Overcrowding is city's problem

AS A former San Mateo-Foster City School District trustee and mother and grandmother of children educated in Foster City and San Mateo, I'm deeply distressed by our City Council's position in Foster City that "overcrowding in local schools is not our problem."

Our excellent local schools have attracted families who value quality education. Families move to Foster City because of the quality of the neighborhood schools. In the next two to three years, our student population will grow by an estimated 700 students in schools already crowded with portable classrooms.

The City Council has suggested that the school district seriously consider increasing class sizes from 20 to 30 students in grades K-3. As Watchdogsanmateo.com has stated, "That's the political and policy equivalent of a city letting go 50 percent of its police officers and firefighters."

This matter ultimately affects us all, especially our young children. Will our children be chauffeured to classrooms outside our city? Or will they be stuffed into classrooms of 30 that were meant for 20? Will we see a decline in the traditional excellence of our schools?

A large part of our home values in Foster City is attributable to the quality of our schools. School quality affects our entire community and all residents. Since a key job of our City Council is to protect home values, every Foster City council member has the responsibility to work proactively and cooperatively with our school district to solve the problem of overcrowding in our schools.

Phyllis Moore

Foster City

Shocking reaction from San Carlos

ABOUT FIVE weeks ago, I took my family out to dinner in downtown San Carlos on Laurel Street. I noticed that all the trees had illegal and dangerous wiring for the lights. There is an electrical outlet at the base of each tree, and then 16/2 extension cords are wrapped around the tree trunk to connect to current to the plug for the lights. These extension cords are not rated for exterior use, only interior use. The insulation will deteriorate if exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun. A person touching exposed wire could be injured or killed, especially if standing in water on the sidewalk. Can you say "million-dollar lawsuit?"

So I made a phone call to the building department to report the illegal wiring. I left messages with the department, but no one called me back. Finally I got through to a building official who informed me that it was the jurisdiction of the public works department. I left several messages, and then finally someone called me back and agreed with me that it was a condition that needed correcting. Nothing got done, however, and when I called back, I was told that it was the responsibility of the parks and recreation department.

Later I was informed by an official at the public works department that it was being referred to the San Carlos Chamber of Commerce.

Weeks have passed, and the situation has still not been brought into compliance with the building code. Someone needs to correct this dangerous situation, which exists on all the trees on Laurel Street in downtown San Carlos before someone gets hurt.

Art Sirota

Redwood City

Peninsula bridges to nowhere?

CALTRAIN'S BRIDGES to nowhere? That is a distinct possibility right here in San Mateo. I recently attended a few hearings concerning the high-speed rail possibilities and the replacement of the aging Caltrain trestles at several San Mateo locations. While the latter made eminent good sense, and has been on the drawing board for some time, last year we voted to invest in high-speed rail from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Whether you agreed with it or not, it appears to have a good chance of coming our way.

Now here's the rub. At a recent City Council hearing on the subject it was noted that only with an underground tunnel would our council agree to have high-speed trains pass through our town.

As Caltrain and the high-speed trains would share the right of way along with electrification of both, that might well make the bridge replacements unnecessary.

In fact they may become scenic bridges without purpose. Would unneeded bridges be a rational way of spending capital funds?

The only argument I heard was that you never know when an earthquake might damage these old bridges and high-speed may well be 10 years out if at all.

Well, these structures are subject to constant inspection and maintenance, so would that justify "all ahead full" on a project that may well have to be torn down or substantially modified in a very short time?

I think paying off any contractors involved and putting the replacement project on hiatus until it's sorted out just might be a better plan.

Mike Caggiano

San Mateo

Houses on salt flats is lunacy

I HAVE read with grave concern a new study by the Pacific Institute, "The Impacts of Sea-Level Rise on the California Coast." It predicts that, driven by global warming, the ocean along California's coastline will rise nearly 5 feet over the next century. This is an even greater rise than formerly thought, as it takes into account recent changes in glaciers and ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland.

Protection of existing infrastructure around our Bay is a formidable challenge; this includes San Francisco Airport, Highway 101 and many thousands of dwellings. San Mateo County residents should know that we are the state's No. 1 threatened county. More than 100,000 of us are at risk, and fully $24 billion of the state's $100 billion at-risk infrastructure lies in the inundation zone.

In the face of these dire warnings, will Redwood City approve Cargill's plan to place billions of dollars of new housing infrastructure out on the city's Bayfront salt ponds?

To do so would be sheer lunacy, a blatant disregard for scientific thought. My fervent wish is that attention to these serious findings will prevail. This ill-conceived project must be summarily struck down.

Marianna Raymond

Redwood City