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Schools and Land Use in San Carlos.

Laureola1 small

A Common Misconception.

When it comes to commercial building development in San Carlos, the Building and Planning Divisions of San Carlos are intimately involved in the every step of the process. From the initial conceptual design and environmental impact report (EIR) all the way through implementation and construction of the project, you can rest assured that both Divisions carry significant influence in how the development will ultimately turn out.

For every major commercial development that is currently under construction or in the planning phases for construction (Wheeler Plaza, Transit Village, Landmark Hotel, etc..), that’s exactly how the process works. But there’s one class of development that is the exception to this rule, and it creates lots of confusion in the community who owns oversees it – schools.

Because the development of new schools is governed at the state level, the City has very little involvement into where schools can be built, and what they ultimately look like.  Unfortunately, the City becomes the punching bag when unpopular decisions are made in this area, when in reality it’s entirely out of their hands.

Recently, the Sequoia Union High School District made some significant waves in the local community by announcing its intent to build two “magnet” high schools within its boundaries. These two schools would be of much smaller scale than the existing campuses in the District, with each holding only 300-400 students — less than 1/4 of the enrollment of any other school in the district, and a far smaller physical footprint since neither school needs the additional space for athletic facilities.

The District moved forward and closed on two properties targeted for these magnet campuses.  The first is at 153 Jefferson Avenue in Menlo Park, and the second plot is at 535 Old County Road in the Greater East Side Neighborhood of San Carlos.

The controversy arises not from the fact that the District has chosen to build the two campuses. They are battling the same over-capacity concerns that literally every school district on the Peninsula is right now. The concern is over the location of the school – specifically, the proposed San Carlos magnet school. Anyone who knows San Carlos traffic patterns is keenly aware that the multiple intersections of Holly Street at both El Camino Real and Old County Road already get extremely congested during peak hours. Adding a 400-student school right at this intersection is going to pose some significant traffic challenges.

To make matters worse for GESC residents, it comes on the heels of battles that were fought over the Transit Village, the Landmark Hotel, and the Holly Street re-striping. This must have a certain “deja-vu” feeling to it, and I’m quite certain they feel that they are on the defense yet again.

The Future Of Laureola Park?

Of equal concern with the San Carlos location is the fact that it is adjacent to Laureola Park, which has prompted fears from the community that the magnet school will eventually absorb this coveted neighborhood park for its own use.

While the City of San Carlos has very little impact on the development of schools, it does have the ultimate control and authority over what can be done with its parks, a fact that the City recently reassured its citizens of in an online letter.  It also used this opportunity to provide citizens with the proper conduit to voice their opinions about the proposed magnet school development.

So the bottom line is that while the City has very little control over the magnet school that is being proposed, it does have ultimate authority over Laureola Park.  And as of now, it’s not going anywhere.

Here is the letter from the City of San Carlos in its entirety:

Most projects and land use decisions in San Carlos require City approval. As such, residents are used to sharing their comments and concerns about such proposals with their elected City Council members and the City Staff. One of the few exceptions to this City land use control is the planning and building of public schools. The State agencies listed at the bottom of the page oversee all public school projects and both the High School District and San Carlos Elementary School District are exempted by the State from any local land use control and oversight.

The decision to locate a new magnet high school in San Carlos is under the sole jurisdiction of the Sequoia Union High School District Board.  The City has had very little involvement with the specifics of the proposed 300-400 student magnet high school that the District is considering locating on Old County Road near Laureola Park and the Cal Train Station.  The City staff has offered to meet with District Staff to discuss their proposed new school and any potential sites and alternatives in San Carlos.

While the City is interested in hearing from our community about how they feel about what’s being proposed, the City does not have the ability to approve or reject the project.  There has also been a lot of talk in the community that the District will take or use Laureola Park as part of the school. This has not been proposed by the District to date nor has the City considered this. The park is the sole responsibility of the City and its City Council members and any future proposals to use the park in conjunction with a high school would be discussed and considered by the City Council with the public before any changes could take place with regard to the park. While the District can build a school without the City being involved, they cannot take or use a City park without the City’s consent.

Early next year the City will use the Shape San Carlos open online town hall forum to provide residents with the opportunity to share their views on the High School District’s proposed plans.

In the meantime, if you’d like to share your thoughts with your elected High School Board members their contact information is as follows:

Allen Weiner, President
[email protected]
650-724-5892

Olivia Martinez, Vice President
[email protected]
650-323-7311

Chris Thomsen
[email protected]
650-736-7569

Carrie Du Bois
[email protected]
650-766-9069

Alan Sarver
[email protected]
650-592-6129

State Agencies:

California Department of Education
916-319-0800
http://www.cde.ca.gov/index.asp

Office of Public School Construction
916-376-1771
http://www.dgs.ca.gov/opsc/Home.aspx

Division of the State Architect
916-445-8100
http://www.dgs.ca.gov/dsa/home.aspx

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San Carlos Summer Concert Series – 2015

SanCarlos_MusicInThePark_Master_300dpi(3)_1

A San Carlos Summer Tradition.

It’s July in San Carlos, and besides summer vacation and Little League Baseball, you know what July means… Summer Concerts in the Park! For those of you not familiar with this fantastic San Carlos summertime tradition, every Friday evening for the next 6 weeks the picnic area of Burton Park is transformed into a concert venue where you can join your friends and neighbors and take in some free music.

This even has gotten so popular in recent years that a permanent stage was added to the picnic area to accommodate these concerts when Burton Park got its facelift several years ago:

Photo May 30, 10 14 59 AM

Here’s the line-up for the 2015 edition of Music in the Park:

Date Band
Genre Sponsor
July 10 Cripple Creek Band
Country San Carlos Park & Recreation
July 17 Mustache Harbor Rock Party Band Provident Credit Union
July 24 E-Ticket Oldies Rock n’ Roll Today Sotheby’s International Realty & BOWWOW Meow
July 31 Chops Big Band Big Band San Carlos Elms
August 7 Lara Price Blues Revue Blues Palo Alto Medical Foundation
August 14 Donnie & the Wayrads Classic Rock Parks and Recreation Foundation of San Carlos & Recology San Mateo County

 

So pack up your lawn chairs, some great food, and your favorite wine and get ready to take in some free music along with your San Carlos neighbors and friends. Be sure to get there early to nab your favorite spot, because this event draws a great crowd.  (And remember, no separate BBQ’s allowed.)
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San Carlos “Do Not Knock” Registry is Now Online

Do-Not-Knock

An End to Unwanted Solicitations.

“Knock, Knock!!”

“Who’s There?”

“Ordinance 1484″

“Ordinance 1484 who?”

Exactly…

Two months ago I wrote this post about an effort that was underway by the City Council of San Carlos to reduce the amount of unwanted marketing literature that was being delivered every day to San Carlos residences, and to allow residents and business owners to opt out of unwanted door-to-door solicitations.   Regarding the latter issue, the San Carlos City Council enacted Ordinance 1484 on March 13 of this year, which essentially replaced the existing ordinance in the City’s municipal code with newer and more stringent regulations regarding door-to-door solicitations.

One of the key features of Ordinance 1484 is the creation of a “Do Not Knock Registry” on the City of San Carlos website, which allows residents and business owners to publicly declare that they do not allow solicitations at their address.

The problem is that it took a few weeks after the Ordinance was passed to get the registry up and running on the site, and I think most residents simply forgot about the new regulations, since so few residents have enrolled to date. But thanks to a tip from blog reader Scott, I am pleased to inform you that the Do Not Knock Registry is indeed alive and accessible on the city website, which you can access by clicking here.

So if you wish to make your home a Knock-Free Zone, log into the site today and register your address.  As of today, there are only 3 addresses registered.

Hopefully this post will help change that…
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A Reminder About Leaving Valuables in Your Car.

smash

Complacency.

One of the characteristics that people find endearing about San Carlos is its relatively low crime levels, and its trustworthy community feel. I know a number of residents that rarely ever lock their house or their cars, regardless of whether they are home or not. But that very trust that makes us so comfortable here can also lead to a complacency that burglars will absolutely seize.

A recent case in point was the latest smash-and-grab car burglaries that took place in the parking lot of the San Carlos Marketplace (Best Buy, Ross, etc..).  Lucky for these people, the perps were caught across the bay and most of the stolen items were recovered. Thieves love this parking lot because of its close proximity to the freeway for a getaway route, and the fact that people will leave their valuables in plain sight in the car — purses, phones, laptops — while they jump out and get lunch or coffee.  Even if the car is locked, the thieves simply just punch the windows in, grab your stuff, and they’re gone in seconds.  This has been a ongoing problem with this parking lot, and others that straddle 101.

There have also been some vehicle break-ins closer to home.  Most recently, a string of cars along Carmelita Drive were broken into in the wee hours of the morning, and valuables were taken. And it seems that only a few weeks go by and you hear of another street getting hit.

The bottom line is that you need to be extra diligent about not leaving anything of value in your car if you can at all avoid it.  If you have things in your car that a thief can turn over for money, store them out of site in the trunk.  Better yet, just take them with you.

It’s a bummer to have to write this kind of article, but just because we love and trust the community we live in, it doesn’t guarantee that everyone else that passes through our city does too.

Have a safe weekend…
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New Ordinances in San Carlos Aim to Eliminate Unwanted Solicitations and Marketing Materials.

San Carlos City of Good Living

Reduce Intrusions.

Responding to public complaints about unwanted solicitation material and an overall invasion of privacy, The City Council of San Carlos has taken some unique and aggressive steps to severely limit the intrusion of solicitors  — both the ones that knock on your door at all hours of the day, and those that litter your yard with marketing solicitation material or newspapers that you never requested.

In its most recent sessions, the Council considered two ordinances that address both of these issues, and may finally put some teeth in the enforcement of what has become a long standing annoyance in San Carlos. The only catch is that you’ll need to take the step to register your address to ensure protection under these new laws.

Unwanted Literature.

The first ordinance that is due to be adopted by the Council in a few weeks was largely brought about by complaints about the San Francisco Examiner, and their insistence on delivering their newspaper to the driveways of virtually every household in San Carlos — whether the residents consent to it or not. The problem that has arisen is that the Examiner does not seem to heed homeowner’s requests to cease delivering the newspaper to their homes.

As is discussed in this article in the Mercury News, one of the biggest problems with unsolicited newspapers, aside from the obvious litter, is when the papers start to accumulate on a driveway.  This can be an indication to burglars that the residents are gone for an extended period of time, which is never a good thing, and something homeowners cannot control if the papers keep showing up unsolicited.

To combat this, residents will soon be able to list their home addresses in a “refusal of consent” registry posted online by the City Clerk’s Office.  They can also inform someone not to disperse literature on their property or post clearly visible signs prohibiting it.

A violation of the ordinance will be considered an infraction, according to the City Attorney, and will carry fines for violating the ordinance. The first infraction will cost $100, the second $200, and each one after that $500.

Do Not Knock.

The second ordinance that will work its way through the Council is similar to the ordinance prohibiting unwanted literature, except that it’s aimed at door-to-door solicitors.  Much like the anti-literature ordinance, a registry will be created online where residents can register their addresses to opt out of commercial solicitations at their home.

The City passed a requirement a few years ago mandating that door-to-door solicitors obtain a permit before hitting the streets, but this update to the ordinance allows residents to put solicitors on notice that their home is a “Knock-Free Zone.”  According to this article in the Daily Journal, there are some groups who are exempted from this ordinance, such as political and religious groups, but this ordinance should go a long way to eliminating the annoying doorbell ring during dinner time.

One industry that has been an equal offender on both fronts is, unfortunately, the real estate industry.  Between Realtors knocking on the door insisting that “I have a buyer for your home” (even though they’ve never seen your home), or those who leave the same message on a business card unceremoniously dumped on your porch, there are a few in the industry who have raised the ire of many homeowners.  Both of these ordinances should allow homeowners to significantly reduce these intrusions.

Once these ordinances are fully approved by the City Council, the online registries will be available for residents to sign up. I will update this post with that information as it becomes available.
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Are you ready to step up to the most comprehensive data available about the San Carlos Real Estate market? Then subscribe to the White Oaks Blog for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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Friday Fun: Girl Scouts Invade San Carlos.

February 13, 2015 Living in San Carlos No Comments
Traffic Signs

It’s That Time of Year.

It’s now about a month or so into the new year, and you’re hopefully still working on at least one of the few New Year’s resolutions left that you didn’t scrap during the first week of January.  One of those is probably exercise, right?  By now, you’ve probably settled into a good workout routine, and are starting to see some positive results.  You’re feeling good, and you’re eating well — avoiding dietary temptations at every turn.  Your will power is impenetrable.

And then it happens…

The doorbell rings innocently enough.  You open the door, and suddenly you’re face to face with your diet killer — all of 4 feet tall, in a brown vest, and packing heat in a red wagon. Heat, as in the form of Samoa’s, Thin Mints, and lord knows what other kinds of dietary sins they can dream up with peanut butter and chocolate.

It’s Game Over for your diet.

GirlScoutCookies

You may think for a split second of all of the normal excuses you’d give to a telemarketer for not purchasing, but not here. Before you know it, you’re filling in the order sheet, clearing out freezer space, and shaking down that poor little girl for her last box of cookies.

And it’s all good.  Load up.

The Girl Scouts have been selling cookies in our neighborhood ever since we moved to San Carlos 25+ years ago.  And we have never missed the opportunity to support this great organization, while inheriting a few good calories along the way.

This weekend downtown you’ll probably see a few stands set up along Laurel Street where the Girl Scouts will be selling their wares. Support them, even if you don’t eat cookies. Take a few boxes to work, where you’ll be the most popular person in your office, while at the same time amazed at how fast they disappear.

Just like the four seasons, we can always count on that time of year when the Girl Scouts invade San Carlos. Let’s hope that never changes.

Have a marvelous weekend!
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Are you ready to step up to the most comprehensive data available about the San Carlos Real Estate market? Then subscribe to the White Oaks Blog for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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San Carlos Enacts Emergency Drought Ordinance.

February 12, 2015 Living in San Carlos No Comments
Dripping taps

Official Drought Declaration.

Back in November 2014, the City Council passed Ordinance 1479, which gave the City tools for the enforcement of water restrictions if/when a declaration of drought emergency is declared. This means that “non-essential” uses of water in San Carlos would become unlawful during the declaration period, and financial penalties would be enforced by the City.  It mirrors the ordinances that many other communities around the Bay Area already have in place, or will soon.

Well San Carlos residents, that day has come.  On Monday, February 9, 2015, the City Council voted to declare a state of drought emergency in San Carlos.  The decision came down even though we saw ample rain in December 2014, and most recently just this past week.  But January 2015 was the driest and hottest year the Bay Area has ever recorded, and marks the fourth consecutive year of drought in California. According to the news release, local water storage is still only 58% of its maximum capacity.

The Penalty for Water Waste.

If you are caught wasting water after the commencement of the declaration period, which will take effect on 5/15/2015, it’s going to cost you some money. San Carlos Municipal Code Chapter 1.20 outlines the penalties for violations of Ordinance 1479:

  • $100 for the first violation;
  • $200 for the second violation within the same year;
  • $500 for each additional violation within the same year;
  • For each day a violator continues the unlawful action, he or she is guilty of a separate offense.

Curious about what you can and cannot do with water this summer?  You can read the ordinance and see a complete list of all nonessential water uses by clicking the following link:  San Carlos Ordinance 1479.

Spoiler Alert:  You’re probably going to have to keep the Slip ‘n Slide packed away this summer…
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Are you ready to step up to the most comprehensive data available about the San Carlos Real Estate market? Then subscribe to the White Oaks Blog for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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“Shape San Carlos” to Host 3 Community Forums.

San Carlos City of Good Living

Community Forum.

Back in 2014, the City of San Carlos launched an innovative online forum called Shape San Carlos, which was designed to allow residents to voice their opinion online to the decision makers in San Carlos about a variety of issues ranging from traffic, to downtown development, to recreation facilities. The popularity of the site has grown as more residents have discovered it.

The City just announced the next phase of the Shape San Carlos community outreach program, which will be a series of three community forums where residents can attend in person to participate in a highly interactive discussion about the future direction of San Carlos. The sessions will each be 2 hours in length, and will be held on the following dates:

  • Saturday morning, January 10th, 10:00am – 12:00pm at the ACC, 601 Chestnut St.
  • Tuesday evening, January 13th, 7:00 – 9:00pm at the library, 610 Elm St.
  • Thursday evening, January 15th, 7:00 – 9:00pm at the library, 610 Elm St.

This is a fantastic idea, and should foster some really interesting discussions at a time when many changes are taking place in San Carlos.  Kudos to the City of San Carlos for setting up this public forum.

If you’re interested in the future direction of San Carlos, or would like to have your opinion heard by the decision makers in City Hall, then I highly recommend you attend one of these sessions (I’m attending the Saturday meeting.)  The City requests that you sign up in advance at the Shape San Carlos Registration Page so that they can gauge the expected attendance in advance.

The future is very bright for San Carlos, and you the opportunity to help chart that direction.  Don’t miss the chance.
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Are you ready to step up to the most comprehensive data available about the San Carlos Real Estate market? Then subscribe to the White Oaks Blog for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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