Littlefield Auction – End of an Era

Jacques Littlefield passed away in 2009, but his legacy will continue as part of the non-profit Collings Foundation of Stow, Massachusetts.

The Collings Foundation acquired Jacques amazing collection of military hardware, parts and manuals from the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation, which was incorporated as a not-for-profit and founded by Jacques.  The Collings Foundation plans to build a new museum to house and preserve a large part of Jacques vast collection.

The Littlefield Auction Preview was Open to the Public on July 9 and 10, 2014
The Littlefield Auction Preview was Open to the Public on July 9 and 10, 2014

The new museum will be named after Jacques Littlefield and be open to the public about 8 months of the year.

To fund the construction and aid in the process of moving the collection from Pony Tracks Ranch in Portola Valley to its new location, the Collings Foundation held an auction on July 11 and 12th 2014.  The auction was conducted by Auctions America and held on site.  There were two auction Previews Days which were Open to the Public where Collings Foundation volunteers graciously provided information about the collection.

This volunteer explains details about the equipment and its history.
This volunteer explains details about the equipment and its history.
Littlefield Auction July 12, 2014
Littlefield Auction July 12, 2014. This was the Auction day the heavy equipment and tanks were sold. Three of the 5 Select Auction items did not meet their reserves and did not sell. All the other items had no reserves.
Auction Equipment Tag
Auction Equipment Tag

According to Michael Brandt, who led tours of the collection and worked in the machine shop, Jacques had high standards.  When restoring equipment he insisted on quality and authenticity both inside and out.  This is one of the reasons why Jacques collection is so highly acclaimed.

Hopes and dreams for the future are remembered in the books sold by Michael Brandt.

Michael sold many of the books he’s collected over the years to auction patrons.

Rob Collings of the Collings Foundation honored Tom Sator, a lifelong supporter who had ridden in combat in some of the vehicles auctioned.

Rob Collings presents a plaque to Ted Sator at the July 12, 2014 Auction
Rob Collings presents a plaque to Tom Sator at the July 12, 2014 Auction

The auction represented the end of an era for Portola Valley




The Story of Incorporation, Part V

November, 1963: Despite failed attempts at both incorporation and annexation to Woodside, the drive for local control over local issues continued. Officers of the Portola Valley Association were spending countless hours giving Valley opinions to the County about the development plans that continued to pour in for the area. The advocates of incorporation and annexation were united in believing that the status quo would be the ruination of the valley. However, those who were happy to have the government remain in distant Redwood City were also persistent.

Merrill Morshead took his argument to the Palo Alto Times, declaring that “in the sound and fury surrounding the attempt to incorporate as a city, certain arguments against incorporation are not being expressed…As to land presently scheduled for development, it is an undeserved slur at our county supervisors and planning commissioners to assume that they will permit developers to desecrate the valley. On the contrary, with the more extensive resources available to the county, it is better equipped to plan and control development of the area than will be a relatively poverty-stricken city government.”

Alan E. Green chimed in, saying, “Why don’t you newspapers give the people of Portola Valley a chance to speak for themselves, instead of forever trumpeting the persistent squeaking of a few “little idler wheels” of the Portola Valley Association? … If I still have the right as a citizen of the Republic, to want a little MORE FREEDOM …in preference to a lot more unnecessary government, … I surely do wish that you would also find out [what most people want.]”

A glimmer of hope did exist if an incorporation attempt failed once again, an Ace in the Hole. In June of 1962, the Association had asked the County to prepare a Master Plan for the Portola Valley region. The County agreed to do this and applied for a Federal grant to help in financing, to which the feds agreed, allotting $40,000 for the project. Spangle and Associates was hired to prepare the plan, which was to emphasize maintaining the rural, single-family residential, and open space aspects of the area. Creating an urban open space preserve was to be the goal. When the plan was completed, even if the status quo remained, development would be monitored by the County in accordance with its dictates. [The plan was completed and put to use by the first Town Council. They also hired Spangle employee, a young George Mader, who served as Town Planner for almost fifty years.]

However, the Action Group for Local Control had plans for seeking incorporation once again.

Last Action Group Members

They had gained permission to circulate a petition to incorporate on November 19, just one week after the Woodside defeat. The strategy they devised was a one-on-one approach: contact every homeowner, armed with information about the benefits of local control.

Bob Katz was put in charge of organizing the volunteers who would fan out and canvass the neighborhoods. He created a pyramid approach with area chairmen who oversaw neighborhood chairmen. Each neighborhood chairman was responsible for contacting approximately ten homes. This precinct organization and the vigorous outreach of the neighbor to neighbor approach were important factors in the ultimately successful vote.

Three months later, on February 11, 1964 the Board of Supervisors received the completed petition. It contained 1070 signatures, representing sixty percent of those eligible to sign and fifty-four percent of the total assessed land value of the area to be incorporated.  John Bruning, the county clerk, stated that it was the most extensive petition for an incorporation that he had ever received during his long term in office (In addition to signatures, the document contained very explicit and detailed statements about boundaries, zoning, densities, and objectives, prepared by attorney James Morton and planning consultant Lawrence Wise.) The Board agreed that the signatures were proper and well in excess of legal requirements. And, there was not a majority of the assessed value in opposition.

Thus, the next step was a public hearing, scheduled for March 26 and April 9.  In the midst of a large number of supporters, several landowners expressed opposition, but they represented less than 50% of the assessed valuation. The Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to approve the Action Group’s boundaries. They set an incorporation election date of June 23.

As it turned out, nine years after that first meeting to discuss how to reign in excessive development, the people of Portola Valley wanted to incorporate. They had attended countless meetings, received dozens of explanatory mailings on such issues as boundaries, local taxes, fire and police protection and water rights. As many as one hundred had served on committees, and another 250 had helped in one capacity or another.

On June 23, 1964, eighty-one percent of the electorate turned out to vote. 72.8% of the voters, 1061intensively-informed citizens, voted in favor of incorporation. Eleanor Boushey, Nevin Hiester, Bob Brown, Bill Lane and Sam Halsted were elected to the first Town Council.

first town council with captionPortola Valley officially became San Mateo County’s 18th incorporated community on July 14 at 5 PM when required paperwork was filed with the California Secretary of State, Frank Jordan. The first council meeting took place in the MUR of Portola Valley School on July 15. The councilmembers were sworn in by the County Manager, E. R. Stallings, and Nevin Hiester was elected mayor. The business of the new town began.  Various dignitaries and 120 summer school children were in the audience.  A dog slept on the stage.

In a triumphant and graceful report about the years of arduous, widespread volunteer efforts to create Portola Valley, Myron Alexander, Bill Lane and Nevin Hiester conclude: “Thus, the Town of Portola Valley came into existence with the desired boundaries intact, a Master Plan at no cost to the town, with planning control over the western foothills and an opportunity to maintain its residential character, open space and rural ambience through the political actions of its own residents and its own Town Council.”

Town Councils since then have maintained these values.  Here are the members of the 2014 Town Council.

…………………Nancy Lund

2014 Town Council at Planning Retreat.
2014 Town Council at Planning Retreat.

Portola Valley 2014 Planning Retreat – Part 4

Part 4 – Discussion

This is a video of Portola Valley Planning Retreat held at the Town Center May 18, 2014.  It followed the background session (Parts 1,2 and 3) and has the Town Council, Commissions and Public comment.
Some audio was lost so this video is incomplete, but includes most of what was said.

The stated objectives of the retreat were to review land use planning and the framework for planning decision making in Portola Valley with a critical eye to the future

This video is also over an hour long.
The Public discussion begins at 46.43 minutes.

This was a public meeting with Town Council, Planning Commission and ASCC in attendance  along with members of the general public.

Portola Valley 2014 Planning Retreat – Parts 1, 2 and 3.

Parts 1, 2 and 3 – Background and Legal Issues

This is a video of Portola Valley Planning Retreat held at the Town Center May 18, 2014.  It contains the general background information about history of the General Plan and its implementation along with legal issues and responsibilities.

The stated objectives of the retreat were to review land use planning and the framework for planning decision making in Portola Valley with a critical eye to the future

This video is over an hour long and includes Steve Toben’s remarks, “Relic or Blueprint” (also included as a separate 14 minute video on this blog), Planners George Mader, Tom Vlasic and Ted Hayden’s remarks (starts at 14.13 minutes) along with those of Town Attorney, Leigh Prince.(starts at 49.54 minutes).

This was a public meeting with Town Council, Planning Commission and ASCC in attendance  along with members of the general public.

Dotty Kennedy

Dotty Kennedy and her husband Hugh made an agreement when they were dating that they’d live in California one day. After a year in Milwaukee, looking at a frozen lake all winter, they made the move. They found a quarter acre in Brookside Park with a vista over the Bovet Ranch for $2500, a huge amount in 1953. She remembers that from their house it was like looking out at the whole world.

Doty Kennedy, October 14, 2009
Dotty Kennedy, October 14, 2009

At first, they watched the Bovet cows grazing and then saw Corte Madera School built. Brookside got sewers when the Sequoias went in, and the Kennedys wondered if they could afford to hook up. When the neighborhood wells began to dry up, folks were buying water in garbage cans from friends. And then California Water Co. came in and saved the day. Later, when they moved to Zapata, they were startled to hear from an equestrian that they couldn’t buy the particular lot they had in mind because it was the horse trail! That turned out to be inaccurate. She says it was a sociable place in those days, with progressive dinners being a regular event.


Mary Lou Coale Moses

Mary Lou Coale Moses and her first husband, Frank, came to Portola Valley from southern California when Frank went to work for SRI.  They moved into a rental house that SRI found for them on Corte Madera Road when only part of it was paved. Later, when the Rathbuns moved to Alpine Hills, the Coales bought their nearby house for $26,000. Their four little boys loved being there.  “It was wonderful, just right for us,” she says. Frank, who loved the mountains and was a rock climber, was active on the Incorporation Committee in the days before the successful vote in 1964. He then served on the first Planning Commission. He was killed in an airplane crash. Some  time later, Mary Lou married Lincoln Moses, a Stanford professor who served on the school board. They lived on campus for a while but returned to Corte Madera Road. Lincoln remembered when Alpine Road wasn’t paved. She says Portola Valley felt like a community where you could make a difference. She liked that.

Documenting life and times in the Town of Portola Valley, California