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County supervisor proposing firearm safe storage requirement in homes

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A new proposal would require San Mateo County gun owners to store their firearms in locked containers, or disable them with a trigger lock, when they are inside their homes — or face up to six months in County Jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa’s proposed ordinance appears on the agenda of Tuesday’s board meeting, which begins at 9 a.m. at 400 County Center in Redwood City.

“Keeping a firearm locked when it is not being carried ensures that it cannot be accessed and used by others without the owner’s knowledge or permission,” Canepa’s proposed ordinance states. “This simple measure significantly decreases the risk that the gun will be used to commit suicide, homicide, or inflict injury, whether intentionally or unintentionally.”

Sunnyvale voters approved similar regulations in 2013 that survived a court challenge by the National Rifle Association. In addition to safe storage rules, the Sunnyvale law also includes a ban on ammunition magazines that hold more ten rounds.

Canepa hopes his proposed ordinance will lead to other county cities adopting the regulation.

“In the past 10 years, there have been 800 gun-related deaths in San Mateo County,” the supervisor said. “Many of these deaths could have been prevented if the firearms were locked safely in the home. This ordinance will surely save lives, I have no doubt about it.”

Labor strike averted after county, union reaches tentative agreement

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San Mateo County union workers will no longer go on strike Tuesday after representatives of the union and county reached a tentative contract agreement over the weekend, the union and county announced in a joint statement Monday.

The American Federation of state, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 829, which represents about 1,700 county workers, cancelled the two-day labor strike due to the Memorandum of Understanding. Union members are expected to vote on whether to ratify the agreement this week.

Further details about the agreement were not immediately available. Check back for updates.

The county and union had previously met 25 times over seven months without an agreement. The county was offering the union a 9 percent cost of living adjustment over three years, increased longevity pay and additional increases for classifications substantially behind market-rate pay and/or experiencing worker recruitment and retention issues. Union leadership has called for higher wage increases, saying the proposal doesn’t account for increased health care costs. For more information, the county is offering labor negotiation updates here.

2-day startup conference descends on Redwood City Tuesday

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A two-day conference focusing on startup companies will descend upon Redwood City on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Startup Grind Global Conference is set to take place at Fox Theater at 2215 Broadway, with pre-registration occurring today. An evening pub crawl follows the first day of the conference, and a closing happy hour follows the second day.

The event will feature industry experts speaking on six stages and focuses on networking between startups, partners, investors, thought leaders, and worldwide directors.

“We will take over the streets of Redwood City, stamped in the middle of Silicon Valley, surrounded by tech giants and startups alike,” according to conference officials.

Community members should know that the event offers no specialized parking options for attendees. Attendees were encouraged to use public transit and ride share options.

For more information, visit the event website here.

Facebook submits updated plans for Willow Village development

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Today Facebook unveiled revised plans for its Willow Village development in eastern Menlo Park, which aims to replace 1 million square feet of aging industrial office and warehouse buildings on the south side of Willow Road with a mixed-used development featuring homes, offices, stores and a walkable main street and town hall.

The updated plans were submitted to the city of Menlo Park following 18 months of community outreach with residents in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, along with community organizations and leaders, company officials said.

The project features 1,500 residential units, 15-percent at below market rate, along with 200,000 square feet of neighborhood-serving retail, 1.75 million square feet of office space and the hotel will have 200-250 rooms.

Key revisions to the new plan, according to company officials, include a relocated full-service grocery store and pharmacy next to the Belle Haven neighborhood; a larger community park, children’s play areas and recreation fields along Willow Road; a community center; and better integration of the office campus into the mixed-use neighborhood.

Facebook also announced today that Signature Development Group will lead the project’s public approval process, stakeholder engagement and build-out.

The company called its updated project is consistent with Menlo Park’s General Plan and is a “more open and inclusive” approach.

“We look forward to making progress on this plan for much needed housing, retail, office and parks that serves both the needs of Facebook and our neighbors,” officials said.

To learn more about the project, click here.

Caltrain to join discount pilot program for low-income riders

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Low-income transit riders using a Clipper card will qualify for a discount to ride Caltrain as part of an upcoming “means-based fare pilot program” led by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC).

On Thursday, the Caltrain Board of Directors unanimously adopted a resolution supporting the agency’s participation the regional program, although further board action is needed to formally approve its participation.

“Caltrain has become too expensive for lower income members of our community to ride,” said Belmont City Councilmember and Caltrain Director Charles Stone.

“Accessible transit is a critical part of addressing income inequality in our region and I’m thrilled the board is taking this step to ensure our neighbors in need have access to the county’s transit spine.”

The regional pilot program is still being developed but is expected to launch this coming fall. It will run for 12 to 18 months.

“Adults that earn less than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level will be eligible for pilot program participation and will receive a minimum discount of 20 percent off of single-ride adult Clipper Card fares,” according to Caltrain.

BART, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District will also participated in the pilot program.

Pavement rehab funds approved for SR-1 project

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Caltrans on Wednesday announced the approval of $54.8 million in road repair funds for 46 projects throughout the state, including $31.1 million funded by the Senate Bill 1, which passed in 2017 and increased the gas tax and vehicle fees.

Included in the funding package is $1.08 million allocated for a $15.3 million pavement preservation project that aims to improve 21.2 lane miles of State Route 1 from the San Mateo/Santa Cruz County line to south of Bean Hollow Road in Pescadero, according to Caltrans. The project’s start of construction was listed in a Caltrans document last fall as April 2020, with the expectation it would take about a year to complete.

Across the state, the $54.8 million will enable Caltrans to repair or replace 16 bridges, 168 lane miles and 150 drainage systems. The funding will also contribute to traffic reduction measures from highway message signs to cameras and loop detectors to improve traffic flow, along with improvements to sidewalks, bicycle lanes and routes to schools.

By 2027, Caltrans aims to have fixed over 17,000 lane miles of pavement, 500 bridges and 55,000 culverts using SB1 revenue.

An attempt to repeal the SB-1 gas tax was rejected by California voters in November.  

Prolific burglar arrested

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The suspect in at least a half-dozen burglaries on the Peninsula was arrested last week in San Leandro.

Andre Murphy, 46, of Oakland, is believed to have been involved in burglaries in San Carlos, Half Moon Bay and Millbrae, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.

Following an investigation, sheriff’s office detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Murphy. San Leandro police contacted Murphy at a residence in their city on Thursday, Jan. 31, and arrested him on the warrant.

Sheriff’s office officials say Murphy may have been responsible in even more burglaries in other cities and throughout the Bay Area.

Anyone who may have information to provide is encouraged to call the anonymous tip line at 1-800-547-2700.

San Mateo County Board of Supervisors will hold study session on Tasers

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The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors will hold a special study session next Monday, February 11th, to learn more about Tasers, including how they work, when they are used by law enforcement and the County’s current policy governing their use.

This study session is the result of the Board of Supervisors meeting on December 18, 2018, where Supervisors Carole Groom and Dave Pine were appointed to an ad hoc committee to organize and convene a public meeting about Tasers. Supervisor Pine proposed the committee following three fatal law enforcement-related incidents involving Tasers in San Mateo County.

The Board will not take any formal action at the meeting but will listen to a variety of educational presentations. They will hear from a range of representatives from Taser manufacturer Axon, law enforcement, the medical community and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Anyone is welcome to attend this study session and provide public comment to the Board. The public is welcome to speak during the comment period following the presentations, submit written comments in advance to the Board at BoardFeedback@smcgov.org or submit written statements to the Board at the meeting. The study session will also be broadcasted live on the County’s Agenda Management website.

The study session will take place from 6:00-9:30pm on Monday February 11, 2019 at the Board of Supervisors Chambers, Hall of Justice, 400 County Center Redwood City, CA.

Political Climate with Mark Simon: My year-long relapse

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Redwood City Council approves salary increases for city manager, city attorney

I know you circled this date on the calendar, perhaps in red. Maybe even made a note to have some friends over for snacks and celebration. And now you can’t remember why.

I understand. It has been a hectic year, full of traffic, political campaigns and an unrelenting stream of presidential tweets. With all that has been going on, you forgot that this is the one-year anniversary of the debut of this very Political Climate column.

Seems longer than just one, doesn’t it? No one can wear out a welcome like I can.

Anyway, as we embark on our second year together, it seems appropriate to pause and reflect on the year just past and, as is often the case at the start of a new year, see about doing better.

I wrote a daily newspaper column for 15 years, and an assortment of weekly political columns for well over 20 years, in addition to more than 25 years as a regional, state and national political writer. But I left that business – something I never thought I would do – and went to work for the San Mateo County Transit District. During the 13-plus years I worked for the District, I described myself as a recovering journalist.

I guess I relapsed. In the meantime, and this will come as a shock to you, things had changed.

First of all, I simply forgot how much work it is to write even a weekly (or more frequent) column. The column is not just about my opinion, or even my point of view, although I certainly have license to offer commentary and do so without hesitation. It is about information and it has taken me a while to get up to speed on being the thorough reporter I aspire to be. As Richard Nixon said (and who would have thought he would not be the worst president in my lifetime?), mistakes were made.

Just recently, for example, in commenting on Redwood City Council appointments to the Planning Commission, I noted that the commission had no renters. That’s not correct. There are two. By way of explanation, not excuse, I relied on someone who didn’t really know, rather than doing the work I should have done to find out. In another column, I misstated who organized the Peninsula Progressives slate in the recent 22nd Assembly District caucus – it was Dan Stegink, he says, and apparently, it’s important to him.

Both were tiny parts of longer items in much longer columns that were addressing much larger issues, but the mistakes jump out and undermine all I’m trying to do. Which is be fair and accurate, while being pointed at the same time.

As I noted a year ago, “As a columnist, I have the freedom to express a point of view, but, more than anything else, I believe in fairness, facts and openness in government and politics. Everyone will get a fair shake from me and everyone will be held accountable for what they say, including me. I have no interest in opinion masquerading as fact or opinion built on false assumptions.”

That’s right – I just quoted me. Pretty impressive ego, yes? But I believed it then and I still believe it. As Year Two gets under way (Or Year II in Super Bowl parlance), I will try and expect to do better.

Not incidentally, this is another way things have changed. When I was writing daily columns in the newspaper, I made a point of correcting my mistakes in my column, and not in some little box buried on Page 2, next to the orthopedic shoe ads. I want to do the same here, but writing online has been new to me, and the ethos for that is to correct it in the original posting with a note at the bottom saying the column has been changed. I’m still going to correct things in my column as an exercise of taking direct and personal responsibility for what I do. I’ll let the editors worry about the other stuff.

Also new is the social media environment in which I’m now writing. Clearly, there are some people who feel a social media site is a place to attack, undermine and misrepresent. Write for newspapers for 35 years and spend 13 years at SamTrans and Caltrain and you learn to deal with criticism, but I guess I didn’t expect to see disagreements in opinion so freely labeled as venal or corrupt. I believe I’ve found a way to manage all this without living in a bubble, but, still, there are some really angry people out there. I suppose it’s nice, or, at least, useful, that they have an outlet for this anger. It’s largely anonymous, or removed from any direct, personal interaction, so it seems more like digital courage, but there you go.

This isn’t necessarily new, but I also was a little surprised at the environment of cynicism and suspicion that seems to taint the public discourse, as if every disagreement has at its root some ulterior motive or additional agenda.

For the sake of the permanent record, no one tells me what to write. I don’t write thinking I have to speak for some special interest. I’m happy to treat everyone the same.

That’s the beauty of cynicism. It allows someone to say, “I know why he’s really doing that, I know what’s really behind that,” and feel pretty smart, unencumbered by actual fact. I understand some people are advocates. People should advocate – aggressively, even forcefully. It’s not journalism – or even citizen-journalism – and it doesn’t have to be, but we ought to see it for what it is. Too often, it’s just opinion masquerading as fact.

Anyway, it has been an interesting and educational year, and as I said at the top, I hope and expect to do better.

As we begin the second year, two messages that we often see digitally displayed on roadways linger in my mind:

The first is “It can wait,” the anti-texting-while-driving motto. The problem is, with my rapidly aging memory, if I wait, I’ll forget. The sequence, over a period of about eight minutes, goes something like this: I need to call Melvin. Two minutes later: Oh, yeah, I meant to call Melvin. Two minutes later: There was somebody I meant to call. Two minutes later: Why am I holding this phone?

The second sign is this one: “Expect Delays.” I have seen that sign on more roadways on the Peninsula than I’ve seen stoplights.

I think it’s a good motto for the year ahead.

Contact Mark Simon at mark.simon24@yahoo.com.

*The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Climate Online.

San Carlos planning commission approves gun store regulations

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San Carlos moved closer Monday to imposing regulations on how and where gun stores and shooting ranges can operate in their city.

The city’s Planning Commission unanimously recommended that City Council approve new regulations that would require such retailers to obtain a conditional use permit from the Planning Commission to operate; prohibit their location to within 1,000 feet from one another, and from sensitive land uses such as homes, schools, parks and commercial recreation like fitness centers; and require prospective stores to obtain a permit from the Sheriff’s Office. The Planning Commission is also recommending clarifying language to allow for only indoor shooting ranges within those restricted areas.

Under existing city rules, retailers selling firearms and ammunition are permitted to locate within any commercial zoning district in San Carlos, including Laurel Street, portions of San Carlos Avenue, El Camino Real, portions of Old County Road and portions of Industrial Road. The proposed 1,000-foot separation restriction would reduce the ability for such businesses to open within 12 parcels in the city, with many in the same stretch of land along Highway 101.

A desire for increased regulation was sparked in 2017 after community opposition mounted over a plan to open at Turner’s Outdoorsman at 1123 Industrial Road. That led to a moratorium as well as extensions to the moratorium on new firearms retailers, with the latest effective through May 12 this year.

Two existing establishments in San Carlos that sell firearms would be grandfathered in, including Imbert and Smithers at 1144 El Camino Real and Equity Arms, a private seller that works by appointment only at 1100 Industrial Road.

City staff aims to have council vote in a first reading on the proposed regulations on March 11, with a second reading possibly on March 25. If council votes in favor on both occasions, the ordinance would take effect April 25.

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