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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Nov 02

October 2015 City Manager's Monthly Report

Posted on November 2, 2015 at 10:20 AM by grodericks grodericks

City Manager's Monthly Report - October 2015

Monthly-report.pngWelcome to the City Manager's Monthly Report Blog.

The 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 in favor of the most recent; I remove information regarding events that have already occurred; and I 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.

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

October 30, 2015 - City Council Report

1. Park Cameras

The Park cameras are LIVE and streaming to Dispatch. The first is at the northwest corner of the Park where the gate goes into Felton Gables. The second is behind the Little League facility with a view of the restrooms. Once we work the kinks out of the system we’ll install additional cameras (approx. $2500 per) - entry/exit/parking lots.

2. Safe Routes to School

There is a Safe Routes to School Meeting setup by Menlo Park and the County specifically addressing pedestrian, traffic and cyclist issues along the Alameda in Menlo Park. We plan to attend - November 2, 7 pm. 


I attended the preliminary portion of the Wednesday October 28, 2015 MTC meeting. The Commission ultimately voted to proceed with a study of a full comprehensive merger of ABAG and MTC planning agencies. Key points from the resolution:

* MTC shall provide the remaining six months of FY 2015-16 planning funds.
* MTC and ABAG shall retain a consultant to conduct a merger study and a merger implementation plan of both agencies.
* The study will be directed by the Joint ABAG Administrative Committee and MTC Planning Committee.
* Original proposal to transfer ABAG planners to MTC is put on hold during the merger study.

There remains many issues of governance, planning tasks, and organization to define. Linked here is the Resolution proposed by the MTC

4. Bid Closing Dates - FYI

- Class III Bike Route Project - Bid Closing Date: 10/29/2015 - 2 pm
- Middlefield/Oak Grove Complete Streets Improvements (Engineering) - Bid Closing Date - 10/27/2015 - 2 pm
- ECR HAWK - Bid Closing Date - 11/10/2015 - 11 am

5. Lean on the Water Tower

Staff has had reports that the Water Tower appears to be leaning. We have engaged a surveyor to help us determine if it is leaning and if so, if it is actively leaning. If the lean is active, we will need to take steps to remedy and determine why it is doing so (subsidence, footings, water, etc.)

6. MCE Work

Since April/May we have been running short with MCE by one staffer while MCE recruits. They have been having difficulty finding an experienced employee to fill the role. While they have temporarily filled it with temporary labor, we would like a skilled employee in the role. We have communicated this directly to MCE that it is now October and they need to take immediate steps to remedy our concern. 

7. Marsh Road Repairs

On Saturday we will be making some repairs to the street top fence/wall along the Marsh Road channel. The County has asked that the Town make these repairs in advance of the pending El Nino so that as the channel fills, it does not have a “path of least resistance” to overtop. 

8. Event Garden

The Event Garden work is scheduled to start next week.

9. Library Operations Committee Meeting

On Tuesday I attended the Library Operations Committee Meeting. One of the items on the Agenda was the Atherton Conceptual Plan which, after moving through the Council is making its way through the Operational Committee to the Library Governing Board. Fully supported. Another item was the branding concepts for the Library. We reviewed three options for branding. All had coordinating colors and themes, but were very different in style (more than just a logo). The first, and most supported, was a set of 3 vertical elements noting "San Mateo County Libraries", the second was a more abstract SMCL, and the third was an abstract dandelion (I saw it more as a microphone similar to the old AT&T logo). All had pros and cons. The Committee provided feedback and now the topic heads to the Governing Board.

10. Letter of Support of Clean Energy Program

Linked here is a letter of support for the Town joining the County’s clean energy program. 

11. CalPERS Circular - Actuarial Reports

Linked here is a CalPERS Circular Letter - 10/23/15 noting that the Actuarial Reports will be delayed. 

12. Articles To Rail Committee

A member of the Rail Committee asked that the linked articles be sent to the Committee. They were distributed this week. 

13. Measure M ($10 Vehicle Registration) Revenue

Linked here is a linked letter from C/CAG noting the Town’s eligible distribution (reimbursement basis) for expenditures in FY 2014/15 for projects qualifying under Measure M ($80,000). The Town budgets for this anticipated revenue under the CIP Fund 204. The minimum distribution is $75,000. We use the funds for street sealing and storm water programs. The Town has not yet submitted the audit report for FY 2013/14. We will ensure that this occurs. 

14. Planning Commission Meeting - 10/28/15

The Planning Commission, at its October 28, 2015 meeting took the following action:
  • Approved a Special Structure Permit to allow increased sidewall height at 22 Lane Place.
  • Continued the decision to consider amendments to the Ordinance amending Atherton Municipal Code section 6.04 to modify the regulations for the keeping of chickens for the December 2, 2015 Planning Commission meeting.  The Commission provided direction to staff to make further amendments to the Ordinance regarding the allowable quantity of chickens based off of lot size, setting a minimum lot size for the keeping of chickens, revising the development standards for chickens coops/enclosures to be more restrictive then the accessory building/structure Ordinance, having chicken/coop enclosure size relative to the amount of allowable chickens, and adding additional provisions regarding health issues associated with chickens.
  • Provided direction to staff on the General Plan update process and for staff to present 1 – 3 revised General Plan Elements at time to the Planning Commission in a study session format, that staff have one community meeting during the process, and then ultimately providing one, comprehensive revised draft General Plan for Commission consideration and recommendation to the City Council. 

15. Response from Fire Chief - Inclusion in Civic Center

The Fire Chief advised that the Town’s letter from the Mayor goes before the Fire Board in November. He advised that they will be preparing a staff report. The Chief inquired as to whether the communication to which I referred to in my staff report between he and I was email or formal since he did not recall receiving a formal request on Town letterhead. I advised that the exchange was email. He advised that he has been consistent in message that while the District appreciates the offer, there is no practical strategic advantage to locating a fire station at the Civic Center location.

16. Amateur Radio Emergency Service Communication Network

I received an email from Larry Sweeney who serves on the Board for the South County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (SCARES). The group supports the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department, Fire Districts and various CERT groups in South County. Larry asked if the Town could consider allowing the group to deploy a mesh network node within the Park to facilitate their wireless connections to Menlo Park and Atherton Police Emergency Operation Centers. They would like to deploy possibly on the Carriage House or Water Tower. 

I advised that I was reluctant to consider deployment on any historic structures in the Park; but, could consider something on the Pavilion or Gilmore House. In further communication with the Chief’s (Fire and PD), if these communication networks are to be a part of the County, District, and Town’s emergency communication networks, they need to comply with all emergency deployment and communication protocols. Some of the emergency amateur networks do not choose to do so. It would be inappropriate for the Town to collaborate with a group on Town property as part of the Town’s network (i.e. providing antenna space) if they do not choose to comply with the emergency communication protocols. Determining compliance and adherence will be the first step with the SCARE’s group. 
The SCARES group will be meeting with the Police and Fire Emergency Response Teams. 

17. Helicopter Landing Requirements

Absent emergency/Town use, the Town has designated Helicopter Landing requirements (Chapter 12.28 of the AMC). We have been advised that we may receive a request for a helicopter landing in February to facilitate attendance at a local private event. 

18. Quiet Zones

A member of the Rail Committee presented a presentation on Quiet Zones to the October 6 Rail Committee Meeting. The member urged the Committee to take action to pursue a quiet zone at the Fair Oaks location at a minimum and to pursue on a the Watkins location after installing appropriate safety measures. The Committee provided such a recommendation. Staff asked the member where they had obtained their information on the establishment of quiet zones and the member advised that, in addition to personal research, they had obtained guidance and technical advice from an engineer experienced in the establishment of quiet zones. However, when staff asked to speak with the engineer in order to help staff confirm and validate the information and next steps, the member declined to provide any contact information. 

Staff is moving forward with independent confirmation and validation in order to determine next steps. Some of the information provided runs contrary to what Caltrain and others have advised. We have setup a meeting with the Committee member for November 18. The purpose of this meeting is to do some due diligence and validate information.  Specifically, we need to validate the assertion that the Town has the ability to establish a Quiet Zone independent of the Federal Rail Administration and the assertion that Fair Oaks qualifies (i.e. recent incidents and suicides do not prohibit the Town’s establishment of a quiet zone).
The Rail Committee was excited about the information and unanimously recommended the City Council begin the process of creating a Quiet Zone by filing a Notice of Intent for the Fair Oaks Crossing. However, before leading the Town forward, we need to make sure that we have the authority to do so and are heading down the right path. 

I am sure that the Council remembers the recent Caltrain Hazard Analysis Report (October 2014 for Watkins Avenue. The Report notes that in order to place quad gates at the crossing it would be conditioned upon widening the street into private property, to the west, and over the channel to the ease. The Report also advised that the CPUC stated that there is not enough space on the northeast quadrant (near Park and Storm Drain) to install the exit gate. Further, the Report advised that FRA regulations typically require at least a 10-year interval with no nearby fatalities - a situation that cannot currently be met. 

October 26, 2015 - City Council Report

1. Circus Club Special Events

As we discussed prior, I am having the Circus Club complete a single Special Event Permit for all of their activities for the 2016 year based on their calendar. Exceptional events will trigger a separate permit, but their typical events can be listed under a global permit. 

Christian Thon is working on that now. 

2. Park Events and Revenues - September 2015

3. Animal Services Report - September 2015

4. Jobs for Youth Annual Report

At the last Council meeting the Council asked Ruby Tomas for an Annual Report for the San Mateo Jobs for Youth Program. Ruby provided the linked Report (same as was handed out that evening). We will add authorization to pay the $570 to the next Council Consent Agenda. 

5. Bid Closing Dates - FYI

- Class III Bike Route Project - Bid Closing Date: 10/29/2015 - 2 pm
- Middlefield/Oak Grove Complete Streets Improvements (Engineering) - Bid Closing Date - 10/27/2015 - 2 pm
- ECR HAWK - Bid Closing Date - 11/10/2015 - 11 am

October 16, 2015 - City Council Report

1. El Camino Real/Selby Intersection Outreach

Staff is working to setup an Outreach Subcommittee Meeting (Lewis/Wiest) for the Selby Intersection Options at El Camino. Once we meet with the Subcommittee we will begin a neighborhood outreach program. We anticipate that the subcommittee meeting will be sometime in early November. 

2. Voice Recording System (911)

As the Council is aware, the 2015/16 Budget included the purchase of a new voice recording system for the Town’s 911 System. When we put the budget together in early 2015 the vendor quote (VoicePrint) did not include training and installation. The Town’s existing system is no longer supported at the end of 2015. An all-in from VoicePrint is approximately $20k.  

However, during the interim period, staff contacted several other vendors to obtain competitive costs. All recommended that the Town move to a different system architecture for future compatibility and lower ongoing monthly maintenance. Our early estimates of cost were short. Staff researched a system recently installed by Menlo Park Police Department and determined that while there is more cost upfront, the total cost of ownership and the ability of the system to transfer to the new facilities is far superior.  The cost of the new system is $27.4k. Given the critical need and timing, I authorized moving forward with the system purchase and installation (it will take several months). I will return at mid-year with a budget correction. 

3. Series Circuit Street Light Replacement Project Update

Staff continues work with PG&E and the design consultant to move this project along. Field investigation revealed that 36 lights (in 4 separate areas) require replacement. Staff expects to receive information from PG&E regarding the improvements and the circuitry design in November. 

In the interim, staff is planning to install sample lights so that the public may provide input on the proposed new lights, prior to finalizing any design and seeking Council approval. The consultant is analyzing the Town’s street light operations and will include recommendations in their report on issues related to LED conversation and other options moving forward. 

4. Caltrans - Almendral Beacon

The Town has finally secured an Encroachment Permit from Caltrans to move this project forward. The Daily Post reported that the HAWK would also include in-pavement flashers. This is incorrect. Bids are set to be opened on November 10. If they come in without error or ambiguity, we might be able to award the bid at the November 18 Council meeting, else we’ll move it to the next meeting. Staff recognizes the need to keep this project moving forward. Once bids are awarded, construction will begin as soon as the bidder’s services can be reasonably marshaled (rainy season might result in delay).

5. Marsh Road Striping and Reflectors

Striping and reflectors have been added along the Marsh Road channel. 

6. Cell Tower at Town Hall

AT&T is asking to make some improvements to the cell tower at Town Hall. We are reviewing their request in line with the CUP, Wireless Ordinance, and Civic Center Conceptual Plan. We may recommend to AT&T that they delay their improvements until such time as the details have been worked out for replacement/relocation/removal of the cell tower. We will be meeting with them over the next couple of weeks. Alternatively, we may authorize them to proceed with the improvements but given that it may be more than 10% require modification to the existing antenna and lease. 

7. Community Task Force Applications

The County is convening a Community Task Force to inform their sea level rise outreach and community engagement efforts. The application deadline is Friday, October 30. We are distributing this information via the Town’s electronic network and twitter. 

8. Climate Action Plan

The Climate Action Plan, as amended and recommended by the Environmental Programs Committee, is on the City Council Study Session for November 4. Many of the recommendations by the Committee are far-reaching and have significant implications for residents and the Town’s staff and resources. Staff is presenting the Committee’s recommendations to the Council along with staff’s recommendation on each measure. Some do not align. In the end, it is a policy call for the City Council on just how far the Town wants to move forward on each measure. If the Council wishes to lead the way in advance of State law in a particular area, additional staff, staff time, and resources will need to be added to our operational budget. 

9. Book Recommendation

The “OnTarget” Board Member - 8 Indisputable Behaviors.

10. Consideration of Donation

The Mayor, Vice Mayor, and I will be visiting with Neil Rasmussen (corner of Glenwood/Middlefield) to discuss the possible donation of historic property (not real property). The City Council (as a body) has the ability to accept or reject any proposed donation if offered.

11. Out of the Office

As the Council is aware, I will be out of the office (Hawaii) during the period of November 22 through December 5. The first week is my wedding on Oahu and the second week is the honeymoon on Maui. I will try not to check my email. 

12. Next Steps with the CCAC

Over the last couple of weeks, the Chair of the CCAC and I have had several conversations about next steps. Gordon and I will be meeting with the Chair between now and October 30 to discuss next steps for the Committee. Particular focus will be spent on key decision points for the Town as the project moves forward. 

13. Upcoming Holiday Closures

Town Hall will be closed for the following holidays:

- Veteran’s Day - November 11
- Thanksgiving Holiday - November 26 and 27
- Christmas/New Year’s - December 24 through January 1

For the Christmas and New Year’s break, there are two Town-granted holidays. For all other days, staff will either use banked leave time or leave without pay. 

14. Channel/Drainage Tour

Staff is trying to schedule a channel/drainage tour. Since this will be a “moving meeting” we will be renting a 15-passenger van for the tour. Please respond to Theresa’s meeting wizard email with your availability. This is a priority to get accomplished. We will be traveling in and out of the Town’s drainage courses and talking about storm preparations, projects, and improvements. Please be prepared and dress accordingly. 

15. Tour of Sacred Heart Schools Facilities

Participated in an excellent tour of the Homer Science and Student Life Center (LEED Platinum) and Stevens Library (Net Zero) on Tuesday. Excellent tips, feedback, and recommendations relevant to the Civic Center Project. 

16. OpenGov - Fiscal Transparency Portal and Fiscal Intelligence

On Thursday, Robert and I met with representatives from OpenGov to talk through some of their coming improvements. They are working on putting together a fiscal intelligence package that will help the Town use comparative analytics in its financial data as well as integrate other non-financial data for performance indicators. Coming soon to our website. 

October 9, 2015 - City Council Report

1. Follow-up on Cartan Field Neighborhood Meeting

Staff met with representatives from Menlo School/Menlo College (MS/MS) along with adjacent neighbors to talk through a couple of scenarios for development of Cartan Field. The meeting was very well received and the School (primary) took consecutive feedback on the proposed project. Most of the feedback revolved around several areas:

- Noise monitoring should be installed in the new development where feasible
- Neighbors would prefer tennis or parking adjacent to their rear yards rather than baseball or athletic field
- Concerned about pool noise - find a representative pool that can be seen as an example of the type of development and test it / visit it for noise
- Concerned about traffic impacts on Alejandra during heavy use periods
- Prefer landscaping to netting along rear fence lines but it’s neighbor dependent
- Eliminate the whistles from along side the back yard areas
- Provide a list of conditions of use acceptable to all - no activity on Sundays, holidays, etc. 
- Consider relocating the pool on College property
- Issues continue to arise related to controlling rental activity - needs better monitoring and enforcement

Next steps for the project are the following:

- MS/MC should take in the feedback received at the meeting
- MS should adjust the plan where feasible
- MS should update the noise and traffic analysis based on a new plan design
- MS should “rate” the noise by use (pool, field, tennis, parking, etc.)
- MS should add mitigative measures related to uses - hours, noise monitoring, enforcement, etc. 
- MS should add a list of other mitigative measures to the plan - screening, fencing, landscaping, etc.
- MS should add a visual of the pool structure
- Once complete, have a final meeting with the neighbors before submittal to the Town
- Once complete, submit the project to the Town for normal processing through planning, environmental, etc. 

2. Menlo Park Fire Protection District - Time Based Performance Standards

Following the Town, the County, and the City of Menlo Park discussing the modification of El Camino Real and Middlefield Road, the Fire District Board of Directors began a conversation around time-based performance standards for emergency response. They completed an updated Standards of Cover Assessment and recently adopted the linked Resolution No. 1818-2015 adopting time-based performance measure standards for the District. 

As mentioned prior, Alex McIntyre and I sent emails back to the Chief asking what exactly that meant for our respective agencies. I asked did it mean that the Fire District would enhance its commitment to the communities it serves through the investment in capital infrastructure improvements that go directly toward meeting or improving the time-based performance standards - such as roadway improvements, signal synchronization projects, pre-emption devices, bike lanes (to add width to a roadway), dedicated bus lanes (for bus and emergency response), and identification of and development of new station locations to enhance response? Alex McIntyre echoed the questions and further asked what authority it carried and whether there was any binding impact on the communities. 

The Chief advised that through their Standards of Cover, they evaluated the locations of all current stations and determined that, overall, they are in good to great locations. New locations were proposed and reviewed but it was determined that they would not significantly improve response times, costs were prohibitive, and adjusting deployment in areas like the Bayside of 101 made more sense. 

The Chief also advised that Atherton’s current road configuration benefits emergency response into Menlo Park, North Fair Oaks and Redwood City. However, the same cannot always be said for those communities that create a cumulative negative affect on emergency response and response times. As an example, the Chief advised that the traffic control devices in North Fair Oaks daily impede emergency response for Engine 5 that protects portions of Atherton. Further, the Chief advised that further development changes along Middlefield will impact local response times to Atherton. 

3. Inside Look at the Town’s Police Department

John Orr, Daily News Staff Writer asked for a tour of the Atherton Police Facility. A tour was provided by Lt. Wade and Jennifer Frew. Linked here is his resultant article

4. Check from Atherton Now

The Town received a check from Atherton Now to cover the donation requirement for the Schematic Design Phase. 

5. Bed Bugs at the Library

Staff received a note from Anne-Marie Despain, Director of Library Services updating the Town on the issue of bedbugs at the Library. Palo Alto City Library and Menlo Park Library recently reported bedbugs in their locations, resulting in short library closures to deal with the situation. Staff there have indicated that the discovery was minor and in the furniture (not the books). Staff are alert to the situation(s) and if found, will work with contract pest control to immediately deal with the issue. 

6. Las Lomitas School District - Detention Basin

Staff met with the District Superintendent and School Board President (who happen to be present at the time) and their Bond Projects Manager to discuss the possible storm water detention basin. The District was very receptive, especially since the ball field’s renovation is not funded through their bond program. They shared a master plan drawing showing the relocated entrance aligned with Walsh Road, for which they are planning a traffic signal. Staff suggested that they also look to underground utilities across their entrance. Staff will be meeting with them again soon to develop more detailed plans as a prelude to preparing a Memorandum of Understanding for the project. It was expressed that the Town may be interested in participating in the project. 

7. Caltrans Sustainable Transportation Planning Grant Program

Samtrans has asked that the Town consider submitting a letter of support for a grant application. The project involves El Camino Real and will facilitate the design of multimodal streetscape improvements, in partnership with Caltrans, to create a roadway that is safe and accessible for all users, is integrated with proposed sustainable development, and encourages pedestrian and transit activity and investment. The “Targeted Multimodal Improvements” project will prepare conceptual designs to improve safety in high opportunity case study segments, selected based on bicycle and pedestrian collision data. Public engagement via interactive workshops will enable Corridor communities to define their vision for healthy streets that are safe, sustainable, multimodal, and economically beneficial, while still accommodating traffic. A Final Report will detail the results of the case studies, including designs, design approval and funding guidance, and lessons learned for replication. This project will enable jurisdictions along El Camino Real, as well as other similar urban corridors, to move quickly and easily into implementing multimodal safety improvements.

8. ABAG - MTC Land Use Planners and Funding

The San Mateo City Manager’s Association met this week to discuss this issue. A subcommittee of Manager’s was formed to meet with the Executive Director of the MTC to discuss slowing down the conversation to allow member agencies to fully digest the impacts and considerations. While the Manager’s Group was not interest in taking a position because of the political and policy issues related to the conversation, it was noted that there could be serious affects to migrating land use planning into transportation planning - primarily from a governance and representative position. 

It was the general consensus that a decision of this magnitude should not be rushed and that local agencies should have a chance to be involved not only in the discussion but in the ultimate governance framework. 

9. Series Circuit Street Light Replacement Project Update

Staff continues work with PG&E and the design consultant to move this project along. Field investigation revealed that 36 lights (in 4 separate areas) require replacement. Staff expects to receive information from PG&E regarding the improvements and the circuitry design in November. 

In the interim, staff is planning to install sample lights so that the public may provide input on the proposed new lights, prior to finalizing any design and seeking Council approval. The consultant is analyzing the Town’s street light operations and will include recommendations in their report on issues related to LED conversation and other options moving forward. 

10. Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan

The consultant and staff have moved the draft Plan through the Fire District and staff with comments. Following discussion the Plan will be moved to a community meeting, then the Transportation Committee and then back to the Council. 

11. Marsh Road Channel

We will be asking the Regional Water Quality Control Board for final approval or denial on our project application and let us move through the appeal route if necessary. If you recall, there was the specific request/condition to remove the bottom of the channel and return it to a more riparian nature. That is not our project. There are options, but we need to do repairs to this channel sooner rather than later. The engineering firm walked the channel with the RWQCB representatives and noted additional areas needed for repair that had changed recently and areas where more bulging had occurred. There remains a sense of urgency. We will be getting legal counsel involved if necessary.