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San Mateo County libraries now offer automatic renewals

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San Mateo County Libraries

If you need more time to read that library book or watch the movie you’ve checked out, San Mateo County Libraries is now providing it to patrons through a newly launched Automatic Renewals system.

All eligible items will automatically renew one day before the due date. The new system aims to help patrons avoid overdue fines.

San Mateo County Libraries along with city libraries (such as those in Redwood City) and the Peninsula Library System now offer automatic renewals on checked out items unless patrons owe fines over $15.

Those who entered an email account into the library system will receive a notification that lists which items were successfully renewed and which were not, if applicable. Patrons will continue to receive pre-overdue notices for checked out items.

Items deemed not eligible for automatic renewal are those that are on hold for other patrons, those that have reached their renewal limit (each city or college library system has their own renewal limit), non-traditional items and devices and items that have already expired.

Redwood City Council transition set for Monday, Dec. 10

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Redwood City Council meeting roundup for April 8, 2019

A Redwood City Council transition event set for Monday, Dec. 10 will say farewell to outgoing councilmembers and to swear in new members.

The event will begin at 6:15 p.m. with a reception celebration with refreshments at City Hall, 1017 Middlefield Rd.

Outgoing councilmembers Jeff Gee and John Seybert will be recognized for their service. Newcomers Giselle Hale and Diana Reddy, along with incumbent Diane Howard, were top three vote-getters in the Nov. 6 election, which saw tremendous voter turnout.

The council meeting will follow the transition event.

*This story has been corrected to fix a typo in an outgoing councilmember’s name.

From left to right: Giselle Hale, Diane Howard, and Diana Reddy


No injuries when car strikes home in San Carlos

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No injuries when car strikes home in San Carlos

No one was injured, thankfully, when a vehicle was accidentally driven into a home on Elm Street near Magnolia Avenue in San Carlos about 5:19 p.m. Sunday, according to the Redwood City Fire Department, which posted this above photo on its Instagram account.

Both the building and car suffered damages.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known.

CHP: Driver asleep at wheel of Tesla going 70 mph on 101

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Good Samaritan fatally struck on 101 in San Mateo while assisting at crash scene

A Los Altos man driving a Tesla was arrested on DUI charges after CHP officers found him asleep at the wheel while his car, apparently on autopilot, was traveling at 70 mph on Highway 101 in Redwood City early Friday.

The incident occurred about 3:37 a.m., when a CHP unit spotted the gray Tesla Model S traveling southbound on Highway 101 at Whipple Avenue. The officers drove up next to the Tesla and observed the driver, identified as Alexander Samek, 45, passed out at the wheel, according to CHP.

Samek did not respond to CHP’s lights and siren, so the officers positioned their patrol vehicle in front of the Tesla and slowed down, hoping the “driver assist” feature would prompt the Tesla to slow to a stop. Sure enough, the Tesla came to a complete stop in the No. 3 lane of southbound 101, north of Embarcadero.

“Officers approached the Tesla and attempted to wake up Samek by knocking on the window and giving verbal commands,” according to CHP.

Samek finally woke up, was placed in the back of the patrol car and taken off the freeway to the Shell Station off Embarcadero Road at W. Bayshore Road. The other officer drove the Tesla off the freeway.

After a DUI investigation, Samek was arrested and transported to San Mateo County Jail, according to CHP.

“We cannot confirm at this time if the ‘driver assist’ feature was activated but considering the vehicle’s ability to slow to a stop when Samek was asleep, it appears the ‘driver assist’ feature may have been active at the time,” CHP said.

Food for fines at San Mateo County libraries

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Learn to make native California holiday wreaths at Redwood City Library

This holiday season, you can clear your library fines while helping those in need.

Now through Dec. 31, patrons who donate nonperishable food items at participating libraries in San Mateo County will have their outstanding Library fines/fees waived. This is valid only for library fines, not lost or damaged items.

All food collected will be donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank. The food must be in store-sealed cans, boxes, or plastic containers within its expiration date. No glass containers, perishable food or opened containers will be accepted.

For more information, click here.

Participating libraries:

Redwood City Downtown, Fair Oaks, Schaberg, Redwood Shores

Burlingame, Easton

Canada College, College of San Mateo, Skyline College

Bayshore, John Daly, Serramonte, Westlake


Atherton, Belmont, Brisbane, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Millbrae, Pacifica Sanchez, Pacifica Sharp Park, Portola Valley, San Carlos

San Mateo City Downtown Main, Hillsdale, Marina

Main Library, Grand Avenue


Ninth Annual Chanukah Festival

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Ninth Annual Chanukah Festival

This Sunday, Dec. 2, join Chabad Mid Pen for the Ninth Annual Chanukah Festival at Courthouse Square.

Come out and watch as a giant glow in the dark Menorah will be lit. Guests can enjoy entertainment, music, latkes and donuts, and an amazing time for the whole family, including Ben Kramarz live and a Chanukah Gelt Drop.

The event includes children’s activities at 4 p.m. and the Menora lighting at 4:30 p.m.

For more information click here.

Volunteers needed for one-day homeless count in San Mateo County

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Volunteers needed for one-day homeless count in San Mateo County

Volunteers are being sought to conduct the biennial One Day Homeless County in San Mateo County.

In collaboration with community partners, the San Mateo County Human Services Agency will conduct the count on Thursday Jan. 31, 2019, from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m.  The census and survey aim to gather data on the number, characteristics, and service needs of people experiencing homelessness in San Mateo County. They are a crucial component to planning and developing services in the county.

After the most recent count in 2017, the county determined there were 1,253 homeless people the night of Jan. 25 of that year, including 637  unsheltered, living on the streets, in cars, in RVs or tents and encampments, and 616 sheltered, living in emergency shelters or transitional housing.

That overall homeless count in 2017 was a 16-percent decrease compared with the one-day count in 2015, with the biggest decreases made in the numbers of people living on the streets and in encampments.

To volunteer in the next count, sign up here. Volunteers must attend a 2-hour volunteer training.

Photo: San Mateo County Human Services Agency

Max’s Cafe of Redwood set to close Dec. 15

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Max's Cafe of Redwood set to close Dec. 15

Max’s Cafe of Redwood City is set to close on Dec. 15.

The restaurant’s manager told Climate Online that the rent “almost doubled” for its current space at Sequoia Station.

This past summer, the Max’s Cafe at Stanford Shopping Center in Palto Alto also closed after three decades in operation — in part due to rising rents and the influx of new competing restaurants, according to Palo Alto Online. That location, at 711 Stanford Shopping Court, is now home to a Pacific Catch.

Max’s Restaurant is a family-owned eatery that offers deli sandwiches, salads and entree specialties, fresh-baked breads and desserts as well as catering. It continues to operate locations in Burlingame, San Francisco and Auburn. See the company’s website for more information.

Photo: Google Maps

Redwood City downtown preps for festive Hometown Holidays

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Redwood City downtown preps for festive Hometown Holidays

Redwood City’s downtown is about to get holiday-festive in a major way. There will even be snow.

As happens each year on the first Saturday of December, the Redwood City Downtown Business Group this Saturday, Dec. 1, is throwing a significant holiday party in various downtown locations that includes a parade, Snow Lot, meetups with Santa Claus, entertainment and a tree lighting.

The Downtown Redwood City Hometown Holidays event begins at 10 a.m. with the opening of a Snow Lot, Santa photos, musical entertainment, carnival and vendors. The parade starts at 4:30 p.m., followed by the tree lighting at Courthouse Square at about 5:45 p.m.

And, as we’ve reported recently, the Caltrain Holiday trail will roll into Sequoia Station at 6:10 p.m.

New this year, is a Children’s Play area, featuring inflatable jump houses by Kidzz Star Jumpers, located from Jefferson to Main Street on Broadway.

And don’t forget to stop in the San Mateo County History Museum, which will host related activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. including “Tree Treasures,” which includes children’s craft activities such as making old-fashion Christmas tree ornaments. At the museum at 1 p.m.,  the San Francisco State University Handbell Choir will perform holiday tunes in historic Courtroom A. Additionally, children can meet and appear in free photos with Santa Claus.

– Crafts Fair & Children’s Carnival from 10am to 8pm
– Parade at 4:30pm
– Tree Lighting 5:45pm
– Caltrain Holiday Train Arrives 6:10pm
– Live Holiday Music 6:00-8:00pm

– Free admission to the San Mateo County History Museum
– An incredible, kid-pleasing snow play area
– Live entertainment featuring the SOJ Big Band
– Kids’ Play Area
– Santa Claus Photos in the History Museum
– Carnival Rides
– Food and Craft Vendors
– Annual City Hall Tree Lighting on the corner of Hamilton and
– Caltrain’s Holiday Train toy collection train arrives at Redwood City’s Sequoia Station train platform at approximately 6:10pm. Glowing with thousands of lights and holiday decorations, the Holiday Train makes 20-minute station stops, where Santa, Mrs. Claus, Frosty, and the gang get off the train to greet children and spread holiday cheer. Bring the family to join in the fun, along with a new, unwrapped toy to donate to the Holiday Train Toy Drive.

Fore more information, go here:

Photo from last year’s Hometown Holidays event from


Trustees vote to close four Redwood City schools

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Trustees vote to close four Redwood City schools

By Bill Shilstone

Moving to “right-size” the Redwood City School District in the face of declining enrollment, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously Wednesday night to close four schools next year to help close a $4 million budget deficit for 2019-20.

The action came after a final outpouring of emotion, some of it from trustees, at a four-hour meeting at Sequoia High School attended by about 600 members of the school community.

Supt. John Baker said he and his administrative team on Monday will begin the transition for the 1,900 students who will have to change schools.

Choking back tears, Trustee Dennis McBride called on the families of 1,100 students who have fled to charter schools to return to the district. Each child brings about $10,000 to the district under the state funding formula.

The final plan calls for the closing of four campuses: Fair Oaks (current enrollment 221), Hawes (301), Orion (270) and Adelante (464). Orion’s parent participation program will move to the John Gill campus and Adelante’s Spanish Immersion program will move to Selby Lane. Selby Lane’s Spanish Immersion program will merge with Adelante’s; the other 460 Selby Lane students will move. At John Gill, 200 students will have a choice of enrolling in the Orion program or moving to another school.

Displaced students from Fair Oaks, Hawes, John Gill and Selby Lane will be given priority to choose and attend any school. Baker said groups of teachers or students who want to move as a group will be accommodated, in consultation with the district teachers’ union.

“We’re going to come to the schools and ask each parent where they want to go,” Baker said. The district also will provide counseling and emotional support to students and teachers who are moving and will work with community partners to provide transportation to the affected students.

The district faces a $10 million budget shortfall in the next three years because of steeply declining enrollment caused by families moving away or choosing charter or private schools. Current district enrollment is 7,600, about half the combined capacity of the 16 schools.

The board’s actions are designed to deal with the cost inefficiency of near-empty campuses and to cut just over $4 million for the 2018-19 school year by the closings — Adelante ($909,000), Fair Oaks ($568,000), Hawes ($561,000) and Orion ($723,000); staff reductions of $700,000; and obtaining outside funding for summer school $673,757. By Dec. 15, the district must present the pared-down budget for certification by the San Mateo County Office of Education, which monitors school district solvency.

Speakers from Fair Oaks, Hawes and Selby Lane asked the board to delay the decision and find an alternative to closing schools. They argued that the burden of the closings falls most heavily on schools with high percentages of low-income students.

Baker presented new school-by-school ethnic balance and socio-economic figures that he said show a reasonable mix in a district with about 80 percent non-white students. They will be posted on the district website.

Hawes parents called for the board to close Clifford instead, arguing that its families have the resources to deal with moving to a new school whereas Hawes families do not. At Clifford, 36 percent of the students qualify for free and reduced-price meals; at Hawes, the percentage is 65. “A lot of us are single Latino mothers struggling to make ends meet,” said one Selby Lane parent.

Several parents said the district will lose more money than it saves because students will leave the district rather than accept the change.

“This is hard for me,” Baker said. “I grew up here in my career.” He has worked in the district for 30 years, first as a kindergarten teacher at Garfield. “I wish that it were an option not to close schools, but we can’t run in the red. We must right-size our district. If we don’t, the county and state will do it for us.”

Board President Maria Diaz-Slocum, who grew up in Redwood City and has been a district parent, said, “My mother was a single parent, so I understand that we are impacting family lives and adding stress, and I apologize. We have to keep going.”

She said criticism that the district is mismanaging its money is unwarranted. “If students aren’t here, we won’t have money,” she said.

Trustee Alisa MacAvoy noted that California is 41st among states in per-pupil funding and urged parents to write to their legislators and sign the Full land Fair Funding for California Schools petition. “I’ve talked to a lot of colleagues around the state who are in the same boat,” she said.

She said she looks forward to the transition. “Everybody loves their school. Every student loves the teacher. It will be the same at new schools, and we will help.”

Trustee Janet Lawson thanked the Taft parent who offered a welcome to Fair Oaks students, and Redwood City Teachers Association President Kevin Sugar told the affected families “We’re with you,” and that teachers would work to “help ease the pain.”

Hilary Paulson, who is retiring from the board and was attending her final meeting, said the district would not sell any of its sites and that “We have had expert advice on how to do this.”

“It’s sad for Hilary that we don’t get to celebrate all her contributions,” Diaz-Slocum said.


Here is how the Redwood City School District reorganization will affect each of the district’s 16 schools, beginning next school year.

Fair Oaks: School closes and students move to nearby Taft or have priority in transfer to any other school in the district.

Taft: Absorbs students from Fair Oaks. The district will go ahead with the scheduled two-year Measure T modernization on the Taft campus, at the same time working with the community to develop an “innovative, academically rigorous program serving a culturally and socioeconomically diverse population.”

Orion: The parent-participation program, one of the Schools of Choice magnets that draw students from throughout the district, moves to John Gill, sharing the site with the Mandarin Immersion program. The Allerton Street campus closes. Orion families who choose not to move with the parent-participation program have the option to attend their neighborhood school.

John Gill: Ceases to become a neighborhood school. Current students have first priority to stay as part of the Orion parent-participation program or to move to another school.

Adelante: Campus on Granger Way closes, and its Spanish Immersion program, another of the district magnets, moves to Selby Lane in Atherton to join 250 Spanish Immersion program students there. Adelante families who choose not to move have the option to attend their neighborhood school.

Selby Lane: 460 students not in the immersion program have priority in moving to other schools. The preschool and transitional kindergarten programs at Selby Lane become Spanish Immersion.

Hawes: School closes and students move to nearby Roosevelt, Henry Ford or Orion (John Gill) or have priority to other schools.

Roosevelt, Garfield, Hoover, Kennedy, Clifford, Roy Cloud, McKinley Institute of Technology, North Star Academy and Henry Ford: Not affected except to absorb displaced students from Fair Oaks, Hawes, John Gill and Selby Lane, who will have priority to choose and attend any school in the district.

No determination has been made on what will happen to the closed-school properties.

The district office will close and move to a vacated school sometime in 2020,  bringing in a potential revenue of $1.6 million a year. Other projects for the near future are a review of the K-8 vs. K-5/6-8 configuration and a study of the role of North Star Academy, the district’s accelerated-learning choice.

The proposals are designed in part to take advantage of the most popular choice programs, including Roosevelt’s project-based learning, by giving them room to expand and possibly attracting more students.

All the proposals, Supt. John Baker said, “should promote racially and socioeconomically balanced schools and not further segregate our students.” The district has a marked east side-west side imbalance, and most of the district’s enrollment decline is happening on the east side.



Kennedy (6-8)     1,680               706                             82

Hoover (K-8)        1,470               681                             98

Selby Lane (K-8)   1,290               740                            95

Clifford (K-8)         1,110               558                            55

Roosevelt (K-8)     1,110               581                            80

Taft (K-5)                1,080               331                            98

Garfield (K-8)         1,020               570                            98

Roy Cloud (K-8)         990               718                            37

Fair Oaks (K-5)           960               221                            97

Henry Ford (K-5)        780               377                           70

McKinley IT (6-8)        720               408                           96

John Gill (K-5)              660               288                           90

North Star (3-8)           630               536                           51

Hawes (K-5)                  570               301                           98

Adelante (K-5)              550               464                           76

Orion (K-5)                    270                211                          53

Total                          14,890            7,691                          80

*Redwood City School District figures from early fall 2018

**State Dept. of Education figures for 2017-18

Updated ethnic and socioeconomic makeup figures are soon to be posted on the district website.

Photos courtesy of the Redwood City School District


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