Go To Search
EmailPrintFacebookTwitterYouTubeRSS
Click to Home
George Rodericks

City Manager's Blog

The City Manager's Blog is an online educational tool to provide general information to the community in open communication style. Periodically, the City Manager will post articles of general interest covering topics such as the Town's budget, budget process, capital projects, upcoming meetings, community issues, public safety, and general Town operations.

Articles in the blog are not designed as press releases or Town publications, rather, they are written in more of a conversational style. The Blog does not have a comments feature but readers are free to respond to the Blog and its entries view email directly to the City Manager.

Jul 20

That's A Wrap! - July 19, 2017

Posted on July 20, 2017 at 8:24 AM by George Rodericks

Thats A Wrap Logo

Council Meeting Date: July 19, 2017
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/user/TownOfAtherton/featured

Details of each item can be found via the links to Staff Reports within the narrative. (video malfunctioned just prior to the last item on the Agenda)


The City Council met for the July Study Session and Regular Council meeting on Wednesday, July 19, beginning at approximately 6:15 pm. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, the Council moved to Presentations where recognition was given to Commander Joe Wade and Sergeant Sherman Hall for their above and beyond work while the Town recruited for its new Police Chief. The Council also recognized John Mattes upon his retirement for his years of service to the Town. Lastly, the Town recognized Officer Dan Larsen for his service as the Town's School Resource Officer and hosted his promotion to Sergeant. Following presentations, the Council heard an annual report on the Mosquito and Vector Control District from the appointed representative.   

Report.jpegFollowing Public Comment, the Council moved to the City Manager's Report. The City Manager's Report is prepared monthly as part of the City Council's Regular Agenda. In addition to current reports from the City Manager, it includes departmental updates on the various happenings around Town such as reports from Administration, Community Services, Planning, Police, and Public Works. 

After the City Manager's Report, the Council moved to the Consent Agenda consisting of Items 8 through 16. Items on the Consent Agenda are considered routine in nature and are generally considered in one motion and adopted by a single vote of the Council. Included in this month's Consent Agenda were minutes, bills, authorization for the purchase/surplus of police vehicles, appointment of voting delegates to the League of California Cities Conference, certification of the June 6 Election, adoption of Baker Company, 1st Battalion, 506th of the 101st Airborne, acceptance of work and notice of completion for the 2017 Cape Seal and Overlay Projects, and Rejection of Claim of Cyrus S. Safai. Item No. 16, Rejection of Claim, was pulled form consent and upon hearing from the claimant, the Council continued the item to their next regular meeting in September 2017.  Following discussion, the Council approved the balance of the Consent Agenda.

Next up was Public Hearings. The first item was Item No. 17, a Public Hearing amending fees and charges related to activity at Holbrook Palmer Park and Authorization for Waiver of Permit Fees for Dead Trees. The Council heard the staff report and discussed issues related to the cost of dead tree inspections, the public purpose associated with encouraging residents to take action regarding dead trees, and the subsidy required by the Town if the fees were waived. Following public comment and discussion, the Council adopted the Resolution increasing the fee for specific events at the Carriage House, enacting a Drone Fee of $150 per day in the Park, and authorizing the City Manager to waive fees associated with the inspection and permitting of removal of dead trees. 

Item No. 18, a Public Hearing to adopt an Ordinance to expedite processing for electric vehicle charging stations was up next. The Council heard the staff report. Following public comment and brief discussion, the Council introduced the ordinance for first reading and scheduled the 2nd reading for September 2017. 

Item No. 19 was a Public Hearing to adopt a Tentative Parcel Map to create two lots at 336 Walsh Road. The Council heard the staff report and discussed issues related to site development, channel improvements, and the protection of heritage trees. Following public comment and discussion, the Council approved the Tentative Parcel Map authorizing the subdivision. 

Next up was Item No. 20, an ordinance to call the special election for the Special Parcel Tax for November 7, 2017. The Council heard the staff report and discussed issues related to the length of the parcel tax measure and annual review of revenues and expenditures related thereto. Following public comment and discussion, the Council adopted the ordinance calling the election making modifications to the measure to correct a typographical error and setting the term to 3 years instead of 4, all other components of the tax to remain the same. 

Next up was the Regular Agenda. The first item on the Regular Agenda was Item No. 21. Here, the Council heard the companion item to Item No. 20. This item set the priorities for written arguments, rebuttal arguments, crafting of the arguments, authorized signatories, and the appropriations limit. The Council heard the staff report and discussed issues related to the establishment of a Council subcommittee to craft the primary argument, expressed support for all members of the Council signing the argument and selected a date for a possible Special Meeting to approve the Argument as July 28 at 8 am. Following public comment and discussion, the Council adopted the Resolution, the Mayor selected Council Member Lewis to serve as a member of a Subcommittee with himself to craft the primary argument, and authorized rebuttal arguments to be filed for the Measure. 

Item No. 22, Civic Center Report was up next on the Agenda. Staff provided a brief staff report outlining scopes of work for the project architect related to deductive alternates for the project, temporary staging for the Library, approval of a Letter of Intent with the SFPUC, and approval of the Statements of Qualifications for 5 General Contractors that will be authorized to bid on the project. The Council discussed issues related to the general contractors and expressed support to limit the list to the 5 selected, discussed whether to include or exclude the potential deferral of the historic council chambers remodel, and discussed the deal points related to the SFPUC. Following discussion, the Council approved staff recommendations. 

Item No. 23 was a review of the Caltrain Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project Tree Avoidance Minimization and Replacement Plan. Here, representatives from Caltrain made a presentation noting most significantly that they had found a way to use centerline pole alignment for the majority of the route through Atherton. By doing so, Caltrain significantly reduced the tree removal impact to the Town resulting in 0 trees being set for removal on private property and 2 trees on public property (Holbrook Palmer Park). Caltrain discussed their tree replacement and pruning plan. It is anticipated that work in Atherton will not begin until Fall 2017. A copy of the Caltrain Presentation can be found here. The information in the Presentation provides more current impact information than is presented in the Staff Report since Caltrain was able to confirm centerline pole alignment just prior to the meeting.  

Item No. 24, Authorization for the City Manager to execute a Memorandum of Understanding with Las Lomitas School District for a proposed Water Capture Facility was up next. Staff provided a staff report and the Council discussed issues related to Town benefits of the project for flood control, regional benefits related to water quality, regional opportunities for project credit (financial and flow-related) up and down stream, regional projects that the Town could be participating in at some future date and how this project interplays, how the collaborative $13.6 million Caltrans funding operates, public outreach related to the proposed traffic signal past and future, traffic control and parking plans for the school project, ingress and egress on the site after development, safe routes to school and the need and benefits of the proposed traffic signal, benefits to the school district for the project, necessary tree removal, long term maintenance obligations and the potential for cost share partners, and ultimately the District financial ask to the Town of $750,000. Following public comment and discussion, the Council approved the Memorandum of Understanding returning it back to the School District with a counter-offer reducing the Town's proposed financial contribution to $500,000 over 5 years, reinforcing the need for extended public outreach related to the proposed traffic signal, and reinforcing the desire for more specific information related to future maintenance costs and a commitment from other agencies for participation.

The last item on the Agenda was Item No. 25, authorization for the City manager to negotiate a lease agreement and easement with Atherton Fiber for a hub location and easements at the Civic Center. Staff provided a brief staff report. Following public comment and discussion, the Council expressed support for the project and authorized staff to negotiate the lease and easement agreements.
 
Following Council Reports and Final Public Comments, having cleared the entire Agenda, at approximately 11:16 pm, that, as they say - was a wrap!


The Council will hold its next Study Session meeting on September 6 at 4 pm. A tentative Special Meeting for the Parcel Tax Primary Argument has tentatively been scheduled for July 28. The Mayor will set the Agenda and call the Special Meeting prior to that date. The Council is DARK for the month of August. 


George_2.jpgThanks for reading!

George Rodericks
City Manager
Town of Atherton
grodericks@ci.atherton.ca.us




#AthertonTalks
#AthertonCivicCenter

Jul 17

June 2017 City Manager's Monthly Report

Posted on July 17, 2017 at 11:51 AM by George Rodericks

City Manager's Monthly Report - June 2017

Monthly-report.pngThe City Manager's Monthly Report Blog is a consolidation of issues, communications, and Town activity during the prior month that have been reported to the City Council as part of their weekly email from the City Manager. Sometimes information is duplicated over the course of several emails to the City Council to ensure that it is reviewed

As I review the information to include in the Monthly Report, to the extent possible, I remove duplicate updates (older emails get shorter) in favor of the most recent - although some will be duplicative if there is other relevant information included. 

The Report reads with the most recent first. As always, if you have any questions or comments regarding the Monthly Report, please feel free to contact me directly via email or phone.

My weekly email to the City Council typically goes out every Friday.

Follow us on Twitter -
https://twitter.com/Atherton_CM 
https://twitter.com/TownofAtherton

Like us on Facebook - 

https://www.facebook.com/AthertonCityManager/
https://www.facebook.com/TownOfAtherton/

Regards,

George Rodericks
City Manager
Town of Atherton
(650) 752-0504
grodericks@ci.atherton.ca.us
#AthertonTalks


June 30, 2017 Weekly Council Notes


1. Articles of Interest


2. Civic Center RFQ Responses

We received 8 responses to the contractor RFQ for the Civic Center Project. The respondent proposals can be found online here via this link. These are big files and will take a bit to download. The Project Management Subcommittee (Rose Hau, Clive Merredew, and Steve Dostart) together with staff will be reviewing the proposals and rating each for recommendation to the City Council. Respondents were:

* BHM Construction, Inc.
* Hensel Phelps
* Lathrop Construction Associates, Inc.
* Midstate Construction Corporation
* Overaa Construction
* S.J. Amoroso Construction Co., Inc.
* Swinerton Builders
* XL Construction

3. Planning Commission Actions - June 28, 2017 Meeting

At the June 28 Meeting, the Commission took the following action: 

- Accepted the report on the 2017 Annual Master Plan Update and TDM Monitoring Plan at 150 Valparaiso - Sacred Heart Schools
- Approved the Special Structures Permit at 94 Cebalo Lane to allow a 1st floor addition to the main residence with a legal non-conforming sideboard setback. 
- Approved the Special Structures Permit at 168 Elena Avenue to allow a garage basement under an accessory building.
- Approved the Special Structures Permit at 88 Reservoir Road to allow portions of the vertical sidewalls of the main residence to exceed 22 feet. 
- Recommended the City Council approve the Tentative Parcel Map at 336 Walsh Road to subdivide the parcel into 2 lots (Public Hearing Scheduled for City Council - July 19).

Next meeting of the Commission is July 26, 2017. 

4. Bayfront Canal MOU

Staff responded to recent County inquiries regarding the Town’s participation in the MOU. Staff response was as follows - in order for the Town to consider signing on to the MOU: 

  • all other affected agencies are at the table in equal measure (Woodside, Portola Valley, Stanford, Menlo, RWC, County, etc.);  - All improvements in and along the Atherton Channel are taken into consideration (Marsh Road, Las Lomitas, etc.) for credit - plus any future improvements that the Town seeks or needs to do to improve the channel are incorporated into the MOU as a cost share amongst the participating agencies;  
  • Given the size of Atherton's potential share, any anticipated payments will need to be done over multiple fiscal years; 
  • Atherton has the opportunity to independently verify the Jurisdictional Flow Contributions in Table 1 - Exhibit A; and 
  • Atherton staff time and/or consultant costs associated with the Bayfront Canal Project are considered credit toward our share.
These are starting points for continued conversation around the project. 

5. Before/After Hours Work Exemptions

Staff created a permit exemption site on the Town’s website that will be updated whenever an exemption permit is issued. With the website now active, the Commander distributed the following to staff as an update to the existing process:

What is an Exemption Permit?
 
An Exemption Permit, also referred to as an “after hours construction permit,” allows certain types of work to be done outside the normal M-F, 8am-5pm time frame.  The intent is to allow for emergency work to be done (tree fallen through a house and needs to be removed) or for continuous work such as a large concrete pour (this is the one we get 90% of the time).
 
What an exemption permit is not…
 
A permit to do construction work after hours or on weekends because the “project needs to be finished.” A permit to do construction work after hours or on weekends because of scheduling issues, “that’s the only time my contractor can finish the work.”  While these examples are definitely inconveniences for the homeowner, they do not meet the criteria for an exemption permit, and therefore you should not issue a permit for these reasons.
 
How do I issue an exemption permit?
 
First, ask the requestor what the permit is for, because often times the type of work to be done does not qualify for an Exemption Permit.  Once you determine that the work does qualify for an Exemption Permit, then do the following:
  • Gather all the information needed on the Construction Exemption Application and Permit form and make sure the applicant understands that there is a 72 hour requirement to notice surrounding residents before performing the exempted work (when it’s applicable…emergency situations that require immediate work don’t have to notice the neighbors).
  • Send the applicant to the Town side (Post Office) and tell them to pay the required fee of $62 per day for the Exemption Permit.
  • Instruct the applicant to bring their receipt of payment back to the Police Department.
  • After both you and the applicant have signed the permit, make a copy of the permit (to be posted in dispatch) and then scan a copy of the permit and send it to your email.  
  • Issue the original signed permit to the applicant and give the copy to the dispatcher.
  • Send a scanned copy of the Exemption Permit via email to Police Management, Dispatchers, Monica Diaz, Mike Greenlee, and George Rodericks.

Dispatchers- There is now a section on the Town website that will allow viewers to see who has a valid exemption permit.  When the applicant pays the $62 Exemption Permit fee, someone from the Town side (Judi or Helen) will post that information on the website.  When the work has been completed, please notify the Town side and let them know the work has been done so that they can remove the permit info from the website.

6. Local Building Comment

Staff received the following unsolicited comment from a local builder that does work in Menlo Park, Woodside, Hillsborough, etc.:

“...Atherton is the only jurisdiction that works with the contractor to move things forward, and that he prefers to work in Atherton because our staff is clear, professional, efficient, and collaborative.”

7. Leash Law in the Park

We received a comment from a resident regarding the recent placement of the speed sign in the Park. As the Council is aware, this sign is often placed a street locations where speeding occurs, cyclist stops, vehicle stops, and in the Park. When in the Park, the sign rotates from speed awareness to the leash law. Verbiage alternates for current topics of concern. Off-leash complaints is the highest park complaint received. Speeding in the Park is a close second. 

The Police do conduct proactive patrols in the park for enforcement to gain compliance (warnings then tickets). We did recently receive a concern from a parent of an autistic child. The child is very afraid of being approached by off leash dogs at the Park. That is what prompted the recent reader board deployment. 

In the last 12 months, the PD has responded to 30 off leash complaints in the Park. One involved a dog bite to a person. There may be a need for more highly visible signage in the Park. Staff is working toward identifying good locations for such signage. 

8. Police Chief Meeting with Police Activities League/Neighborhood Watch

The Chief recently met (as a group) with representatives from the Police Activities League and Neighborhood Watch. He provided the following to them as follow-up from their conversations and topics covered:

"I enjoyed meeting all of you this morning and I am really looking forward to working on important issues with you in the future to keep Atherton a great place to live and raise a family.  I have attached links for the dog walker community security program and the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) programs that I spoke about this morning for increased community engagement opportunities.  My hope is to get these established and moving forward this early Fall.  I have also included the Atherton crime rate information and Atherton false alarm response information I spoke about this morning.
 
 
 
Atherton Crime Rates

Our officers and professional staff are always vigilant and work extremely hard to keep our residents and our town safe and secure.  According to the annual crime data collected by the FBI, the crime rate in Atherton is 59% lower than the average of the whole of the State of California, and 57% lower than the national average.  When looking at violent crimes, Atherton has a 90% lower violent crime rate than the California average, and 89% lower than the national average.  The outstanding low crime rate in Atherton is the direct result of the proactive community engagement and the effective partnership between our police department team and our residents.  Our “No Call Too Small” policing philosophy drives every aspect of our internal and external law enforcement and community oriented policing operations. 
 
The link below for Area Vibes gives Atherton an A for quality of life related to low rates of crime.
 
 
Atherton PD False Alarm Responses

In 2016 officers respond to 600 false alarms.  False alarm responses require at least 2 officers to respond with a minimum of 30 min patrol time for each officer or 1 hour of patrol time for each alarm response.  One a very low end time estimate, the 600 false alarm responses equal 600 patrol hours.  This is almost 4 months of one full time FTE doing nothing but responding to false alarms at an approximate cost of over $35,000.  In the last 16 years, our officers responded to 22 alarms which were true alarms resulting in a burglary investigation.  The last real alarm we responded to was in July 2015.  I have attached a link to an article form the National Center for Community Problem Oriented Policing on the issue of false alarms.  We will be working on developing a community education and outreach program to start the false alarm response mitigation and reduction plan.
 
I have provided the link below to the Federal study on the real problem and costs to law enforcement operations related to false alarm responses.
 
 
9. BPAC Statistics

On Tuesday, June 27, the Chief attended the Bicycle Pedestrian Safety Committee meeting. To get a sense of the car/bicycle and car/pedestrian collision picture and history in Town, he conducted a detailed review of these collisions from January 2012 to December 2016.  This 5 year review revealed the following statistics:
 
Car/Bicycle Collisions
 
- A total of 30 collisions in the last 5 years for an average of 6 collision per year.
- Of the 30, 12 were caused by the bicycle rider.
- Of the 30, 3 were non injury, 25 were minor injury, 2 were serious injury, 0 were fatal.
- The majority of the collisions occurred on El Camino Real and Middlefield Road.
 
Car/Pedestrian Collisions
 
- A total of 13 collisions in the last 5 years for an average of 2.6 collisions per year.
- Of the 13, 2 were caused by the pedestrian.
- Of the 13, 1 was non injury, 7 were minor injury, 4 were serious injury (1 caused by the pedestrian), 1 was a fatality (caused by the pedestrian).
- The majority of the collisions occurred on El Camino Real and Middlefield Road.
 
Analysis/Formulated Response

In my opinion and past experience, with the high level of car/bicycle/pedestrian traffic in the identified areas and throughout town, the number of car/bicycle and car/pedestrian collisions is very low.

However, I would continue to like to drive this number down with the goal being 0 collisions of this type per year.
Commander Wade will be working with the Patrol Sergeants to develop strategic enforcement emphasis and targeted patrols in identified areas/times/days of the week.  An important part of this plan will also include community outreach and education efforts.

10. Caltrain Tree Mitigation - Electrification

Staff met with Caltrain this week to ascertain the tree removals to take place along the fence line in the Park. In total, Caltrain intends to remove 9 park trees and 3 trees along their ROW corridor between the Watkins Avenue crossing and the Felton Gables Gate. Even though 3 of the trees are on Caltrain ROW, all 12 trees provide a buffer to the Park along the rail line. The 3 trees Caltrain wants to remove on their ROW have their trunk in the ROW but the tree itself has grown into the Park. 

There are three types of work proposed to the trees in the area - light pruning (<25%), heavy pruning (>25%) and removals. To assist with visualizing, the trees are marked with different colored ribbon to illustrate the plan. 

Yellow Ribbon - Tree to remain after a <25% pruning. No mitigation required.
Orange Ribbon - Tree to remain after a >25% pruning. Mitigation is 1 new tree planted for each tree pruned.
Pink Ribbon - Tree suggested for removal. Mitigation is 3 new trees for each tree removed. 

11. Park Fence - Felton Gables

Staff met with the neighbors regarding fence replacement. The City Attorney is working on the Encroachment Agreement for the concrete fence. At this time, the property owner bordering the Park with the concrete fence has not made a decision with respect to next steps. The Town is conducting an inspection of the fence condition and will make a recommendation on next steps to the City Council at a future meeting. Mitigation/repair may mean replacement of the entire fence line. The Town is also conducting an initial visual inspection of the entire Park boundary for the existence of gates. These will be located and an  informal assessment made of whether they are on Town property or private property. A full report will be presented to the Council for next steps - which will include a recommendation of whether we should conduct a formal survey of the Park. 

The property owner with the wood fence is moving forward with replacement of the wood fence entirely on their private property without encroachment on the Town’s property. They have been advised that if they require an encroachment permit or if the fence is located on Town property (or a joint property line) - no gates will be permitted. Staff will be reaching out to Menlo Park to advise that we do not permit private gates opening onto the public park. If Menlo Park choose to enforce our requirement, no gate will be allowed. If not, the Town would have to take action from its side to either blockade or adopt an ordinance making it unlawful to cross into the park from a private gate. 

Special Event Permits - as of June 30, 2017

This is a list of upcoming Special Event Permits approved or under review. 
  • July 2, 2017 - Polo Matches - Circus Club - 10 am - 7 pm
  • July 4, 2017 - 4th of July BBQ - Circus Club - 4 pm - 9 pm
  • July 8, 2017 - Private Wedding Reception - Lloyden Drive - 2 pm - 8 pm
  • July 9, 2017 - Polo Matches - Circus Club - 10 am - 7 pm
  • July 16, 2017 - Polo Matches - Circus Club - 10 am - 7 pm
  • July 21, 2017 - Market Inc. Family Picnic - Menlo College - 8 am to 7 pm
  • July 22, 2017 - Wedding Reception - 148 Greenoaks Drive - 4:30 pm to 11 pm
  • July 22, 2017 - Company Picnic - Menlo College Quad - 9 am - 4 pm
  • July 28, 2017 - Guidewire Company Picnic - Menlo College - 11 am to 5 pm
  • July 29, 2017 - Guidewire Company Picnic - Menlo College - 8 am to 5 pm
  • August 6, 2017 - Company Picnic - Menlo College Quad - 9 am - 4 pm
  • August 8-14, 2017 - Horse Show - Circus Club 
  • August 11, 2017 - Menlo Charity Gala - Circus Club - 7 pm - 10:30 pm
  • August 11, 2017 - Company Picnic - Menlo College Quad - 9 am - 4 pm
  • August 12, 2017 - Company Picnic - Menlo College Quad - 9 am - 4 pm
  • August 12, 2017 - Family Wedding - James Avenue - 4 pm - 10:30 pm
  • September 3 & 10, 2017 - Polo Matches - Circus Club - 10 am - 7 pm
  • September 4, 2017 - Labor Day BBQ - Circus Club - 5 pm - 9 pm
  • October 26, 2017 - Halloween Party - Circus Club - 7 pm - 9 pm
  • October 27, 2017 - Football Under the Lights - Sacred Heart - 4 pm - 10:30 pm
  • October 2018 - Menlo Circus Club - Palo Alto Elks Concours d'EleganceCar Show

June 23, 2017 Weekly Council Notes

1. Articles of Interest


2. SVWMA Board of Directors Meeting

I attended the Board of Directors Meeting for the SBWMA on Thursday. Council Member Widmer was present as a member of the Board. Here is a link to the Board Packet for the meeting. The Board discussed the Amended and Restated Draft Model Franchise Agreement. No changes were made to the Agreement. The Board discussed various issues related to the Agreement to include compensation. The Board approved the Agreement with Council Member Widmer voting no (agreeing to the Agreement but disagreeing with respect to vendor compensation - contract cost). The process for continued negotiation at the local agency level was clarified as well as a few of the items that the agencies can negotiate specifically. I will be connecting with Recology to setup an initial meeting and get a “roll up” of all existing programs and services. 

3. ABAG PLAN Meeting

Today I am attending the ABAG PLAN Meeting. I serve on the Board. The Town is a member of ABAG PLAN for General Liability. One of the primary issues of discussion by the Board is what to do with respect to the ABAG/MTC Merger and its impact, if any, on ABAG PLAN. The Board is seeking to ensure that PLAN maintains a stable and cost efficient risk sharing organizational operation that continues in the best interest of all member agencies. ABAG PLAN will maintain an integral part of the ABAG organization. However, PLAN is compelled to evaluate alternatives to the administration of the program given the circumstances (merger) and other uncertainties associated with consolidation into the MTC. The Board will be reviewing responses to the issued RFP at today’s meeting. 

4. Las Lomitas Water Capture Facility Maintenance MOU

Staff is working with all parties on this issue. All have now responded in one fashion or another (Woodside and Menlo Park). 

5. Trees adjacent to Historic Town Hall

The property owner adjacent to Town Hall is desirous of trimming or removing the trees along the Town’s property bordering their own (debris, safety, etc.). Staff is looking into the details of the Civic Center Landscape Plan to determine what trees are staying or being removed and will work with the property owner to trim and/or advance removal where identified. 

6. Special Olympics Torch Run

On Friday, June 16, members of the Police Department participated in the torch run to support the Northern California Chapter of Special Olympics. Our portion of the run was the 2-mile stretch of El Camino Real from Encinal Avenue to 5th Avenue. The final destination of the torch was San Francisco. Since 1981, as part of an initiative of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, law enforcement agencies have been very engaged supporters of Special Olympian athletes and events. 

7. WAZE - “No Through Traffic

There was a recent Daily Post article regarding the Town of Los Altos Hills’ success with WAZE by using “No Through Traffic” signs to lessen the impact of through traffic - limiting WAZE’s algorithm. While staff used this method heavily during the Marsh Road Project it required constant communication with WAZE to reapply the algorithm every few days. Los Altos Hills’ appears to have managed a root change in the algorithm (at Waze’s discretion). We will be in contact with WAZE to see how this could be applied locally to streets like Polhemus, Camino al Lago, and others. It would help new users, but for those that have already learned a short cut or know the area - not so much. 

8. Jim Lewis - Volunteer Work

Jim Lewis will be doing some volunteer work on Saturday at the corner of Marsh and Middlefield from about 8 am to 12 pm. He will be repainting the yellow bollards on the corner and possibly the fire hydrant as well. He has executed a volunteer waiver form, attended a tailgate safety meeting regarding job site hazards, been issued safety vest and eyeglasses to be worn at all times on the site, been issued some traffic cones and “work ahead” signage and been issued some of our standard colored paint for the project. 

PD has been notified. All materials and PPE (personal protective equipment) will be returned to the Town on Monday. 

9. Rail Committee - Recognition of Rosemary Maulbetsch

The Rail Committee will be making a recommendation to the City Council to recognize Rosemary in some manner within the Civic Center Project at or near the rail station with some sort of plaque. Once they make the recommendation, it will move to the Council for ratification/authorization. Staff would then incorporate something within the project.

10. Workplace Civility

During the Chief’s initial meetings with members of the PD, many expressed dissatisfaction and concern at the level of workplace gossip and negative work attitudes that impacted morale and caused other workplace issues. The Chief followed up with discussion around a “Workplace Civility” policy similar to what he had implemented in other agencies. He also advised that he has zero tolerance for destructive workplace gossip and counterproductive negative attitudes. He developed and circulated an internal Lexipol Policy on workplace civility amongst the department that was well received.  

11. Menlo College/Menlo School - Bus Parking/Parking Lot

The College and School will be making improvements (maintenance and rehabilitation) to Cartan Field. Part of those improvements will be a safety fence/net between the ball field and the tennis courts. The improvements have been reviewed by Planning and comply with local requirements as well as applicable Conditional Use Permits. However, because there remained one issue of non-compliance at the College with respect to another Conditional Use Permit related to the driveway/parking lot at the rear of the Cafeteria and issues related to bus parking on Alejandra, staff required that a solution for this issue be found before we would allow the other to move forward. 

The College stepped up and with the School worked out a bus parking and turn-around solution as well as parking improvements in an attempt to solve the issues. Permits for both have been pulled. Staff will require that the bus parking/turn around and parking lot be finaled by the Building Department before final permit sign-off for the Cartan Field improvements. 

12. Council Letter to County Board of Supervisors

Judi is working on finalizing the letter to the County Board of Supervisors from the Council. Please stop into City Hall today to sign the letter. Wally Sleeth has also drafted a letter (his signature) which will be attached to the Town’s letter. Letters will be emailed and mailed today. I will be hand-delivering a copy of the letter to the Board of Supervisors on Monday. 

13. Mason Brustchy - Mosquito Abatement District Report

Mason apologized for missing Wednesday’s meeting and plans to attend the July Meeting to provide a brief report. 

14. Park Fence - Felton Gables

Steve Tyler is reaching out to the neighbors in Felton Gables regarding the fence replacement and the agreement being drafted by the City Attorney for encroachment and liability. The property owner is a bit overheated on the response by the Town and regrets raising the issue. Steve will be meeting with the property owner on Tuesday to attempt to navigate a solution. Steve will also be assessing the integrity of the existing fence and will be conducting a visual survey to document all fences along the Park (public/private) and the location/existence of private gates. 

I did not receive specific direction to craft an urgency ordinance related to fences but when we return to the Council with findings of existing fences and gates the Council can discuss that possibility further. Steve did relay that at one time (years ago) there was a chain link fence along the entire border of the Park negating any private entry points. The Council debated the issue and directed that the fencing be removed in favor of being good neighbors to the private property owners adjacent to the Park. The Town could reinstall chain link blockades to these private property gates on Town property. 

There are a couple of options related to the existing fence. If Steve’s assessment reveals it is in safe condition, the issue will rest with the property owner for moving forward. This is unlikely - there are numerous areas of the fence where the posts are deteriorating and that could lead to failure at some point in the future - when is anyone’s guess. The Town could move forward with replacing the concrete slats with wood slats. These are less heavy and could be installed in a manner to lessen the load on the posts and their deterioration - the posts may also be reinforced. The Town could remove and replace the entire fence at our cost. The property owner could move forward with replacement as discussed by Council - property owner cost. Given the discussion at the Council meeting - I do not believe we have the option of doing nothing. 

June 16, 2017 Weekly Council Notes

1. Articles of Interest


2. SVWMA Board of Directors Meeting

This is a link to the June 22, 2017 SBWMA Board of Directors Meeting. Item 9A is a discussion of the Recology Amended and Restated Model Franchise Agreement. 

3. Regional Agency Meeting - July 12

The meeting has been set for July 12 at 5:30 pm. Attendees from Atherton are Mayor Lempres, Chair McLaughlin, and myself. From Redwood City are Mayor John Seybert, Vice Mayor Ian Bain, City Manager Melissa Stevenson Diaz, and Assistant City Manager Aaron Aknin. From Menlo Park, Mayor Kirsten Keith, Vice Mayor Peter Ohtaki, City Manager Alex McIntyre, and Assistant City Manager Chip Taylor. 

4. All Schools Summit Meeting

The Police Chief is setting up an “all school admin staff” summit meeting. This is planned for October and will be continued annual. This will be part of the pre-planning for the active shooter exercise in the Spring. 

5. PG&E Pole Replacement Program

Last year, PG&E completed a Pole Test and Treat Program wherein every 10 years, PG&E inspects more than 67,000 wood utility poles in cities and unincorporated areas in San Mateo County. Based on the inspection, a number of poles are scheduled to be replaced in Atherton. Over the next 6 months, PG&E will be replacing 13 poles in Atherton. They will be obtaining a singular encroachment permit for the replacements. They will typically place a temporary pole and then follow with the permanent pole closely behind. Resident notification will be done by PG&E’s Outreach Team. 

As the activity draws closer, the Town will assist with public notifications. 

6. Encinal Elementary School Picnic

The Encinal Graduation Event at the Park was on Thursday. They employed a loudspeaker at the event. Shortly after it started up, I received a couple of complaints. We notified Catering by Dana and Park staff. The event organizers were immediately contacted and ceased its use. I suspect that the system could have been used at a lower decibel level and/or with less repetitive voice - the complaints were that the speaker was loud and repetitive. 

7. Almanac Release of Building Permits

The Almanac has been providing a summary of building permits issued in Menlo Park by address with a brief description of the permit and its valuation. They will be gathering publicly available information from Atherton and expect to do the same in the coming months. 

8. Animal Care Shelter Update

As you may be aware, the County is in the midst of their “design-build” project for the Animal Care Shelter. Linked here is an update from the County on the project. The project is approximately 32,890 square feet plus outdoor space for play and kennels. Design costs for the project were $1.2 million and construction is estimated at $19 million for a total cost of $20,200,000. This is approximately $614/SF. 

The current estimate for the new City Hall is $613.24/SF. 

9. Special Parcel Tax Webpage

I created a Special Parcel Tax webpage on the Town’s website. It is currently live, but not linked off the main page. Once complete, it will be linked off the main page and promoted. I am still gathering some historical information about the Parcel Tax. The website provides information on the Tax, what it funds, who pays it, how much do they pay, how it’s collected, and how the revenue compares to the Town’s basic property tax and overall budget. 

June 9, 2017 Weekly Council Notes

1. Articles of Interest


2. Building Fee/Capital Facilities Reserve Fund - CORRECTION

At the Council Meeting on Wednesday (June 7) I was asked if the $505,000 Facilities Reserve (from old building fees) was included in the $2.9m Construction Facilities Fund. I think my answer was NO. If so, that is incorrect and I misspoke. The Construction Facilities Fund originally had $2.1m in it but was augmented by the $505,000 and an Construction Time Limit Penalties to come to $2.9m. 

3. Dispatcher Alternative Workweek

As the Council is aware, when the Town was in the midst of a CalPERS Audit, the Auditors identified that the Dispatchers were working an alternative workweek as their “normal schedule” and did not have a Government Code exemption (commonly referred to as a 7k exemption) like Police Officers for Overtime. As such, any “regular schedule” - which may include overtime hours - is pensionable. 

The Dispatchers work the traditional 12 hours shift consistent with the shifts worked by Police Officers. Their alternative workweeks were in force, but not defined in detail within the MOU. Therefore, CalPERS required the Town to fix both of those discrepancies. 

This occurred with the last MOU. Dispatchers continue to work their 12 hour shifts. One calendar week they will work 48 hours and the next calendar week they will work 36 hours. However, as a defined alternative work week, their standard work week expires mid-shift on one of the days - meaning - they work 36 plus 6 for one week and 36 plus 6 for the next week. This is identical to how a 9/80 schedule works under the Fair Labor Standards Act. This was CalPERS’ point. 

This has been fixed but we have been trying for the last few months to devise a software fix to allow the Dispatchers to code their hours properly from one pay period to the next. This has now also been fixed. 

There is no change operationally. 

4. SBWMA TAC Meeting - June 8

On Thursday, June 8 I attended the SBWMA Technical Advisory Committee Meeting (TAC) where I serve as Vice Chair. We discussed FY 17/18 SBWMA Projects, Fire Suppression Action Plans/Insurance, status of Franchise Negotiations, and heard an Annual CalRECYCLE Report.

It was also mentioned that the Negotiation Committee and SBWMA Board will be meeting with Recology to hammer out an additional detail in the Model Amended Franchise - Cost. This is largely related to their proposed General Administration Cost Allocation. It is anticipated that the Model Amended Franchise may be moved out to a July SBWMA Board Meeting as opposed to review/approval at their June Meeting. 

Staff will be bringing a next steps memorandum to the Council for our June 21 Council Meeting to outline the current status and recommended next steps for Atherton. This will include a recommendation that the Council authorize the Subcommittee of Widmer/Wiest (together with staff) to negotiate with Recology for Atherton-specific issues as part of the model franchise recommended by the SBWMA. Some parts of the model franchise cannot be adjusted (basic cost and term), but there are Atherton-specific issues that must be rolled forward from the existing franchise and the opportunity to additional tweaks in the amended franchise. 

5. Trauma Kits

Atherton Police Cars will be outfitted with Vehicle Mounted Trauma Kits. The Trauma Kits are advanced first-aid kits with life-saving technology developed for wound sealing. The advanced hemostatic gauze sticks to wet tissue, forms an adhesive gel that seals wounds to stop bleeding. 

6. Fire District Purchase of 28 Almendral (adjacent to Fire Station No. 3)

As the Council is aware, via public agenda posting, staff became aware of a Closed Session item on the May 31 Fire Board Agenda contemplating the purchase of 28 Almendral - residential property east of Fire Station No. 3. Last night I was asked by the Mayor if I had heard anything about the purchase, so I circled back with the Fire Chief regarding the potential purchase and asked if he could advise as to the status. He responded around midnight that he was not authorized to share anything. 

I received a call from a Council Member this morning advising that they had received several calls from reporters last night about the purchase and advising that indeed the District was the highest bidder (approx. $4.5m) and the reporters were asking for the Town’s position on the purchase. I circled back again with the Chief advising him of the press reports and the amount of sale - and my disappointment that my Council were being caught blind by reporters. He responded that “That was his direction, which has now obviously changed” - he asked that Council members refer reporters to the District. 

In anticipation of the District’s successful purchase, staff outlined what would be asked for from a land use perspective. The District would be exempt from Town land use requirements, but, we would ask the District to merge the two properties via Lot Line Adjustment process.  We would also recommend they request a Zoning Map Amendment to zone the site PFS which is the zoning designation of the existing fire property on Almendral and allows public facilities.

The Liaison Subcommittee met on Monday afternoon at 3 pm and discussed a wide variety of issues. These included: 

- Regional Traffic, Traffic Mitigation, and Emergency Response - Marsh Road, Lindenwood, ECR, Middlefield
- Residential Development and Land Use - Emergency Response, Home Square Footage, Uses
- Schools and Community Emergency Response (Active Shooter Exercise, Assembly Points)
- Community Engagement (Council Goals)
- CityGate Report and Standards of Cover (Station #3 - Land Acquisition) 
- Matrix Study Update (Status)

A couple of follow-up items came from the meeting. These include:

- Staff will connect with Stanford regarding their offer of “offset” for traffic impacts
- Town and District will connect with County to discuss impacts of the County’s Middlefield Road project in Fair Oaks
- Chief’s will connect on courtesy home security inspections
- Chief’s will connect on the Town’s planned Active Shooter Exercise in the Spring

7. Las Lomitas Memorandum of Understanding (Town/District) (UPDATE)

Staff continues work with the District on hammering out the MOU for the Project. As mentioned prior, the District is seeking permission to make improvements along Camino Al Lago to assist with parking and drop-off within the Town’s right-of-way as well as a traffic signal at Walsh Road to facilitate the new parking lot design and traffic pattern.The District “ask” is that the Town consider paying the cost of the signal and associated improvements. In exchange, the District is not asking for any long-term lease obligation for the water capture facility on their property. The initial estimate for a full signal with improvements is between $500,000 and $750,000. 

The District is asking for 5 things within the MOU:

- Contribution to “campus improvements” over a period of years - initial ask is $750,000 paid out to the District over a 3-year period. Staff has countered at $500,000 paid out over a 5-year period. The District has informally accepted a 5-year pay out BUT desires the full $750,000.  
- Permission for the District to install the signal (paid for by the Town’s contribution)
- Easement for right-of-way improvements along Camino Al Lago (school cost)
- Town ownership/maintenance of existing culvert (currently ours anyway)
- Town support on future SR2S Grants (non-financial)

This will be coming to the Council at the July 19 Meeting. 

8. CCAC Membership - Clive Merredew

As the Council may be aware, CCAC Member Clive Merredew may be relocating in the early fall. He would like to remain on the CCAC until his relocation (out of Town). After relocating, he would like to continue on as an ex-officio member of the CCAC and continue on to assist the Project Management Committee. 

Clive has been a valuable asset to the team and staff welcomes his continued participation. The Council may or may not need an additional appointee to the CCAC. If its continuing efforts are needed as a group, the Council may consider a replacement appointee even with Clive continuing as an ex-officio member. 

9. Project Management Committee (PMC) - Deduct Memorandum

The CCAC’s PMC Committee has been working with staff to identify potential design deducts that can be added to the design and bid documents. The PMC targeted a deduct of approximately 10%. While there will be value-engineering opportunities after award of contract, deduct options can be built into the design and bid documents to allow a reduction in scope prior to award of the construction contract. 

The full report will be provided for the June 21 Council Meeting. In brief, the PMC has identified the following for the Admin/PD/Public Works portion of the Project:

- Deferral of the Corporation Yard
- Deferral of the Council Chambers
- Replacement of Clay Tile Roof with Asphalt Shingle
- Replace CMU Fencing with Chain Link
- Simplify/Reduce Interior Finishes
- Change Traction Elevator to Slower Hydraulic Elevator
- Hydroseed in-lieu of planting

These represent potential cost savings of $2.7 million.

In brief, the PMC has identified the following for the Library portion of the Project:

- Defer Town Hall Renovation
- Remove selected custom built furnishings
- Replace Rammed Earth Exterior Walls
- Simplify/Reduce Interior Finishes
- Replace Wood Window Framing with Aluminum 
- Hydro-Seed in-lieu of Planting

These represent potential cost savings of $2 million.

Staff reviewed and concurs with the recommendations of the PMC. The PMC is not recommending that the project be altered to incorporate these changes; rather, that it is worth investing the extra design fees so that these alternatives can be designed and included as deductive alternates in the bid package to allow the Town to make deductive design decisions should the bid cost for the project exceed available funding projections. 

The PMC believes that the current design is reflective of the years of work by the community, Civic Center Advisory Committee, Council and staff to design a functional and attractive Town Center that provides space for the Town’s needs while simultaneously providing a welcoming environment for residents to conduct Town business. 

Lastly, it should be noted that the recommendations by the PMC are that if a deduct is selected for the Project, such as the Council Chambers or Historic Town Hall. Renovations, those deducts should not be eliminated or deleted, but rather should be considered for a future phase of development. 

10. Measure A Election Results

The County has released election results and continues to release updated counts until certification on June 26. The latest result is from June 8 at 4:30 pm. Another update will be released on June 13 at 4:30 pm and then on Friday, June 16 at 4:30 pm. 

Measure A increased from 1808 votes to 1928 votes. The turnout changed from 36.87% to 39.31%. The YES changed from 61.14% to 61.41%. 

11. Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project (PCEP)

CalMOD has sent staff a memorandum on their Tree Avoidance Minimization and Replacement Plan. The memorandum is the beginning of the conversation regarding tree impacts and replacement for the Project. Staff and a subcommittee of the Rail Committee are reviewing the document. In the past, I mentioned that the Caltrain PCEP EIR (2014) provided a comment about tree removals noting that the Draft EIR identified tree impacts in Atherton of 142 trees to be removed and 206 trees pruned. A combination of portals, two-track cantilevers, center poles and offset insulator side poles could reduce impacts to only 7 trees removed and 274 pruned. This alternative pole design could eliminate the ROW encroachment for the Electrification Safety Zone (ESZ) on private property in Atherton and could reduce the ROW encroachment for ESZ in the Park. 

However, further design refinement has not borne this out. The current assessment provides that Caltrain assessed 332 trees in Atherton. Of the 332 trees, 71 are on the Caltrain Joint Powers Board ROW, 27 are on public property, and 234 are on private property. Of the total 332 trees, 106 will not be impacted, 140 are to be pruned less than 25%, 57 will be pruned more than 25%, and 29 are slated for removal - most along the HPP corridor. Caltrain is slated to comply with the Town’s permit requirements for removal or damage (to include pruning) of any heritage tree on private or public property. Based on the tree impacts, 10 tree permits are anticipated for removal of 4 heritage trees and pruning of greater than 25% for 6 heritage trees. Per requirements, a total of 94 trees will be planted to mitigate for 86 trees removed or tuned greater than 25%. 

Of the 71 trees on Caltrain’s ROW, 22 will be preserved, 19 removed, 8 pruned more than 25%, and 22 pruned less than 25%. Of the trees on private property (234), 82 are preserved, 1 non-heritage will be removed, 6 heritage pruned more than 25%, and 38 non-heritage pruned more than 25%. The remaining 27 trees are on public property - 2 preserved, 4 heritage slated for removal, 5 non-heritage slated for removal, 5 non-heritage slated for pruning greater than 25%. 

Staff is researching and reviewing with the Rail Subcommittee. Part of that research involves validating the location of the trees, noted ROW, and permitting requirements.  

June 2, 2017 Weekly Council Notes

1. Articles of Interest


2. Menlo Park, Redwood City, & Atherton - Meeting

Judi Herren is working to setup a meeting with Mayor Lempres, TC Chair McLaughlin, and myself together with representatives from Menlo Park and Redwood City. The City Managers of both communities have indicated a desire to meet to discuss regional projects, but specifically transportation related issues/mitigation and drainage. 

Arrangements for this meeting are still in progress. Staff anticipates that the meeting will occur toward the end of June - likely an evening meeting. 

3. Community Development Block Grant Cooperation Agreement

In 1996, the Town and County entered into a cooperation agreement whereby Atherton, would not be eligible for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds on our own but rather cooperate and participate in the County Urban County Program to access CDBG Funding. This agreement automatically renews every three years and has in place since 1996. The current agreement expires on June 30 and will automatically renew through June 30, 2020. 

The Town does not receive enough funds to conduct housing programs locally and has chosen to participate (and get credit for participation) regionally as part of the Town’s Housing Element commitment to Affordable Housing Projects and Programs. 

4. BAAQMD Call for Projects - June 2017

The BAAQMD is currently accepting applications for the 2017 Bicycle Facilities Grant Program. The program offers funding to support the construction of new bicycle facilities, including bikeways and secure parking. The Grant has strings and criteria, but staff will investigate for applicability to local projects.

5. New Police Officer

The Town has made a conditional offer of employment to Officer Candidate Gina Dutta. 

6. Update on the Fire Services Fiscal Review

Matrix Consulting met with myself and the Subcommittee to ensure that they understood the background and scope of the project as well as potential issues. They followed that meeting with a long meeting with the Chief, Deputy Chief and Board member from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.  The purpose of that meeting was to introduce the study scope directly to them, Matrix's role in the project as well as develop a plan to meet with staff and collect data. Matrix will be there the first week of June to begin the interviews with District staff.

Matrix also met with Martha Poyatos, San Mateo County LAFCO Executive Director in an initial meeting on background and to discuss LAFCO processes in general. Note - this is not a part of the Town’s study, but merely background information. Matrix has other studies that involve LAFCO. Matrix will be making contact with the County Assessor’s Office for meetings there in the next couple of weeks.

They reported that the working relationship with the District is very positive and they are making their staff and data available. They have already started providing the data in advance of meetings next week.

7. Park Revenue and Event Log

Linked here is the Park Revenue Log and May Park Events

8. Police Chief 

The Police Chief is making rounds in the community and has met with several community representatives. The Chief is conducting a full administrative and personnel review of the PD, to include an inventory and assessment of current policies and practices. He has also established a connection to the local media. 



Jun 27

Of Pensions, Priorities and Payments

Posted on June 27, 2017 at 1:49 PM by George Rodericks

Of Pensions, Priorities and Payments
(Published via Facebook on June 11, 2017)

As a local government in California, Atherton is one of the 1,581 public agencies (to include special districts) and 1,439 school districts participating in the CalPERS public pension system. The average monthly service retirement for public agency members is $3,570 per month or $42,840 per year (taxes and healthcare) 
CalPERS Facts at a Glance and CalPERS Investment Facts

calpers-logo.pngThe CalPERS Pension System requires local employers, like Atherton, to pay an annual amount each year based on an Actuarial Valuation conducted by CalPERS. The Town’s Actuarial Valuations are available on the Town’s website in the
Archive Center. You can also visit the CalPERS website for the actuarial valuations of any CalPERS Agency (the Town, the Fire District, Sanitary District, etc.). The annual payment is a combination of a base normal rate for the employer plus a contribution toward any underfunded actuarial liability. The rates set by CalPERS dependent on a number of factors - everything from the projected rate for investment return to the average age of current and retired employees and whether or not they are going to die in the next few years (i.e. employee census and mortality rate tables). 

Report.jpegThe CalPERS Actuarial Valuation prescribes what the Town must pay each year toward its pension obligation - to include a payment toward the underfunded actuarial liability. The Town consciously decided not to "over fund" or contribute more funds into the plans than required under the actuarial valuations because the Town would rather keep its funds local dedicated to local priorities rather than overfund at the State level. In other words, maintaining a healthy funded status is good, but giving more local funds to the State than absolutely necessary is not - particularly since the funded status is market dependent. 

If, for example, the Town were to fund its underfunded amount entirely, in one year, if the market performed exceptionally well, the Town could be “overfunded” and those funds would no longer be under Town control - once paid, we don’t get them back but our pension contribution rates will stay consistent. Our “overpayment” money would be earning interest at CalPERS rather than in our local budget. Conversely, if the market performed poorly, we would not have overpaid and instead would have lost funds because someone at the State made a poor investment decision. Given the recent market performances, we expect the Town’s underfunded status to drop but we do not expect our annual rates and contributions to be dramatically different. That said, the Town is conscious of rate fluctuations and via policy commits any excess funds if needed to help smooth out any fluctuations - we have not had to do this in recent years but it remains an option. As I mentioned above, rates also depend on employee census and mortality rates - as well as longevity rates. For example, each valuation, CalPERS assesses what our current employee census is (age, sex, mortality rate, longevity, etc.) and calculates the projected cost of retirement based on that census. BUT, if next year, one of our younger staff leaves for employment in another agency, the amount of funds projected to be needed on behalf of that employee changes with the following year’s actuarial and then changes the Town’s contribution rates. Overfunding would have paid a debt that the Town would not owe.  

The Town funds its basic employer pension obligations via General Fund revenues year over year. General Fund Revenues come from basic property taxes, fees for services (building, planning, public works and public safety), franchise fees, sales taxes, business license taxes, and general grants. The total base salaries for the Town’s 39 employees in FY 2016/17 is $3,915,131. The bulk of that can be attributed to the 29 member Police Department at $2,764,557. On the total amount, the Town pays $683,687 each year toward pension obligations - representing 17% of base salaries. The Town’s total annual operating budget for FY 2016/17 (not including an additional $6 million in capital infrastructure projects) is $12,149,639. Pensions represent 5.6% of the Town’s Annual Operating Budget and 3.8% of the Town’s total annual budget for FY 2016/17. 

Overall, the Town is in a very positive pension position when compared to other agencies throughout the State. Average funded ratios for the 1,581 CalPERS Public Agency members have grown. In 2011, the average funded ratio was 74.3% and in 2014 it was 77.9%. Across all four of the Town’s Plans, our average funded status is 86.1% - this not only exceeds the funding status for the average CalPERS agency, but also exceeds the average for the top 100 private sector pension plans. Because the Town’s pension obligation is considered an obligation, the Town must fund it at the minimum level required by the State. The Town’s funding policy does so without overfunding thus allowing local money to stay local - dedicated to local priorities. 

CalPERS pension plans are not unlike private sector plans with a “funded status” ratio of Market Value of Assets (MVA) to Accrued Liability (AL). The average
corporate plan funded ratio (top 100 pension plans) is around 82%. Funded ratios will vary year to year based on market conditions both in the private sector and public sector. The current market rallies will have an affect on the funded status of plans since most plans, public and private, have a stake in the investment market. The most current pension system valuations from CalPERS are as of June 2015. CalPERS Valuation Reports typically lag 18-24 months.

Atherton has 4 types of public pension plans for which the Town receives actuarial valuations every year - Local Safety Classic, Local Safety PEPRA, Local Miscellaneous Classic and Local Miscellaneous PEPRA. All employees are enrolled as either Classic Members (CalPERS members before January 1, 2013) or PEPRA Members (CalPERS members after January 1, 2013). The Town does not participate in Social Security and neither the Town nor the employee have social security payment obligations. Upon retirement, unless the employee has other social security qualifying employment, they do not receive social security benefits since employment with the Town does not constitute qualifying quarters for social security. Therefore, the Town only pays the employer portion of the CalPERS pension obligation and the employee is responsible for 100% of the employee portion. Private sector employers will typically pay into social security at 6.2% and often, some sort of employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401K at 3%-4% for a total employer contribution of 9%-10% of salary. The CalPERS plans are similar - with the exception of public safety plans which tend to have a richer retirement plan. The current average tenure for an Atherton employee is 7 years. What’s discussed below are Town obligations and not the obligations of any other employers for whom an employee has worked.

The first and most significant pension plan for the Town is the Classic CalPERS Safety Plan. This plan is limited in membership to sworn officers only. Membership is further limited to CalPERS Classic Members (i.e. employees who were members of CalPERS prior to 2013). New members are enrolled in the CalPERS Safety PEPRA Plan and as time moves forward more employees are enrolled in PEPRA than Classic. The latest CalPERS Valuation for the Classic Local Safety Plan can be found online -
Classic Member Local Safety CalPERS Actuarial Valuation - June 30, 2015. The funded status of this plan is 76.6% as of June 30, 2015. At that time, the AL was $36,891,116 and the MVA was $28,263,430. The Town’s employer-contribution rate is 21.418% of salary in FY 2017/18. The employee portion is 9% (the employee is also voluntarily paying 3% of the employer share in addition to their base cost). The retirement calculation for a top-step Police Officer ($101,712/year in salary) that has worked for the Town for 15 years, retiring at age 60 is: $101,712 times 15 times 3% = $45,770 per year or $3,814 per month in retirement. (In my experience, due to the physical demands of the job, I see most line through mid-level management officers leaving employment prior to age 60. Command staff will usually stay employed into their 60’s since they spend less time wearing field gear and chasing down criminals and more time managing/leading the organization.)

The second pension plan is the PEPRA Safety Plan. New CalPERS (after 2013) sworn officers are enrolled in this plan. This plan was created by CalPERS to reduce long term liability for local agencies and as employees turnover, this plan gains new members. This is the Plan into which most new sworn employees are placed. The latest CalPERS Valuation for the PEPRA Local Safety Plan can be found online -
PEPRA Member Local Safety CalPERS Actuarial Valuation - June 30, 2015. The funded status of this plan is 92.1% as of June 30, 2015. At that time, the AL was $71,655 and the MVA was $66,027. The Town’s employer-contribution rate is 12.729% of salary in FY 2017/18. The employee portion is 12.25%. The retirement calculation for a top-step Police Officer ($101,712/year in salary) that has worked for the Town for 15 years, retiring at age 60 is $101,712 times 15 times 2.7% = $41,193 or $3,433 per month in retirement. 

The third pension plan is the Classic Local Miscellaneous Plan. This plan is limited in membership to non-police (non-sworn) employees - called local miscellaneous. Membership is further limited to CalPERS Classic Members (prior to 2013). This plan generally has those employees that do not work as police officers - from the City Manager on down. New members (post 2013) are enrolled in the companion PEPRA Plan. The latest CalPERS Valuation for the Classic Local Miscellaneous Plan can be found online -
Classic Miscellaneous CalPERA Actuarial Valuation - June 30, 2015. The funded status of this plan is 79.5% as of June 30, 2015. At that time, the AL was $15,806,251 and the MVA was $12,571,337. The Town’s employer-contribution rate is 9.096% of salary as of FY 2017/18 (less than private sector comparatives with social security). The employee portion is 7%. The retirement calculation for an average salaried employee ($112,615/year in salary) that has worked for the Town for 15 years, retiring at age 60 is: $112,615 times 15 times 2.262% = $38,210 or $3,184 per month. (In my experience, most non-public works staff will work well beyond 60. Public Works staff, due to the physical nature of the role will typically leave employment earlier.)

The
fourth pension plan is the PEPRA Local Miscellaneous Plan. New CalPERS (after 2013) employees are enrolled in this plan. This is the Plan into which most new employees are placed. The latest CalPERS Valuation for the PEPRA Local Miscellaneous Plan can be found online - PEPRA Member Local Miscellaneous CalPERS Actuarial Valuation - June 30, 2015. The funded status of this plan is 96.3% as of June 30, 2015. At that time the AL was $34,451 and the MVA was $33,187. The Town’s employer-contribution rate is 6.908% of salary in FY 2017/18 (less than private sector comparatives with social security). The employee portion is 6.5%. The retirement calculation for an average salaried employee ($112,615/year in salary) that has worked for the Town for 15 years, retiring at age 60 is: $112,615 times 15 times 1.8% = $30,406 or $2,534 per month.    

The total pension obligation as of June 30, 2015 is $52,803,473. The Market Value of the funded portion is $40,933,981 leaving an underfunded obligation of $11,869,492. This is the amount that fluctuates up or down based on market conditions, contributions and employee census actuarial data (i.e. actual and projected lengths of employment, salaries, and mortality). This the part that the Town has opted not to pay off due to its fluctuation and CalPERS investment changes. One actuarial valuation may say the Town has an underfunded liability of $11.8 million and the next year, it may be more or less depending on the factors that affect the calculation. Either way, we are “pay as you go."

Funding Policy

CalPERS Actuarial Valuations, market conditions, employer rates, employee rates, and underfunded status conversations are pointless unless the Town has a funding policy in place - which it does. The Town pays 100% of its employer obligation toward pensions each year based on published CalPERS annual actuarial evaluations. The CalPERS pension system is designed as a “pay as you go” system with projections calculated based on actuarial assumptions such as length of employment, salary, mortality, and investment projection for return - all of which can fluctuate changing the Town’s future obligations up and down. 

I am happy to go through any of this one-on-one in greater detail if anyone is interested.

George_2.jpgGeorge Rodericks
City Manager
Town of Atherton
grodericks@ci.atherton.ca.us