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Political Climate with Mark Simon: San Mateo County has changed forever

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The San Mateo County that was simply is no more.

Once a hotbed of social rest, San Mateo County is an increasingly urbanized technology focal point in the regional, national and global economy, and there is no going back.

Nowhere is this more evident than at the San Mateo County Economic Development Association’s annual showcase of new and innovative companies.

At these events, held every year at the Oracle Conference Center in Redwood Shores, recognized companies have run the gamut from science to medicine to toys to transportation and every other iteration of the new economy imaginable. The presentations often have audience members reaching for their smart phones to look up products and stock symbols.

This year was no exception as seven companies were honored as Innovators. They included startups that are delving deeply into virtual reality animation programming, customized shopping, a convincing alternative to meat and cancer diagnostic tools requiring only the drawing of blood.

Of the seven companies recognized by SAMCEDA, five are in Redwood City, two are in Menlo Park and one is in San Mateo. More interestingly, of the 42 companies honored at this event between 2010-17, 36 still are headquartered in San Mateo County — only six have left. Combined, these 42 companies employ 17,000 people.

As SAMCEDA President and CEO Rosanne Foust told Political Climate, San Mateo County used to be known for its annual “churn” rate of 50 percent – the percentage of companies that would start in the county and then leave. Most companies, if not all, would reach a certain size and then move elsewhere, usually in seeking space for manufacturing facilities.

But then came companies that “laid the foundation,” Foust said. In the late 1970s, Oracle established its world headquarters in Redwood Shores and then Genentech opened in South San Francisco. At first, they were the only major employers from the new economy, but they were the forerunners of companies that now abound.

One key characteristic they share is that their products are virtual and don’t require physical production plants. Facebook is the most dramatic example with its plans to grow substantially in the next decade without leaving Menlo Park. At Facebook, they manufacture ideas and they need their employees to remain together, generating and executing new ideas at a clip that will maintain the company’s success.

Certainly, San Mateo County’s unique setting is an essential part of its appeal – its proximity to San Francisco, the ease of access to the redwoods and the beach. Just as crucial is the presence of Stanford University as a feeder of workers and innovators, and it’s no accident that Stanford is expanding into San Mateo County.

The net result is a reconstitution of the county’s DNA.

“There’s an energy here,” said Foust, and the world’s leading innovators sense it, understand its appeal and want to draw from it and contribute to it.

“The vitality of Redwood City in recent years has created a virtuous cycle with the diverse people and local, national and international businesses fueling an incredible ecosystem,” said Kristy Stromberg, chief marketing officer for Shopkick, one of the Redwood City companies honored at the SAMCEDA event. “It’s a great location for a tech company like ours.”

Stromberg referred to Redwood City as “being in the heart of Silicon Valley.”

There’s something no one would have said 20 years ago, or even 10.

These changes are the most profound to face this community in our lifetime. As I spend more time meeting and talking with the people who are making this change happen, I will revisit this topic with an eye to fully understanding what has happened, what will happen and why.

Yes, the San Mateo County we once knew has changed forever. It’s better – more diverse, more interesting, more dynamic and economically more powerful.

OUT OF THE GATE: Diana Reddy this week became the first Redwood City Council to formally launch her campaign. This is notable in that the council election is in November and the filing period has yet to be established or opened.

Reddy announced Monday before more than 40 friends and supporters at the Main & Elm Restaurant. In brief remarks, Reddy said she has a “passion for the least of us” and that she would be an advocate for those who have been left out or pushed out by the economic boom in Redwood City.

“We have much poverty in the midst of plenty and much fear in the midst of security,” she said. She vowed “we will have a seat at the table” if she is elected.

“We need a new direction,” Reddy said, promising to “align our city’s priorities with our community’s needs.”

An advocate for rent control, Reddy told Political Climate that it was highly unlikely a rent control ballot measure will be put on the November ballot. If anyone would know, she would, Reddy said, and it’s clear there isn’t the widespread political support required to take on the interests that would be arrayed against such a measure. There are other ways to take on the issue, she said, implying that she could introduce a rent control measure if she is on the council. … Among those on hand at the Reddy kickoff was Steve Penna, publisher of the monthly magazine Spectrum. Both Penna and Reddy denied a widespread rumor that Penna had assumed a formal role in Reddy’s campaign management. Penna acknowledged that he has worked for business interests in the city, including Main & Elm, helping longtime friends with marketing services. But, he said, “I will never, ever work on a city council campaign.”

A MOMENT OF PERSONAL PRIVILEGE: Two nonprofit organizations I am honored to support held major events in the last seven days. Sequoia Awards held its annual dinner last Thursday at the Crowne Plaza in Foster City, dispersing 29 scholarships to Redwood City high school seniors for their volunteer service to our community. That’s a total of $215,000 awarded, including $25,000 to the top student, Clara MacAvoy. The Sequoia Awards also recognized Barbara Pierce and Dee Eva as 2018’s Outstanding Individuals for their work on the city’s sesquicentennial celebration and recognized the Canyon Inn and proprietors Tim and Stephanie Harrison for their constant generosity to the community. … Bay Area Cancer Connections held its annual spring benefit yesterday at Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club. Award-winning actress Camryn Manheim told the story of her own frontal assault on breast cancer with characteristic brio. I am honored to serve both of these organizations as a member of their boards of directors.

Contact Mark Simon at

Redwood City man arrested in connection with Pescadero State Beach vehicle burglary

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Redwood City man arrested in connection with Pescadero State Beach vehicle burglary

A 19-year-old Redwood City man was arrested last week following a vehicle burglary at Pescadero State Beach, according to the San Mateo County sheriff’s office.

Brayan Edguardo Menendeztobar was placed under arrest Thursday afternoon after San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies pulled over the stolen vehicle he was in, according to deputies.

Occupants of the stolen vehicle were reported to be involved in a burglary at Pescadero State Beach about 1:30 p.m. The burglary victim provided deputies with both the description of the suspect car and its license late number. Deputies learned the suspect vehicle had been stolen in Salinas.

While traveling northbound on Highway 1, a deputy spotted the stolen vehicle and pulled it over. While Menendeztobar was taken into custody, a second unidentified suspect fled into the woods and, despite a search, deputies were unable to locate him.

Menendeztobar was booked at the Maguire Correctional Facility for possession of a stolen vehicle and auto burglary, deputies said.

Anyone with information regarding this case are asked to call Detective Daniel Chiu at (650) 363-4057 or the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Anonymous Witness Line at 1-800-547-2700.

Photos courtesy of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office

Impossible Burger set for Oakland Coliseum

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Impossible Foods, a company based at 525 Chesapeake Dr. in Redwood City that is known for making the all-plant-based Impossible Burger, is headed for Oakland Coliseum.

The Impossible Burger is set to be served “Opening Day” Thursday, March 29, when the Oakland A’s host the Los Angeles Angels at 1:05 p.m., according to the company.

In development since 2011 and debuting in July 2016, the burgers are the creation of Executive Chef Effie Spiegler, who is said to have made them taste and smell like ground beef from cows. The Impossible Burger’s ingredients are water, wheat protein, potato protein, coconut oil and heme. Heme “contributes to the characteristic taste of meat and catalyzes all the other flavors when meat is cooked,” the company says.

A’s President Dave Kaval praised “the story behind the Impossible Burger.”

“It is not only cutting edge and innovative in its approach to food production, but it is also the best plant-based burger currently on the market,” Kaval said in a statement. “We are thrilled to be the first team to offer it to our fans.”

The burgers are produced without hormones, antibiotics, cholesterol or artificial flavors, and their production was said to be vastly more environmentally friendly than conventional ground beef from cows. More than 800 restaurants are currently serving Impossible Burger from Impossible Foods, which launched production in September at its first large-scale manufacturing plant in Oakland. After the Oakland plant is running at full operation, retail sales will launch, the company said.

If you’re looking to find The Impossible Burger at the ballpark, it is set to be served in Concession Stand 123 and Shibe Park Tavern. Two signature stylings will be offered: “French Onion” Sliders with caramelized balsamic onions, oil-cured tomatoes, brie spread and brioche slider buns at Concessions Stand 123, as well as an Impossible “Breakfast Burger” with oil-cured tomatoes, applewood-smoked bacon, a sunny side egg, ghost pepper cheese, bacon aioli and a brioche bun at Shibe Park Tavern.

Car Show set for Veterans Memorial Center Theater

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The Vietnam Veterans of America will host their annual car show in Redwood City on March 31.

The show will take place at Veterans Memorial Center Theater at 1455 Madison Avenue, Redwood City from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The event is hosted by Corporal James Lindsay Wilson VFW Post 69.

Cpl. James Lindsay Williams Jr. Post 69 was founded May 28,1921 in honor of Cpl. Williams’ service during WWI. Originally post 2310, the post combined with posts from East Palo Alto and San Mateo to form Post 69.

For more information visit here.

Drivers warned of traffic delays Thursday at Jefferson/Broadway in Redwood City

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Drivers warned of traffic delays Thursday at Jefferson/Broadway in Redwood City

On Thursday, March 22, construction crews are expected to conduct a concrete pour at 2075 Broadway, which will cause traffic delays on Jefferson at Broadway from 4:30 a.m. until noon, according to the City of Redwood City.

If it rains, however, the concrete pour will shift to the next available day.”

“Concrete trucks will share the roadway and be guided by flaggers into the fenced in area for the pour,” according to the city. “Traffic signs and flaggers will help to direct other vehicle traffic on Jefferson. Please use caution and use alternate routes if possible.”

Lawyers invited to tour Redwood City courthouse

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Calling all new lawyers! The San Mateo County Bar Association is hosting a tour of the Redwood City Courthouse.

Attorneys new to the practice of law in San Mateo County are encouraged to tour the courthouse, meet with staff, learn about procedural dos and don’ts and hear from supervising judges for an informal Q and A.

The event is scheduled for March 22 from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to join the San Mateo County Bar Association at no cost for the first year. The networking event will take place at 400 County Center Road, Courtroom 2M.

To attend RSVP to

Stanley Roberts of People Behaving Badly exposes illegal parking incident in Redwood City

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Stanley Roberts of People Behaving Badly exposes illegal parking incident in Redwood City

Stanley Roberts, the famous host of People Behaving Badly on KRON4, can show up anywhere at anytime in the Bay Area. So you might want to follow the rules or run the risk of ending up on his show.

That’s what happened on Sunday to this driver in Redwood City, who was identified by Roberts as a delivery worker for Door Dash. Roberts published video of the driver parking, with the emergency lights on, in the green lane designed exclusively for bicyclists near Stacks restaurant at 314 El Camino Real.

“Apparently DoorDash drivers have a special green lane to park and make pickups,” Roberts posted on Facebook. “Double parking was never a problem here until the #BikeLane was painted green.”

Naturally, the incident elicited plenty of incensed Facebook comments.

One stated: “ I love how when dumb people park illegally, they ALWAYS put their emergency flashers on, like ‘hello, here I am parked illegally’. Hahhahhahaha idiots.”

Another commented, “Those bike lanes are new, but that place has plenty of parking on the street and lot… naughty driver!”

Follow Stanley Roberts on Facebook here.

Meanwhile in Redwood City, California Apparently DoorDash drivers have a special green lane to park and make pickups. Double parking was never a problem here until the #BikeLane was painted green. 😳😳😳😳

Posted by Stanley Roberts KRON 4 on Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sequoia Awards honors Redwood City businesses and students

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The Sequoia Awards, a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring volunteerism in Redwood City, awarded $215,000 in scholarships to 29 students bound for college. These high school seniors were recognized purely on their uncompensated community service.

Student scholarships ranged from $5,000 to $7,500 and the top recipient, Clara MacAvoy, won $25,000. Also honored as Outstanding Individuals were Barbara Pierce and Dee Eva for her efforts organizing the Redwood City 150th Anniversary. The Outstanding Business Award went to Tim and Stephanie Harrison of Canyon Inn.  Student recipients were:

Clara MacAvoy, Lizbeth Aguilar, Risako Nozaki, Alejandra Sanchez-Castro, Yareli Solis, Violeta Evans, Giovanni Mendieta-Chisco, Karolyn Paz Rubio, Magali Pineda-Arzate, Yohana Ramirez, Alix Richardson, Evelyn Velasquez, Emma Williams, Mona Bandov, Luis Espino Cervantes, Giselle Fajardo Hernandez, Ashley Gonzalez Contreras, Julie Huynh, Yareli Jimenez, Noah Masur, Jared Mejia, Leslie Ortega, Melissa Paulino-Romero, Nohelya Revuelta Contreras, Ivana Rodriguez, Maria Rodriguez, Kriti Shukla, Kelsey Takaha, Dana Yang.

 Students bound for college received scholarships

Open Gate Nursery School to hold 7th Annual Touch-a-Truck event

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Open Gate Nursery School is hosting the 7th Annual Touch-a-Truck event where children are encouraged to touch, climb on and ask questions about their favorite trucks at the Juror Parking Lot at Veterans Boulevard and Middlefield Road in Redwood City on April 28.

Cement trucks, fire trucks and race cars will be available for children to climb inside and meet the drivers at the event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Local food trucks will attend the event.

Individual tickets are $5, a family pass is available for $20. Free admission for children 12 months or under. To buy tickets, visit here.

For more information please call 650-369-6833.

Redwood City’s Box Inc. to host ‘Girl Geek X Dinner’

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Box Inc. in Redwood City is hosting an event at its headquarters alongside Girl Geek X later this month where Box’s female leaders will discuss technical problems they are solving in helping cloud content management change the way people work.

The Girl Geek X Box Dinner is set to take place on March 28 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 900 Jefferson Ave.

The event will feature senior software engineers Kelsey Dutton and Prachi Jadhav, product operations manager Nicole Salzman, staff software engineer Joy Ebertz and network operations center engineer Sruthi Gottumukkala. Tickets range from $15 to $25.

For tickets and details visit here.

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