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Friendly persuasion Woodside’s Rebekah Witter helps equestrians learn the language of their horses SECTION 2


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Portola Valley schools foundation defrauded of $182K, deputies say By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


n investigation has turned up seven bad checks, a total of $182,500, written this fall against an investment account for the Portola Valley Schools Foundation, according to a Dec. 9 report from the San Mateo County Sheriff ’s Office. The checks, written between early September and early November 2013, transferred money from the foundation’s Charles Schwab account into a JP Morgan Chase account at an unknown location, deputies said. “It is so disheartening that a crime such as this has been perpetrated against the Foundation,� said Superintendent Lisa Gonzales in an emailed statement. “I am confident that the authorities will soon identify the person or persons responsible, and that the investigation will bring all relevant

details to light very soon.� The foundation has not yet responded to a request for an interview. The checks were written out to “Eye For Design LLC� with a mailing address in Monroe, Connecticut, deputies said. The incident has a reporting date of Nov. 25. The Sheriff’s Office typically issues crime reports on a weekly basis; an incomplete report on an individual case can delay publication. The checks were pre-printed with the foundation’s name misspelled and without the foundation’s address, but did include the correct account and routing numbers on the bottom of the checks, deputies said. Investigators from Charles Schwab and U.S. Postal Police are working on the case, deputies said. The news comes as the Portola Valley School District is in the


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midst of recovering from an embezzlement of nearly $101,000 by former superintendent Tim Hanretty, who is serving a twoyear term in state prison. When the cost of the investigation into his crimes is included, Mr. Hanretty’s actions set the district back by $182,000, nearly $121,000 of which he had repaid, according to an Almanac report in September. “The many volunteers of the Portola Valley Schools Foundation have worked tirelessly for almost two decades in support of the students and staff at Ormondale and Corte Madera Schools,� Ms. Gonzales said in her email. “Especially over the past two challenging years, the support of the foundation has been instrumental in ensuring that key programs and staffing levels have continued uninterrupted, and our students have received the best education possible.�


30+ years of local knowledge. Born in Menlo Park. Raised in Atherton. A Woodside resident.

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Hanretty released from prison, appeals court order for $2.7M in restitution By Barbara Wood Special to the Almanac


im Hanretty, the former Woodside and Portola Valley school official who was imprisoned for embezzlement and misappropriating public funds in 2012, has been released after serving a year of his two-year sentence and has taken steps to appeal a court order to repay $2.67 million to the Woodside Elementary School District. Mr. Hanrettyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s former attorney, Michael Markowitz of Danville, said he has filed a notice with the court of appeals on Mr.

Hanrettyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s behalf to give him more time to appeal the restitution order. Mr. Markowitz said he has asked for a courtappointed lawyer to handle the appeal for Mr. Hanretty. Mr. Hanret- Tim Hanretty ty, the former Portola Valley School District Superintendent and Woodside Elementary School District finance officer, pleaded no contest to six felony charges of embezzlement and misappropriating public funds

in both school districts in July of 2012 and was sentenced to two years in prison the following October. In Woodside he was accused of forging documents that allowed a loan of up to $3 million to be made to the district, despite the fact that the school board had approved borrowing only $632,000. He eventually obtained a loan of $2.6 million, which district officials say was spent on school projects. He changed the loan terms from a 10-year payback to a 21-year payback. In Portola Valley further invesSee HANRETTY, 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 Š2012 by Embarcadero Media, All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

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Local News M















FBI seeks ‘Sports Cap Bandit’ bank robber The FBI is seeking a woman they have dubbed the “Sports Cap Bandit,” who robbed two banks in Menlo Park in October and November. The robberies occurred at about 12:25 p.m. on Oct. 29 at a Bank of the West at 701 Santa Cruz Ave. and at about 2 p.m. on Nov. 8 at a U.S. Bank at 1105 El Camino Real, according to the FBI. In each robbery, the suspect gave a bank teller a note demanding money and said she had a gun. During the October robbery, she wore a red Cincinnati Reds baseball cap with a “C” on it, along with sunglasses, a dark gray hooded jacket and gray sweatpants, FBI officials said. She was carrying a dark bag. In the November robbery, she wore a light blue and gold Denver

Nuggets hat with the word “Nuggets” and a graphic on it, along with a long-sleeve green sweatshirt and blue jeans, according to the FBI. That day, she was carrying a light brown handbag. The FBI released surveillance images of the suspect, who is described as a Pacific Islander or Hispanic woman between 25 and 30 years old. She is about 5 feet 7 or 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighs between 140 and 170 pounds and has brown eyes and brown hair. The suspect should be considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call 911 or the FBI’s San Francisco office at (415) 553-7400. Tips can also be submitted online at Go to to see the surveillance photos. — Bay City News Service

Town looks at ways to coax walking, cycling to school By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


bout 8 percent of Woodside Elementary School students walk or ride a bike to school. In a town that likes to see itself as rural, students driven to school are the majority and most vehicles carry just one student, according to a Safe Routes to School audit. That audit is on the agenda for discussion at the Dec. 10 Town Council meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m. in Independence Hall. To encourage walking and cycling to school, the audit makes several recommendations, including: narrowing by 1 foot the width of Woodside


Road traffic lanes approaching the school to allow a walkway on the north side of the road; redesigning the Roberts Market parking lot to include a pathway for walking and biking; and considering traffic-calming measures at the intersection of Woodside, Canada and Mountain Home roads, along with better access for pedestrians, equestrians and cyclists. The council will consider a resolution authorizing the town manager to enter into a contract for a traffic-safety project along Woodside Road See WALKING, page 7

Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac

Passengers at San Carlos Airport board a Surf Air flight to Santa Barbara.

Pilots trying ‘visual approach’ to mitigate Midpeninsula noise By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor


ilots flying Surf Air planes into the San Carlos Airport have begun trial use of a visual approach technique in an attempt to mitigate the increased noise level over Atherton, North Fair Oaks and other Midpeninsula communities. Residents have been complaining about the noise increase, the result of Surf Air’s summer launch of a flight service from San Carlos Airport, using larger, noisier planes than those typically using the small, public-use airport. A working group of residents, Atherton town officials, Surf Air and airport representatives, and representatives of supervisors Warren Slocum and Don Horsley met Dec. 5,

Menlo Park selects new mayor, vice mayor By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


he first Tuesday in December sees a shuffling in the ranks of Menlo Park City Council members each year as they choose the new mayor and vice mayor. The process, in general, is almost always orderly. “Which I believe the Almanac said is as exciting as a ‘PBS woodworking documentary’,”

outgoing mayor Peter Ohtaki said, laughing, at the Dec. 3 council meeting. “And I like it that way, actually.” The council’s non-binding policy is to rotate the position of mayor each year, with those who haven’t yet held the title getting preference, and so it was on Dec. 3, with Ray Mueller unanimously selected as mayor. He and Catherine Carlton, chosen unanimously as vice mayor, are finishing out their first year

on the council. Mr. Mueller took a few minutes to thank his family and the city’s residents, saying that the neighbors are what makes Menlo Park special. “Now, do we always agree on what that means? No. We don’t. We disagree about the details sometimes. But there’s something about Menlo Park that I absolutely love. Everyone has an opinion,” he said. Mr. Ohtaki received a procla-

and learned of the trial visual approach plan from Surf Air, according to San Carlos Airport Manager Gretchen Kelly. Surf Air representatives also said the firm, which now has six daily flights out of San Carlos, will postpone its plan to expand its service to 10 daily flights until January, Ms. Kelly said. The new approach method is being put in place only as pilots are being trained and the weather permits it, Ms. Kelly told the Almanac. “Yesterday (Dec. 5) was the first time they flew the visual approach,” she said, adding that Surf Air’s director of operations is conferring with pilots to evaluate the trial strategy. Ms. Kelly said the visual approach “moves the flight path around” somewhat to allow pilots to try to fly over areas less mation in recognition of his service as both vice mayor and mayor. He said he hoped he was able to achieve “a bal- Ray Mueller ance of process is mayor, and at City Coun- Catherine cil meetings” Carlton is vice where people mayor. were comfortable speaking and airing their issues, discussing possible solutions and compromises to shape

dense, and not over the same neighborhoods each time they come in for a landing in San Carlos. She added that Surf Air is working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in making the changes. Two other firms fly the same aircraft out of San Carlos — the Pilatus PC-12 single-engine turboprop; Ms. Kelly says the airport accommodates 15 to 20 PC-12 flights daily. But residents say that Surf Air’s regular daily flights have led to an increased level of noise that greatly diminishes the quality of life and safety of their communities. Atherton hosted a community meeting on Dec. 9 to discuss the aircraft noise issue. The meeting was held after the Almanac’s press time. Go to for a report on the meeting. A

future of city. He briefly recapped his recent trip to Galway, Ireland, noting that no Menlo Park taxpayer dollars were spent; he paid for the airfare, and the hotel room — and apparently a few pints of Guinness — were provided by the hosts. The two cities signed a friendship agreement in October based on shared history and, Mr. Ohtaki noted, shared aspirations, as both seek to encourage high-tech innovation alongside vibrant communities. A

December 11, 2013NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN5


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15-year-old girl shot as spate of shootings continues By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer

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Safe with $200,000 in valuables is missing

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he fourth drive-by shooting in Menlo Park in three weeks may be gang-related, according to investigators. Bullets struck a 15-year-old girl inside her home in the 1300 block of Madera Avenue around 7:30 p.m. Sunday, wounding her hand, Menlo Park police said. She was treated at a local hospital for the non-life-threatening injury. Witnesses described a four-door light sedan being driving west on Madera Avenue and heading

toward Ivy Drive after occupants fired multiple shots at the house and two vehicles. At least two suspects fired a shotgun and possibly a handgun, according to police. No further information has been released yet. Arrests were made nearly two weeks ago in connection to drive-by shootings on Nov. 23 on Willow Road, on Nov. 24 on Hamilton Avenue, and on Nov. 29 on Madera Avenue. Investigators ask that anyone with information call Menlo Park police at 330-6300 or leave an anonymous tip at 330-6395.

In the days just before Thanksgiving, when the owners of a home on Godetia Drive in Woodside were away, someone entered the house and stole a safe with high-value jewelry inside, according to a report by deputies from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. A gardener informed deputies of the situation after finding the house with its front door open and one of its windows shattered, said deputies, who have since secured the interior of the house.

After contacting the owners, both of whom are still away from home, deputies have ascertained that it was a burglary and that the contents of the missing safe have an estimated value of about $200,000. In addition to the jewelry, the safe contained “miscellaneous personal information,” deputies said. A specific accounting of the losses, as well as possible leads on suspects, could be forthcoming after the owners return, deputies said.


district sought about $3.63 million in restitution. Superintendent Polito said the district realizes there are “substantial obstacles to any significant recovery of the restitution,” but they are working with the probation department to try to get as much as possible repaid to the district. Superintendent Polito emphasized that the district is not in financial trouble and should “be able to meet all of their financial obligations in the current year and in all future years.” Mr. Hanretty had already been ordered to reimburse the Portola Valley School District for the money spent on his home, plus associated costs of investigating the theft for a total of nearly $182,000. By September he had repaid almost $121,000, according to Karen Lucian, the district’s administrative coordinator. The misappropriation of public money was first discovered in 2011 when a Woodside school board member questioned the amount of debt service the district was paying. After investigation uncovered the dubious loan, Mr. Hanretty resigned in January as the Portola Valley district superintendent, a job he began in August 2010. Before that, he had served as chief business officer of both districts.

continued from page 3

tigation found Mr. Hanretty had turned in $100,926 in invoices for work on his own home, to be paid by the district’s solar panel fund. Beth Polito, superintendent of the Woodside Elementary School District, said the district learned from the district’s county counsel, John Nibbelin, that Mr. Hanretty had been released from prison. The district has asked Mr. Hanretty’s probation officer to have him “steer clear of us because it’s awkward and uncomfortable,” Superintendent Polito said. In September Mr. Hanretty had been ordered to repay the Woodside district about $2.67 million to reimburse the cost of the loan he had fraudulently obtained, plus interest costs and the costs involved with uncovering the crime. That total — nearly $2.937 million — was reduced to reflect $20,000 Mr. Hanretty has already paid toward restitution and $250,000 from insurance payments to the district. Mr. Markowitz had argued that the Woodside district had benefited from all the loan proceeds, and had fought the district’s attempt for restitution based on an unauthorized debt that it was saddled with. The



Keith continues to lead council in reimbursement requests By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


urns out you can spend more taxpayer money attending local dinners than on a trip to Ireland: For the third time in a row, Kirsten Keith tops the list in reimbursement requests by Menlo Park council members, according to city records obtained by the Almanac. During the 15-month period from September 2012 to November 2013, Ms. Keith expensed $2,587. This was an increase from the 15-month period a year earlier, when she expensed $2,319. Highlights from the 26 requests she made during the current period: Council of Cities dinners, $540; Progress Seminar, $537.57; nonprofit events, $285; California Bike Summit, $110; and North Fair Oaks community festival, $75. The five council members each receive a $640 monthly salary and an unlimited pool of city funds for reimbursement for related events, according to City Manager Alex McIntyre. They may either ask the city to pay in advance, or request reimbursement; if a trip involves outof-state travel, reimbursement must be approved by the council during a regular meeting. Ms. Keith, who ran for county supervisor in 2012 — little more

WALKING continued from page 5

approaches to the school, paid for with $215,600 in state and county funding. The project includes narrowing the traffic lanes and adding the north-side walkway. That safe routes to school are a top priority is not debated, something that cannot be said for other topics in the Town Center Area Plan. This effort-

Menlo Park City Council Expenses September 2012 – November 2013 (Note: Coucilman Rich Cline submitted no reimbursement requests) $135

than a year after being elected to a four-year term on the council — appears to be burnishing a high regional profile. She told the Almanac that collaboration with other jurisdictions is an important part of creating the best ideas for Menlo Park. “For example, the Grand Boulevard Initiative meetings that I attend provide a venue to discuss how we will revitalize the 43 miles of El Camino Real from San Jose to South San Francisco. Elected officials, residents, transportation experts, developers and nonprofits come together to discuss how we will make this a reality,” Ms. Keith said. “Since we don’t live in a bubble, but share borders with cities, this is another example of great collaboration between cities. It is important to develop solutions together.” She noted that regional bodies she serves on, such as the City/County Association of Governments and Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency, deal with issues like traffic and water that cross jurisdictional boundaries. A repeat attendee at the annual “Progress Seminar,” Ms. Keith said it provides yet another opportunity for collaboration. The annual event, co-sponsored by county chambers of commerce, “brings together business,

government, and community leaders for informal discussions about regional issues, and opportunities to meet those issues,” according to the website. Monthly Council of Cities dinners provide a venue for county elected officials to discuss regional issues and “gather information to improve our communities,” the councilwoman said. Along with Ms. Keith and then-councilwoman Kelly Fergusson, Catherine Carlton attended a Council of Cities dinner in Pacifica in November 2012 — after being elected, but prior to being sworn in. City Attorney Bill McClure said he wasn’t sure if the question had ever come up before, but the $45 expenditure followed Menlo Park guidelines. “It is my understanding that the city manager encourages incoming council members to attend such functions to begin to familiarize themselves with topical issues and to meet council members from other communities to build their network and that as a council member elect, it is an appropriate expenditure for reimbursement.” Ms. Carlton requested reimbursement for $1,114.93 to attend an academy for new mayors and council members in January 2013 . The remainder of her nine reimbursement requests were for monthly din-

in-progress looks ahead 20 years to consider the Town Center’s evolution. Key concerns are traffic congestion and a shortage of parking. After a stormy session in October, the council agreed to take off the table several ideas that arose during earlier brainstorming sessions, including a parking garage and reconfiguring the town’s main intersection. At least two community meetings to discuss the Area Plan are

ahead, but first a facilitator must be chosen. A staff report recommends discussing that decision in January. The council did not take up offers from community volunteers to facilitate the discussions and instead made it clear the council intends to retain a professional facilitator. The council meeting begins with interviews of candidates for openings on the Planning Commission and the Architectural and Site Review Board.

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Keith $1,012 Carlton Ohtaki $2,587 $670

Mueller Fergusson Cohen


Kirsten Keith again led the Menlo Park City Council in reimbursement requests, with $2,587 in expenses paid by the city during the past 15 months. In second place was Catherine Carlton ($2,022), followed by Ray Mueller ($917) and Peter Ohtaki ($670).

ners and the Progress Seminar. Total: $2,022.93. Fellow council newcomer Ray Mueller also went to the academy — $917.14 — but skipped the seminar. He expensed one Council of Cities dinner and a retirement dinner for the Ravenswood school district superintendent. Total for three reimbursement requests: $1,012.14. Mr. Ohtaki, who managed an official trip to Galway, Ireland, without spending a dime of taxpayer money, was reimbursed $670.12 for a regional conference on housing policy; the annual League of California Cities conference; and a few Council of Cities dinners

out, with most of the money spent while serving as mayor of Menlo Park this year. He paid the airfare to Ireland himself, and enjoyed a free hotel room and transportation courtesy of Galway’s mayor, he said. Veteran Councilman Rich Cline submitted zero reimbursement requests, as has been his habit during the past several years. Finally, Ms. Fergusson, who averaged $1,996 in annual reimbursements during eight years on the council, expensed $135 toward the end of her last term in 2012, while fellow outgoing Councilman Andy Cohen expensed $50. A


Should I Remodel My Home or Buy A New One? Clients frequently ask me if they should remodel their existing home or buy a new one. In order to help them make this important decision I usually ask the following questions: 1. Have you explored the idea of remodeling or adding to your home? Remodeling a home is usually less expensive than buying a new home. But local zoning laws limit how much you can add to your property (based on lot size), and remodeling can be aggravating and time-consuming. If your lot isn’t large enough, or if you are not interested in remodeling, then moving to a bigger home may be your best option. 2. Are you making more money? If you’re making more money, you may be able to afford higher mortgage payments and the costs of moving to a larger home. 3. Do you have significant equity in your home? Usually, if you’ve owned your home for five or more years, you may have significant unrealized gains. These gains

can help you finance a move to a larger home. Ask your agent for an estimate of the fair market value of your home. 4. Are interest rates favorable? Interest rates are now at historic lows. Low rates not only help you buy a larger home, but also make it easier to find a buyer. 5. Do you still like your neighborhood? If you have switched jobs, had children or experienced other changes in your life, your current neighborhood may no longer adequately meet your needs. 6. Is the current housing market conducive to a move? In today’s market you may be able to sell quickly and for top dollar, but finding the new home could take longer because of low inventory and higher prices. Whenever feasible I suggest that my clients find their new home and wait to sell their old one until after they have moved in to the new home. Every case is different. Discuss with your agent your specific circumstances and options before making a final decision.

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

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Man files lawsuit against Menlo Park police officers By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


man has filed suit against three Menlo Park police officers, the department and the city. The suit, filed in federal court on Nov. 12 by the attorneys for Hiruy Amanuel, alleges that officers Ed Soares, James Luevano and “Officer Jeffries” violated his rights during two traffic stops, one on Jan. 13 and another on Oct. 31. The complaint alleges that the stops included illegal searches, racist comments and intimidation. Mr. Amanuel, a Menlo Park resident, is represented in the civil action by attorneys Greg Walston and Thomas O’Brien. Officers Soares and Luevano recognized him from an earlier case and subjected Mr. Amanuel to harassment and threats that left him upset and scared, according to the lawsuit. Menlo Park Police Cmdr. Dave Bertini said the first stop was recorded via a digital audio recorder, and the second recorded with both video and audio. The Almanac’s research indicates no “Officer Jeffries” works for the police department; Mr. Walston was not immediately available for comment as to whether his client wasn’t sure about the name or it was erroneously included in the filing. Mr. Amanuel currently faces criminal charges in San Mateo County Court in connection with a misdemeanor driving under the influence causing injury and a hit-and-run. In 2010, he pleaded guilty in federal court to one felony


count of using a telephone to facilitate drug trafficking, and was sentenced to 21 months in state prison and one year of supervised probation that ended in 2012, according to court records. Two related charges, of conspiracy to distribute and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, were dismissed.

IRS scam A Menlo Park resident lost $14,000 in a recent scam that has the IRS warning people nationwide, according to police. Claiming to be IRS employees, the callers tell their intended victims that they owe taxes and must pay using a pre-paid card or wire transfer, or face arrest, deportation or loss of a license. The legitimate IRS will not accept payments through those forms of currency, according to police. The pre-paid cards the scammers request are extremely difficult to trace, as payments made are usually transferred to other reloadable cards that can be bought at almost any store. Victims may also be given fake contact information. In one incident reported to Menlo Park police, the victim unknowingly accessed a phony IRS website. The police advise double-checking any contacts, as the IRS does not use a local phone number. The agency also generally contacts people first by mail, not telephone, and won’t ask for personal or financial details via email, text or social media. If contacted by email, forward any suspect messages to phish-

Continuing their annual holiday tradition, students at Menlo-Atherton High School have collected more than 150,000 cans of food and raised $22,000 in donations in this year’s Canned Food Drive, surpassing the original goal of 100,000 cans and $10,000. The first M-A canned food drive was started by Coach Ben

Parks in 1999 with a goal of collecting 5,000 cans of food. Seventy Menlo-Atherton students gathered Saturday, Dec.7, at the Ecumenical Hunger Program, at 2311 Pulgas Ave. in East Palo Alto, to distribute food to families in need. Each family was given two frozen chickens, bags of potatoes, apples, tangerines, onions, fresh

produce, frozen vegetables, and 30 cans of food. Food and money raised in the annual drive is distributed through the school’s partners, Second Harvest Food Bank and Ecumenical Hunger Program. Menlo-Atherton Activities Director Jonathon Senigaglia worked with students on the drive. Avoid opening any attachments or clicking on links. Never give out any personal information, such as a Social Security number, date of birth, home address or passwords, to anyone over the phone.

Police ask that you call 3306300 if you think you’ve been targeted by this scam.

8 p.m. to midnight. Sponsored by The Society of Single Professionals, the dress code is “festive holiday attire.” Tickets are $20. The restaurant is located at 1029 El Camino Real in Menlo Park.

the source of the laser beam. There were no injuries and no property damage, and deputies have no leads, Dec. 1.

unlocked vehicle. Thieves left the interior of a third unlocked vehicle in disarray but took nothing, Dec. 3.

Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac

Menlo-Atherton High School students (from left) Julio Montesinos, Dominique Simpson, Tommy EvansBarton and Sophi Bock pack food items in bags for their canned food drive at the Ecumenical Hunger Program in East Palo Alto on Dec. 6.

Students collect food for needy families

Singles dance Menlo Hub will host a singles dance on Saturday, Dec. 14, from


N P O L I C E C A L L S This information is from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office and the Menlo Park Police Department. Under the law, people charged with offenses are considered innocent unless convicted. The dates the agencies received the report of a crime are shown. PORTOLA VALLEY The Federal Aviation Administration reported that someone in the vicinity of the intersection of Alpine Road and Nathhorst Avenue aimed a green laser beam at the left side of an incoming Southwest Airlines commercial jet flying at about 6,000 feet. In a search of the area, deputies were unsuccessful in finding

■ In a related incident, an unlocked ATHERTON

vehicle parked on a residential driveway on Serrano Drive is missing $1,000 worth of unspecified goods. Nothing was missing from a second vehicle parked nearby, Dec. 3

Residential burglary reports:

■ Someone entered a house on Holbrook Lane, apparently without having to resort to forced entry, and stole a small safe and several other items, including a $95,000 diamond ring, Dec. 2.

■ A $300 pair of Oliver Peoples sunglasses is one of the stolen items in a burglary of an open garage area of a residence on Selby Lane. The sunglasses were stolen from an unlocked vehicle, as was a $1,000 laptop computer from another

Accident report: A man jogging in the southbound bike lane on Alameda de las Pulgas near Polhemus Avenue shortly before 5:30 p.m. sustained moderate injuries after being struck by a white “box truck” towing a flatbed trailer, Nov. 30. WOODSIDE

Auto burglary report: After smashing the window of a vehicle parked along Old La Honda Road near the entrance to the bridal trail of the Thornewood Open Space Preserve, someone stole a bag from the floor containing $702 worth of goods, including a checkbook, prescription sunglasses, iPod headphones, makeup and the ignition key, Nov. 26. MENLO PARK Using a website posing as associated with the Internal Revenue Service, a resident of Elder Avenue obtained a phone number and subsequently provided access to $14,300 worth of prepaid cards to someone making a claim that the resident owed money to the IRS and was about to be arrested, Dec. 3. Auto burglary reports:

Support The Almanac’s print and online coverage of our community. Join today: 8NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNDecember 11, 2013

■ Someone smashed a window of a vehicle parked on Marsh Road at Bayfront Park and stole a purse containing a wallet, $50 in cash, makeup, and credit cards, a $154 loss, Nov. 29.

■ A knapsack containing $30 in cash and various cards is missing from the trunk of a vehicle parked on Coleman Place. It wasn’t clear how the thief managed to open the trunk, Dec. 4.

Theft reports:

■ A toolkit worth an estimated $900 that included a circular saw, drills, a flashlight with a charger and batteries, and screwdriver fittings is missing from a residence on Chester Street, Dec. 3.

■ Someone stole a $600 Apple iPad from an unlocked vehicle parked on Olive Street, Dec. 3.

■ An overnight bag containing clothing, makeup and a journal, with a total value of about $320, was stolen from an unlocked vehicle parked in the 2400 block of Sand Hill Road, Dec. 3.

■ An unlocked vehicle parked on Hermosa Way is missing an Apple iPhone, earbuds, a pair of sunglasses and $3 in cash, adding up to $198 in losses, Dec. 3.

■ Someone stole signs saying “No dogs allowed” from the front yard of a house on Paulsen Circle, Dec. 4.

■ A Shark-brand mop with a value of $131 and delivered to the front porch of a home on Hedge Road is missing, Dec. 4.

■ Someone stole a package from the front porch of a home on Gilbert Avenue, Dec. 3. Stolen vehicle report: Black Chevrolet Silverado on Terminal Avenue, Nov. 29.


Frances Tracy Schilling June 1, 1921 – November 26, 2013 Portola Valley, California

Photo by Joe Travers |

Menlo Park Councilman Peter Ohtaki (center) is introduced to Eamon O Cuiv, a member of the Irish parliament, by Galway City Mayor Padraig Conneely.

There and back again: Menlo Park’s Peter Ohtaki visits Ireland By Sandy Brundage

in 1863, it was named after the words on the gate. The trip included a visit to Menlo Castle and the unveiling of a plaque placed in Galway that commemorates the two men from Menlough who “then ventured halfway across the world when there was no transcontinental railroad, no Panama Canal” to move to California. According to Gerry Hanley, who has made the trek in modern times from Galway to Menlo Park and back again, an elderly man who attended the plaque ceremony said, “(I’ve been) around a long time and I have seen all the events, and today was the best day that there has been in Menlo during my years.” Mr. Ohtaki came bearing gifts — photos of Menlo Park’s gate as well as of the Oct. 18 ceremony when he and Galway’s mayor, Padraig Conneely, signed a friendship agreement between the two cities, and appeared to leave with some presents of his own, by way of inspiration. With a population of 75,500 — more than twice the size of Menlo Park — Galway has developed a similar economy that emphasizes high tech, medical devices and startups.

“What I didn’t quite expect was how vibrant Galway’s downtown was,” Mr. Ohtaki said during a presentation to the Menlo Park City Council on Dec. 3. The Irish city started revitalizing its downtown 19 years ago, in 1984, “something we can learn a little bit about.” The city brought in new apartment buildings and launched a series of summer arts festivals that closed off streets much like Menlo Park’s block parties. Eventually the changes led to the creation of a pedestrian-only zone within Galway’s downtown district, as pubs and retail sprang up. There’s a farmers’ market on weekends. “Of course, theirs has a 400-year-old cathedral behind it,” Mr. Ohtaki said. He also received gifts of a more earthy nature. “The people there are just so friendly, kind, hospitable. Ö I have to say I didn’t pay for a single pint of Guinness while I was there,” Mr. Ohtaki noted, with much gratitude. Mayor Conneely let him use an official car while there and managed to help provide a hotel room for free, while the Menlo Park councilman paid for the airfare himself.

Crash leaves driver critically injured

reportedly rear-ended the other vehicle before running into a tree. The 42-year-old driver of the white car, a Redwood City woman, was critically injured and taken to Stanford Hospital, police said. There were no other injuries.

Almanac Staff Writer


eter Ohtaki has had a lot of explaining to do lately, but not for the usual reasons, now that the former mayor (still councilman) has returned from a five-day trip to Galway, Ireland. Total cost to Menlo Park taxpayers? Exactly nothing. Mr. Ohtaki has shared the highlights of his itinerary with the City Council, the Chamber of Commerce, the Menlo Park Historical Association, the public at large, radio stations, and Irish as well as American newspapers. He may, in fact, have spent more time talking about his trip than he spent taking it. During the visit, which took place during the Thanksgiving weekend, Mr. Ohtaki stopped by the original Menlough gate, mounted next to a river within Galway. It inspired the local version, erected by Dennis Oliver and his brother-in-law, D.C. McGlynn, who came to the United States from the Menlo area in Galway, Ireland, during the 1850s and erected an arched gate here with the words “Menlo Park” on it. When a railroad stop opened nearby

A car accident that left one driver critically injured shut down a portion of Bay Road for several hours during the Nov. 3 morning commute. Bay Road reopened around 1 p.m., according to Menlo Park

police. The road had been closed in both directions between Marsh Road and Del Norte Avenue. Investigators confirmed that two cars were involved: A BMW and a white car that

F. Tracy Schilling, a longtime resident of Woodside, passed away peacefully at The Sequoias Portola Valley on November 26, 2013. She was 92. Tracy was born to Paul G. and Frances T. Pennoyer in New York City and attended the Greenvale School on Long Island before moving with her family to live in Paris in 1937. She returned to New York to graduate from The Spence School in 1939, and attended Barnard College prior to her marriage to August H. Schilling, of Woodside, in February of 1941. During the war, Tracy and Aug lived with their young family in both New York City and Washington DC. The growing family moved to Atherton in 1946 and then moved to Woodside in 1954 to the home where she would raise her children and live for almost 50 years. Tracy immersed herself in the local community, becoming active as a member of both the PTA and the Board of Trustees at Woodside Elementary School. She volunteered extensively at Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (aka Learning Ally). She was active in implementing the Woodside Library Garden, and enjoyed being a docent at Filoli. Tracy was a beloved member of Christ Church in Portola Valley for over 50 years and served on the altar guild there. Tracy became a member of the Woodside Atherton Garden Club in 1951, where she excelled in horticulture, flower arranging, and enjoyed mentoring new members. She involved herself in projects to improve her community, receiving numerous awards and accolades for her efforts. She went on to become a nationally respected horticulturist and judge, and received a prestigious achievement award in 1988 from The Garden Club of America. She will be remembered as a gentle force for good within her communities of Woodside and The Sequoias, where she embraced people with great generosity of spirit, unfailing kindness, and an eternally gracious presence. Tracy is survived by her brother Robert M. Pennoyer of New York, sister Jessie P. Snyder of Burlington, Vt., brother-in-law Mike Schilling (Dianne), her three daughters, Tracy, Jessie, and Sandra, 10 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren. She is predeceased by her husband and by her sons, Tony Schilling and Raly Schilling. The family wishes to recognize the extraordinary level of care given Tracy during her last days by the staff of the Health Center at The Sequoias Portola Valley, by the caregivers of Samaria Elderly Care of San Jose, California, and by the incredible team from Mission Hospice of San Mateo County. Memorial service plans are pending. In lieu of flowers, the family requests gifts to The Morgan Library and Museum (aka The Pierpont Morgan Library), 225 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, or the Tomorrow Fund at Sequoias Portola Valley. (Checks should be made payable to Senior Services of Northern California. Write “Tomorrow Fund Portola Valley” in memo line, and send to 1525 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94109.) PA I D



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Holiday Fund

How EHP changed a life

TOWN OF PORTOLA VALLEY PLANNING COMMISSIONER NEEDED The Town Council is seeking an individual to serve on the Town’s Planning Commission through January 2016. The Planning Commission consists of five members appointed by the Town Council, and meetings are held on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month. The Planning Commission’s role is to oversee the Town’s General Plan and to supervise land use in the Town. The commission provides recommendations to the Town Council on legislative actions such as amendments to the Zoning Code and the General Plan. In addition, the commission reviews and acts on certain types of applications, such as conditional use permits, subdivisions and variances as well as reviewing appeals of ASCC and administrative staff decisions. To apply, please submit a letter of interest to the Town Council by 5pm on Wednesday, December 11, 2013. The Town Council will conduct interviews at its regularly scheduled meeting on both January 8th and January 22, 2014. If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Karen Kristiansson, Deputy Town Planner, by email at kkristiansson@ or by phone at 650-851-1700 x212.


By Tunisha

The Almanac


eparated from my mother at the tender age of 4, I and my brothers were left behind in Panama and cared for by family and friends. All of my family members were living below poverty lines. In addition to our financial struggles, we also had to live through the invasion of Panama by the United States in 1989. This was a terrifying time for me and my family. I thought that this would be the end of my life. However, my family and I made it out alive. A year later, my brothers and I found out that we were going to the U.S. to meet our mother. I will never forget getting off the plane in San Francisco. It was definite culture shock. We arrived during the winter months and we did not have proper clothing. It was so cold. I remember strangers putting coats on our backs. I found out later that the kind strangers were individuals who worked for the Ecumenical Hunger Program. I also found out that they were responsible for applying for the grant that made it possible for us to relocate to the U.S. Throughout the years, EHP became our lifeline. They

Holiday Fund 2013

The Ecumencial Hunger Program is one of 10 community organizations that benefits from donations to the 2013 Holiday Fund.


assisted my mother in attaining a house through the housing program. They provided food, counseling, tutoring, and other resources. Every Christmas and Thanksgiving, EHP would supply food and gifts. They also provided clothing and school supplies for back-toschool needs. On a minimum wage parttime salary, there was no way we could have made it without EHP’s help. Sadly, my mother passed at the age of 46. Never forgetting my mother’s motto of the “sky is the limit,” I concentrated on my education, graduated from high school, attended college and eventually graduated with a master’s degree in social work

The ASCC is charged with the review and approval of design review applications and site development permits, including applications for new homes, second units, larger additions, second story additions, and commercial buildings. In addition, the ASCC provides comments on conditional use permits, subdivisions, variances and other matters referred by the Town Council, the Planning Commission, or Town Staff. To apply, please submit a letter of interest to the Town Council by 5pm on Wednesday, January 15, 2014. The Town Council will conduct interviews at its regularly scheduled meeting on January 22, 2014. If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Karen Kristiansson, Deputy Town Planner, by email at or by phone at 650-851-1700 x212.

Go to for more information on the Ecumenical Hunger Program, based at 2411 Pulgas Ave. in East Palo Alto. Call (650) 323-7781.

Hard times despite improving economy By Caitlin Kerk

The Portola Valley Town Council is seeking an individual to serve on the Town's Architectural and Site Control Commission (ASCC) through January 2017. The ASCC consists of five members appointed by the Town Council, and meetings are held on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month.

in May 2008. I will forever be thankful to EHP for all that they have done for my family. EHP was instrumental in giving me the hope and resources I needed to stay in school, to make something of my life, and finally to help others, which is what I get to do in my current position as a dean of Mount Vernon Academy, a private, Seventhday Adventist high school in Mount Vernon, Ohio. I thank EHP for always extending a helping hand, for their love and care toward me and my family, and for not giving up on us throughout the years. I cannot imagine where my family and I would be if not for EHP and its caring staff.

Second Harvest Food Bank


hile the economy may be improving, families like Amanda and Felipe’s are still struggling to put food on the table. The couple work hard, yet can’t make ends meet with the high cost of living in the Bay Area. They are not alone. Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties is continuing to see unprecedented need. “Now that the recession is over, many people think the need for food has gone down, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Kathy Jackson, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank. “The reality is more people need help from the Food Bank than ever before. It continues to be very hard times for the people we serve.” The number of people Second Harvest serves every month has grown to more than 250,000 children, seniors and families. That equates to one in 10 people in the two-county region.

10NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNDecember 11, 2013

The Almanac

Holiday Fund 2013

The Second Harvest Food Bank benefits from your donations to the Holiday Fund.

Amanda and Felipe were not able to afford the nutritious food their three young sons need to thrive at school and in life. But thanks to Second Harvest, they can now provide their children with fresh fruits and vegetables, and protein for their growing bodies. Second Harvest needs to raise $13.2 million and 2 million pounds of food during its Holiday Food and Fund Drive to ensure that no family goes hungry this holiday season and all year long. This is a critical campaign for the Food Bank, which raises nearly half its annual revenues during the holidays. To ensure that anyone who

needs a meal can get one, Second Harvest Food Bank partners with more than 330 nonprofit agencies to provide food at more than 770 sites, including pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters. Last year, Second Harvest distributed nearly 52 million pounds of food to the community — 1 million pounds every single week. More than half of the food it provides is fresh produce. You can help families like Amanda and Felipe’s by donating to Second Harvest’s Holiday Food and Fund Drive. Every dollar donated provides the equivalent of two nutritious meals. You can also host a food drive or drop off food at one of the many collection barrels located throughout the community. To donate, visit or call (866) 234-3663. If you need food, call Second Harvest’s Food Connection hotline at (800) 984-3663 to learn about food-assistance programs in your neighborhood. A

Give to The Almanac

Holiday Fund

Your gift helps children


ontributions to the Holiday Fund go directly to programs

that benefit Peninsula residents. Last

and families in need

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula

Second Harvest Food Bank

Provides after-school and academic support and activities for 1,750 at-risk K-12 youth at nine locations in Menlo Park and the North Fair Oaks neighborhood of Redwood City. Members attend at least twice a week during the academic year and receive essential tutoring, mentoring, and academic support.

The largest collector and distributor of food on the Peninsula, Second Harvest Food Bank distributed 52 million pounds of food last year. It gathers donations from individuals and businesses and distributes food to more than 250,000 people each month through more than 770 agencies and distribution sites in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

year, Almanac readers and founda-

Ecumenical Hunger Program

tions contributed $162,000 for the 10

Provides emergency food, clothing, household essentials, and sometimes financial assistance to families in need, regardless of religious preference, including Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for more than 2,000 households.†

agencies that feed the hungry, house the homeless and provide numerous other services to those in need. Contributions to the Holiday Fund will be matched, to the extent possible, by generous community corpo-

Project Read Provides free literacy services to adults in the Menlo Park area. Trained volunteers work one-on-one to help adults improve their basic reading, writing and English language skills so they can achieve their goals and function more effectively at home, at work and in the community. Volunteers also help students acquire basic keyboard and computer skills.

InnVision Shelter Network Provides shelter/housing and supportive services across 18 sites in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Peninsula. Serves thousands of homeless families and individuals annually on their path back to permanent housing and self-sufficiency.

StarVista Serves more than 32,000 people throughout San Mateo County, including children, young people, families with counseling, prevention, early intervention, education, and residential programs. StarVista also provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services including a 24-hour suicide crisis hotline, an alcohol and drug helpline, and a parent support hotline.

rations, foundations and individuals,

Ravenswood Family Health Center

including the Rotary Club of Menlo

Provides primary medical and preventive health care for all ages at its clinics in Belle Haven and East Palo Alto. It also operates a mobile clinic at school sites. Of the more than 17,000 registered patients, most are low-income and uninsured and live in the ethnically diverse East Palo Alto, Belle Haven, and North Fair Oaks areas.

Fair Oaks Community Center

vid and Lucile Packard Foundation.

St. Anthony’s Padua Dining Room

No administrative costs will be de-

Serves hundreds of hot meals six days a week to people in need who walk through the doors. Funded entirely by voluntary contributions, St. Anthony’s is the largest dining room for the needy between San Francisco and San Jose. It also offers emergency food and clothing assistance.

Teen Talk helps young people feel confident and supported to make informed decisions about their own sexual health through in-school programs, parent education, and training for youth program providers.

Park Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Da-

ducted from the gifts, which are taxdeductible as permitted by law.

Provides housing and food assistance, emergency shelter referral, legal services, a childcare program, older adult nutrition, and lowcost exercise programs for youth and adults.

Teen Talk Sexuality Education

All donations to the Holiday Fund will be shared equally among the 10 recipient agencies listed on this page.

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Holiday Fund 2013

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The organizations below provide major matching grants to the Holiday Fund.

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All donors and their gift amounts will be published in The Almanac unless the boxes below are checked.

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Rotary Club of Menlo Park

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation The David and Lucile Packard Foundation The Almanac will make every effort to publish donor names for donations received before Dec. 31, 2013, unless the donor checks the anonymous box. All donations will be acknowledged by mail.

Q In my name as shown above Q In the name of business above OR:

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_____________________________________________________________ (Name of person)

Please make checks payable to: Silicon Valley Community Foundation Send coupon and check, if applicable, to: The Almanac Holiday Fund c/o Silicon Valley Community Foundation 2440 West El Camino Real, Suite 300 Mountain View, CA 94040 The Almanac Holiday Fund is a donor advised fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization. A contribution to this fund allows your donation to be tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

December 11, 2013NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN11

N E W S N OBITUARI ES Obituaries are based on information provided by the family.

Douglas Meier Heller Insurance broker

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There will be a celebration of the life of Douglas Meier Heller at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22, at the Menlo Circus Club, 190 Park Lane in Atherton. Mr. Heller died Nov. 26 at his home in Atherton after a short battle with cancer. He was 82. Born in San Francisco, Mr. Heller attended the Town School and Webb School for high school. He graduated from Stanford University and received a master’s in business administration from Stanford after serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Mr. Heller was an insurance broker in San Francisco during his entire working career. He served on many boards and was

an avid supporter of the Jewish community, say family members. He was president of the Jewish Welfare Douglas Heller Federation, the Jewish Home of San Francisco, and of the Menlo Circus Club. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Mary Ehrlich Heller; children, Steven Heller, Scott Heller, and Sue Fenley; brother Robert D. Heller; and five grandchildren. A private memorial service was held at the Home of Peace in Colma. The family prefers donations to: The Jewish Community Foundation, 121 Steuart St., San Francisco, CA 94105; The Jewish Home of San Francisco, 302 Silver Ave., San Francisco, CA 94112; Peninsula Volunteers, 800 Middle Ave., Menlo Park, CA 94025; or a favorite charity.

Marie Dreyer Heritage House Tableware owner

Marie B. Breyer of Atherton died Dec. 1 at the age of 94. Born in Connecticut and raised in Evanston, Illinois, Ms. Breyer attended Hillsdale College and graduated from Barat College of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest, Illinois, with honors in English literature. While attending Hillsdale, she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She was an award-winning salesperson of the Easterling Company, makers of sterling silver flatware. She was the first woman in the U.S. to receive the star salesman award from the Sales and Marketing Executives Association in Chicago. She met Leo Dreyer while working in the business and moved to California with her young daughters, Ann and Molly. The couple married and had three more children: Michelle, Kevin and Lisa.

The Dreyers started their own business, Heritage House Tableware, in San Francisco in 1963, and raised their family in Atherton. Ms. Dreyer was active in the PTA, serving as president at Laurel and Encinal Schools. An excellent piano player, she loved music, singing, and ballroom dancing with her husband, say family members. The Dreyers traveled around the world, enjoyed family skiing, and spending time at their beach house in Capitola. They lived aboard their Sea Ray boat for extended vacations and were members of the Bay Area Sea Ray Boat Club. She is survived by her husband of almost 55 years, Leo Dreyer; children Ann Goodenough, Molly Horn-Farley, Michelle Takemoto, Lisa Dreyer and Kevin Dreyer; 11 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Services were held at the Church of the Nativity in Menlo Park with burial in Holy Cross Cemetery in Menlo Park.



541 Melville Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301 650-838-0508 The Most Reverend Robert S. Morse, Vicar The Reverend Matthew Weber, Assistant

Simply Christmas Get back to basics and Celebrate the true meaning of Christmas in a service of Scripture and Song! Tuesday, December 24th at 6:00 pm First Baptist Church • 1100 Middle Ave Menlo Park

(650) 323 8544 •


Christmas blessings from St. Bede’s Episcopal Church


Let us celebrate together! Christmas Eve — Tuesday, 12/24 4PM Children’s Christmas Pageant & Eucharist 8PM Festival Eucharist with Choir

Christmas Day — Wednesday, 12/25 9AM Holy Eucharist with Carols

CHRISTMAS WORSHIP SERVICES Family Worship Service & Reception Sunday, December 15, 9:30 a.m Christmas Eve Candlelight Service & Reception Tuesday, December 24, 10 p.m

Woodside Village Church 3154 Woodside Road, Woodside, CA


12NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNDecember 11, 2013

First Sunday after Christmas — 12/29 9AM Christmas Lessons & Carols and Eucharist Please join us after each service for coffee and cookies, with a special treat for children following the pageant.

St. Bede’s Episcopal Church 2650 Sand Hill Rd (at Monte Rosa), Menlo Park 650-854-6555


Portola Valley: Winter hours set for farmers’ market When the Portola Valley Town Council approved a year-long trial for a farmers’ market in July 2013, the weather was warm, but the council’s vision included an option for staff and market management to continue the market through the winter. That option has been taken. The market, which is open year-round, sets up as usual on Thursdays in the parking lot of the Historic Schoolhouse at 765 Portola Road, but earlier. In recognition of the shorter days, the market opens at 2 p.m. and closes at 5.


Holiday hours

Town Hall in Portola Valley will close for a nine-day holiday break at 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20. Town Hall will reopen for regular business at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 2. Meanwhile, the public library will close at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve and reopen at 11 a.m. on the following Thursdays: Dec. 26 and Jan. 2.

Want to get news briefs emailed to you every weekday? Sign up for Express, our new daily e-edition. Go to to sign up.


The Episcopal Parish of Portola Valley & Woodside

815 Portola Road, Portola Valley; tel. (650) 851-0224; <>

The West Coast construction business lost an icon with the Dec. 1 death of Woodside resident Milo S. Gates, known as Ned to his family and friends. Mr. Gates, who served as president and chairman of San Francisco-based Swinerton Builders, led in the construction of “dozens” of large-scale landmark buildings, including several towers in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Mr. Gates was 90. “Ned was what I call the perfect gentleman,” said Dave Grubb, the president of Swinerton while Mr. Gates was chairman. “He treated everyone so beautifully.” Mr. Gates grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and California. He attended the California Institute of Technology and graduated from Stanford University. He joined the Navy in 1944 and served on a submarine in the

N OB I TUA RY Obituaries are based on information provided by the family.

Sea of Japan on a mission to rescue downed Allied pilots. Mr. Gates returned to Stanford for an MBA in 1948, joined Swin- Milo S. Gates erton in 1955, and retired as chairman in 1996. Under his leadership, the company built major hotels in Honolulu, the office tower at 101 California St. in San Francisco, and the Modern Art and de Young museums in San Francisco. His pastimes included sailing, driving wooden motor boats, fly fishing and organizing family vacations “that measured up to

Holiday Services at Stanford Memorial Church Sunday, December 22, 2013 10:00 am University Public Worship 4:30 pm Catholic Mass Tuesday, December 24, 2013 4:00 pm Christmas Eve Family service (Doors open at 3:15 pm) Please bring new, unwrapped toys which will be given to needy children. The 4:00 pm service will be broadcast live on KZSU 90.1 FM and 8:00 pm Christmas Eve Festival Communion service (Doors open at 7:15 pm) Please note: Please arrive early for Christmas Eve services. Attendees must arrive together with their group. Saving seats will not be allowed.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013 12:00 am Catholic Christmas Eve Midnight Mass 12:00 pm Catholic Christmas Day Mass More info:

Memorial Church, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305, (650)723-1762

Celebrate Christmas With Us! Wherever you are in your journey, whether church is familiar or not, we welcome you to join us for one of our Christmas services. Whether you prefer a simpler children’s service or a more traditional one with the Church Choir, infused with a sense of the sacred that fills Christmas Eve night, we invite you.

Christmas Eve (All services will be about an hour) 4:00 pm 6:00 pm 9:30 pm 10:00 pm

Children’s Communion Service with Pageant Christmas Communion Service with the Festival Choir Carol Sing Christmas Communion Service with the Festival Choir

Christmas Day 10:00 am

Christmas Day Communion with Hymns

Trinity Church In Menlo Park, An Episcopal Community 330 Ravenswood Avenue, Menlo Park (Between El Camino and Middlefield) 650-326-2083

any skyscraper,” his relatives said. Mr. Gates belonged to the Bohemian and the Pacific Union clubs. He married twice — to Anne Phleger in 1950 and to Robin (Binnie) Templeton Quist in 1988, both Woodside residents. Ms. Phleger died in 1987. Together, the couples had nine children. Mr. Gates is survived by his wife Robin; daughters Elena Gates Motlow, Susan Gates Suman, Virginia Lewis and Anne Symington; son Milo Gates; three stepchildren; and 25 grandchildren. Services will be private. Donations in Mr. Gates’ name may be made to the California Academy of Sciences. Write to Janet Harris at or at 55 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco 94118. Go to to see the full family obituary on the Almanac’s Lasting Memories website.

Valley Presbyterian Church in the Redwoods 945 Portola Road, Portola Valley, CA 650-851-8282

Christmas Eve Worship 5:00 pm

Family Candlelight Service

10:00 pm

Candlelight Service Lessons & Carols

Peninsula Christmas Services

CHRISTMAS EVE: Children’s Pageant Eucharist at 3 p.m. Candlelit Eucharist with Choir at 5:30 p.m. CHRISTMAS DAY: Holy Eucharist with Carols at 10 a.m.

Milo Gates, president, Swinerton Builders

December 11, 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. the Viewpoint desk at 223-6507.

Pricey offsite meetings send wrong message


as it necessary for two city of Menlo Park executives to each event” in Napa Valley. And Mayor Peter Ohtaki, who just completed conduct offsite meetings in late October and early Novem- his one-year term in the mayor’s chair, said he hope future retreats are ber? Especially when adequate meeting rooms and overnight held in town. accommodations could have been found in the city for substantially Should taxpayers be worried that the city is spending far more than less than the $11,412 spent for a retreat conducted by City Manager necessary to wine and dine staff members at remote offsite retreats? Alex McIntyre for his managers at the Beach House in Half Moon Bay. Perhaps. Why should taxpayers underwrite mini-getaways for a meetThe second outing, by Community Services Manager Cherise Brandell, ing that just as easily could be held in town. The city manager said he was a daytrip for 13 staff members to the Yountville was unaware that 13 of the top Community Service Community Center near Napa at a cost of $2,200. staff members were away for the day at a Napa EDI TORI AL The group stopped at a winery on the way home but retreat, even after being questioned about it earlier at no-cost to the city, Ms. Brandell said. by an Almanac reporter. There are plenty of hotels The opinion of The Almanac Neither retreat violated city guidelines, but in the in the city where such events could be held, and by eyes of one member of the city council, now-Mayor doing so the city would be keeping its money in the Ray Mueller, the offsite junkets could send a message that the city is community by “shopping locally.” not striving to get the most out of every taxpayer-dollar. Mr. Mueller None of this is to say that offsite retreats should be ruled out forever, ultimately agreed that while he was concerned about the cost of the but before planning a remote meeting, the city’s managers should give Half Moon Bay trip, he said “it does appear that quite a bit was accom- serious thought to appearances and the fallout that might be generplished.” But he felt there “Ö was a lack of judgment in organizing the ated.

City can do better than deal struck with managers


nless the City Council balks at its Dec. 10 meeting, it appears higher paying jobs elsewhere should be discounted, as there are plenty that Menlo Park will sign off on a deal with 34 middle managers of qualified applicants more than willing to work for $100,000 or more for a 4.5 percent pay increase and a jump in health benefits of a year. $60 to $250 a month. Total cost of the package would be $260,000, or Another area that needs more attention is the proposed changes in an average of $7,647 for each employee over the life of the contract, set the grievance and disciplinary appeal process, similar to those agreed to expire in June 2015. to earlier this year for public safety employees. Our The managers annual pay ranges from $53,461 to concern is that in binding arbitration of disciplinary EDI TORI AL $112,511, levels that the city says is necessary to keep appeals, an arbitrator will order reinstatement of a up with rates paid by nearby cities. As a result, there fired employee about 50 percent of the time, accordThe opinion of The Almanac appears to have been little push-back over wages and ing to evidence published by the Almanac last year. benefits given to the managers, who are represented This happened here when a veteran Menlo Park by the American Federation of State, City and Municipal Employees. police officer was let go after being caught naked with a prostitute while We believe there is room to improve this deal in the city’s favor, with a on duty, but was reinstated with back pay by an out-of- town arbitrator. goal of limiting the package cost to less than $200,000 over the contract This policy takes control away from city managers, who are much more period. Although Menlo Park is seeing some revenue increases from a qualified to decide on an employee’s discipline, than an arbitrator who rebound in the local economy, these managers already receive gener- likely has no knowledge of city affairs. ous salaries and benefits. And any worries about people leaving for

L ET TERS Our readers write

Airplane noise a fact of life here Editor: OK, so Surf Air approaches San Carlos on a flight path that goes over part of Atherton. Maybe the FAA and Surf Air can change the approach. Maybe not. I have seen and heard their aircraft numerous times. Yes, they are louder than most of the single-engine aircraft that use San Carlos, but where do the residents of Atherton think they live? This is a metropolitan area folks. Things grow, they expand, they change. I live in University Heights and my house is pretty much under one of the approaches to SFO. Large commercial jets come over all the time. I clocked Continued on next page

14NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNDecember 11, 2013

Portola Valley Archives/Earl Brabb collection

Our Regional Heritage in 1967 This massive slide on Vista Verde in Portola Valley shows the damage an earthquake can do in unstable territory. There are eight people and a dog in the photo. Can you find them?


State housing rules cripple local cities By Henry Riggs

as re-zoning for high-density housing according to assigned First of two parts quotas (a Housing Element). here is a “new order” The laws have been passed; coming to our cities and Palo Alto must accommodate towns. Not the evolu- about 3,000 additional condos tionary changes that time inev- in the next six years, Menlo itably brings, but changes that Park about 2,000, and so on. Mark Luce, president of well- respected, well-meaning ABAG — the government organizations arranged in Sacauthors of the plan ramento to force on — says this is only our towns while we our “fair share” of are busy with the rest dense housing. I don’t of life. recall having a share, This “One Bay but I do know that an Area” plan — quite existing single-family like China’s famous house in a quiet area state planning — is of Union City, 20 forcing square pegs GUEST minutes across the into round holes for OPINION Dumbarton bridge, a supposedly better is about one-third lifestyle in townhousthe cost of a similar es and condominiums all along El Camino Real from Daly Menlo Park home, even if built City to San Jose. The related in tenement blocks. And sorry “Grand Boulevard Plan” seeks if this isn’t politically correct. to restrict cars to two lanes on There is no “right” to live in El Camino so Parisian cafes Palo Alto or Atherton instead can dot the sidewalks for all of Union City. Indeed, that 52 miles (honest, Parisian city and Fremont both told cafes). According to a Menlo local leaders that they would Park traffic study, displaced welcome new housing projects. auto traffic will just move to If market forces put housing Middlefield and the Alameda there, can we rationally build de las Pulgas. Does that make it here? Many of us support the sense to anyone? A little background: this concept of dense housing as plan took many years to sell. an option for downsizing, a First the respected Sierra Club, walkable lifestyle, more active wielding clout as our his- surroundings, but having dentoric defender of wildlife and sity forced on us by central nature, persuaded Sacramento planners risks the attractive that people should be urged qualities of our towns that to give up cars so nature can makes our homes valuable. City attorneys are telling all flourish, then argued the state the city councils that they must must tell cities and towns it will withhold road repair abide by state law. OK, but how funding if they don’t at least did 21 cities and towns sit by support this plan; and final- and let such regulations be ly, they defined “support” passed? Perhaps they did not


L ET T ER S Our readers write

Continued from previous page

the passage of one this evening and it takes about 45 seconds to go from barely audible to barely audible with about 25 seconds being quite loud. I don’t have a decibel meter but my own feeling is that the noise level is about the same as a Surf Air flight. The Almanac’s article I quote says, “Others spoke of not being

understand the consequences, but is that the end of it? There is a jobs/housing issue in the region —- but it’s not an “imbalance” and it’s not a quota issue. It’s about connections. It’s a transportation issue, and it’s not getting half the attention it should. I agree with one principle of this supposed plan — it’s time for Bay Area cities and towns to act together. But far from rubber-stamping this disaster, they need to conference-call Sacramento and terminate the force-feeding of high densityhousing on the Peninsula. Councils of the peninsula, its time to move this discussion to making our transportation work. Henry Riggs is a member of the Menlo Park Planning Commission

able to be outside their homes because of the noise.” Huh? It’s not like the PC-12s are lined up from here to Santa Barbara. I realize we are talking Atherton, where the residents can’t have double yellow lines on their roads. Maybe I am more tolerant than others. I have gotten used to the commercial jets (I kind of like them), and I would hope that, over time, Surf Air would become white noise. Steve Wallace Sterling Avenue Menlo Park

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2013 12 11 alm section1  
2013 12 11 alm section1