A winning season for local ‘quad rugby’ team | Section 2
T H E H O M E TOW N N E W S PA P E R F O R M E N L O PA R K ,
A P R I L 1 6 , 2 0 1 4 | VO L . 4 9 N O. 3 2
WITNESSING BOTH PAIN AND HUMAN RESILIENCE IN OSO page 8
AT H E R TO N , P O R TO L A VA L L E Y A N D WO O D S I D E
W W W. T H E A L M A N AC O N L I N E . C O M
) * % " *' % %
% % % % " +,,
! " #
$%% #% "
2 N The Almanac N TheAlmanacOnline.com N April 16, 2014
!" # $ %&' (
) " *$+ # ,
UP F RONT
Inspirations a guide to the spiritual community WOODSIDE VILLAGE CHURCH Sunday Worship 9:30 a.m. with Sunday School and Nursery Care Pastor Mike Harvey Rev. Dorothy Straks
Photo by Kerry Lobel
The House that Hillview Built is now being enjoyed by toddlers served by the nonprofit Puente in Pescadero. Delivered in the rain by Hillview volunteers, it is now covered by a tarp, but will be topped with asphalt shingles soon.
3154 Woodside Road Woodside 650.851.1587 www.wvchurch.org
To include your Church in
Inspirations Please email Blanca Yoc at email@example.com or call
A partnership that’s built around learning, community — and play By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor
he cover of the April 2 edition of the Almanac featured a photo of Hillview Middle School students raising walls of a bright blue playhouse they had designed and built, under the guidance of woodshop teacher Mike Bratt, as part of the school’s week-long, hands-on learning program pioneered in mid-March. The completed structure was a source of pride to the junior builders, their parents, and their teacher. But what happened to “The House that Hillview Built” — which was pretty much without a practical function on the Menlo Park middle school campus — after it served its instructional purpose? Thanks to the commitment of some community members to the nonprofit organization Puente, which serves residents of the county’s South Coast communities — a largely poor popu-
lation that includes farmworkers and their families — and the efforts of the students, Mr. Bratt and community volunteers, the structure now sits in the Puente playground in Pescadero. “Already, the playhouse is a
‘Many of the children that Puente serves live in small barracks or trailers, so the playhouse seems luxurious.’ KERRY LOBEL PUENTE’S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
big success,” said Kerry Lobel, Puente’s executive director. “Seriously, there are children in there from morning until night.” Ms. Lobel said Pescadero has no parks or toddler playgrounds, “so the Puente property is home to a great toddler
play structure, and now the fantastic playhouse. ... Many of the children that Puente serves live in small barracks or trailers, so the playhouse seems luxurious.” Barrett Moore, a parent volunteer who helped with the playhouse-building course, said she and other local people are regular supporters of Puente, a resource center that “runs all sorts of creative, educational, vocational and family services.” “The Hillview kids were so great,” Ms. Moore said after the playhouse was delivered. “Their ideas and hard work really hit a home run with the little kids at Puente. “The dog door needed to be explained to them, though. When you live in a labor camp, there is no such thing as a ‘dog door.’ But once it was explained, they began crawling in and out of it — just as our kids had See PLAYHOUSE, page 19
CALLING ON THE ALMANAC
Newsroom: Newsroom fax: Advertising: Advertising fax: Classified ads:
223-6525 223-7525 854-2626 223-7570 854-0858
N E-mail news, information, obituaries and photos (with captions) to: editor@AlmanacNews.com N E-mail letters to the editor to: letters@AlmanacNews.com
To request free delivery, or stop delivery, of The Almanac in zip code 94025, 94027, 94028 and the Woodside portion of 94062, call 854-2626.
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.
April 16, 2014 N TheAlmanacOnline.com N The Almanac N 3
Thank You Jackie and Richard thank you for trusting us to help you achieve your Real Estate Success. 240 Allen, Woodside*
27950 Roble Alto, Los Altos Hills
3176 South Court, Palo Alto*
201 Montalvo, Emerald Hills
Parcel 6, Los Altos Hills*
1003 Almanor, Menlo Park
719 Elizabeth, Menlo Park*
307 Barton Way, Menlo Park*
1941 Deodara, Los Altos
Call Jackie and Richard to Sell Your Home Sold Over $220,000,000 of Homes
BRE # 01413607
BRE # 01092400
*represented the buyer 4 N The Almanac N TheAlmanacOnline.com N April 16, 2014
Local News M
E N L O
A R K
T H E R T O N
O O D S I D E
O R T O L A
A L L E Y
Judge delays trial in defamation lawsuit ■
Woodell, two defendants told they must try to settle.
By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer
ill nine months be enough time to settle a defamation lawsuit revolving around campaign sign shenanigans? The defendants, along with a San Mateo County judge, seem to hope so. The delay came at the last minute, on the morning of a trial scheduled to start April 7 after two years of countersuits
and depositions. “My feelings right now are probably similar to what Oakland A’s fans felt on Friday night when they showed up for a game, bought their curly fries and beer, and then heard the announcement that the game was canceled because the field was too wet to use,” said Chuck Bernstein in response to the lengthy delay, the latest twist in the defamation lawsuit filed against him and fellow Menlo Park Fire Protection
District board director Virginia Chang Kiraly. “I’m disappointed that we cannot get this matter resolved once and for all. It is a terrible drain on the resources of the parties involved, as well as on the overburdened court system itself,” Mr. Bernstein said. “After much effort, we were ready to go to trial. It will be hard to reassemble the witnesses, the exhibits, and the various motions in nine months.” The lawsuit, brought by John Woodell, husband of Menlo Park Councilwoman Kirsten Keith,
alleges that the defendants told people that Mr. Woodell had vandalized campaign signs during the 2011 fire board election, after Mr. Bernstein discovered an uprooted Kiraly campaign sign in his yard lying next to a cellphone that turned out to be Mr. Woodell’s. Mr. Woodell has denied vandalizing the sign. With everyone ready to go to trial, Mr. Woodell’s counsel filed a last-minute motion under seal asking for a continuance. Judge Robert Foiles, after several hours, rescheduled the trial
for Jan. 26, 2015, and ordered the parties to once again attempt to settle the case. A request to reopen discovery was denied. Mr. Woodell agreed the week before the trial to pay $5,000.01 to Ms. Kiraly in exchange for the dismissal of her defamation lawsuit against him, according to court documents. His attorney attributed the request for a continuance to media coverage of the settlement, which he said was supposed to be kept confidential. See LAWSUIT, page 6
Hidden license-plate cameras captured two weeks of drive-by traffic Sheriff’s Office used borrowed cameras to try to catch burglars. ■
By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer
adar-equipped vehiclespeed-monitoring trailers often seen along the side of the road in Portola Valley have been doing double duty recently: informing motorists of their forward velocity and taking photographs of their license plates. The hidden license-plate cameras had been borrowed from the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC), Lt. Tim Reid of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office told the Town Council at its April 9 meeting. The cameras captured the information on all the passing license plates, but were looking specifically for a vehicle possibly linked to three residential burglaries that may have taken place on the same day in late March. Town Manager Nick Pegueros invited Lt. Reid to speak on prevention of property crime, which is up this year. With Portola Valley not yet four months into 2014, Mr. Reid noted, the town has already experienced eight residential burglaries. There were 17 burglaries in 2013, and only four in 2012. “It’s not a good start to the year,” Mr. Reid said. The license-plate cameras operated for two weeks, but the plate that deputies were looking for was not among those recorded. The captured numbers will be stored in the NCRIC database — for a year, NCRIC officials say — and
will available to law enforcement agencies if the requesting agency can demonstrate their importance to an investigation, Lt. Reid said. The cameras were running for one and a half days before the town learned of their presence, which came as a consequence of the trailers’ blocking bicycle passage for a time, Lt. Reid said. The silence regarding the cameras “was not intentional,” he said in an email. “I was trying to come up with ways to catch these burglars and had the cameras placed. When I thought that my actions were affecting the town, I called and notified the town manager.” Crime prevention
As for preventing residential property crime, a key step in discouraging burglars is making it hard for them to break in, Lt. Reid said. He recommended motionsensitive lights — discouraged in Portola Valley — alarms, and letting the Sheriff’s Office know when you’re going to be out of town. For now, such notification must be done with a phone call, but an online notification service may be ready by the summer. Providing deputies with contact numbers, maintaining records of serial numbers, and taking photos of possessions are also very important, he said. Photos stored on a digital card should be stored somewhere other than inside a camera at See CRIME, page 6
Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac
Chef in the making Tava de la Garza shows her 3-year-old daughter, Xia, how to grate lemon zest during a Cooking Fun for Children class held recently at the Portola Valley Library. Preschoolers made fresh berry tarts in the class, taught by Jeni Clancy and hosted by Parents Place.
Attorneys to appeal decision in lawsuit over crash that hurt 6-year-old twins By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer
he attorneys representing a Menlo Park family whose 6-year-old twin boys were injured when an elderly driver struck them as they walked on a sidewalk plan to appeal a judge’s denial of punitive damages. San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Lisa Novak issued the ruling on April 4 in response
to the Cadigan family’s second request for punitive damages. “The facts as alleged do not suggest defendant’s conduct was intentional, despicable or oppressive. Alleging that he was elderly, had been in an accident the year prior, and had his driver’s license subsequently ‘suspended’ and then renewed does not rise to the level of malice, fraud or oppression,” she
wrote. Attorney Michael Rose, part of the team representing the family, said they intend to appeal the ruling. He did not go into specifics as to why he thought the ruling should be overturned. The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit against Edward Nelson, a 90-year-old Woodside resident See APPEAL DECISION, page 6
April 16, 2014 N TheAlmanacOnline.com N The Almanac N 5
N E W S
-EAT 0RODUCE s &INE &OODS 7INE ,IQUOR s $ELICATESSEN (ARDWARE 'RAIN Open 6:30 am - 8:00 pm daily Sales Dates: April 16 - 19
4420 Alpine Rd., Portola Valley phone 650.851.1711
3015 Woodside Rd., Woodside phone 650.851.1511
Fresh Produce Local
2.99lb. Large $ Haas Avocados .............. 1.99ea. Best Ever ¢ Pears.................................... 99 lb. Long Asparagus .............
Meat and Seafood $ $
22.98lb. Small Loin Lamb Chops.. 16.98lb. $ Boneless leg of lamb...... 11.98lb. $ Bone in leg of lamb........... 9.98lb. Rack of Lamb .................
On Sale Grocery Plugra European Style Butter
2.19 Crunchmaster Gluten Free Crackers $ 4 oz. ................................................................. 2.29 C & W Petite Peas $ 16 oz. ............................................................... 1.99 Wesson Canola Oil $ 48 oz. ................................................................ 3.19 Gus Grown-Up Soda $ 4 pack 12oz. plus Calif. Redeem Value ........... 4.19 8 oz. unsalted. ...................................................
Deli Department Spiral Sliced Glazed Ham Aprox 10lb Serves 12-15 people ................................ $13.99lb Herb Roasted Leg of lamb Boneless leg aprox 6lb serves 8-10 people .......... $19.99lb Must preorder
Grilled Asparagus with parmesan cheese and roasted peppers ............................ $9.99lb Roasted New Potatoes with olive oil, fresh thyme and garlic.............................. $6.99lb
Wine and Spirits Olema Olema is produced by Amici Cellars, in Calistoga. Their goal is to deliver a premium wine experience at “everyday” prices. These wine over-deliver. The Pinot Noir is a brand new edition to the line-up and is the gem of the group.
LAWSUIT continued from page 5
Although the plaintiff’s team was ready and eager to go to trial, attorney Seth Rosenberg said, they had to ask the court to move the trial date to leave time to deal with any violation of the confidentiality requirements. “It wastes the court’s time and our time when one party chooses not to follow the rules. So we are happy the trial got moved so we can now ask the court to address the misconduct,” Mr. Rosenberg said. He is also contesting the validity of the settlement in light of the public disclosure, according to court records. The motion for a continuance included a request for a change of venue on grounds that press coverage has prejudiced potential jurors against Mr. Woodell, in addition to a request for sanctions against the opposing attorney. Harmeet Dhillon, who represents Ms. Kiraly, has challenged the claim that misconduct had occurred. “The only counsel in this case from the beginning to issue press releases has been plaintiff John Woodell’s counsel,” she said. She expressed deep disap-
APPEAL DECISION continued from page 5
at the time of the Oct. 17, 2013, crash. His BMW SUV struck the boys in downtown Menlo Park as they walked along Santa Cruz Avenue near Walgreens with a nanny and their older brother. The 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 sought 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. A judge dismissed their first request for punitive damages, but allowed the family’s attorneys to file an amended complaint. The April 4 ruling prohibits a third attempt. The amended complaint claimed Mr. Nelson was involved
pointment at the inconvenience to witnesses and the court caused by the delay, but said the judge’s ruling indicates “this meritless and damage-less case was ranked as such a low priority for the court that it told us to come back later — much, much later. We share the court’s apparent dim view of the merits of this case, and continue to hope that the plaintiff will reexamine his case, his motives and the ongoing cost and burden of this litigation, and choose to move on with his life.” At least one witness called to testify shared the disappointment about the trial’s postponement. “This trial is a travesty,” said Menlo Park resident Brielle Johnck, who endorsed Ms. Kiraly during the campaign. “A campaign sign for the fire board election that was found in the bushes with a cell phone does not warrant two years of litigation and hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to attorneys.” “As one who was served a subpoena to testify in this silly case, I am very disappointed a continuance was requested by John Woodell, as I was eager to put this stressful business behind me.” A settlement conference has been scheduled for Jan. 9. A
in an accident in Menlo Park on Nov. 8, 2012, and as a result had his license suspended by the DMV until it was reissued in August 2013. Therefore, the complaint alleged, he should have known “it was not safe” for him to drive. However, as the Almanac first reported, police records show that the 2012 accident involved another driver hitting Mr. Nelson’s car when the driver backed out of a parking space near Safeway on El Camino Real. Investigators determined Mr. Nelson was not at fault. Mr. Nelson’s attorneys did not respond to a request for comment. According to their filings, his license was not suspended as a result of the 2012 accident. While the defense initially claimed the Cadigan children were reckless, careless and negligent, and voluntarily placed themselves in danger, more recent filings describe the family as innocent and entitled to reasonable compensation. The lawsuit is now scheduled for mediation on April 16. A
’12 Olema Chardonnay, Sonoma County ......................... Reg. $14.99 Sale $12.99 Flavors of apple, citrus and toasty oak lead to a satisfying finish.
’12 Olema Pinot Noir, Sonoma County............................... Reg. $19.99 Sale $16.99 Flavors of cherry pie, spice and cocoa culminate in a rich finish.
’11 Olema Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County ...... Reg. $19.99 Sale $16.99 Displays aromas of currants, cedar and espresso, with black fruits, toffee and mocha flavors. (Woodside location only)
6 N The Almanac N TheAlmanacOnline.com N April 16, 2014
CRIME continued from page 5
risk of being stolen, he said. Steps like these can be helpful to quickly inform officers “what should be where. (When investigating a crime) that timely information is huge,” he said. Surveillance cameras at home
are another effective tool. “We make a lot of cases off just these Costco video setups,” he said. The parking lots at Windy Hill and the Stanford Dish are the scene of occasional breakingand-entering sprees by auto burglars; the Sheriff’s Office may be placing surveillance cameras there, Lt. Reid said. A
N E W S
Body of missing Menlo Park woman found on Mt. Tam after long search Sheriff’s detectives confirmed that a body found April 12 by search-and-rescue teams on Mt. Tamalpais is that of the missing 33-year-old Menlo Park woman Magdalena Glinkowski. She had last been seen on March 30, according to deputies from the Marin County Sheriff’s Office. Ms. Glinkowski’s body was discovered around 9:25 a.m. in Mt. Tamalpais State Park, where she was believed to have been hiking before her disappearance, according to Lt. Doug Pittman of the Marin County Sheriff’s Office. The search had been called off on April 7 after three days of searching, but was restarted after a man who had been trailrunning in the park reported that he had seen her photo in the media and may have seen her while on a run, Lt. Pittman said. “We felt it was prudent to go back and do an even more intense search,” he said.
About 120 volunteers from Bay Area law enforcement agencies resumed the search in the area the runner said he may have seen her. Search dogs and volunteers from the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office spotted a female body about half a mile from the Bootjack parking lot, where Ms. Glinkowski was seen on a surveillance camera. Her body was found down a steep southeast slope, in a drainage area that Lt. Pittman said is rarely traveled. The area was steep enough for a mountain-rescue unit to use ropes and rigging to get down to the body. The Marin County coroner is examining the body to determine the cause of death. A toxicology test may be required, which could take a month, Lt. Pittman said. Until proven otherwise, although there is as yet no evidence of foul play, the site is a crime scene, he said.
Detectives used fingerprints to positively identify Ms. Glinkowski’s body. Ms. Glinkowski was reported missing after not being seen near her Menlo Park home since March 30. She left a note at home that day saying she was going for a hike, Lt. Pittman said. Her car was found on April 4 near the Pantoll Campground. The discovery of the car prompted the launch of a large-scale search. According to her LinkedIn profile, Ms. Glinkowski worked as a software developer for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Purple Encoding in the Bay Area. She previously worked for Microsoft and Intel. The online profile also states that she enjoyed running and jogging and spoke English, Russian, Polish and French. Bay City News Service
REAL ESTATE TRENDS by Samia Cullen
New Record Highs In Home Prices The ﬁrst quarter of 2014 produced new record prices in our local housing market. Inventory remained low, demand has been off the charts, and the inﬂux of cash buyers willing to pay well above the list price is astonishing. The result is another incredible increase in median home prices from a year ago. The median price for single family homes went up 16% in Palo Alto (from $2,100,000 to $2,435,000), 6% in Menlo Park (from $1,805,000 to $1,913,000), 13% in Los Altos (from $2,100,000 to $2,380,000), 30% in Atherton (from $3,510,000 to $4,555,000), 4% in Portola Valley (from $2,400,000 to $2,485,000) and 17% in Woodside (from $2,050,000 to $2,400,000). Multiple offer situations were the norm and drove the prices signiﬁcantly above the list price. The sale to list price ratio was 113.9% in Palo Alto, 106.4% in Menlo Park, 113.6% in Los Altos, 102.5% in Atherton, 106.1% in Portola Valley and 98.1% in Woodside.
During the ﬁrst quarter, there were only 64 new listings in Palo Alto, 53 in Menlo Park, 46 in Los Altos, 24 in Atherton, 23 in Portola Valley and 21 in Woodside. The off-MLS market has also been active, with most off-MLS listings selling with multiple offers. The townhouse/condominium market was stronger than the market for single family houses. During the ﬁrst quarter 21 units were sold in Palo Alto, with an incredible increase of 28% in median price (from $978,000 to $1,255,000). The sale to list price ratio was 110.5%. 15 units sold in Menlo Park with a 43% increase in median price (from $802,000 to $1,150,000). The sale to list price ratio was 107.7%. Today’s market is the ultimate seller’s market. If you are thinking about selling your home it is a great time to sell. If you are a buyer, make sure that you have an agent with intimate knowledge of the local market to help you compete with other potential buyers.
I offer complimentary staging when I list your home. Contact me at Alain Pinel Realtors (650) 384-5392 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow my blog at samiacullen.com
Atherton studies ideas for making roads safer for bicyclists, walkers By Barbara Wood Special to the Almanac
n El Camino Real shrunken to four traffic lanes, with a shared bike and pedestrian trail on one side and a bike lane buffered from traffic on the other, is just one of the projects envisioned in the draft master plan for bicycle and pedestrian circulation in Atherton presented to the City Council at a joint study session with the Parks and Recreation Commission on April 2. The total cost of priority projects in the plan is $6.8 million, but consultant Casey Hildreth, an associate planner with Alta Planning and Design, said much of the funding could come from other agencies or grants, and the town would probably be responsible for about $1.5 million of the cost. Mr. Hildreth told the town officials that they should think about how long they wanted to take to make the improvements. “It might take 20 years,” he said. But at least one council member saw a swifter implementation. “In terms of time frame for the dollar amounts you showed,” Councilman Rick DeGolia said, “I’m thinking this is not a 10-year-project, this is a threeyear project.” The master plan shows how bicycles could travel through Atherton and link up with bikeways in adjacent communities.
It also lays out ways in which some simple changes could make Atherton streets more walkable, such as revising the town’s rules for landscaping in the roadside setback. Currently, Atherton allows ground-hugging landscaping of up to 5 inches in height right up to the roadsides. When the consultants looked at the walkability of Atherton’s streets, “we found landscaping to be the number-one impediment,” Mr. Hildreth said. “It’s a nice rural environment, but if the goal is to prioritize walking,” changes will have to be made. The town also needs to improve drainage in some areas and add barriers between walkers and traffic on some busy streets, he said. In a report to the council about the master plan, City Manager George Rodericks and Community Services Director Michael Kashiwagi said that the council still has a number of decisions to make regarding the master plan. They must to vote to accept the draft plan, do environmental analysis of the plan and its projects, approve the final plan, change the town’s regulations for landscaping along streets, change regulations to allow bikes to go through Holbrook-Palmer Park, and put funding for projects in the town’s budget, the report says. Projects given priority in the draft plan include: ■ New shared-use (bike and
pedestrian) paths: El Camino Real from Selby Lane to 5th Avenue and from Atherton Avenue to Encinal Avenue; Watkins Avenue from the train tracks to Middlefield Road and Middlefield Road from Watkins Avenue to Marsh Road; Holbrook-Palmer Park from the corner of the park to the current Felton Gables pathway. ■ Bike lane improvements: Middlefield Road from the town limits to town limits; Valparaiso from North Lemon to El Camino Real. ■ Bike boulevard (shared with cars): Elena and Atherton avenues between Valparaiso and Austin avenues. ■ Intersection improvements: Middlefield Road at Oak Grove Avenue and at Glenwood Avenue; and Valparaiso Avenue at Elena Avenue. The draft plan also recommends two studies. The first, costing $100,000, would study El Camino Real between Selby Lane and Valparaiso Avenue for the feasibility of reducing the number of lanes and adding a shared-use trail. The second calls for spending $50,000 to study the feasibility and preparing a preliminary design for a trail or pathway along Marsh Road from Bay Road to Middlefield Avenue and from Middlefield Avenue on Watkins Avenue to the Dinkelspiel Station Lane Caltrain tracks. See the full report at tinyurl. com/AthertonPaths02. A
April 16, 2014 N TheAlmanacOnline.com N The Almanac N 7
N E W S
Rescue team member describes grim search for mudslide victims By Barbara Wood Special to the Almanac
Menlo Park firefighter and another member of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District-based search and rescue team have been in Washington state for weeks helping to search for those still missing in the massive March 22 mudslide that devastated an entire neighborhood in Oso, about 50 miles north of Seattle. Division Chief Frank Fraone and Rob Patterson, a retired firefighter from Orange County, and both members of the California Task Force 3 National Urban Search and Rescue team, left on April 3 to join the effort to find those still missing. They expect to head home on April 16.
On the cover A flag flies at half-mast from a makeshift flagpole where a mudslide devastated an Oso neighborhood. Photo by Virginia Hart, courtesy of the American Red Cross.
Division Chief Fraone spoke to the Almanac a week after arriving in Washington, on April 10, about the situation there. He said that two 80-person search and rescue teams are working with 20 Federal Emergency Management Agency dogs trained to find human remains. Some of the dogs, which come from all over the country, are trained to find a scent in water. Using the dogs and maps of the direction of debris flow to choose search areas, large excavators are digging down as far as 30 feet to haul up debris, which is then searched. “It’s a big, big area,” Mr. Fraone said. “It is very hard work.” The work, he said, is “tedious. It’s wet, it’s cold, but they’re working through it.” Workers stay at a base camp near the slide in tents and travel on a road that was built on an old forest service fire trail, he said. “They’re trying to bring as many remains home to their families as they can,” he said. Division Chief Fraone said the number of missing, originally reported at more than 150, is down to seven or eight as of
Photo by Virginia Hart/American Red Cross
Heavy equipment has been brought in to dig down as far as 30 feet to haul up debris, which is then searched.
April 10. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office had reported 36 confirmed fatalities by late afternoon that same day. Local volunteers and family members are searching for vic-
tims as well. “We had two sons who were out there searching for their father from day one, and they found him yesterday,” Mr. Fraone said. “They were able to recover him, and the sons were able to spend some time with
their father.” “There’s still family members out there every day, volunteers out there every day,” he said, with as many as 500 people working at a time. The workers are also trying to return the nearby river to its former course so they can search underwater areas. They are building levees and berms to try to lower the water enough to bring in dogs and excavators. “The water was over our heads,” Division Chief Fraone said. A special unit with underwater sonar has been installed in a sheriff’s rescue boat, which is accompanied by an underwater sniffing dog, he said. Division Chief Fraone praised backing from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District that allowed him and Mr. Patterson to assist the search in Oso. Mr. Patterson is the Incident Support Team leader. “This wouldn’t be possible if not for the support of our fire chief and our board of directors,” Division Chief Fraone said. Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said the search and rescue task force has worked on similar incidents in the past, including the 2003 Columbia space shuttle explosion in east Texas. “I was involved with that incident and we located all seven astronauts,” Chief Schapelhouman said. “Large area search is all about See MUDSLIDE, page 9
First person: Witnessing both pain and human resilience in Oso By Barbara Wood Special to the Almanac
s a Red Cross volunteer I’ve seen areas devastated by hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and fires. I’ve talked to people who have had their homes ripped apart around them, who have lost all their belongings, who have no place to call home months after a disaster. But never have I had an assignment as difficult as my recent two-week stay near Oso, Washington, the scene of a devastating mudslide that destroyed an entire tight-knit community. I’ve been trained by the Red Cross to help people plan how they will rebuild their lives after a disaster; to document the facts needed to offer them assistance with food, clothing and shelter, and to direct them to other community agencies and groups who can help them with other needs. I’ve taken psychological first aid (three times) to learn ways to help them, and myself, cope with the stress that comes with a disaster.
But no one taught me how to respond to a big, strong man who cries as he tells me that he was home with his wife and his son’s girlfriend when the mudslide tore apart their neighborhood; who describes to me the sounds he heard and the scenes he saw as he helped to pry one neighbor, living, out of the rubble of his home and then went on to discover the bodies of four more neighbors. I think my training as a reporter and my experience on other Red Cross assignments helped me to listen, express my sympathy, and offer information about available assistance. Since this man’s experience sounded like one that may have played out in a combat zone, I was thrilled when I was able to connect him with one of our Red Cross mental health volunteers who is an experienced combat psychiatric nurse. I did cry. I was blindsided one morning when I arrived at the shelter we had opened to see a
8 N The Almanac N TheAlmanacOnline.com N April 16, 2014
4-year-old boy blowing bubbles with a uniformed Navy member. A woman who had told us the day before that her only son and three of her four grandchildren were missing was also there. She put her arm around me and said, pointing to the bubble-blowing boy: “That’s my grandson.” She was a little shaky, so I looked her in the eyes and said, “We’re here for you,” before I ran into a room away from the survivors staying in our shelter to better hear any news of their loved ones, and cried for five minutes. The rest of that day, though, I smiled each time I saw the little boy playing with the service dog of a local Red Cross volunteer, running and laughing and giving his surviving family one good reason to smile and me a lesson in the resilience of the human spirit. By the time my two-week commitment was up, I felt good about what I and the Red Cross had done to help these families. In addition to the things
Red Cross volunteers, including writer Barbara Wood, in center, work with a resident seeking help in the aftermath of the mudslide in Oso.
we usually do — making sure people have a place to sleep, food, water and the information they need to move forward with their recovery — the Red Cross paid for family members to fly in for funerals; made sure funeral costs were paid for; and offered counseling and referrals to other agencies who were dealing with the outpouring of goods and money that had been donated for the members of this community. And I learned that I can help someone get through pain I can’t even imagine.
That survivor who shared his experience with me made me a promise before I left. When we have an earthquake in California, he said, he’ll be here to help me. I believe he will. To donate to the American Red Cross disaster relief fund to help the Red Cross respond to disasters across the country, go to: tinyurl.com/9anjehd To donate directly to the Oso survivors through the United Way of Snohomish County, which is giving checks directly to the families, go to: tinyurl. com/kg54wgv A
N E W S
FAA invites comment from residents under flight paths By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer
strong turnout from Portola Valley, Ladera and Woodside is expected at the workshop hosted by the Federal Aviation Administration in the San Mateo Public Library at 55 W. 3rd Ave. at 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 17. At issue: the noise made by a gradually increasing number of commercial aircraft as they pass over Peninsula communities, some of higher altitude, as they approach the San Francisco International Airport. At this workshop, one of five identical events to be held in the Bay Area from April 14-18, the FAA will have people on hand to explain a draft environmental assessment of an FAA plan to optimize the use of Northern California airspace. The 953page draft report, a year in the making, is the work of the FAA and Santa Clara-based ATAC Corporation, whose specialties include airspace and environmental impact analysis. “The materials will include large poster boards depicting
some of the graphics and other information that’s in the draft environmental assessment,” FAA spokesman Ian Gregor told the Almanac. “FAA reps will staff each board and be prepared to help people understand the material in the draft EA.” The report, published March 25, describes “new” routes into major Bay Area airports to save fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The proposed routes are new only to the extent that they are intended to mimic actual routes now in use. The current routes are not precisely adhered to in practice. Two of the proposed routes appear to converge over Ladera. The report assumes more use of GPS to more efficiently guide aircraft, and less use of vectoring — an air-traffic-controllerdirected method employing traditional stepped descents into airports, which generates noise as pilots adjust the aircraft’s speed. The FAA report concludes that the proposed routes “would not result in a significant noise impact” with respect to forecasts of air traffic in 2014 and 2019.
Jim Lyons of unincorporated Woodside and Dr. Tina Nguyen of Portola Valley disagree with that conclusion. They have written to the offices of congresswomen Anna Eshoo, D-Menlo Park, and Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, calling the report’s noise data flawed because it is does not account for differences in computerized projections of noise compared with data from actual noise monitors on the ground. The report also does not address higher-than-average ground levels in the Portola Valley area, nor does it discuss the continued use of vectoring, they say. Local governments customarily address controversial issues in public hearings, with live testimony to officials before an interested community. Asked whether there would be public hearings, Mr. Gregor didn’t respond to the question. He did say: “One of the purposes of the proposed project is to increase efficiency by reducing vectoring, speed changes, and altitude level-offs during climb-outs and descents. Controllers always have to have the option to vector, but
(GPS) procedures reduce the need for it. The noise report has extremely detailed information on noise impacts at literally thousands of locations.” Visitors to the workshop, particularly residents of Portola Valley and Ladera, will have questions on these and other issues, but they must be submitted in writing, Mr. Gregor said. Comment cards will be available at the workshop, with options to write to the FAA via email or regular mail. The 30-day comment period on the draft
ends April 24. The FAA will publish responses after the comment period ends, Mr. Gregor said. A request for a 60-day extension to the comment period has been made from the offices of Ms. Eshoo and Ms. Speier, from the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, and from Peninsula governments, including the town councils of Woodside and Portola Valley. Go to tinyurl.com/FAA-332 to comment and to access the entire FAA report. A
Carriage house restoration plan on Atherton’s April 16 council agenda By Barbara Wood Special to the Almanac
lans for a $2.5 million renovation of the carriage house in HolbrookPalmer Park will be presented to the Atherton City Council at its regular meeting on Wednesday, April 16, at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at 94 Ashfield Road. Also on the agenda is a letter outlining the town’s objections to many aspects of the environmental report on Caltrain’s proposal to convert to electric trains. The Atherton Dames have hired Woodside architect Adolf Rosekrans to design the 113-yearold building’s restoration. Along with the already restored water tower, the report says, the carriage house is one of only two original buildings built by the Holbrook family remaining in the park. The Dames are proposing that the town pitch in $1 million of the cost, with another $1 million to come from private donations, $250,000 from a grant,
Continued from page 8
methodical search and analytics,” he said. “It is possible to find a needle in a hay stack, so to speak, if you can put together all variables and take the time to do it.”
and $250,000 from Dames’ fundraising. The report says that “in its current state, the Carriage House raises serious health and safety concerns.” The Dames propose “a careful restoration of the authentic and historical elements of the Carriage House so that its heritage can be viewed and preserved.” The plans include an updated kitchen, an elevator and disabled-accessible bathrooms, restoring doorways to their original height, and moving stairs to make the building more useful. The council has been asked to endorse the project, and as part of its budget process will later vote on the funding, which the Dames say could be contributed over three fiscal years. The council will also consider at its meeting the contents of a draft letter to Caltrain responding to the environmental report on a proposal to change the rail system to run on electricity.
Among the letter’s objections are including design elements that would allow high-speed rail to be added to the system in the future, and that would require cutting down many heritage trees and installing 30- to 50-foot-tall poles and overhead wires. The letter asks for alternative designs and more research on areas such as traffic impact. Also on the agenda for Wednesday are: a proclamation honoring retired council member Jim Dobbie; final approval of several items including laws about filling council vacancies, mobile food vending and greenwaste-collection rates; proposed resolutions to amend the contract with the police union and to issue day-use permits for Holbrook-Palmer Park; options for the Parker Avenue right-of-way; and details of managing tennis in Holbrook-Palmer Park. To see the full agenda and reports go to tinyurl.com/AthertonCouncil16.
Chief Schapelhouman said the search and rescue task force has also helped out locally. They have responded to collapsed buildings after fires to find people, to the San Bruno gas main explosion site, and to East Palo Alto after a small plane crash several years ago,
Task force members also “broke into a bank vault on Woodside Road to rescue a 2-year-old,” over a decade ago. The search and rescue team has been sponsored by the Menlo Park district for more than 20 years, Chief Schapelhouman said.
April 16, 2014 N TheAlmanacOnline.com N The Almanac N 9
N E W S
Residents warned after another mosquito with yellow-fever potential found in Menlo By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer
he county’s vector-control agency has again issued a warning that a potentially dangerous mosquito was found, this time on April 10, in the vicinity of the Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery at Santa Cruz and Avy avenues in Menlo Park. The Aedes aegypti, a tiny blackand-white mosquito that bites during the day, can carry yellow fever, dengue fever, chikungunya (a fever) and encephalitis viruses, according to a statement from the San Mateo County Mosquito and Vector Control District. This species has been detected at 13 locations in 2014, the first on Jan. 22, and all near the cemetery, officials say. This mosquito is not native to California but has also been found in Fresno and Madera counties. There have been no reports of illness so far, and the viruses have not been detected in California, the statement says. “Our goal is to eradicate this mosquito population,” says Robert Gay, the local district manager. “We are doing everything to help ensure this mos-
quito does not become established in our communities.” In 1979, district agents eradicated the Aedes aegypti from the county when it was discovered near San Francisco International Airport. The Aedes aegypti lays its eggs in water in small containers such as pots, pet bowls, bird baths and bottles. “It’s important for residents to survey their yard and (areas) around their house to eliminate even the smallest amount of standing water,” officials say. To reduce chances of being
bitten, the district recommends insect repellants containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535; checking window and door screens for tight fits; eliminating standing water from around the home; wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants; and shielding children, including through the use of mosquito nets over infant carriers, cribs and strollers. Sources of standing water such as neglected swimming pools should be reported to the vector control district at 650-344-8592. A
Emergency response exercise at Cafe Zoe Emergency response teams and community volunteers will attempt to deliver 2,700 “anthrax vaccines” door to door in three hours on Thursday, April 17, with Cafe Zoe in the Willows neighborhood simulating ground zero for an outbreak. The simulation will run from 9 a.m. to noon.
April 21: Small business roundtable Menlo Park will host its first quarterly meeting for small