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The White Oaks Neighborhood Watch Bulletin: 12-16-2015

December 17, 2015 Living in San Carlos No Comments
City of San Mateo Neighborhood Watch

The White Oaks Neighborhood Watch

Thanks to a relentless and dedicated group of residents, the White Oaks neighborhood now has probably the most efficient and organized Neighborhood Watch groups in all of San Carlos. Several years ago, they took the initiative to reach out to local law enforcement and work closely together to create what is now the prototype for neighborhood watch groups throughout San Carlos. The White Oaks group acts not only as a tremendously valuable set of eyes and ears for local law enforcement, but also as a very effective liaison between the local community and our first responders. You need to look no further than the ever-popular ice cream social, which has been hosted by the White Oaks Neighborhood Watch for the past several years on National Night Out, to see how effective this has become.

There’s probably not a single resident who has put in more sweat equity to create this organization and keep it running smoothly than White Oaks neighbor Ken Castle. It’s mostly due to Ken’s dogged perseverance over the past few years that the Neighborhood Watch has evolved from just an idea to the well-oiled organization that it is today.

On top of all of his other Watch duties (and life and work), Ken takes the time to pen a very informative Neighborhood Watch Bulletin, which he distributes via email. To help ensure that these valuable bulletins are seen by residents who may not be on his distribution list, I will now be re-posting Ken’s updates on the White Oaks Blog as soon as they become available. Thanks Ken, for all that you do to keep our neighborhood safer!

Here is the White Oaks Neighborhood Watch Bulletin from December 16, 2015 in its entirety:


Dec. 16, 2015

In this bulletin:

Prowlers, Burglaries Raise Concerns
Beware of Porch Pirates During Holidays
City Plan for “Traffic Calming” on St. Francis Includes Speed Humps


If you’re planning a major home renovation project, such as adding rooms, a second floor or a new roof, you should be aware that you and your contractor may be targeted by thieves who comb the neighborhood looking for tools to swipe.  The San Carlos Bureau of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office says there is an uptick of burglaries involving unoccupied homes under construction, not only here but throughout the Bay Area. Of course, we all know that renovations in White Oaks, including replacement homes, constitute a major activity here.

Sheriff’s deputies and police recently made arrests involving a crew of thieves operating out of the Bayview District of San Francisco.  The arrests stemmed from a recent construction site burglary on Colton Avenue, here in White Oaks, during which a neighbor on nearby Park Avenue observed a suspicious truck and called in a description to police.  Deputies combed the neighborhood and also retrieved surveillance video of the suspects, along with a partial license plate of the vehicle.

According to Sgt. Steve Pettit of the San Carlos Patrol Bureau, the truck owner was identified and a watch was set up in San Mateo County.  It wasn’t long before the crew was back in the area, and this time they were busted at a site in Belmont.  Their truck contained various stolen goods, and taken into custody was a 57-year-old woman, who had served prison time and was currently on parole, and her daughter who was helping her with the heists.

Sgt. Pettit said the work site burglaries, contrary to other types of home break-ins, usually occur in the wee hours of the morning between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m.  The would-be thieves often case the area during the day to identify objects of value, which can be power tools such as saws and drills, portable generators, and other materials.  Since most of these items have no serial numbers, they are usually untraceable and are often fenced through large flea markets such as those in Oakland and San Jose, he said. Contractors have installed fencing with padlocked gates, along with portable video surveillance cameras, but have still been getting ripped off.

In contrast to construction site burglaries, the conventional break-ins are usually during the day, when the perpetrators look for homes that are unoccupied.  One of the favorite strategies is for the burglars to drive around, sizing up prospective targets, and then drop off one individual to ring doorbells.  If there is no answer, the thief gains entry through a back door or window, spends three to five minutes in the home collecting jewelry and other small valuables, and then sends a cell phone text message to the driver for a pick-up.  Usually, these crooks are not trying to steal large objects such as big-screen TVs or other electronics, which take more time and would likely raise suspicion among neighbors.  Also, they tend not to be armed with guns or knives, so if they are caught there are no additional charges for carrying weapons.

Just last week, on Dec. 9, a homeowner on the 200 block of Alberta, also here in White Oaks, called police when he saw a man lurking in his back yard around lunch time.  He ran after the suspect but lost him, and the prowler also managed to elude deputies who conducted an extensive search of the neighborhood, going door to door. One witness reported seeing an older model gold van with a white front end drive away quickly before officers arrived.

Sgt. Pettit notes there are two things that contribute to the environment for these burglaries:
(1) suspects who are caught and prosecuted rarely spend much time in jail and are soon back out on the street, and (2) neighbors often see something strange but fail to call police.


With the holiday season underway, thieves are just waiting for the opportunity to snatch that Keurig Coffee Maker, notebook PC or any other large box that is left at your front door.  They routinely follow delivery trucks from FedEx, UPS and other companies, and when they see something sizeable dropped off, they scoop it up as soon as the truck is gone.  Even though some of the delivery firms have mounted video cameras in the back of their vehicles to track followers, and even though law enforcement agencies have done stakeouts, the thieves seem to elude capture.

Keep in mind  that once a package is left at your home, if the shipping company delivers the package the way you paid for it, you have no recourse against the vendor or the delivery firm if it is stolen; the loss is on you.  Sometimes homeowners don’t know a package a missing until days or weeks after it was shipped.  Recently, surveillance videos of porch pirates have been all over the TV news, and what’s apparent is that women are often the culprits.

Here are some ways to avoid these rip-offs:

Send large parcels to your workplace or office instead of your home.
Specify to the vendor when ordering that it should be delivered on a day when you are home, such as Saturday.
If you have the package shipped through the U.S. Postal Service, you can designate delivery to your local Post Office to hold it for you to pick up.
If the package is being sent via FedEx or UPS, get a tracking number so that you can follow its progress on-line.
If you are not likely to be home, have your package delivered to a neighbor or friend and require the delivery company to get a signature from someone there.
Install a video surveillance or doorbell-triggered camera to capture any suspicious activity on your porch and in front of your house.
Use alternative services such as firms that will deliver at a specified time, or lockers provided by companies such as 7-Eleven and Swapbox (a San Francisco based start-up).  Amazon is also introducing lockers and has just installed a large package collection center for students at UC Berkeley.


The City of San Carlos is well aware of resident complaints about vehicles speeding along St. Francis Way, which becomes a major thoroughfare during commute hours.  Parents escorting their children to school, or people out for a jog or dog-walking, are among those who have voiced concern about the extent and pace of traffic.

So, the Transportation and Circulation Commission, which is appointed by the City Council, is on the verge of launching a series of “Traffic Calming” improvements on St. Francis between El Camino and Alameda de las Pulgas.  While the phrase sounds like something out of a mental health prescription, the city intends to implement temporary structures to see if they are successful in getting motorists to slow down.  Strangely enough, to the concern of some residents and commissioners, adding more stop signs is NOT one of the proposed solutions.

Here are the measures that are on tap for implementation:

On St. Francis at Walnut Street, install two intersection curb “bulb-outs” on the eastern corners with a “surface mounted delineator” and 50 feet of red curb to prohibit parking.
On the stretch of St. Francis between Elm Street and Chestnut Street, install two surface-mounted Speed Humps.  These would be temporary, gradually-sloped structures that are not as damaging or jarring as more traditional speed bumps.
At Cedar Street, a major route for children walking to White Oaks Elementary School, the city would hire a flagman and share the cost with the school district.
At Park Avenue and St. Francis, there would be temporary medians on St. Francis at both sides of Park, with what is called a “delineator.”
At Emerald Avenue intersection, there would be a traffic circle or mini-roundabout with delineators.

There were concerns expressed by several residents at the Oct. 20 meeting of the Commission, among them:

Speed bumps may be effective for non-resident traffic, but White Oaks residents may simply choose to avoid them – and the frequent punishment on the suspension systems of their vehicles – by driving alternative routes.  I share that view.  I will avoid those bumps by taking a different route to El Camino, and if others follow suit then this will simply move the traffic problem from St. Francis to other — and formerly quieter — streets.  In other words, our problem may now be YOUR problem if you thought you were off the beaten path.
St. Francis, as we all know, is a major avenue for emergency vehicles such as fire engines and ambulances.  Some people worried that the bumps, island and bulb-outs could impede the progress of first responders.
Red painted parking restriction areas could create inconveniences for some homeowners by prohibiting them and their guests from parking in front of their homes.
The City estimates that permanent solutions to the St. Francis traffic issue may cost on the order of $500,000.

The Commission ultimately voted to proceed with the temporary solutions and to constantly evaluate their effectiveness with before and after traffic studies.  Although the intent was to have these facilities installed by the end of this year, some commissioners suggested that the city wait until after the holidays.

Note: If you would like to read the city’s Traffic Calming Study and staff report, including the photos and graphics showing the various structures and their intended locations, you can download the PDF files on-line from the city website by clicking on this link:

That’s it for now folks. Stay alert, report suspicious activity and have a nice holiday! – Ken Castle


Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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San Carlos Greater East Side to Get Parking Relief.

Permit Parking

Pilot Permit Program.

The City of San Carlos formally announced yesterday a pilot permit parking program for the section of Greater East Side of San Carlos south of Holly Street that will require a permit to park on any public street for longer than 2 hours at a time. This program is intended to curb the use of day-long free street parking in this neighborhood by Caltrain commuters, local business employees, and people who don’t live in the neighborhood but are taking advantage of free parking.

Like most of the downtown neighborhoods in San Carlos, street parking is already quite limited for residents in the Greater East Side because of the density of housing. And since many of the older homes only have a single-car garage, it puts street parking at a premium for residents with more than one car.

The pilot portion of the program officially commences on December 14 and will be in effect for all of 2016, with parking enforcement happening immediately thereafter.  If the program is deemed successful, it may be moved to permanent status after the pilot program is completed.

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

SAN CARLOS, CA – November 30, 2015 – The City of San Carlos will commence its pilot Residential Parking Permit program on December 14, 2015 for the Greater East San Carlos neighborhood south of Holly Street. This program is designed to provide preferential use of on-street parking to local businesses and residents and restrict weekday long-term parking by those from outside the neighborhood.

The Residential Parking Zone includes Bayport Court, Bayport Avenue, McCue Avenue, Montgomery Street, Cherry Street and Hall Street between Old County Road and Industrial Road. For vehicles without a residential parking permit, parking is limited to two hours between the hours 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays.

The Business Parking Zone includes Old County Road from Holly Street to Terminal Way and East San Carlos Avenue from Old County Road to Industrial Road. For vehicles without a business parking permit, parking is limited to two hours between the hours 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays.

Commuters taking CalTrain are encouraged to park in the CalTrain (SamTrans) parking lot located at El Camino Real and San Carlos Avenue. Please visit the CalTrain parking webpage at for more information. Daily and monthly parking options are available.

Enforcement of the new parking restrictions will begin on December 14, 2015, at which time permits will be required for parking beyond two hours in the designated area. Signs will be posted indicating restricted parking areas. Residents, employers and employees in the Pilot Program Area can apply online.

The pilot program will be in effect for all of 2016, and if successful, may be renewed on a permanent basis. Residential and business permit applications, a map of the pilot program area and additional information on this program can be found at or by calling Kristen Elderson in the City Manager’s Office at (650) 802-4204.


Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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2015 San Carlos Art and Wine Faire is This Weekend.

Art and Wine 2015

25th Anniversary.

San Carlos, it’s that time of year again — the leaves are turning, the days are getting shorter, and rain is on the way.  Well, two out of three is not bad… But that means that Fall is here, and that also means it’s time for that venerable institution known as the San Carlos Art and Wine Faire, once again sponsored by the San Carlos Chamber of Commerce. This year marks the 25th Anniversary of this extremely popular event.

It all takes place this coming weekend, October 10-11, and pretty much all of north Laurel Street and numerous side streets will be taken over with booths full of wine, art, and of course, more wine. There will also be musical entertainment in a variety of places downtown. Here’s the schedule:


Laurel Street Park
• 11:-00-1:30 Toree McGee & Rodeo House (rockin’ country)
• 2:30-5:30 Caravanserai (Santana Tribute band)

• 11:00-1:30 The E-Ticket Band (rock-n-roll)
• 2:30-5:30 Aja Vu/Stealin’ Chicago (Steely Dan and Chicago Tribute)

San Carlos Avenue Stage
• 12:00-2:30 The Groove (70’s Rock)
• 3:30-5:30 The RiPTides- (60’s Rock)

• 12:00-2:30 Stompy Jones– (Swing)
• 3:30-5:30 KickBack (R & B Soul)

So be sure to head downtown this weekend, and catch up with all of your San Carlos neighbors. The weather should be spectacular, and the wine will be flowing!

Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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San Carlos Voters to Decide the Fate of the Black Mountain Water Land.


San Carlos Measure V

It’s hard to believe, but we are just a little over a month away from the November elections. And what would an election be in San Carlos without a bond measure to vote on? Well, this election year will be no different from those in past, except for the first time in years the bond measure being voted on is not directly related to the San Carlos School District.

On November 3, San Carlos voters will be asked to approve a bond measure which will provide the City of San Carlos with the necessary funds to purchase the old Black Mountain Water land. Located along Alameda de las Pulgas between Madera Avenue and Melendy Drive, the Black Mountain land is a nearly 25-acre plot that is currently owned by developers. The City of San Carlos wishes to purchase this land and preserve it as open space since it offers the potential for tranquil walking paths, trails, and recreation as a city-owned park.

San Carlos Black Mountain Parcel Boundary (approx)

San Carlos Black Mountain Parcel Boundary (approx)

The bond measure, which requires a 66.7% voter approval to pass, will raise nearly $45M not only to purchase the 25 acres, but also to develop it as a usable park for the public. Like other bond measures in San Carlos, this bond will be funded as an additional property tax — this time at a rate of $20 per $100,000 of assessed value of each residence in San Carlos. So recent home buyers in San Carlos can expect to pay between $200 – $300 per year in additional property tax, while long-time residents who are protected by Prop 13 will likely pay less.

The City of San Carlos has dedicated an entire section of their website to promote the purchase of the Black Mountain Site, which includes an FAQ document as well as a professionally done slide deck.

For and Against the Measure.

Yes on Measure VThere is an organized and very visible group of citizens who are lobbying aggressively for the passage of the bond measure. They have created a website called in which they explain the benefits of purchasing the site, including:

  • Permanently protect some of the last remaining undeveloped land and open space in San Carlos as park, not 100 homes.
  • Provide tranquil walking paths, trails and recreation for all ages to enjoy.
  • Protect a local water source.
  • Protect San Carlos taxpayers – all funds will stay in San Carlos and can only be spent to create a park on Black Mountain; none of the money can be used for City administrator salaries.
  • Ensure local control of Black Mountain forever – an important legacy for future generations.
  • Establish an open, public process involving San Carlos volunteers to finalize plans for the new Black Mountain Park. There will also be independent citizens’ oversight of spending to ensure funds are spent as promised.

There is also strong opposition to the bond measure from an equally organized and vocal group which has outlined on their website why they believe the bond measure should not be approved, including:

  • No signed agreement on the purchase price.
  • No certainty that all acres will be purchased.
  • No plan on use(s).
  • No budget to clear, clean, protect and insure the property.
  • No cost analysis for the proposed uses.
  • No “in perpetuity” guarantee.
  • Other issues pertaining to size and terrain that would prevent it from becoming a viable park.

How Will YOU Vote?

The lines are now drawn in the sand, and there’s only a month before the election is here. There will be a strong push from both sides to garner your vote. So which side of this issue are you on? Register your vote in the poll below.

How Will You Vote on San Carlos Measure V: Black Mountain Bond Measure?

View Results

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And of course, feel free to air your opinion in the comment section!

Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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San Carlos City-Wide Garage Sale 2015.

September 25, 2015 Living in San Carlos No Comments
Garage Sale Image

Sign-Up Deadline: September 26.

Are you weary of staring at a garage full of junk left over from the summer? Are you ready to clear out the yard and get ready for Fall? If so, there’s no better time than right now to get it done, because it’s time once again for the annual San Carlos City-Wide Garage Sale!

This year’s event, which is coordinated every year by San Carlos Together, will be held on Saturday October 3rd from 9AM – 4PM throughout the City of San Carlos, and is the perfect opportunity to get rid of all of your junk valuable items, since there will be hundreds of garage sale shoppers cruising the streets of San Carlos that day.

To ensure that you get an optimal turnout at your home on Saturday, it’s important that you get your sale posted on the master list of participating homes that is distributed to all bargain hunters. That means that you must register your sale on the City Wide garage sale page of the San Carlos Together website before the registration deadline — which just happens to be tomorrow – September 26.

So clean up your act, San Carlos… And hopefully make a few bucks in the process!

Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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It’s a Dog’s Day in San Carlos.

San Carlos City of Good Living

New San Carlos Dog Park Opens Tonight.

Much to the delight of local dog owners, the City of San Carlos will officially open a dedicated pooch park tonight at 5:00 PM. After an ambitious pilot program that allowed off-leash hours at Burton Park was discontinued this year, dog owners in San Carlos were left without a dedicated park to exercise their dogs.

The City of San Carlos stepped in recently and dedicated the City Hall Park on the corner of San Carlos Avenue and Elm Street as the new canine playground.  They have spent the past few weeks getting park ready and installing a safety fence around the perimeter of the park, with double safety gates so that the dogs aren’t able to accidentally exit the park right onto San Carlos Avenue.

There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony tonight and some prizes will be given away to some lucky dogs, according to the press release on the City website. So if you’re out on an early walk with your best pal, stop by the new San Carlos City Dog Park for all of the festivities.

Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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The Streets of San Carlos.

September 11, 2015 Living in San Carlos 3 Comments

What’s in a Name?

You’ve undoubtedly noticed as you’re walking the streets of San Carlos — perhaps dropping your kids of at White Oaks School, taking the dog for an evening stroll, or just heading downtown for dinner — that the name of the street that you’re on is frequently etched into the sidewalk, usually at a corner like this:

And if you happen to be paying extra close attention as you walk along this very same street, you’ll notice that the name inexplicably changes…to this:

Photo Sep 04, 10 21 28 AM (1)

Hmmm…Did you suddenly transport to a street several blocks away?  Were the sidewalk contractors hitting the martinis over lunch? Or did you find a mysterious intersection of two streets that are actually parallel?

Of course not.  There’s actually a good reason for this discrepancy, and it explains why you see this very same phenomenon on a number of streets in the flats of San Carlos.

Cedar Wasn’t Always Cedar.

The explanation lies in the fact that a number of the streets in the White Oaks, Oak Park, and Howard Park neighborhoods of San Carlos don’t carry their original namesake. When San Carlos was first incorporated, many of the streets carried quite different names – some of which have been slightly altered, some changed entirely, and others simply moved to another street.

Sounds confusing?  Take a look at a the old map from 1925 that I pulled from the title report of one of my recent listings:


Cedar Map

This map almost looks like it’s describing a different city, but it’s actually San Carlos — just an older version. Starting with the minor changes, Howard Avenue used to be called Howard Boulevard.  And Greenwood used to be a Drive, not an Avenue.  But what’s more interesting are the major changes that took place to the street names.

Cedar Street used to be called Woodland Avenue!  And what we know now as Chestnut Street apparently used to be called Orchard Avenue. And to confuse matters entirely, a street once named Kendall Avenue is the new home for Woodland Avenue… er, which was the former name of Cedar Street.  Got all that?

Wait… it gets better.

Cedar Map-2

…continuing along our little journey down Howard Boulevard (er, Avenue) — if we compare this map to the current map, what we know today as Rosewood Avenue was once called Madison Avenue (yes, San Carlos had its own Madison Avenue.)  So this means that today’s Elm Street was once called Rosewood Avenue, which was once Madison Avenue…

Sheesh, already.

So does that mean that Walnut Street used to be called Johnson Avenue?  Apparently so. And the biggest surprise (If I’m reading this correctly) is that Laurel Street used to be called Horton Avenue, and back in 1925 it wasn’t even a continuous street.

That in itself sounds like a potential San Carlos Treasure Hunters clue.

So the reason that there are several different names etched into the same street is that there are simply old parts of the sidewalk that have not been replaced from way they were originally installed. That answers the question of what happened with the street names.  But why were the names changed in the first place??

That may indeed be the 8th Wonder of San Carlos.

Have a fabulous weekend!


Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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Leave a Book, Take a Book.

September 4, 2015 Living in San Carlos 2 Comments
Photo Sep 04, 10 35 26 AM (1)

Free Neighborhood Libraries.

Last week in the Friday slot on the blog, we took a little step back in time and talked about the San Mateo County Library System, all of the cool things that are available to check out there, and how they too are getting on board with technology to make it easier for residents to take advantage of everything they have to offer.

This week, we are going to stay in the library vein, but we are really going back to the very basics of book sharing.

I noticed on my evening walks that there are a number of very awesome “mini libraries” that are sprouting up in the front yards of some San Carlos homes. These are beautiful not only because of their brightly painted drop boxes, but also because of the sheer simplicity of the concept: You simply grab a book to read, or leave one behind that you think someone else would enjoy reading. And it’s all on the honor system.   How simple is that?!!

Here is one such neighborhood library that is located at corner of Eaton Avenue and Robin Way:

Photo Sep 04, 10 35 19 AM

…. and here is another one in front of the residence at 868 Cordilleras Avenue:

Photo Sep 04, 10 04 22 AM

This is a such a fantastic idea! Not only can you grab a great book for free, but you might also meet a neighbor or two that you didn’t know before.

If you’re interested in doing something similar, you can get some great tips and ideas from the Little Free Library website, or just ask your neighbors who are gracious enough to dedicate part of their front yards to share a little kindness and a good story.

Are there any other homes in San Carlos that are participating that I might have missed?  Feel free to leave those addresses in the comments below.  Happy reading, and have a safe Labor Day weekend!

Photo Sep 04, 10 04 30 AM (1)

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