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Local author offers insights on regaining focus in an increasingly connected world Section 2

WOODSIDE Positioned on one of Woodside’s most coveted streets, this stunning home evokes all the appeal of a rural European villa, yet just moments from the center of town. Completed in 2010, the private compound has everything needed for a life of luxury. 3+/- beautifully landscaped acres, resort-inspired amenities, a guest house plus an extraordinary main residence.


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2NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNAugust 21, 2013

Hillel at Stanford


Art fair celebrates 50 years

invites you to join us for the

High Holy Days RSVP at

By Jane Knoerle

or call 724.2401

Almanac Lifestyles Editor


or 50 years now, every Labor Day weekend, a transformation occurs in the redwood forest in the hills above Woodside. “Artists’ booths pop up around the Kings Mountain Fire Station like mushrooms overnight,” says Kings Mountain Art Fair spokesman Aeron Noe. “The forest becomes an outdoor gallery displaying some of the finest handmade arts and crafts on the West Coast.” More than 400 community members create the transformation, which takes place Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Aug. 31-Sept. 2, adjacent to the Kings Mountain Fire Station at 13889 Skyline Blvd. Local volunteers look forward to the weekend all year long, Ms. Noe says. Local residents started the Art Fair in 1963, when a group called the Pine Needles decided to have a craft fair in a red barn as a fundraiser to help create a volunteer fire company for the remote Kings Mountain community. “We put straw all over the barn floor because we thought that was folksy,” local resident Ardyth Woodruff recalls. “Someone had the idea of asking the artists who lived here to put their paintings upstairs, and that’s how it started. We didn’t make much money that first year.” Initially what made up the volunteer spirit was forming the fire brigade. “Forestry could only put out tree fires, not structure fires,” she says. “People were passionate about getting equipment and getting people trained. And we did it. Nobody else owns our fire department. We own it.” Ms. Woodruff, who worked for the Almanac in its early days in Woodside, went on to create many of the first posters for the fair. She served as a co-director of the fair for 15 years, and as the outside exhibitor director for another 10 years. “She still shows up every year,” says Ms. Noe. Today the fair is ranked in the

Woodside Elementary School District Request for Qualifications for PRE-CONSTRUCTION AND LEASE-LEASE BACK SERVICES Woodside Elementary School District requests Statements of Qualification from general contractors for pre-construction and Lease-lease back services for moderate renovation of its existing classroom buildings, roofing, drainage and sewerage and the demolition and construction of a new MPR, preschool and a design lab. Firms submitting a Statement of Qualifications must attend a mandatory meeting/walkthrough on Thursday, August 29 at 11 a.m. RFQ is available at: Statement of Qualifications deadline is 2:00 p.m., Friday, September 13, 2013. Please submit to: Dr. Beth Polito, Superintendent Woodside Elementary School District 3195 Woodside Rd, Woodside, CA 94062. Facsimile (FAX) copies of proposals will not be accepted.

An Independent K-8 Non profit School Individualized, Self-Directed Learning “Follow the child”

Courtesy Kings Mountain Art Fair

The Kings Mountain Art Fair offers juried and local art in a redwood forest setting.

‘We’re all sort of in awe of what this collective community has done.’ DAWN NEISSER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, KINGS MOUNTAIN ART FAIR

top five art fairs in California by the Art Fair Source Book. Dawn Neisser, executive director of the fair, says the single biggest change the fair has undergone was its transition from a local arts and crafts fair to a juried fine arts fair. “The professionalism and the quality of the art both increased dramatically,” she says. “The creation

Essential Qualities: Respect, Responsibility, Independence

Multi-Age Classrooms “Continuity is key to learning”

“Children thrive on trust”

of Mountain Folk Art (crafts created by locals) was also an important step, so we didn’t lose the local flavor.” Ms. Neisser says more than 1,300 Kings Mountain volunteers have taken part in the art fair over the past 50 years. “When you stop and think about it, we’re all sort of in awe of what this collective community has done,” she says. “You don’t find many things that have lasted that long with that much community effort and in a joyful way.” Agenda

Each day begins with a pancake breakfast, including eggs See ART FAIR, page 6

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THE ALMANAC (ISSN 1097-3095 and USPS 459370) is published every Wednesday by Embarcadero Media, 3525 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park, CA 940256558. Periodicals Postage Paid at Menlo Park, CA and at additional mailing offices. Adjudicated a newspaper of general circulation for San Mateo County, The Almanac is delivered free to homes in Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley and Woodside. Subscriptions for $60 per year or $100 per 2 years are welcome. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to the Almanac, 3525 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park, CA 94025-6558. Copyright ©2012 by Embarcadero Media, All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

The Bowman faculty includes trained Montessori teachers, interns and teaching specialists who teach cultural, music and after–school enrichment programs. During the core school day our low student– to–faculty ratio enables us to place a strong focus on the child and deliver individualized teaching to each student.

August 21, 2013NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN3

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BRE # 01413607 4NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNAugust 21, 2013

Local News M















No memorial yet for gymnastics instructor ■ Cate Fisher, 19, was shot and killed two years ago

By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


here’s no sign of 19-yearold Cate Fisher on the premises of Menlo Park’s gymnastics center, where she taught for nearly three years until her death in 2011, and residents are asking why. A crepe myrtle tree was planted outside the gymnastics center. And inside, an area that was

to be known as “Cate’s Corner” holds some toys and books. But neither bears any sign to indicate they are in memory of the popular young instructor, contrary to what residents and some staff expected. Teacher Cate

She landed at the gymnastics center after spending years bouncing from volleyball to flute to violin to every other activity. Nothing stuck, not until her mother, Michelle Sutton, suggested teaching gymnastics. “For the first time she found

something that really mattered to her,” Ms. Sutton said. “I’d watch her and marvel” at the joy and energy she brought to Cate Fisher class. “Everything about Cate was bigger than life. (Sometimes during class) I would whisper to her to bring it down a little bit and now of course I wish I could hear her shout.” The 19-year-old spent hours coaching her young students.

“She wasn’t afraid to wear a tutu or screaming pink shoes, but (was) sensitive enough to know how to connect with the quieter kids. I didn’t know she had that knack. I don’t think she did, either,” her mother said. All that bounding energy ended on July 13, 2011, when Cate Fisher was shot and killed while sitting in a friend’s car in East Palo Alto. One suspect was arrested in Colorado, following a crime spree that left yet another bystander dead. Christian Fuentes pleaded guilty earlier

this year to the Colorado crimes and was sentenced to more than 75 years in prison; San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said his office is considering whether to extradite the man to stand trial here. The families of those she taught, as well as her own, would like to see a tangible sign of “Teacher Cate” at the place where she loved to go to work. They’ve offered to pay for a plaque outside under the crepe myrtle tree, which was planted See NO MEMORIAL, page 8

Union influence key issue in Menlo fire board race By Sandy Brundage

From his perspective, a board composed of current member Rob Silano, incumbent Jack eter Carpenter, no stranger Nelson and newcomer Carolyn to the Menlo Park fire Clarke would yield control to district board of direc- the union. tors, decided to enter this year’s Mr. Carpenter has already election with barely 24 hours to declined to interview for an spare before the filing deadline. endorsement from the San Mateo The district serves Menlo Park, County Central Labor Council. Atherton, East Palo Alto and “Since there will (hopefully) portions of unincorporated San be a new firefighter’s contract Mateo County. negotiated with the Fire District He told the Almanac he’d during the forthcoming term, I returned from Colorado the day can understand that it is in the before the filing deadline, and dis- labor union’s interest to have Fire covered that incumbent Stephen District Directors who you think N a c h will serve tsheim had y o u r decided Peter Carpenter says i n t e r not to Mr. he is ‘very concerned’ ests,” run. Mr. Carpenthat the firefighters’ ter wrote Car penter, 73, an union will try to ‘take in cited his email to over the board with the labor nine years of prior counci l this election.’ service on on Thursthe fire d a y . district board and long history of “Similarly, an endorsement by a public service that included time labor union for an election that as a volunteer firefighter and Air will be immediately followed by Force officer. Mr. Carpenter also labor negotiations carries with it referred to his corporate manage- the appearance of a conflict of ment and nonprofit experience. interest.” He joins incumbents Jack Mr. Carpenter described this Nelson and Rex Ianson on the year’s election as pivotal for roster, along with former coun- protecting taxpayer interests. cil candidates Chuck Bernstein “While I have deep respect for and Carolyn Clarke. our individual firefighters, I Mr. Carpenter said he is “very cannot say the same for their concerned that the firefighters’ union which, disregarding the union is going to attempt to take district’s fiscal health, demands over the board with this election.” an excessive pay, benefit, and The incumbent’s withdrawal “left pension package,” he wrote in a an easy opening for the union to control three seats.” See UNION INFLUENCE, page 8 Almanac Staff Writer


Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac

Nestled in a grove of redwood trees on Skyline Boulevard, Bella Vista was noted for its “continental cuisine,” as well as its spectacular view.

Bella Vista restaurant closes By Jane Knoerle Almanac Lifestyles Editor


he neon martini glass sign is dark. The jukebox in the bar is silent. The Bella Vista restaurant, known by generations for its dazzling view of the city lights below, closed on Aug. 10. “After 35 years, we’ve decided to call it a day,” says owner John Ward on the restaurant’s answering machine. “It’s been a great experience, but it’s time to go. Thank you for all the great years.” The restaurant’s website says the Ward family bought the

restaurant in 1979; however, the building dates back to 1927. Nestled in a grove of redwood trees on Skyline Boulevard, Bella Vista was noted for its “continental cuisine,” as well as its spectacular view. Bella Vista was a restaurant where tuxedo-clad waiters flambeed steak Diane or cherries jubilee in the dining room. Oysters Rockeller? Escargot? Grand Marnier souffle? These retro dishes were Bella Vista favorites. Generations marked birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and other special occasions

with dining at Bella Vista. It was considered the perfect place to pop the question and, of course, was always packed on Valentine’s Day. For many years, including this year, Bella Vista has won the Almanac’s Readers’ Choice award for best romantic restaurant. Longtime patrons are on Facebook lamenting Bella Vista’s closing, remembering the 35th wedding anniversary or milestone birthday they celebrated there. “A lot of people are very sad about it,” says Almanac reporter and Woodside resident Barbara Wood.

August 21, 2013NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN5


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6NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNAugust 21, 2013

Victim identified in fatal party van crash The victim in the fatal crash of a party van on northbound Interstate 280 near Portola Valley on Aug. 11 was Adam Blomquist, 38, of San Francisco, the California Highway Patrol reported. The van’s driver, Jason Quinones, 42, of Daly City, was arrested and booked into Santa Clara County jail on suspicion of hit and run, DUI and manslaughter, all felonies. Driving a 2001 Chevrolet Express 3500 that had been converted into a party van, Mr. Quinones lost control of the vehicle south of the Alpine Road interchange, drove off the road and struck a tree around 10:50 p.m., according to the CHP. The van overturned about 20 feet from the freeway,

killing Mr. Blomquist. The weather was clear and dry, and both men were wearing seat belts, the CHP said. Mr. Quinones was found near the scene with minor injuries and was taken to Stanford Hospital for treatment. After determining that Mr. Quinones was the driver, the CHP arrested and booked him, CHP Officer Amanda Jack said. The CHP has yet to confirm the company that owns the vehicle, she said. Traffic was blocked on northbound I-280 for hours after the accident. The CHP is investigating and asking anyone with information to call Officer Amanda Meier at (650) 369-6261. — Bay City News Service

Ex-school board president Frank Cameron dies at 79 Frank Kenneth Cameron II died June 22 at his home in Tahoe City after a courageous battle with cancer. He was 79. For many years, when his children were growing up, Mr. Cameron and his wife, Susan, were residents of Portola Valley. He was a longtime soccer coach and referee and served as president of the Portola Valley school board. Mr. Cameron was born in Seattle, Washington, and spent his youth in Summit, New Jersey, where he was a star athlete at Pingry School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Stanford University, where he met and married his wife, Susan. A U.S. Army veteran, he served in the armed forces in

Germany. After Stanford, the couple settled in Portola Valley and he embarked on a 40-year career in real estate and finance. Mr. Cameron was a surfer, rock climber, lifelong backpacker, a scuba drive, an early adopter of mountain biking and windsurfing, but most of all he was a magnificent skier, say family members. While living in Sun Valley, Idaho, he began logging his days of skiing in a journal and had several years where he skied more than 100 days a year. He is survived by his wife, Susan “Suz” Cameron, sons Matt and Xander, and six grandchildren. He was predeceased by his son, Peter Hawks Cameron.


a.m. to 4 p.m. Proceeds from the Art Fair go back to the community, supporting the Kings Mountain Volunteer Fire Brigade, which responds to more than 150 emergencies a year, and Kings Mountain Elementary School, a three-room school for grades K-5. Visitors may park along Skyline Boulevard and catch the complimentary trolley to the fair. Because much of the art is fragile, dogs and bicycles are not permitted on the grounds. Bicycle racks are available outside the grounds.

continued from page 3

and sausage, which is served by volunteers from 8 to 10:30 a.m. The artists’ booths open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The grill opens again at 11:30 a.m. for lunch, with the cook shack serving up burgers, corn on the cob, chili, nachos and more. Kings Mountain Elementary School will be sell “Grandma Jenny’s famous giant cookies” for dessert. Family activities will include face painting, crafts and games in Kiddie Hollow, open from 10



Gateway Project moves ahead By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


he Bohannon Development Co. says it is moving ahead with preparing the site for its long-planned Menlo Gateway Project, an office-hotel complex that may involve nearly 1 million square feet of floor space. The plan is to build the complex on 16 acres spanning Independence and Constitution drives on the east side of U.S. 101. In addition to a seven-floor hotel, there would be office buildings, a restaurant, parking garages and a fitness club. In 2010, some 65 percent of voters favored Measure T, which allowed developer David Bohannon to build the complex. One of the fallouts of the project is that TechShop, the do-it-yourself haven at 120 Independence Drive in Menlo Park’s industrial zone, has to move. This TechShop, which opened in 2006, is the first of many that have opened across the country. “It wasn’t for lack of love for TechShop,” said Scott Bohannon, an executive vice president with the company. “We’re now at that juncture” where the planning advances to the prepa-

Correction A story in the print edition of the Almanac’s Aug. 21 issue erred in reporting that Bohannon Development Co. had arranged financing to build a hotel, a key part of the Menlo Gateway office-hotel complex. The company says it has not secured financing for the hotel. The Almanac regrets this error. ration of the site. TechShop, which has been on a month-to-month lease for six years and is the last remaining tenant along Independence Drive, knew about the impending end of their occupancy since the first quarter of 2013, Mr. Bohannon said. The membership-based TechShop is looking for a new home on the Midpeninsula before its Oct. 31 involuntary departure date, according to a letter addressed to TechShop members from the chief executive. In his letter, CEO Jim Newton speaks of futile efforts to extend its stay. “In spite of our best efforts, negotiations have failed to produce even a short term

extension of our lease to early 2014,” he says. TechShop is holding two weekend informational meetings at the site: at noon Saturday, Aug. 24, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25. With no options available for a lease extension, TechShop is asking members for help in finding a new or temporary home. “All leads will be appreciated,” Mr. Newton says in the Aug. 16 letter. Bohannon Development has no space available that would accommodate TechShop, Mr. Bohannon said. A temporary shop would include “a reasonable subset of tools, equipment and programs,” but would require four months to five months to design and outfit, Mr. Newton says. One alternative would be to close temporarily. Given its status as the original TechShop from which the others evolved, it’s an opportunity to rebuild -- “to build the very best TechShop location yet,” Mr. Newton says. But he needs $2.5 million. Along with plans to expand membership and launch a crowd-funding campaign, the company will be seeking to raise the money by asking for $25,000 loans “from members and the local maker community,” he says. A

Memorial planned for Amelie Le Moullac By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


memorial service for those who knew Amelie Le Moullac, the 24-year-old Menlo School graduate killed while riding her bike last week, will be held on Thursday, Aug. 22. The family will hold the service at 11 a.m. at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church, located at 600 Colorado Ave. in Palo Alto, with a reception afterward at her family’s home. They held a viewing on Monday. Ms. Le Moullac was struck and killed when her bike collided with a semi truck in San Francisco on Aug. 14. She graduated from Menlo School in Atherton in 2007 and from the University of Southern California in 2011, then went on to work at Voce Communications, a public relations and marketing firm co-founded by Menlo Park councilman Rich Cline. The firm posted a remembrance of her, writing: “We miss you dearly. We will miss your smile, your humor, your

Courtesy, Voce Communications

Menlo School graduate Amelie Le Moullac, 24, was killed when her bike collided with a truck in San Francisco.

wit and your friendship. You are irreplaceable and unforgettable.” Family and friends also posted condolences on the Voce Communications blog during the past week, and shared memories of her vibrancy, compassion and sense of humor. The San Francisco resident was struck at 7:07 a.m. at Sixth and Folsom streets by a truck making a turn at the intersection. The truck driver stopped and cooperated with investi-

gators. The driver was not cited and the collision remains under investigation, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition issued a statement following the crash, calling it “yet another tragic reminder of what can happen when bikes and large trucks mix on our city’s high-speed corridors.” The fatal collision is San Francisco’s third involving a bicyclist in 2013 and all three have also involved a large truck, according to the coalition, which called on the city to move forward with a redesign of Folsom Street. “Folsom Street is one of the city’s few designated bike routes to downtown — yet it is still an intimidating street, with no separation between bike riders and fast-moving traffic,” the coalition’s statement said. The coalition also called for all large trucks to be fitted with convex mirrors so drivers can more easily see bicyclists and pedestrians. — Bay City News contributed to this story.


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No memorial yet for young gymnastics instructor continued from page 5

in her honor, and help do whatever else might be necessary to create a memorial. “It’s a loving gesture for someone I guarantee would still be teaching there, and I’d still be yelling at her about grades, needing a degree and not wanting to be a gym teacher for the rest of your life,” Ms. Sutton said. Two years and counting

Documents obtained from city staff through public records requests don’t offer any satisfactory explanation as to why a recognizable memorial has yet to materialize. The sign for “Cate’s Corner” is still on order, according to Community Services Director Cherise Brandell — two years after the instructor’s death and one year after the new gymnastics center opened. Ms. Brandell attributed the long delay to finalizing the center’s interior decor, and said there was no plan for a plaque underneath the crepe myrtle tree.

But another staff email raised the question of whether this really has to do with Cate Fisher’s mother, who was abruptly fired as a gymnastics instructor earlier this year: “I don’t like the idea of a tree (which would just keep Michelle coming around) and am really hesitant to place something permanent inside the building,” Recreation Supervisor Noreen Bickle wrote to Ms. Brandell after the Almanac starting asking about the status of a memorial. Ms. Bickle didn’t respond to follow-up questions. Ms. Brandell said she was unaware of any concerns and that Ms. Sutton was welcome to be at the city’s facilities like any member of the public. According to the community services director, responsibility for getting a sign belonged to manager Pearce Wagner. When the Almanac asked him if that was the case, he declined to comment, referring the inquiry back to Ms. Brandell, who told the Almanac that question had been “asked and answered.” But a second records request

Union influence key issue continued from page 5

campaign announcement. Written statements from Ms. Clarke and Mr. Bernstein indicate that labor issues, with raises as a key point of contention, will be at the forefront of this year’s election. The fire district has been in protracted negotiations with the firefighters’ union for more than six years. According to Mr. Bernstein. the current board has managed to resist pressure from the firefighters’ union to push expenditures higher, only by a 3-2 majority. He expects the district’s share of retirement benefit costs to increase by $3.5 million during the next seven years, which he foresees as leaving the board a choice between reducing headcount or cutting salaries to avoid service cuts. Like Mr. Carpenter, Mr. Ianson and Mr. Bernstein both said they won’t attend the labor endorsement interviews, and not accept union campaign support. The remaining two candidates are taking a different path. Ms. Clarke told the Almanac that she will attend the labor council endorsement interview. Mr. Nelson said he will, also, but noted that it does not translate to an automatic endorsement. “If I am offered their endorsement, I will give it the serious consideration it deserves and go from there,” he said, noting that some

second-time candidates refuse to accept labor endorsements. As a current board member, Mr. Nelson said he declined to comment on wage and benefit issues since negotiations are ongoing. “The goal is to bring to a successful conclusion to this event, that is win-win for all sides, establish labor peace and with a unified effort move the fire District forward for years and fire boards to come.”

showed that Mr. Wagner’s responsibility for ordering the sign was news to him. “I was unaware that we were moving forward with this memorial for Cate Fisher and I was under the impression that Karen (Mihalek) had previously been assigned that duty,” he wrote in an email on Aug. 4. to Ms. Brandell. “I would love to see a memorial for Cate and feel that it is long overdue. If you would like me to order a sign I can do that.” Mr. Wagner had displayed a painting of Cate Fisher at the gymnastics center until he was told to take it down, according to the community services director, because the Arrillaga family’s agreement to fund the new facilities included a clause that nothing should be displayed on the walls. Last week the city installed a plaque on the wall in the gymnastics center that thanks the City Council and the Arrillagas for their work. Michelle Sutton

Six days before she was fired, Ms. Sutton had asked the city’s human resources department and union representatives about filing a harassment complaint against her supervisor, Ms. Mihalek. She said she was told that a parent’s complaint about asked to step off the mat during a child-only class led to her termination. The Almanac reviewed Ms. Sutton’s personnel file at the city and found no documentation of any reprimands or other performance issues; however, the city isn’t legally required to document disciplinary actions

Memories of Cate Fisher Below are comments from a memorial book for Cate Fisher, signed by the families of students she taught. ■ “I still think about Cate every day. Our son thrived with her. He can be very challenging and Cate was able to work with him and motivate him. ...She was amazing.” ■ “(Our son) had Cate for kinder gym for 2 sessions. He would pick flowers from the park and bring them in for her. Cate would always make a big deal out of it, gushing and gushing. ... Cate had such a generous heart. ... She was such an important, loving teacher for (our son).”

for at-will employees. Fellow instructor Chris Ortez quit in protest over the firing, telling the city manager and the council that Ms. Mihalek held “none-too-discreet contempt” for Ms. Sutton and reportedly had a history of complaints filed by at least two female staff members “who have been harassed, intimidated, and/or otherwise bullied by her.” The city hired an outside investigator to review the allegations. A letter from City Manager Alex McIntyre to Ms. Sutton said the investigator concluded no illegal harassment or retaliation had occurred. Without naming anyone, Mr. McIntyre’s letter acknowledged that certain supervisors and employees sometimes inter-

■ “To the wonderful, sparkling, generous, big-hearted Cate: in your short life, you enriched ours so much! You were a fixture on our Saturday mornings. ... You made every moment joyful with your natural warmth, ease, confidence, and playfulness.” ■ “(Cate) was a wonderful person with a very large heart. She always had a smile for the children, knew them all by name, and made every child feel special.”

acted inappropriately with Ms. Sutton. He wrote that the city would address those incidents confidentially. Nevertheless, Ms. Sutton’s termination, while handled in a manner that “may have been unpleasant,” was appropriate, the letter said. Now teaching gymnastics in Mountain View, Ms. Sutton said she was perplexed as to why anyone would be worried about her coming around Menlo Park’s facility. Far from wanting to hang around, she drops her younger daughter off for lessons at a distance to avoid running into staff. She worries that the memory of Teacher Cate has gotten lost in the acrimony. “I wish people would set aside how they feel about me and do the right thing,” Ms. Sutton said. A


Mr. Nachtsheim, a member of the Menlo Park fire district board of directors since 2009, said he decided not to seek reelection because he didn’t have time to properly run a campaign this fall. “Things have been a little different at the fire district since Harold (Schapelhouman) was injured,” he said. The search for interim personnel and disruption of management continuity has left the director working “three to four hours a day” on district business, leaving little time for campaigning. Otherwise, Mr. Nachtsheim said, he would have sought re-election. While he hasn’t formally endorsed anyone yet, he said he thought that Mr. Ianson would bring some needed continuity to the board, while Mr. Bernstein’s financial background would be of value. A

8NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNAugust 21, 2013

Photo by Sofia Biros/The Almanac

Tour de Menlo Nearly 500 riders took part in Tour de Menlo on Saturday, riding over three routes from Belmont to Cupertino. Riders had lunch catered by Lutticken’s at Menlo-Atherton High School, and enjoyed ideal weather with cool temps most of the day.


Developer asks for police presence at council meeting By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


enlo Park council meetings are generally noted for a lack of physical, if not verbal, violence, but developer Sam Sinnott seemed worried that may change on Aug. 20. He emailed the council last week to request security at the Aug. 20 council meeting, which has the contentious Louise Street issue on the agenda. The last time it appeared on the agenda — July 16 — Mr. Sinnott wrote, he and his wife were confronted on the way to their car by people opposed to his project. Obscenities and raised voices ensued, he said. “They were very close to violence,” he told the council. “It is unfortunate to see a situation like this in our small City.”

So, for the first time in almost 30 years of attending the meetings, Mr. Sinnott wrote, he asked for security at a council meeting. A Louise Street representative disputed Mr. Sinnott’s accounting of events. “I witnessed the incident Mr. Sinnott describes in his Aug. 15th email,” Kiki Kapany wrote to the council the day after the developer made his request. One person who doesn’t live on Louise Street approached the Sinnotts and exchanged words, according to Ms. Kapany, and when the person went to sit on a bench, Mr. Sinnott turned back to confront him. “This is not the action of a man who did not feel safe. Mr. Sinnott’s wife soon pulled him away and they returned to their car.” The developer “is the aggres-


sor in this dispute, not the victim” and it is the Louise Street residents who have lived in fear and need protection, Ms. Kapany said, thanks to months of bullying, threats and intimidation. “The bottom line here is that Mr. Sinnott is asking for police protection because he does not like something someone said to him after the last meeting. Spending the city’s money in such a manner would be a ludicrous waste of city resources.” In any case, in what may be a happy coincidence for Mr. Sinnott, the police were already planning to attend the meeting. “The police department is on the agenda for the red light cameras that evening, so there will

be police presence at the council meeting,” said spokeswoman Nicole Acker. Mr. Sinnott and investment partner Mircea Voskerician have been trying to build a paved driveway exiting on Louise Street from a property at 1825 Santa Cruz Ave. that they purchased for redevelopment. The exit would cross over some greenery in the public right-ofway, and possibly bolster the developer’s case for switching the address from Santa Cruz Avenue to Louise Street, which city staff doesn’t support. Staff initially authorized the driveway. But the council voted 3-1 to revoke it in the face of protests from Louise Street residents, who said that paving over the green space would damage the character of the neighborhood.

The residents then asked the city to turn over the public right-of-way to adjoining homeowners — a process called abandonment — saying they wanted to preserve it as green space in perpetuity with easements for pedestrian access. Planning commissioners voted 4-2 in June that abandonment would be consistent with the city’s general plan, but noted that they weren’t voting on the abandonment request itself. Both sides asked the council to delay the abandonment hearing from July to August to explore whether a compromise could be reached. The council meeting was held after the Almanac went to press. Visit to see how it turned out. A

Woodside school board race is on Portola Valley board to appoint new members. ■

By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor


here will be four names on the Nov. 5 ballot in the race for three seats on the Woodside Elementary School District board, while the neighboring Portola Valley School District will avoid a race for its three open by appointing the only three parents who filed candidate papers. Both districts extended the filing period to Aug. 14 when one incumbent on each board chose not to run for another term: Bill Youstra in the Portola Valley district, and Bettina Pike in Woodside. The candidates in the Woodside race are incumbents Marc Tarpenning and current board president Wendy Warren Roth (Crandall). The challengers are Claire Pollioni and Robert Hooper. In the Portola Valley district, Superintendent Lisa Gonzales

said that the school board will avoid the cost of an election by appointing the three residents who filed papers: appointed incumbents Caitha Ambler and Karen Tate, and parent Timothy McAdam. Woodside school board

Ms. Pollioni has four children in the district’s only school, in grades ranging from kindergarten to sixth. She has served on the school’s PTA board for several years, and said that when she learned an incumbent would not seek re-election, she jumped at “a great opportunity to become more involved.” Ms. Pollioni said she has attended few school board meetings in the past because of scheduling conflicts. She said she has “a lot of confidence in our current administration and current board members, and I want to continue the positive work, and contribute to it.” Mr. Hooper said he wants to “continue the leadership policies that the current board has followed to make a vibrant and

Applicants sought for board seat The Las Lomitas School District is seeking applicants for an open school board seat after board member Ann Jaquith turned in her resignation last week. Ms. Jaquith resigned after the Aug. 14 board meeting, citing family reasons, according to the district. She was elected to the board in 2010. Her replacement will serve out

her term, which ends November 2014. District residents who wish to apply for a seat on the fivemember board have until noon Sept. 18. To be eligible, an applicant must be 18 or older and a registered voter, and must live within the district’s boundaries. Candidates will be interviewed by the board in open

productive educational atmosphere.” But he said one area he’d like to see improved is teacher communications with parents. He isn’t a regular attendee of board meetings, he said in an email, “but that is another reason why I am running. ... The board must schedule all meetings at times convenient for busy parents and community members.” With meetings now held in mid-afternoon, it’s “not easy for working parents and community members to attend.” Mr. Hooper has taught at many grade levels in public schools, he said. He has a son who will begin sixth grade at Woodside School this month and a daughter who has just graduated and is entering high school. Mr. Tarpenning, an entrepreneur, engineer, and businessman, was elected to the board in 2009. Ms. Warren Roth was an active member of the Woodside School Foundation for nine years and a member of various other education and community boards before her election to the board in 2009. A

session on Sept. 24. Board members are inviting anyone interested in applying for the seat to a panel discussion on the roles and responsibilities of serving on the board. The discussion will be on Sept. 11 from 5 to 6 p.m. in the La Entrada Middle School multiuse room, 2200 Sharon Road in Menlo Park. Those interested in applying for the board seat may call Superintendent Lisa Cesario at 854-2880. August 21, 2013NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN9


Business owner chases down thief By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


he real estate business lends itself to financial rather than criminal excitement, or at least it’s supposed to. But a Menlo Park developer and his son found themselves chasing a thief through the streets on Aug. 15. Roxy Rapp had reported the theft of a security camera to Menlo Park police on Aug. 14. The camera, taken from Mr. Rapp’s new building at 1706 El Camino Real, had managed to download a photo of the culprit before vanishing, according to the report. The next day Mr. Rapp and his son spotted the alleged thief on the street. A chase ensued, ending with the capture of 51-yearold David Shippen, of Palo Alto, the report said. Police then took

the suspect into custody.

ment preparation and training for low-income Bay Area residents.

JobTrain welcomes new director

Caltrain parking fees increase

After 39 years, local nonprofit JobTrain will have a new director at the helm. It announced that Nora Sobolov will take a position as executive director starting Sept. 3, as long-time head Sharon Williams retires. Ms. Sobolov co-founded the Community Forward Fund, a financial coaching service for nonprofits, and has also led the Canadian Lung Association, the Canadian Cooperative Association and Housing Help, a support program for homeless people, according to an Aug. 12 press release. JobTrain provides free employ-

The daily parking fee at Caltrain stations will rise to $5, with the monthly fees at $50, starting Sept. 1. The agency said in an Aug. 14 announcement that the increases come as ridership and lot maintenance cost increases, and that it last raised parking fees in 2011.


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

N PO LI C E C A L L S This information is from the Menlo Park Police Department and the San Mateo County Sheriff’s office. Under the law, people charged with offenses are considered innocent unless convicted. MENLO PARK The driver of a tan 1997 Honda Accord traveling westbound on Bayfront Expressway at a high rate of speed lost traction and the control of his vehicle while making a left turn on to University Avenue. The Honda collided with the right front side of a white BMW SUV sitting at a traffic light, but while both vehicles suffered major damage, no one was seriously injured, police said. When the Honda came to rest, the car’s four occupants got out and fled on foot, but were captured by police, who arrested the driver on suspicion of hit-and-run and possession of a stolen vehicle, Aug. 11. Reckless driving report: Police arrested a man driving a 2013 Dodge at about 1:50 a.m. near Sand Hill Road and Pasteur Drive after he was observed fishtailing his vehicle and exceeding the speed limit, Aug. 14. Residential burglary reports: ■ A resident of Chester Street told police that someone “tore away” a window-mounted air-conditioning unit, climbed inside the house and stole three laptop computers and a bicycle for a total loss of around $4,150, Aug. 14. ■ Someone cut a hole in the chain link fence of a business in the 1100 block of O’Brien Drive and stole an acetylene tank and an oxygen tank for an estimated loss of $400, Aug. 12. ■ A resident of Haight Street found evidence that someone crawled through an open bathroom window and rummaged through some bedroom drawers but left without taking anything, Aug. 14. Auto burglary reports: ■ The owner of an unlocked vehicle parked in the 200 block of Waverley Street reported a wallet stolen from the vehicle’s center console. The estimated loss of $100 included the wallet and $60 in cash, Aug. 12. ■ A wallet was stolen from a vehicle

N CALENDA R Visit to see more calendar listings

Special Events Artistry in Fashion Canada College fashion department hosts 60 designers selling clothing, jewelry and other fashions. Visitors can tour fashion department from noon to 3 p.m. Aug. 22, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. $10 entry donation, free parking. Canada College, 4200 Farm Hill Blvd., Redwood City. Call 650 306-3370. www.ArtistryinFashion. com Senior Showcase Information Fair Little House hosts 40 exhibitors offering services, giveaways and information. Aug. 24 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Free. Little House, 800 Middle Ave., Menlo Park. Call 650-344-5200. www.

Classes/Workshops ‘California Apricots: the Lost Orchards of Silicon Valley’ Little House hosts author Robin Chapman. Aug. 27, 1:30-2:30 p.m. $3. Little House, 800 Middle Ave., Menlo Park. Call 650-3262025, ext. 222. Skype: Online Video Conferencing The Woodside Library hosts a workshop on Skype. Aug. 24, 9:30-10:30 a.m. Free. Woodside Library, 3140 Woodside Road, Woodside.

On Stage Shakespeare in the Park: ‘Macbeth’ San Francisco Shakespeare Festival performance of “Macbeth”: Saturday, Aug. 24 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 25 at 2 p.m. Free. Sequoia High School , 1201 Brewster Ave., Redwood City. events/stage.htm

10NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNAugust 21, 2013

parked in the 1600 block of Marsh Road, but it’s unclear how the thief gained entry. The loss of $74 included the wallet and $30 in cash, Aug. 13. Theft reports: ■ Someone stole a $1,200 gray Trek Soho bicycle that had been locked and stored under a covered patio at an apartment building on Fremont Place, Aug. 15. ■ An unlocked Scattante bicycle and the attached bike trailer, total value of $1,200, are missing from a carport of an apartment on Coleman Avenue, Aug. 15. ■ A paint sprayer worth about $550 and sitting in the open bed of a pickup truck was stolen while the truck was parked in the 1300 block of Sevier Avenue, Aug. 12. ■ Someone stole a cell phone left on a counter top at a business in the 1300 block of Willow Road. The estimated loss is $700, Aug. 12. ■ Bed linens valued at $100 were stolen from an an unattended dryer in a commercial laundry in the 900 block of El Camino Real, Aug. 14. Fraud report: Someone made an unauthorized charge of $323 in Los Angeles against the debit card of a resident of Roble Avenue, Aug. 13. WOODSIDE Residential burglary report: A screen missing from a second-story window, a locked back door showing damage, evidence of someone having rummaged through several rooms, and the resident’s iMac computer found in an outside garbage can: these were the signs of a residential break-in in the 100 block of La Honda Road by someone unknown and unseen by witnesses, Aug. 9. Traffic accident report: A cyclist headed east on Woodside Road suffered “moderate” injuries to his left ankle and left leg and was taken to Stanford Hospital after colliding with a westbound vehicle making a left turn into the parking lot of Woodside Elementary School. The collision ejected the cyclist from his bike and propelled him on to the hood and into the windshield of the vehicle, Aug. 12.

‘And Miss Reardon Drinks A Little’ This dark comedy explores the lives of the three Reardon sisters who have recently lost their mother. Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 29-Sept. 22, 8 p.m. $15-$35. Dragon Theatre, 2120 Broadway St., Redwood City. Call 650-493-2006 ext. 2.

Lectures & Talks ‘Influential Families of San Francisco & the Peninsula’ Michael Svanevik talks about Peninsula’s history and those who created it. Wednesdays, Sept. 4-Oct. 30 1:30-3:30 p.m. $50. Little House Roslyn G. Morris Activity Center, 800 Middle Ave., Menlo Park. Call 650-326-2025, ext. 222. YA Event: ‘Crown of Midnight’ Sarah J. Maas discusses and signs her new novel about 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien. Aug. 28, 7 p.m. Free. Kepler’s Books, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park. Call 650324-4321.

Et Alia Barn Dance Portola Vineyards hosts barn dance with a live string band. Bring a picnic. 5-8 p.m. $15. Portola Vineyards, 850 Los Trancos Road, Portola Valley. Call 650-332-4959. Family Movie Night “Ratatouille.” Aug. 23, 7-9 p.m. Free. Atherton Library, 2 Dinkelspiel Station Lane, Atherton. Call 650328-2422. For Teens: Fruit Ninja Gaming Tournament Aug. 23, 5-6:45 p.m. Free. Atherton Library, 2 Dinkelspiel Station Lane, Atherton. Call 650-328-2422. Junior League of Palo Alto/Mid Peninsula New Member Open Houses Wednesday, Aug. 21 6:30-8 p.m.; and Saturday, Aug. 24 10-11:30 a.m. Free. LathamHopkins Gatehouse, 555 Ravenswood Ave. , Menlo Park.

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Contested elections ahead in Portola Valley, schools By Dave Boyce


Almanac Staff Writer


ith the close of the candidate filing period on Aug. 15, the roster of candidates is set and several contested elections are ahead — for the Town Council in Portola Valley, for the school boards in the Sequoia Union High School District and San Mateo County Community College District, and for the board of the Los Trancos County Water District. Uncontested elections are ahead for the three seats on the Woodside Town Council, one seat on the Ladera Recreation District board and two seats on the West Bay Sanitary District board unless the agencies cancel the elections by Thursday, Aug. 22. The elections will be held Nov. 5. All candidates are running for four-year terms and

are listed in order shown on the final roster from the county elections office. Portola Valley council

In Portola Valley, three seats are open on the five-member Town council, and running for those seats are two incumbents and two challengers. The candidates are F. John Richards, the current mayor, who is running for his second term; Craig R. Hughes, currently a member of the Architectural and Site Control Commission (ASCC); Maryann Moise Derwin, who is running for her third term; and Bud Eisberg, a retired airline pilot and a former member of the ASCC. Five-term councilman Ted Driscoll chose not to run for reelection.

Woodside council

There is one candidate in each of the three districts with an open seat on the five-member Woodside Town Council. The candidates are Deborah Cody Gordon, incumbent running for her third term from District 2; Dave Tanner, incumbent running for in his fourth election from District 4; and Anne M. Kasten, the current mayor and running for her second term from District 6. High school district

The Sequoia Union High School District board oversees the operations of four comprehensive high schools in San Mateo County, including Menlo-Atherton High in Atherton and Woodside High in unincorporated Woodside. Two incumbents and one challenger are running for two seats on the five-member board.

Katherine Manning Brill Palo Alto, 1918 – 2013

“Happy” Brill was her favorite of many names used in her lifetime, as optimism was her nature. She was called “Kathern” by her husband Marty and “Kate “or “Kay” by friends. She died on July 1, 2013. She was born on Bainbridge Island, Washington, in 1918. Her dad, William Wayland Manning, a Bostonian, married a Washington girl, Henrietta “Reta” TeRoller, whose family joined the Manning brothers to start a coffee company that would compete with Folgers and Hills Bros. The business took the family to San Francisco, and they settled across the Bay in Ross. Katherine, red-haired and freckled, and her sibs Sue (Birdsall) and Bill kept a pony and went to Katherine Branson’s. Later she took the ferry to Hamlin’s in San Francisco. Katherine enrolled at Scripps College, but soon transferred to Colorado University at Boulder, saying she was sick of girls’ schools and wanted to meet men. She liked javelin and basketball – and singing. Rushing Kappa (she said the club’s membership contained all the women she admired), she met a Fiji, Marty Brill, a letterman and football AllAmerican. Marty was from Trinidad, Colorado, a coal-mining town near the New Mexico border. His dad Joe was a veterinarian and his mom, Clara Marty, taught school and was sometimes deputy to her father the sheriff. Katherine and Marty married on graduation, and Marty enlisted in the Navy. They moved to Boston and he went to Harvard Business School. From there they moved to Monterey and Marty attended the Naval Post Graduate School. Cherry was born in Carmel while he sailed on the Mauna Loa, an ammunition ship in the Pacific. After the war Marty worked for the family business, Manning’s Coffee Co. (also known for cafeterias). The Brills moved to Pasadena, where Marty Jr. was born, and then to Palo Alto, where they had even more kids, Wayland, Byron and Derk. For many years they lived in the great Monterey colonial house at the end of University

Ave. designed by Gardner Dailey and built by Katherine’s uncle. Marty left Manning’s to become an independent food broker. He and Katherine relocated to Portola Valley in 1975, and after Marty died in 1983, Katherine moved to Oak Ave. in Menlo Park, where her adored grandchildren (Clara, Grayson, Will and Galen, Amanda, Amber and Katie, and Marty and Grant) splashed and her dogs and garden thrived. Accomplishments of women of Katherine’s era are often measured by the love and warmth they spread around them, to which she added bravery. She suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, finally “burned out” after many years. Slow onset of macular degeneration allowed her to function pretty well – she seemed always to be better-sighted than she was. She had the guts and foresight to live the way she wanted to despite physical challenges. After her husband died Katherine called herself “Happy” and was so indeed. Her relentlessly optimistic temperament stood her in good stead. She lived with an appetite for the future – and she was beautiful, with silver hair replacing the red. She painted, did fancy sewing, cooked (baking 12 lemon meringues to get one right), decorated her house with sophisticated taste, and bought wearable art. She loved the symphony, bridge and novels and enjoyed the Junior League and Valley Auxiliary. She spent years in a quest based perhaps on her parents’ religious enthusiasm. A friend called her “truly artistic and spiritual.” Another recalled “the sweetness of her voice and laugh.” Her last ten years at Channing House provided a new community and she enjoyed it greatly. Friendly interaction and stimulating activities kept her interested in life right up until her final, one-day illness. She died, as she wanted, in her sleep. The family would appreciate donations to Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, 2470 El Camino Real, Suite 107, Palo Alto, CA 94306. Contact Cherry Brill Elliott for information, (415) 824-3880.

12NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNAugust 21, 2013



The candidates are Alan Sarver, an incumbent from Belmont running for his second term; Georgia Jack, a Redwood City resident and a manager of the office of development at Stanford University; and Chris Thomsen, an incumbent from Menlo Park running for his second term. Community colleges

The San Mateo County Community College District oversees operations of three community colleges in the county: Canada College in Woodside, College of San Mateo in San Mateo, and Skyline College in San Bruno. One incumbent and three challengers are running for two seats on the five-member board. The candidates are Richard Holober, an incumbent from Millbrae running for his fifth term; Thomas Mohr, former president of Canada Community College and a resident of San Mateo; J. Samuel Diaz, a writer; and George Yang, an environmental business adviser and a resident of Menlo Park. Water district

The Los Trancos County Water District used to oversee

drinking water supplies for the unincorporated communities of Los Trancos Woods and Vista Verde. After selling the water system to California Water Service Company in 2006, the district has been using its tax revenues for rebates that encourage people to reduce water use, and for maintenance activities to reduce wildfire risks in the district. There are four candidates for three seats. The candidates are Stanley R. Gage, a retired manager; William Sloan Coats, an attorney and resident of Los Trancos Woods; Charlie Krenz, an engineer and resident of Los Trancos Woods; George A. Lee, a consultant and resident of Portola Valley. Other districts

There are two seats open on the five-member board of the West Bay Sanitary District. The candidates, both incumbents, are Edward “Ned” Moritz and Roy Theile-Sardina. There are three seats open on the board for the Ladera Recreation District. Only one candidate qualified for the ballot: Inger H. Rarick of Portola Valley. A

Student spends month as research scientist By Sam Borsos Special to the Almanac


ummer is a time when many kids take a break from homework, relax by the pool and hang out with friends. For Portola Valley native and rising senior Amanda Barth, summer included an intense educational experience. Along with 35 other science students from around the country and world, the Summit Preparatory High School student spent 39 days on a science project, operating a telescope to take images of a near-earth asteroid while writing computer software to measure its position and calculate its orbit around the sun. By day, Amanda and her peers studied college-level astronomy,

physics and calculus. By night, they broke up into groups for imaging and measuring a speck of light from a distant Amanda Barth asteroid. Their work took place on the campus of Westmont College in Santa Barbara as part of the Summer Science Program for academically gifted students that is operated in cooperation with Caltech, MIT and other educational institutions. Although the program involves intense work, the students took an an occasional break for traditional camp experiences, such as hiking, swimming, and performing in a talent show. A

$100,000 in jewels reported stolen Deputies from the San Mateo County Sheriff ’s Office are reporting a theft from a Greer Road residence in Woodside of about 10 pieces of jewelry with an estimated value of more than $100,000. Though reported Aug. 13, it’s a cold case. The theft occurred sometime between Aug. 1, 2012,

and Feb. 28, 2013, Deputy Rebecca Rosenblatt said. The owner of the jewels first noticed something missing from her collection in February, and did an inventory in March. She decided recently to report the theft at the suggestion of an insurance company in order to acquire a police report, Ms. Rosenblatt said.





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NOW OPEN 2977 Woodside Rd. Woodside, CA 94062 650.530.9050 *Service Fee: Chase Total CheckingSM has no Monthly Service Fee when you do any one of the following each statement period: Option #1: Have monthly direct deposits totaling $500 or more made to this account; OR, Option #2: Keep the daily balance in your checking account at or above $1,500; OR, Option #3: Keep an average daily balance of $5,000 or more in any combination of qualifying Chase checking, savings, and other balances. Otherwise a $10 Monthly Service Fee will apply. We will notify you of changes to your account terms or fees. For more information, please see a banker or visit Bonus/Account Information: Offer good 08/20/13 - 09/04/13 only at the 2977 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA branch. Offer not available to existing Chase checking customers, those with fiduciary accounts, or those whose accounts have been closed within 90 days or closed with a negative balance. To receive the bonus: 1) open a new Chase Total CheckingSM account, which is subject to approval; 2) deposit $100 or more within 10 business days of account opening; AND 3) have your direct deposit made to this account within 60 days of account opening. Your direct deposit needs to be an electronic deposit of your paycheck, pension or government benefits (such as Social Security) from your employer or the government. After you have completed all the above requirements, we’ll deposit the bonus in your new account within 10 business days. The bonus cannot be used as the opening deposit. You can only receive one new checking account-related bonus per calendar year. Employees of JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. and its affiliates are not eligible for this offer. Bonus is considered interest and will be reported on IRS Form 1099-INT. Account Closing: If your checking account is closed within six months, we will deduct the bonus amount at closing. ©2013 JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. Member FDIC

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148 Hawthorne Avenue Palo Alto, CA 94301 August 21, 2013NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN13

Serving Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley, and Woodside for 47 years.



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.

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or deliver to: Editor at the Almanac, 3525 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park, CA 94025.

City retains protective arbitration for sergeants


t is disappointing that the Menlo Park City Council has record is not available to the public, the city hasn’t made any settled on a contract proposal for its police sergeants that real progress in fixing the broken binding arbitration process. includes binding arbitration, despite losing the case of vet- While arbitrators may favor one side or the other, retired eran police officer Jeffrey Vasquez, who was fired for allegedly judges aren’t foolproof. One labor attorney told the Almanac soliciting a prostitute and then reinstated with $188,000 in back that “...arbitration decisions are binding, regardless of whether pay after he appealed through binding arbitration. the arbitrator gets it wrong on the facts or wrong on the law.” The council could have fought the inclusion of binding arbi- The council’s change does nothing to prevent this. tration in the new contract and insisted on use of a civilian In 17 redacted binding arbitration decisions appealed by review board or other administrative means to handle cases officers from multiple jurisdictions, the Almanac found that involving police officer misconduct. But instead, Mayor Peter more than half — 59 percent — were reversed. Arbitrators Ohtaki and his colleagues decided to stick reinstated the officers nine times and shortwith traditional binding arbitration in the ened one suspension, and upheld terminaEDI TORI AL deal, but added the ability — as a last resort — tions in the remaining seven cases. That’s a The opinion of The Almanac to select an arbitrator from a list of retired San reversal trend seen in other states that use Mateo County judges. The option to choose a binding arbitration, suggesting that the probjudge for the case would come only after the two sides could lem lies with the process. not agree on an arbitrator from a list provided by the state. It’s past time for the council to push for more transparMayor Ohtaki and several council members say the change ency in serious police misconduct cases. Menlo Park imposes to allow retired judges to possibly become involved is signifi- secrecy beyond what the law requires, refusing to share inforcant, although attorneys and at least one retired judge told the mation with the public that could be disclosed. Why does the Almanac they weren’t sure it would make a difference. number of police officers who have faced discipline, and the The proposed contract does reduce the city’s future finan- number of cases that have gone to binding arbitration, have to cial exposure by reducing pension benefits from 3 percent for remain a secret? Other jurisdictions, such as San Jose, include every year served up to age 50 to 2.7 percent up to age 57 for that data in public reports that strip out identifying informanew police employees hired after Jan. 1. But in return, the new tion. employees will pay slightly less to CalPERS for their pension Taxpayers have a right to know how many Menlo Park police benefits. officers are disciplined each year, and for what types of misRegardless, we’re concerned that despite the bitter experi- conduct. Robert Jonsen, the city’s new police chief, appears ence of seeing Officer Vasquez reinstated with full back pay much more open than his predecessors, an attitude we hope in a secret proceeding conducted by an arbitrator whose track rubs off on the City Council and other officials.

L ET TERS Our readers write

Council is asked to fix the Specific Plan Editor: To the Menlo Park City Council: Appointing a subcommittee rather than addressing the real issues of the Downtown Specific Plan is akin to thumbing your noses at residents of Menlo Park while kissing the hand of the developer who put his name on the gym. I’d be happy to underwrite a building in exchange for being able to put an apartment complex on my single-family-homezoned lot. Neighbors would not be able to do a thing because you eliminated public process in the Specific Plan. Oh, wait, they could have a say in the “architectural review” of the massive apartment building I’m building next to their homes. Again, I ask you to do better for the residents of Menlo Park. Fix the plan. Elizabeth Houck Middle Avenue, Menlo Park.

the Viewpoint desk at 223-6507.

14NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNAugust 21, 2013

Atherton Heritage Association

Our Regional Heritage In the early 1900s (the photo is undated), Leon and Victoria Douglass pose on a ship bound for Europe with four of their six children. The Douglass family lived on an Atherton estate off Valparaiso Road that is now the site of Menlo School.


Specific Plan is flawed;

Mayor backs deal with police union

By Steve Schmidt

By Mayor Peter Ohtaki and City Council member Ray Mueller


e wanted to inform judge of the San Mateo County residents that on Aug. Court, should the parties not 20 the Menlo Park be able to agree on an arbitrator City Council will consider adopt- selected from either the state list ing a new one-year agreement or from the roster of arbitrators with the Menlo Park Police Ser- available from JAMS in San geants’ Association (PSA), which Francisco. includes: The JAMS roster of arbitra■ No wage increases; tors already contains at least ■ No health-benefit increases; one retired San Mateo County ■ Continuation of judge, in addition to the PSA’s voluntary retired judges from agreement to pay 3 Santa Clara County percent of the city’s and the County of San contribution to CalPFrancisco. ERS (in addition to We believe their own 9 percent this change in the contribution); arbitration process is ■ A significant substantive because GUEST change to the disciretired judges who’ve OPINION plinary appeal prospent their careers cess allowing for the deciding high-stakes selection of retired San Mateo civil and criminal matters in our County judge’s as the arbitrator community understand our valof appeals. ues and are more accountable. ■ A Labor-Management ComTo the best of our knowledge, mittee that will meet quarterly to no other Bay Area jurisdiction jointly identify solutions to the has this arrangement for discicity’s pension liabilities. plinary appeals (although San This new agreement dramati- Jose recently added this to their cally changes how parties will charter interest arbitration lanselect arbitrators for disciplinary guage). Arbitration over disciappeals. Until now, the parties plinary matters is widely used to were limited to selecting arbi- keep overall litigation expenses trators from a list provided by down. the state. In contrast, under the We also want to clarify some new agreement either party now confusion in the media regardwill have the ability to request ing Palo Alto’s recent change in the matter be heard by a retired binding arbitration over eco-

or the benefit of Old Tim- takes is to revise one key aspect ers and others: While I of the Specific Plan: reduce agree with some of Save- the base level Floor Area Ratio Menlo’s objections to the Specific (making development less Plan and to Stanford’s dense) in the El CamiEl Camino developno Real SE Zone to ment proposal, I have 0.75 so that these and chosen to step aside other defects can be and wait for the group repaired. The increase to get up to speed on of the Floor Area the complicated land Ratio on El Camiuse issues raised by the no Real (making it Stanford proposal. more dense and more GUEST After 10 months of advantageous to the OPINION digging through the developer) has given record, obtaining staff Stanford an increased emails and commuvalue to its property nications with Stanford, many that will bring somewhere near meetings and discussions, it an additional $5 million per appears that SaveMenlo now year in rental income for the life understands when and where of the buildings. Menlo Park the real mistakes were made in received no public benefits for approving the Specific Plan. this gift. The city appears to There were elements of the be already negotiating with Specific Plan, such as project Stanford but not with any of the vehicular access through the neighborhood representatives at Middle Avenue Plaza, reduc- the table. tion of open space requirements SaveMenlo should be comfrom 40 percent to 30 percent, mended for its role as messendefinition of private balco- ger. Despite the discomfort of nies as open space, elimination the message, the Specific Plan is of publicly accessible building flawed and needs to be reviewed breaks, that were initiated by and revised. A one-year review Stanford and/or city staff. In was approved by the council on some instances, these additions June 5, 2012. The Specific Plan were made without direction was adopted in July of 2012. It’s from or knowledge of the City time. Council. Steve Schmidt is a The key to fixing these misformer Menlo Park mayor.


District tracking costs of redoing playing field By Ahmad Sheikholeslami


he reconstruction of the tions from the plan had sigHillview Middle School nificant consequences that only field and its replace- appeared later, when the field ment is not a small matter to did not drain properly and an the Menlo Park City issue with its levelness School District. The became apparent. district is fully aware The district promptof the impact to stuly rejected the entire dents and community field (no small matand is working hard to ter) and required the remedy the problem. general contractor We are working dilito replace it, because GUEST gently to make all the even if the error was OPINION corrections necessary the fault of a subto deliver the highest contractor, the genquality field that our eral contractor has Hillview community deserves. the ultimate responsibility for The district has constructed delivering a finished product over $100 million of work in built to the architect’s specificathe past six years with few prob- tions. Any homeowner would lems. However, as anyone who have done the same thing: has undertaken their own con- insisted that its general contracstruction projects can attest, no tor make the effort to re-build it project will be entirely free of right. The district has withheld errors. In the case of the field, payment to the contractor until a subcontractor did not follow the finished project is acceptthe architect’s specifications able. The general contractor in several details. The devia- has been very responsive and

stepped forward to correct the problems. We understand the scrutiny placed on the district. This is a complex project and the risk and responsibility ultimately rest with the construction team. In order to help identify and analyze the deficiencies and to work with all parties involved to facilitate a work plan for corrective action, additional oversight and inspection costs have been expended by the district. At this time the district is concentrating its efforts on getting the field completed. As previously indicated, the district is tracking its additional oversight and inspection costs and will at a later point address the matter of who bears ultimate responsibility for the additional costs. Ahmad Sheikholeslami is facilities director of the Menlo Park City School District.

nomic issues. Palo Alto’s Measure D did not end binding arbitration in their city’s personnel disciplinary appeals process, but rather repealed the portion of their city charter requiring binding arbitration when contract negotiations between the city and public safety unions come to an impasse. Menlo Park has had no binding arbitration over economic issues. The agreement will also create a Labor-Management Committee that meets quarterly to explore ways to address the city’s pension liability. The committee will meet with experts, and be able to study and look for solutions to this statewide and regional problem. We hope that other city labor groups will join this committee as their agreements come up for renewal. We look forward to their collaborative solutions. We appreciate the PSA’s commitment to working together andbeing the first group to reach agreement. We look forward to similar successful partnerships as we continue to negotiate with the Police Officers Association and begin negotiations with SEIU and AFSCME. Peter I. Ohtaki is serving his first term as mayor; Mayor Pro Tem Ray Mueller was elected to the council last November.


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August 21, 2013NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN15

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16NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNAugust 21, 2013

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