Former Amazon CFO and Woodside resident killed in bike accident | Page 3
S E P T. 2 5 , 2 0 1 3 | VOL. 49 NO. 3
T H E A L M A N AC O N L I N E . C O M
As government agencies step up the use of technology to follow our movements and mine our personal information, whatâ€™s being done to protect our privacy and civil liberties? SECTION 2
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they see what a normally sighted person sees at 20 feet. When a personâ€™s visual acuity is worse than normal, the second number will be larger than 20. Visual acuity is only one factor used to determine overall visual ability. There are many new styles in eyewear on the market today. If you have not had an opportunity to see these styles first hand please visit MENLO OPTICAL at 1166 University Drive on the corner of Oak Grove Avenue and University Drive. We carry a wide selection of eye-catching designer frames in several sizes, colors, and materials. Please call us at 322-3900 if you have any questions about this weekâ€™s column. We work with several ophthalmologists in the area and can recommend one to you.
UP F RONT
Joy Covey killed in bike accident By Dave Boyce
oy Dianne Covey, a former CFO of Amazon and a Woodside resident, was killed Sept. 18 when the bicycle she was riding collided with a van on Skyline Boulevard about three miles south of the intersection with La Honda Road. Ms. Covey, 50, was the current treasurer for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and was a chief financial officer at Amazon from 1996 to 1999. Ms. Coveyâ€™s path to the executive offices at Amazon was unusual. She dropped out of high school at 15, left home and took a job in Fresno as a grocery clerk, according to a 2002 interview with the Harvard Law Bulletin. It set a pattern. â€œ(H)aving fallen off the track, in a way I think I acquired a sense of independence in how I make decisions,â€? she said. â€œItâ€™s really helped me not worry so much whether other people approve of my choices.â€? While in Fresno, she enrolled at California State University and finished in two and a half years â€œbecause I wanted to get on with things,â€? she said. She graduated summa cum laude with a degree in business administration. In 2003, she received the universityâ€™s Distinguished Alumna Award. At Harvard University, where she acquired degrees from the law and business schools, she recalled having lunch with fellow students who had taken the traditional route into college. â€œPeople would talk about their favorite seventeenth-century poets, and Iâ€™d be thinking, â€˜Could I even name five poets? From any century?â€™ So that was intimidating, and it wasnâ€™t until we got our first-semester grades back that I started to realize that everything was going to be OK,â€? she said. Ms. Covey graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1990, and graduated from the business school in the same year. Law school taught Ms. Covey
The accident Photo by Julie West
Joy Covey of Woodside died in a collision with a van on Sept. 18 while riding a bicycle on Skyline Boulevard.
to break down and analyze questions, an essential skill at Amazon, she said. â€œA lot of things we did were things that hadnâ€™t been done before, or situations that had never been dealt with,â€? she said in the Harvard Law interview. â€œRather than asking ourselves, â€˜How has this been done in the
The former CFO at Amazon dropped out of high school at 15. past? Whatâ€™s the answer to this question?â€™ we said, â€˜Where do we want to go and what are our goals?â€™â€? Go to tinyurl.com/JCovey for the complete interview. In 1999, Fortune magazine named Ms. Covey one of the 50 Most Powerful Business Women in America, and in 2000, the World Economic Forum selected her as one of 100 â€œGlobal Leaders for Tomorrow.â€? As treasurer at the Natural Resources Defense Council, Ms. Covey was â€œa close friend
Ms. Covey was traveling north on a downhill section of Skyline at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, when a white Mazda minivan traveling south turned left onto Elk Tree Road â€œdirectly in front of the bicycle,â€? the CHP said. The bike collided with the right side of the van, the CHP said. A 22-year-old man from Fremont was driving the van, the CHP said. Authorities closed a lane of Highway 35 at Highway 84 in Skylonda shortly after 2 p.m. and issued a Sig alert; they reopened the roadway at about 3:30 p.m., according to the CHP. Medics on the scene called in a LifeFlight helicopter ambulance, records of the incident show. Medics pronounced Ms. Covey dead at the scene as a result of the collision. She was wearing a helmet, the CHP said. The CHP is investigating the incident. Officers released the van driver at the scene. If the district attorney were to bring charges against the driver, that would have to wait until after the investigation is complete, CHP Officer Art Montiel said. The CHP is asking witnesses to call Officer Barry Van Otten at 650-369-6261. â€œIt does not appear that drugs or alcohol were a factor in this collision,â€? according to the CHP. A
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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 ÂŠ2012 by Embarcadero Media, All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.
HOW SHARP IS YOUR VISION? To determine visual acuity, a person must sit 20 feet in front of a Snellen Chart (â€œEâ€? Chart) and read the printed letters. The distance of 20 feet is used for testing purposes because, at that distance, the eye is relaxed and its lens is in a neutral position (not trying to focus). At 20 feet, those with normal visual acuity can clearly read three-eights-inch letters. They are said to have â€œ20/20 visionâ€? because at 20 feet from the chart,
P.S. A person with 20/40 vision sees at 20 feet what a normally sighted person sees at 40 feet. Mark Schmidt is an American Board of Opticianry and National Contact Lens Examiners Certified Optician licensed by the Medical Board of California. He can be easily reached at Menlo Optical, 1166 University Drive, Menlo Park. 650-322-3900.
The Palo Alto Art Center, Bay Area Glass Institute, and the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation present
&). Artist: Glass by Glass, Photographer: Drew Loden
and advisor (and) a deeply committed environmentalist,â€? NRDC spokesperson Kate Slusark Kiely said in an email. â€œShe encapsulated the heart and soul of NRDC and will be so deeply missed by all the NRDC family.â€? â€œThe entire NRDC family is devastated by the tragic loss of our beloved Trustee, Joy Covey,â€? said NRDC president Frances Beinecke. â€œDuring her nine years as a NRDC trustee, she worked tirelessly to help protect our oceans and last wild places. Her indomitable spirit and her passion for nature and wildlife were infectious to all her knew her.â€?
Almanac Staff Writer
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Local News M
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County seeks new operator for Folger Stable By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer
hree years after a historic renovation, Folger Stable finds itself facing empty stalls in the near future as San Mateo County cancels its contract with the Bay Area Equestrian Connection. Built in 1905, the stable and carriage house tucked away in Woodside’s Wunderlich Park took about $3 million to renovate into a showpiece worthy of listing in the National Register of Historic Places. It reopened to the public in September 2010; soon after, BAEC took over the equestrian program, offering riding lessons, trail rides and horse boarding to the community. The relationship eventually soured. The three-year contract, with an option to extend, set rent for the first year at $27,000 annually, raised to $36,000 thereafter, due by the first of the month. If not paid within five days of the due date, the county added a 5 percent fee. The county said BAEC repeatedly paid late. The monthly rent was late more than a dozen times, and at one point was $15,000 behind, according to Interim Parks Director Jim Nantell. Monthly fees of $25 per occupied stall were late ten times. Dan Byrum, owner of BAEC, which has provided equestrian services for more than three decades, said the situation is not
cut-and-dried. Every bill the county sent was paid in a timely manner, he told the Almanac. Some bills didn’t come in; others failed to include the rent increase after the first year. BAEC had consistently paid mid- to late-month, to ensure an accurate count of stall occupancy, since October 2010 without complaint from the county, he said. The county sees it differently. “There’s no requirement to send the bill. He’s supposed to pay it,” Interim Parks Director Jim Nantell said, comparing the situation to any other tenant paying rent — the landlord doesn’t send a bill first.
The Folger Stable operator loses contract amid conflict over payments, other programs. “He’d gotten pretty far behind for a number of months. Staff talked to him, he got up to snuff, but then almost immediately — one month it was five days late, another month it was 20 days. You kinda feel like, look, you were way behind, you got that up to snuff but now you’re not honoring the deal to get your payments in on time.” Not quite friends
Payments weren’t the only issue. Both BAEC supporters
and the county hinted at struggles in figuring out how to keep all the different stakeholders working in harmony out at the stable. The Friends of Huddart and Wunderlich Parks, which organized the fundraising campaign that refurbished the stable into a showpiece, as well as the county’s Historical Society, have their own uses for the site, arranging nonprofit tours and educational programs on the grounds. BAEC’s lease recognized this, saying, “Tenant shall work with and provide reasonable accommodations for any non-profits running programs and conducting tours in and about the stable.” The question became, what’s reasonable? Mr. Byrum said he faced problems ranging from bathrooms left sloppy following class tours to disagreements over whether the Friends should stage programs in the carriage house rather than extending into the entranceways. It was only after negotiations with the Friends totally broke down that the county decided to cancel BAEC’s lease, Mr. Byrum said. “It is pretty clear that (the county) wanted to create an event of default, so they had a legitimate reason to remove BAEC,” Mr. Byrum told the Almanac. “All they had to do was mention that they wanted payment earlier, but instead they sent out two notices for
2010 file photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac
A groom takes a horse back to his stall at Folger Stable in Wunderlich Park.
November and December. Then all was quiet until the renewal, and they refused, stating the BAEC had been in default.” Lea Goldstein, who along with Lisa Raskin is co-president of the Friends, said they weren’t privy to the details of the county’s decision to not renew the lease, but their understanding was that BAEC had defaulted on the contract. Any issues with the use of the bathrooms as well as other areas at the stable were resolved by the county, Ms. Goldstein said, following discussions with
both BAEC and the Friends. The solution included allowing both groups to use the stable bathroom, and keeping a separate hot wash area for horses on the opposite side of the facility from the Friends’ programs. “The Friends look forward to working with the new contractor in a cooperative working relationship in which both groups support one another’s success. The Friends believe that a horse facility and a nonprofit organization serving the See FOLGER STABLE, page 8
New and sturdy buttress for Ramona Road in Los Trancos Woods By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer
new and massive retaining wall of sturdy wooden and steel beams topped by concrete now rests alongside the 200 block of Ramona Road in Los Trancos Woods. In recognition of the protection the wall now gives to the road during the winter rains, the community celebrated Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Pony Tracks Ranch on Old Spanish Trail.
Supervisor Don Horsley, engineers and representatives from the Los Trancos Woods and Vista Verde community were gathered there for a ribbon-cutting. Ramona Road is a link to essential outside services for this community within unincorporated San Mateo County. The heavy rains in December 2012 reminded residents of a 1983 washout that closed Ramona Road for weeks, and See RAMONA ROAD, page 8
The retaining wall, which includes 15 50-foot steel I-beams sunk vertically into the ground, runs 87 linear feet along the side of the road and is 21 feet high. September 25, 2013 N TheAlmanacOnline.com N The Almanac N 5
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fter scoring a victory in a Sacramento court last month, opponents of California’s proposed highspeed rail system are now asking the judge to bar the agency responsible for the line from spending any money on the $68 billion project until a new business plan is in place. Stuart Flashman and Michael Brady, attorneys for plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit against the California High-Speed Rail Authority, last week filed proposed “remedies” in response to an Aug. 16 decision from Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny. The judge concurred with the plaintiff’s argument that the rail authority violated the law when it adopted a business plan that identifies funding sources for only the first 140-mile construction segment of the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles line. Proposition 1A, which the voters approved in 2008 and which allocates $9 billion in state funds for high-speed rail, requires the rail authority to identify funds for the fist “initial operating segment” of the line before commencing construction. Mr. Flashman, who represented Menlo Park, Atherton and Palo Alto in prior lawsuits against the rail authority, is now representing Central Valley plaintiffs John Tos, Aaron Fukuda and Kings County. As part of the proposed remedy, which the court will consider on Nov. 8, Mr. Flashman and Mr. Brady are asking the court to require the rail authority to set aside its 2011 business plan and return with an updated version that identifies funding for the initial usable segment, as required by law. Until that happens, the rail authority would be barred from approving construction contracts or expending any portion of the $2.6 billion in Prop. 1A funds that legislators approved last year.
In addition, the rail authority would be restrained from spending the $3.3 billion in federal funds it received last year for the first segment of the rail line. The plaintiffs also are calling for the rail authority to provide, within 30 days, a “full and complete accounting of its use of Proposition 1A bond funds, including its past expenditures of such funds, its current commitments to future expenditures of such funds, and its plans for committing or expending such funds during the next two years,” the attorneys’ brief states. The November decision will come at a critical time for the rail authority, which is now preparing to start construction on the first set of tracks, between Fresno and Bakersfield. Under its preferred alternative, the segment would later be stretched south to San Fernando, culminating in the first “initial operating segment.” After Judge Kenny’s ruling last month, rail officials said they plan to proceed with their construction plans until the litigation concludes. In their opening brief on remedies, Mr. Flashman and Mr. Brady argue that the bill authorizing Proposition 1A “added a series of taxpayer protections to the bill” and that these protections should be respected. The Legislature “did this in recognition of the need to assure the voters that the money they were being asked to authorize would be used wisely.” “As the Court has already ruled, Respondent violated those provisions by issuing a funding plan that did not comply with Proposition 1A’s requirements for adequate funding and prior environmental clearance for the usable segment to be constructed with bond funds,” Mr. Flashman wrote. “The question of remedy is therefore key to assuring that the promises made to the voters remain meaningful.” A
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Commission continues review of specific plan By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer
s the Menlo Park Planning Commission prepared to continue its review of the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan on Sept. 23, they had some added community input to consider. Commissioners took a series of straw votes on Sept. 10, the first day of their review, to evaluate what aspects of the specific plan merited further consideration for modification. The straw votes indicated that the commission does not want to throw the specific plan out, given the five years of analysis that led to its creation, but did identify several areas to tweak. Those include ways to give the city more control over proposed projects and the proportion of specific uses, such as housing versus office space, and possibly ways to incorporate funding mechanisms for desired infrastructure improvements. One project proposed under the new specific plan rules has highlighted the need to at least reconsider those aspects. Stanford University and developer John Arrillaga have indicated they want to build an eightacre mixed-use complex along 300 to 500 El Camino Real — a project that meets the baseline criteria of the specific plan without triggering public benefit requirements or review by the city beyond architectural features. The latest design for the
Check AlmanacNews.com for updates. This issue went to press before the Sept. 23 meeting.
Stanford Arrillaga complex consists of 199,500 square feet of office space, 10,000 square feet of retail, and up to 170 apartments. A public plaza to be designed in conjunction with the city at Middle Avenue would incorporate two car lanes, along with a pedestrian and bicycle path at Middle Avenue and El Camino Real leading to a future railroad track undercrossing.
Sierra Club, Save Menlo ask city to lower maximum building heights allowed by specific plan along southeast El Camino Real. The Sierra Club and Save Menlo, a grassroots coalition that has criticized the Stanford project, submitted a list of their desired revisions to the specific plan in advance of Monday’s Planning Commission meeting. Focused on El Camino Real and the area surrounding the Caltrain Station, the changes include capping the amount of general office space at 25 percent of the baseline floor area allowed in a project (10 percent for medical offices); dropping the maximum height allowed
in southeast El Camino Real to 48 feet with facades capped at 38 feet; and incorporating an infrastructure fee based on square footage. The groups also propose implementing a transportation demand management program along the length of El Camino Real. The Sierra Club and Save Menlo also suggest fine-tuning the specific plan’s definition of “open space” to ensure it refers to shared community areas and clarifying the process of determining public benefits if a developer wants to exceed baseline requirements. As far as height and density allowances go, however, during the straw votes on Sept. 10, five commissioners said they were “favorably disposed” toward the density and floor area ratios — the scale, in other words — of buildings allowed under the specific plan. Katherine Strehl and John Onken abstained since they are recused from voting on certain zones of the specific plan. The specific plan allows buildings up to 60 feet on the southeast portion of El Camino Real, to accommodate fourstory commercial or five-story residential buildings. All other building heights in the plan area are capped at 38 feet, or two-story commercial and three-story residential units. The Almanac went to press before the Sept. 23 meeting. Check our website at almanacnews.com for an update on what happened. Once the Planning Commission finishes evaluating the specific plan, which may take several meetings, it will send any recommendations to the City Council for review.
R EAL E STATE Q&A by Monica Corman
Showing Proof of Funds Dear Monica: I am about to make an offer on a property and my parents are gifting me the entire down payment. I am also getting a loan from a conventional lender. The seller is asking for me to show proof of funds for my down payment. Is it common to request this and should I have to do this? Owen C. Dear Owen: In this multiple offer market that we are currently in, sellers are asking for more proof of a buyer’s ability to perform. Sellers want to be sure and choose the right buyer among those making offers, and financial ability is key to determining this. Often a loan pre-approv-
al letter from a reputable lender is sufficient proof of funds, because presumably the lender has confirmed that the buyer’s down payment is real. But more and more I am seeing sellers request separate proof that the buyer has the down payment in ready funds. You can have your parents write a letter stating that they are making a gift to you of the down payment (your lender will require this as part of their underwriting) and your parents may also include a brokerage or bank statement showing that the funds are available. You should black out any private information and ask that the document be returned to you and not be copied or transmitted.
For answers to any questions you may have on real estate, you may e-mail me at email@example.com or call 462-1111, Alain Pinel Realtors. I also offer a free market analysis of your property. www.MonicaCorman.com
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Former probation chief sentenced A former San Mateo County probation chief convicted of possessing child pornography was sentenced Sept. 20 to 10 months in county jail and was led away from court in handcuffs. Stuart James Forrest, 62, was also placed on three years’ probation and must register as a sex offender for life, visiting Judge Robert Atack ruled in San Mateo County Superior Court. A jury found him guilty on July 26 of two counts of possession of child pornography. He was arrested in December 2012 after being named in a complaint by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service that alleged that he possessed child pornography on his personal computer. He was placed on formal