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AngelScholars Sets Up Shop in San Carlos.

AngelScholars

Educational Crowdfunding.

Once you’ve grown accustomed to the charm and small-town feel of San Carlos, it’s sometimes easy to forget that we live smack in the middle of technology universe. The cool, eclectic stores that make up the downtown shopping area aren’t the only interesting business that call San Carlos “home”.  There are also some very innovative and interesting technology companies who share the 94070 zip code.

One of those San Carlos companies is AngelScholars.

What is AngelScholars, you ask? It’s a company that was founded by a former Google executive that is designed to allow people who would like to pool their money to donate to educational scholarships, but may not be doing so because they don’t have a say over where their donation is being used. Think of it as crowdfunding, but focused specifically on education and scholarships.

It’s really a fantastic idea when you think about it. You can contribute as little as $50, and still specify where you want the money to be spent — do you want to help a kid get into an engineering school?  Check. Maybe you want to help someone trying to get into your alma mater? You can specify that too.

According to their press release, there’s a huge untapped market of philanthropic people who would love to promote higher education, but don’t know where to do it, or how to control where their money grows. AngelScholars aims to solve that problem.

Here’s a good article that describes the company and their vision:  AngelScholars Launches in San Carlos.

When you think of all of the cool things that have put San Carlos on the map, you can add this one to the list.
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San Carlos Farmer’s Market Debuts this Sunday.

SC Farmers Market Logo 2016

Formerly Hot Harvest Nights.

A few months ago, after numerous discussions with local business owners, and after soliciting input from the citizens of San Carlos, the Chamber of Commerce made the decision to discontinue the popular Hot Harvest Nights outdoor market. This event ran every Thursday night during the summer months along the northern blocks of Laurel Street, and has always been very well attended by people from all over the mid-peninsula.

The rationale behind the move, among several reasons, was that blocking off Laurel Street every Thursday night was having an adverse effect on the dinner revenue for restaurants along that stretch. Thursday night has become one of the busier dining nights in downtown San Carlos, especially in the summer months. The Chamber also wanted to make it more of a “tradtional” farmer’s market like people are accustomed to in neighboring communities like Belmont and San Mateo.

So the Chamber is proud to announce that this Sunday the brand new San Carlos Farmer’s Market will make its debut in downtown San Carlos! The Farmer’s Market will run every Sunday from 10AM – 2PM along the same stretch of Laurel Street. Stop by and support this great outdoor market, and help continue the great tradition of Hot Harvest Nights!

 

SC Farmers Market Logo 2016

Carrots under bright canopy

Smoked Fish

Rodriguez Farms Strawberries
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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 Loses Two Popular Pizzerias.

No Pizza

A Sad Time for Pizza Fans.

San Carlos can certainly stand toe-to-toe with any other community along the Peninsula when it comes to high quality pizzerias. Ever since the downtown district began to transform into the shopping and dining mecca that you see today, pizzerias have probably far outnumbered any other kind of restaurant in the city — even Mediterranean.  If you fancy traditional California pizza, thin crust New York style pizza, deep dish Chicago pizza, or even Connecticut-style clam-based pizza, San Carlos seems to have a restaurant that covers every base.

But in what can best be described as a culinary one-two punch to the gut, two of the most popular pizzerias in San Carlos appear to have closed their doors permanently in just the last few months, leaving pizza fans shocked and saddened.

San Remo’s Ristorante and Pizzeria, a longtime favorite of many San Carlos families, suddenly closed their doors a number of weeks ago citing “medical reasons” behind the closure. Long-time fans of San Remo’s kept their fingers crossed, waiting for the day that the doors would once again open to this San Carlos institution.

But that apparently is not to be.  The temporary closure appears to now be permanent, with this for sale sign replacing the handwritten sign that once adorned the window.

 

Photo Jun 01, 7 34 28 AM

The second pizzeria to close its doors came as a huge shock to many people, including myself. Speederia Pizzeria was arguably the most legit New York style pizza not only in San Carlos, but also anywhere along the Peninsula. They offered a variety of pies that you simply could never grow tired of, and it was a huge lunchtime favorite for San Carlos students when they got out of school on early on Wednesdays.

But just a few weeks ago, this sign appeared in the window of Speederia:

 

Photo Jun 01, 10 49 02 AM

I spoke briefly with the owner of Speederia, and he told me that there were some issues with their rental on Laurel Street, and that they decided to close up shop rather than operate under a cloud of uncertainty about their future.

As the sign indicates above, they will still be operating their Redwood City restaurant, which sits kitty corner from The Canyon Inn on Oak Knoll Drive. But it’s really not the same for us diehard fans who grew accustomed to dropping into this tiny storefront on Laurel Street and were always treated with the best thin-crust pizza anywhere….

 

Photo Jun 01, 10 49 25 AM

So long, San Remo’s and Speederia!!  You were a treasured member of the culinary playground that downtown San Carlos has become, and you will be sadly missed.
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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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Orchard Supply Hardware Comes to San Carlos!

orchard-supply-hardware

Competition for Home Depot.

It has been quite a few years since The Home Depot opened up shop in San Carlos, taking over what was the old Lenkurt GTE building on Old County Road. Over the years, they have enjoyed the enviable position of being the only mega home improvement warehouse in the immediate area, and the argument can be made that they directly or indirectly put most local hardware stores out of business. The smaller family owned stores simply could not compete on the price and volume of products that Home Depot offered, unless they specialized in a niche that made them somewhat immune to this sledgehammer of competition.

That doesn’t mean that The Home Depot was necessarily the right solution for San Carlos. Having owned a home in San Carlos for 25 years, I can not possibly count the number of times that I have been inside that store, so I know a thing or two about the shopping experience at this (and any other) Home Depot — and it’s not generally a positive one. Apparently I’m not alone in this opinion, as there is an entire website dedicated to the general dislike of the store. The name kind of speaks for itself:  http://www.HomeDepotSucks

As I’ve written on this site numerous times in the past, I have longed for the day that a competitor like Lowes or Orchard Supply Hardware would find their way to the City of Good Living to give San Carlos residents another option to purchase their home improvement goods, and to give Home Depot a wake-up call to finally improve their abysmal customer service.

That day is finally here…

To the delight of many do-it-yourself’ers in San Carlos and surrounding communities, Orchard Supply Hardware officially opened its doors in San Carlos yesterday:

Photo May 25, 12 09 53 PM

Located at 360 Industrial Road in San Carlos (right across from the new PAMF Medical Center), the new Orchard Supply Hardware is the exact blueprint of what you would expect from their stores — spacious, impeccably clean, and very well organized.

I shopped their today to get a replacement smoke detector and some other odds and ends, and true to form, there was no shortage of people who were willing to go out of their way to help me find what I needed. That service is simply worth the extra mile drive.
Photo May 25, 12 40 09 PM

But as good as Orchard Supply Hardware is, there are still times when it just makes more sense to get what you need from Home Depot, and this development is not all bad news for them. Every business improves from good competition (especially real estate), and I expect (or hope) that this will be the impetus for Home Depot to make their shopping experience better. It appears that they have many more people working the floor lately, so that’s a good start.

Grand Opening: June 25.

Although they have already opened their doors for business, the new Orchard store has a Customer Grand Opening planned for June 25th, according to one of the employees that I spoke with. There were no details available, but I am sure it will be worth checking out.

Welcome to San Carlos, Orchard Supply Hardware!!  I certainly hope the home improvement shoppers in the area patronize this store, and make their decision to set up shop in San Carlos a worthwhile one.
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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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Sheriff’s Department Issues Car Burglary Alert in San Carlos

Sheriff

“Smash and Grabs” on the Rise.

The San Carlos Police Bureau of the San Mateo Sheriff’s Department issued a city-wide alert yesterday warning residents and shoppers about a rise in auto burglaries in the downtown shopping district of San Carlos. This is not a new issue, as vehicle break-ins have been a persistent problem in areas that are in close proximity to Highway 101, like the San Carlos Plaza parking lot (Best Buy, Home Goods) and across the freeway at in the parking lot shared by Izzy’s and the hotel. These areas were prime targets because they allowed thieves a quick exit path to the freeway.

But this recent rash of break-ins has prompted the yet another advisory.

As the police have outlined in the alert below, thieves are resorting to punching out windows and grabbing anything of value in the car — phones, laptops, briefcases — especially if they are left in plain sight. But because the police suspect that thieves are “lying in wait,” they may see potential targets put their valuables out of sight or lock them in the trunk, so they will still break into the car as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

It’s unfortunate to have to post this kind of bad news on the site, but it’s far better to be forewarned than to become a victim.  Here is the Sheriff’s Department alert in its entirety:

In the recent week, there have been numerous auto burglaries throughout the various parking plazas where side windows are smashed and purses, laptops, briefcases and luggage has been taken.  All though these recent incidents were between 5 & 8 pm, this type of theft is also happening during the daytime as well.
The common methods thieves have been using recently are to park in parking lots and watch people as they exit their vehicles.  The victims themselves unknowingly assist the thieves by some of the following actions;

•         Women exit their vehicles and then re-enter the car to put their purse or handbag under the front seat or in the back seat and cover it with a coat.
•         Travelers on business trips will exit the car and place their briefcase/luggage in the back seat or trunk.
•         Laptops and other electronic devices are left in plain view on the front seat
•         Shoppers will carry packages and purchased items back to their vehicle and place them in the back seat or trunk and then return to shopping.
•         Business people at the end of the day “carpool” to dinner from work and upon parking their car, they leave their briefcases and laptops on the seat and cover them with their business coats.

Each of the above scenarios occurred this week.  Times have changed and motorists need to be more aware of their surroundings and their own actions.  There is a reason why one vehicle is targeted over another…..opportunity.  Next time you reach to place your wallets under the front seat beware that this seemingly innocent action might be all the thief is looking for.

San Carlos as well as many other communities in our area is experiencing these types of thefts.  What we are not experiencing is break-ins where “Nothing” is taken.  Don’t leave anything of value in your vehicle.  If you’re shopping and place packages inside your vehicle, drive off and find another place to park.  When you return home, remove your valuables and lock your car.  Report suspicious persons or behavior to your local Police or Sheriff.

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

February 11, 2016 Downtown San Carlos 1 Comment
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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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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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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Hey San Carlos, What Do You Think?

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

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