Council Meeting Date: April 21, 2021
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 April Regular Meeting on Wednesday, April 21 at 6 pm via Zoom Teleconference pursuant to the Governor's Executive Order. Following the Roll Call the Council began moving through the Agenda beginning with Presentations. The Council heard a College Campus Update - Navigating the Pandemic presentation by Menlo College; and a Presentation by Peninsula Clean Energy on Reach Codes. The Council provided direction to staff to meet with Peninsula Clean Energy and prepare an evaluation of Reach Codes for Atherton, including outreach to the Builder's Roundtable for feedback, to present to the City Council for possible next steps. Following presentations, the Council moved to Public Comments. There were no Public Comments.
Following Public Comment, the Council moved to the City Manager's Report. The City Manager's Report is typically prepared monthly as part of the City Council's Regular Agenda. In addition to current reports from the City Manager, it typically includes departmental updates on the various happenings around Town such as reports from Administration, Community Services, Planning, Police, and Public Works. The City Manager advised that the April City Manager's Report did not make the Agenda and will be presented instead in May.
Following the City Manager's Report, the Council moved to the Consent Agenda consisting of Items 6 and 8 (~6:55 pm). 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 of various meetings, bills and claims, and award of a contract for the Pavilion Restroom Remodel project.
Next was Public Hearings.
Public Hearings are typically held for Ordinances, Budget Adoption, Fee Adoption, and Land Use approvals.
There were no Public Hearings scheduled for the April 21 Council meeting.
Next up was the Regular Agenda (~7:00 pm).
Item No. 9 was Certification of Continuing Emergency and Ratification fo Such Rules and Regulations Enacted by the Director of Emergency Services in Response to COVID-19. The City Manager provided an overview of the Town's purpose for the Emergency Declaration and an overview of the emergency powers so enacted. The City Manager advised that the Town's Emergency Services Ordinance defines an emergency as "...the actual or threatened existence of conditions of disaster or of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property within the Town caused by such conditions as air pollution, fire, flood, storm, epidemic, riot or earthquake, or other conditions, including conditions resulting from war or imminent threat of war..." A pandemic, which will typically last for an extended period time, qualifies as an emergency. In addition to prescribing emergency powers, the declaration of emergency also sets up a chain of fiscal recovery that allows the Town to recoup costs associated with response to the emergency. Absent the declaration of and the continuation of a local emergency, Town costs associated with response to the emergency at worst would either not be eligible for federal or state reimbursement or at best, difficult to collect. When under a disaster declaration, the Director of Emergency Services (the City Manager) has certain practical powers that are not typically present under normal operations. These include the power to make and issue rules and regulations on matters reasonably related to the protection of life and property as affected by such emergency, obtain vital supplies, equipment and other property necessary for the protection of life and property, including acquiring by commandeering such equipment for public use if necessary, and conscript personnel or materials to the aid of the Town. Any action taken by the Director of Emergency Services that goes above and beyond the ordinary powers of the City Manager are ratified at the earliest and practicable time by the City Council. The Town's regular certification of continuing emergency serves to provide transparency. Following public comment and brief discussion related to transparency and public engagement, the Council adopted the Certification of Continuing Emergency due to COVID-19.
Item No. 10 was Consideration of appointments to the Environmental Programs Committee and Transportation Committee. (~7:10 pm) The City Manager provided a brief staff report reiterating the roles and rules provided in the City Council's Resolution Governing Committees. The City Manager advised that all Committees are advisory and are subject to the City Council Rules of Procedure, Municipal Code, Political Reform Act and the Brown Act. Committee members serve at the pleasure of the Council. Collectively, committees are encouraged to advocate positions to the City Council on matters under the purview of their respective committee. Each Committee has a charter known as their powers and duties. Work of the Committee is typically bound by this charter. The Committee as a whole makes recommendations to the City Council on areas within their charter. The City Council may accept, modify or reject any recommendation from a Committee. Following public comment and discussion, the City Council appointed Patti Spezzaferro to fill an unexpired term on the Environmental Programs Committee, term expires June 2023; and Christine David to fill an unexpired term on the Transportation Committee, term expires June 2023.
Next up was Item No. 11. Item No. 11 was a review of the staff recommendations regarding the condition of the center lane street trees on Tuscaloosa Avenue and Mt. Vernon. (~7:20 pm) The City Manager provided a brief staff report addressing the Arborist's review of the two trees in question and the staff recommendations regarding each. Staff recommended that the Tuscaloosa tree be trimmed with a re-evaluation after a year and that the tree on Mt. Vernon be removed immediately. The City Manager advised that staff does not recommend replacing the trees in the center of the roadway. However, the City Manager advised that if it is the Council’s desire to consider replacement of the tree(s), staff would recommend replacing the trees with street-appropriate trees (trees that consider root and debris impact) and that an appropriately sized raised median area be built to accommodate the tree(s). This may require the widening of the lanes on either side of the tree(s) and that will require encroachments into the rights-of-way frontages of the adjacent properties. The City Manager advised that typically staff has the authority to make decisions related to trees in this condition and has come forth with a recommendation to do so. However, because of the significance of these trees and their significance to the neighborhood's staff is bringing these two issues to the CIty Council for concurrence before acting. The Council discussed issues related to community engagement, liability, fiscal responsibility, replacement tree options, cost of replacement, and type of tree. Following public comment and discussion, the City Council directed that staff remove both the Tuscaloosa tree and the Mt. Vernon tree due to their decay conditions. Following public comment and discussion, the Council directed that staff advise the neighborhood of the pending removal. In addition, the Council directed that staff return to the City Council with considered options for replacement of the trees either in, at, or near their original locations; as well as the considered cost for replacement of a significant enough tree for the area. The Council also asked that staff conduct an evaluation of other street trees that may be in similar conditions.
Item No. 12 was Consideration of Acceptance of a $52,250 donation in support of the purchase of additional ALPR cameras and provide direction regarding the lease of an additional 10 ALPR cameras. (~7:56 pm) The City Manager provided a brief staff report advising that staff has received a donation offer of $52,250 for a two-year agreement for the placement of additional ALPR cameras to help fill the gaps in the Town's camera system. The donor has requested to remain anonymous but indicated that s/he would consider making an additional donation in support of continuing the 10 ALPRs installed in the future. As noted in the staff report, there are presently 33 camera locations, most are already installed but some are in the progress of installation. The list of 10 additional locations for the new cameras provided by the Chief in the staff report is where the Police Department’s evaluation has concluded that there are gaps in the system of coverage. The Council is free to make amendments to that list. The Council discussed issues related to camera placement, gaps in the system of coverage, removal of cameras, and future cost. Following public comment and discussion, the Council accepted the donation and the additional 10 locations but also directed staff to continue to evaluate the camera locations and continue to fill any gaps in coverage in the system.
Item No. 13 was review and approval of the draft 2021 Sustainability Work Plan and Budget for the Environmental Programs Committee. (~8:09 pm) The City Manager provided a brief staff report noting that the Sustainability Work Plan was created by the Environmental Programs Committee. The City Manager noted that the City Council can reduce, enhance, or modify the Plan. The Work Plan for 2021 consists of a commemorative plaque to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day near a tree as part of the Town Center's Landscape Plan and participation in the Seed Paper Bookmark Program. The Council discussed issues related to Earth Day, flyer verbiage, timing of the commemorative plaque, the seed program, and types of plants/seeds. Following public comment and discussion, the Council approved the 2021 Sustainability Work Plan.
Item No. 14 was release of a Request for Proposal for a Sustainability Coordinator Consultant. (~8:22 pm) The City Manager provided a brief staff report noting that staff recommended the addition of a consultant to serve as the Town's Sustainability Coordinator as part of the FY 2021/22 Budget. The City Manager advised that the Request for proposal outlines the scope of work for the consultant. The firm or individual selected would work directly through the City Manager's Office in support of the Town's Climate Action Plan efforts and the Environmental Programs Committee work. Moving the consultant and EPC under the City Manager's Office umbrella elevates the work effort and provides additional oversight. The RFP outlines some of the anticipated duties and roles of the Coordinator across the broad spectrum of areas. The Council discussed issues related to role and responsibilities for the Coordinator, review criteria and timing of responses. Following public comment and discussion, the Council authorized released of the Request for Proposal extending submittal and review deadlines by 1 week but maintaining the approval at the June Regular City Council meeting. In addition, the City Manager will amend the review criteria before release of the document.
Item No. 15 was the Annual Report for the Police Department. (~8:30 pm) Following a brief staff presentation, the City Council discussed issues related to succession planning, crime statistics, crime activity, and enforcement measures efficacy. This Report was informational only.
The last item on the Agenda was Item No. 16, Town Center Project Update, Approval of Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment Phase #2, and feedback regarding donor pathway alternatives. (~8:45 pm) The City Manager provided a brief staff report outlining the Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment included in Phase #2 for the Project. The City Council discussed the various furniture selections and made minor amendments to the outdoor furniture items before approval of the Phase #2 purchase as amended (chairs @12, tables @4, and stones @2). The City Manager then presented options for the Donor Pathway. The City Council discussed the various design options and made suggestions related to selection of the white hall stone, feather edges for the stone placement in the original stone orientation, retention of the seating near Historic Town Hall, elimination of the edge of the pavers near the new planter bed and recognition of donors at $1,000 or more in the donor pathway. Staff was directed to revise the design as noted and provide it to the Town's contractor for an estimate of cost and return both to the City Council for consideration.
Having cleared the entire Agenda, at approximately 9:34 pm, that as they say - was a wrap!
The next meeting of the City Council will be a Special Meeting/Study Session on April 28 at 4 pm. The April 28 meeting will be a Joint Meeting with the Town's Planning Commission to discuss the state of the State Legislature on Housing and discussion of options for the Town's consideration in the new Housing Element Update to comply with the new Regional Housing Needs Allocation.