April 26, 2013, By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal
San Mateo City Manager Susan Loftus is searching for an independent auditor to review the city’s Community Development Department after a number of “hiccups” it has had over the past several months, Mayor David Lim told a group of business leaders Thursday.
Lim sat down with a slew of tenants who call the Borel Estate Building home including lawyers, financiers and bankers in a meet and greet hosted by Linda Asbury with the Economic Development Growth Enterprise, an initiative of the San Mateo Area Chamber of Commerce.
Lim fielded questions about why the city does not allow for beekeeping, whether a public plaza should be built downtown, what the impacts of high-speed rail will be on the city and what the status of some of the city’s newest developments are, including Bay Meadows and Station Park Green, to be built on the current site where Kmart sits on Delaware Street.
A review of the Community Development Department will be undertaken because it oversees the city’s planning and building divisions and other city functions such as code enforcement, Lim said. Loftus should have an auditor picked within two months, he said.
“We are doing more with less,” Lim said about city staff. The 7-Eleven situation on San Mateo Drive is one of the hiccups to which Lim was referring.
“The permits were issued in error. It was glaring. There were two different planners and no file,” he said.
Code enforcement also caused a stir for a group of mechanics and auto body shops on Claremont Street last year for being cited for violations they were unaware of, Lim said. The proposed fines for the violation were exorbitant, Lim said.
He was also asked whether the city is “welcoming” the California High-Speed Rail Authority project. The already approved “blended system,” Lim said, will electrify Caltrain and bring other benefits to the area and be less intrusive than the authority’s original proposals.
San Mateo will hopefully get a grade separation at 25th Avenue out of the deal, he said.
“We got to get what we can get,” said Lim, who is not convinced high-speed rail trains will ever actually access the Caltrain corridor.
Lim told the group that he’s most proud of his work on the council the past three years for his advocacy for small business.
He helped Silver Lake Seafood restaurant get a loading zone approved after it applied for one two years before. The restaurant owners called Lim who then found out that their permit application had simply been misplaced the whole time.
He also helped the owners of a building on 38th Avenue and El Camino Real where a Starbucks is located find another tenant for the two-storefront building after being told there was not enough parking on the site to accommodate another tenant. City staff had simply miscalculated the parking requirements, Lim said. The Shred Center now occupies the other storefront.
Moving forward, the mayor envisions moving the tennis courts at Central Park in favor of building a community center on the site. He looks to enhance downtown with more cultural arts in the future, also.
Lim even fielded questions about bees, which the city limits.
The Beekeepers Alliance of San Mateo County approached the city recently about allowing for keepers to keep more bees on their properties.
The city limits one hive, or box per resident, however, Lim said, and that will not change.
Some who attended the meet and greet included Vince Cirigliano with Borel Financial Inc., Kenyon Mark Lee with Lee Law Offices, Timothy Martin with Martin Family Law firm, Daniel J. O’Brien with California Bank & Trust and Walter R. Chao with Dragon Financial Group.
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