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Dec 11

November 2015 City Manager's Monthly Report

Posted to City Manager's Blog on December 11, 2015 at 12:27 PM by grodericks grodericks

City Manager's Monthly Report - November 2015

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

The City Manager's Monthly Report Blog is a consolidation of issues, communications, and Town activity during the prior month that have been reported to the City Council as part of their weekly email from the City Manager. Sometimes information is duplicated over the course of several emails to the City Council to ensure that it is reviewed.

As I review the information to include in the Monthly Report, to the extent possible, I remove duplicate updates in favor of the most recent; I remove information regarding events that have already occurred; and I edit information that requires update - hopefully to make it more useful. Overall, the information is generally the same as it was presented to the City Council in their weekly Council email.

The Report reads with the most recent first. As always, if you have any questions or comments regarding the Monthly Report, please feel free to contact me via email or phone.


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

November 19, 2015 - City Council Report

1. Atherton Now Fundraising Meeting(s)

Last night I attended the Atherton Now fundraising meeting at 1 Tallwood Court. Event was well attended. House was spectacular. The handout I circulated to you earlier this week was distributed to those in attendance (project website). Overall the presentation and numbers were well received. Q&A on public spaces available for rental, connectivity to Holbrook-Palmer, venue space, landscaping, recruitment/retention of staff, quality of facilities (both new and existing), and emergency response operations. 

2. Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan

I reviewed the final draft of the Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan with staff yesterday. There will be a few final edits to the Plan which will then make its way to the Community Meeting on December 8. 

Following the community meeting, the Plan will then move to the Transportation Committee in January and ultimately to the City Council in February for approval. 

3. Vandalism of Town Message Board/Radar Trailer

The braking handle of the Town’s Message Board/Radar Trailer was recently vandalized. Staff is working to get it repaired. 

4. Town’s Hazard Mitigation Plan

As you may know, the San Mateo County Operational Area is required by FEMA to update the Hazard Mitigation Plan every 5 years. It is that time again. The Police Department participates in the planning process for the Multi-Jurisdictional Plan. On Thursday, Sergeant Mills attended the Multi-Jurisdictional Hazardous Mitigation Plan meeting. The annex will make its way into the Town’s Emergency Operations Plan and become a part of the Town’s General Plan. 

5. Naming Rights as part of the Civic Center Process

I am putting together a brief staff report for the December 7 Civic Center Committee meeting to allow the Committee to provide a recommendation to the City Council on naming options for the Civic Center Project. 

6. Per Capita Budget Costs

A question was posed by a resident about the per capita costs in Woodside and Portola Valley as compared to Atherton. The questions were posed in response to my recent Manager’s Reports discussing the various budgets of municipal service agencies providing services to Atherton, specifically the Fire District. 

The questions posed were: 

1 - Why do Atherton residents on average pay 3X what Portola Valley residents pay for Town services
2 - Why do Atherton residents on average pay 1.5X what Woodside residents pay for Town services
3 - Why do some Atherton residents pay more than 20X what other Atherton residents pay for the same Town services
4 - Why do residents of the Woodside Fire District on average pay over 2X what the residents of the MPFPD pay for fire services.

The assertions in the questions are incorrect. The per capita cost for Town services vary by agency but not by the amounts quoted by the resident. To address the questions (#1 & #2), I took the budgeted expenditures (non-capital improvement program expenses) for all three agencies and their populations for a straight per capita comparison with and without Police Services. 

Atherton is less expensive than both without Police Services. With Police Services, Atherton is more expensive, but our service level and demands are much higher. The answer to question #3 is essentially property value based. I did not delve into question #4 as it did not directly relate to the Town for comparative purposes. 

Atherton’s Population: 7,159
Woodside’s Population: 5,481
Portola Valley Population: 4,518

Atherton’s General Fund Budget: $11,798,069
Per Capita: $1,647
Atherton’s General Fund Budget w/o Police: $5,449,412
Per Capita: $761.20

Woodside’s General Fund Budget: $6,038,147
Per Capita: $1,203
Woodside’s General Fund Budget w/o Sheriff: $4,598,471
Per Capita: $838

Portola Valley General Fund Budget: $5,139,637
Per Capita: $1,137
Portola Valley General Fund Budget w/o Sheriff: $4,194,594
Per Capita: $928

November 13, 2015 - City Council Report

1. Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan - Community Workshop #2

On Tuesday, November 17 from 6 pm to 7:30 pm at the Pavilion we will host a community workshop intended for all interested members of the community to present the feasibility analysis of the Class I and Class II facilities identified in the Master Plan. We are seeking input on the findings and design alternatives of the facilities. 

2. SBWMA - Resignation of Executive Director

Kevin McCarthy, Executive Director of the SBWMA has resigned effective December 31, 2015. Kevin has been with the SBWMA since 2006 and was the Agency’s 1st Executive Director. The Board will be meeting in the coming weeks to identify next steps with regard to a replacement. 

3. Widening of Glenwood (Menlo Park)

It was recently reported that Menlo Park may be widening Glenwood. Staff contacted representatives from Menlo Park and learned that there will be some widening (1’ to 2’) on the westbound portion of Glenwood at the intersection of ECR. The length of the widening is approximately 200’ along Glenwood. The purpose is to accommodate a right turn lane on Glenwood to ECR. Timing is not known at this time since it is part of the required frontage improvements associated with the new hotel planned for the NE corner of Glenwood/ECR. 

4. November Environmental Programs Committee Meeting

At the last Environmental Programs Committee meeting staff reported out on the Council direction from the November 4 Study Session on the Climate Action Plan. At their November meeting, the EPC took the actions: 

- Approved the draft EPC Work Plan items as presented at the meeting and added an additional work plan item to consider a program to address transparency in home energy usage for residential properties as they become available for sale and/or at the time of new construction. 
- Hold a Special Meeting of the EPC on December 15 from 1 pm to 3 pm to further refine and create a final draft EPC Work Plan to present to the City Council at the Council’s January 6, 2016 Study Session and to Prioritize the GHG Measures in the Draft Climate Action Plan for Council consideration. 
- Appointed an Ad Hoc Subcommittee of Gardner/Joseph to work in more detail on the draft Work Plan and Prioritization.
- Authorized Chair Gardner to present the final Work Plan to the Council in January. 

Staff advised the EPC that the Council did not want any further action by the EPC on the Climate Action Plan or work in its furtherance until they have had an opportunity to review it in detail at the January Study Session. Further, that there was insufficient budget to pursue additional work until the Council authorized a budget amendment for the effort. However, the EPC elected to move ahead as noted above. 

5. Atherton Now Fundraising Meeting(s)

As the Council is aware I attended an Atherton Now fundraising meeting on November 6. Atherton Now has scheduled another fundraising meeting for November 19. I will again be making a short presentation and Q&A. 

6. RWQCB - Marsh Road Channel 

As the Council is aware, the Town has been unable to obtain approval from the required permitting agencies for the channel repair project on Marsh Road. We have reached the end of authorized review time under the Permit Streamlining Act and we have now issued a demand letter to the Regional Water Quality Control Board for their approval. The letter is linked here

7. Property Tax Reports

Linked here are Reports presented at the November 10, 2015 Audit & Finance Committee Meeting - Property Tax Review and Detailed Preliminary Property Tax Report. The information and analysis is provided to the Town via consultant, HdL. HdL specializes in analytical services to help agencies better understand and maximize revenues in the areas of sales tax and property tax. 

In FY 2011/12, the Town’s Assessed Valuation was $6,373,832,577. For FY 2015/16, that value is now $8,791,201,962. From FY 2014/15 to FY 2015/16, the net change in Assessed Valuation was $722,636,565. That is an increase of 8.96% and is above the countywide increase of 7.65%. Of the 20 cities in San Mateo County, Atherton is the 4th highest in property tax net value change in year-to-year growth. Since FY 2011/12, the Town has seen a growth of approximately 38%. 

8. C/CAG Water Committee

Linked here is a letter from C/CAG noting their new water committee. The committee will be meeting over the next year to look at water issues in the County as well as discuss the potential new water agency. 

9. Aircraft Noise

Linked here is a recent article from the Wall Street Journal on aircraft noise and routes. 

10. Menlo Park Fire District Tax Revenue Analysis

As you know, there has been numerous discussions back and forth with the Fire District to attempt to determine how much property taxes the District receives from Atherton residents. We were seeking the information as part of our Local Municipal Services webpage educating Atherton residents on the various agencies and services that touch their daily lives. We sought out similar information from the Water District, the Library, Mosquito and Vector Control, etc. 

The Fire Chief and I have had numerous email exchanges over that period of time and ultimately, we provided generalized information related to the District gleaned by staff from their budget and our own assessed valuation property tax reports (Item No. 10 above). Learning that the District receives an estimated $12.5 million in property tax revenue from Atherton residents (based on the 2014/15 assessed valuation) increasing year after year as our assessed valuation increases prompted further research into the estimated revenues from the other two District jurisdictions for comparative purposes searching for a better understanding of the District’s revenue sources. 

Linked here is a summary spreadsheet of Assessed Property Values for Atherton, Menlo Park and East Palo Alto together with an “average” of the Tax Rate Areas within each jurisdiction applied to a FY 2014/15 Assessed Valuation. The result for FY 2014/15 is that Atherton provides $12.4 million; Menlo Park - $17.6 million, and East Palo Alto - $2.2 million. This is a total District property tax revenue (average) of $32.3 million. By percentage it’s Atherton at 38.4%, Menlo Park at 54.7%, and East Palo Alto at 6.9%.  Also, staff included the amount of property tax revenues received by the represented jurisdiction. Atherton’s share is approximately $7.9 million in FY 2014/15 (less approximately $1 million in ERAF). ERAF is not deducted in the totals on the spreadsheet. 

It is important to note that the tax percentages for each distinct tax rate area were set in stone years ago. The taxing allocation was frozen based on the agency’s revenues at that time. For example, Atherton has 39 tax rate areas within its jurisdiction. The Fire District percentage ranges from 12% to 17% (of the base tax of 1%)  within those 39 distinct tax rate areas - and each tax rate area has its own distinct assessed valuation. Since we do not know the separate assessed valuation for each tax rate area within Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, staff averaged the tax rate percentages for both jurisdictions and used the known assessed value for each year to calculate a revenue to the District by agency. Menlo Park has 121 separate tax rate areas; East Palo Alto has 56; and Atherton has 39. 

November 6, 2015 - City Council Report

1. PG&E Tree Removals

PG&E recently submitted encroachment applications (tree removals) for three properties that have non-heritage trees slated for removal and replacement per signed agreements with the property owners. Based on previous inspection by the Town Arborist, these non-heritage trees do not require permitting under the Town’s ordinances - just encroachment permits. All documents have been submitted and once approved, PG&E will begin work at the locations. 

The locations are:
  • 383 Walsh Road - 3 Coast Live Oaks less than 6” diameter at breast height (DBH)
  • 375 Walsh Road - removal of acacia bushes all less than 15” DBH
  • 465 Walsh Road - removal of a hawthorne bush under 15” DBH
2. Website Monthly Report

Linked here is the October Website Report. 

3. Joe Nation’s PensionTracker Website

Joe Nation recently released his Pension Tracker website. Pension Tracker provides detailed information about the financial status of California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) and independent employer agencies in California's counties, cities, and special districts. The site contains roughly 2 million data points and relies on actuarial, budgetary, demographic, and other financial data from a number of sources, including CalPERS, 63 independent pension systems, the State Controller's Office, the State Treasurer's Office, the California Department of Finance, and the U.S. Bureau of the Census. It is an interesting gathering of data for comparative purposes. Here is a link to the website: http://www.pensiontracker.org/index.php.

The website reports actuarial liability, value of assets, market liability, unfunded market liability, and discount rate for market liability. It is important to note that the market liability (unfunded liability) and the discount rate for market liability do not use CalPERS’ discount rate (7.5%). Instead, Mr. Nation has elected to use CalPERS termination discount rates (2.82% to 4.82%) when representing what agencies “owe” for liability.  

CalPERS uses these lower discount rates for termination liability because agencies are required to payoff their liability in its entirety before they exit CalPERS and the funds are removed from the larger agency pool of assets in doing so. After a plan terminates, there is no way to get more funds from the employer once terminated. CalPERS remains responsible for the liability. Once an employer has terminated its relationship with CalPERS, CalPERS is unable to “call” on that employer to make good on its obligation should it need to do so. For agencies in the pool, CalPERS has the ability to call on the employer to fulfill its obligations under the plan. Therefore, for those exiting, CalPERS imposes a higher liability as “insurance” against future liability potential.  

4. CalPERS Article - CalPensions

Linked here is an article from CalPensions on their portfolio. 

5. Local Revenue Measures - Results 2015

Linked here is a summary from the California City Finance group on the various local revenue measures around the State. 

6. Updates on Peninsula Clean Energy

On October 20, the County Board of Supervisors introduced the ordinance to implement the Community Choice program and allocated funding for Phase 2 of the three-phased implementation. On November 3, the Board adopted the CCE ordinance officially authorizing the program. The PCE website has officially launched: http://www.peninsulacleanenergy.com

The Town has received a copy of the JPA Agreement and the Ordinance. We will have the ordinance on the December 16 Agenda for introduction by the Council. Adoption scheduled for the January regular meeting. 

Linked here is a copy of the Marin Clean Energy comparison rate sheet. This question arose at the study session of how the community choice aggregation groups compared their rates to that of the incumbent utility. 

7. Amateur Radio Emergency Service Communication Network

On November 2, Ed Flint, Paul Jemeilian, Larry Sweeney, Steve Taffee, and Jim Stevens (via teleconference) met to discuss emergency communications between Atherton PD, Menlo Park Fire Protection District (and its CERT program), and South County ARES.

SCARES is interested in installing experimental mesh network transceivers at several locations within the Menlo Park Fire District as part of extending its existing mesh network. Locations discussed include but are not limited to Holbrook Palmer Park in Atherton, Bedwell Baylands Park, Atherton PD, the USAR Building on Willows Rd, and Fire Station #1 in Menlo Park.
The Fire District, Atherton PD, and Menlo Fire CERT teams expressed support for this trial provided that:
  • rooftop installations are performed by Atherton City or MPFPD employees
  • the installed mesh network equipment does not interfere with existing emergency radio equipment
  • a MOU is signed between the parties regarding the placement, installation, and operation of the mesh network equipment

Larry will immediately begin testing locations within the MPFPD to identify potential locations. Once identified, he will work with Chief Flint (Atherton PD) and Chief Stevens (MPFPD) to obtain the proper MOUs and coordinate the trial installation.

8. Rewards Program in the Bear Gulch District

In appreciation of its customers' efforts to reduce their water use during this historic drought, California Water Service (Cal Water) has announced that it will launch a three-month rewards program. Each month, this program will recognize 25 customers in Cal Water's Bear Gulch district who stay within their water budgets during that billing cycle. Reducing water use tends to be easier during the summer months, as most discretionary water use occurs outdoors when the weather is warmer. From June – September, the Bear Gulch district reduced its water use by 35.7% when compared to the same period in 2013.
To encourage customers in the Bear Gulch district to continue to conserve, 25 customers in this service area who meet or are under their water budgets that month will be drawn at random to receive $50 gift cards for the December 2015, January 2016, and February 2016 bill cycles. Customers' water consumption for each bill is the month prior to the billing date. Customers who qualify will be automatically entered into each drawing. Those meeting budgets at multiple premises can win only once per month.
The drawings are open to all Cal Water customers with a water budget, both residential and non-residential, except for Cal Water employees, household and immediate family members, suppliers, and affiliates. More information on the program and full terms and conditions are available at www.calwater.com/reward. Details are also being sent to customers in their November bills. If you have any questions, please contact Dawn Smithson, Bear Gulch's District Manager, at 650-561-0014 or dsmithson@calwater.com.

9. Home Sharing in the New Economy

Linked here is an article on home sharing. 

10. Park Revenue and Event Logs

Linked here is the Park Revenue Log and the Park Events Log

11. Storm Readiness

Occasionally the Council are asked how prepared is the Town for a storm event and what preparations have been done in advance of any event. Below is a summary put together by Public Works and the Police Department for your use. It will be released to the public as well in various forms. 

The Town works with school districts, local universities and its residents to assure everyone is ready following the announcement of severe weather events. Winter can bring heavy rain, high winds, localized flooding and the possibility of our drainage systems overtopping capacity during the worst of conditions  Staff follows weather reports all year long, from local weather reports, County and State alerts and internet based weather information. These alerts are passed on to schools, residents and staff.

Staff begins preparing for winter during the summer months by gathering equipment necessary to keeping our water flowing and streets passable during stormy conditions. Supplies such as barricades, cones, sandbags, sand, pothole mix, signs and hand tools are restocked in the Towns Public Works Corporation Yard. Emergency equipment such as trucks, loaders, chainsaws, emergency generators and lighting are prepared for use.

Public Works staff walk the entire length of the Atherton Channel to ensure that water can flow unhindered through this important feature of the Towns drainage infrastructure. They ensure the storm drain inlets and drainage ditches are functional. The Town offers its residents sand-bags free of charge for their use during the winter. The sandbagging station is open 24/7 and is located at the gate of the Public Works corporation yard at the south end of the Caltrain station. Residents are asked to limit their usage to 20 bags unless imminent problems dictate otherwise.

Staff also readies the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) which runs during long duration power outages as a base of operations for Fire, Police, utility, and other staff. The EOC supplies communications, logistics and operations management to those working in the field. The Town also has emergency disaster supplies such as food, water and radio communications should these ever become necessary.

When high winds or heavy rain are forecast, crews are ready to remove fallen trees from the road, and to repair signs and signals. During prediction of a heavy storm event, crews may be called on to work extended shifts to be in the Town when the storm lands and remain until the threat has passed. The Town has a mutual aid partner with the County of San Mateo and works closely with our surrounding neighbors to offer assistance when called for or request assistance when necessary.

The Town has a progressive means of notifying our residents with up to date information through its system of “newsflashes” which reach a majority of homes. This information works both ways as residents can reach us with problems they may come across during their experience. 

During the aftermath of a large storm event, the Towns Police Department, Building Department and CERT team members play a role in performing evaluations of the private residences who may have been impacted during the event. 

Identified Problem Locations
  • Bellbrook Culvert – The Bellbrook culvert is being monitored monthly as well as following any significant rainfall until a permanent repair is performed. The Town awaits permits for this repair.
  • Parker/Euclid ditch – Maintenance crews cleared debris from this ditch line and will monitor following storm events.
  • The Channel crossings at Barry, Elena, Broadacres and Alameda have been known to collect debris during storm events. These will be monitored closely during and following these events.
  • El Camino Real ditch lines – ditch lines cleaned during August. Will be monitored and maintained during storm events to assist as much as possible their unimpeded flow to their destinations.
  • Marsh Road – Channel cleaned in August. Spot repairs made in August. More repairs including that to the small wall that sits under the fence along the street side of the channel will be made 10/31/2015 by MCE. The larger repair to the entirety of the channel walls from Middlefield Road to Fair Oaks awaits permits.
  • Problem area along Laburnum and Magnolia will be closely monitored especially during the first rains.
Preparations Checklist

SUPPLIES (on hand 10/15/2015)

  • 100 Type I Barricades (10/15/2015)
  • 100 28” traffic cones w/reflector (10/15/2015)
  • Road closed signs (6 ea)
  • Flooded signs        (10 ea)
  • Detour signs (10 ea)
  • Grate pullers (6 ea)
  • Shovels (10 each)
  • Pitchforks (6 each)
  • 1/2” PVC pipe 10’ lengths (4 ea)
  • 200 gal diesel tank filled


  • 2” portable trash pump*
  • 100 KW emergency generator serviced, fueled and ready (Police)
  • 40kw emergency generator serviced, fueled, serviced and ready (EOC/Public Works)
  • 2 portable generators*
  • Light Tower w/emergency power*
  • 4 pick-up trucks*
  • Cargo truck*
  • Back-hoe loader*
  • Changeable message sign


  • 10/2015 - Disaster Shed/Supplies inspected
  • 10/2015 - APADT Disaster Response Trailer inspected and generator tested monthly
  • 6/2015 – Walsh Road Evacuation Siren,  next scheduled test set for 1/2016 


  • 10/1/2015 - Atherton channel walked, obstructions removed. Weak spots repaired by 11/1/15.
  • 10/1/2015 – Atherton drains cleaned with rented drain cleaning equipment (problem drains)
  • Sand bag area filled and stocked with 2500 bags on hand 


  • Tested and functional 3/2015
12. SFPUC Water Line

A letter of request to relocate the line (based on an evaluation of recently submitted information from the SFPUC) will be issued this month. 

13. RWQCB - Marsh Road

A demand letter will be issued to the RWQCB and other approving bodies asking for either approval or denial of the Town’s application to make repairs to the Marsh Road Channel. The Town’s application has been delayed at the approving agencies in an attempt to get the Town to “redesign” the channel to a riparian channel. The Town is demanding that the agencies either approve or deny the Town’s current application so that we can either move forward or appeal. 

14. AirBnBs in Atherton

Staff will be producing an educational article on AirBnB’s for release in the Athertonian and Town website. We have approximately 3-4 operating in Atherton that we are currently investigating via Code Enforcement. 

Nov 02

October 2015 City Manager's Monthly Report

Posted to City Manager's Blog on November 2, 2015 at 10:20 AM by grodericks grodericks

City Manager's Monthly Report - October 2015

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

The City Manager's Monthly Report Blog is a consolidation of issues, communications, and Town activity during the prior month that have been reported to the City Council as part of their weekly email from the City Manager. Sometimes information is duplicated over the course of several emails to the City Council to ensure that it is reviewed.

As I review the information to include in the Monthly Report, to the extent possible, I remove duplicate updates in favor of the most recent; I remove information regarding events that have already occurred; and I edit information that requires update - hopefully to make it more useful. Overall, the information is generally the same as it was presented to the City Council in their weekly Council email.

The Report reads with the most recent first. As always, if you have any questions or comments regarding the Monthly Report, please feel free to contact me via email or phone.


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

October 30, 2015 - City Council Report

1. Park Cameras

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

2. Safe Routes to School

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


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

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

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

4. Bid Closing Dates - FYI

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

5. Lean on the Water Tower

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

6. MCE Work

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

7. Marsh Road Repairs

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

8. Event Garden

The Event Garden work is scheduled to start next week.

9. Library Operations Committee Meeting

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

10. Letter of Support of Clean Energy Program

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

11. CalPERS Circular - Actuarial Reports

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

12. Articles To Rail Committee

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

13. Measure M ($10 Vehicle Registration) Revenue

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

14. Planning Commission Meeting - 10/28/15

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

15. Response from Fire Chief - Inclusion in Civic Center

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

16. Amateur Radio Emergency Service Communication Network

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

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

17. Helicopter Landing Requirements

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

18. Quiet Zones

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

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

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

October 26, 2015 - City Council Report

1. Circus Club Special Events

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

Christian Thon is working on that now. 

2. Park Events and Revenues - September 2015

3. Animal Services Report - September 2015

4. Jobs for Youth Annual Report

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

5. Bid Closing Dates - FYI

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

October 16, 2015 - City Council Report

1. El Camino Real/Selby Intersection Outreach

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

2. Voice Recording System (911)

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

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

3. Series Circuit Street Light Replacement Project Update

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

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

4. Caltrans - Almendral Beacon

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

5. Marsh Road Striping and Reflectors

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

6. Cell Tower at Town Hall

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

7. Community Task Force Applications

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

8. Climate Action Plan

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

9. Book Recommendation

The “OnTarget” Board Member - 8 Indisputable Behaviors.

10. Consideration of Donation

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

11. Out of the Office

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

12. Next Steps with the CCAC

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

13. Upcoming Holiday Closures

Town Hall will be closed for the following holidays:

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

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

14. Channel/Drainage Tour

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

15. Tour of Sacred Heart Schools Facilities

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

16. OpenGov - Fiscal Transparency Portal and Fiscal Intelligence

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

October 9, 2015 - City Council Report

1. Follow-up on Cartan Field Neighborhood Meeting

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

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

Next steps for the project are the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Inside Look at the Town’s Police Department

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

4. Check from Atherton Now

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

5. Bed Bugs at the Library

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

6. Las Lomitas School District - Detention Basin

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

7. Caltrans Sustainable Transportation Planning Grant Program

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

8. ABAG - MTC Land Use Planners and Funding

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

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

9. Series Circuit Street Light Replacement Project Update

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

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

10. Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan

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

11. Marsh Road Channel

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

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