In Appreciation

[This post begins with an appreciation of some of Redwood City’s Halloween-decorated homes; if that isn’t your thing, non-Halloween-related material begins about midway through.]

Every year at this time I try to get out into Redwood City’s residential neighborhoods, in an effort to ferret out some of the better Halloween displays. I’ve always loved Halloween, both as a kid and as a parent taking my own kids out trick-or-treating. One of the things I liked best about trick-or-treating with my own little ones — in addition to witnessing the fun that my kids were having, of course! — was being able to appreciate the myriad ways people decorate their homes. My kids are grown and gone, though, so although I suppose I could go out on Halloween night and just wander around looking at decorations, somehow I never get around to doing that (and a single adult wandering around on Halloween probably looks a bit suspicious). Although I’m not out on the night itself, in the week or two before Halloween I do try to structure my walks around looking for particularly great decorations. Not only does this give me something different to write about, it gives me yet another opportunity to show my appreciation for the efforts of my fellow Redwood City residents.

Subjectively, based on my limited explorations — Redwood City simply has too many residential streets for me to cover them all — there aren’t as many decorated houses as in years past. I did observe quite a few that had a pumpkin or two out front, signaling that perhaps they were still going to participate in the great candy giveaway, but putting those aside, it seems to me that in past years more houses really made an effort as compared with this year. Even so, there are a number of standouts, only a handful of which I ran across on my own. Fortunately, Redwood City’s Parks, Recreation & Community Services department once again held their Haunt Your Home decorating contest, and they’ve announced the winners through a very slick video that anyone who is into Halloween should watch. You’ll find their video, plus a map showing the location of all of the winners, on their page here.

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I was happy to see that my favorite, the Turnsworth Cemetery (shown above; you’ll find it at 224 Iris St.), was awarded “Judges Favorite” in the city’s contest. But based on the video, this over-the-top display — which you’ll really want to see at night — has some hot competition.

Incidentally, some of the houses that were awarded by the city qualify as “scariest”; you might want to watch it just to see which houses to avoid, in the event you are going out with young, impressionable ones.

Not every house needs to go quite to prize-winning levels with their decorating to gain my appreciation. For instance, I just love the simple humor that a couple of skeletons, artfully placed, can give:

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And there is this house, with some extremely tasteful luminarias that are decorated like pumpkins:

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(They’re on the wall; zoom in to get a close look, or drop by the house at 351 Iris St.) I wouldn’t mind having some of these luminarias for my own home.

Over in Redwood City’s “alphabet streets” — on G Street — I was driving our Meals on Wheels route (with my wife) and saw this place:

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The cat on the roof is deflated during the day, of course, but I really like the trio skeletons who seem to be kicking back, having a laugh. This house seems to have a bit of everything, with pumpkins, spiders, a graveyard and, of course, skeletons and black cats. What more could you ask for? Maybe some bats…

Finally, two weeks ago I mentioned that I had come across two dark angels in the Stambaugh-Heller neighborhood. In response to that post, one of my readers let me know that Redwood City has at least one more, on Hillview Avenue:

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I could go on and on. I passed by, and took pictures of, a number of other houses with decorations worthy of admiration, but I only have so much room in these posts, so I’ll leave it with these. But I do hope that more people feel comfortable trick-or-treating this year. Sadly, just today the Pfizer vaccine was approved for kids ages 5 to 11; those kids won’t be able to be vaccinated in time for Halloween. That bodes well for next year, but may continue to put a damper on trick-or-treating for this year. Fortunately, the weather, at least, appears to be cooperating: although the next solid chance for rain is on Monday (November 1), it doesn’t appear that there will be any rain during the afternoon and evening hours on Sunday.

On Monday we should get some real rain. Currently the forecasts indicate that the rain will likely start just before most of us get out of bed, and continue for about 12 hours or so. It isn’t forecast to be heavy, though, and won’t be accompanied by high winds. Thus, it should be a much gentler storm than we experienced nearly a week ago. That storm, which featured heavy rainfall at times and fairly high winds, broke a lot of branches and took out power for some. I went out on Monday morning and observed some of the storm damage first-hand. For instance, this property on Hopkins Avenue wound up with an impressive pile of downed limbs and leaves:

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I also noticed a similar amount of damage in Stafford Park, although the Parks department was on the job and cleaned most of that up by late morning. Thankfully, it appears that for the most part the damage was inconsequential.

On Wednesday, while out looking for Halloween decorations, I of course also checked in on a couple of projects to see how things were going. My walk took me through Red Morton Park, where I noted that Arroyo Ojo De Agua (which feeds into Redwood Creek) was still running, days after the storm had passed on:

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While at the park, I looked in on the Veterans Memorial/Senior Center project. I took my usual photos, but ended up being scooped by roving aerial reporter Sam Johnson, who sent me some of his latest, which are far better than anything I could take from ground level:

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The above photo shows the portion of the site at the corner of Madison Avenue and Nevada Street. This is where the Herkner Pool and the NFL Alumni building used to be located.

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This second photo shows the remainder of the L-shaped parcel upon which the new Veterans Memorial/Senior Center building will soon be constructed; it is the portion all along the one block of Nevada Street that extends (or did extend; this bit of street will be abandoned and turned into a “promenade”) into Red Morton Park. This part of the L is where the Senior Center Annex/Old 49’er building and the small par course used to be. As you can see, the ground is fairly smooth and level, and seems ready for underground utilities and foundation work, which will likely start very soon.

I didn’t get over there, but while I’m talking about the park I wanted to share this really terrific photo Sam took of the Magical Bridge Playground:

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It looks a bit like an amusement park, doesn’t it? The Magical Bridge Playground is a really special place, and Redwood City is lucky to have such a place to call its own. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend dropping by sometime and checking the place out. You’ll find the playground at the Valota Road side of Red Morton Park; there is a driveway there that leads to a large parking lot around the white Armory building that is visible in the photo above. [The Magical Bridge Foundation continues to build similar playgrounds in other Bay Area communities. If you are as impressed with their work as I am, consider a donation to help them spread the joys of inclusive play. Just about everything you could want to know about the foundation and their work, including how to donate, can be found on their website at]

Coming back from the park, I checked on the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Cleveland Street, which, on Monday, finally had its new signals activated. This intersection has been reconfigured, and the traffic patterns are new. I took this picture from Cleveland Street, looking towards Jefferson Avenue (and, beyond, to North Star Academy and the McKinley Institute of Technology):

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As you can see, cars approaching Jefferson Avenue from Cleveland Street can now only turn right. Bicycles, on the other hand, are permitted to proceed straight ahead (on a green light, of course). This is to optimize traffic flow for those doing drop-offs and pick-ups at the schools, and to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists going to and from those schools.

I also noticed that the pedestrian-activated flashing lights at Clinton Street — just one block towards El Camino Real along Jefferson Avenue — have also been activated. Clinton Street is part of the Peninsula Bikeway, and the addition of these signals, which will stop traffic on Jefferson Avenue as needed to allow cyclists and pedestrians to cross this heavily trafficked street, is welcome indeed. I know that in the future I will be using one or both of these intersections as a safer way to cross Jefferson Avenue on foot.

While out and about I ran across what is probably the nicest Little Library that I’ve yet seen:

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You’ll find this one at 461 Iris St. Not only is the box itself beautifully designed to look like a modern house, it has a small appendage on either side that hold small succulents, echoing the water-efficient landscaping that these folks have installed in their front yard. At first I was wondering how difficult it would be to get books in and out of that little front door, but of course when you pull on the handle the entire front face of the box opens. This fact is cleverly concealed through the use of hidden hinges attaching the front face to the rest of the box. Bravo! Although I love all of the Little Libraries I find throughout the city (and I’m always finding new ones) it’s wonderful when someone goes to this much trouble to make theirs really special.

Lastly, just because I can’t seem to do a post without saying something about at least one downtown project, I spent some time at the County Government Center complex this week watching the crews working on the County Office Building #3 project:

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This building is being built on the block-sized lot across Hamilton Street from the historic courthouse. As I watched, much of the activity was focused on building some sort of structure out of steel beams; there was a lot of welding going on. Given that this new county office building is going to be a five-story mass-timber structure made primarily out of wood, I’m curious to see what these steel beams are for. Beyond this as-yet lone structure, the site is covered with a maze of rebar and wood forms, all in preparation for the concrete foundation that will soon be poured. Given that one of the features of mass-timber buildings is that they can be built quickly, using pre-assembled wooden components, don’t be surprised to see this building rise very quickly once that foundation is complete.

Here’s hoping that you have a fun and safe Halloween. But I put a disclaimer at the top of this post for a reason, knowing that not everyone is as into Halloween as I am (and as some of my fellow Redwood City residents clearly are!). Just today, in fact, while driving for Meals on Wheels, I noticed this balcony on one of the high-rise apartment buildings along Marshall Street:

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If you look closely, you’ll see that these folks already have Christmas decorations up! Perhaps they simply leave them up all year, or perhaps they just don’t like Halloween and want to show their love for Christmas. Either way, if you are itching to get a dose of Christmas cheer after yet another difficult year, know that you are not alone…

Redwood City is interested in getting your opinions on the street closures and “parklets” that were created to enable outdoor dining, and thus help restaurants unduly impacted due to COVID-19. The city is considering whether to extend the life of, or even make permanent, these temporary changes. As someone who has advocated for the closure of some sections of Broadway for a number of years now (I published my first blog post on the subject on March 6, 2015, and have written more about it since), you can bet I’ve already responded to the city’s survey. But whether or not you agree with me, please consider taking the brief survey and letting the city know how you feel. The results of this survey will, I hope, be an important factor in the City Council’s decision-making process, and the more responses the city gets, the more the survey results will accurately reflect the will of the people. You’ll find the survey here. As yet there is no deadline by which to complete the survey, but at some point, of course, the survey will be closed. Thus, don’t wait too long to respond.

Somewhat buried in a staff report on a City Council Consent Calendar item related to funding a portion of the Highway 101 Pedestrian Undercrossing project, was this, which explains, somewhat, why the undercrossing — which looks to my eyes to be complete — isn’t yet open to the public:

While the project is near completion, the Contractor still has a number of outstanding items to address.

The report goes on to say “The original contractor schedule has the project reaching completion in 210 calendar days, but actual construction has taken more than 900 calendar days.” Indeed, this project has gone on for far too long, and needs to be wrapped up.

I almost missed it, but this Sunday, October 31 (yes, Halloween!) is the last day for people to apply to become a member of Redwood City’s Arts Commission.

The general objectives of the Arts Commission are to ensure that art, culture, and creative experiences are woven into the fabric of the community, and to encourage, foster, facilitate, establish, and maintain art and programs for all matters of artistic and cultural significance in the City.

The commission currently has one partial-term vacancy, which expires on May 31, 2022, so this would seemingly be a great way to dip your toe into Redwood City’s arts scene. Applications are due by midnight on Sunday; the link for the online application can be found here.

While you are at it, ARTS RWC — “a monthly roundtable of artists, arts advocates, arts organizations and representatives of city government with the mission to advance Redwood City and neighboring cities as a vibrant and sustainable arts community” — is hoping to create a Redwood City Center for Creativity, They envision this center as:

  • A living art space for all in the community to connect
  • A destination for residents and students of all ages to engage in participatory experiences and interact with diverse art forms
  • A place for people up and down the Peninsula to explore their creative selves

To this end, they want us all to take a brief survey to let them know if a local arts center would benefit us, our families, and our community. To take the survey, go to this web page and scroll about halfway down; there you’ll find links to a special set of surveys for kids, and links for those adults who speak English, Spanish, and, I believe, Chinese.

6 thoughts on “In Appreciation

  1. My daughters and I did a voyage around Redwood City to look at all the fantastic Halloween creations!! Thank you for that tip on your post Greg. I would never have known otherwise!

  2. Hey, that’s my little library! Thanks for the kind words. In return, let me praise you for a great blog, which I’ve enjoyed for several years now.

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