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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Sep 25

Study Session Topics for October 1 - Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan and Signs

Posted on September 25, 2014 at 11:02 AM by grodericks grodericks

Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan

Back in April 2014 the Council met at its Study Session and received the draft Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. The Plan provided a comprehensive outlook for bicycle and pedestrian improvements throughout Town. The goals included providing connectivity with adjacent agencies, improving safety, becoming more strategic and successful competing for bicycle and pedestrian grant funding, and addressing barriers and solutions for bicycle and pedestrian destinations.

Safety, and in particular, safe routes to school became a priority focus for the Plan. Closing gaps and increasing usage also rose to the top. Details of the Town's Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan can be found on the Town's website here. A lot of effort was put into creating the Plan through a Stakeholder Advisory Group consisting of representatives from the City Council, San Mateo City/County Association of Governments, local schools, residents, the Police Department, Facebook, San Mateo County Safe Routes To School, Menlo Park, and Redwood City. The Stakeholder Group developed a Master List of Projects totaling over $13 million. 

Atherton does not have the current funding to do it all. Staff and the Council have started watching for and applying for grants consistent with projects proposed on the Master List. Grants are often criteria based and some projects will fare well for one grant application but not for other applications. It's important to submit the right project with the right partners for the right grant opportunity. Grants are also cyclical such that if the Town does not receive a grant one year, we try and try again refining the project along the way. 

Segment Map.jpgNevertheless, as all of this is going on, the City Council still needs to walk through the Master List and help staff prioritize projects. That's what's going to happen at the October 1 Study Session. There are 34 projects on the Master List. Some of them involve projects consistent with the Grand Boulevard Initiative on El Camino Real, others are improvements to Class I, Class II, and Class III bike routes, corridor feasibility studies, and intersection improvements. Some improvements are as simple as wayfinding signage and "sharrows" on the pavement. There's a map of the segments that are being addressed on the Town's website as well. It's important to note as you look at the map that bike lanes and pedestrian ways may have an impact on the way a street functions and looks.

Installation of a Class I bike path is one that is separated from the roadway and may be either unidirectional (a minimum of 4 feet wide) or bi-directional (a minimum of 8 feet wide).

A Class II bike path is a 4-foot minimum striped and signed lane on the roadway. These paths may require roadway widening in Atherton in areas where we have the excess right-of-way in order to meet the minimum requirements for width.

A Class III bike path is a path that continues along an existing street, there would be signage, but no roadway striping that separates the path from the traffic.


Atherton has applied for a grant for one of the segments listed on El Camino Real (Selby Lane/Fifth Avenue). Should the Town receive the grant, further study and collaboration with adjacent jurisdictions and agencies will be required as the project moves along (the County, Caltrans, Menlo Park Fire District, etc.). On the Master List, this was Segment No. 1 along El Camino Real. 

At the Study Session, staff will be asking the Council to assist in prioritizing projects on Middlefield Road, a path in Holbrook-Palmer Park (the pedestrian component is already moving forward), and projects on Elena Avenue/Atherton Avenue and Austin Avenue. Projects could be as simple as signage and roadway markings to more involved Class I paths separated from the roadway. 

The Town has budgeted $500,000 in the current fiscal year for bikeway and pedestrian pathway projects. The 5-Year Capital Improvement Program has placeholders of $100,000 in each of the next four years of the Program. 

Interested? The meeting begins at 4 pm on October 1 in the Council Chambers. The Bicycle and Pedestrian Priority Setting is the first item on the 2-item Agenda. It is anticipated to take no more than an hour or so. Study Session meetings of the Council are limited to 2-hours total and give the Council an opportunity to talk more informally about projects and issues. Public Comment is always welcome!
Signs Signs Everywhere Are Signs

signs.jpgThe second item on the Agenda is the draft Sign Ordinance. In my blog post for August we talked a bit about signage - from construction sites to real estate signs to political signs to estate sale signs to signs for that lost pet. They all present challenges. Our current ordinances are way out of date. There are some in the community that are self-policing. Others, not so much. We are bringing an update to our sign ordinance to the Council for their consideration in an attempt to provide clear guidance for the size, type, and placement of signage - on public and private property. We have sought out input from some community stakeholders who have provided feedback along the way - local builders and contractors as well as the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors.

What we do not want is a free-for-all with respect to signs. We would like to see some standardized sizes, proper placement so as not to impede on the safe passage of pedestrians and vehicles, as well as timing for removal and placement that makes sense.

Sounds like fun, right?

Those are two of the big ones I noted in last month's blog. We are also still working on:
  • development of a Wireless Telecommunications Facility Ordinance;
  • an encroachment permit ordinance update; 
  • construction site regulations (noise, fencing, surveillance, parking, etc.);
  • development impact fees (wear and tear fees for those construction projects that have impacts on the roadway due to their project);
  • updates to the refuse ordinance to address construction and demolition requirements; and
  • updates to the special event permit ordinance.
There are also numerous changes to address continuity and consistency across the Town's municipal codes. For the November 5 Study Session we expect to have discussion on the proposed Wireless Telecommunications Ordinance and the Encroachment Permit Ordinance.
If you have any thoughts or questions on the above, please feel free to give me a call at (650) 752-0504 or send me an email at I'd love your feedback - it's what makes things work. 


George Rodericks
City Manager
Town of Atherton
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