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Leave a Book, Take a Book.

September 4, 2015 Living in San Carlos No 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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The San Carlos Library.

San Mateo County Library

Old School, New Media.

Technology has made the world we live much smaller and faster, and has almost created an expectation of “instant gratification” for many things we now do — especially among the younger generations who are growing up with technology.

Want a song or an audio book? That’s only a few clicks away on iTunes. Need a last minute shopping run?  Google Express is happy to tackle that for you on the very same day — or if you can wait two whole days (an eternity), Amazon Prime will ship it to your door — for free. And any discussion about instant technological gratification would be remiss without the mention of Uber, which has completely changed how we get from one place to another.

But long before the advent of smart phones and apps for the click-and-ship generation, the pioneer of what we know today as “media-sharing” has been sitting right in our back yard: The library.

Surely the author has hit his head by walking straight into a wall while reading his iPhone. The library? That place with dusty old books and the cranky librarian? How is that germane to a discussion about technology?

The “New” Library

I recently re-discovered the San Mateo County Library system — yes, the very same system that I used growing up to check out old books — and was pleasantly surprised at how much things have changed, AND how even an institution like the library has embraced technology.

First of all, the library is not just about books anymore. There are shelves of music CD’s, DVD movies, and even audio books just waiting to be checked out. I was thrilled to find some older and more obscure music CD’s that I didn’t even know existed (Neil Young’s Live at Massey Hall – 1972…simply phenomenal.)  Their movie selection is excellent too, with recent feature movies, and even popular TV series.

But what ties it all together is that the San Mateo County Library system now has an iPhone app that allows you to search the entire county-wide system to find what you’re looking for, and then ship it for free to the nearest library. You simply find what you’re looking for, click which library to send it to, and then they’ll send you an email when it’s ready to pick up.

The app is not flashy, but it certainly very capable. I haven’t encountered a single problem with it yet, and I have used it many times. You can access the app on the iTunes store for free by clicking here: San Mateo County Library App.

The Best Price.

So why is all of this worth mentioning?  It’s certainly not the technology. You can instantly download your music from iTunes, or buy your books from Amazon. No, it’s because the library is free, which just so happens to be my favorite price. And it’s a resource right in your back yard.  So “re-discover” the new library system. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

The San Carlos library is located right next to City Hall at 610 Elm Street in downtown San Carlos.
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San Carlos Places Black Mountain Bond Measure on the November Ballot.

san carlos logo

The Future of the Black Mountain Property.

In their meeting on July 27, 2015, the San Carlos City Council voted unanimously to place the fate of the former Black Mountain Water land in the hands of the San Carlos residents. On November 3rd, San Carlos taxpayers will asked to approve a $45M bond measure to allow the City of San Carlos to purchase, enhance, and secure the property as open space to be enjoyed as a park.

The land itself is a combination of several parcels that add up to approximately 25 acres in the hills of San Carlos, which makes it the single-largest remaining open space in the city. For those of you not familiar with the location of the Black Mountain parcel, here’s an aerial shot of its relative location in San Carlos. Many will be surprised to realize that they probably drive by this site numerous times every during their normal travels about San Carlos:

 

San Carlos Black Mountain Parcel Boundary (approx)

San Carlos Black Mountain Parcel Boundary (approx)

 

In terms of housing development, the land could be zoned for as many as 100 single family residences. The San Carlos City Council has clearly shown its preference for the future of this land by pushing forward with the bond measure to preserve this land as open space.

 
Here is a quick informational video that discusses this relatively little-known gem in San Carlos:

 

The bond measure would tack on $20 per $100,000 of assessed value of every property in San Carlos. The assessed value is what your current property taxes are calculated from, and is not the same as the market value.  But on average, the bond measure will cost the average San Carlos household somewhere between $200-$400/year.

The City of San Carlos has created an FAQ page that answers most of the basic questions about the land and the proposed purchase. You can see the FAQ’s by clicking here.  There’s also a complete page on the City of San Carlos website that discusses the land, the history, and the bond initiative in more detail.

I will update the blog with more details about the actual bond measure as we inch closer to the election. In the interim, what are your thoughts about the initiative? Feel free to comment below.
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White Oaks Celebrates “National Night Out” Tonight!

National Night Out Logo

Bigger and Better.

As they have done for the past several years, the White Oaks Neighborhood Watch will host their own special block party tonight to commemorate “National Night Out“, an annual nationwide event that encourages residents to get out and meet their neighbors,  and welcomes local law enforcement officers and firefighters into the neighborhood to help combat crime.

This year’s biggest block party in White Oaks kicks will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunnydale Avenue between Elm and Stanford.  Last year, the annual event drew more than 200 people.  This year, says organizer Bill Widner, will see the return of Sanchos Taqueria catering truck and the addition the recently launched Steamin’ Burgers gourmet truck.  And of course don’t forget about the traditional free ice cream!  Everyone in White Oaks is invited.

Both the San Carlos Bureau of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office and the Redwood City/San Carlos Fire Department plan to have vehicles on display.  If we’re lucky, we’ll see the remote-controlled bomb-removal robot as well as the sheriff’s department’s SWAT team and their Bear Cat vehicle, according to Sgt. Rick Tippins. Also planning to be on hand is an engine company from the fire department. There may be a few other surprises as well. Be sure to bring the kids!

Just like last year, this section of Sunnydale will be closed off to traffic, giving everyone plenty of room to mingle with the first responders and neighbors.

This year’s White Oaks National Night Out is made possible by the gracious participation of the San Carlos Bureau of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office and the Redwood City/San Carlos Fire Department, courtesy of Sheriff’s Capt. Greg Rothaus and the fire department’s Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, Christy Adonis. White Oaks National Night Out is a great opportunity to meet and greet the first responders who are close by when we need them, and to learn about programs that can help us stay safe and secure.

Communities throughout the Bay Area and across the country are celebrating National Night Out, which has now reached near-holiday status. So bring the kids and your appetite to White Oaks, and help make this event the biggest one ever!

(Special thanks to White Oaks neighborhood watch proponent Ken Castle for getting the word out!)
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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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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 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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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 “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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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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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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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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