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New on the market! 3-bedroom, 2-bath home located in desirable Sharon Heights Kristin Cashin CalBRE 01438764 650 399 0500



5-bedroom, 2.5-bath spacious home close to the Atherton border Carolyn Rianda CalBRE 01501805 650 400 8361


Views, amenities, and luxury. Las Lomitas School District Kristin Cashin CalBRE 01438764 650 399 0500



Midtown 3-bedroom, 2-bath, 1,312 square feet, 7,700 square-foot lot Gary McKae CalBRE 01452438 650 743 7249

Oliver Luxury Real Estate welcomes KRISTIN GRAY as our newest sales associate


ristin Gray is a native Californian raised in Atherton. She attended Hillview Middle School in Menlo Park and Menlo School in Atherton. Kristin received her bachelor’s degree from the London School of Economics and her MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. An entrepreneur with a broad range of business

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and civic accomplishments, Kristin brings a unique combination of experience to her clients. She loves building and maintaining lifelong relationships and finding the perfect home for her clients. Kristin is also a member of the Junior League and Cantor Arts Center and volunteers weekly at Citizen Schools.



by Monica Corman

Selling “Off-Market” Dear Monica: I plan to put my house on the market in March and I am deciding whether to market it publicly using the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), or having my realtor market it privately to other agents she knows. What would you advise? Karen M. Dear Karen: We are currently in one of the tightest markets there has been in the past many years and I see no reason not to openly market your property to everyone rather than to a closed circle of agents. You have no idea how many potential buyers are looking for your kind of property and the only way to find out is to expose it to as many people as possible. Buyers for Silicon Valley properties are local, national and international and you don’t know where your buyer will come from. A recent experience of mine can illustrate this point.

Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac

I listed a property in Palo Alto during the holidays, mainly because I was starting to get calls about it from agents who knew it was coming on the market in January, so I decided to let everyone know. I had so many calls and requests for information and at least half of the calls were from agents and buyers who were not in the immediate area of the property. The only way they knew that the property was for sale was because it was listed on MLS and repeated on numerous other websites. The property sold with multiple offers well above the list price and the seller was very satisfied. I have seen this set of facts repeated on other sales in the past few weeks. My advice is to expose your property as widely as possible. This will confirm the true market value for the property.

For answers to any questions you may have on real estate, you may e-mail me at or call 462-1111, Alain Pinel Realtors. I also offer a free market analysis of your property.

Flegel’s Home Furnishings is observing its 60th anniversary in Menlo Park this year.

Flegel’s named small business of the year in Senate district Flegel’s Home Furnishings, which is observing its 60th anniversary in Menlo Park this year, has been named Small Business of the Year in state Senator Jerry Hill’s 13th Senatorial District. The award is given in recognition of Flegel’s commitment to community service and business ethics, according to Sen. Hill’s office. “I was totally blown away,” said Mark Flegel, president and owner of Flegel’s Home Furnishings, when he heard the news. Sen. Hill’s proclamation says that Mark Flegel and Flegel’s have long supported such community organizations as the Rotary Club of Menlo Park,

Music@Menlo, Peninsula Volunteers, Peninsula College Fund, Fraternite Notre Dame, and Vintage Affair. Mr. Flegel was recognized for giving generously of his time and energy as chair of the Rotary District’s Mark Flegel 5150’s Scholarship and Youth Exchange programs, as a director of the San Francisco Fleet Week Association, and as vice president of the San Francisco Navy League Council. He has served as a Menlo College trustee, a C.S. Lewis Founda-

tion trustee, a Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce board member, and as a member of several city of Menlo Park committees. Mark’s father Arthur, who will turn 97 in August, opened the original Flegel’s 60 years ago — in January 1954 — in a 5,000square-foot store in downtown Menlo Park where Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria is today at 880 Santa Cruz Ave. Four years later Flegel’s moved next door to its current location at 870 Santa Cruz Ave., a 24,000-square-foot showroom. Mark Flegel said he plans to hold a 60th anniversary celebration for Flegel’s Home Furnishings in May or June.

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Residents invited to crime-prevention session Property crime in Ladera, Portola Valley and Woodside — the trends, how to discourage burglaries and thefts, and how to improve community safety — are the topics for a 90-minute informational session set for

6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12, in the Portola Valley Community Hall at Town Center, 765 Portola Road. Sheriff Greg Munks invites residents to meet their neighbors and learn how to mini-

mize becoming a victim of crime. Representatives from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office will be on hand to talk about these issues and take questions from residents.


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

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No charges in crash that hurt 6-year-old twins ■ Driver’s license suspended, but it’s unclear whether it was voluntary or by DMV

By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


dward Nelson, the 90-yearold driver whose SUV jumped a curb and pinned 6-year-old twin boys against a wall in downtown Menlo Park, will not be charged with an infraction for driving on the sidewalk. The Oct. 17 crash broke one twin’s arm and left the other boy in critical condition; he was released from Stanford Hospital following a five-week stay and multiple surgeries. The Cadigan family filed a lawsuit against Mr. Nelson seeking punitive as well as general damages for injuries ranging from multiple, extensive skin grafts and lower-body damage; orthopedic and soft-tissue damage to the upper body; and emotional trauma. Under California criminal law, the infraction was the only possible charge, and the evidence didn’t support filing it, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, because nothing indicated that

Mr. Nelson intentionally hit the boys. “There has to be an intentional, or a ‘malicious’ act, which is probably a better way to look at it,” Deputy District Attorney Sean Gallagher said. “There has to be volitional conduct. If you run a stop sign, you are volitionally not bringing the wheels to a complete stop. In this case, he believed he was doing one thing, and was mistaken. He was trying to hit the brake, and hit the gas instead.” Mr. Nelson’s physical condition — some witnesses of the crash reported that he needed a walker to exit his BMW — wasn’t a factor. “They determined at the scene that he wasn’t under the influence. There was nothing obvious to indicate that he was incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle that day,” Mr. Gallagher told the Almanac. The driver, however, is no longer behind the wheel. His license has been suspended, according to the D.A.’s office, but it’s unclear whether Mr.

Public urged to step up water conservation By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor


s state, regional and local water agencies step up efforts to encourage water conservation in the wake of the governor’s declaration of a drought-related state of emergency, local homeowners might consider heading for the hardware store. Gov. Jerry Brown’s declaration of a state of emergency is in response to the state’s “record dry conditions, with 2014 projected to become the driest year on record,” according to the proclamation he issued on Jan. 17. The action requires state agencies to launch a campaign calling on Californians to reduce their water usage by 20 percent. Customers served by California Water Service Co. (Cal Water), including residents of Atherton, parts of Menlo Park,

Portola Valley and Woodside, have already cut back on water usage by 20 percent since 2007, said Tony Carrasco, the agency’s district manager. But, he said in a press release issued after the governor’s declaration, “We encourage customers to keep up the good work, and take advantage of all of the conservation programs we offer.” One program that company and other local agencies sponsor offers rebates to replace waterinefficient fixtures and appliances, and for replacing lawns with water-efficient landscaping. Although concerned about current conditions and the potential for the drought to extend into the next rainfall season, water officials in the Bay Area haven’t pushed the panic button yet. That’s because much of the region gets its water from the Hetch

Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac

The scene of the October accident where a BMW SUV jumped a curb, trapping 6-year-old twins against a wall next to Walgreens on Santa Cruz Avenue in downtown Menlo Park.

Nelson voluntarily surrendered it or the Department of Motor Vehicles took it away. He had no prior suspensions or history of reckless driving. “Tragically, these incidents are what brings home to a lot of

elderly drivers that maybe they shouldn’t be driving,” Mr. Gallagher said. Had someone died as a result of the crash, the driver would likely have faced a vehicular manslaughter charge, which

doesn’t require intentional conduct. “We can all agree it was an accident, but the law says if someone dies, we’re going to See CAR CRASH, page 8

Report: Few complaints against officers By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


score of 0.066 percent on an exam would usually equal one big red “F” and a possible reconsideration of majors. As for officials of the Menlo Park Police Department, however, that’s the kind of score they want to see. Out of 41,983 contacts made by police officers in 2013, only 28 generated complaints from citizens, according to a police report. Two additional complaints were made against non-sworn professional staff providing walk-in service. Zero percent would be even better, according to Chief Bob Jonsen, who committed last year to providing the public with an annual report indicating the number of complaints and outcomes in the wake of the Almanac’s investigative report on the non-transparency of police discipline.

Prior to the chief’s decision, Menlo Park refused to release even the bare minimum of information allowed under the law. In 2013, eight complaints were filed for discourtesy or rude behavior — the most common situation — displayed by an officer. Out of a total of 30 complaints, five were sustained, officers were exonerated in 11 cases, two complaints were ruled unfounded, and four are still under investigation. Twenty percent were withdrawn before an investigation was completed. “Sustained” indicates that the police department’s internal investigation found evidence that the complaint was founded, according to Chief Jonsen. An officer is determined to be “exonerated” when there’s proof that the officer’s actions

followed the department’s policies; that evidence often arises from the audio and video recorders that on-duty officers now wear. An “unfounded” ruling signals that the actions alleged in the complaint either didn’t happen or didn’t involve Menlo Park personnel, the report said. State law prohibits the release of any information that would identify the officers involved, but Chief Jonsen provided some further insight into the sustained complaints. Two of the five sustained complaints — both for neglecting to carry out an assignment — await completion of the final report, so no further details are available yet other than the determination that they were sustained. Chief Jonsen told the Almanac that See OFFICER COMPLAINTS, page 8

Continued on page 8

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Menlo Park man doesn’t show up for sentencing A 50-year-old Menlo Park man convicted of multiple counts of felony child molestation didn’t show up for sentencing on Jan. 24, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office. In November, Horacio Carlos Teran was found guilty of three counts of felony molestation, and acquitted of two counts, according to court records, after two previous trials ended in jury deadlock or mistrial. Mr. Teran was arrested in 2010 after a 10-year-old neighbor alleged that the man had fondled him during games of tag in the defendant’s backyard, the district attorney’s office said. His defense attorney told the court on Jan. 24 that Mr. Teran’s wife had reported him as a missing person. Judge Robert Foiles issued a warrant for his arrest. Mr. Teran posted $300,000 bail on Nov. 27 and was released from custody after another judge denied the prosecutor’s request for “no bail” status.


a.m. to 2 p.m. to winnow overstocked titles, with prices starting at $1. No children’s books will be available. The sale takes place at the main branch of the library at 800 Alma St. If you miss the sale, the Friends Bookstore located inside the library is restocked daily with all types of books; proceeds benefit the Menlo Park and Belle Haven libraries.

Arts grants Applications are now open for the Menlo Park Grant for the Arts. Five community groups will be awarded $500 to $1,000 each to subsidize the rental cost of the Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center, offering an opportunity to hold a performance in a professional-grade theater, according to the city. Applications will be accepted until March 12. Grants expire one year after they are awarded. Contact the Community Services Department at 3300-2223 or visit the city’s website at for more information.

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Deli Department Try these delicious cheeses: Imported Dutch Parrano ...................................... $17.89 lb. and Imported Romano........................................ $15.49 lb.

The Friends of the Menlo Park Library are holding a used book sale on Saturday, Feb. 1, from 10

A five-year analysis shows that between 5 percent and 10 percent of roofs in Portola Valley and Woodside are made of combustible wood shakes, according to a staff report. Because shakes are so vulnerable to wildfire, should they be banned in the interest of fire safety in these forested towns? Both town councils will discuss a ban on new shake roofs and major renewals to existing shake roofs with the Woodside Fire Protection District fire

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VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE The component of an eyeglass frame known as the “bridge” connects the two lenses and supports the glasses on the nose. Because this centrally positioned part distributes 90 percent of the weight of the glasses, it plays a big role in determining the comfort and fit of the frames. A saddle bridge, which is molded into the frame, is best suited for heavier glasses because it spreads weight along the sides and top of the nose. A keyhole bridge eliminates pressure on top of the nose by distributing weight along the sides. Adjustable

marshal at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, in the Community Hall at 765 Portola Road in Portola Valley. Town staff have invited roofers and insurance representatives to contribute to the discussion. An ignition-resistant slate roof costs an average of about $10,000 more than a wood shake roof, the report says. Fire Marshal Denise Enea will be available to discuss results in other communities that have banned wood shake roofs. The public is invited. nose pads afford the greatest flexibility and comfort. They are often fitted with silicon pads that can grip the sides of the nose to prevent slippage. Eyeglasses are a customized product. The shape of eyeglass frames, the style of the bridge, and how the frame sits on your face can affect how you see. Bring your eyewear prescription to MENLO OPTICAL at 1166 University Drive. Because we are locally owned, we emphasize individualized attention and quality products. We can help you select the right frames for you and also ensure that they fit properly on the bridge of your nose. Please call us at 3223900 if you have any questions. P.S. Sorry to say, this will be our last article. Although we are still in business and doing great, we are taking a break from writing this article. Thanks to all who have read and hopefully learned a few things about eye care. Thank you for your support and patronage. 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.


As traffic mounts, concerns grow about safety By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor


s local schools struggle to accommodate larger numbers of students than their campuses were designed for, roadways around those schools strain with high-volume traffic that the roads, too, weren’t built for. It’s a recipe for long-idling cars, nervous or frightened kids on bikes, and sometimes perilous maneuvers by impatient drivers. And in some cases, for road rage. Officials in the Menlo Park City School District are working with other public agencies, including the county, the towns of Menlo Park and Atherton, and their police departments, to address growing concern over the ability of children to get to and from school safely. Two recent community meetings — one at Hillview Middle School focusing on routes to that school and Oak Knoll in Menlo Park, the other at Encinal to talk about safe routes to that school and Laurel, both in Atherton — drew parent comments ranging from descriptions of daily commute headaches to suggestions about how to reduce the problems and increase safety. Ahmad Sheikholeslami, the district’s facilities and operations director, told parents attending the Jan. 23 meeting at Encinal that the district and other public agencies “want to hear your concerns and ideas, and go back to our respective agencies� to devise plans to improve conditions at each school.

Michelle Le/The Almanac

Crossing guard Sammy Williams stops traffic for a pedestrian in front of Encinal School after school last week. The after-school traffic congestion often creates gridlock on Encinal Avenue and Middlefield Road.

Encinal has perhaps the most problematic traffic congestion of all four of the district’s schools: Its driveways are off the narrow Encinal Avenue in

Encinal has perhaps the most problematic traffic congestion of all four of the district’s schools. Atherton, just west of Middlefield Road, a main thoroughfare that takes traffic from U.S. 101 and carries heavy traffic during commute hours. Parents at

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Pacific Mambo wins Grammy The Pacific Mambo Orchestra, co-founded by Christian Tumalan, a piano teacher at Woodland School in Portola Valley, won a Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Band for its self-titled debut album. The awards were announced Sunday. PMO’s competition for the

Grammy was steep: They were up against past winners such as Carlos Vives and Marc Anthony. “The four other nominees are really heavyweights in the industry,� Mr. Tumalan said before the awards were announced. Go to to see an earlier story in the Almanac.


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after the meeting that, although his officers patrol areas around the schools every day, solutions must involve more than citations. “We need to look at the three ‘E’s’ — enforcement, education and engineering,� he said. “We give out a lot of warnings, and sometimes we write citations, ... but all three (E’s) need to be in play when you try to deal with this issue.� Mr. Sheikholeslami said after the meeting that with all agencies working to find solutions, he believes safety getting to and from the schools will improve, but it won’t be all at once. “There’s no one answer,� he said. “It’s about finding small solutions to add up to solve the bigger problem.� The district and others working on safety issues plan to discuss ideas from the two community meetings and other issues they’ve been studying over a longer period “to decide where to put our efforts next,� he said.

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the Jan. 23 meeting noted that during morning drop-off and afternoon pickup times, traffic can back up on Middlefield all the way to Marsh Road. Encinal School traffic â&#x20AC;&#x153;creates a gridlock, and that creates road rage,â&#x20AC;? one parent said. Road rage was mentioned several times during the meeting; parents described the danger to kids on bikes and on foot when angry drivers pass around the queues of vehicles waiting to turn into the school parking lots, and driving onto the shoulders and bike lane. Among those speaking at the meeting was Nikki Nagaya, a senior transportation engineer

for the city of Menlo Park, who oversees the Safe Routes to Schools program, and Susannah Hill, the school districtâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s traffic safety coordinator. Because Menlo Park is the lead agency of the Safe Routes program involving several jurisdictions, including Atherton, her department seeks and administers grants for projects such as bike lanes, signs and lighted crosswalks along designated routes to schools. Diana Shu, the countyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s road operations manager, was also there to address concerns and hear ideas about solutions to problems involving safety along Laurel School routes; some of the streets in that area are in unincorporated territory, including Coleman Avenue, which parents said is a dangerous road to walk and bicycle because of cars parked along the sides. Atherton Police Chief Ed Flint has also been involved in trying to improve safety along school routes, and told the Almanac

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Public urged to step up water conservation continued from page 5

Hetchy water system, administered by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), “which is better off than other (water sources) in the state,” said Nicole Sandkulla, chief executive officer of BAWSCA — the Bay Area Water Supply & Conservation Agency, which represents 24 cities and water districts in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda counties. Ms. Sandkulla said she and other local water officials are waiting for the SFPUC’s notification, expected on Feb. 1, about whether there’s a need for water rationing. Meanwhile, she said, “we all support the governor’s call for a 20 percent reduction in water usage.” BAWSCA, Cal Water and the city of Menlo Park, which has its own water department that serves portions of the city, offer conservation tips on their websites and information about how to apply for rebates. Tips include replacement of shower heads and toilets for water efficiency, use of aerators on faucets, and installation of water-efficient automatic irrigation systems. Both Cal Water and city of Menlo Park customers are eligible for lawn-replacement rebates, but those projects must be pre-approved and must meet specific requirements, said Ms. Sandkulla of BAWSCA, which co-sponsors some of the rebate programs with local agencies. Menlo Park Public Works Director Chip Taylor said that

CAR CRASH continued from page 5

hold someone responsible for the death,” Mr. Gallagher noted. “We don’t have an equivalent for injuries inflicted in an accident.” Criminal law, he said, does not address every tragedy that happens. “It’s a classic civil tort.” The family’s lawsuit against Mr. Nelson, however, ran into a similar setback on the civil front when a judge ruled on Jan. 23 to dismiss the family’s request for punitive damages because “there are insufficient allegations to show that defendant acted intentionally to harm the plaintiffs, or that he engaged in despicable conduct with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others.” Judge Joseph Bergeron did, however, grant the plaintiffs’

in addition to offering rebates and water-conservation education to the community, the city is looking for ways to reduce its own water usage in parks and landscaping in public spaces. Work crews are checking the city’s irrigation system for leaks. The city is sending letters to restaurants encouraging them not to offer water unless customers ask for it, and is planning to talk to some of its largest water users to see if there are ways the city can help them reduce their use, he said. Atherton is also closely monitoring irrigation systems for leaks, and looking for ways to make adjustments for optimal efficiency, according to Steve Tyler, the town’s public works supervisor. The department waters the town’s landscaping between sunset and sunrise whenever possible to minimize evaporation, and replaces old or dead trees and shrubs with drought-resistant native plants, he said.

Information For water conservation tips and information about rebates for replacing fixtures, appliances and landscaping, go to: ■ The conservation link at ■ Click on Environmental Program in the City Department link. ■ Click on Water Conservation Programs at the bottom of the page. Sandy Brundage and Dave Boyce contributed to this report. request to amend their complaint. That leaves open the possibility that they will submit further evidence to support their contention that the driver “was aware of the probable dangerous consequences of his driving, and that he failed to take action to avoid such consequences” with conscious disregard for the safety of others, according to the family’s attorneys. The initial response filed by Mr. Nelson’s legal team denied his responsibility for the resulting injuries, claiming the children were engaged in behavior that was reckless, careless and negligent. Mr. Nelson did not respond to a request for comment. A Woodside resident at the time of the crash, he graduated from Stanford Law School and was licensed to practice law from 1957 to 2001, according to the California State Bar. A

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Courtesy Kimberly Guthrie

In the cast, from left, are Matthew Bates of Menlo Park, Jessie Guthrie of Atherton, Hannah Lambing of Burlingame, Miles Fowler of Redwood City, Teagan Nibbi of Woodside and Nicole Crisci of Hillsborough.

Menlo School stages ‘Our Town’ The Menlo School Drama Department will present Thornton Wilder���s 1938 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Our Town,” Feb. 6-9 in the Florence Moore Auditorium on the Menlo School campus, 50 Valparaiso Ave. in Atherton.

There will be four performances: at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 6-8, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9. The play “whispers to us the urgent necessity of living in the here and now — which is all anyone, anywhere, be it Grover’s

Two women sentenced to prison for embezzling Two former mosquito district employees convicted of embezzling more than $450,000 from the district were sentenced to state prison Friday. Jo Ann Dearman, 62, a former financial director of the San Mateo County Mosquito and Vector Control District, was sentenced to eight years in prison and ordered by Judge Jonathan Karesh to pay $502,000 to the district and a $997,000 fine,

District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. Her bookkeeping assistant, Vika Sinipata, 37, was sentenced to four years in state prison and must pay $259,000 in restitution. Ms. Dearman, who also goes by the alias Joanne Seeney, pleaded no contest in April to 10 felonies in exchange for receiving a sentence of no more than 11 years in prison.


a verbal statement to a member of the public that did not meet the standards of service expected by the department and its members. ■ Employee engaged in conduct in violation of the department’s policy manual by engaging in an activity while not utilizing proper safety precautions while driving a city vehicle.

continued from page 5

the remaining three include two complaints of rude conduct and one driving violation. In those instances, the report concluded: ■ Employee engaged in conduct in violation of the department’s policy manual by making a verbal statement to a member of the public that did not meet the standards of service expected by the department and its members. ■ Employee engaged in conduct in violation of the department’s policy manual by making

Crime report

The annual report also included statistics for 2013, with Menlo Park showing a 3 percent overall rise in crime incidents reported. While robberies dropped by

Corners or the Bay Area, really ever has,” says Menlo’s new drama director, Steven Minning. The production’s contemporary staging reflects this theme. Go to for tickets at $5 for students and $8 for adults. Ms. Sinipata pleaded no contest in February to 12 felony charges. The two women embezzled the funds between 2009 and 2011 by giving themselves extra pay, higher pay rates, and fraudulent time off, Mr. Wagstaffe said. They also transferred funds into their personal bank accounts and used district credit cards for personal purchases. Ms. Dearman’s attorney Geoff Carr presented a personal check from her to the court in December for $200,000 to partially cover the anticipated restitution. 22 percent, more people were the victims of aggravated assault, with a 23 percent increase from 2012. The report states that no homicides occurred last year. Property crimes also contributed to the increase. Burglaries rose by 9 percent, and the number of larcenies and car thefts stayed steady at 434 and 28 occurrences, respectively, for 2013. During the past year the police department has expanded its use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter to encourage residents to lock their homes and cars and to keep personal items out of view. A


Sequoia district officials prepare to face the music High school district may ask voters to approve $225 million bond measure for new facilities. ■

By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


igh school cafeteria. The words go together like pepperoni pizza or grilled cheese sandwich. And yet in the four comprehensive schools in the Sequoia Union High School District, including Menlo-Atherton and Woodside, there are no cafeterias. Students can get warmed-up meals delivered from the district’s kitchen in Redwood City, but they eat them in multi-use rooms or classrooms or outside — except when it rains. Maybe designating a place for eating is not a priority at these Silicon Valley institutions of learning. Cafeterias were not among the projects recommended in a tentative $225 million capital-spending package. Facing projections of a surge in enrollment of at least 22 percent by the 2020-21 school year, the Sequoia board on Jan. 22 discussed a report, four months in the making, that sketched out plans to increase physical capacity at each campus. A poll is underway to gauge voter support for a tax increase. The $225 million figure and the restructuring it would pay for are the work of a task force of district volunteers who have been meeting bi-weekly since September. With the district saying that capital reserves are under $9 million, the board is considering putting a bond measure before the voters, either in November or in June — preferred, board members said, because turnout tends to be lower. Over the next six years, M-A’s enrollment is expected to grow by as much as 600 students, and Woodside’s by as much as 400. In community meetings in 2013, district officials discussed two-story classrooms, two new schools for 300 to 400 students

each, and student redistribution — an idea that went nowhere as parents argued that intact middle-school cohorts were more important than smaller student bodies. M-A will include all of the Las Lomitas, Menlo Park City and Ravenswood City elementary districts. If district voters were to approve a $225 million bond measure, about $84 million would go to facilities at existing comprehensive high schools. M-A would get $29 million to add 17 regular classrooms and two classrooms for science, one for chemistry and two for performing arts or career technical education. Woodside would get $9 million to do the same, but with 10 regular classrooms and one each of the others. Many one-story classrooms would gain a story. There would be more bathrooms, more locker rooms, more food-service areas, and larger facilities for administrative, counseling and students services. The two small schools — to ease enrollment pressure on the main campuses — are projected to cost $62.4 million for land and construction. Another $12.6 million would build new gyms at the East Palo Alto Academy and Redwood High School, a “continuation school” that gives students at risk of not completing their coursework another chance at a diploma. Another $66.4 million would go to other expenses, including a five-year maintenance program, classroom furniture, technology upgrades and energy efficiency projects. On Feb. 12, the board will consider a report analyzing what size bond measure voters might support. One proposal exceeds $225 million, said Sarah SternBenoit, a partner at TBWB Strategies, a San Francisco con-

sulting firm specializing in “public finance ballot measures (that support) programs, services and facilities.” If the board opts for the election on June 3, it leaves just weeks — until March 7 — to come up with the crucial 75-word ballot statement and deliver a resolution to the San Mateo County Elections Office. A campaign would follow. A balancing act

Board member Chris Thomsen had questions. Was $225 million a top-down calculation in which projects were fitted within a predetermined number? Or was it bottom-up, derived by cataloging the needs of each campus? Would the construction simply accommodate more students or also create better learning spaces? What if cost projections for the

new schools are low and lead to underfunding other elements of the program? “I’d like to have the confidence that $225 (million) is enough for what we want to do,” Mr. Thomsen said. The report could have presented a $430 million program, said Enrique Navas, the district’s chief financial officer. “We can keep on going, but I think that the true test is what comes back from our polling,” he said. A Santa Clara County high school district is spending $30 million on a student union, he said. “(Are cafeterias) something we should provide for our students? I would argue ‘Yes.’” “What (Mr. Thomsen) is talking about, that’s what’s going to make this exciting to our community,” said board member Carrie DuBois. “Asking the community for

money is a balancing act,” said member Olivia Martinez, a veteran of at least four Sequoia district bond campaigns. The board, she said, should start talking about the district’s past fiscal prudence. Board president and task force member Allen Weiner noted that $225 million, with time pressing, was a combination of top-down and bottom-up analysis. “It doesn’t sound like it’s grounded in anything factual,” Mr. Thomsen said. The district should thoroughly inform the public about the situation, board member Alan Sarver said. The district’s to-do list includes attracting students to the two new small schools, finding affordable sites for those schools, attending to alternaSee SEQUOIA DISTRICT, page 11

Board schooled on running bond election By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


he board of the Sequoia Union High School District is thinking about putting a bond measure before the voters in 2014, possibly for $225 million, to build more classrooms and other infrastructure to meet an anticipated 22 percent enrollment increase over the next six years. With a June election as a favorable option but one with an abbreviated window for launching a campaign, a question arises: How does the district persuade at least 55 percent of voters to approve this sizable bond measure? Sarah Stern-Benoit, a partner at San Francisco-based TBWB Strategies, a public-finance ballot-measure consulting firm, made a presentation

to the board on this question on Jan. 22. A few rules stood out: ■ Conduct a survey of prospective voters — surveying is now underway — and focus on the impact to a property owner’s tax rate rather than the size of the measure. A $225 million measure would increase taxes by $10 to $12 per $100,000 of assessed value. “Voters are most concerned with the rate per $100,000,” Ms. SternBenoit said. “Their interest is more about ‘How does it impact me?’” ■ Aim for an election that tends to draw lower turnouts. In other words, elections that don’t occur in November. If survey results are positive, Ms. Stern-Benoit said, “by all means, the district should move forward with the June

election.” ■ Enlist “opinion makers” in the district’s communities to spread the word. The message, including talking points, should be tailored community by community, Ms. SternBenoit said. ■ Develop the ballot statement, what Ms. Stern-Benoit referred to as “the most important 75 words of (the) election,” followed by the list of projects for which the money would be used. “We want to put it together and craft it carefully,” she said. The board is expected to receive the survey results at its Feb. 12 meeting, and has until March 7 to prepare a ballot statement and resolution for the June 3 election. Choosing the November election would push back the deadline to August. A

County awarded $24 million to improve inmate rehabilitation By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


$24 million state grant for improvements at the current San Mateo County jail will be used to renovate facilities for mentally ill inmates, redesign a recreation yard for inmates with lengthy sentences, establish a “store” to train inmates in retail skills, and upgrade the entire jail to better survive a major earthquake, according to the Sheriff ’s

Office. The Board of State and Community Corrections on Jan. 16 named San Mateo County as one of 15 counties that qualified for a piece of $500 million in funding for rehabilitative programs, part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s realignment program. The program, begun in 2011, lowers the populations of overcrowded state prisons by gradually transferring parolees and prisoners convicted of “nonviolent, non-serious and non-

sex-related” crimes to county jails. “Realignment seeks to improve rehabilitation results by keeping offenders close to families and support systems,” the board says. Thirty-six counties applied for funds. Counties that did not receive funding have 30 days to appeal the decisions by the board’s executive steering committee. San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks called the winning of the $24.4 million grant a col-

laborative effort. “Ultimately, we are striving to improve outcomes for those incarcerated in our county and as a result, reduce recidivism and make our county an even safer place to live,” he said. The county is building a new jail, expected to open in 2015, at Maple and Blomquist streets in Redwood City. The $160 million, 260,000-square-foot facility will house 640 inmates, replace the women’s jail, and relieve overcrowding at the cur-

rent downtown jail. County Supervisor Adrienne Tissier noted the Board of Supervisors’ “long held priority to adequately fund mental health care for all San Mateo County residents who need it, including those who are incarcerated.” Among the uses proposed by other counties for the state funds: space for GED and classes in substance-abuse recovery, day-reporting centers for parolees, and transitional housing. A

January 29, 2014 NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN9


Rehab facility near Woodside wins commission’s OK By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


he San Mateo County Planning Commission has approved a conditional use permit to convert a meditation center in the unincorporated woods above Woodside to a non-medical rehabilitation center for clients with drug and alcohol-addiction problems. The vote was 3-1 on Jan. 22. Stillpath Recovery Center would be located at 16350 Sky-

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line Blvd. in unincorporated Woodside, the current site of the Stillheart Institute. The proposed change in use would not involve demolition of the meditation center, nor would it involve new construction other than a new smoking lounge on the site of an existing swimming pool. The commission held three hearings in as many months before coming to its decision. Opposition was fierce and fearful among neighbors in Skyline Boulevard communities. In a county report, the Planning Commission staff addressed each of 11 neighbor concerns. Among them: ■ Would a recovering addict drop a lit cigarette and inadvertently start a forest fire? As a condition of the commission’s approval, the facility management must restrict smoking to a

designated interior lounge to be built on the site of an existing swimming pool. ■ If there were an emergency, would the facility’s remote location prevent a timely response? The rehab facility will have nursing staff on site, and paramedics are located at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection fire station 1.5 miles away, near the intersection of Skyline and La Honda Road. ■ What about the impacts on Skyline Boulevard traffic? The facility will be residential and clients will not be allowed to have vehicles. The staff estimate of 16 additional vehicle trips would increase by 0.5 percent the existing traffic volume on Skyline, which is only 12 percent of its maximum capacity. ■ Would the rehab facility monopolize the supply of fresh

water for these mountain communities? The report did not address the fresh water supply, but an earlier staff report described two fresh-water tanks already on the site: a 100,000gallon tank to be used for fire suppression and a 2,500-gallon pressurized tank for domestic water. The county has 287 beds for treatment of substance abuse and theoretically, based on U.S. Department of Health and Human Services figures, some 65,700 people in need of treatment, the report says, adding: “Stillpath will provide a public health service by providing a necessary substance abuse treatment facility to County residents that is geographically near the County’s urban populations.” One of the neighbors’ con-

cerns: How will administrators prevent smoking on balconies that overlook the forest? With the drought conditions, it won’t take much to cause a conflagration. The facility reportedly has a water main designed for a house and the overall water system is at 90 percent of its capacity, a local firefighter said. Commissioner Laurie Simonson voted against approving the new use based on her assessment that the proposal requires a full environmental impact report before going ahead, a neighbor said. The decision is all but certain to be appealed to the Board of Supervisors, the neighbor said in an interview. Paperwork for an appeal was underway outside the chambers while the meeting was going on, she said. V

Driver in injury crash was on DUI probation By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


he 26-year-old driver in an alleged DUI crash in Menlo Park that left her and a passenger seriously hurt, and her 16-month old son with minor injuries, pleaded not guilty in San Mateo County Superior Court on Jan. 21. Carina Lisbet Sandoval, a Redwood City resident, has been charged with driving under the influence while on DUI proba-

tion, driving on a license suspended for DUI, child endangerment, and driving under the inf luence of alcohol and Carina Lisbet causing injury, Sandoval police said. Ms. Sandoval and her boyfriend, a 26-year-old man from Burlingame, were hurt in the See DUI PROBATION, page 12

John and Marcia Goldman to be honored at fundraiser John and Marcia Goldman of Atherton will be honored by the Oshman Family JCC at its annual gala and auction on Sunday, Feb. 9, at the Taube Koret Campus for Jewish Life in Palo Alto. Nearly 400 patrons are expected to attend the fundraiser that provides funds to many of the JCC’s preschool, daycare, day camp and senior services. Reservations for the gala, which includes a silent auction and raffle, dinner and dancing, are $275 per person. Go to to purchase tickets. The John and Marcia Goldman Foundation has been making grants in the community for 14 years.

Woodside preschool Woodside Elementary School 10NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNJanuary 29, 2014


District will accept applications for fall preschool classes beginning Feb. 1. Parents are invited to visit the preschool for an open house from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 31 (adults only). The preschool is a half-day, fee-based program that runs from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Children must be at least 2 years, 7 months old as of Sept. 1 to attend. Priority is given to children living within the Woodside School District boundaries. Applications will be available for pickup at the school office or to download online beginning Feb. 1. Go to or call Tom Limbert at 851-1571, ext. 250, for more information.


SEQUOIA DISTRICT Continued from page 9

tive programs such as Redwood High, and implementing Common Core standards, including the new professional development and technology elements.

N POLICE CAL L S This information is from the Menlo Park and Atherton police departments and the San Mateo County Sheriffâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Office. Under the law, people charged with offenses are considered innocent unless convicted. The dates police received the report are shown.

and stole $110 in cash and about $62,000 in jewelry, including watches, bracelets, rings and necklaces. Jan. 20.

â&#x2013;  Police arrested Menlo Park residents

Auto burglary reports:

Theft reports:

â&#x2013;  Someone smashed the passenger

â&#x2013;  Someone made off with a 10-carat

side window of a vehicle parked in the 500 block of El Camino Real and stole a computer bag containing a computer, checkbook, two Model 5S Apple iPhones, a charging cord, Bose headphones, medication and documents, about $3,640 in total losses. Jan. 13.



â&#x2013;  A vehicle parked in the 1100 block of Willow Road was found with a dismantled door lock and the absence of $3,328 worth of tools, including a vacuum cleaner, tile saw, three grinders, a drill with two batteries and a charger, a tool box, drill bits and a circular saw. Jan. 22.

Auto burglary report: An $1,800 laptop computer is missing from a locked vehicle that had been parked on Fernside Street and found with a smashed window. Jan. 9.

â&#x2013;  A vehicle parked on Coleman Avenue

Traffic accident report: A man driving toward the intersection of Canada and Woodside roads reached down to the floor of his vehicle to pick up a hearing aid he had dropped and was unable to stop in time to avoid rear-ending the stopped vehicle in front of him, which then rearended the vehicle in front of it. There were no injuries. Jan. 15.

â&#x2013;  In another case that same day of mys-

MENLO PARK Residential burglary reports:

â&#x2013;  A doggie door may have been the way a burglar entered a Harmon Drive home

of unauthorized cutting of branches from Eucalyptus trees on a property in the first block of Middlefield Road. Jan. 18.

â&#x2013;  A swimmer at the Burgess Park public


occurred on Atherton Avenue, where someone absconded with 11 lengths of stucco wire. Jan. 22.

â&#x2013;  Police made an arrest in a case

with a bike lock under a carport on Coleman Place is missing. Jan. 21.

â&#x2013;  A $249 bicycle locked under an apart-

Staff employed in the district added a facts-on-the-ground dimension. M-A physics teacher Peter Caryotakis asked about East Palo Alto students and whether they would have school buses available. And new thermostats? â&#x20AC;&#x153;We sit in rooms and roast all day because the district controls the heat,â&#x20AC;? he said. M-A teachers wanted two-story buildings a decade ago, he added. â&#x20AC;&#x153;As things go through the district process, teachersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; views get lost.â&#x20AC;? Redwood High Principal Miguel Rodriguez wondered aloud about the meaning of equitable. Redwood has no computer lab, no library, no multi-purpose room, no art or multi-media rooms, no counseling spaces and no hot water, Mr. Rodriguez said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;How do you make (the curriculum) rigorous and engaging?â&#x20AC;? he asked. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Whenever you need me to bounce ideas off, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m available.â&#x20AC;?

â&#x2013;  Another theft involving an $1,100 loss

left before police arrived. Jan. 11.

â&#x2013;  A $250 Razor electric scooter secured

Ivan Hernandez Morales and Eduardo ChipresRosales, both 19, on suspicion of burglary. The pair allegedly entered a Hollyburne Avenue residence through an open bedroom window, took two tablet computers, and left the scene in a vehicle that was later stopped by police. The tablets were recovered. Jan. 20.

No hot water

gold, 13-inch necklace consisting of seven 18-carat gold links and eight ovalshaped stones set in 14-carat gold, a total loss of about $1,100 from a home on Selby Lane. Jan. 23.

loss is $459. Jan. 16.

is missing $30 in cash, jewelry, a make-up bag and a phone charger for a $180 loss. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s unclear how the burglar got into the vehicle. Jan. 15. terious means of entry of a vehicle parked on Coleman Avenue, someone stole a GPS device and its charging cord, a loss of about $125. Jan. 15.

ment building carport on Coleman Place is missing. Jan. 21.

â&#x2013;  Someone entered an unlocked car parked at Gilbert and Menalto avenues and stole a wallet containing a driverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s license, $60 in cash and about $100 in gift cards for a $226 total loss. Jan. 14. pool is missing an Apple iPod and its waterproof case, believed to be stolen from the pool deck for a total loss of $185. Jan. 22.

â&#x2013;  A video surveillance camera captured the image of an unidentified man entering the Safeway supermarket on Sharon Park Drive and leaving with four boxes of nutrition bars, a $60 value, that he did not pay for. Jan. 15.

â&#x2013;  Someone rummaged through the glove compartment of a vehicle parked on Campbell Lane and stole $50 in cash. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s unknown how the thief gained entrance. Jan. 14.

Support The Almanacâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coverage of our community.

â&#x2013;  Someone stole sandals and a container of lotion from the shower area of the locker room at the Burgess Park swimming pool, a $47 loss. Jan. 22.

â&#x2013;  A wallet containing $100 in cash, credit

â&#x2013;  A man without a receipt attempted to

cards and a driverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s license is missing from an unattended diaper bag at the Arrilaga Family Gym on Alma Street. The total

Stolen vehicle report: Someone stole a white Honda CRF450 motorcycle from a carport on Waverley Street. Jan. 19.

which someone walked out of the Safeway supermarket on Sharon Park Drive with â&#x20AC;&#x153;an unknown amount of stolen groceries.â&#x20AC;? Jan. 15.

receptionist at iBar, an eyebrow shaping salon on Santa Cruz Avenue, on suspicion of embezzling about $3,000 in cash. Jan. 13.

â&#x2013;  Police arrested a former cashier and

Fraud report: A man walked into the U.S. Bank at 1105 El Camino Real and cashed a bad check for $948, then walked out. The bank is investigating. Jan. 17.

â&#x2013;  Investigators are looking into a case in

â&#x2013;  A man walked into a dressing room at the Goodwill store on Santa Cruz Avenue with articles of clothing and three books, then walked out of the store with the items in his possession but without having paid for them, a $29 loss. Jan. 16.

Theft reports:

Traffic accident report: A 62-year-old Foster City man driving a black Mercedes at a â&#x20AC;&#x153;low rate of speedâ&#x20AC;? struck a 41-yearold woman from Menlo Park while she was in the crosswalk at Ravenswood Avenue and Alma Street. Medics took the woman to the hospital with complaints of pain to her foot. Jan. 15.

return medicine to the Sharon Park Drive Safeway supermarket, but the medicine had not been purchased at Safeway. He

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              January 29, 2014 NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN11


Food truck event on horizon in Menlo Park By Barbara Wood Special to the Almanac



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12NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNJanuary 29, 2014

enlo Park, the food trucks are coming, the food trucks are coming, courtesy of Off the Grid. The company plans to bring up to a dozen food trucks to the Caltrain parking lot on Wednesday nights for the next year, with a debut date dependent on whether residents appeal the eventâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s approval by the Jan. 29 deadline, according to Off the Grid representatives. Menlo Parkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Planning Commission approved the proposal shortly after midnight on Jan. 14, over protests of nervous downtown business owners and some local residents. In a compromise that acknowledged some fears about problems the new venture could cause, the planning commissioners asked to have the issue re-examined in a public hearing in six months. Off the Grid is a San Francisco-based company that began organizing gatherings of food trucks in June 2010. It now hosts such events in many Bay Area locations, including the Belmont and Burlingame Caltrain stations. The Wednesday event would use the corner of the train station parking lot near the intersection of Merrill Street and Ravenswood Avenue and close to the West Bay Model Railroad building. Food would be served from 5 to 9 p.m. most of the year and 5 to 8 p.m. in the winter. Live amplified music would be offered from 6 to 8 p.m., with folding chairs, and lighting provided. A portable toilet would be brought in each week. Off the Grid must clean up the area by 10 p.m. after each event and dispose of all garbage off site. Signs will ban parking from the portion of the train station lot that will be used from 3:30

DUI PROBATION Continued from page 10

two-vehicle collision at Bayfront Expressway and Chrysler Drive around 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 17. At the time of the collision, she was out of custody on her own recognizance related to an October 2013 DUI charge that occurred only three months prior to the Jan. 17 crash, the District Attorneyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Office said. In the collision, Ms. Sandovalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 1994 tan Honda Accord allegedly turned left in front of oncoming traffic and collided with a blue 1997 Chevrolet

to 10 p.m. on Wednesdays. In the end, all the commissioners supported the proposal, but differed on the term of the use permit. Commissioners Henry Riggs and Katherine Strehl voted for a six-month limit; but the remaining commissioners â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Vincent Bressler, John Kadvany, Ben Eiref, John Onken and Katie Ferrick â&#x20AC;&#x201D; approved the one-year term. Twenty speakers signed up to comment on the issue at the Planning Commission meeting, although a few left as the meeting dragged on into the night. Bez Zahedi, owner of Una Mas restaurant on Santa Cruz Avenue, said he was worried that the customers of Off the Grid would take the parking his customers need. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is stealing from us,â&#x20AC;? he said. Off the Grid reported that its surveys showed plenty of parking available at the train station. Caltrain charges $5 for parking; some commissioners worried that the fee would discourage food truck customers from using the lot. Ali Elsafy, who owns Bistro Vida on Santa Cruz, said he is â&#x20AC;&#x153;very concernedâ&#x20AC;? about the plan. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re just now emerging from a difficult recession,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re still not out of the woods.â&#x20AC;? But the commissioners appeared to agree with residents such as Emily Finch, an architect who lives near the train station on Noel Drive. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think it would bring a lot of much-needed night life and vibrancy to Menlo Park thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s missing right now,â&#x20AC;? she said. A city staff report by Senior Planner Thomas Rogers addresses the issue of competition with local restaurants by saying: â&#x20AC;&#x153;... staff believes the proposed food truck market is not directly analogous to a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;brick-and-mortarâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; restaurant, as it would be located completely outdoors, offer only informal seating (no tables), and operate for a maximum of four hours per week.â&#x20AC;? A

Tahoe, according to the DAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s office. The occupants of the second vehicle werenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t hurt. Trapped inside their car, Ms. Sandoval and her boyfriend were extricated by Menlo Park Fire Protection District firefighters. Her 16-month-old son, who was riding in a car seat, was treated for minor cuts and abrasions at a local hospital before being released to family members, according to the report. The court has scheduled a preliminary hearing for Feb. 3. Ms. Sandoval is currently in custody on $250,000 bail.




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 January 29, 2014 NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN13

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the Viewpoint desk at 223-6507.



Senators will try to close loophole on TK


he bill is a long way from passage, but at least two influen- tional kindergarten, causing children in San Mateo County to tial state legislators — Sens. Jerry Hill and Darryl Steinberg miss out on a critical developmental window,” Sen. Hill said at — are committed to pass a measure that would require all the press conference. “The fact that two school districts are not school districts in the state to provide another full year of kinder- offering the program creates haves and have-nots — children garten, allowing 4-year-olds to attend. who can benefit from the program and those who are left out.” The bill would correct legislation on the books now that apparDespite their strong political support, the two senators may ently has allowed the Las Lomitas School District to ignore a have a problem with Gov. Jerry Brown, who did not include the requirement to offer a program known as transitional kinder- funding for the program, which is expected to cost $990 million garten. It would also expand that kindergarten program, which when fully implemented in five years, in his just-released budget. now applies to only about 25 percent of children in the state. But Sen. Steinberg issued a strong defense of the expenditure, Reports published in the Almanac late last year saying, “I’m proud to call this wise spending found that more than 90 percent of the state’s in California. There are few better uses of the EDI TORI AL school districts are offering transitional kindertaxpayer dollars than investing in an evidenceThe opinion of The Almanac garten, or TK, believing, as do most legislators based change providing young people, 4-yearwho passed that law in 2010, that the program is olds, the head start they need.” mandatory in all public school districts. The 2010 law changed the If Sens. Hill and Steinberg can push the new bill through the age at which children are eligible for kindergarten; in the past, chil- Legislature and convince Gov. Jerry Brown to sign it, concerns dren turning 5 by Dec. 1 could enroll in kindergarten months before about the cost of TK to the districts could be alleviated. As it their fifth birthday. The new law moved the eligibility cutoff up a stands now, if the measure is seen as a statewide mandate it would month at a time over three years to Sept. 1, but also instituted TK to provide funding for facilities like TK classrooms to all school allow children born between Sept. 2 and Dec. 1 to attend school. districts. Now Sens. Hill, D-San Mateo, who represents Menlo Park, and It is difficult to understand why the Las Lomitas and Menlo Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who is the state Senate president pro Park City districts, which have long been committed to hightem, have pledged to close the loophole that Las Lomitas says quality education and whose students are high academic achievenables it to skirt what was intended to be an ironclad commit- ers year after year, would set themselves apart by refusing to ment to begin the earlier kindergarten program throughout the support TK, which can be linked to better outcomes in later state. The bill they propose would expand the program to include school years. all 4-year-olds in the state, rather than only the one-quarter eliThe superintendent of the Woodside Elementary School Disgible under the 2010 law. trict, Beth Polito, sees TK as a way to save money by reducing At a press conference Sen. Hill said one of his reasons for co- the number of children who repeat a grade and who may require sponsoring the bill is that the Las Lomitas district does not have expensive special services. the transitional kindergarten program offered by nearly every We hope parents get the message and let Las Lomitas and other district in the state. The Menlo Park City School District Menlo Park City school board members know that it makes sense plans to discontinue its TK in the fall. in many ways to support a TK program in their districts. It is the “Two school districts in my (Senate) district have interpreted right thing to do and will pay off in the long run for students and the (existing) law to be voluntary and are not offering transi- the district.

L ET TERS Our readers write

Fossil fuels cast pall on innovation Editor: I thank the Almanac for the Jan. 8 article on the challenges of rising sea levels for San Mateo County and the Bay Area. Regional, national and global solutions to confronting climate change must rapidly address both mitigation (addressing the causes) and adaptation (addressing the consequences). If we are to rise to the challenge, we must pull all of the rabbits out of the hat in order to confront the climate change that is upon us. As an entrepreneur working to deliver a sustainable, cost-effective alternative to corn sugar, I spent over a year in due diligence with a large multinational company looking into investment in biological alternatives to fossil fuels. In the end, the Continued on next page

14NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNJanuary 29, 2014

Atherton Heritage Association

Our Regional Heritage In 1922, these unidentified Atherton girls enjoyed riding and grooming their ponies around their Fair Oak neighborhood. It was girls of this age who are credited with asking resident Eleanor Weir if they could use the Weir’s field to stage a circus with their ponies and charge admission. The event raised $500 and grew into the present day Tally Ho horse show, which is staged every year at the Menlo Circus Club.


L E T TER S Our readers write

Continued from previous page

economics of “cheap” natural gas sank our deal. The playing field for fossil fuels is skewed by tax subsidies including military protection services, and dumping the environmental and public health costs into the commons. In addition to derailing renewable energy development, artificially low fossil fuel prices thwart energy efficiency and conservation efforts. In the face of these challenges, California is simultaneously pursing climate change mitigation via the global warming solutions act (AB32), and inexplicably promoting climate change by permitting hydraulic fracturing with woefully inadequate regulation. Despite the impending drought, we are poised to use and pollute massive amounts of water to enable the “cheap” extraction of natural gas — leading directly to release of sufficient methane and carbon dioxide to make it “game over” for the global atmosphere, and those who breathe it. The Almanac is correct to point out the pressing need to respond to climate change. I strongly urge concerned citizens to press the governor and Legislature to place a moratorium on fracking until all environmental consequences are fully evaluated, and that full cost accounting for fossil fuel use is integrated into economic and policy analyses. Only in this way can California stimulate conservation, efficiency, renewable energy development, and the jobs they create. The people must lead if we are to rationally address the causes and consequences of climate change. David Smernoff Fox Road, Portola Valley

Bleachers wrong for Atherton park By Walter Sleeth


n the fall of 2012 our community voted to “Save Our Park” by aborting well thought out plans for a library, which might have benefited all Atherton citizens. Now, a small group of highly organized individuals from both Atherton and Menlo Park have convinced three of our council members to support very large permanent covered concrete bleachers in Holbrook-Palmer Park for the seasonal use of a small group of grade-school Little League players, many of whom are not Atherton residents. I played baseball as a boy and I like the Little League, but I think concrete bleachers displacing green areas of the park are not what this community was hoping for when they voted to Save Our Park in 2012. I agree with our residents desire to give the Little League a better field in Atherton, but is this the way we want it done? The new concrete bleachers would hold up to 200 spectators. It is ironic that the Burgess Park Field in Menlo Park has uncovered, nonpermanent metal bleachers totaling about 50 running feet, five rails high and accommodating no more than

150 spectators at the “20-inch per bottom rule” presumably used by the Atherton council. Alternative suggestions were made for non-permanent metal bleachers and scoreboards at less cost to the Little League, but the Little League refused this. (When Councilman Bill Widmer, after being told by the Little League that GUEST there were no OPINION removable scoreboards available, researched the item and found that it was available, the Little League officials and the three City Council supporters turned a deaf ear to him.) The three council members have ignored the recommendations of the town’s Planning Commission. It appeared that at least one if not several council members relied on a biased and unduly narrow interpretation of the case law concerning what should be considered in interpreting the scope of a ballot measure. Many voters had assumed the Planning Commission would be able to do its job and recommend

that the bleachers be sized for the historic park-like setting we have. Many residents, who voted yes on Measure M, as I did, would have voted “No” if it had been understood that our vote would be interpreted to saddle the town with a concrete 200-seat, covered bleacher. This action by a 3-2 majority of the council ignored reasonable voices asking that second thoughts be given so as to reduce the size of the structure and to make sure “outlying” structures, such as fences, foul poles and scoreboard, could be removed in the off-season. These structures are likely to become safety hazards. One resident raised the point that a solid concrete structure at the rear of the park could be a hazard for children walking behind it when the area was vacant. Unfortunately, there was an unnecessary rush to judgment. If you want to save our park, now is the time to make your voice heard. Please email the council members: cwiest@ci.atherton.,,, and elewis@ Walter Sleeth lives on Catalpa Drive in Atherton.

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January 29, 2014 NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN15

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