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.

Jan 23

What is SB 50?

Posted on January 23, 2020 at 1:28 PM by grodericks grodericks

What is Senate Bill 50 (Introduced by Senator Scott Wiener)?

HousingSB 50, as amended, is State legislation introduced by Senator Scott Wiener. SB 50 was first introduced in 2018 and has subsequently been amended, and released in January 2020. SB 50, as amended, changes current law in a number of ways to address housing development, approval processes, and incentives for the development of multi-family housing. 

Below are some of the major issues around SB 50.

Multi-Family Housing versus Neighborhood Multifamily Project

Under existing law, when a developer submits an application for a multi-family housing development that satisfies specific planning objective standards, it is subject to a streamlined, ministerial approval process. The law allows that application to not be subject to a conditional use permit. SB 50 modifies the definition of a multi-family development in this context to be a "neighborhood multifamily project" and changes the approval and processing process. Under SB 50, a neighborhood multifamily project is a project that would construct a multifamily structure, consisting of up to 4 residential dwelling units that meet the local height, setback, and lot coverage requirements (as they existed in July 2019).

Requirement for California Environmental Quality Act Review?

If a development proposal conflicts with requirements for streamlined approval, a city has 60 days to notify the project applicant. If the city fails to do so, the project is deemed to comply. SB 50 also limits the authority of a city to impose parking standards or other requirements on a streamlined development. SB 50 exempts neighborhood multifamily projects from environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Jobs-Rich Area and Job-Rich Housing Project

JobsCurrent law requires that when an applicant proposes a housing development, that the city provide the developer with a density bonus and other incentives or concessions for the production of lower income housing units. SB 50 requires that the city also grant an equitable communities incentive for projects that satisfy specific criteria. That criteria includes whether the development is either a job-rich housing project or a transit-rich housing project. A job-rich housing project is a residential development within a jobs-rich area. A residential development is considered to be within a jobs-rich area if both of the following apply:

1) all parcels within the project have no more than 25% of their area outside of the jobs-rich area; and 2) no more than 10% of residential units or 100 units, whichever is less, of the development are outside of the jobs-rich area.

The city does not define what is or is not a jobs-rich area. The State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) in consult with the Office of Planning and Research (OPR) makes that determination. HCD gets to determine the areas that are high opportunity and either are jobs rich or would enable shorter commute distances. The particular tracts must meet both of the following:

1) the tract is high opportunity, meaning its characteristics are associated with positive educational and economic outcomes for households of all income levels residing in the tract; and
2) the tract meets either of the following: a) new housing sited in the tract would enable residents to live near more jobs than is typical for tracts in the region; or b) new housing sited in the tract would enable shorter commute distances for residents, relative to existing commute patters and jobs-housing fit.

HCD is required to publish and update every 5 years a map of the state showing the areas it defines as jobs-rich areas.

Parking Requirements? 

No ParkingFor San Mateo County (based on population), SB 50 also requires that developers receive waivers from maximum controls on density; minimum parking requirements and specified other development waivers if the development is located within 1/2-mile or 1/4-mile radius of a major transit stop, defined as a rail transit station meeting specific criteria. 

Ability for Local Flexibility Plans

SB 50 does exempt communities from its provisions if the community has a local flexibility plan that has been reviewed and certified by HCD. But, at the present time, no one knows what exactly a local flexibility plan is or what the requirements are. The requirements of a local flexibility plan have yet to be developed by HCD. This was a significant amendment to the legislation; but, it is still largely an unknown target and process. 

Applicability to General Law Cities only or does it also apply to Charter Cities?

The requirements of SB 50 apply to both general law and charter cities. Atherton is a general law city. 

Atherton Remains Opposed to SB 50

The Town continues to be opposed to SB 50 for a number of reasons. (See Mayoral Correspondence Archive for the recent letter of opposition.)

1) Undefined Criteria for Compliance. At present, the requirements of a "local flexibility plan" are not defined in SB 50. Further, the crafting of the definition and compliance requirements of such plans are left to HCD and OPR, with little to no public input, engagement or oversight. SB 50 talks about standards, options for plans, and exemptions but does not define what those are. 

2) Conflict with Climate Action Goals. Forcing multi-unit housing with limited to no parking solutions onto communities as a one-size fits all approach does not work. SB 50 solutions are in direct conflict with the State's climate goals of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In Atherton, where there is no commercial development, residents need to travel miles to obtain food and other items. Putting multi-unit development in Atherton but eliminating parking forces the use of ride share services and other similar solutions; instead of encouraging the use of parking solutions that use EV charging opportunities resulting in GHG reductions. 

3) Lack of Credit for Institutional Housing. Atherton, like many communities, is home to institutional housing for students and teachers that are a part of local educational institutions. SB 50 and other State housing law fails to give credit to communities that accommodate such affordable housing solutions. 

Commercial Development4) Disregard for Unique Community Character. SB 50 does not take the individual unique character of communities into consideration. Atherton has deliberately developed in its own way, since incorporation, as nearly 100% residential. This unique community character has been sustained in the midst of surrounding communities that have chosen to develop large commercial developments and infrastructure while neglecting commensurate plans for housing and transportation to serve those developments. As a result, the Town faces increased commute traffic congestion, a deterioration of our local roads, increased noise, and threats to local emergency response capabilities due to gridlock. While Atherton has been careful in its development decisions; our neighbors have not. SB 50 rewards their behavior and usurps local control to force the Town to change its community character to accommodate the impacts caused by adjacent, short-sighted development decisions. 

5) Usurping Local Control. In the end, at its heart, SB 50 usurps local control over land use decisions unique to each municipality. Local zoning and land use decisions are best left to the local agencies and local officials that are responsible to the communities they serve. 

Legislative Contacts

Senator Scott Wiener Contact
District Office
455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 14800
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 557-1300

Senator Jerry Hill Contact
District Office
1528 South El Camino Real, Suite 303
San Mateo, CA 94402
(650) 212-3313

Thanks for reading!

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


Jan 16

That's A Wrap! - January 15, 2020

Posted on January 16, 2020 at 9:17 AM by grodericks grodericks

Thats A Wrap

Council Meeting Date: January 15, 2020
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. 

The City Council met for the January Regular Meeting on Wednesday, January 15 at 7 pm in the Pavilion at Holbrook-Palmer Park. Following the Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call, the Council began moving through the Agenda beginning with Presentations and Public Comments.   

ReportFollowing 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. The Council received Oral Reports from the City Manager and staff on various issues contained within the City Manager's Report. Staff answered questions related to public safety response to schools, more detailed reporting on school response details, and public works storm preparation activities. 

Staff also asked for Council feedback and direction on the preparation and release of a letter to the State regarding Senate Bill 50. The Council articulated concerns related to opposition to SB 50. These included, but were not limited to, calculation of job-rich environments, no clear definition, ambiguity in the legislation, lack of deference to local control, anti-climate slant of bill's requirements, protecting the local single-family residential environment, no clear analysis of long-term impacts, and pushing the impact of development onto neighboring communities. The Council asked that staff prepare a letter of opposition, with the assistance of the Subcommittee, and authorized the Mayor to execute the letter on the Town's behalf. 

Consent_AgendaFollowing the City Manager's Report, the Council moved to the Consent Agenda consisting of Items 8 and 14. 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 bills and claims, City Council Committee Assignments, Resolution authorization the Destruction of Certain Records, 2nd Reading and Adoption of an Ordinance related to Heritage Trees, and Approving the Selection of an Underwriter and Bond Counsel.  

Public_Hearing_ImageNext up was a Public Hearing - Item No. 15, Adoption of a Resolution Certifying the Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration, Mitigation Monitoring Plan, and Approval of Amendments to the Town's General Plan. Following a brief staff report, presentation and opportunity for public comments, the Council discussed issues related to the environmental analysis, corrections to the noise element table data, and overall General Plan modifications. Following discussion, the Council made a minor change to the finding related to emergency access route impact and accepted all other items within the document. The Council certified the IS/MND, approved the Mitigation Monitoring Plan, and Approved the Updates to the General Plan.  

Regular_Agenda_ImageNext up was the Regular Agenda.

The first item on the Regular Agenda was Item No. 16, Discussion and Feedback Regarding the Caltrain Proposal to Permanently Close the Atherton Station. Staff provided a brief staff report and following public comment, the Council discussed issues related to ridership, potential for a shuttle for commuters, "current" versus "no" plans for grade separation, improvements to the overall Caltrain transportation system facilitated by the potential closure, safety around the station and corridor in Atherton, quad gates at Watkins, potential pedestrian path from Watkins into Menlo Park, and expansion of the quiet zone.  Following discussion, the Council expressed support for the general tenets of the Caltrain proposal and directed staff to work with Caltrain and the Subcommittee to develop a Memorandum of Understanding that can be approved by the Council, drilling down and developing some of the details discussed.

Next was Item No. 17, Presentation by Flock and NCRIC and approval of a Lexipol Policy on Automated License Plate Readers. Following a staff report and public comment, the Council discussed issues related to data storage, use of data, public review, fixed ALPR, purging of data, and audits. Following discussion, the Council approved the Lexipol Policy as amended to eliminate reference to non-law enforcement or non-prosecutorial agencies, and changing "should" to "shall" with respect to purging of data after the applicable retention period. The Council asked that a report be provided once the 60-day Flock test period completes and that the Council be involved in the decision to deploy fixed ALPR. Further, the Council requested that signs be placed at Town entry points advising that the Town uses ALPR technology. 

Next up was Item No. 18, Feedback to the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Naming Opportunities, Donor Programs and Recognition Related to the Town Center Fundraising Effort. The Ad Hoc Subcommittee presented information related to potential naming opportunities, donor recognition plaques, outreach plan, and a donor opportunity digital booklet. Following the report, the Council discussed issues related to specific naming opportunities, fundraising efforts, funding levels, public outreach, interest by existing donors for naming, feedback from Atherton Now, timing of the Certificates of Participation, and proliferation of individual plaques throughout the project site. Following discussion, the Council clarified that naming opportunities did not necessarily reflect naming of a particular space; rather a funding opportunity to support that particular space. Further, the Council asked that staff connect with Atherton Now to request that they reach out to their donors regarding the Town's current naming/funding levels for specific requests by donors at those existing levels of contribution; and, if Atherton Now does not wish to do so, that the Town may do so. 

The next item was Item No. 19, Review and discussion of a proposed education and outreach program related to the Fire Services Study and providing direction to staff. Following a brief staff report and opportunity for public comment, the Council briefly discussed a 2-3 month outreach program consisting of one or two community meetings and a public outreach mailer. Following discussion, the Council directed staff to move forward with the proposal for outreach.

Item No. 20 was Review, discussion and direction on next steps for the Solid Waste and Post-Collection Services. Following a brief staff report and opportunity for public comment, the Council discussed issues related to SB 1383 implementation, timing for withdrawal from the SBWMA Agreement, funds within the Town's Rate Stabilization Fund, and exit costs. Following discussion, the Council was advised that the issue would return to the Council in February for next steps. 

The last item on the Agenda was Item No. 21, an Update on the progress on the new Town Center. Following a brief staff report and public comment, the Council briefly discussed the progress of the project and the Rammed Earth Wall Mock-up. More information on the Project can be found on via the Project BlogWebsite, and Webcams.

Following Council Reports and Final Public Comments, having cleared the entire Agenda, at approximately 10:57 pm, that as they say - was a wrap!



The next meeting of the City Council will be February 5 for a Study Session. The February meeting tentatively includes the Mid-Year Budget Presentation, Review and Consideration of the Work Plan for Earth Day 2020, and Authorization to File a Conditional Use Permit for the Cartan Field Water Capture Project. 

GeorgeThanks for reading!

George Rodericks
City Manager

Town of Atherton
grodericks@ci.atherton.ca.us



Dec 19

That's A Wrap! - December 18, 2019

Posted on December 19, 2019 at 11:01 AM by grodericks grodericks

Thats A Wrap

Council Meeting Date: December 18, 2019
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. 

Conners Larson cakeThe City Council met for the December Regular Meeting on Wednesday, December 18 at 7 pm in the Pavilion at Holbrook-Palmer Park. Following the Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call, the Council moved to Presentations. During Presentations, the Council heard a presentation from Gatepath CEO Bryan Neider and then made a presentation to outgoing City Attorney Bill Conners and Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Larson. 


Rick Elizabeth cakeFollowing Presentations, moved to City Council Reorganization selecting Vice Mayor Rick DeGolia to serve as the Town's next Mayor and Council Member Elizabeth Lewis to serve as the Town's next Vice Mayor. Both will serve in those roles for calendar year 2019.    


Following Council Reorganization and a brief recess for a reception, the Council reconvened and moved to Public Comments. 



ReportFollowing 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. The Council received Oral Reports from the City Manager and staff on various issues contained within the City Manager's Report. Staff answered questions related to police response times, bicycle and motorized scooter enforcement efforts, and public works storm preparedness efforts. 

Consent_AgendaFollowing the City Manager's Report, the Council moved to the Consent Agenda consisting of Items 8 and 11. 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 bills and claims, 2nd Reading and Adoption of an Ordinance amending the Town's Water Efficient Landscaping Standards, appointment of a representative to the Mosquito and Vector Control District, and acceptance of the 1st Quarter Treasurer's Report.  

Public_Hearing_ImageNext up was a Public Hearing - Item No. 12 - Introduction of Amendments to the Atherton Municipal Code Chapter 8.10 "Removal of and Damage to Heritage Trees", including amending the Heritage Tree Preservation Guidelines, Standards and Specifications. Following a brief staff report, presentation and public comments, the Council discussed issues related to the integration of the standards into the ordinance and how they relate, tracking of tree maintenance deposits, refunding of deposits, and the process involved with spec-homes. Following discussion, the Council introduced the ordinance for 1st Reading and adopted the Tree Preservation Guidelines, Standards and Specifications via Resolution. 

Regular_Agenda_ImageNext up was the Regular Agenda.

The first item on the Regular Agenda was Item No. 13, Award of Contract for City Attorney Services. Staff provided a brief staff report and following public comment, the Council directed staff to prepare a contract with Mona Ebrahimi, KMTG, for City Attorney Services and authorized the Mayor to execute the contract on behalf of the Town. 

Next was Item No. 14, Discussion on the San Mateo County's Office of Sustainability Proposed Disposable Food Service Ware Ordinance and Possible Restrictions on their use in Town. Following a staff report and public comment, the Council discussed issues related to the applicability of the ordinance locally if adopted; applicability to Town facilities; applicability to food truck vendors and public schools; enforcement; cost of enforcement; penalties; and possibility of future similar mandates. Following discussion, the Council directed that staff continue moving forward with a proposed local ordinance that would be made applicable to food truck vendors as well as Town facilities. 

Next up was Item No. 15, Review of the Town's Residential Alarm Ordinance. Staff presented the issue for Council consideration and after opportunity for public comment, the Council discussed issues related to the annual $50 fee; the $100 registration fee; Town-monitored versus privately monitored systems; and payment/collection. Following discussion, the Council asked that staff return the ordinance for minor modification along with a letter to the community advising of the changed ordinance requirements, the new alarm registration fee ($100), the annual fee of $50 to provide updated information to the Police Department, the cost of multiple false alarms, and advise that if residents have a current alarm that there will not be a registration fee if a response and registration information is received within a set period of time (6-months), after that period the registration fee will be required. 

Item No. 16 was Acceptance of Donation Naming Requests and Discussion and Direction Regarding Donors. Following a brief staff report and opportunity for public comment, the Council discussed the various naming request tiers and setup an Ad Hoc Committee to review the tiers, recommend any changes, and provide a contact letter to donors along with an outreach plan. The Council then heard a report on recent contact with Atherton Now regarding donors and asked that the Ad Hoc Committee discuss a response. Lastly, the Council accepted two naming requests submitted for the K-9 Corner and the Cafe Terrace. 

Item No. 17 was Authorization for Release of a Request for Proposal for Procurement Assistance for Solar and Micro-Grid Power Services Provider. Staff presented a brief staff report. Following the staff report and opportunity for public comment, the Council discussed the various system design opportunities, extent of services, power requirements and provisions of the system, cost of a generator alternative, and timeline. Following discussion, the Council authorized the release of the RFP. 

Next up was Item No. 18, Review and Discussion of the Status of the Fire Services Fiscal Review and Provide Direction on Next Steps. Staff provided a brief staff report followed by a report from the Ad Hoc Subcommittee. Following opportunity for public comment, the Council discussed the various policy options open for consideration. The Council discussed the need for continuing or not continuing pursuit of the issue, the equity imbalance, service delivery, urgency, cost, and process. Following discussion, the Council asked that staff return with a proposal for additional education and outreach to the community (and cost estimate); develop a plan and process for moving through LAFCO's application process (and cost estimate); and setup meetings with County and State Legislative Officials (Ad Hoc Subcommittee). 

The last item on the Agenda was Item No. 19, an Update on the progress on the new Town Center. Following a brief staff report and public comment, the Council briefly discussed the progress of the project and the plan for the Rammed Earth Wall Mock-up. More information on the Project can be found on via the Project BlogWebsite, and Webcams.

Following Council Reports and Final Public Comments, having cleared the entire Agenda, at approximately 10:30 pm, that as they say - was a wrap!



The next meeting of the City Council will be January 15 for a Regular Meeting. The January 15 meeting tentatively includes adoption of the 2019 General Plan Updates; Acceptance of the 2018/19 Audited Financial Statements; Presentation by FLOCK and NCRIC and adoption of the revised ALPR Policy; Presentation on potential renovations to the Art and Garden Room; City Council Committee Assignments; and a Town Center Update. 

GeorgeThanks for reading!

George Rodericks
City Manager

Town of Atherton
grodericks@ci.atherton.ca.us