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First of five Facebook festivals set for Saturday

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The forecast for Saturday is for excellent weather, and for fun – at the Bay Area Brew & FanFest.

The first of five Facebook Festivals this summer and fall is set to take place Saturday, May 12, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Facebook HQ, 1 Hacker Way in Menlo Park.  Admission and parking are free.

The first festival is called Bay Area Brew & Fanfest. On tap – craft beers and cocktails and wine tasting – to benefit mentoring programs for kids and local youth sports programs. There will also be an array of food trucks (the usual suspects), and a Sports Showcase – including appearances from Lou Seal and Stomper, human representatives of the Giants and A’s, Warriors and Niners, Sharks and Earthquakes – plus from the college ranks, Stanford, Cal and San Jose State.

Additionally, there will be a Battle of the Bands (high school band-style), among other bands and music.

And for kids – they can jump round in a bouncy house, get their faces painted, paint something else themselves, get a balloon animal, try to figure out how that magician did it, and more too.

If that’s not enough, there also will be the Garlic Wars (we won’t spoil the surprise, but this should be a pretty tasty event)!

See the flyers below for information on all five Facebook events.

Photo courtesy of the Facebook Festivals Facebook page.

Posted by Facebook Festivals on Wednesday, November 22, 2017

‘Almost’ Mother’s Day Kids Concert set for Courthouse Square

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Celebrate your mom on May 12 at the “Almost” Mother’s Day Kids Concert set to take place at Courthouse Square in Redwood City from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The event will feature a performance by Andy Z and the Andyland Band, an inflatable play land, and an opportunity to create a Mother’s Day Gift in the craft area.

The concert is sponsored by Redwood City Parks, Recreation and Community Services.

Photo courtesy of Redwood City Events

Residents asked to weigh in on use of affordable housing fees

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Redwood City residents are invited to attend a public meeting on May 22 where they will be asked to provide input on how affordable housing fees in Redwood City should be used.

In recent years, the city has been moving toward raising revenue to support affordable housing creation. City Council has approved affordable housing impact fees on new residential and commercial development, and it also recently took steps toward taxing short-term rentals such as AirBnB, and using that revenue to support affordable housing.

Now, the question is how to allocate the money going to the city’s Affordable Housing Fund.

On May 22, residents are being asked to join the Housing and Human Concerns Committee for a discussion on how to best use those funds at the Veterans Memorial Senior Center, 1455 Madison Ave. The event runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.



Redwood City’s ‘State of the City’ set for May 14

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This year’s theme is ‘People: Our Community’s Greatest Asset.’ The State of the City promotes the city’s accomplishments, its community stories and its goals for the coming year.

The event is free and open to the public and will also be televised. Refreshments will be served at 6:30 p.m. The event will take place at Redwood City City Hall, 1017 Middlefield Road.

For more information, visit here.

Ex-Comcast technician from Redwood City allegedly stole from customers

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Ex-Comcast technician from Redwood City arrested on suspicion of stealing from customers

San Mateo County Sheriff’s detectives arrested a former Comcast technician last week on suspicion of stealing jewelry from three different customer’s homes, according to the sheriff’s office.

Christian Ivan Arias-Monroy, 31, of Redwood City, was arrested on suspicion of grand theft, elder abuse and petty theft in connections with thefts that occurred in homes in Daly City and Half Moon Bay in September 2016 and August 2017.

He was booked into the San Mateo County Jail Thursday, according to the sheriff’s office.

Sheriff’s deputies are now trying to find out if other Comcast customers were victimized by Arias-Monroy in the past few years.

Please contact Det. Chaghouri at 650-363-4060 of

Gun buyback event coming to Redwood City; up to $200 for an assault rifle

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An anonymous, large-scale gun buyback event is set to be held in Redwood City on Saturday, May 5.

The event, hosted by San Mateo County Sheriff Carlos G. Bolanos, Redwood City Police Chief Dan Mulholland, and Congresswoman Jackie Speier, will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1402 Maple St.

“Any individual can surrender firearms with no questions asked, and receive up to $100 cash for a hand gun, shotgun or rifle, and up to $200 cash for an assault rifle,” organizers said, adding that funds are limited.

See this Facebook invite for more information.

The gun buyback was initiated by the Citizens for a San Mateo County Gun Buyback, which wanted to bring another large-scale buyback to the county that hasn’t happened since 2013. The group has solicited funding from the buyback from several city and town governments in the county, including a $50,000 contribution from San Carlos, and $10,000 from Woodside and Portola, which each committed to provide an addition $5,000 in matching funds if kids in their communities raised funds. Others contributing were Redwood City, Belmont, Burlingame, Half Moon Bay, Millbrae and San Mateo.

 “The Redwood City Police Department appreciates the opportunity to partner in this gun buyback event with the group Citizens for a San Mateo County Gun Buyback, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office and other participating municipal agencies,” Redwood City Police Chief Dan Mulholland said. “This event provides an excellent opportunity to increase community safety by collecting unwanted firearms and ensuring their safe disposal rather than risk them falling into the wrong hands.”

Redwood City considering tax measures for the November ballot

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Apply now for Chevron’s Dr. William F. King college scholarship

Redwood City voters might see new tax measures on the November ballot.

Public outreach is set to be conducted by the city on proposals for a quarter-cent sales tax increase and a transit occupancy tax increase. The revenue proposals are aimed at stemming projected future budget deficits, according to City Manager Melissa Diaz.

A five-year budget forecast shows the city headed to a nearly $1 million deficit in fiscal year 2019-20 that could grow to nearly $3.7 million in 2021-22 and to $5.7 million in 2022-23. The projected shortfalls are due to rising expenses and declining revenue sources including the statewide problem of growing public pension costs, as well as decreasing sales tax revenue, city officials said.

The city must also prepare for the possibility that the local economy might contract in the coming years, the city said.

In response, the city has identified $6 million in annual cost reductions that will be phased in over the next two fiscal years. The city also aims to identify $6 million in annual revenue increases. Last year, City Council approved $2 million in annual development fee increases. Currently, the city is looking to voters to address the remaining $4 million.

“If we do not have new revenues…we will very quickly have operating deficits,” Diaz told council.

A poll conducted by EMC Research from March 5 through March 13 surveyed 434 likely voters and found sufficient support for a sales tax measure.

Businesses and residents will soon hear more about the proposed tax measures with a public outreach campaign moving forward. City Council is expected to vote on whether to place the measures on the ballot at its July 23 meeting.

Political Climate with Mark Simon: Splitting California into 3 states divisive in several ways

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If splitting California into six states was a loopy idea, is splitting it into three states half-loopy?

Splitting up California is the brainchild of Tim Draper, a third-generation venture capitalist who apparently thinks smaller is better, although I suspect that is not the lesson he is teaching the budding entrepreneurs enrolled at San Mateo-based Draper University of Heroes, which puts on a nice street fair.

He has plenty of money, having invested early in Skype. Being smart at one thing appears to make him feel smart about many other things, although, it must be said, there is quite a long history in California of business executives failing miserably at politics, it being a little more difficult than it looks.

Anyway, he is willing to spend some of that money on his pet projects. In 2000, he spent more than $23 million on Proposition 38, a measure that would have allowed the state to spend $4,000 per pupil enrolled at private and religious schools. It also restricted the state from applying academic standards to these private schools. By the way, his dad also spent $2 million on the measure. It’s nice to see a family stick together. The measure failed.

In 2014, he spent $5 million trying to get a measure on the statewide ballot to divide California into six states, but roughly half the signatures he collected were invalid and the measure never was put before the voters.

Now, he’s back with what might be called a half-measure: dividing California into three states.  It would be easy to call it silly, but it makes sense to take it seriously.

Not the proposal – it is silly. Draper’s measure, if it qualifies for the ballot, will lose, but it can still do a lot of damage. The debate it will touch off has the potential to be seriously harmful and divisive at a time when our politics are badly divided.

What we need are our leaders – in government, politics and business – to look for ways to bring us together around common values and concerns.

The proposal was dismissed for just these reasons by Paul Saffo, who was the keynote speaker Saturday at the Redwood City-San Mateo County Chamber of Commerce’s 49th Progress Seminar, the annual gathering of San Mateo County leaders, who meet in Monterey to discuss the leading issues affecting the county and, oddly enough, seek consensus solutions. Saffo is a renowned futurist from Stanford, an engaging and thoughtful thinker about society, change and the dynamics that impact human behavior.

Saffo called Draper “the clown prince of Silicon Valley” and an example of “folks who get too rich too fast and decide to make everyone else unhappy.”

The three-states measure is “extraordinarily dangerous” because it undermines “our most valuable resource: our social cohesion,” Saffo said.

There are a wide number of interests around the country and the world “who love to see California get into a fight with ourselves,” he said.

There are parts of the state – largely the more rural eastern and far northern counties — where splitting off from California long has been advocated and signs calling for the creating of the State of Jefferson are becoming more prominent. The Draper proposal will only fuel that sentiment and embolden those who want their differences to become codified, rather than resolved.

California works in many ways, and it works best when we listen to one another, “not by insulting people,” Saffo said. “The stakes are really high.”

Saffo asked the audience members to show their support for a unified California by the simple act of putting on their cars a sticker depicting the Bear Flag Republic state flag.

Draper’s principal argument is that government is too large to be effective and that people are leaving California because it doesn’t work anymore.

In reality, the only problem Draper has with government is that he can’t get it to do what he wants, whether it’s put in place a draconian voucher system that would enrich private schools at the expense of public education or eliminate financial regulations and restrictions aimed to protect the American economy from abuse.

Yes, Draper spent $23 million on that failed voucher measure in 2000, and he spent $5 million in 2014 in an unsuccessful effort to put his first split-California measure on the ballot. Maybe he spent that much this time, too.

What we do know is this: He is likely to have more impact on improving California by spending his money on resolving the problems that face the state. Imagine what a local housing nonprofit might do if it had $28 million to spend. It might enable some folks to stick around.

Contact Mark Simon at

When Main Street Was Literally Redwood City’s Main Street

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By Jim Cifford

Movie lovers in Redwood City have plenty of choices at the Century 21 Theater, which lures them with multiscreen offerings. Decades ago, the cinema “menu” was pretty well limited to what was shown a block away on a single screen at the Fox, which today features live productions. Both theaters are on busy Broadway, but there was a time when all the action was on adjacent Main Street.

The Alhambra Theater opened on Main in 1896 with stage shows upstairs, a debut that came shortly before motion pictures revolutionized the entertainment industry. The building designed by noted architect A. Page Brown, whose resume included the Ferry Building in San Francisco, was billed as the finest entertainment site between San Francisco and San Jose. On the street level below the stage was a popular restaurant and bar where the patrons included Western legend Wyatt Earp could meet and eat. Today a photo of Earp standing at the bar and gazing into the camera adorns the wall at Martin’s West, a popular dining spot that occupies the same space where the famed lawman tossed back a few while his actress wife performed in plays upstairs.

The first movie house in Redwood City was the Bell Theater, which opened in 1910 a few doors down from the Alhambra, according to researchers at the Redwood City Library’s history room. Newspaper clippings of the time said the Bell was little more than “a corrugated building with a stucco front.” The advertisements for the opening promised “continuous performance. Latest Eastern and European novelties. Moving pictures and illustrated songs.”

In 1914 the Bell was bought by a dynamo of an entrepreneur named Ellis J. Arkush, whose name would become linked to most entertainment offerings on the Peninsula. Arkush remodeled the Bell by adding a lobby and bringing in 150 chairs. A year later the Bell was showing films that starred such luminaries as Theda Bara, known as “the most beautiful wicked face in the world.”

The Bell wasn’t enough for Arkush. In a few years he joined forces with West Coast Theaters to form a new corporation called West Coast Peninsula Theaters that embraced movies houses in Burlingame, San Mateo, Palo Alto and Redwood City. The Redwood City showplace was the Sequoia on Broadway, just a block or so from today’s Fox and Century 21.

Both the Alhambra and the Bell were located in what would be today’s Main Street Historic District, which takes in several pioneer buildings, among them the Sequoia Hotel on the corner of Main and Broadway and a brick building at 726 Main that was the Diller-Chamberlain Store when it opened in 1859. Still standing, it is San Mateo County’s oldest commercial building.

The Masonic Order bought the Alhambra building in 1921 and used the upper part for meetings. The bottom was leased out for retail stores. At one time there were so many antique stores on Main Street the area was dubbed “antique row.” In 2001 a fire gutted the upstairs but the building was saved and today serves as office space.  Recently, The Acclaim Companies announced plans to add nearly 80,000 more square feet of office space in the 800 block of Main Street.  The company hopes to revitalize a street it called “the birthplace of Redwood City.”

The numbering system for buildings on Main Street can get tricky because the original address numbers changed over the years. For instance, the Alhambra address today is 831-835 Main, but the 1912 City Directory lists it at 235 Main. The 1916 directory shows the Bell at 263-265 Main, the location of today’s Angelica’s Restaurant, which boasts dinner theatre – but no movies.


Spring Sips: Three Ways to Rosé

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Growing up, “rosé” was a bad word in my house. My dad loathed the stuff, calling it “the bastardization of wine.” In fairness, he developed his bias honestly. Like so many Californians in the ‘80s and ‘90s, he had fallen for the misconception that rosé is white and red wine mixed together. Rosé’s bad reputation wasn’t all based on ill-informed rumors. I recently sat down with French winemaker Julien Fayard and he told me, “Even ten years ago, “quality” and “rosé” really didn’t go together in the same sentence.”

Thankfully, the times have changed and rosé is no longer shunned. That’s not to say that all are created equally. Like any wine, there is a decent amount of swill masquerading as the real-deal. To sidestep the pink-hued landmines, follow these two simple steps.

  1. Choose wisely. Pick a rosé that is made by an actual Frenchman, or at the very least, an ardent Francophile who was trained in France. Even in France, rosé is considered a “fun wine” – but it should still be made with grace and intention. I have yet to find a decent “table” rosé, so gauge your price point expectations accordingly.

This is a good time to address the current trend of canned wines. I did my fair share of research on canned rosés for this column; my verdict is simple: Don’t do it. I won’t name names, but I cannot in good conscience recommend any of the ones I tried.

  1. Drink wisely. By this, I mean drink like the French. Rosé in France is sipped in the warmth of spring and summer. It’s a light, carefree wine meant for light, carefree moments. Pair it with a fresh tuna nicoise salad, or enjoy it as a pre-dinner, al fresco sip in the sun.

Still need a little direction? Here are my top three, in alphabetical order, because simply put, I could never rank these beauties.

Azur Rosé 2016 ($32): Frenchmen Julien Fayard makes this aromatic rosé under his Azur label, at his winery, Covert Estate in Coombsville (Napa’s newest appellation). He uses the traditional method known as “direct press,” which means instead of using leftover grapes, he grows and harvests Syrah fruit specifically for this wine. The light salmon hue is a byproduct of his deliberate process – the grape skins are left on for a mere hour, imparting a light tint that alludes to the fresh, bright flavors.

Tasting notes: “Delicate bouquet of white flowers with seductive peach accents. Fresh and focused, the sophisticated palate offers elegant layers of raspberry, strawberry and watermelon. An alluring mineral finish completes this purely harmonious wine.” –

Ehlers Estate Sylvian Rosé 2017 ($36): Described as a classic, old-world rosé, Francophile winemaker Kevin Morrissey had to convince Sylvian LeDuc, his French boss and owner of Ehlers Estate, that this was a wine worth making. Kevin retold the moment to me: “She said to me, you know Kevin, rosé is not a serious wine, and Ehlers is very serious.” Kevin’s reply? “Well if it’s the best, then it’s serious, right?” One sip and she was convinced.

Tasting notes: “Aromas of watermelon, raspberry and cotton candy mingle with orange sorbet and fresh red cherries. Sparkling acidity, low alcohol.” –

Viver 2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir ($19): Like many French winemakers in Napa Valley, Stephane Vivier fell in love with the American girl and the California sun, but missed a taste of home. For him, home tastes like Pinot Noir—even more specifically—Rosé of Pinot Noir. “I grew up with Rosé of Pinot Noir in Burgundy. I would come home and sit outside with my parents. My mom would bring in things from the garden, and my dad wine from the cellar. We would talk about the day, and most everyday have a bottle of rosé.”

Tasting notes: “The floral result offers notes of citrus fruit and plum, and a fine, harmonious nose. Red fruit brings an almost flinty power to the palate, while the structure is fresh and sophisticated with concentration at its core.” –

À votre santé!

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