North Fair Oaks airs complaints

In a neighborhood as diverse as North Fair Oaks, it’s a challenge getting residents to agree on the community’s most pervasive challenges — let alone how they and county officials should resolve them.

Residents held court during three meetings last February, providing leaders with a laundry list of complaints and concerns in the unincorporated Redwood City neighborhood. Those leaders will return to the neighborhood tonight to report on what they heard — and what can be done to remedy problems ranging from gang activity to pockmarked pavement.

“We’ve begun coordinating with outside players, such as police, residents and schools, to address some things,” said Matt Seubert of the San Mateo County planning department. “But with respect to infrastructure and traffic items, the implementation depends on funds, and on community consensus.”

Councilwoman Laura Caplan would like to see fewer North Fair Oaks businesses selling alcohol. “If we want to improve quality of life, I think we need a reduced number of outlets for alcohol,” she said.

Residents lodged some serious concerns against the sheriff’s department; some claimed there was not enough community policing, or even accused officers of racial profiling.

“Individuals living in areas that are predominantly populated by minorities can sometimes feel like officers do profile,” said county Undersheriff Carlos Bolanos. “We can’t contact anyone without probable cause, and race plays no part in the development of probable cause.”

However, Bolanos acknowledged ongoing gang activity in the neighborhood, and said officers work with the countywide task force to put a lid on increasing amounts of gang violence.

“We rely on residents to call us when they observe gang-related activity,” Bolanos added.

One outcome of this year’s meetings is that more residents are becoming connected and interested in working together to resolve problems — and that will be one key to improving the neighborhood, Caplan said.

The North Fair Oaks meeting takes place tonight at 7 p.m. at 2500 Middlefield Road, Redwood City.

City concerns

Some top grievances of North Fair Oaks residents

» Public safety: Gang presence, lack of community policing, racial profiling, drug dealing, number of neighborhood liquor stores

» Neighborhood quality: Street sweeping, loud music, lack of trees, pavement condition, lack of street lights

» Housing: Overcrowding, lack of affordable housing, lack of homeless shelters, subdivision of large lots

» Transportation: Safety of crosswalks, speeding, safety in major intersections

» Community services: Quality of local schools, lack of community parks and cultural centers, lack of job-training center

» Economy: Lack of neighborhood-serving retail, no Latino Chamber of Commerce, storefront condition

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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