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.

View All Posts

Mar 08

February 2017 City Manager's Monthly Report

Posted on March 8, 2017 at 2:49 PM by grodericks grodericks

City Manager's Monthly Report - February 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; I try to remove information regarding events that have already occurred; and I edit information that requires update - hopefully to make it more useful. However, 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.

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

Follow us on Twitter -

Like us on Facebook -


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

February 24, 2017 Weekly Council Notes

2. All Mail Ballot

The all-mail ballot will include ballot return envelopes that include postage. The Town will be billed for the postage post election.

3. Joint Meeting with the Fire District

The Fire District is checking the week of December 11 for concurrence with the Town for its annual joint meeting. We are also working to nail down a date for the liaison meeting in late May or early June. 

4. Fire Services Fiscal Review

The RFP for the Fire Services Fiscal Review will be released via the Town’s website on February 27. 

5. Planning Commission Action

At the last Planning Commission meeting, the Commission took the following action:

- Approved the request for a Heritage Tree Removal Permit to allow the removal of three trees at 70 Stern Lane.   
- Continued consideration of the request for review of Menlo Schools 2016 Annual Master Plan Update at 50 Valparaiso Avenue to the March 22, 2017 Planning Commission per request of applicant.
- Denied the appeal of the decision of the Building Official to impose the construction time limit penalty 46 Almendral. 
- Recommended City Council approval of amendments to Chapter 17.52, “Second Dwelling Units” of the Town’s Municipal Code for compliance with State law. 
The next meeting is scheduled for March 22, 2017. 

6. Regional Planning Director’s Meeting

In April, the Regional Planning Directors will be discussing short term vacation rental regulation and the opportunity for a countywide approach. 

7. Annual Employee Recognition Lunch

Tuesday, April 18 from 12 pm to 1:30 pm at the Pavilion is the Annual Employee Recognition Lunch. The lunch recognizes all staff for their service to the Town and recognizes those staff that are reaching employment milestones. We have 4 staff being recognized for their milestone years of service: 

- Sergeant Sherman Hall - 15 years
- City Manager George Rodericks - 5 years
- Finance Director Robert Barron III - 5 years
- Deputy City Clerk Judi Herren - 5 years

All Council are welcome to attend. Please let Theresa know if you plan to come to the lunch. 

8. Resignation of Sergeant Lamont Cusseaux

Sergeant Cusseaux tendered his resignation with the Town effective March 11, 2017. I believe he is moving to another position within the County. 

It is likely that we will be opening an external Sergeant recruitment process. 

Special Event Permits - as of February 24, 2017

This is a list of upcoming Special Event Permits approved or under review. 
  • April 22, 2017 - SPCA Fur Ball and Benefit Auction, Circus Club - 6 pm - 11 pm
  • April 29, 2017 - El Camino Hospital Cancer Research Benefit - Circus Club - 6 pm - 11 pm
  • May 29, 2017 - Memorial Day BBQ - Circus Club - 5 pm - 9 pm
  • June 11, 2017 - Polo Matches - Circus Club - 10 am - 7 pm
  • June 18, 2017 - Father’s Day BBQ - Circus Club - 5 pm - 9 pm
  • July 2, 9, & 16, 2017 - Polo Matches - Circus Club - 10 am - 7 pm
  • July 4, 2017 - 4th of July BBQ - Circus Club - 4 pm - 9 pm
  • August 8-14, 2017 - Horse Show - Circus Club 
  • 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

February 17, 2017 Weekly Council Notes

1. Rejection of Claim - Menlo Park

Linked here is a Letter from the City of Menlo Park rejecting the Town’s claim for damages as a result of the water that entered the Atherton Channel (Marsh Road). The Town has 6 months to file a court action on the claim.

2. Animal Services Report - January 2017

Linked here is the January 2017 Animal Services Report

3. 370 Walsh Road - Expiring Permit

Linked here is a letter to the property owner at 370 Walsh Road regarding the construction project that has been ongoing at this address for the last several years. If there is no resolution, this may matriculate up to the Council for possible public nuisance. 

4. Articles of Interest

Mercury News - Civic Center Ballot Measure

Almanac News - Civic Center Project and Ballot Measure

5. Cost Recovery - Debris Clearance

One of the issues the Council wanted an update on was the recovery of costs for clearing of the public right-of-way. The City Attorney has prepared a memorandum for Council review that will be a part of the Study Session on March 1. 

6. Energy Power Purchase Agreements and Other Opportunities

Linked here are a couple of articles/papers of interest to the Council regarding sustainability projects in Redwood City and Palo Alto. 

Redwood City Electric Project - PV Charging / Green Charge

City of Palo Alto - Solar Parking Structures

7. 2017/18 Budget Calendar

Robert has prepared the following budget calendar for the FY 2017/18 Budget process. It includes the internal departmental meetings, and meetings with the CM for review/follow-up on each department timeline within meeting sections.

Departments Meetings for general overview of needs by March 6 with City Manager

- March 13 Templates get sent to internal Departments for input of budget
- Meeting with City Manager week of March 20 with departments for operational dept. budgets for April 5 General Fund Operation Budget Study Session.
- Also meeting with DPW department’s week of March 27 to begin Capital Project budgets. CIP due back April 17 to Finance Department for CIP budget meeting on May 3.

Meeting 1 - Budget Kick-off and Overview- April 5, 2017 Study Session- Joint meeting with Finance Committee

- An overview of the Budget Process and Policy Discussions
- An overview of the FY 2016/17 Year-End Projected Fiscal Condition
- An overview of the Town’s Major Revenue Sources and 5-Year Forecasts
- An overview of the Town’s Major Expenditure Categories and 5-Year Forecasts
- General Fund Budget Discussion all Departments
Meeting 2- Special Funds – April 19, 2017 Council Meeting

- Review of Special Revenue and Other Funds
- Meetings with departments week of April 10th for operations department questions and updates follow up from April 5th study session. 
- Updates needed by May 15th for June 7, 2017 study session update.

Meeting 3- Capital Improvement Budget - May 3, 2017 Study Session

- Meetings week of May 15 with DPW dept to go over CIP budget questions and concerns for inclusion of CIP

Meeting 4- Budget Study Session - June 7, 2017 Study Session (Also includes Special Revenue & Other Funds)

- Week of June 12th meeting with CM and Departments for Final walk through of budget items needs before going for adoption

Meeting 5- Adoption of the Budget - June 21, 2017 Regular Meeting

8. Charging Station at the Park

As an FYI, as the Council will recall the Council pulled back 1 of the 2 EV charging stations at the Park reducing the project scope. Staff connected with BAAQMD to reduce the amount of grant accordingly based on the change of project scope. They refused. They said it was all or nothing based on the original proposal and the minimum grant amount required under their program. We are now attempting to redesign and add the additional carport at the current Civic Center near the corp yard (primarily staff use but with public access on a limited basis) with the knowledge that we’ll use the infrastructure in the new building - forward compatible. This may come to Council for revision in scope depending on the needs of BAAQMD.  
9. City/County Staff Coordinating Group Meeting - HSR

Mike Kashiwagi attended the CSCG meeting for HSR earlier this week and provides the following notes. This month’s meeting provided a status update of the San Francisco to San Jose Project segment of HSR.  The PowerPoint presentation  s linked here for information (hard to read), but below are some bullet points summarizing some relevant information of specific interest to the Town of Atherton.

- The project is currently evaluating 2 primary Alternatives.  The primary components of the Alternatives are the location and configuration of the Vehicle Maintenance Facility along with the need and location of passing tracks.  Both alternatives locate the Vehicle Maintenance Facility in Brisbane.  Regarding passing tracks, Alternative A utilizes existing passing tracks and Alternative B will evaluate 5 different passing track options.  These passing track options require the construction of new tracks which do not exist today.

- One passing track option (Long Middle 3 Track Option) will affect the Town since the new 3rd track will extend from San Mateo to Palo Alto, a length of 8 miles.  None of the 4 Track options impact the Town of Atherton.  At this point, the operational impacts and benefits are being evaluated.  It is anticipated that all 5 Alternative B passing track options will be studied and included in the Draft Environmental document.

- At this point, it is anticipated that the Preferred Alternative will be identified late Summer 2017 and the release of the Draft EIR will be in the Fall 2017.

- With respect to WHO and HOW the preferred passing track option will be identified, it sounds like the primary consideration will be to select an alternative which provides the best operational characteristics for Caltrain and HSR with input and consideration of impacts (R/W impacts, land use implications, traffic impacts, safety, etc) to local agencies within the segment.  It sounds like Caltrain and HSR operating preferences are not aligned with one another, so some “negotiations” lie ahead to reach consensus on the preferred alternative.

- HSR staff (Ben Tripousis) and consultants also reiterated that Quad Gates will be provided at all at-grade road crossings as part of construction of the HSR project.

- HSR staff and consultants also stated that the existing Hold Out Rule at the Broadway and Atherton Caltrain Stations will be addressed with construction of HSR.  This means that the necessary improvements of constructing an additional station platform for Northbound trains will be designed and constructed with the HSR Project.

10. Police Chief Recruitment

There are 31 applicants for the Police Chief opportunity. Peckham and McKenney are reviewing the candidate applications and will connect with me toward the end of the month to review. 

11. Ballot Measure - June 6, 2017

The Town’s website has an Elections webpage for the June 6 Special Election

Now that the City Council has called the special election in June, the Town itself is limited in the use of public resources with respect to the proposed measure. Public agencies may use public resources to analyze, evaluate, and inform the public about its findings with respect to a ballot measure. Public agencies may not use public funds to mount any sort of campaign on the measure. These restrictions are based on the possibility that by engaging in any advocacy, the public agency distorts the democratic electoral process and undermines its fairness. 

Public agencies may use public resources to provide fact-based information in the consistent style, tenor and timing of existing communications. Obvious impermissible activities include things such as bumper stickers, posters, and television, radio or billboard ads. Other improper activity is using public funds to disseminate advocacy materials produced by others. Promotional campaign brochures and other similar materials are not allowed - even when those documents contain some useful factual information for the public. 

Permitted activities include taking a position on a ballot measure in an open and public meeting where all perspectives may be shared. Preparing and providing staff reports and other analyses that help decision-makers determine the measure’s impact and what position to take. Responding to inquiries about ballot measures in ways that provide a fair presentation of the facts about the measure and the Town’s view of a ballot measure’s merits. Accepting invitations to present the Town’s views to organizations interested in the ballot measure’s effect. And, sharing the Town’s views on and analyses of a measure’s impacts and merits. 

The safest approach is to share information (such as links to historic data and previously available staff reports) in a simple, measured and informative way. The information should be delivered through the Town’s regular communication channels - such as the Town’s website, newsletter, or email publications. The communication must not advocate or encourage the public to adopt the Town’s perspective, must not advocate voting one way or another, and must not advocate or encourage taking any action supporting or opposing the measure. 

For more in-depth information, feel free to review the Institute for Local Government’s publication - Legal Issues Associates with Use of Public Resources and Ballot Measure Activities. 

February 10, 2017 Weekly Council Notes

1. Unauthorized Work at Cartan Field

We were alerted to un-permitted work activity at Cartan Field earlier last week. Code Enforcement investigated and found that work was occurring without permits related to field work as well as work on dugouts and backstops. This work was authorized by the College. The work required review under the Conditional Use Permit (Planning) and Building. Work was stopped and the College/Contractor were advised to submit plans as required. 

Prior to work, Menlo College sent their Facilities Director to the Building Department to inquire whether permits were required to replace fencing and backstops. The response was that no permit was required to replace like for like. However, the work what was not discussed was that the work to be done exceeded the basic like for like replacement. Not enough questions were asked by either party. Work began. Work was subsequently stopped after it was determined that the work being done exceeded the boundaries of no-permit work. Entire structures were demolished and were about to replaced with something different - for example, fencing would be replaced with stucco, etc. 

Menlo College is now working with an architect to prepare plans that meet requirements of ADA as well as other requirements. In addition, approval and/or a joint application with Menlo School must be submitted as they are a co-owner/user of the site. 

I tried to make immediate contact with Rich Moran but my call was not returned. I then spoke with Steven Wiener who sent a mea culpa email with the above information. This occurred on Thursday of this week. That same day the Town received a late application for a Special Event Permit for a track and field event on Cartan Field. Typically, since it is a school-related event, unless they plan to exceed the Town’s basic requirements, no permit would be required. However, this event will use starter pistols and bull horns to announce specific activities. It triggered a permit. The permit applications are required 60-days in advance of the event - not two. I advised Steven that I was not inclined to approve the late request given that the College had an outstanding negative event (Stop Work Order) for illegal construction. I told Steven that the only way I could approve the Special Event Permit on such short notice was if the College submitted an email outlining their intent to comply with the building permit requirements and that work would not resume until it did. He did so and I approved the permit. Neighbors will be notified. 

2. Sutherland Driveway Appeal

It appears that the neighbors may have reached a compromise - applicant to build an approach without a flair; appellant to clear frontage of debris and plantings; applicant, appellant, and two adjacent neighbors agree to Fire District parking restrictions. As soon as we have written confirmation from all parties, we will confirm and pull the Appeal from the Agenda Look Ahead. It is tentatively scheduled for March 15. (Update - March 8, 2017: Appeal has been withdrawn and encroachment permit approved.) 

3. Park Circulation Plan Improvement Project

As the Council is aware, Verde Design has ben working with the Park & Recreation Committee over the past several months developing draft schematic plans for the Park Circulation Improvement Project. In FY 2016/17, we budgeted $235k (inclusive of design) for portions of this project. Verde Design has developed a design and the Park & Recreation Committee has developed a phasing approach that will be presented to the Council at the Joint Meeting with the Park & Recreation Committee scheduled for March 1. The totality of the project exceeds budgeted funds; however, the Committee has developed a phased approach that will allow the Council to take the project in bites. If there is time and light at the Joint Meeting, it would be appropriate for the Council and Committee to do a short walk-about of the Park. 

As was discussed, this will also be the opportunity to complete “add-in” repairs to portions of the park path outside the scope of the Park Circulation Project. Because the bulk of the paths being added as part of the project are decomposed granite pathways, staff will be recommending that repairs to other areas of the path be converted to this same material for better wear and maintenance. 

I also have a few potential “add on” options for Council consideration that I will share during our 1:1 meetings next week. 

4. Articles of Interest

Linked here are a few articles of interest.

Mercury News - Atherton City Council may go to voters for Civic Center project

Mercury News - Atherton crews keeping waterways clear of debris

Mercury News - Atherton drainage maintains so far; design work underway for future improvements

5. Website Refresh

As mentioned prior, this Spring staff is working with Civic Plus for a website refresh. We will be working with their project coordinator in early March. Web trends today are photography focused and many of the newer websites feature large landscape photos across home pages for impact. One idea tossed out by Civic Plus is that the Town host a resident photography contest and feature the winners’ photography on the website. Perhaps this is something we can integrate with the Atherton Arts Foundation. As this project moves along, we’ll keep you in the loop. 

6. San Mateo Emergency Services Council Meetings

A note to Council Liaisons Vice Mayor Wiest and Alternate Mayor Lempres - the San Mateo Emergency Services Council is requesting attendance at their next meeting scheduled for April 20 at 4 pm - Hall of Justice, Supervisors Chambers in Redwood City. Please look out for the Agenda packet. 

7. Proposition 64 (Adult Use of Marijuana Act)

I will be attending a collaborative meeting hosted by the County Counsel’s Office and the County Manager’s Office with City Managers to determine how best to address this complex area of the law in a collaborative manner. 

The meeting is Wednesday, March 1 from 9 am to 11 am.

8. HP Events and Revenue Log

Linked here is the Park Events Log for January 2017 and the Park Revenue Log

9. Edge Technology Report

I attended the Library JPA Operations Committee Meeting earlier this week and we discussed the Edge Technology Assessment Report for the San Mateo County Library. The Staff Report provided only a cursory overview so we asked for a copy of the full report. The Edge Technology Assessment Report for 2016 is linked here. Specific library location details are on the last two pages of the Report. 

10. Proposed Tank at Station 5 - Bear Gulch

As the Council is aware, there is a new tank project proposed at Bear Gulch. Environmental review is required and staff will process the application upon receipt. Cal Water hosted a neighbor meeting this week and staff attended the meeting. Cal Water anticipates submitting their actual application around the end of February. 

There were about 9 resident attendees at the community meeting evenly divided between Atherton and Woodside. Cal Water agreed to install story poles (no view impact, just size and aesthetics). 

11. SBWMA Franchise Negotiations and JPA Amendments

Staff sent the linked letter to the SBWMA at the request of the SBWMA and Council Subcommittee to outline a number of issues of concern during franchise negotiations. It is important to put these on the table now while the SBWMA is defining the model franchise and as we look toward the next 20 year franchise agreement.

Our major concerns remain the opportunity for a la carte service selections at the franchise level as well as the JPA level. Staff and Council Member Widmer recently met with the Executive Director of the JPA to discuss the issues and approach. While the meeting was productive, it is still likely to be an uphill effort make changes to both the franchise and JPA agreement.

12. Storm Event

The recent weather pattern was fairly significant. The Town’s drainage systems were at or near capacity. The break in the storm gave the systems an opportunity to clear out before the next weather pattern moved in. If the rain had persisted much longer, there would have been a few overflows. In particular, these would have occurred at Alameda de las Pulgas & Walsh, Euclid and Stockbridge, areas along Polhemus, and areas along Camino Al Lago. Upper Walsh (technically Woodside) was at capacity as well as the water entered Atherton. 

That said, staff preparation and response was excellent. Public Works and Public Safety worked well. The community preparation was excellent. There were limited incidents around Town that triggered emergency response. A few trees here and there as expected, but nothing more. All in all - a good performance that our drainage systems work well, can be improved, but they work well. 

February 3, 2017 Weekly Council Notes

1. Unauthorized Work at Cartan Field

(Comments noted earlier in blog)

2. Sutherland Driveway Appeal

(Comments noted earlier in blog)

3. Menlo School - TEFRA Hearing

Menlo School is seeking tax-exempt financing for a project. They are required to conduct a public hearing within their local jurisdiction. The public hearing, called a TEFRA hearing,will be a part of the Town’s March Regular Council Meeting. TEFRA is the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982. A TEFRA hearing is mandated by the IRS to provide a reasonable opportunity for interested individuals to express their views, either orally or in writing, on the issuance of bonds and the nature of the improvements and projects for which the bonds will be allocated. Similar to the Town’s traditional public hearing process. The California Enterprise Development Authority (of which the Town is a member - via Statewide membership) is the conduit for Menlo School for the issuance of bonds. CEDA is authorized to hold the public hearing within the jurisdiction in which the borrower is located - Atherton. 

4. Park Circulation Plan Improvement Project

(Comments noted earlier in blog)

5. Meeting CPUC - Rail

Staff is meeting with a representative from the CPUC the week of February 13 to discuss the Quiet Zone and Atherton Station. 

6. Meeting with SFPUC - Water Pipeline

Staff is meeting with representatives from the SFPUC the week of February 13 with respect to the water pipeline in response to the Town’s letter. 

7. Drone Ordinance

The Drone Ordinance returns to the Council in February. Readout from Park & Recreation Committee - no drones in the Park. 

8. Articles of Interest

Linked here are a few articles of interest.

Mercury News - City Council Studies Measure to Fund Town Center

Mercury News - Timeline for the Town Center Project

Almanac News - Atherton Civic Center - Tying Up Loose Ends

9. Animal Services Report - December 2016

Linked here is the Animal Services Report for December 2016