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Standalone Fire Department Still an Option for San Carlos.

February 26, 2011 Living in San Carlos 5 Comments
E14

Few Choices.

With the number of choices for providing fire service to San Carlos dwindling as the October dissolution of the Belmont-San Carlos Fire JPA looms nearer, the option of having a standalone fire department in San Carlos is once again on the table, according to this article in the Mercury News.   When the County of San Mateo effectively blocked the option of extending its contract with CalFire to cover San Carlos, it left Redwood City as the only interested suitor to provide fire services to the City of Good Living.  And like any good governing body, the City Council of San Carlos wants more than one option to consider, especially for a critical service such as this.

Supporting a standalone fire department is a costly proposition, as San Carlos and many other communities on the Peninsula have determined.  It will likely take a restructuring of the fire organization, or some method of increasing revenue (or both) to make it an economically sustainable model.  And that has been a tall order to fill lately in San Carlos.

Is a County-Wide Fire Department in Our Future?

San Carlos is not alone in its struggle to find an economically feasible method for providing fire services to its community.    Even the City of Belmont recently analyzed their own budget and came to the conclusion that they won’t have the funds to support their own standalone fire department –  despite the fact that they already have a dedicated stream of funding from their general budget.   And there isn’t a day that goes by that you don’t hear about some other Peninsula community that’s fighting the exact same budget battle.

With more Peninsula communities seriously considering the path that San Carlos chose to provide police service through the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department, the question begs to be asked:  Should we have a true San Mateo County Fire Department? (i.e. not one that’s simply contracted out through another entity such as CalFire.)

The economies of scale would be remarkable for an an arrangement like this.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Centralized County Dispatch.   That’s already in place today.
  • Reduced Administrative Overhead.   No need for 20+ fire chiefs in a streamlined organization.
  • Buying Power.   If the County standardizes on fire fighting equipment, it would have much more buying power than each municipality would on its own.
  • Boundary Drop.   In theory, this arrangement should make it easier to manage calls that extend across city boundaries, since there’s only one organization to coordinate.

Obviously, this option is much more simple in theory.  The reality is that such an arrangement would be incredibly complicated to create with so many communities involved.  But if the Sheriff’s Department model is so successful for small communities like San Carlos, you have to think a similar model for fire services isn’t too far behind.

 

 
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Controversial Cell Tower Approved in San Carlos.

February 23, 2011 Living in San Carlos 1 Comment
cell-tower

Second Time A Charm for T-Mobile.

Nearly a year and a half after a similar proposal in San Carlos fell flat, T-Mobile was able to get a conditional use permit granted for the installation of a cell-phone tower in the San Carlos hills.   According to this article in Mercury News, the planning commission last night approved the installation of a cell tower on the property of California Water Service at 882 Heather Drive.

In October 2009, T-Mobile attempted to get towers installed at 3 different locations in San Carlos, only to withdraw the permit applications after significant  opposition from residents in those neighborhoods.    The carrier appears to have learned from the previous exercise, as it was able to secure the conditional use permit for this location, despite a signed petition by neighbors and strong opposition that was voiced by residents at the planning commission meeting.  According to the article, opponents to the plan will appeal the decision to the City Council.
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San Carlos School Parcel Tax Has a Name: Measure A.

MeasureA

Mail-Only Election in Spring

The much-discussed parcel tax will directly aid the San Carlos School District now has an official name:  Measure A.    You’ll recall that after much internal discussion within the School Board, public hearings, and even the use of a paid consultant to gauge the favor of San Carlos homeowners,  the District opted for a special election that, if successful, will essentially continue the $111 per household annual assessment that is set to expire this year.   This additional funding is critical in maintaining programs and staffing levels in our elementary and middle schools.

Need More Info?

There’s a very informative website that was created by the supporters of Measure A that answers questions about where the funding goes and details about the upcoming ballot:  SupportStrongSchools.com.   You’ll certainly be seeing and hearing more about Measure A as the ballot date draws nearer.
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San Carlos Residents Face Higher Garbage Rates.

February 14, 2011 Living in San Carlos 2 Comments
Recology Carts

How Much Higher is the Question.

One of the topics at tonight’s San Carlos City Council Meeting is to discuss how to address the proposed rate increase for garbage and recycle collection in San Carlos.  When the South Bayside Waste Management Authority (aka Rethink Waste) switched collection companies from Allied Waste to Recology at the beginning of this year, it ushered in a higher cost structure to go along with those newfangled collection bins.

According to this article in today’s Daily Journal, the rate hike in San Carlos may range between 11 and 13.2% this year alone.  The increase in cost is attributed to a variety of factors, ranging from Recology’s higher cost for providing waste collection services to paying off carry-over debt from the previous contract with Allied Waste.   While a potential 13.2% increase is not trivial, it’s not the highest rate increase being proposed by Rethink Waste — other cities on the Peninsula face increases ranging from 9% all the way up to 39%.

At tonight’s City Council Meeting, which starts at 7 PM in the Council Chambers at the San Carlos City Hall, the Council will likely set a hearing for April 11 to solicit public input on the increase.
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Rethink Waste Announces Video Contest Finalists.

February 11, 2011 Living in San Carlos No Comments
RethinkWaste

SmartCart Video Contest.

A few weeks ago, Rethink Waste (aka South Bayside Waste Management Authority) launched a public relations campaign to raise the public awareness of their new SmartCart recycling program.   As part of this campaign, they came up with a very creative idea of having a video contest where kids could create and submit a short video about the benefits of recycling using the new SmartCarts that were issued to every household this year.

The contest yielded scores of amazingly good videos that were submitted to Rethink Waste, and they had the unenviable task of whittling the list down to the top 12 videos.  Here’s my favorite:

– of course, this happens to be my son’s video (it’s video #5, by the way, in case you are voting …. hint, hint), so forgive my moment of impartiality and subliminal advertising ;-)

Vote for Your Favorite Videos.

All 12 of  the video finalists are posted posted here:  Rethink Waste Video Contest.     Check out all of these amazingly well done and very creative videos, and vote for your favorites (#5) — note that you can vote for more than one favorite, too.   The top two vote-getters (#5) will get a really cool prize that I can’t seem to recall right at the moment.  Voting ends next Wednesday February 16, and the winners will be announced the next day.

Nice work, everyone!
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Bullpen in San Carlos: The “Godfather” of Laurel Street Deli’s.

0203011348

The Incumbent.

There was a ton of excitement when The Sandwich Spot opened its doors in the southern section of Laurel Street last year, and for good reason — White Oaks and southern San Carlos was sorely in need of a good deli to balance out the plethora of restaurants along the northern stretch.    But throughout all of the hype, one special deli kept plugging away with its signature sandwiches and lightning-fast service:  Bullpen Deli, located at 603 Laurel Street.

Bullpen opened a number of years ago in this ideal spot near the corner of San Carlos Avenue and Laurel Street, which is just around the corner from Sneaker’s Pub & Grill, which is operated by the same owners.   But as many restauranteurs in San Carlos have discovered, great location doesn’t guarantee success with the San Carlos crowd.  You have to deliver the goods — and Bullpen delivers…fast.

Generous Sandwiches, Great Service.

We have been going to Bullpen for years,  and I can’t decide if it’s the excellent quality of the sandwiches (the Godfather is a must) or the outstanding service that keeps drawing us back.  Geronimo has become almost legendary with the regulars with his ability to whip up a masterpiece of a sandwich almost before you get to the front of the line to pay for it.    Here are a couple of typical responses from Yelp about the service from that pretty much sums up the experience:

…But the thing that keeps me coming back to this place is not the food, actually.  It’s this little game that I play.  If there is no one else in line, I try to place my order and pay, BEFORE my sandwich is done.  I always lose.  Seriously.  The sandwich guy is amazingly fast.

…They need to rename this place “Fastest Deli Imaginable”    Seriously…they make your order in front of you, and it is ready before your credit card has even been fully swiped.  The bread and the meat are fresh, and you get your sandwich so quickly, you’re left with plenty of time on your lunch break to stroll down Laurel and stop into one of the many cute shops.

That’s Geronimo in a nutshell.  And he manages to keep up with the latest sports conversation while he’s whipping up your order.  Go figure.

The only rap on the place from readers seems to be that it’s a tad on the expensive side, and that there’s not enough seating there to sit and enjoy your sandwich.  But that’s fine with us — we always take ours to go, and if there indeed is a premium for their sandwiches, it’s worth it in my book.
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Sheriff’s Department to Increase Presence Around San Carlos Schools.

Sheriff

Safety, Traffic Enforcement.

Recently-named Central Middle School Principal Steven Kaufman advised CMS parents in an email today that the San Mateo Sheriff’s Department will soon be stepping up their presence at the various San Carlos elementary and middle schools.  This is in an effort to improve safety and traffic flow at the peak drop-off and pick-up times during the school day.  As you undoubtedly know, it can get pretty congested during these times, and unfortunately some drivers tend to bend the rules of etiquette by parking in red zones and blocking neighborhood driveways.   There are others who foolishly choose to speed through the school zone (especially on Cedar Street by CMS).    So consider yourself warned that the Sheriff’s Department will be out enforcing the traffic laws.

Here’s the email from Principal Kaufman in its entirety:

Good evening Central Families,

I recently had a very productive meeting with school district staff,
an SCSD board member the San Carlos public works director, and
representatives from the Sheriff’s Office. The topic of the meeting
was Safe Routes to School.

The Sheriff’s office will have more of a presence at our schools,
particularly at pick-up and drop-off times. This in an effort to
improve safety at these very busy times. Please be aware of this and
as always follow all posted signs, speed-limits and traffic rules.

Thank you,

Steven Kaufman
Principal, Central Middle School
San Carlos School District
828 Chestnut Street
San Carlos, CA 94070
(w) 650-508-7321 ext 125
(f) 650-508-7342
skaufman@sancarlos.k12.ca.us

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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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Sign Up for San Carlos Summer Adventure Camps.

Summer Adventure Camp

A Summer of Fun for the Younger Ones.

Even though it’s still January (although you’ d never know it from the incredible weather we’re having), it’s never too early to book your summer camp plans for the little ones in the family.   If you’re a veteran of some of the more popular summer camps in the bay area, you know they book up early.  So if you want to keep it local this year, take a look at the San Carlos Summer Adventure Camps:

June 20 – August 12

  • Wee Woods camp (ages 4-5) – Location: Youth Center Dance Studio
  • Burton camp (ages 6-8) – Location: Youth Center Gym
  • Arguello camp (ages 9-12) – Location:  Arguello Park

Sign-ups start on Monday, January 31 for San Carlos residents, and on February 14 for non-residents.   For more information, see the page on the City of San Carlos Website, or contact the San Carlos Park and Recreation Department.
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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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