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Field Renovation Set to Begin at San Carlos Highlands Park

All-Weather Turf Installation

What in essence marks the end of a decade-long battle that pitted neighbor versus neighbor in San Carlos, the Planning Department has issued permits for the removal and grading of the existing field at Highlands Park, which is the first step in the transforming the field from a natural grass field to a synthetic, all-weather surface.    According to this announcement on the City website,  the contractor has been given the notice to proceed for the removal of the existing field, and work is expected to begin within the next 10 days.

For those of you not familiar with the all-weather turf saga, the idea to resurface one or more of the athletic fields in San Carlos was tabled nearly 10 years ago as a way to accommodate the increasing usage of the limited number of athletic fields in the City.   The topic was debated fiercely for nearly a decade in City Council meetings, in the press, and even in the courtroom.  But while other cities on the Peninsula forged ahead and installed all-weather surfaces on their playing fields, San Carlos remained one of the few communities without a stitch of all-weather turf..until now.

Earlier this year the City Council, expecting a positive outcome from the anti-turf camp’s last efforts to legally block the turf, awarded a contract to replace the playing surface at Highlands Park.  So here we are.

Proceed With Caution.

As is noted in the announcement, there will be quite a few trucks and equipment in the area while the construction is in process, and the tennis courts will be inaccessible during this time.  So if you don’t need to be up at Highlands Park for the near-term, it’s probably advisable to steer clear of the area.
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San Carlos City Council Pushes Turf Through – Budget Battle Next on the Horizon.

Turf Contract Awarded.

I attended Monday night’s City Council meeting, which drew a packed house, as pro-turf and anti-turf residents squared off one last time in the Council Chambers.  As I’m sure you are aware, after nearly two hours of discussion, the Council voted 4-1 to award the contract to resurface the athletic field at Highlands Park with synthetic turf, with the start of construction delayed for another 90 days until the pending litigation to block the installation of turf is resolved.  Councilman Matt Grocott was the lone dissenting voice on the Council for this particular vote.

I sat in the front row of the spectator section and listened to Public Works Director Robert Weil’s introduction, as well each and every resident presentation.  If you haven’t taken the time to attend a City Council meeting in person, I highly recommend doing so — especially with the crucial budget discussions right around the corner.  Besides, seeing our government at work is a very interesting experience.  Some impressions I took away from the meeting:

  • Funds: Councilman Omar Ahmad, with the assistance of the City Staff, did an outstanding job of defining the different funds were being considered to fund this project.  I wasn’t clear at the outset about the differences between Measure G Funds, Park-in-Lieu Funds, and Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) Endowment Funds — but after that discussion it was very clear.  Well done.
  • Public Speakers: Every person who spoke, regardless of which side they were on,  spoke eloquently and effectively on their position.   This takes a lot of guts to do in front of a packed house, a full council,  and a television audience.  I was very impressed with everyone who spoke.
  • Representation: I kept an approximate count of the number of speakers and their positions on this issue.  35 speakers total:  20 (or 57%) either wanted a delay in the decision, or were against it entirely.  15 (43%) were in favor of moving forward.   In addition, at the start of the meeting the turf poll that is currently running at the top of the site already had over 100 votes — 86% were against moving forward, and about 11% were in favor (the rest voted “don’t care.”)   Granted, both of these datapoints are highly unscientific, but for all the claims that the pro-turf contingency was the majority, these numbers tell a different story.  Yet the council still voted 4-1…  I will let you draw your own conclusions.

Next Up:  Budgets.

I stated in my previous post (and I remained convinced) I believe the turf contract approval process should have taken place at the same time the City Budget was being decided, not months in advance.   Why?  Not for the hope of using capital improvement funds for like those above to solve our operational issues.  I fully understand that those monies cannot be mixed.  But even though the funds come from different sources — it’s still money…and the Park and Rec Department just got a golden egg — an egg that should be taken into account when the City ultimately decides how and where to make their cuts to balance the budget.

I will be writing more posts as the budget battle starts to heat up in the coming months.    Believe me, if you were looking for a time to get involved in civic issues, there isn’t a better time than now.
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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 https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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Are You Concerned About the Future of San Carlos Parks?

Then You Should Attend Tonight’s Meeting.

As this blog was first to break the news back in December ’09,  San Carlos City Manager Mark Weiss asked each of his department heads to propose how budget cuts of either 10% or 20% would impact their respective departments.  It was a pretty scary exercise, especially under the 20% cut scenario — the Fire Department would lose Station 16 on the Alameda, for example.  To see the original post, which includes the actual proposals from each department, click here:  San Carlos Considers Deep Cuts in Police, Fire and Park Services.

Park and Rec Showdown.

In tonight’s San Carlos Park and Rec Department meeting, will review both the 10% and 20% budget cut scenarios.   If you recall from the original post, a 20% cut will result in the closure of both Arguello and Crestview parks.  In addition, the Laureola Center would close and the Youth Center at Burton Park would only be open two months out of the year (or for money-making events.)  Also on tap for discussion tonight is the status of plans to re-surface Highlands Park with all-weather turf.     Needless to say, as far as Park and Rec Commission meetings go, this should be a lively one.   Michelle Durand wrote a great article in the Daily Journal about what’s on tap tonight:  City Weighs Massive Cuts to Park Budget.

Meeting Details.

Here are the details and the agenda for tonight’s meeeting:

CITY OF SAN CARLOS PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION

February 03, 2010

REGULAR MEETING – COUNCIL CHAMBERS

CITY HALL, 600 ELM STREET, SAN CARLOS, CA

www.cityofsancarlos.org


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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 https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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Harmony Yogurt pitches in (again) to help Burton Park…

harmonyCool Treat, Cooler Idea…

Harmony Yogurt is once again stepping to the plate to help San Carlos Parks.   This weekend, June 27th and 28th,  Harmony will donate $1 from every froyo they sell to the Burton Park Playground Fund.  This fund is critical to support playground maintenance and operations at the park, especially now that budgets are being drastically cut.

This isn’t the first time that Harmony has made such a generous gesture, and it’s a great example for other San Carlos businesses to follow.    Town Restaurant is another San Carlos family-owned business that is always doing fantastic things for our schools and our community too.   So be sure to drop by Harmony this weekend, and treat your park while you’re treating yourself!

Webbanner

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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 https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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The Parks of San Carlos: Cedar Park

The Parks of San Carlos” is an occasional series that will highlight each of the great parks and trails that we have in here San Carlos.   My wife Patty and I (along with our dog Maggie) will be checking out each and every one of the 15 or so parks in San Carlos and bringing them alive in these pages.

This week…Cedar Park.

Cedar Park

Have you ever found that Burton Park can sometimes get be a little too crazy for you and your toddlers?  Some days during peak park hours, the playground equipment is packed with kids, and it can make for a less than relaxing experience. So if you’re looking for a quieter, out-of-the-way park with a good playground,  Cedar Park might fit the bill.

Where is it?

Cedar Park is located just inside the San Carlos/Belmont border on, of all streets, Cedar Avenue. Here’s a map for your reference:


View Larger Map

The Details…

Cedar Park is one of the smaller parks in San Carlos, as it occupies only 2/3 of an acre.   But that’s actually part of what makes it attractive.   Since it’s on the smaller side and relatively unknown, this park isn’t usually all that busy.    The playground equipment is relatively new, and is similar to what you’ll find at Burton Park…

Cedar Park Playground

Cedar Park Playground

There’s also a full-sized basketball court that looks as if it could handle a good pick-up game:

cedar-4

Cedar Park Basketball Court

Even though the park is a little “out-of-the-way,” it’s still only a few blocks from the northern stretch of downtown San Carlos. So it’s a snap to grab a sandwich at the Bullpen Deli or a coffee at Starbucks, and within a few minutes you’re enjoying a quiet lunch break outdoors.

View from the Street

Cedar Park (from the street)

Things to know before you go…

  1. There are no bathrooms at this park, so “go before you go..” 🙂
  2. Dogs are OK, but must be kept out of the playground area and on a leash.
  3. Downtown San Carlos is only a few blocks away, so getting food for your picnic is a snap.

Have fun!

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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 https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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The Parks of San Carlos: Laureola Park

The Parks of San Carlos” is an occasional series that will highlight each of the great parks and trails that we have in here San Carlos.   My wife Patty and I (along with our dog Maggie) will be checking out each and every one of the 15 or so parks in San Carlos and bringing them alive in these pages.

This week…Laureola Park.

laureola1
Laureola Park, San Carlos

Last week we brought you a pure hiking park when we profiled Big Canyon Park, so we thought it would be a good idea this week to spotlight a true “playground” park — and Laureola Park is simply one of the best recreational parks in all of San Carlos.   This park has something for just about everyone.

Where is it?

Laureola is conveniently located close to downtown San Carlos…


View Larger Map
…so it’s really easy to find.

The Details…

Laureola Park occupies the 2.6 acres that used to be the site of Laureola School (way back when.)   It’s also has the distinction of being the only City park that resides east of the El Camino Real.  One of the first things you’ll notice when you come to this park is how much grass there is to use.  Whether it’s in the picnic area…

laureola3

…or on the huge ball field….

laureola4

….you’ll find one of the nicest grass surfaces in all of San Carlos right here at Laureola Park.    The field gets quite a workout every year, between AYSO soccer games and San Carlos Little League AA games, but the City of San Carlos does a great job keeping the field in top shape.  It’s an ideal field to kick your shoes off and throw a frisbee around, or for a quick pick-up game of soccer.

When the park was created, the City wanted to ensure that there would be enough picnic tables to accommodate large parties.   Are there ever…  There are at least a dozen tables located in different pockets of the park.  There are even elevated BBQ pits for the complete picnic effect.

laureola5

laureola2

But this wouldn’t be a great park if it didn’t have something fun for the little ones to do, and this is yet another area where Laureola shines.  There are separate play structures to keep the rambunctious toddlers safely away from the infants.   The equipment isn’t as nice as the new gear at Burton Park, but it should keep the kids entertained.

laureola6

Finally, you’ll seldom find this park crowded (unless there’s a soccer game or baseball game in progress.)  While the newly renovated Burton Park continues to draw the big crowds, you’ll find that Laureola is a much more lower key place to spend the morning.

Things to know before you go…

  1. There are 3 entrances to the park — one on Old County Road, one on Bayport Court, and the other on Holly Street.   The first two have the best parking.
  2. Dogs are OK, but must be kept on a leash.
  3. The park has separate men’s & women’s bathrooms, which is a good thing.
  4. If you’re planning a large picnic, check with the Park & Rec department about reserving an area.
  5. Downtown San Carlos is only 2 blocks away, so getting food for your picnic is a snap.

Have fun!

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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 https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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San Carlos Parks: Big Canyon Park

The Parks of San Carlos” is an occasional series that will highlight each of the great parks and trails that we have in here San Carlos.   My wife Patty and I (along with our dog Maggie) will be checking out each and every one of the 15 or so parks in San Carlos and bringing them alive in these pages.

This week…Big Canyon Park.

big-canyon-1

Why did we decide to start the series with Big Canyon Park?   It’s simple — we’ve never been there!  It really surprised me that although we’ve have lived in San Carlos for over 20 years, and that between hauling kids to soccer practice at Crestview and running up and down Brittan Avenue looking at properties, we have probably driven by this park a thousand times…  yet we never stopped to check it out.    That’s our loss, because this park is an absolute gem.

Where is it?

Located toward the top of Brittan Avenue…


View Larger Map

…it’s a snap to find. Just park right on the street, and you’re there.

The details…

You’d definitely categorize this as a hiking park, not a “playground” park. The centerpiece of this 16-acre park is the 1.2 mile trail that the City website refers to as “challenging.” Indeed, after you’re on the relatively flat trail-head for only a few hundred yards…

big-canyon-2

…you immediately start to scale your way up the side of the canyon through a series of switch-backs.   Since the trail is a essentially a loop, you can start at either side.   We chose the western side (or left as you’re facing the park.)   This seems to be the green side of park, with the hillside and the trees providing a canopy of shade.    You’ll cross a series of footbridges as you navigate the switch-backs that take you to the top of the canyon.

big-canyon-3

big-canyon-4

Once you get to the top of the park (from either direction) you’ll be spoiled with some incredible views of the canyon and the San Carlos hills.   The City even installed some benches along the top of the trail that you can use to rest, meditate, or just soak up the great views…

big-canyon-7

big-canyon-8

If you’ve hiked through either Edgewood Park or Arguello Park, you can’t help but notice the similarity in the terrain and the scenery.  This stands to reason, since all three parks aren’t that far apart, geographically speaking.     If you’re interested in checking out the park, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Things to know before you go…

  1. There are no bathrooms in this park, so “go before you go” if you know what I mean.
  2. Dogs are OK in the park, although they must be kept on leash.
  3. The trails are well maintained, but the fall-line of the hillside is steep in parts.  You definitely need to pay attention while you’re hiking.
  4. Some of the footbridges don’t have handrails — same advice above about paying attention.
  5. There’s no playground equipment for the kids.   It’s Mother Nature’s playground in this park.
  6. Directly across Brittan Ave you can connect to the northern trail head to Eaton Park, if you’d like to continue hiking.   (We’ll cover that one in a future review.)

That’s it!  If you’re looking for a quick hike that will get your heart racing in more ways than one, you can’t ask for more than what you’ll find in Big Canyon Park.   Enjoy!

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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 https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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New Feature: “The Parks of San Carlos.”

san-carlos-logo

San Carlos has an incredibly nice assortment of public parks.   Some of these parks have athletic fields, others have children’s playgrounds, and some are just great places to hike and get away from it all for a few hours.   Whatever you’re looking for in a public park,  San Carlos probably has it. But if you’re like me, you may have lived here for many years and not realized that half of these parks even existed.   So that’s the purpose of the new “Parks of San Carlos” series — to make you more aware of the great facilities we have for our enjoyment.

This idea isn’t new — I actually got this inspiration from my RE/MAX colleague and fellow blogger Jim Minkey, who writes an outstanding blog on Foster City.  On his blog, he has a very informative series on all the parks in Foster City.  I thought this was such a cool idea, that I decided to do the same thing for San Carlos.   Thanks, Jim for the idea and the go-ahead to do this!

So each week or so, there will be a new feature on one of the parks in San Carlos.  My wife Patty and I, along with our dog Maggie, will trek through each of the parks and give you a rundown on what they’re all about.  Since there are 15 or so parks to cover, this will keep us pretty busy!  We hope you enjoy the series.     The first one to be featured will be…

Big Canyon Park

Look for that review in an upcoming post!

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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 https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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Hey San Carlos, What Do You Think?

Should San Carlos Reduce the Maximum Size Limits for Residential Construction?

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