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A Counter View to San Carlos’ Anti-Chain Store Ordinance.

February 11, 2016 Downtown San Carlos No Comments
chain-stores

An Unlikely Dissenter.

Two months ago, the City Council of San Carlos issued an urgency ordinance that would restrict any “chain” store from setting up shop in downtown San Carlos. This would be accomplished by requiring any business with 10 or more outlets in the United States to apply for a special use permit before they are able to open anywhere in the downtown area. The City Council and the public would thereby have a say in what businesses could (or could not) establish themselves anywhere in San Carlos’ red-hot downtown district.

The idea was to help preserve the unique and eclectic feel that the downtown has projected for many years. Presumably, this ordinance was set in motion by the sale of the building at 652 Laurel Street, which was the home of Mi Ranchito Taqueria and Plantation Coffee Roastery, and the possibility that this prime storefront location on Laurel Street could now become home to a much larger chain store without some sort of stopgap measure. The urgency ordinance was passed by the City Council, and has been in place every since. If by intent alone, it’s not a bad idea.

Now, there is a dissenting voice to the ordinance which has come from the most unlikely of sources – one of the Council members who voted in favor of the ordinance in the first place.

Click below to see Council Member Mark Olbert’s explanation as to why he feels the ordinance is actually not the right solution, despite the fact that he voted in favor of the ordinance back in December. I have a world of respect for Councilman Olbert, his intelligence, and his dedication to the well-being of the City of San Carlos, so I think it’s worth your time to watch this presentation.

Anti Chain Store Ordinance from Mark Olbert on Vimeo.

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Hot Harvest Nights Petitions to Move to Sunday.

hot harvest logo

A Victim of Its Own Success?

If the San Carlos Chamber of Commerce gets the blessing of the San Carlos City Council, Hot Harvest Nights may soon be held on a different day of the week: Sunday. The Chamber has long been the organizer and main sponsor of San Carlos’ incredibly popular farmer’s market, but they also have the challenge of making the event more diverse and popular, while preventing it from becoming a victim of its own success.

Traditionally, Hot Harvest Nights is held every Thursday evening from May to September from 4:00 – 8:00 PM along the 700 block of Laurel Street. Holding the event on Thursday evenings gave it a unique time slot that kept it from competing with other similar summertime markets in adjacent cities. But holding it on Thursday nights also created some of its own challenges.

The 700 block of Laurel Street is home to arguably some of the most popular restaurants in San Carlos, and Thursday nights are prime dining evenings in the downtown area. As the event has grown in popularity, more people are crowding the streets, and parking has become even more scarce than it already is on a busy weeknight in San Carlos. With the Laurel Street closed down all evening and the nearest parking now possibly several blocks away, it makes it a night to avoid for many San Carlos diners.

The other challenging aspect is the simply the time of day. 4:00-8:00PM works fine during the peak summer months, but as we slip into Fall, the weather turns cooler and it gets dark well before the closing time of market.

The Chamber hopes to be able to move the event to mid-day every Sunday, probably from 10:00AM – 2:00PM along the same stretch of Laurel Street. This would minimize the impact on the dinner crowd for the downtown restaurants, while also enabling the event to be held year-round — much like how Belmont conducts their own Sunday Farmer’s Market. There’s also discussion about keeping the street closed for extended hours to allow other events to piggyback onto the farmer’s market. The early afternoon hours will benefit the local restaurants because let’s face it — San Carlos likes to eat and drink.

The idea of moving Hot Harvest Nights to Sunday has been tabled on the Shape San Carlos website.  According to the Chamber, the feedback from the site shows that 2/3 of all residents who took the survey are supportive of the proposed change. If you haven’t already done so, you can register your opinion on the site by taking a very brief survey.

Whether or not Hot Harvest Nights changes from Thursday to Sunday now lies in the hands of the San Carlos City Council.  According to the folks at the Chamber, they will discuss the topic during the February 22nd meeting. I will update the site once a decision is reached.

Time for a Poll.

What are your thoughts? Should Hot Harvest Nights move to Sunday and possibly go year round? Or should it stay as a summer event on Thursday evenings?  Register your opinion on the poll below or in the upper right corner of the blog.

Should Hot Harvest Nights Move To Sunday?

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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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City of San Carlos Moves to Limit Chain Stores Downtown.

Plantation

That Laurel Street Feel.

In the 26 years that I have lived in San Carlos, I have watched our downtown evolve from a sleepy collection of Mom & Pop stores that closed up promptly at 5:00, to a bustling center of eclectic shops and restaurants that pack in shoppers and diners from all over the peninsula. But throughout that gradual transformation, the downtown has always kept a “home-spun” feel to it.  With the exception of the obligatory big-name coffee shops that proliferate every downtown, Laurel Street has always kept that vibe of “one-up” type of stores, many of which are indeed owned and operated by local families.

Like many residents of San Carlos, I simply assumed that the decidedly anti-chain feel of Laurel Street was the result of some sort of top-secret City mandate that prevented big, nationwide chain stores from setting up shop on Laurel Street. For as long as I can remember, there have always been rumors about name-brand stores snatching up the rare vacancies that cropped up along the north stretch of Laurel Street.  Apple Store, anyone?  How about the Restoration Hardware rumor?  Yep, you’ve heard them too.

But they’ve never materialized.

I was quite surprised when I contacted my sources in City Hall a few months back while researching information about the Wheeler Plaza project to discover that there actually isn’t anything in the municipal code that prevents the big boys from grabbing a Laurel Street address. Quite to contrary, the City could really only dictate what type of function a particular location could be used for, but not necessarily who could open up there.

As it turns out, the people most responsible for maintaining the charm of downtown San Carlos are the landlords – the handful of owners of the buildings who rent the space to all of our favorite stores. For many years, they’ve simply opted to keep the feel of Laurel Street very much the same as it has always been, even throughout the rapid transformation of the last decade.

But that may now change.

Change on the Horizon.

As we have known for a few years, the landscape of Laurel Street is going to change…dramatically. Groundbreaking for the mammoth Wheeler Plaza project is just around the corner and that will completely transform the look and feel of the popular north stretch of Laurel.

But more recently, and much less publicized event took place that fostered a whole new round of rumors, and prompted one city leader to take action. The property at 652 Laurel Street, which has housed local favorites such as Plantation Coffee Roastery and Taqueria Mi Ranchito, has been sold to a developer and they’ve given the current tenants the boot. This has once again stirred up the rumor mill that chain stores would soon start creeping onto Laurel Street.

With very little formal power to review or limit which businesses could ultimately open up in the downtown area, Vice Mayor Cameron Johnson introduced an urgent measure to the City Council which would require chain stores to obtain a conditional use permit before opening up. This would give residents a vehicle to have their voices heard by community leaders before permission would be formally given for a business to open up. The ordinance would be in effect for the next 45 days, which buys the City time to implement permanent zoning measures.  The ordinance was passed at the most recent City Council Meeting.

There are two very good articles written by Bill Silverfarb of the Daily Journal which discuss this issue in much greater detail. You can access them by clicking here and here.

Does this mean that there will be chain stores coming soon to San Carlos? Or should there be? Only time will tell — but at least now residents will have a say in that decision.
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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 Greater East Side to Get Parking Relief.

Permit Parking

Pilot Permit Program.

The City of San Carlos formally announced yesterday a pilot permit parking program for the section of Greater East Side of San Carlos south of Holly Street that will require a permit to park on any public street for longer than 2 hours at a time. This program is intended to curb the use of day-long free street parking in this neighborhood by Caltrain commuters, local business employees, and people who don’t live in the neighborhood but are taking advantage of free parking.

Like most of the downtown neighborhoods in San Carlos, street parking is already quite limited for residents in the Greater East Side because of the density of housing. And since many of the older homes only have a single-car garage, it puts street parking at a premium for residents with more than one car.

The pilot portion of the program officially commences on December 14 and will be in effect for all of 2016, with parking enforcement happening immediately thereafter.  If the program is deemed successful, it may be moved to permanent status after the pilot program is completed.

Here is the press release from the City of San Carlos in its entirety:

SAN CARLOS, CA – November 30, 2015 – The City of San Carlos will commence its pilot Residential Parking Permit program on December 14, 2015 for the Greater East San Carlos neighborhood south of Holly Street. This program is designed to provide preferential use of on-street parking to local businesses and residents and restrict weekday long-term parking by those from outside the neighborhood.

The Residential Parking Zone includes Bayport Court, Bayport Avenue, McCue Avenue, Montgomery Street, Cherry Street and Hall Street between Old County Road and Industrial Road. For vehicles without a residential parking permit, parking is limited to two hours between the hours 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays.

The Business Parking Zone includes Old County Road from Holly Street to Terminal Way and East San Carlos Avenue from Old County Road to Industrial Road. For vehicles without a business parking permit, parking is limited to two hours between the hours 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays.

Commuters taking CalTrain are encouraged to park in the CalTrain (SamTrans) parking lot located at El Camino Real and San Carlos Avenue. Please visit the CalTrain parking webpage at www.caltrain.com for more information. Daily and monthly parking options are available.

Enforcement of the new parking restrictions will begin on December 14, 2015, at which time permits will be required for parking beyond two hours in the designated area. Signs will be posted indicating restricted parking areas. Residents, employers and employees in the Pilot Program Area can apply online.

The pilot program will be in effect for all of 2016, and if successful, may be renewed on a permanent basis. Residential and business permit applications, a map of the pilot program area and additional information on this program can be found at  www.cityofsancarlos.org/residentialparkingpermit or by calling Kristen Elderson in the City Manager’s Office at (650) 802-4204.

 
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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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2015 San Carlos Art and Wine Faire is This Weekend.

Art and Wine 2015

25th Anniversary.

San Carlos, it’s that time of year again — the leaves are turning, the days are getting shorter, and rain is on the way.  Well, two out of three is not bad… But that means that Fall is here, and that also means it’s time for that venerable institution known as the San Carlos Art and Wine Faire, once again sponsored by the San Carlos Chamber of Commerce. This year marks the 25th Anniversary of this extremely popular event.

It all takes place this coming weekend, October 10-11, and pretty much all of north Laurel Street and numerous side streets will be taken over with booths full of wine, art, and of course, more wine. There will also be musical entertainment in a variety of places downtown. Here’s the schedule:

ENTERTAINMENT SCHEDULE:

Laurel Street Park
Saturday
• 11:-00-1:30 Toree McGee & Rodeo House (rockin’ country)
• 2:30-5:30 Caravanserai (Santana Tribute band)

Sunday
• 11:00-1:30 The E-Ticket Band (rock-n-roll)
• 2:30-5:30 Aja Vu/Stealin’ Chicago (Steely Dan and Chicago Tribute)

San Carlos Avenue Stage
Saturday
• 12:00-2:30 The Groove (70’s Rock)
• 3:30-5:30 The RiPTides- (60’s Rock)

Sunday
• 12:00-2:30 Stompy Jones– (Swing)
• 3:30-5:30 KickBack (R & B Soul)

So be sure to head downtown this weekend, and catch up with all of your San Carlos neighbors. The weather should be spectacular, and the wine will be flowing!
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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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It’s a Dog’s Day in San Carlos.

San Carlos City of Good Living

New San Carlos Dog Park Opens Tonight.

Much to the delight of local dog owners, the City of San Carlos will officially open a dedicated pooch park tonight at 5:00 PM. After an ambitious pilot program that allowed off-leash hours at Burton Park was discontinued this year, dog owners in San Carlos were left without a dedicated park to exercise their dogs.

The City of San Carlos stepped in recently and dedicated the City Hall Park on the corner of San Carlos Avenue and Elm Street as the new canine playground.  They have spent the past few weeks getting park ready and installing a safety fence around the perimeter of the park, with double safety gates so that the dogs aren’t able to accidentally exit the park right onto San Carlos Avenue.

There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony tonight and some prizes will be given away to some lucky dogs, according to the press release on the City website. So if you’re out on an early walk with your best pal, stop by the new San Carlos City Dog Park for all of the festivities.
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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 Launches Interactive Maps, iPhone Apps for Downtown Businesses

app store

A Technology Leader.

The City of San Carlos has always been an early pioneer and a leader in applying technology and innovation to civic applications. As a case in point, they won an award years ago for having the best website after being one of the first cities on the Peninsula to offer a city-wide site.

They were also one of the first cities to push the City Council agenda and minutes online, so that the public has access to these important files.  And let us not forget about San Carlos TV!

The city’s latest technology push has resulted in a nifty little interactive map that you can use to explore and connect with downtown businesses in San Carlos. This includes restaurants, retail stores, and even real estate offices (yes, Dwell Realtors is absolutely in there!)

The map is light and efficient, and allows you to quickly search by category to find exactly which business you are looking for. Once you click on the tab of that particular business, you immediately have a map of their location, as well as their phone number and a single-click to their website.

Here is a screen shot of the desktop version of the business map:

Map Screen Shot

There is also an entirely separate interactive map that’s dedicated to just building and construction material businesses in San Carlos, and that can be accessed by clicking here.

iPhone Apps.

To make these fantastic maps accessible to the mobile public, they are also available in app format for the iPhone (no word yet regarding Android support.)   To access these free apps on the iTunes store, click the respective icons below:

SCAppLogoSmallBLDGAppLogoSmall

 

Kudos to the City of San Carlos for investing the time, energy, and funds to create such a useful suite of online tools for the residents of San Carlos!
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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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Poll: Where’s the Best Sushi in San Carlos?

Sushi

Despite what it may seem, Laurel Street and the rest of the downtown dining district of San Carlos is not just comprised of Italian restaurants.  Among the various culinary delights, there is a surprising number of sushi restaurants that have cropped up in the City of Good Living, which means sushi lovers in San Carlos don’t have to exile to San Mateo, Burlingame,  or even Palo Alto to get their fix anymore.

But how does San Carlos rank on the Sushi scale?   Do we have legitimate contenders, or are we still in the minor leagues?   Cast your vote in the White Oaks Blog Poll in the right sidebar — since there are so many to choose from, you can vote for two of your favorites.     Feel free to give a shout out to your favorite San Carlos place in the comment section below,  or let me know if I missed any restaurant that should be considered in the poll.
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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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What Do You Think?

Should Hot Harvest Nights Move To Sunday?

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