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San Carlos Poll: Which is Better — The Hills or The Flats?

A Tough Decision

Making the decision to move to San Carlos is usually an easy one.  With its great schools, mild weather, community vibe, and its proximity to both San Jose and San Francisco, San Carlos has become the destination of choice for many home buyers.    But once you make the decision to move to San Carlos and you spend some time driving around the town, you’ll realize that there’s another big decision you’ll have to make:  Should you live in the hills or in the flats?

Like other cities on the northern stretch of the Peninsula, the terrain in San Carlos changes dramatically as you start to head west.  While the town is mostly flat in the area between El Camino and Alameda de las Pulgas, the terrain upticks quickly as you continue west.   The change happens even more quickly in the northern Section of San Carlos known as Cordes, which is mostly hilly.  And depending what you’re looking for in a home, both regions offer something for every home-buyer:

The Hills

People who live in the hills of San Carlos often enjoy incredible views of the San Francisco Bay and/or the Pacific Coast Range to the west.   Homes in this area are generally larger and newer than the homes in the flatlands, and it’s also easier to find larger lots in the hills, although that doesn’t guarantee that all of the land is suitable for building.     Residents of the hilly areas also enjoy relatively quick commute access to Interstate 280.

Downsides?   The views can come at a price of convenience.  With the exception of parts of Cordes, getting to downtown San Carlos for shopping or dining requires a trip up and down the hill in the car.  And if 280 isn’t your commute route of choice, getting to 101 in the morning through San Carlos can be an exercise in patience (especially if you’re going north on 101.)

The Flats

Folks who choose the flatlands of San Carlos enjoy the “walkability” of their neighborhood and the proximity to downtown San Carlos for shopping and dining.  If having a flat yard is a high priority for a home-buyer, you’ll likely have more choices east of the Alameda (not to say that there aren’t flat lots up in the hills — there definitely are.)

Downsides?  Since San Carlos was developed from the El Camino westward, homes in the flats tend to be a bit older (as in 1930’s and 40’s) and lots size tend to be smaller than their compatriots in the hills.   Some streets close to El Camino are downright cozy!

So What’s Your Pick?

Audience participation time… For those of you who already live in San Carlos, here’s an opportunity to help home buyers that are new to San Carlos.   Why do you like living in the hills of San Carlos?   Or… what makes the flats perfect for you and your family?   What benefits or downsides did I miss in the description above?

Let’s hear what you have to say about the neighborhood that you call home!    Brag about your home in the comments section, and be sure to vote in this poll:

In Which Part of San Carlos Do You Prefer to Live?

View Results

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San Carlos City Manager Presents Two Paths to Close Budget Gap.

Two Options Proposed.

Late today, the City of San Carlos issued a press release that outlines the two paths that are now being considered to close the city’s current $3.5M budget gap.   While the two options are quickly outlined in the City Budget Overview from the city website, they will be discussed in much more detail in the upcoming City Council Budget Workshop that will be held next Saturday, March 13 at 12:00 at the San Carlos Library.   But even with few details to draw from, one thing is very evident — both options take radically different approaches to solving the budget deficit.

The City’s “Preferred” Path:  Outsource Fire and Police Services.

You may have heard rumors to the effect that the City was considering outsourcing the Fire Department services to Cal Fire, and the Police Department services to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.  Well, these are no longer rumors —  in today’s press release, City Manager Mark Weiss left no doubt that this is his “preferred path” to closing the budget deficit, since it accounts for $3M-$6M in potential savings.  This proposal also calls for outsourcing park maintenance, and for the installation of parking meters downtown for an additional savings of up to $500K.

The Other Path:  Cuts Across the Board.

The second option that is being considered is essentially an aggregation of the cuts that were proposed earlier in the 10%/20% budget reduction exercises that were conducted a few months back by each of the key departments.   >>> Click Here to Read the Full Post
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San Carlos at a Crossroads: Public Parks, or Public Safety?

Key Decision on Turf at Highlands.

If things go as everyone expects at the meeting this Monday night, the City Council will vote to award a $1.7M contract to convert Highlands Park to an all-weather turf surface.  The discussion item is already on their agenda, and there is a widespread belief that it will be approved.   If this contract is indeed awarded and the green light is given to begin construction, it will join the infamous decision to sell San Carlos High School as one of the worst moves ever made in the history of the City of San Carlos.    That’s how serious this issue is.

I’m not against all-weather turf.   I referee soccer games up at Highlands and Stadium, so I know how bad these fields have gotten – they’re downright dangerous in places.  And with the likely closure of Arguello and Crestview Parks, the fields at Highlands Park will degrade even more quickly with overflow usage from the closed parks.   So I don’t think anyone can disagree that all of our fields are in need of extensive repair….

But I do think that it’s absolutely ludicrous that we are even considering spending this kind of money on a park right now – at a time when we are also talking about cutting our police force (again) and closing a fire station.

There’s a Public Safety Crisis in San Carlos.

The potential closure of a few our of our parks,  and a reduction in use of the San Carlos Youth Center has grabbed much of the media spotlight — it even made the local TV news broadcast.     But lest we forget, the very same 10%/20% budget reduction exercise that recommended these closures is also calling for additional cuts in our police and fire staffing, including the possible closure Fire Station 16 on the Alameda — the engine company that is the first to respond to your homes in White Oaks, Howard Park, Alder Manor, and parts of Beverly Terrace if you have a fire or medical emergency.  Is this hitting home yet?  It should.

Years of continuous budget cuts have put the public safety of San Carlos on the brink.  Consider the following:

  • Crime in San Carlos: up by 25%.  Police Chief Greg Rothaus released some alarming statistics in this report that shows that crime is on the increase in San Carlos.  But you already know this, because many of you have had your cars broken into this past year, right?    While the proliferation of bars and restaurants downtown has probably helped the city’s coffers, it also places additional stress on our already lean police force as they’re now dealing with an increase in bar fights and DUI’s…instead of patrolling our neighborhoods.  There’s no magical formula here — you can’t stem a rise in crime with fewer police officers.
  • Minimum Fire Coverage.   As it stands today, our fire coverage in San Carlos has been cut to the bare bones.    Our stations are manned by 3-man crews, instead of 4-man crews like most fire districts (more on why this crucial in an upcoming post.)   And get this…Station 13 — our main downtown station — is now only staffed to support the tiller rig, which by definition is NOT equipped with the amount of pumps and hoses required to fight a major structure fire.   I will be writing an extensive article in a few weeks about how the budget cuts have decimated our fire department.
  • Insurance Premiums.  Whether you know it or not, your home fire insurance premiums take into account the proximity of your home to a fire station — the closer you are to a fire station, the cheaper your premium is.  If Station 16 is indeed closed, or even reduced to a “Paramedic-Only” station, fire premiums will rise for many San Carlos residents — significantly.

What Are Our Priorities?

Say what you want about what makes San Carlos a great place to live, and what keeps our home values so high…the schools, parks, weather, etc…   But nothing has a greater impact on the general welfare of a community than PUBLIC SAFETY — which, sadly, is most often taken for granted.   Let us not forget that one of the biggest reasons that people choose to live in San Carlos is that “It’s a safe place to live and raise a family.”     Great schools, location, weather, and our downtown won’t be worth a hill of beans if we can’t maintain a top-notch level of public safety.

Which brings us back to the original premise of this post — should we be spending $1.7M on our parks when our public safety is in crisis?? I fully understand that there are issues that restrict how Measure G funds are to be spent, but ALL options should be fully investigated before this decision is made.

Make Your Opinion Heard.

The Council may make a decision on Highlands Park in Monday night’s meeting.  If you have an opinion either way on this topic, I highly encourage you to attend the Council Meeting and let the members of our Council know how you feel.  Also, register your opinion in the following poll:

Should the San Carlos City Council Approve $1.7M to Install Turf at Highlands Park?

View Results

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Because once the money is gone, it’s gone….
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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 Sales Tax Initiative Finally Has a Name: Measure U…

Letter-U

0.5% Sales Tax Increase

We’ve talked in past articles on this site about the proposed 0.5% sales tax increase that we’ll be asked to vote on in the November Election. It’s pretty straightforward: 

  • Yes or No — hike the local sales tax to 9.75% for a six-year period to raise money for vital City functions?

It has an official name now — the “City of San Carlos Vital Service Measure” …. but after all the hype and press that we’re sure to see for and against this proposal, you and I will only remember it as:  Measure U. The point of this post isn’t to debate the merits of this measure (although you’re welcome to do so in the comments…hint, hint.)  No…I’m seeking an answer to a far more important question…

Wasn’t a better letter available?

I know the City probably has no say in what letters are assigned to which proposals.  But of all 26 letters in the alphabet,  “U” is probably the most abused one, and the worst one to have assigned to a ballot measure.  >>> Click Here to Read the Full Post
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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 residents OK with sales tax hike.” (Really?)

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Sales Tax OK, not Utility Tax

The word coming out of the City Council of San Carlos is that they’ve heard the residents of San Carlos speak, and 61% of the residents support a hike in sales tax to help close the City’s budget deficit….so says Mike Rosenberg’s article in the San Mateo County Times.  The idea of a utility tax was proposed too, but more people responded favorably to an increase in sales, so that’s the path the Council is choosing to go.

“Survey Says…”

I found this result to be somewhat surprising, because the poll that I’m currently running on this site says exactly the opposite.  For those of you reading this on a feed reader, here’s the latest results of the White Oaks Blog poll:

Should San Carlos increase taxes to close the City budget deficit?

  • No. Increasing taxes is a bad idea. (63%, 77 Votes)
  • Yes. Everyone needs to chip in. (33%, 40 Votes)
  • I don’t know (or don’t care!) (4%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 123

I’ll be the first to admit that my last name is not Gallup, and the response size is statistically small.  BUT…the poll I ran on Measure B had a similar participation level, and it correctly predicted the outcome of the Measure B election.   And note that the survey that the City of San Carlos conducted only included 300 registered voters, which is statistically on the same scale as this poll.

So who’s right?

A 0.5% rate hike — the vote is tonight.

At tonight’s meeting, the City Council of San Carlos will vote to put an initiative on the November 3 ballot which will increase sales tax in San Carlos by 0.5% to 9.75%.   If you feel strongly about this one way or the other, I highly recommend that you attend this meeting and voice your opinion.  According to the aforementioned article, it appears the Council already has the required “yes” votes to move forward.

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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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Poll Results: San Carlos doesn’t want turf… What about new taxes?

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No on Turf?

If the 103 voters who participated in the most recent blog poll are indicative of the larger population of San Carlos, then the decision to change the surface at Highlands Park to an all-weather turf is an unpopular one.   That sentiment is likely to intensify as residents fully comprehend the severity of the budget crisis facing the City right now.

Here is the result of the latest poll regarding all-weather turf:

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Should all-weather turf be installed at Highlands Park?

  • No. Keep the grass natural (54.0%, 56 Votes)
  • Yes. Install all-weather turf (39.0%, 40 Votes)
  • I really don’t care either way. (7.0%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 103

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New Poll:  Should San Carlos Raise Taxes?

After a series of community meetings to discuss the budget crisis, the City Council of San Carlos seems to be coming to the conclusion that raising taxes will be necesary to close the budget gap.  This could be in the form of increasing the existing sales tax, or implementing a new utility tax.  For more information on this discussion, check out this article in the San Mateo Daily Journal:  San Carlos Tries Selling Tax to Residents.

What are your thoughts on increasing taxes?   Is it a bad idea, or is it time for the residents of San Carlos to pay up?   This is the topic of the latest White Oaks Blog poll, which you’ll find in the upper left hand corner of the site.   Please take the time to vote — let’s see if we can’t beat the previous record of 167 voters on the Measure B poll!

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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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Blog Poll Results: San Carlos Measure B…

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‘Twas the Eve of the Measure B Election…

As many anxiously await the results of tomorrow’s San Carlos Measure B election, I thought I’d publish the final results of the poll that ran on this site for the past month regarding your thoughts on this measure:

How will you vote on San Carlos Measure B, the $78 School Parcel Tax?

  • Yes. I’ll vote for it. (80.0%, 133 Votes)
  • No. I’ll vote against it. (19.0%, 32 Votes)
  • I don’t know (or don’t care!) (1.0%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 167

Will Measure B Pass?

This poll received far and away more votes than any other poll that I have run on this site, but it’s still a small fraction of the total votes that will be received.  It will be very interesting to see what correlation this poll had with the final results of the election once they’re finally published.

But if this poll has any validity …

…Measure B will comfortably achieve the required 66% approval to pass.

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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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We love our kitchens, but do we love our schools? A new poll…

Vote in the White Oaks Blog Poll!

Kitchens Are King…

At least that’s what the results of the latest poll on the White Oaks Blog indicate.   We definitely love our kitchens…and why not?  It’s where today’s busy family spends most of its time, and it’s also where we tend to gather when we’re entertaining.    Thanks to all of you who took the time to vote in this poll on this question:

“If you had $100,000 to spend on remodeling your home, which 2 projects would you do?”

And here were the results:

* Kitchen (65.0%, 47 Votes)
* Add a bedroom or more square footage to the house. (28.0%, 20 Votes)
* Landscaping (25.0%, 18 Votes)
* Master Bedroom Suite (24.0%, 17 Votes)
* Add/Modify a Bathroom (24.0%, 17 Votes)
* Solar Panels (14.0%, 10 Votes)
* Pool (7.0%, 5 Votes)
* Garage (1.0%, 1 Votes)
* None of the above (email me your suggestion, and I’ll add it) (1.0%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 72

Time for a New Poll….Measure B

OK, we’re going for the community lightning rod on this poll:  The School Parcel Tax.  If you recall from my previous post on this subject, The City of San Carlos is taking another run at a parcel tax to close the huge gap in the San Carlos School District budget.   This $78 annual assessment is now officially known as “Measure B.”

Ballots should be arriving in your mailbox in the next few weeks…So here’s the question for the new poll:

How are you going to vote on Measure B?

Look for the poll in the upper-left hand corner of the blog, and vote today.   And if you’re really passionate about this subject, leave a comment below.

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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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