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 02

July 2017 City Manager's Monthly Report

Posted on August 2, 2017 at 9:18 AM by grodericks grodericks

City Manager's Monthly Report - July 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. 

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 directly via email or phone.

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

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

July 28, 2017 Weekly Council Notes

1. Articles of Interest

Of Note:

The Almanac articles concerning the Fire District had comments on the online posts. These comments have since been removed. One of the comments was from John Ullom. Mr. Ullom subsequently sent an email to the full Council noting: 

"I hope this information finds you well. I am the citizen that filed the PRA requests that have Mr. Carpenter's panties in a bunch. Here is the backstory. In 2015, Virginia Chang Kiraly made some assertions that sounded like BS. I filed a PRA with the MPFPD. The results proved that VCK was indeed slinging cow poop. They also revealed that both Virginia and Peter use their personal email addresses to do public business. I tried to obtain those emails but was denied. Recently a judge decided that folks like VCK and Peter should not be able to hide public business done using personal resources. I filed again for asking for all District related emails that involved the use of personal email addresses. Peter Carpenter tossed a tizzy worthy of the tangerine tinged tyrant in DC. First, Carpenter sent me an email declaring he never used his personal email address for fire district business. I informed Carpenter via the MPFPD lawyer that I already was in possession of emails that proved his claim was false. Peter changed his tune. Then Peter Carpenter sent me an email whining about having to search through 12 years of personal emails in order to confirm that he never ever used his personal email to public business. In that email, Carpenter made what could be construed as a threat. He cryptically stated that I would be held to account. I do not know what he meant by that. I'll pretend he didn't mean any kind of violence or such. As you are probably aware of, Peter Carpenter is a kind of prickly fella. Your observation about his PRA hypocrisy was far more accurate than I think you knew. Now you know. If you want the proof, I have his emails. Good luck dealing with him”

2. Interest in the EPC

Brian Keifendem responded to the Council’s request for consideration of appointment to the Environmental Programs Committee. We will circle back with Brian to get his completed letter/application of interest and return this to the Council for consideration of appointment in September. 

As the Council may recall, Brian was one of the applicants for the Planning Commission. 

3. Action Items - Timing

As the Civic Center Project moves to bid in early 2018, there will be a number of issues that will need to move quickly. To accommodate, we will be adding quick action items to the Study Session Agendas as needed to keep the project on track. Over the next 6 months, you may see items for the project appear on both the Regular Agenda and Study Session Agenda as necessary. 

4. Kudos to the Building Department

I received the following email providing kudos to the Town’s Building Department: 

"This note is to appreciate the extraordinary service provided by the Building Department of Atherton under the leadership of Mr. Mike Greenlee. In the past two years I had a major house remodeling with a wonderful experience with the Atherton Building Department. Remodeling is known to be a difficult and sometimes painful process. However, their service and help made the process as smooth and less painful as one could hope for. They strictly followed the government rules and regulations while proactively providing constructive advice for us to get the jobs done to our satisfaction. They were very responsible and responsive – always on top of things. They were highly professional and courteous. The remarks I heard from the contractors were also very positive. They praised the Building Department staff as the most efficient and responsive government employees they had ever encountered. They felt that they were treated with dignity and respect. I often had conversations with other Atherton residents and exchanged the “woe” of remodeling in different ways. However, there was one thing in common: we were all pleased with the service by the Building Department. Finally, I want to thank you for supporting and managing this unique organization for serving our town’s needs. Indeed, it is a role model of public service organizations."

5. Planning Commission Meeting - July 26, 2017

The Planning Commission took the following action at the July 26 Meeting:

- Continued (per request of applicant to allow time to work with Town Arborist) the request of 124 Austin Avenue for a Heritage Tree Removal Permit to allow the removal of one heritage Norway spruce tree for consideration at the August 23, 2017 meeting.
- Continued (per request of applicant to allow time to work with Town Arborist) the request of 264 Bay Road for a Special Structures Permit to allow a habitable basement under an accessory building and a Variance to allow a detached garage to be located in the required front yard setback for consideration at the August 23, 2017 meeting.
- Continued the request of 172 Tuscaloosa Avenue  to allow the relocation of two heritage oak trees.  The Commission directed the project applicant to continue to work with the adjacent neighbor to address tree screening concerns for consideration at the August 23, 2017 meeting.
- Approved the request of 55 Camino Por Los Arboles for a Special Structures Permit to allow portions of the vertical sidewalls of the main residence to exceed 22 feet (up to 23.5 feet) and portions of the main residence to exceed 30 feet (up to 33 feet).
- Approved the request of 58 Mulberry Lane for a Heritage Tree Removal Permit to allow for the removal of one heritage palm tree and a Variance to allow a detached garage to be located in the required front yard setback.
- Continued discussion on potential revisions to the Atherton Municipal Code Heritage Tree Ordinance.  The Commission directed staff to come back for an additional study session with more qualitative/quantitative data as feasible regarding the different distance alternatives considered for a Tree Protection Zone (TPZ), and to further address means of Town enforcement regarding projects that do not comply with tree protection measures prior to and during the construction process.
- Reappointed Eric Lane as Planning Commission Chair and Randy Lamb as Planning Commission Vice Chair.

6. AT&T Wireless Application(s) - Node Sites

AT&T is about to submit 25 separate node site applications for wireless facilities. These facilities are not the typical AT&T site and are restricted to small pole attachments (no ground-mount equipment) and pole-top canister extensions on existing PG&E poles. Most of the sites are unobtrusive and screened in or near existing tree lines. The standard application process will be applied to each site and public meetings will be conducted pursuant to the requirements in the ordinance. There are numerous existing similar sites around Town installed by T-Mobile and Verizon. 

7. County “Road Diet” Project(s) - Sand Hill & Santa Cruz

Staff is researching a County project on Alameda de las Pulgas that would reconfigure the intersection of Sand Hill and Alameda de las Pulgas and Santa Cruz. Staff will be asking for any existing traffic studies and other information that can elucidate the project’s impact on Atherton (if any). 
8. Council of Cities Dinner - SAVE THE DATE - October 27

The Town is hosting the Council of Cities dinner meeting on October 27. Additional details and invitations will be sent in September. 

9. Working Draft - Parcel Tax Ballot Argument

The Subcommittee continues work on the Parcel Tax Ballot Argument set to be reviewed and approved by the Council at the Special Meeting on Tuesday, August 1 at 9 am. The final draft will be presented to the Council at the meeting for any final word-smithing before approval. 

10. Bayfront Canal Project Meeting/MOU

Staff attended a Bayfront Canal/Atherton Channel Flood Protection Project meeting this week. The County is taking the lead role in drafting the MOU and the MOU language has the County continuing in this role throughout the project. Section 4, Responsibility of the Collaborative, was discussed and revised to allow the County Land Department to negotiate all temporary and permanent land and easements for the Collaborative. The final land transfers will still go to the respective jurisdictions.
The RFP for design services has been sent out to three firms and proposals are due on August 1st. The review period for these proposals is expected to be about one to two weeks. The County mentioned they would like to finalize the MOU as soon as possible as they will not be able to execute the contract for design services until the MOU has been approved and executed.  Staff reminded the County that as a condition to consideration of partnership in the Collaborative, Atherton wants the opportunity to independently verify the Jurisdictional Flow Contributions in Table 1 - Exhibit A and that this independent review will take some time. The County mentioned that any delay in the execution of the MOU and contract for design services could potentially put the Collaborative at risk of not being in a position to pursue several grants that could help offset future construction costs. The County asked for a timeline for this independent review. Staff agreed to provide an approximate time line for this review and asked the County to provide information about these grants to help gain perspective on the urgency of executing the MOU.  

Staff advised the County that there are still many outstanding items that need discussion that will take time to explore including pursuing alternative funding and allocation strategies. Staff mentioned that Atherton would like to look at the overall cost share strategy for the entire project through construction, not just design, to gain a better perspective on how all costs will be shared or credited for future projects, grant contributions etc. Staff also asked Collaborative members to consider the use of Development Impact Fees and financial participation from major stakeholders such as Stanford to reduce costs and mentioned that this would also take some time. The County and other Collaborative members agreed to consider exploring these options including Impact Fees and add language to the MOU and Exhibit A that will show how future costs/revenue will be allocated/credited to each member. Staff advised the County that the MOU will need to be revised as discussed and all of Atherton’s conditions to participate in the Collaborative must still be met. The following discussion occurred regarding these conditions:
- all other affected agencies are at the table in equal measure (Woodside, Portola Valley, Stanford, Menlo, RWC, County, etc.);
All members of the Collaborative, County of San Mateo, Redwood City, Menlo Park and Town of Atherton were at the meeting. The Town of Woodside was not present nor were any stake holders. The group was told that the Town of Woodside informed the County that they will not be a part of this MOU. This may certainly impact the Town’s considered participation. Woodside will not be attending any meetings and all phone calls and correspondence to the Town of Woodside related to this MOU should be sent directly to the Town Manager. Given Atherton’s condition that all agencies be at the table in equal measure, staff asked that the Town of Atherton not take on any additional cost and that the County of San Mateo, Redwood City and Menlo Park consider splitting the Town of Woodside’s cost amongst themselves.
- All improvements in and along the Atherton Channel are taken into consideration (Marsh Road, Las Lomitas, etc.) for credit - plus any future improvements that the Town seeks or needs to do to improve the channel are incorporated into the MOU as a cost share amongst the participating agencies;
As noted above all of the members agreed further discussion needs to take place regarding the MOU and Exhibit A to show how future costs from projects will be allocated/credited to each member.
- Given the size of Atherton's potential share, any anticipated payments will need to be done over multiple fiscal years;
The County agreed to this if the payments are part of a separate “loan” agreement between the County and the Town. Staff proposed a 0% loan and all agreed that this will require further discussion.
- Atherton has the opportunity to independently verify the Jurisdictional Flow Contributions in Table 1 - Exhibit A; and 
As noted above the County is concerned in any delay in the execution of the MOU and contract for design services that could potentially put the Collaborative at risk of not being in a position to pursue several grants that could help offset future construction costs. The County asked for a timeline for this independent review. Staff agreed to provide an approximate time line for this review and asked the County to provide information about these grants to help gain perspective on the urgency of executing the MOU.
- Atherton staff time and/or consultant costs associated with the Bayfront Canal Project are considered credit toward our share.
The County is currently absorbing all of their staffing costs and mentioned that this condition would be detrimental to all members of the Collaborative as the County’s staffing costs will be extremely large in proportion to other members. To gain perspective, staff asked the County to share their current staffing costs to date with the members. The County agreed to provide this information for our review and consideration.
The next meeting to discuss the MOU was not scheduled. County staff will be contacting members next week regarding the review of the RFP. Staff is holding the line with respect to this project and has been clear that the Town is not a party to the MOU unless and until the City Council approves the MOU. Staff anticipates returning the MOU to the Council for consideration in September/October. 

11. Menlo Horse Show - August 8-13

As the Council is aware, all Town costs related to the Horse Show are reimbursed via an entrance collection fee. The fee is adjusted each year based on prior year costs. The 2017 Menlo Horse Show operates from August 8 to August 13.  Setup begins on Sunday, August 6 when participants arrive and set up camp on the Circus Club polo field. 
The security detail for the show will be similar to what has occurred in past years. The Circus Club handles security inside the event, with the exception of one plain clothes detail. The Town manages patrol outside of the event. The Town’s role is divided into three areas:  dayshift patrol, nightshift patrol, and a plain clothes assignment. 

Dayshift Patrol- calls for service allowing, units will be visible in the area of the Circus Club. We’ve had good success the past couple years not having any auto burglaries/thefts from vehicles; however, auto thefts/burglaries have occurred in the past. The most vulnerable vehicles will be those parked around the perimeter of the show (Park, Elena, Isabella, and Faxon). 
Nightshift Patrol- calls for service allowing, units will conduct perimeter patrol at night. Officers will also walk in and around the horse stalls.  The northeast corner of the circus club lot, where many of the ranch hands will be staying, has been noisy in the past so periodic stops will be beneficial. 
Plain Clothes Detail - There will be two plain clothes officers inside the event on special assignment from 8 am to 5 pm each day. The responsibility for this detail will be to remain on site, walk around the show, communicate regularly with the inside security/horse show staff and report any suspicious activity.

12. EWG Water Quality Database - Information from Cal Water

I received the below directly from Cal Water.

"You may have seen some reports about the release of a new water quality database by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).  Because there is a significant amount of information included in the database that may be confusing to those outside of the water utility industry, we wanted to take this opportunity to make sure you have accurate information about the safety of the drinking water we at California Water Service (Cal Water) provide to our customers.
Most importantly, the information released by EWG confirms that the treated water we provide to customers is “in compliance with federal health-based drinking water standards.”  To ensure our customers are aware of the quality of the water we provide to them, we prepare an annual Water Quality Report that explains the steps we take to protect public health and safety.    You can find our annual Water Quality Reports here:

Where our customers may get confused is that the EWG database also includes information about the quality of raw water, or water that has not been treated prior to being supplied to customers.  While knowing what constituents may be present in raw water is important – it is how we know what water treatment systems we need to use – it is not, in and of itself, an indicator of the safety of the water we provide to customers after we rigorously test and treat it for regulated constituents.  The regulatory standards with which we are required to comply are known as maximum contaminant levels, or MCLs, which are set by state and federal public health experts, including California’s State Water Resources Control Board.
Our Customers may also be confused by the fact that the EWG database includes information about public health goals (PHG).  Unlike MCLs, PHGs are not regulatory standards, and are “not a boundary line between a ‘safe’ and ‘dangerous’ level of a contaminant.”  PHGs are set without any consideration of the cost or availability of detection and treatment technologies.  In some cases, the technology may not even exist to achieve the PHG.  California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, the agency responsible for setting PHGs, has explained that as “long as drinking water complies with all MCLs, it is considered safe to drink, even if some contaminants exceed PHG levels.”
Our absolute highest priority is protecting the health and safety of our customers and we go to great lengths to ensure that the water we provide to them meets all state and federal water quality standards.  If you ever have any questions about water quality, please do not hesitate to reach out to Dawn Smithson, Cal Water’s District Manager, by email at or me by email at”

13. Recology Franchise Discussions

Staff and the Council Subcommittee met with Recology and the SBWMA to begin initial discussions on the Revised and Restated Model Franchise Agreement. The meeting went well and covered a lot of issues. Next steps from the meeting:

- Recology will make changes to the Franchise Agreement attachments to reflect the Town of Atherton versus language within the Model Franchise and will roll forward any Atherton-specific provisions. Once complete, the revised documents will be sent to the Town for review and edit. 
- Recology will ensure that the Town’s existing $25 base rate is rolled forward.
- Recology will review the agreement for specific provisions that do not apply to the Town - such as multi-family or commercial collections. These will be removed from the base document (reserving the paragraph) and moved to an Appendix section so that they may be incorporated later if/when they ever apply to the Town. In this way, the document will become more readable. 
- Recology will review the Agreement and where it says “SBWMA and Agency” incorporate “Town of Atherton”
- Recology will investigate any provisions that can be “a la carte” and return to the Town with a review/recommendation. 
- Recology will review current operations for commercial recycling (i.e. Circus Club and Schools) and produce data on compliance with diversion identifying what works and what does not. 
- Recology confirmed that the Town’s allocation is 2.5% of the total SBWMA Agreement for compensation under the Franchise. This percentage will not adjust upward based on growth indicators in other communities. 
- Recology will evaluate current operations for areas where a post-7 am collection occurs and where pre-7 am collections occur. Where areas can be efficiently moved to post-7 am, this will be recommended. 
- Recology will investigate ways to improve service delivery in cul-de-sacs. 
- Recology will take more proactive steps to educate the community about overages and bulky-item collections.
- The Town will assist with educating the community about labeling containers with addresses. 
- Recology will clarify in the contract attachments that the Town will have at least 1 collection event per year for compost, e-waste, and shred. Hazmat will be added where possible. 

Special Event Permits - as of July 28, 2017

This is a list of upcoming Special Event Permits approved or under review. 
  • July 28, 2017 - Guidewire Company Picnic - Menlo College - 11 am to 5 pm
  • July 29, 2017 - Guidewire Company Picnic - Menlo College - 8 am to 5 pm
  • August 5, 2017 - Riverbed Company Picnic - Menlo College Quad - 11 am - 3 pm
  • August 6, 2017 - Company Picnic - Menlo College Quad - 9 am - 4 pm
  • August 8-14, 2017 - Horse Show - Circus Club 
  • August 11, 2017 - Menlo Charity Gala - Circus Club - 7 pm - 10:30 pm
  • August 11, 2017 - Company Picnic - Menlo College Quad - 9 am - 4 pm
  • August 12, 2017 - Company Picnic - Menlo College Quad - 9 am - 4 pm
  • August 12, 2017 - Family Wedding - James Avenue - 4 pm - 10:30 pm
  • August 19, 2017 - Tour de Menlo - 7:30 am - 9:30 am
  • 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
  • October 27, 2017 - Football Under the Lights - Sacred Heart - 4 pm - 10:30 pm
  • October 2018 - Menlo Circus Club - Palo Alto Elks Concours d'EleganceCar Show

July 21, 2017 Weekly Council Notes

1. Articles of Interest

2. Fire Director Email

3. Las Lomitas Water Capture Facility and Bayfront Canal Project

I have been engaged in an email exchange and conversations with a couple members of the Council on these topics since the Council meeting on Wednesday. Linked here are a couple of reference documents: 

Memorandum on the Bayfront Canal Project - provides a summary of the project and flow data along the Atherton Channel.
Atherton Drainage Master Plan - a link to the Town’s Drainage Master Plan (same consultants used on the Bayfront Canal Project). Page 16-17 of the PDF is a map and percentages of the watershed. The Bayfront Canal Project divides the contributions by flow not watershed area as the area for Atherton is quite large. Our Drainage Master Plan shows the watershed areas as Menlo Park at 36%, Woodside at around 13% and Atherton at 51%. More calculations would need to be done to change these calculations to flow versus watershed. 
Bayfront Canal Project - Internal Draft RFP (Not Publicly Released - Working Draft (32MB file))

Before bringing the RFP to the City Council for consideration, staff advised the County group that the following conditions must be met: 

- 1) all other affected agencies are at the table in equal measure (Woodside, Portola Valley, Stanford, Menlo, RWC, County, etc.);  
- 2) All improvements in and along the Atherton Channel are taken into consideration (Marsh Road, Las Lomitas, etc.) for credit - plus any future improvements that the Town seeks or needs to do to improve the channel are incorporated into the MOU as a cost share amongst the participating agencies;  
- 3) Given the size of Atherton's potential share, any anticipated payments will need to be done over multiple fiscal years; 
- 4) Atherton has the opportunity to independently verify the Jurisdictional Flow Contributions in Table 1 - Exhibit A; and 
- 5) Atherton staff time and/or consultant costs associated with the Bayfront Canal Project are considered credit toward our share.

There is a staff-level meeting next week with the group to discuss the above and other suggested changes from other jurisdictions. Added to this staff-level discussion will be the exploration of some recent possibilities that have evolved as I noted above from some one-on-one conversations with the Council. This includes the possibility of pursuing alternative funding and allocation strategies. Discussed was the possibility of pushing the use of developer impact fees from other agencies (County, MP, RWC) to the project as the primary funding source together with any private agency funding (Stanford, Facebook, etc.) before tagging local agencies for their shares based on a formulaic approach. 

As an aside, I noted that the Town may at some point consider whether it is time again to review and possibly expand the Atherton Channel District to incorporate an assessment on the District membership for drainage impacts. Approximately 1/2 of the Town’s residential properties drain to the Channel. If the Channel District incorporated approximately 1,000 properties and the Town assessed those properties for that impact, that would provide a dedicated funding stream for the Town’s share. The Town could issue a Certificate of Participation against the revenue stream. For example, if the Town were to borrow $3,000,000, the debt service on that would be approximately $290,000. Spread over 10 or 15 years and 1,000 properties, that’s a $290 a year assessment (simplified). This is the manner in which cities like Menlo Park and Redwood City, as well as the County, fund these sorts of developments. Drainage and sewer projects are expensive capital outlays. Incidentally, this is also the manner in which we could fund the annual maintenance/operations of the Water Capture Facility. Jurisdictions either save for them or use a funding stream to borrow against. While I may use arguments with adjacent jurisdictions in early negotiation that the cost is too high, or the Town cannot afford it, or it’s half our budget - every City Manager in that room to include me, knows that that is not how it works. Projects are not getting cheaper, jurisdictions collect impact fees and must use them legally where there is a legal nexus, and one jurisdiction cannot legally penalize another for their land use and zoning decisions. The Town’s share of regional mitigation projects will soon become a reality as we are forced to address them by the State - just like other jurisdictions.

On many issues, we can choose to be forward thinking with a strategy and play the long game or draw a red line and fight. While there are certainly issues with development in these communities that surround us, at the end of the day, we do need their cooperation and collaboration. We may get short term benefit from pressing issues such as this or not playing as an equal partner acknowledging our community impact, but we will lose good will at the table and that good will could be more helpful to us in the long term. These communities have the potential to impact us far more detrimentally than we can impact them. We are fiscally handicapped by being primarily residential in nature. That’s a choice this community made. That’s a choice that means that our residents will typically pay more for the same services, programs, and projects that are seemingly less expensive in other communities. 

Earlier this week I also sent an email to the Council discussing the Maintenance, Operations and Capital MOU with Woodside, Menlo Park, and the County for our Water Capture Facility Project. I noted that if the City Council’s of Woodside and Menlo Park and the County elect not sign on to our MOU for this project, they cannot expect us to sign on to the larger regional project (the Bayfront Project). However, the same will be true in the reverse. If the three agencies sign on to our MOU, we will be expected to participate downstream. The flood control benefits of this project will reduce that downstream obligation. Drainage obligations are being recognized at the Regional Water Quality Control Board level and the time will come when agencies must manage their flow and be responsible for impacts downstream. Inherent in that is the reality, that it’s the flip side of the MOU that needs to be considered. IF we engage MP, the County, and Woodside in the MOU I would almost guarantee that they are going to want the same downstream credit that we want for our Water Capture Project in proportion to their flow contribution. We may be in a better position fiscally, depending on the actual maintenance costs, to forgo any MOU in order for the Town to receive full downstream credit. That’s a cost benefit analysis when we get to the 50% design level and have more detail on maintenance cost. That does not mean that we do not participate downstream. 

All that said - at the end of the day, it is each of you as policy makers that set the ultimate strategy, approach and make the ultimate decision on policy issues. The Council is not involved in the details of every project and every issue and is often not aware of the entire chess board. You simply cannot be expected to. It is part of my role to advise you of as many of the issues as I see them and to press the perspective of the entire Council when we move forward. 
With respect to the Water Capture Facility, linked here is a PR Video from TetraTech about the Lakewood Project. While it is a PR video, it does provide some insight into the magnitude and operation of the Southern California project. Ours is nowhere near the size and we would not have any active pump systems; but, it does provide a good overview (brief) of the technology and its application. 

4. 398 Walsh Road - Private Bridge Access

I was contacted by the property owner at 398 Walsh Road regarding the repair of their private bridge access across the Atherton Channel. The property owner was expressing concern that their contractor had approached the Building Department for a permit to make repairs and there were requirements imposed could delay the repair. The bridge was their only access to the property. We connected with the Building Official and arranged an emergency inspection and authorization to conduct emergency repairs with the risk to be borne by the property owner for the ultimate required repairs and corrective measures for the bridge. The property owner agreed. 

Following this authorization, the Building Official, Menlo Fire, and Inspector met the contractor in the field. The repairs needed are far more extensive than simple replacement like-for-like. The Fire District determined that the contractor needs to submit plans to the District in order to meet their requirements. The bridge will have to have a 16’ clear unobstructed width, 14’ unobstructed height and meet their structural load requirements of 45,000 lbs. There are heritage trees present that will prevent the property owner from meeting these requirements. The plans submitted by the property owner show a proposed design load of 24,000 lbs. This will be insufficient and they will have to resubmit structural calculations and drawings to meet the 45,000 lb requirement of the Fire District. No evaluation was done by the structural engineer of the footings and upon field inspection, the existing footings will be inadequate to support the new bridge. Further, since the footings are in the Atherton Channel, before any foundation work may begin it will trigger review by the Regional Water Quality Control Board and an application for a Grading and Drainage Permit. 

The contractor is going to continue building the bridge knowing that any repairs will be temporary to allow the owners to access and exit their property. The contractor and property owner are completely aware that they are proceeding at their own risk and will take full responsibility if the bridge must be retroactively removed/repaired to comply with all requirements and approved plans. 

5. Bicycle Lanes on Middlefield

As the Council is aware, the City Council Liaisons to the Fire District (Council Member Widmer and Vice Mayor Wiest) met with the Fire District Liaisons (Director Chang-Kiraly and Board President Carpenter) and staff on June 5 for the mid-year meeting. An outcome of that meeting was interest in a County project on Middlefield at 5th that involved the narrowing of the roadway, reconfiguration of parking, and the installation of a bicycle lane. Council Member Widmer arranged a follow-up meeting with Supervisor Sloccum and staff (together with the Town and Fire District) to discuss the project and provide feedback to the County. 

This follow-up meeting occurred on July 17 at Fire District Offices. In attendance was staff, the Town’s Council Liaisons (Widmer/Wiest) and representatives from the Fire District (Vice President Silano and President Carpenter). The change in Board Member participants for this topic raised and discussed at the Liaison Meeting was at the discretion of the Fire District.

During the meeting, the County described the project as reducing the lanes of travel on Middlefield to one lane in each direction, with a center turn lane, bicycle lanes on each side and parallel parking on each side. This was described in a Daily Post article linked above. Of the issues raised regarding emergency response concerns, parking, congestion, and safety, the Town also raised an issue related to continuation of the County’s bicycle lane to connect with Atherton’s existing lanes on Middlefield at the Town boundary. During the meeting I sent Jim Porter, County Public Works Director, an email photo of the Town’s bicycle lanes at the border. He followed up with an email advising that he looked at the transition following the meeting. The Town’s boundary is about a 1/4-mile from the project boundary; however, he committed to adding bicycle lanes between the northern Town limit to the limits of their Middlefield Road project once the project is in place. 

6. Fence Replacement - Park

As mentioned prior, staff will be returning to the Council in October to discuss next steps for private gate entries into the Park. Recently, the property owner on Sussex (not the one with the Town’s fence) replaced their private property fence and gate entirely on their own property. The fence did not trigger any requirement for a permit. 
7. Public versus Private Meetings - Jim Lewis & Newspaper Articles

Over the last 7 days I have had several email exchanges with Palo Alto resident Jim Lewis regarding public participation in non-public meetings. Meetings included the Ad Hoc IT Subcommittee Meeting, the School Summit Meeting (staff only), all Town Committee and Commission, Ad Hoc Committees of the Council, and Regional Meetings with partner agencies. I advised Jim that the Brown Act applies to the legislative bodies of local agencies. It defines “legislative body” broadly to include just about every type of decision-making body of a local agency. If a body is subject to the Brown Act it will have a posted agenda and the meetings will be public. Bodies subject to the Brown Act are the governing body (i.e. a quorum of the City Council), appointed bodies (no member of the IT Ad Hoc Subcommittee was appointed by the Council), and Standing Committees (a body that has a continuing subject matter jurisdiction or a meeting schedule fixed by charter, ordinance, resolution or formal action of a legislative body - not so for the IT Ad Hoc Subcommittee). 

What is NOT a legislative body includes a temporary advisory committee composed of less than a quorum of the legislative body that serves a limited or single purpose, that is not perpetual, and will be dissolved once its specific task is complete - not subject to the Brown Act. Examples of such committees include less than a quorum of the Council to interview candidates for a vacant position or to meet with representatives of other entities to exchange information on a matter of concern to the agency, such as traffic congestion. 

A prudent presumption is that an advisory committee or task force is subject to the Brown Act. Even if one clearly is not, it may want to comply with the Brown Act. Public meetings may reduce the possibility of misunderstandings and controversy. 

With respect to the IT Ad Hoc Subcommittee, if there are any future meetings that occur they usually occur on the 3rd Tuesdays at 4 pm. If there are any in the future, I advised that I would tell him and that he could attend. I also advised that it is unlikely that there will be any future meetings. I also advised that as these meetings are not subject to the Brown Act there are no agendas, minutes or public comment periods. The meetings are informal and serve as update meetings from Atherton Fiber/Open Fiber/Paxio on the progress of their project. 

With respect to the regional meeting with Menlo Park and Redwood City. These agencies chose who to send to the meeting - the Town did not. The Town sent myself, Jim McLauglin (resident serving on the Town’s Transportation Committee) and the Mayor (the Vice Mayor attended at the last minute on the Mayor’s behalf since the Mayor was out of Town). Since it involves only one member of the Council and was an ad hoc arrangement it is not a public meeting subject to the Brown Act. However, if there are future meetings that involve a subcommittee of the Council (Mayor/Vice Mayor) and the meetings become regularly scheduled (twice per year) - these will be public meetings with a posted agenda, minutes, and public comment. 

July 14, 2017 Weekly Council Notes

1. Articles of Interest

2. Subcommittee Meeting with Redwood City and Menlo Park

The Subcommittee of Vice Mayor Wiest and TC Chair Jim McLaughlin met with representatives from Menlo Park and Redwood City. Attendees from MP and RWC were the Mayor and Vice Mayor, together with the City Managers and Assistant City Managers. 

Vice Mayor Wiest opened the meeting with a discussion of regional projects and how they impact the Town followed by an updated on several Town projects - ECR Complete Streets Project, ECR Drainage Study, Las Lomitas Water Capture Facility, and the Civic Center Project. In addition to these items, the group also discussed the County’s Bayfront Canal Project. Redwood City emphasized the importance of this project as it hopes to remedy significant local flooding of the Atherton Channel into Redwood City properties. Both agencies supported the project and want Atherton to join the MOU to address drainage issues up and down the Atherton Channel from Woodside (at the table) to the Bay. 

In addition to this project, the group discussed Caltrans projects along ECR such as the HAWK Beacon projects and any current or future planning for bicycle and pedestrian improvements along the corridor. Neither agency has any immediate plans for bicycle improvements along the corridor; however, both expressed that ultimately this would be something that would need to be addressed. 

The group had a limited discussion about the possibility of grade separations in Menlo Park.

The group discussed the use of roundabouts on local streets and both indicated that they were studying and implementing roundabouts within their jurisdictions. However, it was made clear that these were more appropriately designed as traffic circles and used with the intent of traffic calming not throughput of traffic. 

Lastly, two outcomes from the meeting were a suggestion from Redwood City that a project matrix be created and maintained amongst the three agencies to share information on current and future project planning. Menlo Park volunteered to take the lead on the preparing the document. Menlo Park suggested that these meetings be held at least twice a year. All agreed that that would be beneficial. 

3. Quad Gates @ Watkins

HSR is still working through some project definition items for the San Francisco to San Jose section. As a result, the preliminary engineering plans have been delayed to allow for resolution of these items. They currently do not have a definitive timeline on a submittal date for engineering plans but it is likely to be several months out. 

We are waiting on the HSR acceptable design specifications for Quad Gates before returning this issue to the Council for next steps. 

4. Atherton Now Funding

Most of the working parties with Atherton Now are out of town. Didi Fisher and Jim Levison have advised that we should use the April 30 2017 Atherton Now Report indicating that there have been no significant changes since that time. 

5. Informal Survey of Park Gates

Staff has completed their informal survey of private gates into the Park. There are a total of 21 private residences that border the Park - 4 houses in Atherton and 17 houses in Menlo Park. There are private gates from 2 Atherton homes and private gates from 15 Menlo Park homes. 

We will be preparing a report with recommendations for Council consideration at a future meeting. 

6. San Carlos Airport - Part 150 Noise Compatibility Study Planning Advisory Committee

As the Council may recall, I serve on the San Carlos Airport Part 150 Noise Compatibility Study Planning Advisory Committee. They neglected to advise me of the first meeting so I missed it; but the second meeting is set for August 2. 
Since the last meeting on April 20, 2017, much work on the Plan has been accomplished, including an inventory of the Airport’s facilities, area noise and land use regulations, and preparation of current and future noise contours. The material to be discussed at the PAC meeting will be in the form of three draft working papers, as follows:

Chapter One: Inventory
Chapter Two: Aviation Noise
Chapter Three: Noise Impacts
I will receive these documents prior to the meeting for review. A public workshop has also been scheduled for later that evening, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. also at the Hiller Aviation Museum.

7. Las Lomitas Water Capture Project - Tree Removal

Staff is meeting with representatives from the School District regarding tree removal requests along the Camino al Lago parking area next week.There are a couple of heritage sized trees that will be impacted by the project in the Town’s right-of-way. The MOU provides an easement to the School District for the project. Once approved, discretion on removal of the trees as part of a school project (on school property) would be exempt from Town discretion. However, the District wants to discuss the issue with the Town and hopes that a solution can be found. They will be prepared to discuss this issue if raised at Wednesday’s Council Meeting. 

8. Police Chief - City Manager Workshop

The Chief and I will be attending a workshop together at the end of September. 

9. Donor Wall - Inside Administration Lobby

We received a design scope from WRNS to work on a donor wall inside of the new Civic Center. The cost is quite a bit more than anticipated. Staff is reaching out to Atherton Now to discuss the possibility of not doing a donor wall as part of the project but instead, designating the space and doing it post-project. 

10. Annual M-ALL Meeting

Staff is setting the annual M-ALL Meeting (as required by the Agreement) for the end of July. Steve and I will be attending. 

11. Public Records Act Requests - Peter Carpenter

As you know, the Town receives public records act requests for various bits of information. Annually, we receive requests from transparency websites (numerous ones) for salary and benefit information for staff. We also regularly receive public records requests from contractors or others seeking data on bid awards, Town contractors, or others. Then, there are the records requests that related to current or ongoing disagreements or disputes - such as the Fire Services Fiscal Review. 

We are currently responding to several requests for salary and benefit information (that time of year) and to three specific requests from Peter Carpenter. 

The first (applies to the Council): 

1 - Correspondence after Dec 31, 2013 of any Town Council Member, the Town Manager and the Town Counsel regarding 1) the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, 2) the Fire Services Fiscal Review  including but not limited to any communications with Matrix Consulting Group and including but not limited to any communications between George Rodericks and Alex McIntyre regarding either the Fire District, the Fire District’s proposed Impact fees or the Fire Services Fiscal Review."
2 - Including communications on private computers that fall within the limits of this request,

And to specifically exclude:

1 - Client confidential communications from or from you or your fellow lawyers and the Town 
2 - Any documents which have already been publicly posted as part of a Council or Committee agenda
3 - Any communications which were sent to the Fire District and or the Fire Board

The second (responding by staff): 

This is a Public Records request for the dates and agendas for any and all of the joint meetings that the Town Council has had with other governing bodies since Dec 31 2013 including each of the school districts, the Harbor District, the Hospital District, adjacent communities, the Sanitary District, the County Supervisors, your State Senator and State Representative and your Federal Senator and Congresswoman.

The third (responding by staff):

This is a Public Records Request for:

 Please indicate for each of the following entities if the Town has requested from them:

 A - tax revenues that the entity obtained from Atherton residents and if so what is the amount?
 B - the amount of expenditures that the entity spent serving Atherton residents and if so what is the amount?
 C - the date on which the Town has or will commence a Fiscal Review of that entity

Entities to be covered:

 1 - Menlo Park City School District
 2 - Los Lomitas School District,
 3 - Redwood City School District
 4 - Sequoia Union High School District
 5 - Harbor District
 6 - Sequoia Hospital District
 7 - Mosquito and Vector Control District 
  8 - West Bay Sanitary District
 9 -  Santa Clara County
 10 - the State of California
 11 - The Federal government

The Town is governed by law on how to respond to PRAs. Linked here is a pamphlet (76 pages) from the League of California Cities that discusses the California Public Records Act and provides a framework for local agencies. In general, the PRA provides two rights of access - right to inspect and the right to prompt availability of copies of public records. There are numerous exemptions and the City Attorney vets all releases prior to their release. We can establish “reasonable” policies for the inspection and copying of public records such that they are generally open to inspection during office hours. Further, in lieu of providing inspection access, we can post the requested public record on the website and direct a member of the public to the website - unless that member is unable to access the record - in that case, we must provide a copy. 

If there are no responsive records (which is the case with some of Peter’s recent request), we must inform him that no records exist to satisfy his request. If we have responsive records, we must either disclose them or withhold/disclose in redacted form (as allowed by law). 

Peter’s initial request was not a public records act request. Therefore, I provided him with specific links to where he could get the information he sought. That was certainly not “unresponsive” to his request. His initial request was for “a list of joint meetings” of the Town Council. The Town does not have a list other than the one on our website. I provided Peter with a link to that list where every “joint meeting” is labeled as such with the respective agency or entity. You can scroll down the page and count that there were 9 Joint Meetings during the time frame. Each is labeled. To my knowledge, there were no other “joint meetings” of the City Council. Not sure what more he wants. 

Peter also asked about tax information that the Town has gathered from other agencies. I pointed him directly to the Local Municipal Services webpage where there is a list of all of the agencies for which the Town has requested tax information and a spreadsheet that lists the taxes from each ( Here’s a direct link to that spreadsheet -

He asked about any fiscal reviews and I pointed him to the Fire Services Fiscal Review webpage ( and told him that that any fiscal review that the Town undertook would be located there. There is only the Fire Services Fiscal Review. 

Not sure what else to provide but I just wanted you to know that I was not “unresponsive” to Peter’s request nor did we “force him” to recategorize his request as a public records act request. He is also seeking to have the Fire Chief provide the Board with a total cost impact for their response to the Fire Services Fiscal Review.

I think it should be clear that the information that the Town is seeking is not a fiscal review of the Fire District or a critique of the quality of services provided. It is a fiscal review of fire services specifically to Atherton in an effort to compare what Atherton residents pay for fire services versus what the cost of those services are and for comparison, what the cost would be if the Town were to have to provide fire services independent of the Fire District. 

12. Caltrain Tree Mitigation - Electrification Project

Mike Kashiwagi spoke with Stacey Cocke at Caltrain. She will be checking in with her technical team to determine the issues regarding center pole alignment along Holbrook Palmer Park. We hope to have further details prior to the Council meeting. Stacey understands the benefits of avoiding any tree removals on Town of Atherton property.  

Mike advises that the Town ultimately has some options if Caltrain needs to access City property to remove trees. The Town could grant Caltrain a Permission to Enter to perform tree removal activities and the Town could accept tree mitigation per the Final EIR.  Or, the Town could require a Temporary Construction Easement.  This option will require an appraisal and would require condemnation if there is a dispute in value between Caltrain and the Town. Determining value for this type of acquisition is very difficult since “value” in this case will primarily be the value of the trees which must be removed.   

July 7, 2017 Weekly Council Notes

1. Articles of Interest

2. Civic Center RFQ Responses

We received 8 responses to the contractor RFQ for the Civic Center Project. The respondent proposals can be found online here via this link. These are big files and will take a bit to download. Responses from BHM, Midstate, and Amoroso will likely be deemed non-responsive. The remaining 5 are being reviewed by the PMC and staff this afternoon. 

3. Caltrain Tree Mitigation - Electrification

As mentioned last week, staff met with Caltrain to ascertain the tree removals to take place along the fence line in the Park. In total, Caltrain intends to remove 9 park trees and 3 trees along their ROW corridor between the Watkins Avenue crossing and the Felton Gables Gate. Even though 3 of the trees are on Caltrain ROW, all 12 trees provide a buffer to the Park along the rail line. The 3 trees Caltrain wants to remove on their ROW have their trunk in the ROW but the tree itself has grown into the Park. Part of that meeting also discussed the centerline pole alignment issue and why the pole alignment was side track instead of centerline along the Park. Caltrain will be addressing the tree issue and the centerline issue at the Council meeting on July 19. Staff hopes to have an answer to the pole alignment prior to the meeting. 

4. Park Fence - Felton Gables

Staff is completing an informal survey of private gates into the Park. A recent walk of the Park revealed about 15 entrances from private property (to include the Felton Gables Gate). The majority of the gates appear to be east of Knox Preschool. It may be advantageous for the Town to consider conducting a formal lot line survey of the Park ($$) to determine what fences/walls are on Town property and which are on private property. The survey will also assist in clarifying trees/lot lines along the Caltrain ROW. 

5. Meeting with Recology - Negotiations

Staff is working to setup a meeting during the last week of July with Recology to begin Franchise Negotiations around the Draft Amended and Restated Model Franchise Agreement. Recology is culling together all of the Atherton-specific provisions that currently exist prior to the meeting. 

6. EPC Meeting - July 20

The EPC Meeting for July 20 has been cancelled. Th next meeting is scheduled for September 21 at 1:30 pm. 

7. Park Events and Revenue Log

Linked here is the FY 2016/2017 Park Revenue Log and the June Park Events Log

8. Atherton Annual Report - June 2017

This is a new Annual Report prepared in collaboration with all departments and put together by Interwest. A printed version of this report will be put out on glossy paper and bound - provided to all members of the Council and Committees. An electronic version will be released on the Town’s website. 

9. M-ALL Tournament

We followed up with M-ALL regarding the tournament. Mostly, all went well during the tournament. The field and follow-up (trash cans, etc.) were all in excellent condition throughout the tournament. However, there were issues during the final game related to parking and use of the loud speaker. These will be addressed with M-ALL in a wrap up meeting. Next year - if permitted again - use of the loud speaker for announcements of players at the end of each inning will need to be expressly permitted. Parking next year will be an issue since the Civic Center will be under construction. Shuttle from an offsite location will need to be addressed if approved. 

The outfield fence will be taken down and stored next week. 

10.Street Saver Report

At some point in the future, staff will provide the Council with an in-depth review of the Town’s Streets Program and the Street Saver Report. Linked here is a Dashboard from MTC Street Saver Program  In general, the Town has 53.8 centerline miles of streets. This equates to approximately 105.8 lane miles. Our current Pavement Condition Index (PCI) is 78. For a peer agency comparative, the PCI for similar sized agencies is 74.