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From water to wine (and lots of buildings) 

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When San Carlos-headquartered Black Mountain Spring Water Co. was sold for $100 million to Swiss food giant Nestlé in 2001, it could have been the end of the road for the venerable, family-owned firm that began delivering bottled water to Peninsula residents in 1932.   

“Most families in those situations would cash out and get a private jet,” observes Ted Hannig, Black Mountain’s longtime attorney, who handled the transaction.  “But this family chose to keep the money invested, and a big chunk of it went right back into the community – as opposed to just ‘take the money and run.’  And it’s always been that way.  They’ve always invested back in.” 

In this case, through the water company’s affiliate, Three Sisters Ranch Enterprises (now called Black Mountain Properties), a sizable portion of the proceeds went into commercial and industrial real estate in San Carlos, and eventually other locales including Burlingame, Sunnyvale and the greater East Bay and North Bay.  And now comes the latest chapter. Joe Bullock, who recently turned 70 years old and had run the water company since his early twenties, has established a winery in the town of Loomis, in Placer County. 

Wine, he says, is decidedly more difficult than water. 

“From the first time you plant that first vine, until you get your first bottle of wine, is six to seven years,” Bullock says.  “It takes four to five years to get the vine to maturity.  Then you’ve got to harvest the fruit.  Then you’ve got to ferment it, and then you age it.  And then it goes into the bottle.  So from the time you plant it until you take your first sip, six or seven years.  So you’ve got to have a lot of patience.  And you hope that it’s good when you drink it. 

“I always wanted my own winery,” Bullock continues.  “We were able to bottle water, now we’re able to bottle wine,” he says with the burst of laughter that often concludes his sentences.  “So we’ve moved from water to wine.  Some would say it’s an improvement.” 

So far, it’s a small operation – just two acres in Placer County.  They’re planted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Bordeaux, Cab Franc and Malbec.  Bullock just bottled the first vintage – a 2016 blend – using a nearby winery (he doesn’t have his own bottling operation yet). 

The verdict?  “I thought I was going to be bottling a lot of vinegar,” Bullock says.  “But, God damn, it came out well!” he laughs.   

Bullock plans for profits from the winery to go to a foundation that can support charitable causes.  “Hopefully, we can use it to better the community,” he says. 

Black Mountain has long been involved in raising money for charities.  For years, at the company’s San Carlos Business Park on the city’s east side, fundraising dinners with themes such as “The Wild, Wild West,” “Back to the ‘50s” and “Viva Las Vegas” attracted up to 1,000 guests and raised tens of thousands of dollars for causes such as breast-cancer and juvenile-diabetes research.  Sparky’s Garage (Bullock’s childhood nickname was “Sparky”), a 1950s-themed party venue that housed Bullock’s extensive hot-rod collection, was also the site of numerous charity bashes over several years.  Bullock and Hannig also teamed up on the Hannig Cup, a highly successful charity sailboat race. 

As for the company’s current emphasis, there’s an adage that holds, “If you’re in business, you’re automatically in the real-estate business.”  The commercial and industrial real estate operation, under Bullock’s son, Tony, who became president of Black Mountain Properties in 2018 after working for the firm for 12 years, grew out of the water company and related manufacturing ventures (particularly involving leak-proof, tamper-proof, snap-on plastic bottle caps; the water company held more than 30 patents on water- and milk-packaging products and processing technologies). 

The manufacturing and water-distribution facilities extended from the Bay Area to Albany, N.Y., Kingsport, Tenn. and even Guadalajara, Mexico.  Joe Bullock and his grandfather, water-company founder George Faulstich, learned the real-estate and construction business through experience; Bullock acted as general contractor for each factory, working with subcontractors in the building trades and acquiring an understanding of how to design an efficient plant. 

That knowledge gained new usefulness after Black Mountain Spring Water was sold. Bullock put his high school drafting classes to good end as he sketched office layouts for his new clients.  Meanwhile, Tony Bullock left his advertising job with the Redwood City firm of Addison Olian and brought his marketing skills to the company, first as a consultant, and, later, as an employee. 

Tony Bullock says his father was initially reluctant to hire him because he was afraid he might have to fire him someday.  For Joe Bullock, there may also have been memories of the waves that rolled through the firm when he was made president at an early age.  The younger Bullock, now 40, worked his way through several assignments, learning property management, the leasing portfolio, the ins and outs of buying and selling properties, and finance and accounting.  He was judged ready to take over in 2018, and any of Joe Bullock’s lingering reservations have been dispelled. 

“He’s very good,” the senior Bullock says of his son.  “He’s very smart, very personable.  He gets along with everybody.  He works well with the cities.  And he has that vision for the future, and the drive.” 

Hannig adds that Tony Bullock, like his father, is highly competitive.  The two Bullocks share a love of motor sports, as evidenced by the many racing trophies that once glittered in Sparky’s Hot Rod Garage.  Tony Bullock raced professionally for three years after college, and continues as a passionate amateur.  Just before being interviewed for this story, he had competed in a 25-hour, team endurance event at Thunderhill Raceway Park, near Willows in the Sacramento Valley. 

But as Darwin observed, it’s not the strongest and most competitive who survive; it’s the most adaptable.  And Tony Bullock’s job these days is to position Black Mountain Properties for growth and diversification. 

Just a few years ago, Tony Bullock says, “the majority of our properties were large, single-tenant buildings.  We wanted to focus more on multi-tenant commercial and industrial buildings – spread our risk, so we weren’t always beholden to any single, one tenant.  We were really successful over the past four years in accomplishing that task, selling property at high value and going out in the market, diversifying our portfolio, which was really centered around the San Francisco Peninsula … and also, we want to start moving towards development, and repositioning the assets that we do hold to their highest and best use.” 

In addition, Bullock says, the company “wants to make sure our properties are good fit for the communities they’re located in, and that they’re in line with the goals of the cities and the areas that the cities want to develop towards.” 

Among the properties sold was the water company’s longtime home on Alameda de las Pulgas in San Carlos.  The buyer was a local developer, Dragonfly Group, which has proposed housing for the site.  Before the sale, voters in San Carlos turned down a referendum to buy the land for use as a park and open space. 

In its recent geographic expansion, the company has spread across the bay to Hayward and Pleasanton, and north to Napa.  Even so, for its first foray into major commercial-industrial development, Black Mountain Properties came back home to San Carlos with a proposed six-story, 200,000-plus-square-foot life-sciences building at 888 Bransten Road, next to the life-sciences complex currently under construction by Alexandria Real Estate Equities. 

With Tony Bullock now steering the ship and his father content to give him room at the helm, the inevitable question comes up:  Will Joe Bullock ever retire?  The answer:  A hearty laugh, and a reference to his grandfather, Faulstich, who worked seven days a week and called “every day a holiday.” 

“No, I’ll never retire,” Bullock says.  “To me, it’s fun.  I don’t even look at it as work.  I enjoy coming into the office when I’m down here (from his home in Loomis), I enjoy talking to everybody, I enjoy working with everybody on what they’re doing with the buildings – tenant-improvement work and stuff like that, new buildings we’re thinking about designing and trying to get entitled to build and so forth.  I’ve got the ranch to keep me busy (a 4,250-acre spread outside Ukiah), I’ve got the winery to keep me busy, I’ve got the business to keep me busy when they need me.  So, nah.”   

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

Gil Fronsdal and the Insight Meditation Center 

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When did everybody get so mindful? Mindfulness, generally defined as the state of being aware, seems to be everywhere these days, at least in theory. Magazine covers tout its benefits, and there are scores of places to practice mindfulness meditation in Silicon Valley, with classes offered at centers from Stanford to Santa Clara. Many people in the tech industry are partaking. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey traveled all the way to Myanmar for a Vipassana (insight meditation) retreat last year. (Dorsey’s posts, which focused on his practice and ignored the plight of the persecuted Rohingya in the former Burma, made him an object of derision on his own platform.) 

But if finding enlightenment, or at least some momentary peace of mind, has become relatively easy locally, getting the right real estate will always be challenging. Gil Fronsdal, who has been teaching meditation practice and Buddhist doctrine at Redwood City’s Insight Meditation Center for decades, recalls a time when their group had no home.  He was part of a wave of teachers who went to Asia in the ‘70s and ‘80s, encountered mindfulness meditation in Thailand, Burma and India, and brought it back to the states. (Fronsdal himself was a monk in Burma in 1985.) 

“In 1986, before I came into this area, there was a group of people associated with those founding teachers who started a meditation group Monday nights in Menlo Park,” he says. “By 1990, they’d moved to the Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto, and the person who was the facilitator asked me to come here and teach.” 

Fronsdal was in a unique position: He had just started an insight meditation teacher training program with Jack Kornfield, founder of Spirit Rock in Marin and one of the most recognized teachers of Western Buddhism in the U.S., and had begun a doctoral program in religious studies at Stanford. (He had also lived at the San Francisco Zen Center and is authorized to teach in both traditions, Zen and Vipassana, sort of like a chef trained in Japanese and Indian cooking.) 

The group he joined was technically homeless, and bounced from the Presbyterian Church to the Friends Meeting House in Palo Alto in the ‘90s. “It became clear, as we kept growing and having more meetings and offering retreats, that it would be nice to have our own center,” says Fronsdal 

The problem was they had no money, or very little at a time when real estate prices were skyrocketing. “We were really kind of naive, just putting the pieces together,” he recalls. “And then we got a phone call from two wonderful ministers, who wanted to sell their church in Redwood City to us. They were kind of mystical Christians, who sat in silence. And they wanted someone else who sat in silence, to continue the tradition in their church.” 

This might have seemed like a godsend, but God works in mysterious ways. After their initial contact, Fronsdal and his group tried to meet with the ministers to seal the deal. “And the message we got back was, ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you.’ It took a year and a half before they finally showed us the church. I like to say that there were three parties in the negotiation: There were the elderly ministers, there was us, and there was God. Cause they only did things when they heard from God, and one of those parties was slow.” 

The ministers from the First Christian Assembly sold them what is now the Insight Meditation Center for the appraised value of the property in 2001 (the down payment came from community donations; the First Christian Assembly provided the rest as a loan.)  “We showed up together at the title company to sign all the papers, and I asked them if they would do a prayer for us. I think that people at the title company had never seen anything like this before.” 

With a place to call home, IMC began to offer meditation classes, talks and retreats to anyone interested. Then as now, classes are often taught by Fronsdal and consist of a period of meditation (people sitting silently, on chairs or cushions) followed by a dharma talk (a sort of sermon, usually drawn from the Buddha’s teachings) and a question and answer period. Sometimes there’s tea and cookies. (IMC is supported entirely by donations; classes are free, there is no paid staff, and teachers depend on dana, the Pali word for giving.)  

The building itself is an unremarkable one-story structure on a residential block in Redwood City; the meditation hall could be an auditorium or multipurpose room at a high school or community college. Nothing about it screams church, or even temple, and the vibe inside is friendly but not intrusive.  

Diana Gross, a retired clinical psychologist in Redwood City, has been going to the center since it opened. She points to the various classes and special groups that have sprung up over the years—including classes in Spanish, meditation programs aimed at young people, and one designed for people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.  

“People step up and say, ‘Let’s form this kind of group,’” says Gross. “Recently I had some surgery so I went to a twice-a-month drop-in group led by a teacher to deal with life-threatening illnesses. There’s also a senior sangha [community], led by two long-term teachers. It’s a place for brainstorming for us older folks, and sharing experiences.” (The center also has a Buddhist chaplaincy-training program for people who wish to become chaplains in prisons, hospitals and hospices.)  

On Wednesdays, Gross attends a half-day retreat, led by Fronsdal or another teacher. Beginning at 9:25 in the morning, a small group (15-40 people) gathers to practice sitting and walking meditation; sometimes the teacher will suggest a theme, and students can sign up for a 15-minute individual interview with the instructor. “Some of us stay for lunch,” she says. “It’s a very friendly way to get to know people in the community.”  

Fronsdal, 65, has lived in Redwood City for 24 years. He was born in Norway, but raised in California. He and his wife have two sons; the youngest goes to Woodside High School, and his older boy, now in college, went to Sequoia. While many in the community are also Redwood City residents, the IMC draws people from all over the Peninsula, including many Asians and South Asians. “A lot of people come from the tech industry,” says Gross, “needing something to balance their lives.” 

For anyone who is curious about Buddhism, and meditation in general, Fronsdal suggests dropping in on a Sunday, or Monday evening, when he usually gives a dharma talk. “There’s never any cost for anything,” he says. “And it’s very rare that we even mention the opportunity to make a donation.”  

With meditation going mainstream, Fronsdal has changed his instruction somewhat. “When we first came to Redwood City, if anybody was interested in mindfulness, there were very few places you could go and learn about it, so people would come here. But now we don’t have as many people coming to our introduction to meditation programs, because it’s so easy to get mindfulness instructions now. You don’t even have to leave your home anymore,” he says, invoking the meditation apps available on smart phones, or the guided meditation courses streaming online. 

Why go out, then? A lot of it’s about community, which is where his dual lineage, Zen and Vipassana, makes him something of an expert. “Zen is very community based,” says Fronsdal, “whereas insight meditation, generally, in the United States, tends to have a much stronger individualistic flavor, (allowing for) people’s own individual meditation practice. Here I have seen a kind of blending of the two.” 

One advantage of joining a sangha is the same as joining any other group with similar interests and a shared pursuit: It’s good to have company when trying something relatively esoteric (i.e., sitting in silence for hours a day) for the mutual support and sense of community. In Buddhism, the Three Jewels, or pillars of the faith, are the Buddha (or teacher), the dharma (the Buddha’s teachings) and the sangha, with each being of equal importance.  

“To have a community of people to meditate with provides a motivation,” says Fronsdal. “It shows that there are other people who are doing it, that we’re not alone. 

“Sometimes, in a community, you get feedback, you get to see how people who are more experienced than you are being transformed by the meditation or the values they live by,” he says. “People who do a lot of meditation tend to become more ethical. Sometimes people come and report to me that as they have stronger ethical inclinations. It’s actually hard to continue with some of the behavior of their places of work. For example, there might be a lot of gossiping around the coffee machine. That’s kind of the medium of exchange between people. And people who meditate a lot tend not to want to gossip much anymore. It’s awkward.” 

“Right speech” is one part of Buddhism’s Eightfold Path, one that suggests that saying any old thing isn’t always of benefit. Buddhists will sometimes ask themselves, before opening their mouths, “Is it true, is it kind, and is it necessary?” Since much of daily life is filled with pointless chatter, people new to the practice might worry that raising the bar that high about every utterance might render them speechless. But Fronsdal suggests there are other benefits, beyond lowering the heart rate.  

“In the popular mind, mindfulness is kind of held up as being all good: Everything’s wonderful, just kind of be in the present moment. But Buddhist practice, as in any spiritual practice that has real transformative power, also involves meeting a difficult part of ourselves. And working through some of the deepest psychological, emotional, existential issues that a person struggles with. And rather than feeling happier, people will go through a period of time and struggle with meeting themselves, working through things as part of the practice. If you have a community of people who are practicing with you, it can be a lot easier.” 

Struggle aside, the IMC feels pretty casual. Many practitioners prefer chairs to cushions while meditating, and people drop in and out of courses. “Nothing’s really asked of you,” says Fronsdal, “there’s no pressure. You can walk in and sit down and you’re kind of left alone. I’ve had people come up to me after coming here for 10 years, and I’ll look at them: Really? And they say, ‘Yeah, I just sit in the back.’” 

 The Insight Meditation Center is located at 108 Birch St. in Redwood City. For a complete list of classes and retreats, visit their website at insightmeditationcenter.org.  

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

What were Redwood City residents eating 150 years ago?

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The assignment for this article seemed easy, at first: Explore what the city’s early citizens of Redwood City were eating 150 years ago. As it turns out, the answer was simple, almost too simple: booze — both distilled and brewed —and oysters. Of course that’s not all that was being consumed; it would have been impossible to fuel the lumber and tannery industries that laid the foundation for Redwood City on alcohol and oysters alone. But what is now a thriving downtown of restaurants and eateries was once a collection of dirt roads dotted with saloons, breweries and oyster stands. 

Redwood City was an industrial town, and single workingmen outnumbered families. After a long hard day, the men wanted to drink, play cards, and eat oysters. An advertisement for the Poplar Saloon on Main Street boasted that “The Proprietors pledge themselves that nothing shalt be wanting in the shape of Fine Wines, Liquors and Cigars, to make it the Saloon of the Place.” Billiards tables and an oyster stand connected to the saloon also meant that this was a place “where refreshment can be had at all times.”  

To understand what might have influenced the more substantial meals of Redwood City’s early residents, look to the food traditions in the years leading up to 1867. This was the era of  Mexican and Spanish colonization, and from the time when California was divided into large ranchos, food centered around beef, pork, corn, and beans. This is not to say that the food was primitive – quite the contrary. Helen Walker Linsenmeyer’s 1972 book, “From Fingers to Finger Bowls: A Sprightly History of California Cooking,” suggests that these early Californians, especially the wealthy ones, ate quite well. Hearty meat dishes like pork sausage and carne con chile were followed by flan, candied pumpkin and Mexican chocolate for dessert.  

Gold Rush fare takes a slightly less refined turn, which makes sense in an environment dominated by men living on the land, trying to strike it rich. This might have been where oysters gained their popularity, and Linsenmeyer’s book offers abundant options for one mollusk, with  recipes for steaming, frying, stewing and pickling them. Simple meat dishes, like bear steaks and even bear paws were served alongside Miner’s Baked Beans or Spanish rice. Likewise, desserts were easy-to-prepare slow-cook puddings, such as caramel and sweet rice.  

It’s easy to imagine that when the “Forty-Niners” gave up on the gold game and made their way down from the Sierras to the Peninsula, the same humble fare they ate in the gold camps was what was served in boarding houses and homes as well.  

So to honor Redwood City’s ancestors, crack a beer and shuck some oysters – or just go to a restaurant that serves them. Those determined to experience real deal old California recipes can try these, courtesy of Linsenmeyer’s look at the cuisine early settlers of Redwood City would have considered home cookin’ at its sprightliest. 

The following recipes are from Helen Walker Linsenmeyer’s,  

From Fingers to Finger Bowls: A Sprightly History of California Cooking  

Gold Nugget Pork and Beans  

Miners who did not have ovens could still bake a pot of beans by placing the pot in a hole beneath the campfire, though it may have required a little time and patience to keep the fire going. 

1 quart white navy beans 

½ teaspoon soda  

½ pound salt side pork 

Molasses (about 1 cup)  

Salt and pepper 

Boil beans with soda for 30 minutes. Drain. Wash pork and place in earthen bean pot. Add beans, salt, pepper and molasses. Cover with boiling water, set lid on pot and bake in moderate oven (350°) for six hours or until done. If necessary, add a little more water. Remove lid about 45 minutes to an hour before serving time and add more seasonings if desired.  

 Fried Sweet Tortillas (Bunuelos)  

These unusual sweet-treats are formed like cooky balls, pressed out like tortillas, fried like fritters or doughnuts, and served with a sweet syrup, like pancakes. They still are popular at Christmastime, as they were in the days of the Dons.  

 3 cups flour 

1 tablespoon sugar 

½ tablespoon salt 

1 egg 

1 teaspoon baking powder 

½ cup milk 

2 cups fat  

Sift flour, salt, baking powder and sugar into bowl. Add well beaten egg and milk, a little at a time. Turn onto a well-floured board and knead until elastic. Divide dough into 2-inch balls and roll out into thin cakes about 5 inches in diameter. Prick with fork. Fry in deep fat one at a time until golden color. Serve with sauce, made as follows:  

 Sauce:  

1 cup sugar 

2 cups water 

2 teaspoons aniseed 

 Bring water and aniseed to boil. Add sugar, stir until dissolved and boil until slightly thickened.  

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

Backstage at the Fox Theatre with Ernie Schmidt 

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Playgoers peruse their program notes for information about the performers and likely don’t give a lot of thought to the what goes on backstage; that’s the hallmark, after all, of a seamless, well-run show. But behind the proscenium at Redwood City’s Fox Theatre, the new year brings a change in status for Ernie Schmidt, who has been elevated to general manager. He had been working in marketing for Tesla six years ago when former Fox owners Eric and Lori Lochtefeld asked him to come to work at the theater, where he has been involved since then in overall operations. As of this month, Schmidt is now the general manager of Fox Theatre Properties and is running theater operations for Sand Hill Properties, which bought the Fox from the Lochtefelds. Though it will be “business as usual,” says the 53-year-old Schmidt, he looks forward to new opportunities for the 90-year-old landmark to be open for public shows and benefit the community. He’d like, for example, to introduce a top-flight celebrity speaker series and says some interior renovations are planned. 

Schmidt, who has run twice for the City Council and has served on the Planning Commission for 10 years, has loved the theater and performing going back to his youth in Los Altos. He tried his hand at acting in Los Angeles and had a small role on “Melrose Place” and studied at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. While in Hollywood he got to work with stars like Dick Van Dyke, Heather Locklear, Robert Urich and Gavin MacLeod. (Schmidt returned to the Bay Area in 2001 and he and wife, Gina, live in Redwood City’s Eagle Hill neighborhood.) He keeps his Screen Actors Guild membership active and every so often he submits for an audition. A singer (but not a dancer), he has never acted in a Broadway by the Bay musical, the Fox’s theatrical mainstay, which has a lease until 2021. 

As busy as he and his “skeleton crew” of five are, trying to take roles both on stage and back stage would be a stretch. Schmidt says the theater is in use up to 200 days a year for everything from corporate events and parties to high school formals.  They are staff-intensive and that means long hours ensuring that all details from lighting and sound to refreshments and clean restrooms are taken care of. And he doesn’t take on too much for the hard-working staff. “You have to be able to manage that because you can get everybody burned out,” he says.    

Though people might not be aware of it, the Fox gets used frequently for private events, notably corporate meetings for executives looking for an out-of-the-ordinary location. “A lot of these corporate leaders really like utilizing a very creative space because there’s so much they can do with it,” Schmidt says. Thousands of people converge on the Fox in February for the annual Startup Grind global conference for networking entrepreneurs. In the fall, young tech workers pack the theater to see their friends compete in the Techapella a capella singing competition, which marked its sixth year at the Fox in October. Seven or eight high schools hold their formals at the Fox in January and February. “Those kids are just awesome,” Schmidt says. “Even though I provide janitorial staff, these kids stay after the events and clean up after themselves.”  

On occasion, high-profile clients drop into town to screen new motion pictures, under extremely tight security. Schmidt would like to be able book more public shows, but there are challenges in securing big name entertainers. Schmidt works only through theatrical producers and if an artist is appearing at another Bay Area theater, booking him or her at a theater that might siphon off an audience typically isn’t possible. In addition, top-flight entertainers usually perform in larger venues than the Fox, which seats 1,100, adding to the challenge. “Public shows alone are not going to keep the doors open, unfortunately,” he says.  

Schmidt always encourages companies which rent the theater to patronize local restaurants for their catering so the Redwood City community benefits from the activity at the Fox. He’s excited about the opportunities ahead. “I feel a deep responsibility to the community and everyone that the theater’s doors be always open for them,” he says. “The mantle of this is heavy.”  

 It was nice to see that the Sequoia Veterans Memorial at the high school all decked out for Christmas and that our veterans weren’t forgotten during the holiday rush. Credit Rich and Dee Eva, who were behind the campaign years ago to create the monument, for this beautiful remembrance. 

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

San Mateo County Board of Supervisors set to name new president

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San Mateo County Supervisor Warren Slocum is expected to be named president of the Board for 2020 during an annual reorganization ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 7.

The board will also select a vice president at its annual reorganization held at Board Chambers at 9 a.m. at 400 County Center, first floor, in Redwood City. A reception will follow immediately in the Board Chambers foyer.

Slocum served as vice president during 2019 alongside president Carole Groom. The president and vice present are unanimously elected by their peers on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.

Slocum says his priorities for 2020 will be “to continue to work collaboratively building more affordable housing, moving the needle to resolve homelessness particularly for families and veterans, and to continue my work to reduce traffic congestion.”

Groom said she was proud to serve as president touted the the Board for 2019 successes that include augmenting the County’s affordable housing stock, opening the new Regional Operations Center and working to improve and protect Tunitas Creek Beach by adding it to the County’s Parks system.

Sheriff’s Office to conduct sobriety checkpoint in San Carlos

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

The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office has announced it will conduct a sobriety and driver’s license checkpoint in San Carlos on Friday.

The checkpoint will take place on the 1200 and 1300 blocks of San Carlos Avenue from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., the sheriff’s office said.

The sheriff’s office targets hotspot locations for DUI offenses when planning checkpoints.

Man allegedly assaults worker, deputies and dog in San Carlos

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A San Carlos man convicted for an angry outburst at the Belmont Library last year had another in San Carlos on Tuesday, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.

At 9:30 a.m., sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of an assault on a city employee at the City Hall Dog Park at 1401 San Carlos Ave., according to the sheriff’s office.

Deputies learned that Brent Bickel, 35, of San Carlos, assaulted a city employee and kicked a dog at the dog park. Several deputies sustained injuries while trying to arrest a combative Bickel, the sheriff’s office said.

Bickel was transported and booked into the Maguire Correctional Facility on charges of resisting a peace offer, obstructing an executive officer, animal cruelty, and battery.

In October last year, according to The Daily Journal, Bickel was sentenced to three years of supervised probation, 90 days in county jail and was required by the court to attend an anger management program following an incident at Belmont Library. Prosecutors say he drove dangerously into the library parking lot, threatened to kill a man who gave him a disapproving look, exposed himself to bystanders, and vandalized a woman’s car, causing an estimated $1,000 in damages, The Daily Journal reported.

Peaceful rally at Sequoia Station calls for Trump’s impeachment

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Dozens of people rallied at Sequoia Station in Redwood City Tuesday to call for the impeachment and removal of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Holding up protest signs such as, “Our country is better than this,” “Defend Democracy, Impeach + Convict” and “Not Above the Law,” the peaceful protest near Old Navy was one of over 600 demonstrations held in cities across the nation in advance of the full U.S. House of Representatives vote on whether to impeach the president.

Nancy Goodban, who coordinated the Redwood City rally, said about 150 people signed up to protest at Sequoia Station, and estimated about 170 would come as some joined the rally without pre-registering. Our reporter who attended the rally says her estimates appeared accurate. The nationwide demonstrations were organized by MoveOn.org and other groups.

“It’s a serious time right now and it’s not anything to joke or laugh about that they are considering impeachment,” Goodban said. “Nobody is above the law, that’s our point. I wish it didn’t have to come to that, but it has.”

Only one Trump supporter appeared to have attended the roughly one-hour-long rally, but didn’t stay long. While the majority of motorists passing through the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and El Camino Real honked in support of the demonstration, there were some dissenters. Some shouted, “Focus on the real issues” and “Democrats must concede.” One person in a car that passed by the protest three times declared, “Trump 2020!”

Today, the full House of Representatives is expected to vote on whether the president should be impeached on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Democrats charge that President Trump pressured Urkaine to investigate his political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Biden’s son, Hunter, while withholding Congressionally approved military aid to that nation. The president and fellow Republicans insist he’s done nothing wrong and call impeachment efforts a partisan witch hunt.

Editor’s Note: The story has been updated to clarify Nancy Goodban’s statement on attendance estimates at the rally. While the initial report stated Goodban estimated 170 came to the rally, she in fact told us that she thought 170 would come. A final estimated attendance figure wasn’t immediately known, but our reporter at the scene indicates Goodban’s estimates were roughly correct.

Carolers set to sing their way through downtown Redwood City

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A jolly band of holiday carolers is headed to downtown Redwood City this Thursday, Dec. 19.

From 6 p.m to 8 p.m., they’ll sing their way through downtown starting at Peet’s Coffee, 2600 Broadway and ending at Courthouse Square.

The carolers will make stops to sing at the Redwood City Public Library, Milagros Latin Kitchen, Main Street, and from the 2000 block of Broadway Street to the 2300 block of Broadway Street.

This event is hosted by Redwood City Improvement Association.

392 firearms collected during gun buyback in San Carlos

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A gun buyback event in San Carlos on Saturday collected 392 firearms, eight of which were assault weapons, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.

In total, $39,700 was paid out to individuals as part of the third gun buyback held in partnership with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, and the Redwood City, San Carlos, and Belmont police departments..

Organizers offered $100 for handguns and rifles and $200 for assault rifles, no questions asked.

Some people, rather than accepting the money, chose to donate to San Mateo County Sheriff’s Activities League, which provides programming for over 11,000 youth per year in the county. The total donation to the SMC Activities League was $1,450.

The buyback events were initiated by the Citizens for a San Mateo County Gun Buyback, which worked to solicit funding for the events from multiple city and town governments in the county. A buyback in May last year in Redwood City led to the collection of 427 guns. In December last year, 442 guns were collected at another event in Redwood City.

Photo courtesy of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office

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