Spring Real Estate
Inside this issue
Spring Real Estate TALES OF SUCCESS IN A CHALLENGING MARKET
STATEMENT HOMES PAGE 20
WHAT THE KIDS WANT
RENTERS FEEL THE SQUEEZE
WEB APP: SIMPLIFYING HOUSING CHOICES PAGE 40
A P U B L I C AT I O N O F T H E A L M A N A C A N D P A L O A L T O W E E K LY
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 , 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
APRIL 23, 2014
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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 3154 Woodside Road Woodside 650.851.1587 www.wvchurch.org
Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac
Clay J. Curtin, assistant to the city manager, walks through the front room of the new Belle Haven police substation.
New police substation more like ‘a neighborhood service center’ By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer
he new Menlo Park Police Department substation holds some surprises for the Belle Haven neighborhood. The long-awaited facility, scheduled to open April 26, will offer some equally long-awaited community services in addition to its policing functions. “The substation project really grew into a larger project that we are equating to a neighborhood service center,” said Clay Curtin, whose duties as assistant to the city manager expanded to include overseeing construction of the new facility. In addition to a community messageboard and a meeting room, residents can use a new ATM — already operational — courtesy of the San Mateo Credit Union, which plans to provide other services and financial education that the Belle Haven community requested during the city’s recent “visioning process,” Mr. Curtin said. Eventually public Wi-Fi and a computer terminal will be
available, and possibly other electronic banking services. The substation’s architecture reflects the desire for a community gathering spot. Located in a strip mall at Hamilton Avenue and Willow Road, the 1,800-square-foot space used to be two separate units that the city leased from the property owner and combined, according to Mr. Curtin.
Belle Haven facility opens April 26. Facebook paid for the construction costs — $139,635 — and is also chipping in $2,800 toward the $3,700 monthly rent, with the city paying the rest. The social media company’s influence shows in the design details as well, as Mr. Curtin described the wood finishes, moveable furniture, polished concrete and other details that resemble those at Facebook’s headquarters down the road. With double doors at the front and wraparound windows let-
ting in plenty of natural light, to “make the space feel larger, more open, and friendly,” he said, the facility presents a stark contrast to the police department’s old substation on Newbridge, which often earned comparisons to a bunker, complete with barred windows. “We want to create an atmosphere where the community feels much more welcome to just come in and provide information, or get services,” Police Chief Bob Jonsen said. “Right now they’re really happy about having that ATM, believe it or not. They really wanted and needed one, and they realize that we’re listening, rather than the city dictating what we want them to have.” After opening, the substation will launch a six-month staffing trial with a community service officer and a code enforcement officer. A third officer, Mary Ferguson-Dixon, who was selected to fill a new position underwritten by Facebook, will keep an office at the facility. See BELLE HAVEN, page 6
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Good for Business. Good for You. Good for the Community. PARENTS AND KIDS THINK THEY’RE “SICK”.
Meet our two very popular pediatricians, Dr. Sky Pittson and Dr. Sarah Cueva. Parents like that they can talk to them directly instead of going through a nurse. And kids like them enough to stop by on their bikes just to say “hi”. We think that’s pretty “sick”, or as some say, “cool”.
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.
If that appeals to you, we invite you to do what the kids do, stop by and say “hi”. Old-fashioned values. Modern medicine.
650.851.4747 • WWW.VILLAGEDOCTOR.COM April 23, 2014 N TheAlmanacOnline.com N The Almanac N 3
Join us for the Brown Jordan Spring Sales Event. Save an ADDITIONAL 5% OFF all collections. NOW THROUGH M AY 12.
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Local News M
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Town challenges Caltrain electrification report By Barbara Wood Special to the Almanac
ess than a mile of train tracks runs through Atherton, but that hasn’t stopped the small town from making an outsized effort to fight changes in rail service. In its latest effort to derail proposed train service modifications, Atherton’s City Council unanimously approved on April 16 a four-page letter pointing out problems in the draft environmental impact report for Caltrain’s plan to
electrify its trains. The letter, signed by Mayor Cary Wiest, but prepared mostly by the town’s rail committee, asks Caltrain to change the draft report so it looks at more alternatives to electrification and to “respond to the questions and concerns that we have outlined in this letter.” The letter says the report is incomplete because it does not include analysis of the entire high-speed rail project, even though one of the stated aims of the electrification project is to make the Peninsula tracks
Atherton ask Caltrain to examine more alternatives to electrification and to analyze the entire highspeed rail project. compatible with HSR. It also faults the environmental review for not looking at alternatives that aren’t compatible with HSR. “The project objectives: to improve
train performance, increase ridership, service and revenue, while reducing environmental impacts, improving regional air quality and reducing green-house gas emissions and noise can be achieved by other means, and a failure to examine and analyze feasible alternatives that might reduce environmental impacts is a fatal deficiency,” the letter states. Atherton has a 10-member rail committee (one seat is currently empty) which meets monthly. The committee has been active in fighting the pro-
posal to bring high-speed rail through the Peninsula. Paul Jones, committee chair, told the council that two attorneys believe the town will “have grounds for litigation” if the environmental report is approved as written. He disputes claims in the report that electric trains will decrease greenhouse gases, that noise will decrease and that vehicular traffic will not be greatly impeded by additional trains. Greenhouse gas emissions will See CALTRAIN, page 8
No charges against driver in death of Joy Covey By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer
an Mateo County prosecutors have decided not to bring charges against the driver of a delivery van involved in a fatal accident in September 2013 that took the life of Woodside cyclist and former Amazon CFO Joy Covey. The van and bicycle collision occurred on Skyline Boulevard about three miles south of La Honda Road. Ms. Covey, 50, was the mother of an 8-year-old son, Tyler. The Almanac learned of the decision not to bring charges when it asked District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe on April 15 for an update. He said the District Attorney’s Office made its decision in February after receiving the California Highway Patrol’s completed accident report in November. In an excerpt of a memo to the CHP, prosecutor Joe Cannon says there is insufficient evidence to establish negligence by the driver. At the time of the Sept. 18 accident, Ms. Covey was riding her bike north on a downhill section of Skyline Boulevard at about 1:30 p.m. when a white Mazda minivan traveling south turned left onto Elk Tree Road “directly in front of the bicycle,” according to a CHP report. In the memo, Mr. Cannon says the van driver was neither distracted nor intoxicated. Mr. Cannon cites a witness who describes the area as dappled with light and shadow at the
time, a condition that the witness said makes seeing a bicyclist difficult. Mr. Cannon also cites a wit- Photo by Julie West of the NRDC ness who said Joy Covey that it appeared that Ms. Covey and the driver did not see each other. These findings would “prevent” a jury from finding negligence beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard of proof in such a case, Mr. Cannon says. “Based on the totality of the circumstances and results obtained in similar scenarios, a jury would more probably find what occurred was a tragic accident rather than negligence by the suspect,” he says in the memo. Joy Covey
At the time of the accident, Ms. Covey was the treasurer for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). She had been the chief financial officer at Amazon from 1996 to 2000. In 2003, she received the Distinguished Alumna Award from Fresno State University. Her bachelor’s degree from Fresno in business administration was awarded summa cum laude. Ms. Covey graduated from Harvard Business School and was a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, both in 1990. In 1999, Fortune magazine See COVEY, page 8
Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac
Quick response During an emergency response exercise in Menlo Park on April 17, these four responders (from left, Ryan Cramer, Sandy Ciardella, Sanford Carnaham and Robert Lombaerde) take instruction from Operations Chief Alan Douglass. The goal of the “Silver Dragon” exercise was to deliver 2,700 “anthrax vaccines” door-to-door in three hours. Responders from Menlo Park’s fire, police and CERT teams participated in the drill. Cafe Zoe in the Willows neighborhood served as a staging area.
Town to upgrade school crosswalk When students start the 201415 school year at Woodside Elementary School in late August, the crosswalk across Woodside Road in front of the school will have new stripes, new and brighter lights to warn vehicle traffic, and better drainage to redirect rainwater. Work on the improvements is set to begin in June, about a year later than originally planned. The town of Woodside is bud-