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Rep. Jackie Speier scheduled to speak at 3-A-Day event in Redwood City

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Three per day. That, tragically, is the average number of women in America killed by an intimate partner every year.

It’s a data point that the Redwood City Women’s Club wants to help address at an event it is hosting in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month on Friday, Oct. 25.

The event, called 3-A-Day, aims to shine sunlight on the causes of domestic violence and solutions that can help prevent deaths and augment care and support for survivors.

Earlier this month, Congresswoman Jackie Speier was announced as the keynote speaker for the event. Other scheduled speakers include Colsaria Henderson, Executive Director of CORA (Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse), and Redwood City police Sgt. Diana Villegas and Officer Stephanie Aguilar.

The 3-A-Day event will run from 5:30 – 7:30pm at the Redwood City Women’s Clubhouse, 149 Clinton St, Redwood City. The event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required. To pre-register for the event and for more information, click here.

San Mateo County preps for power shutoff

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PG&E confirmed that it has implemented the first phase of a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) across significant portions of its service area in response to a widespread, severe wind event.

The Public Safety Power Shutoff event in San Mateo County was initially expected to start about noon today, but delayed to 8 p.m. due to changing weather conditions. The power shutoffs are occurring in phases starting with counties in Northern California, and they are expected to last at least until the weather event ends Thursday afternoon, with full power restoration taking up to five days.

A searchable online map showing the outages can be accessed on KQED here.

About 15,000 PG&E customers and 262 medical baseline customers will be affected in the southern and coastal areas of San Mateo County, including the cities of Half Moon Bay and the towns of Portola Valley and Woodside, according to county officials.

“The unincorporated areas west of 280 and to the Santa Cruz border including Pescadero are also in the anticipated impact zone,” the county said. “PG&E and Caltrans have rerouted power, allowing the Tom Lantos Tunnels on Highway 1 to remain open although that could change dependent on evolving weather conditions.”

PG&E opened a tented Community Resource Center in the Pasta Moon restaurant parking lot, 845 Main St. in Half Moon Bay where residents can receive water, air conditioning and power charging for devices from 8 a.m. through at least 8 p.m. during the power shutoff.

County parks have closed in impacted areas.

For updates on power restoration, see PG&E’s PSPS website.

The first phase began at midnight today and was expected to impact about 513,000 customers in the counties of Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo and Yuba.

The second phase is scheduled to occur around noon today, impacting service to approximately 234,000 customers in the counties of Alameda, Alpine, Contra Costa, Mariposa, San Joaquin, San Mateo and Santa Clara.

A third phase is being considered for the southernmost portions of PG&E’s service area, impacting approximately 42,000 customers. Specific locations are still to be determined.

PG&E is conducting the Public Safety Power Shutoff event due to forecasts of dry, hot and windy weather that has heightened fire risk. The concerning weather pattern should end midday Thursday.

“The safety of our customers and the communities we serve is our most important responsibility, which is why PG&E has decided to turn power off to customers during this widespread, severe wind event. We understand the effects this event will have on our customers and appreciate the public’s patience as we do what is necessary to keep our communities safe and reduce the risk of wildfire,” said Michael Lewis, PG&E’s senior vice president of Electric Operations.

Trivia BEE, a brain-teasing evening to raise funds for literacy

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Ever had a bee in your bonnet that you could ace a quiz show? Then buzz on up to Cañada College Oct. 11 for the 30th running of Redwood City Project READ’s Trivia BEE.

This fun and entertaining event gives lively minds a chance to test their knowledge about interesting but useless facts against other people with a head for trivia, while helping to raise funds for a local literacy program. Teams of three compete for the coveted title of Trivia Champion of Redwood City, won last year by a trio whose name could be spelling bee fodder: Meltzer, Biddiscombe & Czechowski. During the BEE, people in the audience are mentally testing their own trivia knowledge against the contestants, but sometimes corporate sponsors pay the fee for a team but may not want to be on stage answering questions themselves – and need quiz kids to fill the seats.

The Trivia BEE was the brainchild of then-Project READ Director David Miller and two Friends of Literacy Board members, Barbara Greenalch and Jane Weidman. Theirs was the original trivia bee, and the Redwood City literacy board has shared the format, rules, questions with similar groups as far away as India and Australia. The event, which begins with hors d’oeuvres and a raffle at 6:30 p.m., takes in an average of $25,000 a year, funds that help would-be readers from the pediatric to the geriatric stages of life, according to Literacy Division Manager Kathy Endaya. Some of the funds are used to identify obstacles to learning and help people remedy them quickly, such as getting eye exams and glasses or hearing aids, as well as learning evaluations.

Project READ and Redwood City Library staff compile potential questions all year, in fact, they’re already working on the 2020 stumpers. Each question must have at least one “solid source” behind it, and all the librarians get together once a year to winnow the questions down to the BEE keepers. The questions can’t be too hard though.  “Actually we have to remind the librarians that these are mere mortals playing,” Endaya says.  The teams go through several rounds of questions before the finalists and the ultimate trivia champ emerge.

Some sample questions courtesy of Project READ’s Brigid Walsh (answers below):

  1. In a standard deck of playing cards, which is the only king without a mustache?
  2. Dickens’ classic novel, “A Tale of Two Cities,” is set in which two cities?
  3. What is the scale used to determine the “hotness” of peppers?
  4. In 2014, Google introduced a low-cost virtual reality viewer made out of what material?
  5. Who was the first woman to win five Grammys in one night?

If you’d like to attend this year’s BEE, visit rclread@redwoodcity.org for information or call 650.780.7077.

Trivia answers:

1.) King of Hearts 2.) Paris and London 3.) Scoville Scale 4.) Cardboard 5.) Lauryn Hill.

This story was originally published in the October print edition of Climate Magazine. 

PG&E may temporarily shut off power in parts of County mid-week due to increased fire risk

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PG&E is warning that it may temporarily shut off power for customers in high-fire risk areas throughout Northern and Central California, including in some areas of San Mateo County, after the National Weather Service issued a fire weather watch from Wednesday morning through Thursday afternoon.

Power could be shut off for several days starting as early as midnight Wednesday due to the forecast of a “potentially widespread, strong and dry wind event,” according to PG&E.

A PG&E map showing high-risk areas indicates about 15,000 PG&E customers in San Mateo County could be impacted in areas including Half Moon Bay, El Granada, Woodside, Moss Beach, Montara, Portola Valley, Pescadero, La Honda, Redwood City, San Gregorio, Loma Mar, San Mateo, Menlo Park, Emerald Hills, Pacifica and Princeton.

To see if your address may be impacted, visit PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff event website here (Although, as of this writing, the site appears to be down).

For information on how to prepare for such an event, visit here.

Portions of nearly 30 counties in Northern and Central California that are serviced by PG&E could be impacted by the fire weather watch.

The Public Safety Power Shutoff program was launched by PG&E in the wake of devastating wildfires sparked by power lines and spread by warm, dry and windy conditions. Those factors are what led to the devastating Camp Fire in Butte County in Novemer that claimed 85 lives and destroyed 18,804 structures.

Deputies investigate firearm discharge in North Fair Oaks

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Motorcyclist killed in solo crash on La Honda Road near Skyline Blvd.

San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies investigated a report of shots being fired in North Fair Oaks early this morning, but no victims or suspects have been located.

Deputies responded to the report that a weapon was shot in the area of 226 Dumbarton Ave. about 12:55 a.m. When they arrived, they found spent shell casings on the sidewalk, but after canvasing the area no suspects or victims were found, nor was any damage discovered, the sheriff’s office said.

Anyone who might have information regarding this crime is encouraged to call San Mateo County Sheriff’s Anonymous Tip Line at 1-800-547-2700.

20-year plan for faster, more frequent Caltrain service moves forward

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Over the next 20 years, Caltrain aims to double the number of trains operating during peak hours and realize end-to-end service from Gilroy to the Salesforce Transit Center in San Francisco.

It’s part of the Caltrain Business Plan’s 2040 Service Vision, approved last week by the Caltrain Board of Directors, which seeks to evolve the system into one that provides fast, frequent service “every day, all day,” and to nearly triple ridership from the current 65,000 daily riders to 180,000, according to the transit agency.

Currently, Caltrain operates five trains per hour in each direction during peak commute times. That isn’t sustainable as ridership has more than doubled in the last 15 years and with highway traffic increasingly worsening, according to Caltrain.

With electrification of the system underway (and set for completion in 2022), the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, a collaboration of transit agencies in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, set out to develop a 20-year plan to incrementally modernize and expand the system.

As part of the longterm plan, Caltrain aims to vastly increase service by running a minimum of eight trains per direction, per hour, during peak hours, or one every 7.5 minutes. Four trains would be local and the other four express. High speed rail trains would share the rail corridor. The plan also includes increased off-peak and weekend services, and envisions end-to-end service from the Salesforce Transit Center in San Francisco to Gilroy, with four trains per hour, per direction between Blossom Hill and Tamien Stations, and two trains per hour, per direction between Gilroy and Blossom Hill Stations.

Connections are also envisioned for the potential of renewed rail service across the Dumbarton Bridge and the rebuilding of Diridon Station in San Jose.

The plans will require billions of dollars in infrastructure investments, including a new high-performance signal system, station modifications to lengthen platforms, improved maintenance and storage facilities, grade separations of the corridor and “a series of short, 4-track stations that allow express trains to overtake locals,” according to Caltrain.

Operating costs will vastly increase. Currently, Caltrain’s total annual operating costs are $135 million, of which $97 million is covered by fares. Under the 2040 plan, operating costs are expected to grow to $370 million, of which $266 million is projected to be covered by fares.

New and dedicated funding sources will be needed to sustain the long-term vision, which the agency says, if successful, could eliminate up to 825,000 car trips daily, according to Caltrain.

Read more about the long range plans in a Climate Magazine report here. Also, read more about the plan at the Caltrain site here: www.caltrain2040.org/.

Two of four killed in wrong-way crash on 101 identified as San Mateo County residents

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Two of the four people killed in a crash caused by an intoxicated wrong-way driver on Highway 101 in San Francisco Thursday were San Mateo County residents, authorities said.

They include 34-year-old Emilie Ross of Hillsborough, who the CHP said was under the influence of alcohol while driving her Volkswagen sedan southbound in the northbound lanes near Paul Avenue about 12:24 a.m. Thursday. Her car collided head-on with a taxi cab driven by Berkant Ramadan Ahmed, 42, of San Carlos, according to the California Highway Patrol.

All four people involved in the crash died, including two passengers Ahmed had picked up at San Francisco International Airport: Mary Miller, 57, of Chicago and Judson Bergman, 62, of Barrington, Illinois.

The incident marked the 25th wrong-way driver collisision in the Bay Area this year with 10 resulting in 19 deaths, CHP officials said.

“This is a problem that is affecting the entire Bay Area,” said Golden Gate Division Chief Ernie Sanchez. “Rest assured that the California Highway Patrol will continue to proactively patrol and enforce laws pertaining to DUI and will also continue to work closely with our stakeholders, to include Caltrans, in order to identify and improve the potential on and off ramps where motorists are entering freeways traveling in the wrong direction. In addition, CHP will continue partnering with law enforcement agencies on proactive enforcement and work to identify avenues to prevent motorists from entering freeways from city streets, while driving in the wrong direction.”

Photo Credit: CHP

Sequoia High Once Home to Gilded Age Carriage House

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Plans to build a carriage museum at Courthouse Square are barely out of the starting gate. Still, the dream is enough to awaken memories of a lavish carriage house that once stood on the Sequoia High campus, an imposing reminder of America’s Gilded Age, a time when the rich flaunted their wealth.

The two-story carriage house wasn’t much to look at in 1958 when it was designated a firetrap and torn down, but in its heyday it was truly an imposing landmark. The carriage house built by Moses Hopkins, the brother of railroad tycoon Mark Hopkins, was home to not only horses and carriages but also the grooms who took care of them. The stables were in the back while the custom-built carriages were in the front.  “Sequoia graduates prior to 1958 have fond memories of that grand structure which looked like anything but a barn,” a term many students used to describe the building when it started showing its age, Redwood City Tribune columnist Otto Tallent wrote in 1978, exactly a century after the carriage house made its debut.

When Moses Hopkins died, the property was sold to William Dingee, the so-called “cement king.” Under the Dingee regime, a specialist was imported from Italy to paint over plaster walls to make them resemble finely grained wood. The interior featured full-length mirrors, marble sinks and a fireplace.  Dingee made sure the redecorated carriage house garnered headlines.  A great social event was made of the 1905 public reopening of the fashionable showplace. The equivalent of $71,000 of today’s dollars was spent on the bar and decorations alone.  One report said Dingee owned about 200 horses, including race horses. There was a race track located west of Elwood Street, territory that was also used as a pasture. Dingee’s wife seemed more interested in hosting parties than in horse racing. She gave dances in the stables where the floor was so highly polished people could see their faces reflected. Mrs. Dingee insisted the horses wear rubber boots when walking on the floors.

A year after the big party, the great earthquake of 1906 devastated the Dingee estate. The carriage house was the lone building remaining from the original Hopkins days. The land that now makes up the high school campus was bought by school officials in 1920 for $80,000. By that time the property had passed into the hands of noted San Francisco architect Albert Pissis. Redwood City quickly passed a school bond to gain ownership of the land and build the high school. At one time, the carriage house was used as the mechanical arts building and later a maintenance headquarters filled with discarded equipment.  Concrete entry paths, planting beds and decorative benches located in front of the school’s main building remain as reminders of the Dingee years.

When the carriage house was demolished in 1958, the high school newspaper, then called the Sequoia Times, ran a special edition with the headline: “Historic Barn Falls After 80 Years.” The reporter labeled the carriage house “the last link” to Redwood City’s lumbering days: “The historical and picturesque carriage house on the Sequoia campus met its fate in the form of iron-teeth clamps and crowbars of a wrecking company.”

What goes around comes around, however. Redwood City’s future envisions a carriage museum that will house 33 horse-drawn carriages, most of them in storage for decades. If all goes well, the carriages would be displayed in a three-story, 40,000 -square-foot structure to be part of the San Mateo County History Museum.

“This is our thinking and there’s miles to go,” said Museum President Mitch Postel. Postel said the display will include nine Brewster carriages, a brand considered among the finest in the world. Unfortunately, Postel told Climate, none of the museum’s vast collection includes carriages that belonged to Hopkins or Dingee.

This story was originally published in the October print edition of Climate Magazine. 

10th Annual PortFest set for this Saturday

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The 10th annual PortFest is set to bring live music, food trucks, booths, boat rides, waterfront tours, carnival games and more to the Port of Redwood City this Saturday.

The free day-long, family-friendly festival will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It celebrates the Port’s maritime heritage and its ongoing tradition as both a working and recreational waterfront.

PortFest takes place on Seaport Court at Seaport Boulevard. For more information, see the flyer or go here.

Photo Credit: Port of Redwood City

The return of the Alpine Inn

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The collective disappointment reverberated down Interstate 280 when the Alpine Inn (aka Rosottis — or “Zott’s” for short) closed a few years ago. As of late summer, though, the 169-year-old tavern is back, starting the newest chapter in its history. Though most readily associated with Stanford University (more specifically, Stanford football), the Alpine Inn has had many lives: a gambling retreat for Mexican-Californios, followed both by days as a saloon and then a Prohibition-era “dry” picnic park, and now this 21st century reincarnation.

I really shouldn’t have been surprised when it was nearly impossible to find a parking spot on the third Thursday after the inn’s rebirth. Patrons young and old were flocking back in droves to a place that, clearly, had been missed. Once inside, it quickly became clear that the Alpine Inn is as much the new Alpine Inn as it is the old Alpine Inn. First a word to those longing for the days of square burgers on sourdough…they’re gone. I am sorry for your loss. The pinball machine and jukebox are also gone, as are the posters that used to paper the ceiling. All good decisions, I might add, because my vague memories of the old Alpine Inn were of a place dark, cramped, and chaotic.

Those adjectives definitely don’t apply to the new Alpine Inn. The owners, a trio of Portola Valley families who partnered with the Avenir Restaurant Group, have managed to bring Zott’s into the present while paying homage to the past. Hints of what was, like the tabletops carved by the patrons of yesteryear and the license plates that used to be behind the bar, have been strategically repurposed. Stanford football paraphernalia still abounds, but it’s not just the old guys who are celebrated. Andrew Luck’s helmet hangs pride of place on a ceiling beam next to Plunkett’s and Elway’s.

Yet for all that has stayed the same, the Alpine Inn now has the proper markings of a modern-day watering hole. When your order is ready, you’ll get a text to your phone. There’s free WiFi and a note about safe driving and ride-sharing apps on the chalkboard listing “House Rules.”  Food allergies and a commitment to local ingredients get footnotes on the menu.

The cheery staff kept the long line moving swiftly. While I did check my phone once or twice to make sure I hadn’t missed the “order ready” text, the delay wasn’t egregious for the third week of operations. Despite the crowd, it was surprisingly easy to get a table. That said, we had to be reseated indoors from our first table in the beer garden because of wasps, which was disappointing because we missed out on the relaxed and convivial setting. Wasps, unfortunately, like outdoor eating too.

But what about the food? For those of you still reeling at the loss of that square burger, don’t despair. Though the patty is round, the Painted Hills Grassfed hamburger has great flavor. On the smaller side, I thought it was reasonably priced at $7.95. Then I thought about how it didn’t come with fries. Fries come separately, for $3. It’s a similar situation for the sausage sandwich — the sausage is fine but you’ll get charged $1 to $3 extra if you want anything more than the meat and the bun. Depending on what you order, this menu approach can quickly feel like you’re being nickel and dimed.

Fry-rant over, top marks go to the pulled beer can chicken with spicy purple cabbage slaw. Oddly enough, the crunchy slaw as a side dish was very, very spicy, but on the chicken sandwich, it had just the right amount of heat and flavor. Since I couldn’t try everything on the menu (though the cheeses and charcuterie boards caught my eye, as did the Mexican Street Corn and a fig jam and prosciutto wood-fired pizza), I would say the pulled chicken was the best representation of the expanded, slightly-elevated-but-not-pretentious fare.

Last but not least: dessert. Both offerings — the chocolate chip cookies and banana pudding — are made in house. The cookies were fine, though to this chocolate chip cookie enthusiast, neither exciting nor offensive. What I really appreciated was the banana pudding. It was thick and fluffy in a way that only house-made pudding can be. More than anything, I like that the team went with something different and a little old school. It’s a welcome departure from the booze-soaked bread puddings that seem to have become a requirement of every dessert menu over the last few years.

Overall, the Alpine Inn has made a triumphant return.  The new owners have done a good job capturing the nostalgia of years gone by while upgrading and fine-tuning the overall experience. Now they just need a bigger parking lot.

This story was originally published in the October print edition of Climate Magazine. 

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