Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lobbying for Jane Baker Park

This Monday, June 3, I will ask my fellow Councilmembers to support my efforts to rename Laurelwood or Sugarloaf Park "Jane Baker Park". 

In the early 1970's Mayor Jane Baker was a community activist who led the fight to preserve Sugarloaf Mountain as an open space.  She eventually ran for a seat on the San Mateo City Council, where she served for 20 years and was San Mateo's first female Mayor.

Last week, her family gave a $50,000 gift from the trust of Mayor Baker.  It was her desire that the money be used to preserve and maintain Sugarloaf Mountain. 

I believe Mayor Baker deserves a park in her honor.  I can think of no better tribute than to name one of the two parks at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain in her honor. 

I will be encouraging my Councilmembers to support an effort to rename one of the two parks in her honor.

If you have an opinion on this matter, I would love to hear from you. 

Mayor Jane Baker

San Mateo gets gift for park preservation: Jane Baker trust gives city $50K to maintain Sugarloaf Mountain
May 24, 2013, 05:00 AM By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal

San Mateo’s first woman mayor, Jane Baker, spent years of her life in a passionate effort to save Sugarloaf Mountain from development.

Although she died nearly two years ago at the age of 88, her legacy to preserve the hillside between San Mateo and Belmont will live on as the city just received a $50,000 gift from her trust to preserve and maintain Sugarloaf Mountain.

The gesture prompted Mayor David Lim to request a study session to consider renaming Laurelwood Park to “Jane Baker Park” along with a plaque that highlights her efforts. “Sugarloaf would not be there without Mayor Baker’s efforts, so naming the park in her honor would be a fitting tribute,” Lim wrote in an email.  

Her husband Bill Baker unexpectedly paid a visit to City Hall Wednesday and asked to see City Manager Susan Loftus. He handed Loftus the check and a note that read the money was a gift, including the principal and any interest earned, for the maintenance and preservation of the city-owned area known as Sugarloaf to keep it in its natural state.

Loftus asked Bill Baker to come to a City Council meeting for recognition of the gift, but he declined. He told Loftus he just wanted to make sure the money went to good use.

The city had already planned to acknowledge the Sugarloaf volunteer trail makers at a City Council meeting in July since it will be Parks and Recreation Month and will likely recognize the Baker gift at that meeting.

Baker was first elected to the City Council in 1973 and served on it for 20 years.

Called a “trailblazer” by her former colleagues, Baker was the likely impetus for term limits in San Mateo after winning five elections.

She also lobbied hard to be called a “councilwoman” rather than “councilmember” as her male counterparts on the council took the title of “councilman.”

She was known to be anti-development and began her political career in the campaign to save open space on Sugarloaf Mountain in San Mateo in the early 1970s.

She was only the second woman to be elected to the council and was appointed mayor six times.

Before moving to San Mateo, she was the hostess and producer of a television cooking show in San Francisco. (650) 344-5200 ext. 106

Thursday, May 23, 2013

OP-ED: Questions and answers about city’s role with Ice Chalet

Over the past two weeks, I have received a great deal of correspondence from neighbors about the pending closure of the Ice Chalet at the Bridgepointe Shopping Center.  Today, the following Op-Ed article was published in the San Mateo Daily Journal:


Over the past seven months I’ve met with members of the ice skating community associated with the Ice Chalet at Bridgepointe Shopping Center.

I’ve met in coffee shops, restaurants, over the phone, even in my own home.

I’ve spent long hours researching what role the city of San Mateo could legally play in this issue.

As the date for the closure of the Ice Chalet approaches, I’ve been contacted by many members of the community asking me to intervene.

In meeting with people, questions are raised about the ability of the San Mateo City Council to respond to this issue.  Below are answers to some recurring questions based on my understanding of the issues.

These conclusions are based on my analysis of the situation, and do not represent the City Council or the city of San Mateo.

1). Can the City Council force Bridgepointe to keep the Ice Chalet open?

No. The Ice Chalet sits on private land, and is not owned or operated by the city of San Mateo. Under a 1998 master plan amendment with Bridgepointe, the owners are required to have an ice rink or an “alternative recreational facility” on site.

The “alternative recreational facility” is subject to approval by the San Mateo Planning Commission, a decision-making body independent of the City Council.  The language of the 1998 amendment means Bridgepointe cannot be forced to keep an ice rink at their site. Bridgepointe has not applied to the city for an “alternative recreational facility” on their site, and it would be premature for the Planning Commission to rule on this issue without a formal application from Bridgepointe.

2). Can the City Council amend the master plan to remove the term “alternative recreational use” and force Bridgepointe to keep an ice rink?

No. This would be illegal “spot zoning.” Courts would most likely see such a move as an arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable use of city power against a private property owner.

If the city tried to force a unilateral change in the use of Bridgepointe, we would most likely be sued and needlessly waste taxpayer money on a losing cause. As a public servant entrusted with safeguarding taxpayer dollars, I will not commit to this course of action.

3). Since the City Council voted to close the 7-Eleven, can’t it vote to keep the Ice Chalet open?

No. The closure of 7-Eleven on San Mateo Drive earlier this year was a different land use issue entirely.  The property at 7-Eleven was zoned “residential.” A permit for the 7-Eleven business was issued by city staff in error.

The council did not revoke the permit because we “disliked” 7-Eleven, we revoked their permit because no business could lawfully operate on that land since it was zoned for houses.  The Ice Chalet sits on property already zoned for business. As stated previously, the city can not unilaterally force Bridgepointe to operate an ice rink. 

4). Can the mayor use his powers to force the ice rink to stay open?

No and Yes. As mayor, I’ve no authority to tell a private property owner what to do with his property outside of zoning laws.

However, as a community leader concerned over the loss of a recreational facility for children and families in our city, I’ve informally acted as a mediator between private investors from the ice hockey community and Bridgepointe.

For more than seven months, I’ve worked with these ice hockey investors to mediate discussions to try to secure new land for an ice rink on the Peninsula and extend the Ice Chalet lease currently set to expire on June 1.

Although my efforts have not yet been successful, I continue to be in contact with both sides seeking an equitable solution to preserve vital recreation services for our community.

5). The City Council and Planning Commission have already accepted an off-site use for alternative recreational facilities.

There has been no decision on this issue by the city of San Mateo. Without a formal application, there are no grounds to rule on any issue. It is also illegal for a member of the City Council or Planning Commission to pre-judge how they would decide a land use issue ahead of time.


I continue to monitor other concerns raised by the community. I’ve confirmed that no demolition of the ice rink building or interior will be allowed without permits.

I’ve also asked city staff to research whether Bridgepointe is required to have an “alternative recreational use” in place if the Ice Chalet closes its doors on June 1.

I do not pretend to have all the answers or to be 100 percent correct in my analysis. The best I can promise the community is to do my homework, listen to people and make the best decisions governed by the laws I am sworn to uphold. 

I will continue to seek input and suggestions from all parties, and welcome comments from anyone who would like to discuss this issue in more detail.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Marcus Clarke - New Economic Development Director

San Mateo's new Economic Development Director is a familiar face. Welcome back from Motown Marcus Clarke!

Attached below is a press release from the City of San Mateo:



Contact: Susan M. Loftus, City Manager, City of San Mateo – (650) 522-7000 –

Marcus Clarke Returns to City of San Mateo

As City’s New Economic Development Manager
San Mateo, CA, May, 2013… The City of San Mateo is pleased to announce that Marcus Lee Clarke, San Mateo’s former Business Liaison and Economic Development Specialist, will return as San Mateo’s new Economic Development Manager.

Clarke is a visionary economic development leader bringing a spirit of collaboration and focus on results to San Mateo’s economic development program. Clarke previously served in the City’s Economic Development Department from 2007 to 2011. During his tenure, Clarke created strong relationships throughout the community while leading the City’s business attraction, retention and expansion efforts and working closely with the Downtown San Mateo Association, Chamber of Commerce and other business groups.
Some of his previous successes in San Mateo include assisting hundreds of new and existing businesses, building an energetic buzz about doing business in San Mateo, preserving the 25th Avenue Farmer’s Market and initiating the need for faster internet service throughout the downtown.

Clarke left San Mateo in 2011 to further expand his economic development skill base as an esteemed Detroit Revitalization Fellow, serving as a Business Development Manager for the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. During his time in Detroit he created a city-wide business-to-business program, entitled "D2D." It has the potential to create 7,700 jobs and generate $2.5B in local business revenue over the next ten years. The program launched in March 2013 and has already generated national attention.

Clarke holds a Master’s Degree in City Planning with a concentration in Community and Economic Development from University of California, Berkeley. He is a Bay Area native and has worked with community and economic development non-profits in Oakland, San Francisco and the Central Valley. He is a published author, researcher and former Hillsdale High School Track Coach.
"I am honored to serve the City of San Mateo in the capacity of Economic Development Manager and for the opportunity to work with City Council, City staff and the local business
community," says Clarke, "I intend to continue a strong legacy of the City’s economic development efforts in order for San Mateo to reach its full potential."

"We are excited to welcome Marcus Clarke back to San Mateo," says Susan Loftus, San Mateo City Manager, "Marcus has a proven track record of collaboration and working well with the Chamber, Downtown San Mateo Association and business community. Marcus’ upbeat, "can do" attitude is contagious. Along with his great people skills, his time in Detroit has further honed his economic development and management abilities. Marcus has the right combination of collaboration, innovation and leadership to take our Economic Development efforts to the next level."

Friday, May 3, 2013

New Bike Racks In Downtown San Mateo

This week as part if the City's Bicycle Master Plan, the City started installation of these cool new bike racks.

If you haven't ever left your car at home and ridden a bike to downtown, what are you waiting for?!?