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.

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Aug 12

July 2015 City Manager's Monthly Report

Posted on August 12, 2015 at 11:07 AM by grodericks grodericks

City Manager's Monthly Report - July 2015

Monthly ReportWelcome to the newly formatted City Manager's Monthly Report! With the June 2015 Report, I moved to the Blog format. Instead of attaching all of the various bits of backup information (making for a rather large file) it includes them as links via the Town's website. Lastly, each sectional entry includes the date the information was provided to the City Council. 

Please remember, the City Manager's Monthly Report is a consolidation of issues, communications, and Town activity during the prior month. As I review the information to include, I will remove duplicate updates in favor of the most recent, remove information regarding events that have already occurred, and edit information that requires update - hopefully to make it more useful. Overall, the information is generally the same as it was presented to the City Council in their weekly Council email.

I am moving to this new format in an effort to speed up the time it takes me to prepare the retrospective report and improve up-to-date transparency on relevant issues. Hopefully, it proves more functional, informative, and useful. Your feedback is appreciated!

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 via email or phone.


George Rodericks
City Manager
Town of Atherton
(650) 752-0504

July 31 Report to Council

1. PG&E Leak Detection

In 2014, PG&E introduced a specialized, gas-leak-survey operational crew designed to condense what had been a six- to 10-month effort down to just a few weeks. This reduces backlogs and delays, while enhancing the overall safety and reliability of the gas system.
Central to this PG&E “Super Crew” work is the Picarro vehicle-mounted technology that is 1,000 times more sensitive in detecting gas leaks. In August, PG&E’s Super Crew and Picarro vehicles will again be on the Peninsula as part of a regular schedule. The units will visit portions of Atherton, Menlo Park, Redwood City, unincorporated North Fair Oaks, Half Moon Bay, San Bruno and South San Francisco. The Picarro vehicles usually conduct their drive-through surveys during the evening and overnight hours, with verification the next day by foot patrols. The timeframe is approximately August 2 through August 21, depending on work progress. After any detected leaks are mapped and categorized, repair crews will file for the necessary permits for repair and/or replacement work, with some nighttime immediate-responses expected.

2. RethinkWaste 2014 Annual Report

RethinkWaste has issued their 2014 Annual Report which summarizes the Agency’s accomplishments and major initiatives, program results and summarizes significant Board actions from each Board meeting.

3. New Wireless Antenna @ 555 Middlefield Road (MAHS)

On Tuesday I approved, following a hearing, a new wireless facility at Menlo-Atherton High School mounted on one of their existing athletic field lights. There were several adjacent neighbors that did not have any concerns with the installation and one that voiced concerns related to health issues. The Town cannot address health issues and the installer provided information related to the FCC compliance. 

4. Bel Air International Flight School

This week the Vice Mayor and I met with the owner of Bel Air International Flight School to discuss issues at San Carlos Airport. 

July 24 Report to Council

1. Special Meeting - End of July

The CCAC continues work to finalize a Final Conceptual Plan for recommendation to the City Council. Approval of the Final Conceptual Plan will allow WRNS to move to the Schematic Design Phase. 

The CCAC was unable to make a recommendation at their Special Meeting on July 20. WRNS was provided with feedback and will return to the CCAC at a Special Meeting on August 31 in the hopes of coming to a recommendation. The timing of this will coincide with a planned approval of the Civic Center EIR. 

On August 19, staff will be walking the site with the SFPUC to discuss relocation of their line. I have expressed to the SFPUC that the Town wants to work with the SFPUC to get the pipeline relocated as quickly and efficiently as possible. Because of the layout of the site, we would like to find the best location within the new ROW to accommodate the needs of the SFPUC and still meet the objectives of the development. As I mentioned in my email to their General Manager, timing is important here as the Town embarks on its largest and most important capital project in its history. We advised the SFPUC that we can save them money on the project by coordinating with the a Town's project. Walking the site with the SFPUC and getting a fuller understanding of the issues, locations, constraints and opportunities is the most efficient way to understand the issues at this point - for the Town and the SFPUC. 

2. Rail Station Improvements

We met with Caltrain to discuss renovations currently underway at the historic rail station. The contractor is one that Caltrain has used before at their stations, especially their historic stations. Nevertheless, they have run into a few issues:
  • Frames: no longer made – are being special ordered and even then will need modifications
  • Painting: The contractor was going to hold off on “clearing the windows"until all painting is done, but will clean the windows and will need to do it again when he paints again
  • Woodwork: Subcontractor is performing some exploratory work to determine where and to what extent he would needs to redo the woodwork, which is the reason for the haphazard looking treatment.  Because of the age of the structure and the nature of the work, he is needing to get the wood specially milled.
In the meanwhile:
  • Windows: Caltrain will ask him to clean the windows off, even if it means he will have to perform this activity twice during the project instead of once.
  • Exploratory areas: Caltrain will ask him to dress up these areas while waiting for the newly milled wood.
  • Safety: This contractor is known for keeping a safe workplace and is concerned about people tampering with the work site. He will clean up the site this week. If he finds that his work is being tampered with he will report it to Caltrain security who will coordinate with Atherton PD.  
3. PG&E Follow-up 

Bill Chiang from PG&E will likely be making contact with each of you to discuss the July Council Meeting and next steps. The Council was clear in its directives to PG&E at the meeting and staff is connecting with Bill regularly to answer any follow-up questions. To make sure that the message remains consistent, I would encourage each of you to refer Bill to me, at least until after the September Council Meeting when PG&E returns with their letter for the Council. 

4. Fiber Signals/Intersection Safety

Staff is working with a consultant to design and complete two (2) camera installations at the Park (Little League/Tennis Area & Felton Gate). After we install the first 2 cameras and associated infrastructure, we can consider adding additional cameras in phases depending on budgetary constraints, timing etc. In no particular order, high priority locations for additional cameras may include:
  • - HP Park (parking lots)
  • - Entrances and Exits to HP Park (to include the Watkins Avenue foot bridge)
Staff is also looking at working with Atherton Fiber to identify future fiber drop locations for security and intersection cameras and/or signal cameras. 

5. HAWK Beacons

A Council Member visited Scottsdale, AZ and provided the photos of a HAWK beacon installation similar to what we can expect in Atherton. 

In September, Mike will be presenting a funding agreement with Menlo Park Fire and/or Authorization to Bid for the project on Almendral. As part of the presentation, he will include a few visuals of what the installation will look like and how it will function. 

6. Recology Rate Stabilization Fund

As you may be aware, the Town has a rate stabilization fund for refuse rates. As the franchise moves along each year, the fund is used to draw against in an effort to stabilize rates for residents. Presently, there is approximately $895k in the fund held by Recology. New agreements via the SBWMA allows agencies to retrieve the funds from Recology and hold them locally in trust. The Town has made such a request. The September Agenda will include an item authorizing the creation of the Rate Stabilization Fund in anticipation of receipt of these funds. Funds can only be used for refuse rate stabilization.

7. Menlo Fire Standards of Cover

Menlo Park Fire has completed their Standards of Cover Study. Linked here are four items:

8. HIP Housing Activity

Linked here is the HIP Housing Activity Report.

9. Animal Services Report

Linked here is the June 2015 Animal Services Report for Atherton. 

10. Roof at the Park

The roof project at the Park should begin the last week of August. It will coincide with some audio system improvements in the Pavilion. 

11. Reflectors at Marsh Road Channel Fence

We are installing MUTCD compliant roadway reflectors and a line along the roadway. 

12. Tree Removal - PG&E Project

Sally is putting together a summary of tree inspections along the PG&E route. 

July 17 Report to Council 

1. M-ALL Project Status

As the Council is aware, the M-ALL Project was issued a 30-day extension to finalize the plan details. All work associated with the project has been finished and final turnovers complete. 

Staff will be reviewing the facility for necessary modifications and/or additions consistent with our needs. Staff will be removing the right-field temporary fencing (beyond the bullpen) and storing it contiguous with the infield fence line.  

2. Meeting with Menlo College / Menlo School

The Mayor and I met with representatives from Menlo College and Menlo School to discuss approaches and outlook for the Cartan Field Improvement Project as well as other use issues at the school and college campus. The primary issues addressed were the neighbor concerns raised by current camp uses as well as future development. 

3. Knox Playschool Structure

With the removal of the dead tree, the play area at Knox Playschool was exposed. Knox originally put up temporary “sails” as shade. However, Knox Playschool is now building a shade trellis and metal corrugated lattice. Staff was unaware that this hard structure work was occurring and has stopped all work. Knox has been advised that the structure must either be removed or properly permitted and constructed. 

4. 29 Shearer - Fire/Demo

As you may recall, 29 Shearer was the unsafe site of a burned home. The Town has pursuing code enforcement action against the property owner to make the property safe. The owner has recently hired a demolition contractor and a permit has been issued to demolish the structure. The work should be done soon.

5. ABAG Insurance Premiums

The Town recently received its renewal of insurance premiums from the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). The Town has five (5) premiums that apply: 
  • General Liability Premium - $148,678
  • Excess Liability Premium - $5,348
  • Public Official Bond Premium - $877
  • Administrative Premium - $55,014
  • Property Premium - $7,578
Based on prior year premiums, the Town budgeted $217,495 in total premium costs. The 2015/16 Budgeted numbers are shown above. With the 2015/16 actual invoice received this week, the total premium costs are $130,891 - representing a reduction in cost of $86,604. This is both attributable to the cost of insurance, methodology of ABAG, as well as the Town’s claim experience. 

The bulk of the reduction was in General Liability coverage which reduced from $148,678 to $70,666.

6. Follow-up Memorandum from the Grand Boulevard Task Force

Linked here is the follow-up memorandum summarizing the June 24 Meeting of the Grand Boulevard Task Force. 

7. Menlo School Development/Updates

Staff recently met with representatives from Menlo School to discuss their applications for the August 26 Planning Commission. The applications are a continuation of the Campus Master Plan Update that was started earlier in the year, but tabled due to Commission concerns. The resubmittal is more comprehensive and detailed. There are 3 basic components: 
  • A Technology Center addition to the Creative Arts Classroom Building (1 story over a basement)
  • An Addition to Stent Hall to accommodate administrative offices, dining room, extension of student center and library (3 stories with height variance to match existing Stent Hall height)
  • A Performing Arts Center (CUP previously granted as part of Gym and Creative Arts Classroom)
  • Temporary portables in the “Oval” to accommodate users displaced during construction.
8. Storm Response Plan

Weather experts are predicting an El Nino pattern for the fall. Staff is updating the Town’s Storm Response Plan to stay ahead of the issues that might arise. 

9. Menlo Atherton High School Growth

As the Council is aware, Menlo Atherton High School has a pending expansion project. The school projects that their student body will group by approximately 100 students eat year for the next 5 years. They expect to have 2,500 students by the end of their growth. Current figures show 2,300 students on the first day of school - August 18, 2015. The numbers will most likely adjust with transfers and satellite schools. The school boundaries now include all of East Palo Alto. 

The School will be constructing two (2) 2-story classroom buildings. One will house 22 classrooms and be located on the east side of the school near the football field. The other building will house 7 classrooms and be located near the tennis courts off of Ringwood Avenue. Construction will begin soon and continue throughout the school year. 

Several nearby Atherton residents have retained the law firm of Rutan & Tucker to represent them with concerns related to the Environmental Impact Report and development under the Facilities Master Plan. 

10. ConnectMenlo EIR

As you may know, Menlo Park is proposing a major Comprehensive Planning Project on their east side (mainly east of US 101, but with some areas west of the freeway). The project has been named “ConnectMenlo.” In summary, it would facilitate development of an additional 2.1 million square feet of non-residential development and 4,500 additional multi-family residential units. 

The City is in the process of initiating an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and has sent out a notice to adjoining jurisdictions requesting input on studies and analysis that should be included in the document. The Town is responding to that request. Once the EIR is produced, we will have the opportunity to provide specific comments on the EIR itself. The Notice of Preparation and project description can be found on the City of Menlo Park website under Community Development, Comprehensive Planning Projects - ConnectMenlo. 

Our initial response advises that the following studies, analyses, and measures to mitigate impact must be undertaken:
  • Level of service and stop/delay studies at the listed intersections must be undertaken. There should be a recognition and acceptance of the long-term Atherton policy of maintaining all streets in their present two-lane maximum width configuration. 
    • Marsh/Middlefield
    • Fair Oaks/Middlefield
    • Fair Oaks/Atherton Avenue/ECR
    • Watkins/Middlefield
    • Watkins/ECR
    • Encinal/Middlefield
    • Oak Grove/Middlefield
    • Ravenswood/Middlefield
    • Ringwood/Middlefield
    • Oak Grove/ECR
  • Studies of transportation alternatives, including buses and shuttles facilitating interconnects between transportation hubs such as the Menlo Park Caltrain station and the project area must be undertaken.
  • Studies of the project effects on emergency access to and through the Town of Atherton, particularly in view of the substantial increase in traffic that will result from implementation of the project.
  • Studies of the effects, if any, of the project on the capacity and potential for flooding in the Atherton Channel in the Town must be undertaken.
  • Analysis of the project’s impact on the air quality in Atherton must be undertaken. 
11. HUD No. 15-084 - Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Final Rule

Linked here is a copy of a press release on HUD’s new AFFH Rule. Staff is in the process of evaluating local impacts, if any.

12. Recent CalWater Monthly Data for Atherton

Linked here is a copy of the most recent water data for the Town. 

13. iLobby - Cafe in the Civic Center

As you know, the Town is committed to using as many touchpoints as possible to gather input on various issues. We were approached by local resident John Thibault regarding his project, iLobby and using it as a means to stimulate public conversation on a topic. 

I will be working with John to see how it can assist the Town. We will use the Cafe in the Civic Center as the first topic. 

14. Menlo Park Fire District Traffic Calming Devices

The Fire District shared online policy on Traffic Control Devices at the last meeting. They can be found online here:

15. Transportation Committee - Involvement

Staff met with the Chair of the Transportation Committee (and Council liaison) to discuss ways to obtain the TC’s feedback with respect to regional development projects and their impact. There will be a new regular item/update on the TC’s agenda to incorporate this feedback. 

July 10 Report Report to Council

1. June Park Events and Revenue Logs

Here is the link to the June Park Events and Revenue Logs.

2. Caltrain Cameras - Mark Simon

Next week I will be meeting with Mark Simon from Caltrain to discuss the installation of cameras at the rail intersections. On July 16, Transit Police will be doing an education and enforcement campaign at the crossings , including Atherton crossings, letting people know what they should and should not be doing around the rail. Warnings and/or citations may be issued.  

3. Watersmart Software

Staff will be making contact with Watersmart Software, a company that provides intelligent data management to water companies and their customers. The Mayor has asked that they come to the Council with a presentation to determine whether it might be something worthwhile mentioning to our residents and Cal Water. 

4. Beverage Container Recycling Grant Funding

We have been selected with 59 other agencies to be a part of an audit of our 2011/12 Beverage Container Recycling City/County Payment Program grant. Finance will be working with the State to process the audit. 

5. Menlo Park Legends Summer Camp

The Menlo Park Legends Summer Camp will be using the Willie Mays Ballpark for two weeks over the summer for camps. They will be onsite July 13 - 17 and July 20 - 24. from 9 am to 2:30 pm. At this time they do not conflict with any other users and we will be evaluating the use. We have issued a trial approval of the camp. The cost is $150 per day for a total revenue of $1,500.