Woodsideâ€™s Nick Woodman extends GoPro stock offering | Page 12
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2 N The Almanac N TheAlmanacOnline.com N June 18, 2014
R EAL E STATE Q&A
UP F RONT
by Monica Corman
Preparing a Home for Market Dear Monica: I want to sell my home soon and want advice on preparation. I have a ranch-style home in a good location that hasn’t been remodeled in 25 years and has other deferred maintenance. What would you recommend? John D. Dear John: Buyers like homes that look good. New paint, new carpeting, and newly finished hardwood floors are the simplest and most cost effective things you can do to prepare your home. If your home is in a good location chances are the pool of buyers will include several different segments of the market, e.g., buyers who want to keep the home but update it, and buyers who want to build new. It is in your
Photo by Nicole Miller
Grazing in a Portola Valley field is this paint horse, owned by Nicole Miler, one of the volunteer organizers of the Portola Valley Horse Fair.
Portola Valley celebrates the horse Submitted by Ellie Ferrari of Portola Valley.
he banners are up in town and the countdown has begun to Portola Valley’s “Celebration of the Horse, Past, Present and Future” on Sunday, June 22, a part of the town’s 50th anniversary celebrations. The day will kick off with three organized trail rides from 9 a.m. to noon, staging across from the Town Center in front
of Springdown. Ride-in only as no trailer parking is available. RSVP for the trail ride to email@example.com. Then, from 2 to 5 p.m., the Horse Fair will take place, with fun for the whole family, such as carriage rides, apple bobbing, Icelandic horses to pet, and miniature driving horses and their competition vehicles to check out. A horseshoer will on hand, plying his trade and shoes to decorate. Listen to a horse’s heartbeat and,
for good measure, sit on one of the demo saddles. For some action, how about flying around a mini-jumping course on foot and see what it’s like to be a horse? Or have a turn on a barrel, simulating what a vaulter does on horseback. On hand will be pony clubs, local stables, riding facilities and merchants, all catering to the horse. Local Girl Scouts will be selling refreshments. Bring the entire family (but leave the dog at home).
interest to attract as many buyers as you can so you should appeal to both of those groups. You may even want to re-roof your home if the present roof is at the end of its life. Many buyers who are stretching to buy don’t have money in reserve to do this kind of project soon after moving in. You may spend $10,000 to $50,000 on these improvements but this represents a small percentage of the value of the home in good Peninsula locations and will give you the best chance of achieving the highest price. You needn’t remodel kitchens and bathrooms in most cases because this is expensive and takes too long. But simple cosmetic updates can bring a high return.
For answers to any questions you may have on real estate, you may e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 462-1111, Alain Pinel Realtors. I also offer a free market analysis of your property. www.MonicaCorman.com
Cal Water is committed to supporting our customers’ conservation efforts as part of our plan to provide a reliable water supply for today and tomorrow. For ideas on how you can use water wisely, visit www.calwater.com/conservation, and look for our upcoming weekly tips in the Almanac.
Woodside rider, 15, to compete in Iceland By Kate Daly Special to the Almanac
mma Erickson, 15, of Woodside is busy riding her horses whenever she can, getting ready to fly to Iceland to compete in July. She is one of four Americans selected to participate in the FEIF (International Federation of Icelandic Horse Associations) Youth Cup, a biannual event open to young riders from 19 countries. Emma has just finished her freshman year at Woodside Priory, which could free up
a few more hours to exercise her three horses, ride with Woodside Pony Club, and work with her trainers. Emma Erickson Last summer she worked at Mountain Icelandic Farm in Watsonville and met a former FEIF Youth Cup competitor who encouraged Emma to apply to qualify for the event by submitting videos of her riding a tolt, a running walk or smooth natural gait that is
unique to Icelandic Horses, and a four-gait combination. Emma won a spot on the U.S. team and at the end of the month will be going with two other Bay Area riders and one from the East Coast to Iceland to meet their borrowed Icelandic horses and stay at a farm. The plan is to tour, attend clinics, and compete July 11-20. In general, Icelandic horses may be on the small side, but Emma says she enjoys their “nice pace” and personality. “They’re pretty smart,” she says, “so they’re pretty opinionated.” A
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Local News M
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Educators: Ending ‘tenure’ no magic bullet By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer
court decision last week to throw out state teacher tenure rules may lead people to think that this is the solution for providing quality education for all students, a shortsighted view in the opinion of local educators. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge on June 10 decided that tenure rules, which allow teachers to get lifetime job protection after just 18 months, were unconstitutional because they allow ineffective teachers to stay
in the system, thereby depriving equal access to a quality public education for all students. “I think some people believe that if you get rid of tenure, you’ve solved the problem and quality (of education) will go up,” said Deborah Stipek, dean of the school of education at Stanford University. The problems are elsewhere, she said, in teachers’ lack of social status and paychecks that don’t reflect their value to the community. Society needs to invest in the best and brightest, train them well and provide on-the-job support, she said.
“Tenure is a red herring,” Woodside High School English teacher Tony Mueller said is an email. “Rather than going after labor unions and worker’s rights, ‘reformers’ should confront the real problems with our education system: gross inequity in funding based on geography, the drastic cuts in social spending for the poor, the obscenely small amount of money spent per pupil in California, the constant attack on teachers from those intent on privatizing the system, and inherent American anti-intellectualism that is suspicious of science, poetry,
foreign languages, and history.” The lawsuit
Nine public school students represented by Students Matter, a nonprofit with a mail-drop in Menlo Park and founded by Atherton resident and Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch, sued the state and the state Department of Education in May 2012, alleging “outdated state laws that prevent the recruitment, support and retention of effective teachers.” The statutes in question — on tenure, dismissal and last-infirst-out teacher-layoff policies
— were declared unconstitutional in a June 10 decision by Judge Rolf M. Treu of Los Angeles County Superior Court. Judge Treu suspended the decision pending an appeal by the state. The lawsuit asserted that teachers play a crucial role in the lifetime achievements of their students, and that ineffective teachers can have a dramatically negative impact. Lawyers for the students claimed that such teachers are “disproportionately situated in schools serving predominantly See EDUCATORS, page 14
Sheriff changes policy on cooperating with immigration agents By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer
choing decisions made by local law enforcement agencies around the state and across the country, the Sheriff ’s Office in San Mateo County recently changed its policy with respect to cooperating with federal immigration agents. Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been routinely asking local authorities to temporarily detain arrested immigrants whom agents find of interest. As of May 23, immigrants eligible for release after being arrested will be released, despite ICE requests to detain them, unless there are “significant public safety concerns” about the person arrested, in which case the executive staff in the Sheriff’s Office has to approve the detention. Twenty-four other California counties have made similar policy changes, according to a list compiled by Jennie Pasquarella, an attorney with the Southern California branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. There is a state context: Effective Jan. 1, the Trust Act, authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in October 2013, sets minimum standards for not cooperating with ICE. The Trust Act recommends honoring ICE detention requests if the immigrant has a criminal record of being convicted of a
serious or violent felony, or a felony punishable by imprisonment by the state, or a misdemeanor that can also be punished as a felony. ICE did not respond to an interview request. According to the ICE website, the Obama administration has set “clear and commonsense priorities for immigration enforcement focused on identifying and removing those aliens with criminal convictions.” ICE claims a total of 368,644 “removals” for the 2013 fiscal year, including 133,551 people apprehended away from the borders, 82 percent of whom had criminal records. The new policy at the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office sets aside the “criminal record” standard and simplifies the matter to detaining immigrants who represent a “significant public safety concern,” adding that these instances are expected to be the “rare exception.” ‘Secure communities’
ICE makes its detainment requests through its Secure Communities program, which was launched in 2008 and, by January 2013, had reached “full implementation,” including all law enforcement jurisdictions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories, according to the ICE website.
Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac
Helen Seely answers questions about her time in Uganda after her presentation to third-graders at Laurel School.
Building a health center in Uganda By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor
n the era of big-buck philanthropy in which sixfigure donations get you a seat at the table and eight figures will mean your name’s on the building, a $1,300 check almost doesn’t seem worth mentioning. Unless the money was raised, a few coins at a time, by third-graders over a two-week period. Such is the case with thirdgraders at Laurel School, who saved their allowances, worked around the house, and staffed lemonade stands to contribute to a $20,000 fund for the con-
struction of a health center in Uganda. Leading the effort was former Laurel School and MenloAtherton High School student Helen Seely, who through the nonprofit Mama Hope spent four months this year in Budondo, Uganda, to help residents there realize their dream of establishing a health center in the community. The appeal to third-graders at the K-3 school in Atherton was a natural: Helen’s mother, Priscilla Seely, teaches one of the six third-grade classes there. All six classes participated, which adds up to about
120 students, the elder Ms. Seely said. Helen Seely visited the campus recently, equipped with a PowerPoint program to show the students “the progress you helped make — the impact that you had ... and the lives that you helped change” in the tiny African village. Others were inspired to support the $20,000 fundraising effort after hearing about the third-graders’ contribution “because people were so inspired by your dedication,” she told them during the mornSee BUILDING, page 8
See IMMIGRATION, page 8
June 18, 2014 N TheAlmanacOnline.com N The Almanac N 5
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Greenheart complex moves into environmental review By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer
Whether those plans will have to change won’t be known until the November election, when an initiative proposed by grassroots coalition Save Menlo is likely to go on the ballot. The initiative, among other changes, would cap office space at 100,000 square feet per project, cutting by about 50 percent the amount allowed to be built within Greenheart’s mixed-use complex. Company representative Bob Burke said that while Greenheart believes the initiative will go on the ballot, the company cannot assume that it will win, and indeed, hopes that Menlo Park voters defeat it. “We believe the initiative has major flaws with multiple unfortunate consequences, namely that Menlo Park residents will miss the opportunity to achieve the full vibrancy of the downtown, as well as lose much-needed revenue for the schools and the city that would result from development in accordance with the downtown specific plan, which was adopted as part of a thorough, transparent, and deliberative six year process,” Mr. Burke said. Rather than wait to see how things turn out, the company has decided to move ahead and pay for the environmental review. “We do not believe it is in Greenheart’s or the city’s best interest to freeze the entitlement process now because a group of neighbors is dissatisfied with the outcome of a fully vetted, public planning process,” he said. The council was scheduled to hear an informational-only update that the review process was continuing during its June 17 meeting, after the Almanac’s deadline. At this stage, no action will be taken regarding any type of project approvals; the city is preparing to determine the scope of the review. “Detailed project review likely isn’t happening until 2015, in any event,” said Thomas Rogers, senior planner for Menlo Park.
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reenheart Land Company is commencing the next phase of the environmental review of its proposed 420,000-square-foot mixed-use complex, located within the specific plan’s boundaries at 1300 El Camino Real in Menlo Park. Although the specific plan came with its own environmental impact review, according to the city’s planning staff, Greenheart’s project has some features that require a more in-depth, project-level analysis, such as the fact that separate developments had previously been put forward for some of the parcels now merged into Greenheart’s project. At one point, the Derry project was proposed, but that fell apart after delays and negotiations in the face of community opposition led to financing difficulties for the developer. Greenheart is planning to build two three-story buildings with 210,000 square feet of office space, and up to 216 apartments on its nearly 7-acre site, with 16,000 square feet of retail incorporated into the commercial buildings and 7,000 square feet in the residential. Ninety-five percent of the onsite parking would be provided by an underground garage with entrances off El Camino Real and Garwood Way. The company is aiming to provide public benefits in exchange for building to the bonus level of allowed floor area ratio at 150 percent, rather than the 110 percent, to let the two office buildings go up to 48 feet, with the top stories set back. The proposal also includes renovating Garwood Way and creating a bicycle/pedestrian path to connect with the Caltrain station on Merrill Street. The project’s proximity to the Caltrain station should help decrease the number of car trips, and 95 percent of the onsite parking will be provided by an underground garage.
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School foundation raises $3.6M
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6 N The Almanac N TheAlmanacOnline.com N June 18, 2014
For the second consecutive year, the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation has raised $3.6 million to supplement funding for teachers and classroom programs in the Menlo Park City School District. Representatives of the nonprofit foundation, including students from the district’s four
schools, presented an over-sized mock-up of a check for the $3.6 million donation at the June 10 school board meeting. Fundraising efforts by the foundation have resulted in more than $25 million in donations to the district over the last 11 years. The latest grant will supplement the district’s 201415 fiscal year budget.
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City looks at â€˜east sideâ€™ zoning By Sandy Brundage