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Oct 08

September 2015 City Manager's Monthly Report

Posted to City Manager's Blog on October 8, 2015 at 5:22 PM by grodericks grodericks

City Manager's Monthly Report - September 2015

Monthly-report.pngWelcome to the newly formatted City Manager's Monthly Report! With the June 2015 Report, I moved to the Blog format. Instead of attaching all of the various bits of backup information (making for a rather large file) it includes them as links via the Town's website. Lastly, each sectional entry includes the date the information was provided to the City Council. 

Please remember, the City Manager's Monthly Report is a consolidation of issues, communications, and Town activity during the prior month. As I review the information to include, I will remove duplicate updates in favor of the most recent, remove information regarding events that have already occurred, and 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

September 25 Report to Council

1. ICMA Annual Conference - League Annual Conference

I will be attending the ICMA Annual Conference in Seattle from September 26 through September 30. Upon return, I will be attending the Thursday and Friday sessions of the League of Cities Annual Conference in San Jose. 

2. Animal Services Monthly Reports

Linked here are the July 2015 PHS Monthly Report and August 2015 PHS Monthly Report for Animal Services in Atherton. As an FYI, I am serving on the review committee for the County’s responses to the Request for Proposal for the Design-Build Animal Shelter. I am reviewing the proposals this week and next and will be providing feedback to the County by October 2. 

3. 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. 

I sent an email back to the Chief asking what exactly that meant for the Town. 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 question and further asked what authority it carried and whether there was any binding impact on the communities. 

4. Planning Commission Meeting - September 23, 2015

The Planning Commission, at its September 23, 2015 meeting took the following actions:
  • Provided direction to staff to prepare an Ordinance amending Atherton Municipal Code section 6.04 to modify the regulations for the keeping of chickens.  The Ordinance would: permit up to 12 chickens on an individual property; include setback regulations for the coop; require a permit; include regulations for the cleaning of the coop to address pollution runoff onto adjacent properties.  This item will be discussed further at the October 28, 2015 Planning Commission meeting.
  • Denied a Variance request for an accessory structure to be located within the front yard setback at 52 Marianna Lane.
  • Approved a Special Structure Permit for a pool up to the front yard setback at 89 Mercedes.
  • Approved a Heritage Tree Removal Permit for the removal of two heritage trees at 397 Fletcher.
  • Approved a Special Structure Permit to allow a sidewall height increase and a Variance from the increased setback requirements at 142 Britton Avenue.
  • Continued the request for a Special Structure Permit to allow increased sidewall height at 22 Lane Place to the October 23, 2015 Planning commission meeting.
  • Continued the discussion on General Plan update process to the October 23, 2015 Planning Commission meeting.
5. CalWater Monthly Consumption Report for Atherton

Linked here is the CalWater Monthly Consumption Report for Atherton. The Bear Gulch District reduced its water consumption by 33.6^ when compared to August 2013. The mandate for the District is a cumulative water reduction of 36^ by February 2016. Cumulatively, for the past three months, the District has reduced its water use by 37.7% compared to the same period in 2013. 

6. Library Donor Fund Report

The Library JPA provided an update of the total of Library Donor Funds. As of June 2015, the Town holds $6,183,063 and the Library holds $3,701,918. This is a total of $9,884,981. The fund accumulates approximately $1.1-$1.3 million per year. It is anticipated that the fund will have $13 million by 2017 (completion of the Civic Center Project).

7. Article - Local Infrastructure Financing Bill

In a move to assist local agencies struggling with the loss of redevelopment agencies, the Governor has signed the Local Infrastructure Financing Bill. The Bill (AB 313) enhances the powers of Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts (EIFDs) that were created last year. The legislation gives broad authority back to cities, counties, and special districts to jointly form public financing authorities with power to direct an array of funding streams - to include tax increment powers previously used by RDAs. The projects can range from affordable housing projects to mixed-use developments to water systems and transit facilities. It is possible that this type of District could be used as part of a Regional Water Agency tasked with addressing sea level rise projects in San Mateo County. 

Staff will get “up to speed” on AB 313 and begin work with the County to discuss. 

8. Community Choice Aggregation - September 24 Meeting

I attended Thursday night’s meeting of Peninsula Clean Energy (San Mateo’s Community Choice Aggregation Project). On the Agenda was the presentation of the Draft Technical and Feasibility Study. There are three links below:
First up is the Committee Update PowerPoint Presentation. Here, Jim Eggemeyer provided a brief update of the outreach and presentations to date. We have asked that representatives attend the November 4 or November 18 City Council meeting for a presentation. 

Second was the Technical Study itself. Bottom line via the Executive Summary is that it is a feasible implementation in San Mateo County. If you read through the Technical Study, the Executive Summary is your best read. The PowerPoint, however, is the best summary. 

The CCA Technical Study PowerPoint covered a lot of ground. I will do my best to summarize here, but audio is available via the Advisory Committee website. Slide 4 of the presentation outlines the methodology for the study. Not much time was spent on this slide. Slide 6 provided an overview of the energy load in San Mateo County. This was an interesting slide noting that of the 298,435 Customer Accounts, 554 of them were already direct-access accounts receiving energy from somewhere other than PG&E. The remaining 297,881 accounts received energy from PG&E. These accounts represented 90.3% of the total energy use in the County. The bottom table on the slide showed that of this total, 269,061 were residential customers representing only 37% of the energy use. The remaining 63% of the energy use came from commercial, industrial, AG, and street lighting. These 28,820 accounts represented only 10% of the customer accounts but 63% of the energy use. Slide 6 provides the same information in pie chart form. 

Of the 21 jurisdictions (inclusive of the County), the top 5 cities account for almost 60% of the electricity consumption and 55% of the customer accounts. These top 5 cities are: Redwood City, South San Francisco, San Mateo, Menlo Park, and Daly City. When you look at the geographic distribution of customers, Menlo Park drops out and the County steps into the top 5. 

Slide 11 depicts the current energy mix (2014). PG&E’s energy mix for 2014 has 27% renewables and another 29% GHG-free (nuclear and large hydro). This means that in PG&E’s energy mix, 56% are GHG-free. This comes into play later. 

The consultant prepared 3 Scenarios for discussion (Slide 12). Scenario 1 is the baseline minimum with 35% renewable scaling to 50% by 2013. Scenario 2 (likely the preferred scenario) provides a minimum of 50% renewable content from day one and scaling to 75% by 2013. Scenario 3 provides 100% renewal content from day one.

Slide 13 provides a comparative of the scenarios after year 1. Most of the information on this slide is self-explanatory. Slide 14 shows a comparative after the 2-year phase in (all customers on board). The annual contribution to reserves is assumed as a built-in requirement in the rate structure (revenue requirement). 

Slide 15 shows the environmental impacts of each scenario. This is where Slide 11 comes back into play. With Scenario 1, the CCA would technically ADD GHG emissions when compared to PG&E. This is because the CCA energy mix in Scenario 1 is 35% renewable while PG&E is 27% renewable and another 29% GHG-free (nuclear and large hydro). While others can get into large hydro, the market on nuclear is cornered. 

Slide 17 shows the rate sensitivity analysis. A question was asked if at some point, Scenario 3 was a viable option from day one when looking at rates. All things considered, the answer was yes, but highly unlikely. There is more detail on this analysis in the feasibility study. 

The conclusions were that Scenario 1 highlighted the programs viability on a rate competitiveness basis only. Scenario 2 highlighted the viability on renewable and GHG-free basis with rate competitiveness. Scenario 3 highlighted the rate premium under a 100% renewable option. While there was no correct answer, the program is viable in San Mateo County both at the competitive rate basis as well as the environmental benefit basis - likely best with Scenario 2. 

September 18 Report to Council

1. Commute.org - Autonomous Vehicles

A member of the Council attended the commute.org meeting on Thursday and received a presentation on autonomous vehicles. The Council Member passed along the PowerPoint to share. Experts predict widespread adoption within the next few years and full adoption by 2026. It is possible that this will have an impact on revenue streams and operations for communities (tickets, vehicle accidents, mobility, etc.). Linked here is a copy of the PowerPoint presentation  My two cents is that many folks may envision a “Minority Report” or “Total Recall” utopia where autonomous vehicles proliferate like roving driverless taxicabs. If so and they are underwritten at the Federal level, there must then be some sort of trickle down of funding for roadway and local infrastructure. However, if the vehicles are fee-based services, service industries will pop-up and be regulated. The use fee structure will necessarily include a regulatory pass-thru to local government for roadway infrastructure - parking, roads, signage, charging stations, etc. On the flip side, if the autonomous network is personally owned and operated, local agencies will likely share in the same sort of revenue manner they do today (charging fee/gas tax) - gas tax, roadway use tax, license fees, etc. I do not suspect that the industry will change the revenue methodology dramatically - only its transaction base. 

2. CCAC Special Meeting on 9/21

The CCAC is having a Special Meeting on 9/21 to go through the Cost Estimate provided by Mack5 based on a preliminary Draft Conceptual Plan. As the Council may recall, there were several iterations of the cost estimate as part of the original Master Plan. The Adopted Master Plan provided for 2 buildings - a 2-story Admin/PD/CDD/Council Chambers at approximately 25,000 square feet and a 1-story Library at approximately 9,000 square feet. Both buildings were essentially “boxes” on the plan without articulation or design. The original cost estimate from HMC included an underground parking garage, PV and remodel of the historic Town Hall. This estimate was refined by the CCAC to separate out the PV, parking garage and remodel as separate add alternates and also included a reduction in the contingencies and a reduction in the “gross-up” factor used by the cost estimate to assess the additional square footage needs for hallways, stairwells, etc. The “gross-up” factor is based on the design of the facilities - in other words, if you design a box, the gross-up is less than if you design a long building with designs to fit our constrained site conditions. 

The original estimate (all-in) was $67.3 million including soft costs (design, legal, EIR, testing, FFE) with a construction cost estimate of $41.9 million. The revised estimate was $31.8 million with a construction cost estimate of $23.1 million. Add-alternates for this project are $2.1 million for the historic Town Hall Remodel, Underground Garage for $16.7 million, PV for $1.5 million, and Corp Yard Remodel for $480k, plus some other minor add-alts. It is important to remember however, that the 25,000 square feet for the Admin/PD building also included 1,800 square feet for a Council Chambers. This was planned originally in addition to the remodel of the Historic Town Hall. 

When the HMC Revised Cost Estimate was presented to the CCAC (per their changes) it was noted by the estimator that the reduction in contingency amount at the Master Plan level was lower than they would typically recommend - they provided the same comments with respect to the gross-up factors. Essentially, this meant that in their opinion, lowering these items presented some risk that the final construction costs will be higher than the estimate. 

The Mack5 Cost Estimate based on the preliminary Draft Conceptual Plan provides for 2 buildings - a 2-story Admin/PD/CDD/Council Chambers at approximately 27,000 square feet and a 1-story Library at approximately 9,000 square feet. The cost estimate also includes renovation of the existing Historic Town Hall. The buildings are no longer theoretical boxes but are site specific designs flushed out with entries, hallways, open areas, and connections. Further, there are some design/architecture assumptions that have been made based on comments from the CCAC (such as the assumption for some red-tile roofing for historic connectivity to historic Town Hall). The underground parking garage has been eliminated and the historic Town Hall renovation is part of the estimate - increasing the site work share for the Library. Further, with WRNS as the architect, the buildings are being designed from the ground up for LEED certification. 

The Mack5 Cost Estimate provides a hard construction cost estimate of $33.5 million and another $9.4 million in soft costs. This is roughly $8 million over the revised HMC estimate from 2013/14, when you add in the historic Town Hall remodel. Approximately 69% of this hard-construction/site work cost is attributable to Town Hall ($31 million). In this number is about $4.2 million in contingency and cost-escalation as well as $1.6 million in costs that can be General Fund (post-project costs) for furnishings, fixtures, and miscellaneous equipment.  

In summary and roll-up this is the bottom line comparative from the Staff Report in March 2014, inclusive of all soft costs:

2014 Staff Report
9,143 sf Library Program - $9.8 million
24,928 sf Admin/PD/CDD Program - $21.9 million
Total Project Cost Estimate - $31.8 million
Less Library Fund - ($9.8 million)
Less CDD Building Fund - ($2.2 million)
Total Fundraising Target - $19.8 million

2015 Mack5 Cost Estimate
10, 977 sf Library Program (inclusive of historic Town Hall remodel) - $13.5 million
27,105 sf Admin/PD/CDD Program - $31 million
Total Project Cost Estimate - $44.5 million (built in here is a contingency of $1.2 million and $3 million in cost-escalation)
Less Library Fund - ($13.5 million)
Less CDD Building Fund - ($2.2 million)
Less post-project FF&E General/Library Fund - ($1.6 million)
Total Fundraising Target - $27.2 million

The additional 2,000 sf in the Admin/PD/CDD program is easily attributable to the flushed out design and shared spaces (hallways, stairwells, mechanical rooms, etc.) that occurred in moving from a theoretical box building to an articulated building that meets the site needs  and constraints. The basic programming needs of Administration, Public Works, PD, and Planning did not significantly increase from the Master Plan to the Conceptual Plan.

In the March 2014 Staff Report, it was noted that the CCAC was comfortable with a fundraising range of $20 to $25 million. These numbers have yet to be vetted in their entirety through the CCAC on 9/21 but I wanted to give the Council a heads up on the discussion. The numbers themselves should not change materially; however, the CCAC may make recommendations on project changes to reduce costs. These could include changes to the underlying construction assumptions (building materials, site work, etc.), phasing, or design (balconies, green roofs, building exterior, etc.).  One additional note, the percentage allocation for site work is based on function footprint. With the Town Hall remodel being incorporated into the Library function, the percentage allocation for site work share has changed. The Library is responsible for 46% of the $7.1 million in site work. It is also important to note that there remains a contingency of $1.2 million built into these numbers. While we cannot change the impact of inflation and demand (i.e. cost escalation), we do have more control over change orders and use of the contingency. 

September 11 Report to Council

1. Construction Tenting - 81 Atherton Avenue

We have had a request from the property owner at 81 Atherton Avenue to install construction tenting for the rainy season to allow the project to continue during inclement weather. This is something that has occurred in the past in Atherton and I have seen it on numerous occasions in other communities. We will be advising the homeowner to notify the neighbors, install screening, and provide a copy of an approved Fire Permit. 

2. Marsh Road Channel Project

We have been applying pressure on RWQCB to facilitate processing of our request to repair the Marsh Road/Atherton Channel. We recently met on site with RWQCB staff to address the delay. The RWQCB staff had a number of questions regarding the channel’s capacity and suggested design alternatives (before they would issue any permit) - all of which had the stated objective of eliminating the concrete bottom of the channel. We advised that that is not our objective as we want to ultimately cover the channel for bike/ped access which would be made more complicated if the channel were an open, earthen base channel (environmentally more difficult). We have not had follow-up back from RWQCB staff. If we have not had a response in the next 30 days we will follow-up again. They seem very adamant that the only condition under which they would issue a permit for repair is if the base were removed. 

We expect the RWQCB permit to request additional analysis of alternatives as well as accommodation for an earthen channel bottom (irrespective of cost). If necessary, we will have our consultant conduct the additional analysis. Once the analysis is complete, we will need to go back to the RWQCB with our request and negotiate a solution in order to secure our permit from the Board in whatever ultimate form that takes. We are also waiting for our Army Corp of Engineer’s Permit as well as Federal Fish & Wildlife permits. We are following up again with each of those agencies. 

As an aside, I recently spoke with the County Director of Public Works (Porter) to discuss a request he had to the Town to repair the curb along the channel (destroyed in places by a couple of recent vehicles in the channel). I told him that we would investigate those improvements but that I wanted him to examine the possibility of increasing the capacity at the box culvert along Marsh. He advised that if we sent him a letter of request along with capacity needs (upsize requirements) that he would present that to the Board. He felt that it was supportive of regional needs and that he could get funding to upsize the culvert. We did not discuss timing.

3. Website Fiscal Fuel Gauges (removed for update)

I recently created some “fiscal fuel gauges” for the Town’s website. They are linked via the Town’s home page. 

4. Tennis Ball Machine @ Park

The Tennis Ball Machine at the Park Tennis Courts is out of commission. Staff will be working to get it repaired. 

5. Redwood City - South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project - Alternative D

Linked here is a letter from the City of Redwood City asking that the Town consider supporting Alternative “D” of the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Report for Phase 2 Alternative Plans at the Alviso and Ravenswood ponds. This is part of a downstream project designed to alleviate flooding in the Friendly Acres neighborhood and the mobile home parks along East Bayshore Boulevard. 

Alternative “D” was developed collaboratively with Redwood City and the State. The alternative is an opportunity to use the salt pond as a retention basin for runoff from the Bayfront Canal. The water would be released to the bay at low tide. 

The Town can certainly draft a letter of support for the Mayor’s signature; however, I would suggest we be careful at this point not to suggest any financial support. While the letter does not directly solicit funding support from the Town it clearly identifies that the water flowing into Redwood City comes from outside of Redwood City. Regional collaboration on drainage issues is a must as downstream capacity limitations impact upstream communities. Finding a cost-allocation method based on flow is one financial model with details long to be worked out; however, in the interim, if communities address their local flooding issues with regional support and collaboration, joint solutions can be found. 

If there is objection to sending a letter of support, please advise. Absent feedback to the contrary, staff will create a letter for the Mayor’s signature on September 17. 

6. Construction Time Limits (38 Sutherland & 18 Ralston)

The Building Department, through a pre-construction meeting with the contractor/property owners, is ensuring that everyone is notified and understands the Town’s Construction Time Limit Ordinance and associated penalty structure. All permits issued in the last two years have signed off on the requirements. However, there are still a few (2 to 3) properties with permits issued in pre-2013 that were not notified other than the normal duty to know the law. One of these properties was notified in March that they were about to reach the limit where penalties would begin to accrue. They are not near enough to completion to avoid penalty. Their permit was issued in 2012, but they did not actually start work until April/May 2013. They have sent in a request for extension which I am evaluating with the Building Official. There is an appeal process written into the Code (City Council), but not a real extension process. Penalties can be steep. 

I will keep you apprised. 

September 4 Report to Council

1. July 2015 Animal Services Report

Linked here is the July 2015 Animal Services Report from the Peninsula Humane Society. 

2. Park Events and Revenue Logs

Linked here are the August Park Events Log and the August Revenue Log.

3. Sign Ordinance Article

Linked here is an interesting article on recent Supreme Court rulings related to free speech and sign ordinances.

4. Chicken Keeping Ordinance

This week I met with a resident on Selby Lane to discuss the Town’s ordinance regarding the keeping of chickens. The resident was concerned that I had “stayed” enforcement of his neighbor’s keeping of chickens until the Planning Commission decided whether to pass forward revisions to the Town’s ordinance to the City Council. We discussed the issue and he will be involved in the process with the Planning Commission as consideration of the issue moves forward. 

5. CCAC Conceptual Plan

I have spoken with each of you regarding the CCAC’s movement forward on the Conceptual Plans for the civic center project. I have also discussed concerns about the dynamics of the committee. I had numerous conversations and email exchanges this week with the Chair, Vice Chair, and members of the Council on the topic. 

One of the issues that the CCAC is facing is the minimum secured parking needs of the Police Department and how those parking needs translate onto the project site when balanced against a desire for more open space. We are working through that issue; but, it is getting more and more obvious that the minimum required parking needs for the Police Department are about 25 /- parking spaces. These spaces are operational spaces and not basic storage spaces for evidence, decoy, or emergency response apparatus. 

6. Menlo College President Lunch

On Wednesday next week I have a scheduled lunch with Rich Moran (Menlo College). We have several issues to discuss to include the Cartan Field Project, summer camps, concerts, and the possibility of the College sponsoring a Town Wine, Cheese and Music Festival in the Spring. 

7. CalPERS Audit 

We have worked through many of the issues in the CalPERS Audit and will be producing a final report in November. There is minimal impact to the Town. 

8. Community Builder Event (SHS) - Atherton Now

As a reminder, similar to last year, Atherton Now in conjunction with Sacred Heart Schools is hosting a Community Builder event on Friday, October 16. Like last year, this is an “under the lights” football game.

9. iLobby - Cafe in New Town Center

As mentioned previously, I worked with local resident, John Thibault to setup an iLobby forum to allow residents another touchpoint to provide feedback. We are testing it out (free) and the Cafe in the Civic Center was selected as the first test topic - https://www.ilobby.co/debate/café-new-town-center-yes-or-no-0