, an assistant attorney general in the DOJ, in a letter announcing the award. “This remarkable partnership has produced a vitally important environmental law curriculum at the Howard University School of Law and prepared and fostered leadership in a generation of

law students to address future env ironmental issues that will confront all Americans, particularly those in low-income, minority, and Nicholas Targ Native American communities.” Mr. Targ and his associates were instrumental in bringing together the ABA, the school of law at Howard, and the bar association in the District of Columbia to develop the “Partners for Diversity and Leadership in Environmental Law Program,” Ms. Moreno said. Mr. Targ, who is in his first term on Portola Valley’s Planning Commission, lives with his family in the Hayfields subdivision. “The Howard project has been a labor of love,” he told the Almanac. “Many hands have helped it to succeed. The ABA award is a true honor and completely unexpected, but more important it will further help the program on its way. In his career, Mr. Targ has been an attorney for the Department of the Interior and for the Environmental Protection Agency, where he was counsel and associate director in the Office of Environmental Justice.

Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac

Betty and Ernst Meissner in their Menlo Park home.

Meissners join Menlo’s Relay for Life By Sam Borsos Special to the Almanac


his weekend, Betty and Ernst Meissner are among those who will participate in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event in Menlo Park. Ms. Meissner created a relay team, called Joie de Vivre (joy of life), in honor of her

husband, a survivor of colon cancer. During the event, team members, including Betty and Ernst Meissner, take turns walking a course at Burgess Park from 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, to 10 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 11. The Meissners are familiar faces on the civic scene, active in the Menlo Park community since they met as neigh-

bors in the downtown area in 1970. They both belong to the Chamber of Commerce, and have been awarded for their volunteer efforts. Mr. Meissner, a former president of the chamber, earned the Golden Acorn Award in 1994. Seventeen years later, in 2011, the couple received the See MEISSNERS, page 8


August 7, 2013NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN5


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Woodside School may put bond measure on ballot By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor

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s Woodside Elementary School District officials consider asking residents to pass a bond measure next spring for construction, safety and modernization projects, a team of volunteers is going to work to raise funds from private donors in an attempt to whittle down the amount of money the district would seek. Beth Polito, superintendent and principal of the one-school district, said identified projects are estimated to cost just over $16 million. The school board has discussed options for a bond measure, and is considering placing a measure on the June 2014 ballot, she said, adding that the decision will be made in March. Of the building projects, the highest-cost item would be the demolition of the Sellman Auditorium and construction of a new building that would include a permanent stage, added storage, connection to the campus’ music room, a new food service area, and restrooms, according to a report from earlier this year. That project would cost an estimated $7.67 million. Other projects under consideration include the demolition of the existing relocatable classroom and the construction

of two new classrooms, at an estimated cost of about $1.7 million; the demolition of the existing relocatable classroom No. 19 and construction of a new 1,000-square-foot flexible classroom space, at an estimated cost of $711,000; and safety, security, maintenance and modernization projects costing an estimated $5.9 million. The report noted that the school’s “already robust music and drama program is not wellserved by the current (Sellman Auditorium) facilities.” The report describes the replacement auditorium as the same size as the old — 8,560 square feet, but with a permanent stage, increased audio-visual capabilities, improved acoustics, better lighting, storage for related equipment, and audience seating. Representatives from architectural firms interested in taking on the project are expected to be on campus on Thursday for a walk-through. Ms. Polito said volunteers formed a team in late June to launch a fundraising effort in hope of lowering the estimated $16 million the district would otherwise have to raise through a bond issue. “The Woodside community is used to, and expects, some private fundraising” for capital projects at the school, she said. A

PV school board candidates file By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor


hree candidates had filed papers to run for the three open seats on the Portola Valley School District board as of early Monday, and one incumbent says he’s not running, which will extend the filing period to Aug. 14. Incumbent Bill Youstra, who has served on the board since May 2008, told the Almanac he’s not planning to run for reelection. Meanwhile, parent and educator Gulliver LaValle has joined two appointed Portola Valley district incumbents in qualifying for the November ballot. He and incumbent Karen Tate filed their candidate papers last week; incumbent Caitha Ambler had filed her papers earlier. The incumbents were appointed last April to replace Scott Parker and Ray Villareal, who had resigned in the previous weeks. Mr. LaValle teaches history at the Woodside Priory, and runs

the private school’s inclusion and diversity program, he said in an email. He has two children in the Ormondale School, and a son who is an eighth-grader at the Priory after attending Ormondale and Corte Madera, he said. Ms. Ambler also works for the Woodside Priory, serving as the dean of middle school. Woodside School District

Incumbent Marc Tarpenning and parent Claire Wilbur Pollioni were the only two official candidates for three open seats on the Woodside Elementary School board as of the Almanac’s press time on Monday. No one else had taken out candidate papers as of that time. If the other two incumbents whose terms expire in December — Wendy Crandall and Bettina Pike — run for re-election, the filing period will close at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9. If either doesn’t file papers by that time, the filing period will be extended until Aug. 14. A



Property Tax Advantage When Downsizing Your Home For many homeowners downsizing makes sense as they get older and family needs change. Although downsizing can be difďŹ cult and emotional with memories holding you back from selling your home and taking your life in a new direction, there are advantages to downsizing. Freeing the equity in your home and having a simpler lifestyle can bring the thrill of new adventures, more travel or other activities that you were not able to indulge in before. However, paying higher real property taxes on the prospective new home often acts as a deterrent to downsizing. In California, Propositions 60, 90 and 110 allow qualiďŹ ed homeowners over the age of 55 or persons of any age who are severely and permanently disabled to transfer a property’s base value from an existing residence to a replacement residence, under certain conditions. These propositions apply to homeowners who relocate within the same participating county or between participating counties

(currently, Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Diego, Alameda, Los Angeles and Ventura). Additional requirements for this tax treatment include: (1) the cost of the replacement property can’t exceed the current appraised value of the original property, (2) the replacement property must be acquired within two years of the sale of the original property, (3) the owner should ďŹ le an application for this tax treatment within three years of the sale of their residence, and (4) the original residence and the replacement home must be the taxpayer’s primary residence or the taxpayer must have received or be eligible for a Disabled Veteran’s Exemption on both residences. The overview of the tax laws and treatments described in this article is for general information purposes only. You should consult your tax attorney or your accountant regarding how they may apply in your particular circumstances.

If you have a real estate question or would like a free market analysis for your home, please call me at 650-384-5392, Alain Pinel Realtors, or email me at For the latest real estate news, follow my blog at

This car was seriously damaged by a huge oak tree limb that broke off and fell on the vehicle, parked in a lot near the gym at the Menlo Park Civic Center. This photo was submitted by an Almanac reader.

Huge tree limb falls on car A huge oak tree limb broke off and landed on a car parked near the gym at the Menlo Park Civic Center around 12:30 p.m. Sunday, July 28. The car was seriously damaged. Menlo Park police spokeswoman Nicole Acker said the owner of the car was outside the vehicle when the tree fell, and initially he wasn’t sure if

he’d been hit. Medics evaluated him for a complaint of knee pain. Is the city of Menlo Park liable in this case? City Attorney Bill McClure said that, generally, car insurance policies pay for the damages, which could be recovered by the insurer only if the city was at fault or negligent. While Menlo Park does

periodically inspect its trees, he wasn’t sure when this one had last been looked at and noted that with oak trees, “you cannot tell whether there is some weakness or problem oftentimes until after a branch breaks off or the entire tree comes down.� — Sandy Brundage

Six show interest in council race By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


he November election for three Town Council seats in Portola Valley may be shaping up to be a contest now that two more people — SallyAnn Reiss and Taylor Hinshaw — have taken out candidacy papers. That brings the total to three who have taken out papers plus these three who have filed them: incumbent John Richards, an architect and the current mayor; software entrepreneur Craig Hughes, who sits on the town’s Architecture and Site Control Commission, and incumbent Maryann Moise Derwin, who joined the council in 2005. Mr. Richards would be running for his second term; Ms. Derwin has been mayor twice and would be running for her third term. Ms. Reiss recently championed the unsuccessful bid to


use artificial grass on the new soccer field at the Woodside Priory School. She co-chaired the $18 million fundraising campaign for the new Town Center that opened in 2008; has been on committees advising the council on parks, recreation, trails and paths; and ran unsuccessfully for a council seat in 2005. As for Mr. Hinshaw, Town Clerk Sharon Hanlon said she will have no additional information on Mr. Hinshaw until he files his completed candidacy papers. The Almanac was unable to reach him for an interview. The other person who has taken out papers is attorney Judith Hasko, a member of the Trails and Paths Committee and recently a member of an ad hoc committee that looked into the issue of planning

affordable housing to comply with state mandates. Incumbent Ted Driscoll, who has served on the council for five terms (20 years), told the Almanac that he has a lot on his plate in his private life and is “strongly leaning toward not running again.� The candidate filing period closes at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9. For offices without an eligible incumbent seeking re-election — as will be the case if Mr. Driscoll does not run for reelection — the filing period will be extended another five calendar days and will close at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14. All terms are for four years. Candidate rosters are updated by the elections office every day at 5 p.m. Go to for roster updates, or to for more information on San Mateo County elections. A

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Menlo police form citizens advisory group By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


enlo Park’s new police advisory group may be the only assembly of civic volunteers under the city’s auspices with representatives from every Menlo Park neighborhood, from Sharon Heights to Belle Haven to Linfield Oaks, sitting down together on a monthly basis. The group includes attorneys, a real estate agent, a Facebook information security specialist, with some names more familiar than others: Planning Commissioner Vince Bressler, Chamber of Commerce CEO Fran Dehn, community leaders Rose Bickerstaff and Elizabeth Houck, and fire district director Jack Nelson. Joining them are Betsy Barth, Ray Basso, Peter Brown, Dan Burke, Katherine Glass, Mary Kenney, John Lindgren, Hamilton Mixon, Margaret Munzig, Jason Pfannenstiel, John Preyer, Steve Taffee, Brigid Van Randall, Keeley Vega and Ryan Williams. The group held its first meeting on July 30. “I am excited to work with Chief Jonsen, whom I give much respect,” Ms. Bickerstaff said. “Working with him and his leadership, we can continue to make improvements in the way we view this city as a whole. My goal with this group is to help make this town all it can be. To ‘bridge’

MEISSNERS continued from page 5

award as a pair. “We have a positive attitude,” Mr. Meissner said. “We don’t just criticize. Some people have negative attitudes and just complain. We like to make a positive contribution.” His wife, now a retired teacher, has been energetic with helping Friends of the Menlo Park Library, the Library Foundation, and the Project Read adult literacy program. She helps out at the local firefighters pancake breakfast and updates fliers in the downtown kiosks. A retired architect, Mr. Meissner has led beautification projects in downtown Menlo Park, such as planting flowers and stringing lights through the trees.

?Photo courtesy, Menlo Park Police Department

Some members of the new Menlo Park police advisory group, with Chief Bob Jonsen and Cmdr. Dave Bertini. From left, they are: Chief Jonsen, Rose Bickerstaff, Ray Basso, John Preyer, Jason Pfannenstiel, Margaret Munzig, John Lindgren, Hamilton Mixon, Peter Brown, Jack Nelson, Steve Taffee, Dan Burke, Vincent Bressler, Brigid Van Randall and Cmdr. Bertini.

a few more gaps, and have a more unified city.” Mr. Taffee, a Menlo Park resident for 16 years and the community emergency response team (CERT) coordinator for the Willows neighborhood, said he wants to make sure that the team is well-connected with the police department, the same way it is with the fire district. As a member of the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, he’s also interested in the intersection between privacy and govern-

“He’s kind of the nature and trees guy, and I’m more the people person,” Ms. Meissner said. “I’m the connecter.” The couple’s community involvement continued with their participation in the Relay for Life. According to the team’s web page, 17 members have joined, raising more than $1,000 for the event. It’s not about the numbers or the fundraising, Ms. Meissner said, but about the commitment to show support for the cause. A

Relay for Life ■ Visit for more information on the Menlo Park Relay for Life. ■ Visit for more information about Betty Meissner’s team.

LET’S DISCUSS: Read the latest local news headlines and talk about the issues at Town Square at

8NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNAugust 7, 2013

ment surveillance. “As the city looks into technologies such as license plate readers and video surveillance systems, I want to make sure that our right to a safe, secure community is balanced with our right to privacy,” Mr. Taffee said. “The two are in tension with one another, but are not mutually exclusive.” Ms. Van Randall volunteered in part to stay involved, having just resigned from the housing commission. “I have a strong belief that the police depart-

ment is part of the central nervous system of the city, along with fire and education services,” she said. “They know the personality of the city very well and (are) in a unique position to interact and integrate the community in a positive fashion. I also have family members in various roles of law enforcement and personally (am) very interested in law and order.” It’s a large group — some might say unwieldy — but Chief Jonsen said he wanted to include everyone who wanted

to participate. The long list of members goes along with a long list of goals, which in essence focus on serving as liaisons between their communities and the police department, helping to identify problems and issues, engaging others to continue improving community policing, and participating in consensus decision-making, such as figuring out how to evaluate the group’s effectiveness. The next meeting will be held Aug. 27. A

Local puts Burning Man festival on film continued from page 3

camp for 150 members. The film features original music by Joachim Cooder, Australian singer Missy Higgins and the Bay Area’s Michael Franti. The documentary runs 90 minutes and has been playing at several film festivals this year including SXSW, Ashland Independent and Seattle International. Mr. Brown has been his own distributor, using companies such as Paladin to book theaters and TUGG to coordinate and sell tickets. He prefers the idea of “contingent booking,” where a theater is booked and if enough online sales are made in advance by a certain date, then the showing is a go. Last May a showing at the Aquarius Theatre in Palo Alto sold out at $14.50 per ticket. In part the showing served

as a fundraiser to help put “Aurora,” a 2012 Burning Man interactive light sculpture, on display at the Palo Alto City Hall plaza.

Local ‘burners’ Woodside resident Wendy Burger has gone to Burning Man eight or so times. She saw an earlier screening of “SPARK” and says it captures “the spirit” of the event and what she likes best about it — “the accidental artists, the garage tinkerers who are the most fascinating element.” She particularly liked last year’s El Pulpo Mecanico, a large flaming and waving octopus on wheels that was made out of trashcans and scrap metal by a man in Humboldt County. Another Woodside resident and Burner, Jessica Lonegran, saw the film and says she was

impressed with the cinematography. As for the event, she likes “the impermanence” and the “bringing out of your alter ego for a while, bringing your freakon, and then going back to your desk or cube.” After watching the film, Steve Patrick of Woodside says he felt he’d seen enough of Burning Man to know, “Now, I don’t have to do that.” On Aug. 16 the film will debut in theaters in Los Angeles and New York. It will be rolled out in at least eight more cities after that, and is scheduled to run at the Roxie in San Francisco starting Sept. 6. On Aug. 17 the film will be available on video-on-demand, and then released as a DVD with some additional footage in October or November. Go to for more information on shows and releases. A


Hundreds of equestrians compete at horse show More than 600 of the West Coast’s top equestrians are taking part in the 43rd Menlo Charity Horse Show now continuing through Sunday, Aug. 11, at the Menlo Circus Club, 190 Park Lane in Atherton. Lauded as one of the best in North America, the event features non-stop hunter and jumper competition from sunrise to sunset in three arenas. Spectators can take a break from watching the equestrian action on the polo field by shopping at 40 vendors that offer a variety of items from clothing and jewelry to items for the home and stable. Food and beverages will be available in the Circus Club dining room or coffee shop or from purveyors throughout the grounds. New this year is the $2,000 Windy Hill Larry Mayfield horse and hound jumper at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7. The event features teams of horse and rider and a dog with its handler. Horses and riders will compete over a course of jumps; the rider will then tag the handler who will direct the dog over a course of jumps ranging from 4 inches to 16

inches, depending on the size of the dog. Other highlights of the show are the $10,000 international hunter derby, sponsored by Dr. Daryl K. Hoffman of Atherton, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8; the $10,000 Oliver Luxury Real Estate Ryman memorial speed jumping class at 6 p.m. Friday; and the $40,000 Bentley Grand Prix at 6 p.m. Saturday. “The Grand Prix is the highlight of our six-day competition and not-to-be missed,” says horse show founder and co-chair Betsy Glikbarg of Atherton. “Our show was recently awarded the coveted U.S. Equestrian Federation Heritage Award, one of the highest equestrian honors in the county.” Judy Levin, Cindy Morrell and Michelle Mossman are cochairs of the Friday night dinner dance, sponsored by Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry. The live auction will include a luxury cruise to Alaska and the 2013 official painting of the horse show by local artist Stacey Turcotte. Dinner dance tickets are $250 per person. The horse show benefits the Vista Center for the Blind and

Menlo Charity Horse Show competitor Annie Cook on Banba, winner of the $10K Charlebois Junior AM Jumper Class in 2012

Visually Impaired. Tickets for the show are $10 per day, available at the gate. Children under 12 and adults over 65 are admitted free. There is street parking, with free shuttle service to the show grounds. Visit or call 701-0543 for more information.

Public comment sought on redistricting By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


he San Mateo County Board of Supervisors has released 10 online maps that experiment with redrawing the boundaries of the five supervisory districts. The public is invited to comment at meetings and online. A public meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, in the East Palo Alto City Council Chambers at 2415 University Ave. More meetings are scheduled. Voters decided in 2012 to have county supervisors run for election by district, rather than county-wide. That is, only the voters in the district will elect the supervisor. The maps are the consequence of a series of public meetings held over the summer by a nine-member redistricting committee, assisted by a demographer.

The differences between one map and another may appear slight. In comparing the maps “NDC Two City Splits Draft” and “NDC Compact Adjustments Draft,” for example, there are two swaps: ■ The unincorporated North Fair Oaks community shifts from being in District 2, now represented by Warren Slocum, to District 3, now represented by Don Horsley. ■ The community of San Bruno Mountain Park switches between District 1, now represented by Dave Pine, and District 5, now represented by Adrienne Tissier. The differences between maps can also be too big to miss. ■ The map “Nokamura Plan 1A” would assign Brisbane to Mr. Pine’s district and take it away from Ms. Tissier’s district. ■ The map “Nokamura Plan 2” would also reassign Brisbane but then go much further by

taking Pacifica and unincorporated parts south of Pacifica away from Mr. Horsley’s District 3 and assign them to Mr. Pine’s District 1. Warren Slocum’s District 4 would be split to include South San Francisco and Brisbane in the north and Menlo Park and Redwood City in the south. Go to and look under “New Draft Maps Released” to view or download the maps, including the map of current district boundaries. If they’re downloaded, the maps are likelier to be easier to resize and switch between them to detect the differences. The above website also notes the times and places for the four public meetings set for September — in Daly City on Sept. 10, Half Moon Bay on Sept. 11, Millbrae on Sept 12, and on Sept. 24 at a location to be determined. A

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Hit-and-run felon sentenced; reportedly rammed police car By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


alentin Arias Jimenez pleaded no contest July 31 to two felony hitand-run with injury charges and one felony car theft charge related to two Menlo Park cases, according to the district attorney’s office. A San Mateo County Superior Court judge sentenced Mr. Jimenez to three years and eight months in state prison with no credit for time served. He also must pay $420 in fines and restitution to be determined later. The 29-year-old East Palo Alto resident was arrested Nov. 1, 2012, after reportedly ramming a stolen car into a police vehicle, then hiding inside a

Madera Avenue home’s garage before he was arrested. Police discovered the suspect chugging stolen VitaSoy milk beverages as he hid in the garage, according to the district attorney’s office. The homeowner said there had been six drinks in storage, and after the impromptu visit, there were three. During the course of the investigation, Menlo Park police discovered that on Oct. 28, 2012, Mr. Jimenez had crashed his Mercedes into a bicyclist, then drove off. A witness had jotted down his license plate number. The district attorney’s office said he has at least seven prior felony convictions, which include car theft. A

Five may run in fire board race By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


ive people may run in the November election for three seats on the governing board of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, which serves Menlo Park, Atherton, East Palo Alto and portions of unincorporated San Mateo County. Three incumbents on the five-member board appear to be seeking re-election: Jack Nelson, who has filed candidate papers; and Stephen Nachtsheim and Rex Ianson, who have pulled papers but not filed yet. Mr. Nachtsheim, currently serving as board president, was elected in 2009, as was vice president Nelson. Mr. Ianson, a retired firefighter, has served on the board since 2005. Former Menlo Park City

N EL EC TI O N 2013

Council candidate Carolyn Clarke is one of two nonincumbents who have taken out candidacy papers. Along with running an accounting business, she sits on the Menlo Park Housing Commission and the city’s Housing Element Steering Committee. The other non-incumbent to pull papers is Chuck Bernstein, a former council candidate and local business person who runs a for-profit educational orga-

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Races shape up in college, high school districts By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer



nization. He told the Almanac he intends to run. He described it as a “watershed election for us residents who rely on fire protection” in light of pressure from the firefighters’ union to increase expenditures, and with what he calculates as a $3.5 million expected increase in retirement benefit costs in seven years. Prospective candidates have until 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9, to file papers. If any incumbent doesn’t file by that time, the filing period will be extended to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14.

f the many seats on local governing boards up for election in November, contests appear to be shaping up in the Sequoia Union High School District and the San Mateo County Community College District. With two seats open on each board, three people have filed or taken out candidacy papers in each district. In the Sequoia district, which includes Woodside and MenloAtherton high schools, incumbent Alan Sarver and challenger Georgia Jack have filed candidacy papers. Incumbent Chris Thomsen has taken out papers. Mr. Sarver, elected in 2009, is a retired software manager, a former K-6 teacher and a resident of Belmont. Mr. Thomsen, also elected in 2009, directs Stanford University’s Institute for Research in the Social Sciences and is a resident of Menlo Park. Ms. Jack is a manager in the office of development at Stanford and lives in Redwood City. In the community college district, incumbent Richard Holober and challengers Thomas Mohr and Samuel Diaz have filed candidacy papers. Mr. Holober of Millbrae, who

has described himself as an educator and consumer advocate, has been re-elected three times. Mr. Mohr of San Mateo was an interim president of Canada College in 2005 and president in 2007. He retired in 2011. Mr. Diaz describes himself as a writer on the candidate roster. In the West Bay Sanitary District, where there are two board seats open, incumbent Edward “Ned” Moritz has filed candidacy papers and incumbent Roy Thiele-Sardina has taken out papers. The candidate roster shows no activity so far for elections on the boards of Woodside Fire Protection District (one seat), the Ladera Recreation District (two seats) and the Los Trancos Water District (three seats). The filing period closes at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9. For offices without an eligible incumbent seeking re-election, the filing period closes at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14. All terms are for four years. Candidate rosters are updated by the elections office every day at 5 p.m. Go to for roster updates, or to for more information on San Mateo County elections. A

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At Kepler’s Elisabeth Seaman, in conversation with Michael Closson, will discuss and sign her new book “Conflict, the Unexpected Gift: Making the Most of Disputes in Life and Work,” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, at Kepler’s, 1010 El Camino Real in Menlo Park. Since 1982, Ms. Seaman has mediated with individuals and groups to help them reach resolutions. She is on the roster of mediators for the superior courts of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Mr. Closson is executive director of Acterra.



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One candidate for Atherton election By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor


ith an Aug. 9 filing deadline for the Atherton City Council race on the horizon, only one resident had filed papers for the single open seat by the Almanac’s press time on Monday: Rick DeGolia, vice-chair of the Community Center

Advisory Committee. Four other residents took out candidate papers but hadn’t filed them with the city clerk before press time. They are: John Ruggeiro, Greg Conlon, Diane Sandhu, and Michael Stogner. All of them, as well as Mr. DeGolia, had applied for the seat last month, when council members sought applicants in the hope that they could appoint

Briefs: Music in Kelly Park Tuesday “The Marshall Law Band” gets some music in the air at Kelly Park at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 13, courtesy of the city of Menlo Park. The park is at 100 Terminal Ave. in Menlo Park. The band, which will give a two-hour performance, plays a blend of blues, rock, soul and country classics. The outdoor concert is free. Call 330-

2250 for more information.

Household hazardous waste drop-off Menlo Park residents may bring household hazardous waste to a drop-off location in central Menlo Park from 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 10. There is no charge, but residents

a member and avoid an election to fill the seat left vacant when Jerry Carlson resigned July 1. The council did not agree on an applicant, and called for an election. The winner in the November election will serve out Mr. Carlson’s term which ends in December 2014. The filing period ends at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9. must make an appointment. The waste may include paint, motor oil, batteries, fluorescent lamps, pesticides, pool and photo chemicals, drain openers and cleaning solvents. No radioactive, explosive, medical or commercial waste will be accepted. There is a 10 gallon or 50 pound limit per appointment. Go to events/ to make an appointment or call 655-6202.


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This information is from the Menlo Park Police Departments and the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. Under the law, people charged with offenses are considered innocent unless convicted. LADERA Residential burglary report: Someone entered a home on Conil Way through an unlocked window and got away with jewelry and electronic equipment for a total loss estimated at $30,000, July 25. PORTOLA VALLEY Residential burglary report: Tools and other items with a total value of $5,000 are missing from an unlocked tool room at a home on Nathhorst Avenue, July 25. WEST MENLO PARK Residential burglary report: A locked side door was pried open and tools valued at $2,100 were found missing from several rooms at a home under construction on Perry Avenue, July 24. MENLO PARK Residential burglary reports: ■ A bike valued at $1,000 has gone missing from an open garage on Alice Lane, July 29. ■ Someone stole a locked bicycle worth $799 from a carport on Fremont Street, July 29. ■ A bike with a value of $500 is missing from a carport on Live Oak Avenue, July 29. ■ Police say they have an arrest in connection with a July 20 laundry room burglary on Glenwood Avenue, but no evidence to connect the suspect with a recent series of apartment-complex laundry room incidents around Burgess Park. Coin boxes were pried open and coins are missing from two laundry rooms — on Burgess Drive and Waverley Street — but nothing is missing from an attempted burglary at a third complex on Waverley, July 30 and 31. Auto burglary reports: ■ Someone smashed a window on a locked vehicle parked in the 2800 block of Sand Hill Road and stole a laptop computer and two cell phones for an estimated loss of $4,000, Aug. 1. ■ In a similar incident on the 2700 block of Sand Hill Road, someone smashed a vehicle window and stole a laptop and the bag it was in for a loss

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Special Events Menlo Park Summer Concert Series Free concerts are from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays in Fremont Park at Santa Cruz Ave. and University Drive, Menlo Park. Aug. 7: Tom Rigney and Flambeau will perform Cajun/zydeco/blues music. Aug. 14: The Sun Kings, a Beatles tribute band. Audience members are encouraged to bring a picnic basket and blanket for the outdoor performance. & Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park. Call 650-330-2220. Music@Menlo Encounter IV: ‘The Passion According to Sebastian Bach’ Aug. 8, 7:30 p.m. $45 full price; $20 under age 30. Martin Family Hall, Menlo School, 50 Valparaiso Ave., Atherton. For other Music@Menlo programs, check Successful Aging Celebration Teaming with Palo Alto Medical Foundation, this event focuses on healthy food choices, meditation, physical fitness. There will be music, community vendors, door prizes and seminars. Aug. 10, 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Free. Avenidas, 450 Bryant St., Palo Alto. Call 650-289-2407.

Talks/Authors Doug McConnell, host of the former TV show “Bay Area Backroads,” will share his adventures discovering Bay Area places and give tips on local places to explore.

estimated at $3,100, Aug. 1. Theft reports: ■ A closet inside a home being remodeled on Laurel Avenue is missing jewelery with an estimated value of $2,285, July 28. ■ Someone stole a $2,000 walkietalkie from an unlocked work vehicle parked on Bay Road, July 28. ■ A camera bag with lenses and filters, a video camera, a microphone, batteries, timers and $10 in cash are missing from an unlocked vehicle that had been parked on Pope Street, July 29. Total loss estimated at $1,945. ■ Someone stole an unlocked bike with an estimated value of $450 from a porch of a home on Roble Avenue, July 29. ■ A locked bike, a bike lock and a bike helmet, total value $366, are missing from the common area of an apartment complex on Alice Lane, July 29. ■ A skateboarder is missing a $350 iPhone that had been left on a bench while skateboarding at Alma Street and Burgess Drive, July 28. ■ Someone stole a bench and side table, total value $100, from a yard on Stonepine Lane, July 29. ■ Police say that two Hispanic men in their early 20s and wearing black shirts fled on foot from the 7-11 store at 525 Oak Grove Ave. with three 12-packs of beer, $54 worth, and have so far escaped detection, July 27. One man had a scar his forehead and the other wore a gray hat, police said. WOODSIDE Residential burglary report: Someone removed the screen from an unlocked bedroom window on Eleanor Drive and made off with an Apple desktop computer, an Apple laptop computer, an iPad mini, an Apple Nano, a safe, a leather briefcase and jewelry for a preliminary estimated loss of $6,690, July 26. Theft reports: ■ The unauthorized use of an online account with Amazon led to a loss estimated at $330 from a resident of Skywood Way, July 24. ■ While attending a party at a home on Greer Road, a woman lost track of her purse, July 22. Insufficient funds report: A resident of Summit Springs Road was informed that he owed $425 for purchases he said he did not make from accounts he does not have, July 22.

Aug. 20, 6:30-8:30 p.m. $10. Little House Activity Center, 800 Middle Ave., Menlo Park. Call 650-326-2025, ext. 222. www. Cafe Scientifique “Clinical Trials: Past, Present, and (Hopefully) the Future” will be presented by SRI International’s Dr. Manish Kothari. Doors open at 5:15 p.m. Aug. 13, 6-7:30 p.m. Free. SRI International, 333 Ravenswood Ave.,

Live Music Portola Vineyards’ concert series continues with the contemporary Brasilian, Caribbean and Latin jazz of Ray Obiedo & Mistura Fina. The vineyard serves its Santa Cruz Mountains pinot and invites attendees to bring a picnic. Aug. 18, 5:30-7 p.m. $8 adults, $4 children, plus ticketing fee. Portola Vineyards, 850 Los Trancos Road, Portola Valley. event/6825420015?ref=ebtnebtckt

Et Alia Documentary: ‘A Place At The Table’ This documentary investigates hunger in America. Aug. 10, 2-4 p.m. Free. Woodside Library, 3140 Woodside Road, Woodside. Shakespeare in the Park: ‘Macbeth’ Aug. 10, 7:30 p.m. Free. Sequoia High School, 1201 Brewster Ave., Redwood City. Call 415-558-0888. Stuffed Animal Pet Show Kids are invited to bring their favorite stuffed animal to the Woodside Library for a special show and tell. Aug. 9, 11 a.m.-noon. Free. Woodside Library, 3140 Woodside Road, Woodside.

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EDITOR & PUBLISHER Tom Gibboney (223-6507) NEWSROOM Managing Editor Richard Hine (223-6525) News Editor Renee Batti (223-6582) Lifestyles Editor Jane Knoerle (223-6531) Staff Writers Dave Boyce (223-6527), Sandy Brundage (223-6529) Contributors Marjorie Mader, Barbara Wood, Kate Daly Special Sections Editor Carol Blitzer Photographer Michelle Le (223-6530) DESIGN & PRODUCTION Design Director Shannon Corey (223-6560) Assistant Design Director Lili Cao Designers Linda Atilano, Rosanna Leung, Paul Llewellyn, Scott Peterson, Kameron Sawyer ADVERTISING Vice President Sales and Marketing Tom Zahiralis (223-6570) Display Advertising Sales Wendy Suzuki (223-6569) Real Estate Manager Neal Fine (223-6583) Real Estate & Advertising Coordinator Diane Martin (223-6584) Legal Advertising Alicia Santillan (223-6578) 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) 223-7570 Email news and photos with captions to: Email letters to: The Almanac, established in October 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. ©2013 by Embarcadero Media Company. All rights reserved. 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 www.TheAlmanacOnline. com 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. the Viewpoint desk at 223-6507.

Extra pay to overseer of field debacle?


he Menlo Park City School District is in the midst of a pain- director, was asked why the firm that evidently missed the original ful lesson in how NOT to build an artificial-turf playing field errors in the field construction project was, in a sense, rewarded at Hillview Middle School on Santa Cruz Avenue. with another $50,000 in payment. He said that with projects like As we watched the installation of the bright and colorful field the playing field, “... you can’t always catch every little thing.” over an approximately six-month period, and then the numerous Unfortunately, the field problems were hardly a “little thing,” sports teams using it for practice and play after it was allegedly and it is unlikely that most residents, especially those who live near completed in March, the scene has morphed into messy piles the school and those who use it during school hours and for afterof discarded turf, construction machinery and workers laying school youth programs, see it that way. We suspect they would ask: pipe. All of this is taking place because of the discovery by school Why should the district, which already may have to pay some of officials that the field was not level. This problem was caused by the cost invested to discover the field’s shortcomings, be willing improper installation of the drainage system and to pay the oversight firm another $50,000 to the use of the wrong base soil underneath the oversee repair of mistakes it should have caught EDI TORI AL synthetic field. In early July, construction crews in the first place? began digging up the new field to replace soil Mr. Sheikholeslami said the district The opinion of The Almanac and reinstall the drainage system. is “tracking all costs” now, and has informed Now that the remedial work is underway, the neighbors that work on the field, which was district is being asked how errors of this magnitude could have already taking place six days a week, is being stepped up to include escaped notice. That question is all the more pressing considering Sunday. That more intense schedule still is not enough for the that the company hired to oversee the original project was just contractor to complete work before school starts Aug. 22. But by awarded another $50,000 to continue its oversight of the play- adding Sundays to the schedule the hope is to complete the job by ing field’s repair. Ahmad Sheikholeslami, the district’s facilities Sept. 2.

Deadline near to file for local races


ed by Portola Valley, where six residents are showing interest by either filing or pulling papers, the election line-ups in the Almanac circulation area are slowly taking shape as the Aug. 9 (or Aug. 14 if no incumbent files) deadline for candidates to declare approaches. One Portola Valley City Council incumbent, John Richards, has filed, while incumbent Maryann Moise Derwin has taken out papers along with four challengers, Craig Hughes, M. Taylor Hinshaw, Sally Ann Reiss and Judith Hasko. Incumbent Ted Driscoll, who has served five terms (20 years) on the council, has said he is inclined not to run. The seat vacated when Atherton council member Jerry Carlson resigned in July is turning into a real contest, with five residents showing interest. An effort by the council to fill the seat collapsed after a series of 2-2 votes. The winner will be able to break the the deadlock. So far, Rick DeGolia has filed while John Ruggeiro, Greg Conlon, Diane Sandhu, and Michael Stogner have taken out papers.

There is no election this year for the Menlo Park City Council. In the Menlo Park Fire Protection District board race, three of five seats are open. Incumbent Jack Nelson has filed, while incumbents Stephen Nachtsheim and Rex Ianson have pulled papers, as has Carolyn Clarke, who ran for the Menlo Park City Council last year., and Chuck Bernstein, who ran for the council in 2010. And voters will elect three members to each of the Portola Valley and Woodside Elementary school districts’ governing boards, and two members to the boards of the Sequoia Union High School District and the San Mateo County Community College District. Candidates have until Aug. 9 to file for the election, unless an incumbent decides not to run, which extends the filing deadline in that specific race to Aug 14. The election will be held Nov. 5. Visit or call the county elections office at 312-5222 for more information about the elections.

L ET TERS Our readers write

Who will pay for mess at playing field? Editor: I read with interest your July 31 article “More problems at Hillview playing field.” Like many of us that live in the area, I pass by the school daily. At the completion of the original project I was delighted to see our tax dollars at work providing local children with a state of the art facility for sports and play. Aesthetically pleasing and highly functional, this field made a nice addition to the neighborhood. However, my joy was shortlived, when, within weeks of its opening, the entire field and track were removed and Continued on next page

14NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNAugust 7, 2013

Woodside History Committee

Our Regional Heritage In 1873 travelers headed to the coast stopped at the Summit Springs Toll House. Tolls were collected to use Summit Springs Road, the Tunitas Creek Turnpike and the San Gregorio Turnpike. The charge was 15 cents for a saddle horse, 25 cents for a horse and buggy, and two and a half cents for sheep, hogs or goats. At the time, it took two days to travel from Redwood City to the coast.


L ET T ER S Our readers write

Continued from previous page

trenching for new pipes began. I queried some of the contractorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; personnel and was told they had to install new pipe to resolve some drainage issues. It is clear that this project was ill-managed and lacked critical supervision and inspections as the work proceeded. For a construction management company to charge an additional $50,000 for ineffective

oversight is unconscionable and should be addressed. Worse yet, the school districtâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own facility director, Ahmad Sheikholeslami, when asked by the Almanac â&#x20AC;&#x153;why the firm should be paid additional money when the original work it oversaw was found to be seriously f lawed,â&#x20AC;? is quoted as saying: â&#x20AC;&#x153;With projects of this nature, you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t always catch every little thing.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Every little thing?â&#x20AC;? If the school districtâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s representative has such low expectations of what constitutes good oversight, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no wonder this hap-

pened. Contrary to Mr. Sheikholeslamiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s assessment, this debacle is not a â&#x20AC;&#x153;little thing.â&#x20AC;? Thousands of taxpayer dollars are needlessly being spent, kids have been and will be deprived of the use this facility, city after-school programs have been impacted, and massive overtime wages are being incurred. Even if the district is ultimately reimbursed, it still begs the question: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Why wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t it done right the first time?â&#x20AC;? Craig Davis Leland Avenue

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2013 08 07 alm section1