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Redwood City Police Arrest Man Suspected of Residential Burglary

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Redwood City police arrested a man Monday on suspicion of residential burglary and possession of stolen property.

Derrick Strong, 37, allegedly broke into an apartment complex at 1107 Second Ave. Monday night.

One of the victims woke up, saw the lights on and informed her husband. The husband then went into the living room and confronted the suspect, who was placing items on the kitchen table, according to police.

The suspect took a wallet and other items out of his pocket and left them there, then fled from the apartment. Officers arrived and located a man matching the suspect’s description in the alley of Rolison Road. He allegedly had more of the victims’ belongings in his possession. Strong was arrested and taken to the county jail.

Anyone with additional information about the case is encouraged to call the Redwood City Police Department at (650) 780-7100 or the department’s tip line at (650) 780-7107.

Reporting by Bay City News

Political Climate by Mark Simon: Sign of the Times?

in Business/Community/Featured/Headline/PoliticalClimate by

Perhaps centuries from now, when the waters of the Great Global Warming Flood have subsided and the human race has restored itself, an archaeological dig will stumble onto a sealed chamber at what used to be the campus of Stanford University.

There, with great excitement, they will find an artifact that will astound them, a great and awesome monolith that they will reverently place in the same pantheon as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Rosetta Stone.

Six feet high, 40-feet long, it will speak to them across the centuries, mystical and from a bygone era lost in the mists of time: And it shall read: “Ampex.”

Yes, they’ve stashed the sign in a storage room, perhaps never to be seen again, judging by the efforts Stanford is making to find the sign a new home.

And, size notwithstanding, don’t plan on putting the sign in your front yard.

That’s exactly what Tim Harrison wants to do – he’s got a spot all picked out adjacent to his parking lot at the Canyon Inn, a landmark in its own right.

Like so many others, Ampex engineers were not immune to the alluring burgers and fish tacos of the Canyon Inn and they frequented the local bistro with some regularity.

Asked why he’d want to host this piece of local memorabilia, Harrison said, “Look around,” and pointed to the staggering array of sports and local history items that coat the walls of the Canyon Inn. “I’m just that kind of guy,” he said.

There is a history of these things working out. When Mel’s Bowl was torn down in 2011 to make way for apartments, the city required the developer to find another location for the art deco neon sign.

It found a home at the Redwood City Car Wash on El Camino Real in the northern end of the city after Elaine Breeze, vice president of developer Urban Housing Group successfully weaved her way through various agencies.

But Stanford, with all the academic dignity it can muster, doesn’t want the Ampex sign ending up at some random business location.

“We are primarily interested in groups that have some affiliation to preserving historic and/or technological elements of the Peninsula,” said John Donahoe, director of Planning and Entitlement at Stanford’s Land, Buildings and Real Estate office.

“While we have received some recent requests for the sign,” Donahoe said, “I would characterize these requests as from private individuals who want the sign for private use. While we appreciate their interest in the sign, we remain hopeful that we can find a public home for the sign.”

Specifically, Donahoe said, “Our preference is to work with a local historical society or technology museum, preferably on the San Francisco Peninsula.”

In short, he said, somewhere “appropriate.”:

No car washes need apply.

Or, to put it another way, you’re never going to see that sign again.

But it should be quite a find for those archaeologists.

Where Goes the Neighborhood? Mount Carmel Historic Proposal Sets Off a Tempest

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By Jeanne Cooper, this story originally appeared in the September edition of Climate Magazine

While a roiling debate over potential historic designation for one neighborhood is simmering down, the idea of creating citywide residential design guidelines affecting demolitions and renovations appears to be moving to the front burner for Redwood City planners and preservationists.

The Mount Carmel neighborhood — loosely defined as between Alameda de las Pulgas and El Camino Real, and Whipple and Jefferson Avenues — takes its name from Our Lady of Mount Carmel church and school on Fulton Street. The city’s General Plan describes Mount Carmel as “largely a pre-World War II neighborhood (more than 40 percent of the housing stock was built before World War II) with distinctive architecture.” Although liberally sprinkled with postwar ranchers and other modern designs, the neighborhood is renowned for its English Tudor and Spanish Colonial-style bungalows, mostly with detached garages, set back on large lots from tree-canopied streets.

However, in the last decade, eight of these vintage houses have been replaced by much larger, contemporary-style houses, with the number of demolitions increasing in recent years, according to city planners. As a June 15 post on Redwood City Voice, the city’s blog, noted, “Neighborhood residents have expressed concern that tear down of older homes, plus the building [of] new, larger homes, could negatively affect the historical charm of the Mt. Carmel neighborhood.”

But the news that the City Council would discuss historic designation for Mount Carmel at a study session in July hit like a thunderbolt for many residents. Up for discussion would be changes which could affect future exterior renovations or rebuilding, as well as staff recommendations to start reviewing neighborhood teardowns and begin working on citywide guidelines.

Negative flyers quickly appeared, along with an anti-preservation website, both generated anonymously; impassioned pro and con viewpoints also appeared on Nextdoor and elsewhere online.

One self-described Mount Carmel homeowner, identified only as “Steve,” was representative of the early voices sounding an alarm against historic designation and the related planning proposals. In a July 14 response to the Redwood City Voice post, Steve wrote he “appreciate(d) the neighborhood’s character,” but adamantly opposed what he called plans “to surreptitiously infringe on your Fifth Amendment Constitutional rights.”

Having to hire historical consultants for reviews of tear-down applications and determining the scope of a historic district would add “significant” expense to homeowners and taxpayers, he added. As for exploring citywide guidelines, Steve continued, “Design is very subjective, and similar programs in other local cities have significantly increased the cost of remodels and reconstruction to homeowners.”

For now, Steve and fellow opponents to planning changes can rest easy. Thirty-two members of the public provided comment, split nearly evenly pro and con, during the long and contentious City Council meeting on July 23. At its end, Mayor Ian Bain said a future study will be scheduled that “will discuss and define citywide design guidelines to ensure that homes fit the neighborhoods in which they are built,” according to the council minutes. “Furthermore, the decision whether to designate Mount Carmel as a historic neighborhood is a topic that should be discussed by the Mount Carmel Neighborhood Association before coming back to the City Council.”

For Historic Resources Advisory Committee member Ken Rolandelli, who has served on the committee for more than 35 years, the concerns of those opposing historic designation were largely premature. Although the committee has “had its sights” on the Mount Carmel area as a potential historic district since 2010, the July 23 study session “was not about designating the district. We’re not anywhere close,” he explained.

“You need information. The next step is, as it has always been for the last eight years, to hire an architectural historian with a historic preservation background for a review,” Rolandelli continued. “Then you can digest it and have recommendations, and those who make decisions can decide what they want to do. It should filter through us to the Planning Commission to the City Council, and that would be a long process.”

Nevertheless, Rolandelli said, the committee has come up with suggested boundaries for a Mount Carmel district, which if approved would become Redwood City’s third residential historic zone, after the older and smaller Mezesville and Stambaugh-Heller districts.

The proposed Mount Carmel district “looks gerrymandered, with few entire city blocks that would be included,” Rolandelli noted. “The rest is a zigzag line that goes up and down, based on a high-level concentration of historically contributing structures. It’s mostly about Spanish Colonial and mostly about Craftsman homes, with a few Tudor Revivals in there too, in blocks where there’s a large concentration. It’s where you’re walking the area, and you get the sense of time and place just like you would in the 1920s or ’30s.”

It’s exactly that kind of ambiance that prompted Rachel Holt, co-chair of the Mount Carmel Neighborhood Association, and her husband Jeff to buy a vintage Craftsman house on leafy Grant Street about 18 years ago. “We loved the older homes, we loved the character of the neighborhood, we loved the street trees, we loved how friendly the neighbors seem to be,” she said.

Holt has also served on the historic resources committee. Although she supports investigating historic designation for Mount Carmel, she noted that she is not opposed to renovations, just remodeling or new construction with “incompatible” design.

“People should be able to add on to their houses — I’m one of them,” she explained. “When we bought our 1919 Craftsman, it was two bedrooms, one bath, a little over 1,000 square feet, and the garage had been bulldozed. We added onto it and went up a story; it’s now twice the size and we have a two-car detached garage, and I would challenge anyone to hold a picture of the original and tell the difference, other than the color.”

Holt and others interviewed for this story placed the blame for the increasing appearance of large, modern homes not so much on existing residents but on developers, spurred by the rising land values created by the newly bustling downtown nearby. “They can’t maximize their profits if they can’t build from lot line to lot line, or if they have to build a detached garage,” Holt said.

“Regardless of whether or not Mount Carmel or some smaller section of it becomes a historic district, the city has to address the current zoning and come up with better design guidelines. … It’s not about not being able to add on, or modernize your house to ‘fit the needs of your family.’ It’s about doing it in a way that honors the character of the neighborhood.”

Retired real estate broker Dee Eva is also a former member of the Historic Resources Advisory Committee and was co-chair of the city’s 150th anniversary celebration in 2017. Eva, who has lived in Redwood City since 1948, has seen similar conflicts in and outside of Mount Carmel.

“Most people are objecting to these big, very modern contemporary-style homes that are going into the neighborhoods and that don’t really fit in,” she said. “I don’t know that they should have to fit in, that’s my issue,” she noted. “I don’t want people telling me what to do with my property, but at the same time there have to be some rules and regulations and I realize that I have to abide by them.”

That room for negotiation is what city staff is likely to explore next, according to Aaron Aknin, assistant city manager and community development director. At the City Council meeting in July, “a lot of folks that didn’t want historic guidelines passed were receptive to some limitations on size of neighborhood homes or increasing compatibility,” he noted. “I’ve talked to a number of people since that time and my takeaway is there’s more than one tool to solve what some people label is a problem.”

Aknin, who has worked for Peninsula cities that already have design guidelines such as floor-area ratios, said he recently met with staff of Burlingame and is going to look at processes in San Carlos and San Mateo. “We want an understanding of what’s worked well from a design standpoint and what’s worked well from a city standpoint, and to strike a balance between neighborhood compatibility and property owners’ ability to improve their home.”

Political Climate with Mark Simon: Where do the candidates line up?

in Community/Featured/Headline/PoliticalClimate by
Superintendent of Schools race still too close to call after latest Election update

In a political campaign, endorsements by well-regarded and influential Individuals and by organizations with influence and resources can be an important boost to a candidate and an early indication of who the political establishment regards as a likely winner.

By that measure, while there clearly are favorites emerging in the seven-candidate race for three seats on the Redwood City Council, there is hardly unanimity among the county’s leaders, or among the current members of the Council.

But as the campaign enters its latter stages, clearly there are some lines being drawn between a group of three candidates – Diane Howard, Giselle Hale and Jason Galisatus – and the remaining four candidates, Rick Hunter, Christina Umhofer, Diana Reddy and Ernie Schmidt.

And those lines appear to be, very broadly stated, the issues of growth and development.

It is important to note that none of the candidates is an avowed supporter of a continuation of the pace of growth that has characterized Redwood City in the past five years. Nor has anyone called for a complete reversal of the development that has occurred.

But the interests that are involved in the campaign – on either side — clearly see one group of candidates as preferable to the other.

Vice Mayor and incumbent Howard and businesswoman/mother Giselle Hale have been endorsed by the San Mateo County Association of Realtors and the county Central Labor Council, whose political process is heavily influenced by the Building Trades Council. In addition, Howard has been endorsed by the California Apartment Association and Hale directly by the Building Trades Council. Galisatus shares many of the same individual endorsements, as well as the Central Labor Council.

Among the remaining four candidates, three – Hunter, Umhofer and Reddy – were endorsed yesterday by the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club.

In addition, those three and Schmidt clearly are operating their campaigns in support of one another, sharing endorsements, exchanging campaign donations and on September 22, holding a campaign event together.

While all four have insisted they are not running as a slate, it is clear they share campaign supporters and support each other.

It is equally clear that much of the political establishment in the county – although certainly not all – is leaning toward Howard, Hale and Galisatus.

The candidates with the most endorsements are incumbent Howard and Hale, each of whom has compiled a long list of prominent political leaders.

Howard and Hale both have been endorsed by the area’s two members of Congress – Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo, each of whom shows up in political polling as the endorsements most likely to affect voters’ choices.

Howard and Hale also share endorsements from state Senator Jerry Hill, Assemblymen Kevin Mullin and Marc Berman, current Council members Shelly Masur and John Seybert and San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley.

The two candidates also have been endorsed by organizations that usually bring campaign support – SAMCAR, the Labor Council, the Redwood City Firefighters Association (RCFA) and the Bay Area Municipal Elections Committee (BAYMEC), a long-established and effective organization dedicated to electing candidates in support of key LGBTQ rights issues.

Close behind Hale and Howard is university community relations rep Jason Galisatus, also endorsed by Mullin and Berman, as well as Assemblyman Evan Low and state Senator Scott Wiener, BAYMEC and the RCFA, the Labor Council and Masur and Seybert.

A WORD OF CAUTION: It’s a local race, of course, which means there are alliances and endorsements that defy analysis and, undoubtedly, are based on personal connections and prior common experience.

Speier endorsed four candidates in the race for three seats – Howard, Hale, Hunter and Reddy. Hill also endorsed businessman Schmidt, who endorsed Umhofer and Howard.

Current council members spread their endorsements around: Alicia Aguirre endorsed Galisatus, Schmidt and Howard; Mayor Ian Bain endorsed Howard and Hunter; Janet Borgens endorsed Umhofer, Howard and Schmidt.

The Board of Supervisors are equally spread out among the council candidates. Supervisor Horsley also endorsed Hunter; David Canepa endorsed Hale, Galisatus and Schmidt; Warren Slocum endorsed Schmidt and Howard; Dave Pine and Carole Groom endorsed Howard, the only candidate to win the support of four of the five supes.

Service Employees International Union Local 521, which represents a large bloc of Redwood City employees, endorsed Reddy, Howard and Schmidt.

Other endorsements of note: Howard is endorsed by the Harbor Village Mobile Home Park; Reddy is endorsed by the San Mateo County Democratic Party and Silicon Valley and Peninsula chapters of the Democratic Socialists, the self-described progressives of the Democratic Party.

MORE MOHR: There are many local figures who are widely and well regarded. Few engender the genuine affection and respect that accrues to Tom Mohr, the San Mateo County Community College District trustee seeking re-election and being challenged by fellow trustee Richard Holober.

At a recent campaign kickoff, a lineup of electeds from throughout the county was on hand in a cross-section of support rarely seen:  Jackie Speier (sporting a cast on her right leg), Kevin Mullin, Dave Pine, Foster City Mayor Sam Hindi, Shelly Masur, Belmont Councilman Charles Stone, Burlingame Councilwoman Emily Beach, San Mateo Councilman Rick Bonilla, San Carlos Mayor Bob Grassilli, East Palo Alto Councilman Larry Moody and fellow college trustee Maurice Goodman.

Contact Mark Simon at

Redwood City Council Awards Magical Bridge Playground Construction Contract

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Developer Jay Paul gives additional $1M to Magical Bridge Playground in Redwood City

The Redwood City Council on Monday unanimously approved a construction contract for the Magical Bridge Playground at Red Morton Park to Robert A. Bothman Construction of Santa Clara.

Bothman’s bid to build the playground, at $5.6 million, was one of three that the city received.

The Magical Bridge Playground will replace the aging playground at Red Morton Park and will be the city’s largest play space, with a variety of slides, swings, spin and sway equipment for people of all ages and abilities.

The City has appropriated Park Impact Fees of $2 million, and $554,000 in Capital Improvement Funds to support the project.  The Magical Bridge Foundation has now raised $3 million for the project after an additional gift of $1 million from the Jay Paul Company – which enabled to project to reach the required funding level to begin the bid process.

The gift follows an earlier $200,000 commitment from the company, along with substantial gifts from other private donors, including Sequoia Healthcare District, the Burns Family Foundation, the San Jose Sharks Foundation + SAP, Leland Levy and Judy Huey, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Kaiser Permanente, among others.

Due to the complexity of the project, it is being completed in phases. During Phase 1, completed this past May, the play area and parking capacity were expanded. The project is currently in Phase 2, which includes construction of the playground, picnic area and a safe, accessible drop-off area between the Armory building and the main playground entrance. Construction is estimated to begin within 60 days of awarding the contract, according to City officials.

Phase 3 will include improvements to the sports field spectator areas, including new bleachers and shaded areas.

The City Council also authorized the City Manager to increase the contract amount, if necessary, up to 10 percent of the amount awarded, through the addition of park impact fees, not to exceed $6.1 million.

The Magical Bridge Foundation is a non-profit based in Palo Alto that designs playgrounds for children and adults of varying physical and cognitive abilities. Their designs aim to fix the often overlooked discriminatory aspects of a typical playground, such as common raised platform structures that separate families from their children.

The first Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto opened to the public in April 2015, and Magical Bridge playground projects are currently underway in northern California communities of Redwood City, Morgan Hill, Sunnyvale, Mountain View and the Palo Alto Unified School District.

Pink Pantherz Backs Down; Advocates Remain Vigilant

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There may be more than one way to skin a cat, but in Redwood City, residents would rather you didn’t. According to several sources, the controversial Pink Pantherz Espresso is now claiming they will modify their sexually suggestive menu names and require baristas to wear normal uniforms instead of revealing bikinis and lingerie.

As previously reported in Climate, the hotly contested coffee stop is slated to open a new location at 2797 El Camino Real, the space formerly occupied by Caffino. When the cat was out of the bag and locals learned about the plans for the space, it triggered a firestorm of debate on social media – local Facebook group “Redwood City Residents: Say What?” even banned posts on the topic and shut down debate by turning off all commenting on posts about the issue.

Rather than just debating the practical concerns of the issue (How do bikinis comply with the Health Code?!) or the moral ones (Should our kids be passing by a menu with items like “Birthday Sex” and “Panty Dropper” twice a day, to and from school?!) Sister Christina Heltsley took action.

Sr. Heltsley, the Executive Director of St. Francis Center (located in North Fair Oaks), member of the San Mateo County Women’s Hall of Fame and tireless advocate for the community led the charge in creating a petition opposed to the business that to date has more than 1,400 signatures. It is that overwhelming pressure – and the leadership of those like Sister Christina –  that many believe forced Pink Pantherz to change their plans.

“I just couldn’t believe that in 2018, the year of #metoo, our super progressive city was even considering this. As a realtor I’m well aware of the demographics of the Fair Oaks neighborhood and the challenges it has faced,” said Vicky Costantini, who has been vocal in her opposition. “Advocates like Sister Christina and Janet Davis have fought hard to improve it, so in this instance I was happy to help despite public backlash.”

County officials also confirmed they were “recently informed by the owner that he plans to change the menu and attire, but… will not assume this issue is resolved until we confirm how the business is actually being operated.”

Opponents also remain vigilant – despite discussion being banned on “Says What,” they plan to go ahead with the march against the business this Friday. For Costantini, this issue is about far more than bikinis: “As a Latina business owner and daughter of immigrants, I want these girls to have positive role models who teach them their worth. Stripping and serving coffee wouldn’t do that. I’m so proud of everyone that turned the tide and said no to exploitation. We had a huge Women’s March in Redwood City this year, including a human trafficking awareness display. This dilutes our message that Redwood City is empowering women and protecting children.”

The owners of Pink Pantherz Espresso have not returned calls seeking comment.

BREAKING NEWS: Freight Train and Patrol Car Collide on Chestnut Street

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A freight train and police cruiser appear to have collided late Tuesday night, near the intersection of Chestnut Street and Middlefield Road. It is unclear what caused the collision at this time, and the accident has impacted traffic in both directions. According to citizen reports, officers were in the area responding to an issue at nearby apartments on Chestnut Street. We will continue to update as more information becomes available.

Photo credit: Mauricio Acevedo

Redwood City Library author series to feature book on 7 Mile House

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Learn to make native California holiday wreaths at Redwood City Library

Up the road in Brisbane, is the Bay Area’s last original “mile house”* – the 7 Mile House.  But you’ll only have to go as far as the Redwood City Library to hear all about it.

“See You at the 7:  Stories from the Bay Area’s Last Original Mile House” is the book that tells all.  And the author, Vanessa Garcia, will be talking about it, and the House.  She knows what she’s talking about too, because she’s the person running the 7 Mile House these days.

This is part of the Library’s “Author Series” – and Garcia takes the mic Wednesday night, September 26th, 7pm to 9pm, at the main library on Middlefield, in the Downtown Community Room.

*Mile houses” – date back to the stagecoach era, and they were named for how far they were from San Francisco.  The 7 Mile is lively today, in a family-friendly way – but if you go, ask Garcia about the days of the Hayes Street Gang, and the 7 Mile during Prohibition, when San Mateo County was known as “the Most Corrupt County in California!”

Free screening of ‘Angst’ documentary set for The Fox Theatre on Sept. 18

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Adventure film festival coming to Fox Theatre Redwood City

A free screening of “Angst” — a documentary raising awareness about the impacts of anxiety with an emphasis on youth and families — is set to take place Tuesday, Sept. 18, at The Fox Theatre in Redwood City.

Doors open for the event at 7 p.m., with the film starting at 7:30 p.m. at the theater at 2215 Broadway St. A panel discussion with the film’s executive producer Karin Gornick will follow the screening.

The event is supported by Roy Cloud School, The Fox Theatre and Lucile Packard.

“The film includes interviews with kids, teens, experts and parents to help people identify and understand the symptoms of anxiety and encourage them to reach out for help,” organizers said. “Angst is being screened in schools, communities and theaters around the world. The film and corresponding materials provide tools, resources and hope.”

To lean more about the documentary, go to

Firefighters douse blaze at commercial building in Redwood Shores

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Firefighters douse blaze in Redwood Shores commercial building Thursday morning

The Redwood City Fire Department is investigating a blaze in a six-story commercial building at 555 Twin Dolphin Drive in Redwood Shores.

Firefighters were dispatched to the building about 4:10 a.m. Thursday and extinguished a fire in a break room on the first floor.

No injuries were reported and the fire remains under investigation.

Photo: Redwood City Fire Department Instagram

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