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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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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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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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“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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High School Proposal Pits San Carlos Neighbors Against High School District

The_new_school

Education Showdown.

Despite the protests of a vocal San Carlos neighborhood group, the Sequoia Union High School District voted unanimously last week to proceed with the purchase of the industrial complex at 535 Old County Road with the intent of constructing a magnet high school. As reported a few weeks ago on this site, the District is looking to build two magnet high schools within its boundaries as a way to alleviate capacity constraints at its existing schools due to surging enrollment in the area. The other location that the District has purchased for the second magnet school is at 150 Jefferson Drive in Menlo Park. The District hopes that the schools will attract 300-400 students each, according to this article in the Mercury News.

The San Carlos location that has been chosen for the magnet school creates an obvious problem that must be sufficiently addressed by the District: Traffic and parking. On a normal day, the combined intersections where both Industrial Road and El Camino Real meet Holly Street are extremely congested, especially at peak commute times. A big question mark with this proposal is how to accommodate the ingress, egress, and parking needs of 400 students plus faculty without completely overwhelming the area with gridlock.

I know from firsthand experience that when there are baseball and soccer games at Laureola Park, parking and traffic can be extremely challenging, and the attendance at these kinds of events are only a fraction of what a high school will draw on a daily basis. So coming up with a viable solution for this problem should be at the top of the District’s list of priorities if this project indeed moves forward.

And therein lies the big question — whether or not the project will indeed proceed. Neighbors in affected areas of San Carlos are extremely well informed and organized and they have certainly been battle-tested recently, addressing local developments such as the new parking restrictions on Holly Street, the Landmark Hotel proposal, and the Transit Village. The residents don’t object to building a magnet school in San Carlos, or even in the greater eastside section — provided that it’s a sensible location. This particular location creates some real and serious issues that must be adequately addressed.

From the tone of the comments in the Mercury News article, these residents appear ready to dig in their heels on this one.  There is a petition posted on the Greater East San Carlos Neighborhood Association website which is seeking support to block the initiative.

What Do You Think?

What is your opinion of a proposed magnet high school at 535 Old County Road? Good idea, or ill-advised?  Register your vote in the poll below, or as always, voice your thoughts in the comment section.

Should a magnet high school be built at 535 Old County Road in San Carlos?

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San Carlos Night of Holiday Lights 2014

Holiday

Friday December 5, 2014

Are you having trouble getting into the holiday spirit?  Well, the San Carlos Park and Recreation Department has the cure for you. Downtown San Carlos will light up again for the holidays this coming Friday December 5 with the annual Night of Holiday Lights. This popular event runs from 5:30-8:30 PM, with the official lighting festivities happening around 6:30 pm.

There will be music, family fun, decorations, and entertainment for everyone. It’s a great tradition that reminds you that we still live in a town…. not a big city. And remember that local businesses and restaurants will be open during the festivities, so make this part of your Friday night out!
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Stuff the Bus With Toys!

Sheriff

Annual Sheriff’s Department Toy Drive.

Join the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department this coming Saturday December 6 for their annual “Stuff the Bus” holiday toy drive, which helps shed some cheer on those who are less fortunate this holiday season. The Sheriff’s Department community outreach organizations, with help from the Redwood City and San Carlos Fire Departments, Bianchini’s Market, and Toy’s R Us, will be at various locations throughout the mid-Peninsula on Saturday to collect toys and cash donations in lieu of toys.  In addition, there are dozens of collection barrels located throughout the area that will be available all month for people to drop off unwrapped toys and books.

Last year, the Department estimated that they distributed gifts to nearly 700 local families, and they expect that number to grow even larger this year as more families are stretched to make ends meet during the holidays.

The Saturday festivities will be at the following locations:

  • 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM at Bianchini’s Market, San Carlos
  • 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM at the Toys R Us store in Redwood City.
  • 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM at the Toys R Us store in Foster City

There will be lots of fun activities there for the kids, too, and even free pictures with Santa for everyone who makes a donation.   So don’t miss out on this opportunity to make the holidays brighter for some families in need!

And many thanks to all of the folks at the Sheriff’s Department, and their many partners in this event, for such a fantastic example of holiday goodwill and community support.

14 stuff the bus

 
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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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