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13-day Cinequest film festival to begin Feb. 27

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Want a chance to see famed director William H. Macy in person? He’ll be one of the Hollywood stars attending the 13-day 2018 Cinequest Film & VR (Virtual Reality) Festival, which takes place at theaters in both San Jose and Redwood City.

The international festival, which couples movie making with Silicon Valley innovation, begins Tuesday, Feb. 27, with the opening night screening of “Krystal” starring Nick Robinson and Rosario Dawson at California Theatre in San Jose, with director Macy scheduled to be in attendance.

The festival continues through Sunday, March 11. Click here to view the list of 113 festival events, with many featured at Century 20 in downtown Redwood City, 825 Middlefield Rd.

Film goers can easily access the theaters in both Redwood City and San Jose via Caltrain. It’s a short walk from the Redwood City Caltrain Station to the Century Downtown 20. From the San Jose Diridon Caltrain Station, passengers can transfer to VTA buses and light rail to the three downtown venues: California Theatre, Hammer Theatre Center and 3 Below (formerly Camera 3).

Cinequest was founded in 1990, when the festival showed 60 films at the Camera 3 theater in front of 3,000 attendees. Last year, the festival featured over 800 artists and innovators presenting 132 world and U.S. premieres and cutting-edge media technologies on multiple days and in several local theaters. In 2014, the festival featured a film produced using an iPhone.

This year will include 29 virtual reality and augmented reality films, experiences and games, along with the Maverick Spirit Awards, which has been won in the past by stars including Nicolas Cage, Tatiana Maslany and Andie MacDowell.

Volunteers sought for Redwood City tree planting event

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CityTrees, the nonprofit that has organized volunteer urban tree-planting events that have planted 2,800 trees in Redwood City since 2000, is inviting residents to help out at its next planting event on Saturday, Feb. 24.

Trees will be planted from 9 a.m. to noon. Once registered for the event, you will receive an email with the meeting location.

CityTrees will provide a light breakfast and water, as well as planting tools, gloves and safety vests, which must be worn by volunteers at all times during the planting.

Volunteers are required to wear closed-toe shoes and are encouraged to wear long sleeves, long pants, hats, and sun protection. Children 10 and older are welcomed as long as a parent or guardian is also present at the event. There are currently six available spots still open.

CityTrees not only organizes plantings, but also the maintenance of trees.

To sign up visit here.

Political Climate by Mark Simon: Election changes to impact local campaigns

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As elections go, 2018 could be one we will all remember for years to come, the circumstances of this election being unusual in one aspect and unique in another.

First, uniquely, it will be vote by mail general election as a result of the California Voter’s Choice Act, authored by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco. Voters still will be able to cast ballots at voting stations around the county, but the great majority of votes will be cast by mail.

Second, of San Mateo County’s 20 cities, 16 are holding council elections, having consolidated the local races with the statewide general election in November under threat of legal action.

The expectation among elections officials and most political analysts is that these two changes will result in higher-than-usual voter turnout, but no one really knows with any degree of certainty.

What is certain is that the changes put the city council candidates in a substantially different and potentially uneasy posture to these local campaigns.

Candidates rely on lists of likely voters – those who have voted in the last three or four elections – as a way of targeting their campaign efforts only to those most likely to show up and vote. Because every registered voter will get a ballot, it means the campaign has to take into account less-than-the-likeliest voters. The candidates who campaign door-to-door, which is most of them, will be in the uncomfortable position, perhaps, of walking past homes that may now contain someone who is more likely to vote this time, or expending more time and resources reaching out to voters with only sporadic participation records.

The consolidation with the statewide general election will mean substantially more voters at the polls than in the off-year cycle, historically an election with an abysmal turnout. But after they vote in the high-profile races of governor, U.S. senator, other statewide offices, legislative and congressional offices and statewide and regional ballot measures, how many voters will stick around to vote on the city council races?

Years past, when some local elections were consolidated with general elections, the number of votes cast in city council races tended to be the same as in an off-year.

The real change comes in the opportunities and the challenges these changes present. Candidates will struggle to be heard over the cacophony of a statewide election, particularly in a year when the political discourse is noisier than ever and many voters feel much is at stake.

On the other hand, the consolidated election is an opportunity for a creative candidate to make the pie bigger, to bring to the election new voters.

REDDY AND WILLING: It took a while to catch up with the other announced Redwood City City Council challenger, Diana Reddy, who, it turns out, is counting on the consolidated election to accrue to her benefit.

Self-described “social justice person” and housing advocate, Reddy is a former administrative assistant at the Sequoia Union High School District, former co-chair (twice) of the social justice activist organization Peninsula Interfaith Action (now Faith in Action), former member of the city’s Housing and Human Concerns Committee and a member of the Housing Leadership Council. She’s also a familiar sight at local labor picket lines, advocating for workers’ rights.

In an interview with Political Climate, she said the campaign issues will be education, health care, housing and transportation and how those issues affect the ability of some to remain in the community.

By background and passion, her focus is on housing for those who feel pushed aside and left out of the boom that has occurred in the last decade. While the city has over-achieved in building market-rate housing, it is far behind where it should be in building below-market and affordable housing, she said.

“San Mateo County has the lowest percentage of affordable housing of all the Bay Area counties, yet we are the wealthiest of those counties,” Reddy said. “It is important to me to fill the void we have in our community.”

She is counting on the consolidated election to bring out voters who don’t fit the profile of a typical likely voter, who is white, more than 50 years old and upper middle-class property owner.

“This is an opportunity for me to go into neighborhoods where they’re not used to candidates coming to their door,” Reddy said.

FAMILY MATTERS: In a truly rare turn of events, all three incumbents up for re-election this year in San Carlos will not be running, a complete turnover of the majority of the council.

In a city that prides itself on being family oriented – in late January for nearly a decade, the city has held a Week of the Family with special events and contests – two of the council members cite the demands of family as the reason not to seek reelection.

Vice Mayor Cameron Johnson told Political Climate that his first term will be his only term. He has two children, a 7-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son, and both are entering critical ages where the presence of an attentive father is of incalculable importance. Add to that the demands of his job as director of Product Innovation at Netflix and serving on the council “just takes up a tremendous amount of time. … Where’s my highest responsibility?” In five years, his daughter will be 12 “and I don’t want to miss those years.”

He said he “feels good” about the job he has done on the council, and he hopes to play a key role in the formation of a San Carlos Community Foundation he led the effort to establish with $2 million from a $6 milli9on settlement with PG&E over a faulty gas line.

At the council organizational meeting in mid-December, 16-year incumbent and contrarian Matt Grocott bowed out of consideration for mayor or vice mayor and subsequently indicated he would not run for another term. Grocott said he wants the freedom to devote time and attention to his 15-year-old son, an activity he says speaks to his sense of “the full measure of a man.”

Mayor Bob Grassilli, re-elected mayor for the extra year necessitated by the election consolidated, has said publicly that he will not run again.

As you might expect, these decisions already are prompting several candidates to step up timelines.

AFTER HILL: State Senator Jerry Hill is widely regarded as the model for a candidature who announces early, works hard and effectively closes out possible opposition.

Now, Hill is termed out and among Redwood City City Councilwoman Shelley Masur hopes to emulate the senator, who can be described as outgoing in more ways than one. Masur formed a fundraising committee last week and she expects to spend most of this year “putting some building blocks in place” and listening to voter concerns.

Masur is barely halfway through her first term on the council. She ran countywide for the Board of Supervisors, losing to Warren Slocum, and she served 10 years on the Redwood City School District Board.

The legislative office affords a better venue to tackle the issues affecting her community and about which she is passionate: public health, housing and transportation.

Supervisor Dave Pine confirmed in other publications he is looking at running for the Senate. A prior column mentioned Menlo Park City Councilwoman Kirsten Keith as a rumored candidate, but she told Political Climate she is running for re-election and is “not interested” in running for the Senate seat.

Contact Mark Simon at

Redwood City proposing to allow cannabis businesses

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For those who may not be aware of the laws pertaining to marijuana in Redwood City, and how they might change in the coming months, city officials recently published an educational blog.

Here are some highlights:

In January, purchasing recreational marijuana became legal in California for adults 21 and over.

Two months prior, the Redwood City council implemented a ban, not just on commercial cannabis cultivation in the city but also on manufacturing, testing, retail, and distribution, with the exception of deliveries of medicinal and adult use cannabis. Delivery providers currently must come from locations outside of Redwood City.

But that might soon change. In April, the Redwood City council is expected to discuss proposals to allow cannabis delivery centers in the city, as well as cannabis research and development businesses. Such businesses would need to obtain a business license, pay the business license tax to the city along with associated regulatory fees.

In their recommendations to council, city staff “will define allowed locations, inspection, enforcement, and other details that would allow for cannabis businesses to be located in Redwood City and to keep cannabis products on-site,” according to the city’s blog.

The blog also provides good information on personal use and growing at your house. While cannabis under state law can be purchased, used, carried and grown, it cannot be consumed — including smoked, eaten or vaped — in public places or on federal lands, and landlords can ban its use on their properties, according to the report.

Moreover, Redwood City’s council recently banned smoking in all new multi-family dwellings with two or more units. In January 2019, smoking in all multi-family dwellings with two or more units in Redwood City will be banned, city staff reported.

In terms of growing cannabis, per state law adults can plant, harvest, dry and process up to six cannabis plants. In Redwood City, there is a limit of six cannabis plants per household. Plants in Redwood City must be grown indoors, including in the residence or in a green house in the rear yard. Cannabis cannot be grown outdoors nor can it be grown for commercial use in the city.

For more information about the proposed regulations, visit here.

Just one week left to nominate your Redwood City favorites!

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Show love for your favorite Redwood City business. Nominations for the 2018 Climate Best Awards are open until Feb. 28.

Residents who who want to nominate their local favorites for public recognition are encouraged to go here and submit their suggestions.  With categories like Best Late-Night Eats, Best Date Spots, Best Florist, and Best Salon, the inaugural Climate Best Awards are an opportunity to celebrate all that Redwood City has to offer.

After the nominating period closes Feb. 28, voting will begin and winners will be announced at a celebration ceremony later in the spring.

Is this your wedding ring? Redwood City police search for owner

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The Redwood City Police Department posted a picture of a wedding ring on social media in the hope that its owner will come to claim it.

The ring was found on Sunday at a location that was not immediately disclosed.

“If this is your ring please let us know,” the department said on Facebook.

The owner is advised to call (650) 780-4983.

Lunar New Year celebration in Redwood City set for Feb. 24

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The annual Lunar New Year Celebration in Redwood City is set to take place on Sat., Feb. 24 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Courthouse Square in Downtown Redwood City.

This year is a celebration of the Year of the Dog.

Redwood City Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department and Redwood City International are hosting the free event that is open to the public.

Lion dances, martial artists, taiko drummers, and other live performances are among the activities.

The Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays in Asian heritage, celebrated with big family gatherings, gift giving, festive decorations and symbolic foods, all focused on bringing good luck for the New Year and celebrating the imminent arrival of spring.

See below for the tentative program:

11:00- 11:25 AM  Opening Ceremonies
11:25-11:55 AM  Shaolin Culture Center – Martial Artist  
12:00-12:25 PM Shinnyo-En Temple – Taiko Drumming 
12:45-1:30 PM California Kung Fu & Tai Chi 
1:35-1:55 PM   Shinnyo-En Temple – Taiko Drumming  
2:00-3:30 PM Sing Tao Chinese Radio Entertainment 
3:30-4:00 PM  Lion Dancers – Closing Ceremony 




Sotheby’s to open new office in downtown Redwood City

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Sotheby’s Real Estate is opening a new office in downtown Redwood City at 555 Middlefield. The new office will house approximately forty agents and 3 staff members.

Robert Brisbane, the brokerage president spoke to Climate saying, “As the tech sector in San Francisco and Silicon Valley continues to expand, Redwood City is that midpoint for innovations, and we are excited to be in the middle of that excitement and innovation.”

Sotheby’s expansion into Redwood City is due to the high potential and demand in business. “We believe in the future of Redwood City,” said Brisbane. Sotheby’s has offices in Burlingame and San Carlos.

Art show coming to Philz Coffee

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Need a new art piece to finish that space you redecorated or just want to peruse while having a delicious cup of Philz Coffee?

Art Liasons has partnered with Philz Coffee in downtown Redwood City to put on an art show Feb. 18 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Art Liasons is an organization that can be commissioned to create pieces of art by bay area artists that customize and decorate your home or business and is a clever way to purchase new artwork for any space.

The Philz Coffee is located at 2116 Broadway St. for more information contact Gail Sjoman at 650-596-0868 or

Donate blood at the Redwood City Library

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Save lives by donating blood at the Redwood City Library on Tuesday, Feb. 20 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The Redwood City Library Foundation is hosting the blood drive at the Downtown Library’s Community Room at 1044 Middlefield Rd.

To sign up for a time slot or for more information, visit here.

Photo Courtesy of Redwood City Library Foundation 

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