Tuesday, December 7, 2010
A number of new ideas to solve San Mateo’s ongoing structural deficit came out of a study session Monday night including asking upper management employees to take salary reductions, placing a moratorium on consultant spending and putting a cap on revenue.
Those ideas were all suggested by Councilman David Lim, who also hinted that the city’s restrictions on building-height limits may need to be lifted to help the city realize greater income.
Most of Lim’s ideas, however, were not favorably received by Mayor John Lee, who gave his own ideas as to why consultants are a necessity, why management is paid so well and why it would be impractical to put a cap on expenditures.
The city’s structural deficit is approaching $5.4 million and city staff has come up with a plan to stem the deficit by sharing services with other cities, deciding which city services are “essential” and seeking wage concessions from its employees, who eat up roughly 76 percent of San Mateo’s $76.9 million general fund.
The deficit is expected to grow to $7.1 million by fiscal year 2012-13, according to a staff report.
Lim suggested the city cap its general fund revenue at $80 million over the next several years so that expenditures can stay aligned with revenue as the city anticipates a modest general fund growth of just 2.5 percent a year, compared to the historical high of 5 percent.
“How can you cap the general fund? This is a growing city,” Lee said. “What we need to do is find a way to slow down retirement funding.”
A staff report by City Manager Susan Loftus and Finance Director David Culver show how the city can make significant savings by implementing a two-tiered pension and benefits package for new hires in a staff report on financial sustainability planning.
Public safety workers, for instance, can currently retire with an average of 3 percent of the three highest salaried years at age 50.
In the past several years, San Mateo has reduced its budget by more than $15 million and has eliminated 121 positions, according to the staff report.
Despite the reductions and loss of employees, the city faces significant increases in pension compensation cost, according to the staff report. The employer contribution rates for public safety employees are projected to increase from 27.9 percent this year to 45 percent by fiscal year 2018-19, according to the staff report.
The city’s general fund revenue is expected to climb to $95.6 million by fiscal year 2018-19, when the Measure L quarter-cent sales tax expires.
Lim noted last night that 14 employees with the city earn more than $200,000 a year.
“We are asking rank-and-file employees to make deep concessions, why not upper management,” Lim said.
But Mayor Lee justified the high salaries.
“You get outstanding people by paying outstanding salaries to get an outstanding performance,” Lee said.
Lim also noted the city spends in the range of $800,000 to $1 million a year on consultants for topics ranging from high-speed rail to senior issues.
But Lee and councilmen Robert Ross, Brandt Grotte and Jack Matthews all said that consultants provide an expertise city staff cannot.
San Mateo’s most volatile funding source has been the property transfer tax, reaching a high of $10.4 million in fiscal year 2006-07. The number dropped by 70 percent in just two years, however, to $3.3 million in fiscal year 2008-09.
Median home prices in San Mateo have dropped 25 percent since 2007 from a historical high of $781,500 to about $590,000 this year.
The property transfer tax is forecast to reach $5.4 million in 2013-14. This year, the city expects to net about $4 million from the property transfer tax.
After 2014, staff has capped the property transfer tax at $5.4 million regardless of how much the city actually nets from it.
Friday, November 19, 2010
San Mateo residents who want to install graywater recycling systems in their single- and two-family homes can now do it without first obtaining a building permit from the city.
The San Mateo City Council voted unanimously Monday to drop the need for securing building permits in constructing graywater recycling systems that take water from washing machines, for instance, and re-uses it for irrigating trees and plants in the resident’s yard.
The decision was made as the council adopted the 2010 California Plumbing Code.
The council wants to encourage residents to conserve water and help make San Mateo a more sustainable community.
“The implementation of graywater recycling for our city residents was a priority for my first year in office, and I’m proud that our city staff worked diligently to listen to the requests of our residents to help them find ways to conserve water,” said Councilman David Lim.
Graywater recycling, which is water reclaimed from home appliances, can be reused in landscaped areas of home to help conserve drinking water, reduce energy costs to homeowners and help reduce overall water consumption.
Effective immediately, the plumbing code does not require a permit for clotheswasher and one single-fixture system water systems.
“A lot of the hassle of installing a graywater system just went away,” said Lim. “That is good for the homeowner, good for the city and good for the environment.”
Monday, November 15, 2010
ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY ALERT: San Mateo City Council Adopts Ordinance to Allow “Permit Free” Residential Graywater Recycling to Encourage Water Conservation
In a vote to adopt the 2010 California Plumbing Code, the San Mateo City Council did away with the need for homeowners to secure building permits in constructing graywater recycling systems that take water from clotheswasher and one single-fixture systems and re-use the water for irrigating trees and plants in the homeowner’s yard. Other more complex graywater systems are still subject to the permit process.
Graywater recycling, which is water reclaimed from home appliances such as washing machines, can be reused in landscaped areas of home to help conserve drinking water, reduce energy costs to homeowners, and help reduce overall water consumption.
“This is an important day for water conservation for San Mateo residents,” noted San Mateo City Councilmember David Lim. “The implementation of graywater recycling for our City residents was a priority for my first year in office, and I’m proud that our City Staff worked diligently to listen to the requests of our residents to help them find ways to conserve water.”
Effective immediately, the Plumbing Code, which is Chapter 23.16 of the San Mateo Municipal Code, does not require a permit for clotheswasher and one single-fixture system water systems. “A lot of the hassle of installing a graywater system just went away,” said Lim. “That is good for the homeowner, good for the City, and good for the environment.”
Ms. Breit, who is a retired dispatcher, was honored for helping to save the life of a young woman who attempted to take her own life.
The dedication and professionalism exhibited by the men and women of the San Mateo Police Department each and every day deserves our recognition and support. Congratulations to the award winners, and please be sure to thank the employees of the San Mateo Police Department when you see them!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
In voting to hire Alta Planning and Design, the City will engage local homeowner, neighborhood groups, and other stakeholders to develop a comprehensive plan that will lay out, more pathways for people to walk and cycle through our City. All aspects of City life, including traffic safety, future development, creation of more open space, and reducing our carbon footprint will be taken into consideration in the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plans that will be completed in the next 12-18 months.
The funding for the development of these master plans comes from taxpayer approved "Measure A" funds, which in 2004 extended a half cent sales tax to provide funding for transportation and safety improvements on our City streets, including projects to study pedestrian and bicycle safety. No general fund money will be used to fund this project.
I encourage all residents to get involved in the community workshops that will be coming soon to a neighborhood near you, and help us create a more dynamic city for pedestrians and bicycles!
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
The San Mateo General Plan is an important document, in that it lays out the vision and "master plan" for how to grow our City responsibly over the long term.
Our City staff worked for over a year gathering input from residents, meeting with experts, and spending countless hours writing and revising areas of the General Plan dealing with zoning, park space, and sustainability.
In the area of sustainability, especially the area of water conservation and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, we worked in partnership with local groups such as the Sierra Club to strengthen our environmental policies. In just one of many steps taken in the General Plan, the City now pledges to "Reduce citywide gross water consumption per capita to 102 gallons/day, and reduce the residential per capita to 70 gallons/day." Land Use Goal 8e (p. II-43).
Thank you again to the City Staff, City residents, and advocacy groups who helped to bring our General Plan up to date!
Thursday, October 7, 2010
In these tough economic times, there is a wait list of over 150 families for vital services.
Thanks to Shelter Network for helping those in need.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
While various elected officials around San Mateo County did a great job highlighting this effort, I chose a more subdued approach -- I walked my two girls to their Kindergarten!
It was great fun. First, the girls enjoyed walking and spending time with me (I hope!). Second, we ran into their friends walking to school, and so they got spend some time talking to friends on the way to school. And third and perhaps most importantly, the kids found a "secret shortcut" to school (really just a detour through a church parking lot!).
All in all, walking to school has many benefits beyond the health of the walkers. Walking to school creates a sense of community, which is turn leads to safer streets. Plus, it's just great fun!
Our family plans to make the walk to school a regular part of our routine! Happy walking!
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Located on El Camino Real near the Hillsdale Caltrain Station, the "Pen Station" apartments fulfill the vision of the El Camino Real "Grand Boulevard" Initiative, and the City's overall goal for Transit Oriented Development. With 68 one-, two-, and three-bedroom rental apartments available to families who earn 30 to 60 percent of annual median income (AMI), this housing complex ensures that every member of our diverse community can afford a place to live. The development also includes commercial space for lease and many amenities for residents including a computer lab, community center and kitchen, a large central courtyard with two play areas for children and on-site programs and services.
This project is just one example of the hard work and dedication shown on a daily basis by our City Staff to make the City of San Mateo such a wonderful place to live!
|September 27, 2010, 03:30 AM By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal staff|
|The city of San Mateo is looking at projected revenue over the next eight years to help it decide how to best keep services and employees intact as the economy slowly rebounds.|
In forecasting ahead, city staff has tentatively called for less reliance on the property transfer tax, received after a home is sold, which has been the San Mateo’s most volatile funding source over the past four years.
Revenue projections are being examined through 2018-19, when the Measure L quarter-cent sales tax expires, to help the city identify a “new normal” of general fund revenue that keeps the city running.
Measure L will provide about $3 million annually to San Mateo’s general fund but will expire in 2018.
The general fund pays for police, fire, parks and recreation and other essential city services. About 70 percent of the city’s general fund comes from property tax, sales tax, hotel tax and property transfer tax, which have all declined significantly in the past two years, forcing the city to cut millions from its annual budget.
General fund revenue is forecast to increase by an average of 2.5 percent annually over the eight-year period from fiscal year 2011-12 to 2018-19. In contrast, the historical annual average increase has been approximately 5 percent, according to a staff report the City Council will weigh in on at a meeting today.
The current revised budget for FY 2010-11 is $951,280 lower than expected and the 2011-12 revised estimate is $2.9 million lower than expected.
The city may need to cut more from the budget to close the gap in this budget cycle.
Next year’s nearly $3 million shortfall will be addressed during the 2011-12 annual budget process, according to a staff report compiled for the meeting.
The city’s general fund revenue is expected to be approximately $95.6 million in FY 2018-19, the year after Measure L expires.
San Mateo’s most volatile funding source has been the property transfer tax, reaching a high of $10.4 million in FY 2006-07. The number dropped by 70 percent in just two years, however, to $3.3 million in FY 2008-09.
Median home prices in San Mateo have dropped 25 percent since 2007 from a historical high of $781,500 to about $590,000 this year.
The property transfer tax is forecast to reach $5.4 million in 2013-14. This year, the city expects to net about $4 million from the property transfer tax.
After 2014, staff has capped the property transfer tax at $5.4 million regardless of how much the city actually nets from it.
“This policy direction would mean that any future revenue received over the $5.4 million cap would be utilized for other purposes such as increasing reserves for service stability or used for capital projects,” according to the staff report.
Although Councilman Robert Ross had yet to see the staff report, he indicated early support for the property transfer tax cap as did Councilman David Lim.
“My initial reaction is, it is a prudent approach and definitely worth considering,” Lim said. “It is a step in the right direction but, as we adjust to this new economic reality, we have to make sure it does not affect our vital services or put our employees at risk. No one sector of the city can absorb major cuts.”
In 2004, for instance, 1,348 homes were sold in San Mateo. In 2009, however, only 712 homes were sold in San Mateo.
Sales tax and property tax revenue is expected to climb moderately over the next eight years, according to the staff report.
Property tax is expected to increase between 3 percent to 4 percent annually and trending up to 4.5 percent in 2018-19. Sales tax is expected to increase between 2 percent and 3.5 percent and trending up to 4.5 percent in 2018-19, according to the staff report.
The city’s hotel tax is expected to make modest climbs over the next several years by approximately 4 percent and up to 5 percent in FY 2018-19.
The San Mateo City Council will hold a special study session on revenue projections, 5:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 27, City Hall, 330 W. 20th Ave., San Mateo.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
The Bayfront Cleanup is part of a larger, nationwide "Coastal Cleanup Day" happening all over the country. If you get a chance, head out to Ryder Park. We will be cleaning from 9 am to 12 pm, with lunch, music and entertainment to follow. It's a great way to help clean up the Bay and share in some wonderful community spirit!
See you there!
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
As you know, last spring I urged our City to slow down, take our time, and fully assess the ramifications to police consolidation on our neighborhoods and community. While I am all for saving taxpayer money, it should not come at the cost of public safety.
I am therefore proud that our City ended up taking the time to hire consultants who are now seeking input from the Council and the community on this topic. They will analyze a possible merger not only from a cost-savings perspective, but also look at how a change in resources and allocation of patrol services, detective services, etc. might affect each City.
If you have an opinion or suggestion on this issue, I encourage you to send me an email.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
The Autumn Moon Festival is a harvest festival celebrated in many Asian cultures. This Sunday's event will celebrate the rich diversity of our neighborhoods with delicious food, cultural performances, and community exhibits. It is also a great way to explore our wonderful Downtown!
Click on the flyer below for more information!
Monday, August 30, 2010
While its neighbors to the north and south have raised a stink over the possibility of high-speed trains zipping across an aerial viaduct, leaders in San Mateo have been relatively quiet on the matter.
Leaders in Belmont and Burlingame have sent off letters to the Federal Railroad Administrative asking for it not to grant more than $1 billion to the California High-Speed Rail Authority to electrify the Caltrain tracks and build a new transit station in Millbrae.
Leaders in San Mateo have not crafted such a letter even though the city decided on its own nearly 15 years ago that electrified Caltrain tracks should run underground through the city’s downtown going north to Burlingame.
San Mateo’s downtown straddles both side of the tracks on the narrowest corridor in the Caltrain system.
The Peninsula Rail Program unveiled two alternatives for the alignment from the San Francisco to San Jose stretch of the line, one with a primarily aerial viaduct option and the other with the possibility of an open trench for Burlingame and San Mateo.
On Thursday, all five of San Mateo’s councilmen made it clear the tracks must be depressed as they go through downtown. The entire council will hold a special study session Sept. 7 to discuss high-speed rail and define its position about the alternatives.
“The only acceptable option is a below-grade trench,” Mayor John Lee. “An aerial option is not acceptable for downtown. It would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to construct.”
A viaduct would be a huge mistake for San Mateo, Deputy Mayor Jack Matthews said.
Matthews suspects the authority, however, already favors an aerial solution for San Mateo.
“I’m a little disappointed. An open trench doesn’t seem to be favored by high-speed rail,” Matthews said. “When I hear there isn’t enough money, that doesn’t sound to good to me. They will have to find the money.”
Matthews said the city’s position is not based on what it “wants” to have but rather what the city “has” to have.
“There is not enough right of way in downtown,” Matthews said.
In downtown, the corridor narrows to 50 feet in some spots. The authority will need 80 feet or more of right of way to construct an aerial viaduct.
Councilman Brandt Grotte has represented the city in the Peninsula Rail Program’s policymaker working group, comprised of elected officials from cities up and down the Peninsula.
Grotte is optimistic the open trench alternative is still on the table for San Mateo. In the two alternatives for the Peninsula that came out Aug. 5, however, wording in the documents had incorrectly stated that San Mateo preferred an aerial option and not a trenched solution.
Grotte corrected the authority and now documents related to the alternatives going forward should reflect the city’s desire to have a depressed solution.
He also said there has been a misperception with the public that San Mateo has not been communicating with its neighboring cities, although he did say it was time to reach out a little more to leaders in Belmont.
“My intention is to open up a conversation with Belmont to see what they want,” Grotte said. “We’ve been meeting with Burlingame and Millbrae on a monthly basis to discuss our commonalties and positions.”
Roelof van Ark, the rail authority’s chief executive officer, sent a letter to city councils on the Caltrain corridor yesterday discussing the authority’s recent application for additional federal funds from the FRA.
“It appears that some are concerned that language in our Aug. 6 applications for fiscal year 2010/11 federal appropriations has pre-determined the outcome of our ongoing environmental review process. I want to state strongly that this is not the case,” van Ark said in the letter. “It is our combined state and federal environmental review process that will be used to determine the ultimate alignment selected for the high-speed train’s path along the Peninsula.”
So far, van Ark said, engineering is 3 percent to 5 percent completed.
After the draft environmental impact report comes out in December, engineering will be 15 percent completed, allowing for a more thorough evaluation of impacts and benefits, van Ark said.
Councilman David Lim supports high-speed rail for its potential economic benefits and for being a modern solution for the state’s transportation needs.
“I support high-speed rail but I also support the city’s vision for the corridor. That vision has not changed since I joined the council. We want to see an underground alignment for the downtown corridor,” Lim said.
Lim has been fielding lots of calls from San Mateo residents concerned about an aerial viaduct.
Councilman Robert Ross said the application to the FRA that showed only an aerial viaduct solution for the city was “a little disconcerting.”
“It looks like they have already ruled out the alternative,” Ross said. “It has to be depressed, otherwise there will be a small freeway running through downtown.”
Ross wants the city to be prepared for when the draft EIR comes out in December if an open trench is off the table for San Mateo.
“We have to research our legal options, although there may be none. We must be prepared to negotiate for the best solution,” Ross said.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
- Customers who are scheduled for a Wednesday pickup will be serviced on Friday.
- Customers who are scheduled for a Thursday pickup will be serviced on Saturday.
- Customers who are scheduled for a Friday pickup will be serviced on Sunday.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
It became clearer Thursday that the state's high-speed train will run above ground in the Peninsula and South Bay -- including on so-called "Berlin Walls" that some cities fear will divide their communities and demolish homes and businesses.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority, at a packed board meeting in San Francisco, unveiled its most detailed engineering plan yet for the section of the $43 billion rail line that will run along the Caltrain tracks on the way to Southern California.
Some of the cities along the line will receive aboveground tracks, either next to the existing Caltrain tracks or on structures similar to freeway overpasses. These cities include South San Francisco, San Bruno, Belmont, San Carlos, Redwood City and San Jose.
The other cities on the Peninsula will receive the same treatment unless the state is willing to go about $1 billion over its budget to build below-ground rails that would reduce the property acquisition and blight some communities fear the tracks will create. Those include Burlingame and San Mateo and cities from Atherton to Santa Clara.
The final two cities -- Millbrae and San Francisco -- will receive a combination of above- and below-ground tracks.
There are essentially three types of tracks the train will run on through the Bay Area.
One is a raised structure that must be at least 18 feet tall and that some cities have compared with an 80-foot-wide freeway. The second option, typically the cheapest, is to simply add two high-speed rail tracks next to the existing Caltrain rails. The final option, which the riled Peninsula cities prefer but which is also the most expensive, is to bury the tracks in an underground trench open to the surface.
From the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco to Diridon station in San Jose, the tracks will rise and drop to meet various engineering and community needs.
For cities that still have two options, the most likely choice appears to be the aboveground tracks.
The state has a $5.1 billion budget for the San Francisco-to-San Jose section of the project after it allocates $1 billion to the new Transbay Terminal.
It would be cheapest, at about $5 billion, to build all aboveground rails, according to a Bay Area News Group analysis of rail authority cost estimates released Thursday.
It would cost more than $1 billion extra, meanwhile, to run the trains through trenches in the communities that want them, the figures show.
For example, it would cost $664 million to run the four tracks through a trench in Menlo Park and Atherton, which have sued the rail authority and are among the most vocal critics of raised tracks. The state could chop more than half off that amount and spend $244 million to build the tracks aboveground through the 2.7-mile stretch between wealthy properties.
San Mateo Councilman David Lim, whose city wants a trench through the northern half, asked the board to "reject the urge to go with the lowest common denominator."
"Without a trench system, you would destroy a lot of the vitality and character of our downtown San Mateo area," Lim said in an interview. "The support for the project among residents goes down precipitously if you take away the trench option."
Exacerbating the cost issue is the fact that the rail authority still needs to raise three-fourths of the money it has budgeted for the high-speed system.
Project officials will continue to study the trench idea and are not yet sure whether they can afford to build underground, local project manager Bob Doty said. The rail authority board will likely select the alignment next year.
"Not everybody is getting what they want," Doty said. "But we're getting bloody close."
Michael Brownrigg, a councilman in Burlingame, another city that wants a trench, said he suspects some officials have already made up their minds.
"There are some who believe that they need to save every nickel they can because this is going to be more expensive and who don't care that much about the Peninsula," he said.
Meanwhile, some other cities that will not have underground tracks studied said they were flabbergasted.
"I don't know why anyone got the idea that we wanted to continue with an aerial alignment," said Christine Wozniak, mayor of Belmont, which is opposed to the project if the tracks are raised.
Redwood City Councilwoman Barbara Pierce said her city was "very upset" the trench option was removed in her city.
In San Francisco, the high-speed rail tracks will run underground, while the Caltrain tracks will stay where they are.
Millbrae will have one high-speed rail track run underground into its station, while the second bullet-train track will be added alongside the Caltrain line.
Finally, it is also possible that the two high-speed rail tracks will be buried in a tunnel in Santa Clara as they approach the high-speed rail stop in San Jose.
Construction on the project is expected to begin in 2012 and trains would start running by 2020.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Contrary to what you may be hearing, I have been assured that no final decision has been made on which option to pursue.
Just a few minutes ago, I got off the phone with Rail Authority Board Member Richard Katz. Mr. Katz reiterated that the Board will take up the matter tomorrow morning, review all the information, and then and only then will they make a decision.
As you know, the City of San Mateo's official position on high speed rail is supportive of the concept, but adamant that an underground option for high speed rail is the only acceptable option to maintain the character and well-being of our downtown area and residential communities. The narrowest right-of-way along the entire state's rail corridor is in downtown San Mateo, and therefore an aerial option would be devastating to our communities and is unacceptable.
In my phone conversation with Mr. Katz, and in messages to the remaining Board members on the High Speed Rail Authority, I have continued to reiterate San Mateo's position.
Tomorrow's meeting is an important milestone in setting the vision for how high speed rail will affect our community. I am taking the morning off from my full-time job to be at the meeting in San Francisco. Councilmember Brandt Grotte and Public Works Director Larry Patterson, who together have spearheaded the City's efforts on this issue, will also be at the meeting to represent the interests of our City.
However, more help is always appreciated. If you are interested in attending the meeting tomorrow morning, please send me an email or call me to let me know you plan to attend. Or send me your thoughts about the project. Armed with this information, I will be able to let the Board know how many San Mateo residents are in attendance, or who have expressed concern about this issue.
The address and agenda for tomorrow's meeting can be found by clicking HERE.
As I have done since taking office in November, I will continue to represent the citizens of San Mateo on this very important issue not only tomorrow, but moving forward as well.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Tonight many of our neighbors will host block parties, coffees, or turn on their porch lights in support of National Night Out. I encourage all San Mateo residents to get to know their neighbors and celebrate National Night Out.
As a former Board Member with the San Mateo Neighborhood Watch Group and in my job as a Deputy District Attorney in Alameda County, I am proud to support the hundreds of blocks in the City of San Mateo that help promote safe neighborhoods by having active, organized neighborhood watch groups.
It is also a fact that organized neighborhoods not only keep streets safe, they promote friendlier neighborhoods as well!
If your block is not yet organized, find out how easy it is to form a Neighborhood Watch group on your block by clicking HERE.
Happy National Night Out, and as McGruff the Crime Dog would say, "Take A Bite Out of Crime!"
Monday, August 2, 2010
|This article was part of Sue Lembert's weekly column in the San Mateo Daily Journal on August 2, 2010|
So it was a pleasant surprise to be part of a well-attended meeting at the San Mateo City Hall last week to see what we as individuals could do to help. The city of San Mateo, according to Councilman David Lim, is leading the way with its climate action plan for fall 2010. There is a build it green rating system where points are awarded for eco-friendly building elements such as low-flow toilets and high-efficiency shower heads. There are residential loans to assist single family homeowners to repair deteriorated private sewer laterals. The California First program provides low-interest funding for environmental improvements. Residents can obtain loans with a payback over 20 years for such energy savers as solar panels and water efficiency. PG&E offers rebates on energy efficient products. The audience was told that every minute you shorten your shower you can save up to 75 gallons of water per month. And you can save more by not letting the faucet run when you brush your teeth or clean dishes before loading the dishwasher. Raphael Reyes, director of the Bay Area Climate Collective, sounded upbeat when he said we were now moving from the impossible to the inevitable. More and more auto manufacturers are planning or are already offering electric cars.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
San Mateo County Times
But officials admitted they may have lost their shot to keep Mike Callagy, the officer they want to lead the effort.
The San Mateo deputy police chief was one of two finalists for the vacant Menlo Park police chief job filled Monday. Callagy said earlier this week he and Menlo Park officials could not agree on his salary, and the city instead picked a Sacramento-area officer for the job.
Council members in both cities said they realize Callagy has the résumé and desire to be a police chief elsewhere, and they would not be surprised if he left.
"It's the nature of the business," San Mateo Councilman David Lim said. "Someone with the skill and caliber of Mike Callagy, you almost know and assume he's not going to stay in one place for that long."
For his part, Callagy figures he has at least four to six years left as a police officer and wants to retire in San Mateo, where he has been for 26 years.
"I'm emotionally tied to San Mateo," he said when asked if he had aspirations to be a chief somewhere else. "It would be very, very difficult for me to leave this city."
Callagy has been in line to take over as Burlingame police chief while keeping the post as San Mateo's second-ranked officer. A major part of his tenure would include leading a potential merger between the two police forces.
As part of the deal, San Mateo would receive $240,000 annually from Burlingame, which would get a chief at a 20 percent discount.
Already, Callagy has worked with Burlingame officials to create a 30-page report on combining police departments and has been characterized by leaders in both cities as a credible officer respected around the county.
Some officials say he'd also been tapped to take over for San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer, who heads the California Police Chiefs Association, if she leaves for a bigger department. Manheimer is scheduled to be chief of the joint police force if San Mateo and Burlingame merge departments.
San Mateo officials in April approved loaning Callagy to Burlingame, but the Burlingame council — after some police officers and residents feared the hire would seal a later merger — postponed the vote until later this year.
While leaders said they wanted Callagy to stay, his departure would not delay them from funding the study and seeing if a merger will make sense. As Burlingame Councilman Michael Brownrigg put it, "There are a lot of talented people out there."
"His going to some other city is not going to kill the possibility of a merger — not by any means," Burlingame Councilman Jerry Deal said. "The process goes on. If he's going to look for another job, more power to him."
San Mateo City Manager Susan Loftus said whatever deal is reached with Burlingame has to work long beyond the architects have moved on.
"As individuals come and individuals leave, we need to have a model that will work over time," Loftus said.
The study is expected to last about six months. The Burlingame council would wait for the results of the report before filling its police chief job, currently held by Ed Wood, a commander promoted to the job on an interim basis.
Friday, July 23, 2010
A few of the presenters made power point presentations, and I'm happy to share them with you online. Please click on a link below to see three of the power point presentations made at the Town Hall Meeting. The click on the presentation you want to view the presentation! Please be patient -- these files are pretty large because they are full of great information!
Click HERE to view the power point presentations.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Free gifts courtesy of Recology will be given out to the first 50 residents in attendance. In addition to a presentations on water conservation, sustainability, and the latest efforts by the City of San Mateo to help residents be more environmentally friendly, there will be tables from local organizations and businesses to help homeowners create more sustainable homes!
See you all tonight!
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
This month is park appreciation month!
The San Mateo Parks and Recreation Department does a great job year round maintaining our parks and providing quality programs for youth, seniors, young couples and families.
Be sure to enjoy our great San Mateo Parks with your friends and family!
Above is a photo of my daughter enjoying the playground at MLK Jr. Park in North Central San Mateo on this beautiful Saturday morning!
Friday, July 16, 2010
Designed as a forum to share ideas on sustainability with everyone in the San Mateo community, the meeting will feature a night of prominent speakers on sustainability issues, as well as tables set up by non-profit organizations and local businesses committed to creating more sustainable communities.
Sierra Club Board Member Rafael Reyes and noted water conservation expert Peter Drekmeier will give talks on how to create more sustainable communities. Councilmember Lim will give updates on City efforts to reduce the City’s carbon footprint, and on City initiatives to provide financial incentives to homeowners to become more environmentally friendly.
The first 50 residents in attendance will receive a special complimentary gift from RethinkWaste. Additionally, door prizes and other surprises will be given out throughout the evening, including a compost bin that Councilmember Lim will personally set up at the home of the winner.
“I am excited and honored to partner with local non-profits and small business owners to help share ideas on sustainability with our neighbors,” said Councilmember Lim. “Reducing our carbon footprint is an important goal for the City of San Mateo, and this evening promises to be both educational and entertaining for everyone in attendance.”
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
In making my decision to approve the project, I wanted to thank the countless hours given to me by neighborhood groups, individual citizens, and City staff in providing me with information about this project. While I agree with residents that the new development will result in increased traffic in the area, I believe that any increase in traffic will be mitigated by Traffic Demand Management protocols put in place to regulate traffic from the development. Additionally, I believe the long-term benefits to our City in terms of increased use of transit-oriented growth, an increasing business base, and beautifying a section of our City that is falling into decay more than justify this project.
Thank you again to everyone who was involved in the process.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tomorrow I will be meeting with City staff to go over my review and get their input on ways to keep our City in the best financial shape possible.
Last week, I sent a letter to many of you via email encouraging all San Mateo residents to review as much of the budget as they can and bring any ideas they have to the City Council meeting this coming Monday, June 21. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you have about the budget.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Council considers updated budget
June 08, 2010, 02:43 AM
By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal staff
San Mateo faces a $5 million budget shortfall next year and will lean on its employees heavily to help bridge the gap.
To close the deficit, the city is seeking labor cost concessions to the tune of $2.2 million, City Manager Susan Loftus informed the City Council last night.
“A balanced budget depends on some labor concessions,” Loftus said. “Some labor groups have not voted yet.”
The city has already identified about $2.5 million in savings by not filling vacant positions and through other cost controls.
The city will also use unspent capital project funds, about $2 million, to supplement the 2010-11 fiscal operating budget.
The city’s general fund, which pays for public safety and other essential city services, is approximately $76.9 million, according to a staff report by Doris Koo, the city’s treasury and budget manager.
The overall total city and Redevelopment Agency budget is about $167 million.
The city’s major source of funding, property tax revenue, is projected to remain flat next year, although revenue from sales taxes, property transfer taxes and hotel taxes are expected to increase modestly.
Part of the modest increases to the sales and hotel taxes comes from the passage of measures L and M in November.
The city expects a budget shortfall of about $3 million for its fiscal year 2011-12 budget.
City employees are being asked to give up pay raises once again to close the deficit and the city has to also reallocate about $1.6 million to the worker’s compensation fund. The city is setting aside about $2 million to combat any future state takeaways or in case revenue unexpectedly declines. The city has lost 40 employees in the last year.
San Mateo will suspend facility improvements to save $1.8 million to the general fund. Another $1.9 million in street rehabilitation projects will also be suspended although the city may receive federal stimulus money to apply to road repairs.
This year, the city expects to decrease its full-time equivalent positions, including overtime and part-time, by 9.26.
Without labor concessions, the number of full-time equivalent positions facing elimination could increase, according to Koo’s report.
2010 was the first time the city’s property tax revenue dropped since 1979 after the passage of Proposition 13.
The city has suffered miserably with the collapse in the housing market, having its property transfer tax dwindle from a high of $10 million to about $3.3 million. The revenue comes from the sale of homes.
Building permit fees the city collects are down 40 percent and planning fees are down 50 percent.
Councilman David Lim requested the council hold a special study session next week to take a deeper look at line items in the budget.
“Since our workers are making concessions, the council should look as closely as possible at the budget to find cost-savings,” he said.
His request, however, did not receive support from a council majority.
The city will continue a public hearing on the budget at its June 21 meeting.
Bill Silverfarb can be reached by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 106.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Hepatitis B is a health issue that affects all of us, killing over one million people worldwide each year. And although anyone can be infected, people of Asian heritage are ten times more likely to contract liver cancer as a result of infection by "Hep B".
What is particularly tragic about this health concern is that there is a vaccine which will completely protect individuals from Hep B. Language, cultural, and economic barriers prevent many Asians from getting tested and inoculated, which is why the work of the Jade Ribbon Youth Council and the San Mateo Hep B Free Organization are so important.
Below are some photos from this week's event. Keep an eye out during the coming year for a free Hep B screening near you!
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Organized by the Jade Ribbon Youth Council, a group of high school volunteers from San Mateo, the ribbon tying ceremony in Downtown San Mateo will tie green ribbons along 4th Avenue from El Camino Real to San Mateo Avenue to raise awareness among the public about the “silent killer” known as Hepatitis B. San Mateo City Councilmember David Lim will be on hand at 3:30 PM to tie the first ribbon at the corner of East 4th Avenue and San Mateo Avenue.
Following the ribbon tying event, representatives of the Jade Ribbon Youth Council will lead the Pledge of Allegiance to open the City Council meeting at 7:00 PM at City Hall, and will then receive a proclamation from Mayor John Lee declaring this week to be “Hepatitis B Awareness Week”. Over the next month, free screenings for “Hep B” will be held at various locations throughout the Peninsula.
Hepatitis B is a virus which affects people of Asian descent at a higher rate than any other group. Hep B attacks the liver and can cause one in four people to die of liver cancer if not properly monitored. Each year, over one million people die worldwide of complications from Hepatitis B despite the existence of a vaccine that will inoculate people from the virus.
Councilmember David Lim stated, “The real tragedy of Hep B is that there is a vaccine which will prevent infection, but due to a lack of public awareness about Hep B, especially among low-income and immigrant Asians, many people become needlessly infected and die each year from this virus.” Lim added, “Today’s ribbon tying ceremony and recognition by the San Mateo City Council will help raise awareness among our neighbors of the need to be screened and vaccinated against Hep B, especially in the 20% of our population who are Asian-American and thus are most susceptible to infection.”
Lim noted that he was screened for Hep B recently to show people how easy the process is, and also was vaccinated against the virus when he was younger. “I urge everyone to get screened,” said Lim.
Friday, May 14, 2010
On Thursday, May 6, I attended the installation of a painting by local artist Ruth Waters. Ms. Waters donated to the City of San Mateo Library her painting, "September Sunset". Her beautiful artwork now enhances the lounge area of the 3rd floor of the main library as you come up the stairs.
Thank you to Ms. Waters for her generous donation to the San Mateo Library system, and to our Library Board of Trustees and Library staff for making this possible!
On Friday, May 7 I was pleased to present awards to the winners of an art contest to raise awareness for the 2010 U.S. Census. Sponsored by the Mural, Music and Arts Project, students from San Mateo High School won awards for visual arts, graffiti arts, multimedia arts, and written poetry. Their wonderful artwork is currently on display in San Mateo City Hall.
Thanks to San Mateo art teachers Julie Stock and Elizabeth Yapp for organizing the event!
Thursday, May 6, 2010
On Friday night I rode along with the "Neighborhood Response Team" or NRT.
NRT is a specialty unit of the San Mateo Police Department. Comprised of various officers who patrol in uniform in unmarked patrol cars, they are not "bound" to patrol areas in black and white police cars. This allows the NRT unit the flexibility to respond to community issues and "hot issues" that arise each day.
While the NRT runs operations as diverse as school truancy, illegal taxi cabs, and illegal massage parlors, some of their most important work is in gang suppression.
Many residents do not realize that San Mateo has a number of active gangs -- and we have the NRT unit to thank for this lack of knowledge! Many of our gang members are felons convicted for dealing drugs or for committing violent assaults and robberies. NRT officers spend time keeping track of known gang members by identifying when they enter our City, when they are trying to recruit our children into gangs, and when they are trying to stir up trouble.
Besides keeping track of known gang members and letting them know that our community will not tolerate trouble, NRT officers also play a crucial role in community outreach. NRT officers work hard to build relationships with at-risk youth by encouraging them to report crimes, steering them away from gangs, talking to their parents, and working to help them understand that there are positive benefits to staying out of gangs.
On my ride-along with NRT units, I observed officers contact numerous known gang members just to let them know that the police were out there, and reminding them that no trouble would be tolerated.
I also got to see first hand as NRT officers contacted young kids loitering on various street corners and reminded them that there is nothing glamorous about gangs. In every encounter, I was proud to see our officers conduct themselves with professionalism, courtesy, and poise.
In one instance, I observed how a number of youth first responded belligerently to police upon initial contact, but by the end of the conversation were sharing gum and jokes with the police officers before heeding the officers' advise to head home for the night. Small encounters like that every day by our NRT unit and their fellow police officers help to keep our City safe.
While police consolidation is an idea worth consolidating, we must be mindful to be aware of the delicate relationship built between units such as the NRT and the gangs and at-risk youth in our community. These relationship take months, even years, to build, and once broken can not be easily rebuilt. The issue of gangs and violence in our community is complex, and the days of having officers keep the peace in just black and white patrol cars is long gone. Consolidation is worth exploring, but not at the expense of the specialty units that protect our City while we all sleep.
Thanks again to the men and women of the San Mateo Police Department who allowed me to observe what they do for us each night and day.
Friday, April 30, 2010
HIP ("Human Investment Project") Housing is a local non-profit in San Mateo County dedicated to helping people live independent, self-sufficient lives in decent, safe, low-cost homes. HIP's Self-Sufficiency Program (SSP) provides housing assistance and support services to low-income families with clearly defined career and educational goals and motivation to become financially self-reliant within 12-24 months.
The 32 individuals who graduated from the program tonight all graduated having obtained additional schooling, degrees, or job training. All of them are now in better housing conditions, and in positions to be more self-sufficient in providing for themselves and their families.
HIP Housing is one of many non-profit agencies that serve as a vital safety net for those in our community who need a helping hand including the homeless, senior citizens, and children. As a City Councilmember for San Mateo, I am proud of the support our City gives to these non-profits, which includes a yearly allocation of over $500,000 in federal grants specifically designed to allow local governments to aid those most in need.
This coming Monday, the City Council will review San Mateo's five-year Consolidated Plan and yearly Action Plan which will help our community address our long-term housing and community needs. To review the Consolidated Plan and Action plan, click here.
Congratulations again to the graduates of the Self-Sufficiency Program, and thank you again to HIP Housing and all our non-profits in San Mateo!
Monday, April 26, 2010
Thanks to the Downtown San Mateo Association and merchants for making this happen. Yet another reason San Mateo is a great community!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
The creation of a PBID in Downtown San Mateo will help address continued improvements to our downtown to address parking, security, and growth to allow our downtown to grow in vibrant and exciting ways for years to come.
I was very impressed with the concept presented to the City Council last night. The Downtown San Mateo Association did a great job of engaging the community and getting feedback from all concerned. Their efforts were a model of transparency and open communication that we can all learn from.
To learn more about the Downtown San Mateo Association, click here. Better yet, become a fan on Facebook by clicking here.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Below are some photos from the event. Thanks to all the volunteers and City staff in the Parks and Recreation Department and the Youth Services Commission for making this a great event!
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation, Mock Trial introduces high school students to the American legal system by having them serve as lawyers and witnesses in a "mock trial" -- a fictitious court case. A team of 20 students under the guidance of a teacher-coach and attorney-coach prepares their legal arguments and witness examinations, and then presents their case by competing against other schools in real Courtrooms while being judged by real Judges and lawyer.
The goal of mock trial is to help high school students acquire a working knowledge of our judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills, and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of our society.
To advance to the State Finals this weekend, Hillsdale finished first in the San Mateo County regional competition, beating out six other exemplary high school teams. In the State Finals, Hillsdale competed against the best teams from 40 other counties in California. A total of 8,000 high school students competed in Mock Trial all over California, and 20 students from San Mateo came out on top!
Congratulations again to the Mock Trial team of Hillsdale High School!
Saturday, March 20, 2010
One such store in downtown in ATLAS SKATEBOARD STORE. Located at 209 2nd Avenue, right next to Baywatch Restaurant, Atlas is a skateboard store that is "committed to preserving the true definition of skateboarding and street culture: Individuality, Artistic Expression, Progression and Respect."
Owned by San Mateo native Ryan Motzek, the store has been open since May 2007 and specializes in custom skateboards, shoes and clothing. Open daily at 11 AM until 7 or 8 PM, Atlas will often host special sales that have loyal customers lined up overnight to take advantage of the specialized merchandise available only at Atlas.
One review of Ryan's store on the review site Yelp noted, "Favorite Skateshop ever. Friendly staff, solid location, clean shop, great selection. Did I mention they have a Nike SB Quickstrike account? Can't say enough good things about these guys, Ryen, Mike, Patrick, Robbie, Lester, Nick... Family!"
Ryan opened his store in San Mateo not only because he sensed a good business opportunity, but because of his desire to see San Mateo thrive as a community. San Mateo is certainly lucky to have a dedicated and savvy business such as Atlas and Ryan Motzek in our community!
Information on Atlas Skateboard Store:
Address: 209 2nd Ave. San Mateo, CA 94401
Telephone: (650) 401-7110
Hepatitis B ("Hep B") is a disease caused by infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Infection with HBV can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure, and liver cancer. 80% of liver cancer worldwide is caused by HBV infection.
Unfortunately, 1 in 10 Asians and Asian-Americans have chronic hepatitis B, as compared to 1 in 1000 Caucasians with the disease, making it the greatest health disparity affecting Asian and Pacific Islander populations both locally and worldwide.
The good news about this deadly disease is that there is a successful vaccination to protect individuals from Hep B. Through proper screening and public education, people do not need to suffer from the an infection of Hep B.
In San Mateo, where 20% of our 96,000 neighbors are of Asian heritage, it is important to spread the word about proper screening and vaccination for Hep B.
This morning, I took 10 minutes out of my day to give a blood sample to get screened for Hep B. The next clinic where free screening will be offered will be this coming Wednesday, March 24, 2010 in Daly City.
I urge all residents to take part of this free clinic, and to help eradicate Hep B from our communities! Please email me for more specific information if you or a friend would like to be screened.