George Rodericks

City Manager's Blog

The City Manager's Blog is an online educational tool to provide general information to the community in open communication style. Periodically, the City Manager will post articles of general interest covering topics such as the Town's budget, budget process, capital projects, upcoming meetings, community issues, public safety, and general Town operations.

Articles in the blog are not designed as press releases or Town publications, rather, they are written in more of a conversational style. The Blog does not have a comments feature but readers are free to respond to the Blog and its entries view email directly to the City Manager.

Jun 16

That's A Wrap! - June 15, 2022

Posted on June 16, 2022 at 7:48 AM by grodericks grodericks

Thats A Wrap

Council Meeting Date: June 15, 2022
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/user/TownOfAtherton/featured
Details of each item can be found via the links to Staff Reports within the narrative.

The City Council met for the May Meeting on Wednesday, June 15 at 6 pm via Hybrid - (Zoom and In-Person) pursuant to the Governor's Executive Order. Following the Roll Call the Council began moving through the Agenda beginning with PresentationsThe Council introduced and swore in new Atherton Police Officer Bobby Magami. Following presentations, the Council moved to Public Comments.  The Mayor advised that Item No. 17 related to the Housing Element would be heard by the Council prior to the Public Hearings. This Report will note the item in the Agenda during its regular order but it was heard out of order at the meeting. 


ReportFollowing Public Comments and a Report out of Closed Session, the Council moved to the City Manager's Report (~6:05 pm). The City Manager's Report is typically prepared monthly as part of the City Council's Regular Agenda. In addition to current reports from the City Manager, it typically includes departmental updates on the various happenings around Town such as reports from Administration, Community Services, Planning, Police, and Public Works. Council made comments related to the Housing Element schedule, City Council Subcommittee Reports, and the Police Activity Report. 


Consent_AgendaFollowing the City Manager's Report, the Council moved to the Consent Agenda consisting of Items 7 through 10 (~6:10 pm). Items on the Consent Agenda are considered routine in nature and are generally considered in one motion and adopted by a single vote of the Council. Included in this month's Consent Agenda were bills and claims, minutes, Certification of the Continuing COVID-19 Emergency and acceptance of work for the lighting in Holbrook Palmer Park.  Staff removed the minutes of May 18 and May 24 for further edits and will return them to the Council for consideration in July. With that removal, the Council approved all remaining items on the Consent Agenda. 


Public_Hearing_ImageNext was Public Hearings.
 
Public Hearings are typically held for Ordinances, Budget Adoption, Fee Adoption, and Land Use approvals. There were five (5) Public Hearings on the June Agenda.

Item No. 11, Public Hearing for Vacation of a Portion of Madrone Road (~7:20 pm). Following a staff report, the Council conducted the Public Hearing providing opportunity for public comment by the applicant and other parties. Upon close of the Public Hearing the Council discussed the proposed vacation asking clarifying questions related to current and future use of the space as well as the disposition of the space upon vacation by the Town. Following discussion, the Council adopted the required Resolutions to vacate a portion of Madrone Road. 

Item No. 12, Public Hearing for Appeal of a Planning Commission decision to deny a Variance at 25 Isabella Drive for a fence/wall to exceed 6' in height and a retaining wall to be located less than 5 feet from the property line (~7:29 pm). Following a staff report, the Council conducted the Public Hearing providing opportunity for public comment by the applicant and other parties. The Council asked questions of the applicant and other parties related to height of the wall, size of the retaining wall, available planting area(s), timing of permits, timing of grading, permits obtained or not obtained, communication between property owners, surveys to neighbors, and design. Upon close of the Public Hearing the Council discussed the various issues related to the project and potential solutions involving Town permitting or applications and negotiated agreements between the property owners. Following discussion, the Council continued the Variance Hearing to the September 21 Regular Meeting of the City Council and directed the property owners to meet and confer in the intervening time to attempt to work out a mutually agreeable solution. 

Item No. 13, Public Hearing to Introduce Ordinance Amendments related to Landscape Screening under Chapter 17.50 of the Atherton Municipal Code (~8:48 pm). Following a staff report, the Council conducted the Public Hearing providing opportunity for public comment. Upon close of the Public Hearing the Council discussed issues related to tree size and screening of accessory dwelling units. Following discussion, the Council introduced the Ordinance, as amended, to provide flexibility for the Town Arborist to work with property owners on tree size requirements. 

Item No. 14, Public Hearing to Introduce Ordinance approving a Policy for the Use and Acquisition of Military Equipment under AB 481, Law Enforcement (~9:10 pm). Following a staff report, the Council conducted the Public Hearing providing opportunity for public comment. Upon close of the Public Hearing, the Council discussed application of the policy. Following discussion, the Council introduced the Ordinance.

Item No. 15, Public Hearing to Adopt the FY 2022/23 Budget, Salary and Benefit Resolutions, GANN Limit, and Fee Resolution (~9:12 pm). Following a staff report, the Council conducted the Public Hearing providing opportunity for public comment. Upon close of the Public Hearing, the Council congratulated staff on a well prepared Budget. The Council also discussed amendments to the Fee Schedule to remove the fee for Solar Permits and made amendments to the fees for Park facility use. Following discussion, the Council removed the fee for solar permits and directed that the Park fees be amended as follows: 

ItemResidentNon-Resident
Main House (M-F)$125$200
Main House (S&S)$350$450
Outdoor Area$150$200
Carriage House$125$200
Jennings Pavilion (Friday Day/M-Th)$250$400
Jennings Pavilion (Friday Night/S&S)$750$1,000
Day Use 13-25$100$150
Day Use 26-50$175$300



Regular_Agenda_ImageNext up was the Regular Agenda (~9:15 pm).

Item No. 16, Consideration of and Appointments To Various Town Committees and Planning Commission. Following a staff report and public comment, the Council discussed the various appointments and vacancies. The Council discussed the status of the Rail Committee as a Town Committee. Following discussion, the Council appointed all applicants to the various committees selecting particular terms for the Environmental Committee appointments and selecting the incumbent for reappointment to the Rail Committee. The Council directed that the Rail Committee discuss the possibility of a change in status to a Designated Group versus a formal Town Committee at their next Rail Committee meeting and report back to the City Council. 

Item No. 17, Discussion of Community Feedback Regarding Housing Element Updates (~6:12 pm). (This item was heard earlier in the meeting than as noted on the Agenda) Staff provided the Council with an overview of the current status of the Housing Element and noted that after several public meetings and strategy sessions, the City Council authorized the release of the current Draft Housing Element for its 30-day public comment period. Staff advised that while the element is out for public comment, it should not be amended. Staff noted that all public comment received in writing via email or otherwise has been recorded as part of the public record for this process - even comments received prior to the initiation of the 30-day comment period. Staff noted that the public comment period will conclude on July 11 and the City Council must consider public comments received over the course of 10-business days before making a recommendation on a Draft Housing Element to submit to the State’s Housing and Community Development Department. Staff advised that during the 30-day public comment period, there is the item on the June 15 Agenda as well as a Planning Commission Hearing on June 23. Both meetings are intended for public comment only - by the Council, Commission and general public. On July 20, the Council will hold another public meeting to review public comments received. At that meeting, it is anticipated that staff may make some corrective recommendations to the Draft Element as well as the Council itself can make changes. One of the recommended changes that staff will recommend on July 20 will be removal of 290 Polhemus as a potential overlay zone candidate. Provided the Council does not make material additions to the housing strategies, the Council will hold another Special Meeting at the end of July to submit the draft element to the State. If there are material additions, the Town will have to further extend the delay in submittal through another 30-day public comment period and 10-business day review. 

Policy and Land Use strategies in the Housing Element to meet the State Mandate of 348 Housing Units at the 4 disparate income categories over the 8-year cycle are detailed in the Housing Element itself and include land use strategies that focus on Accessory Dwelling Unit production, SB 9 lot splits, development of vacant land, development of school and faculty housing at schools and Bear Gulch. In addition, the land use strategies include the use of strategic Overlay Zones for identified properties that allow for opportunity of higher density development but don’t require it or alter the underlying single-family zoning. These overlay zones would have higher and more defined land use controls than are provided under SB 9 and even the Town’s underlying single-family zoning, to the point of being similar to very restrictive design review addressing height, setbacks, parking and other aesthetics. Those development standards have yet to be developed.   

None of the housing strategies included in the Draft Housing Element are set in stone, they are all draft strategies designed as a plan to meet the State’s mandate that have been set out for public review and comment. Staff anticipates that review of the Housing Element will be an interactive process with the State before the Town eventually receives approval from the State of a compliant Housing Element. That process could take months or even a year or more to complete. Staff advised that it is important that the Town respond proactively and obtain a compliant Housing Element as jurisdictions face significant exposure to liability for non-compliant housing elements. Courts may impose fines of up to $100,000 per month; but worse, courts may also revoke a local government’s land use and planning authority relegating such control to the State without regard to local general plan guidance. Staff advised that jurisdictions in Southern California are about 15 months ahead of northern California in the State’s process for the 6th Housing Cycle so we will have some indication of the seriousness of the State with respect to imposing penalties and compliance measures. As of today, of the 124 jurisdictions in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, only 8 have been found in compliance and the remainder continue in the interactive HCD review and approval process. At this time, while there may be timing compliance measures imposed and other minor compliance requirements, to my knowledge there have not yet been monetary or land use penalties imposed. That said, this level of pressure and exhausting engagement by the State in the 6th Cycle process is, to use an unfortunate word, unprecedented. The California Attorney General has already called out communities that attempt to flaunt the mandates. 

Following the staff presentation the Council discussed issues related to the draft Housing Element including, but not limited to, the Town's process in selection of housing strategies, challenges faced by the Town, available sites, public engagement, other community experiences, accessory dwelling units, overlay zones, aggregation of property, school sites, faculty housing, emergency service worker housing, funding needs, and overall perspectives on the State's role and housing production. The Council also took public comment from the public. Members of the public addressed the Town's General Plan, specific property overlays, other housing opportunities, General Plan Land Use Committee, traffic, pedestrian and bicyclist safety, crime, and public engagement. 

Item No. 18, City Manager Performance Evaluation and Approval of Amended to City Manager Employment Agreement (~9:25 pm). Following a staff report and public comment, the City Attorney read the proposed amendments for the record. Following discussion, the Council approved the amendments as presented. 

Item No. 19, City Attorney Performance Evaluation and Approval of Amendment to Legal Services Agreement (~9:28 pm). Following a staff report and public comment, the City Manager read the proposed amendments for the record. Following discussion, the Council approved the amendments as presented. 

Having cleared the entire Agenda, at approximately 9:30 pm, that as they say - was a wrap!


The next meeting of the City Council will be a Study Session on July 6 at 4 pm. At this time there are no scheduled items for the meeting and the meeting may be cancelled. If cancelled, a Notice of Cancellation will be posted. 

GeorgeThanks for reading!
 
 George Rodericks
 City Manager
Town of Atherton
grodericks@ci.atherton.ca.us

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May 19

That's A Wrap! - May 18, 2022

Posted on May 19, 2022 at 10:38 AM by grodericks grodericks

Thats A Wrap

Council Meeting Date: May 18, 2022
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/user/TownOfAtherton/featured
Details of each item can be found via the links to Staff Reports within the narrative.


The City Council met for the May Meeting on Wednesday, May 18 at 6 pm via Hybrid - (Zoom and In-Person) pursuant to the Governor's Executive Order. Following the Roll Call the Council began moving through the Agenda beginning with PresentationsThe Council presented a Proclamation for Mental Health Awareness Month. Following presentations, the Council moved to Public Comments.


ReportFollowing Public Comments, the Council moved to the City Manager's Report (~6:12 pm). The City Manager's Report is typically prepared monthly as part of the City Council's Regular Agenda. In addition to current reports from the City Manager, it typically includes departmental updates on the various happenings around Town such as reports from Administration, Community Services, Planning, Police, and Public Works. Staff answered questions related to Mental Health First Aid Training and public safety enforcement activity.  


Consent_AgendaFollowing the City Manager's Report, the Council moved to the Consent Agenda consisting of Items 7 through 14 (~6:16 pm). Items on the Consent Agenda are considered routine in nature and are generally considered in one motion and adopted by a single vote of the Council. Included in this month's Consent Agenda were bills and claims, minutes, approval of the Goals Report, 2nd Reading and Adoption of the Historic Building Preservation Ordinance, acceptance of the Treasurer's Report, award of contract for slurry projects, approval of the SB-1 Road Maintenance Resolution and Certification of the Continuing COVID-19 Emergency.  Following brief comment related to the Treasurer's Report, the Council approved all items on the Consent Agenda. 


Public_Hearing_ImageNext was Public Hearings.
 
Public Hearings are typically held for Ordinances, Budget Adoption, Fee Adoption, and Land Use approvals. There was no Public Hearings on the May Agenda.



Regular_Agenda_ImageNext up was the Regular Agenda (~6:18pm).

Item No. 15 was approval of the Park and Recreation Outdoor Facilities Memorial and Donation Policy for Holbrook Palmer Park. Following a staff report and public comment, the Council discussed issues related to monuments for trees, plaques, and monetary donations. Minor changes were made to eliminate the option for recycled plastic benches, changing "shall" to "may" under monetary donations, and investigating the opportunity for a separate recognition project, such as the naming of bricks. Following discussion, the Council approved the Policy as amended.

The last item on the Agenda was Item No. 16, Discussion and Final Direction on Housing Element Strategies (~6:45 pm). Following a staff report and public comment, the Council discussed issues related to the specific densities for proposed overlay areas. The Council removed the proposed overlay zone for properties on Marsh Road, reduced the density for proposed overlay zones for properties along Bay/Ringwood to 6 units per acre, and reduced the proposed overlay zone for 23 Oakwood to 10 units per acre. The Council discussed the potential to add additional properties to the overlay zoning list (170 Atherton Avenue, vacant lot at the corner of Santiago and Valparaiso, and the property at the corner of Alameda de las Pulgas and Polhemus). Following discussion, the Council opted not to include these properties at this time. The Council also discussed conformance to the Council's stated policy objectives for selection of properties for proposed overlays, impacts on local infrastructure, feasibility review, objective design standards and the creation of specific setback and development criteria for the overlay zoning. Following discussion, the Council directed staff to amend the housing strategies as discussed and submit the draft Housing Element for its 30-day noticing period. 

Following brief Council Reports and final Public Comment, having cleared the entire Agenda, at approximately 8:29 pm, that as they say - was a wrap!



The next meeting of the City Council will be a Study Session on June 1 at 4 pm. The Agenda will include a review of the full FY 2022/23 Operating Budget.  

GeorgeThanks for reading!
 
 George Rodericks
 City Manager
Town of Atherton
grodericks@ci.atherton.ca.us

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Apr 24

That's A Wrap! - April 20, 2022

Posted on April 24, 2022 at 10:14 AM by grodericks grodericks

Thats A Wrap

Council Meeting Date: April 20, 2022
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/user/TownOfAtherton/featured
Details of each item can be found via the links to Staff Reports within the narrative.


The City Council met for the April Meeting on Wednesday, April 20 at 6 pm via Hybrid - (Zoom and In-Person) pursuant to the Governor's Executive Order. Following the Roll Call the Council began moving through the Agenda beginning with PresentationsThe Council presented a Proclamation for National Poetry Month and National Police Officer Week. Following presentations, the Council moved to Public Comments. ?


ReportFollowing Public Comments, the Council moved to the City Manager's Report (~6:09 pm). The City Manager's Report is typically prepared monthly as part of the City Council's Regular Agenda. In addition to current reports from the City Manager, it typically includes departmental updates on the various happenings around Town such as reports from Administration, Community Services, Planning, Police, and Public Works. There were no questions on the City Manager's Report.  

Consent_AgendaFollowing the City Manager's Report, the Council moved to the Consent Agenda consisting of Items 6 through 11 (~6:12 pm). Items on the Consent Agenda are considered routine in nature and are generally considered in one motion and adopted by a single vote of the Council. Included in this month's Consent Agenda were bills and claims, minutes, Adoption of Ordinance regarding Disposable Food Service Ware, Approval of a $5m payment to CalPERS, award of Contract for the 2022 Spring Patching Program, and Certification of the Continuing COVID-19 Emergency.  Following brief comment related to the 2022 Spring Patch Program, the Council approved all items on the Consent Agenda. 

Public_Hearing_ImageNext was Public Hearings.
 
Public Hearings are typically held for Ordinances, Budget Adoption, Fee Adoption, and Land Use approvals. There was one Public Hearing on the April Agenda.

Item No. 12, Introduction of an Ordinance Establishing Historic Building Preservation. (~6:15 pm) Following a staff report and public comment, the Council discussed issues related to the Mills Act, current historic properties and effective date of the Ordinance. Following discussion, the Council introduce the Ordinance for its 1st Reading with 2nd Reading and Adoption to be scheduled for the May Regular Meeting.

Regular_Agenda_ImageNext up was the Regular Agenda (~6:21pm).

Item No. 13 was approval of a Services Agreement with Brightview Landscape Services for Landscape Maintenance at Town Facilities. Following a staff report and public comment, the Council discussed issues related to park maintenance, cost, timing, and arborist services. Following discussion, the Council authorized a Services Agreement with Brightview Landscape Services.

Item No. 14 was approval of the Park and Recreation Outdoor Facilities Memorial and Donation Policy. (~6:32 pm) Following a staff report and public comment, the Council discussed issues related to the recommended policy changes from the City Manager, process for approval and/or acceptance of donations, size of tree plantings, number of plaques in the Park, and setting a threshold for Park and Recreation recommendation to the City Manager for approval versus donation amounts that must come before the City Council. Following discussion, the Council directed the City Manager to make the changes as discussed and return the Policy for Council considered adoption.

Item No. 15 was review and feedback on proposed fee changes for rentals at the Park. (~7 pm) Following a staff report and public comment, the Council discussed a fee analysis, elimination of the penalty for day use and instead favoring a set fee for same day rentals, outdoor facility stand alone rentals (50 person limits), add on rentals for outdoor spaces, and a cost of living adjustment built into the fees. Following discussion, the Council directed that staff return the fee proposal as part of the Annual Fee Resolution for adoption.

Item No. 16 was consideration of a budget for the Town Center Grand Opening Celebration on June 4. (~7:35 pm) Following a staff report and public comment, the Council discussed the date for the Grand Opening Celebration, participation of the Library, funding support from the Library, the VIP Donor Dinner set for June 2, location for the dinner and potential list of invitees. Following discussion, the Council authorized a budget of $50,000 and asked that the Ad Hoc Subcommittee get electronic invitations out soon to the top three donor tiers as well as special VIPs.

The last item on the Agenda was Item No. 17, authorization of a lease agreement for the operation and maintenance of a proposed Library Cafe with Mademoiselle Colette. (~8:06 pm) Following a staff report and public comment, the Council discussed issues related to the two proposals received, success of the cafe, provision of alcohol, and terms of a lease (including termination provisions). Following discussion, the Council directed that staff move forward with a lease agreement with Mademoiselle Colette as proposed, with the provision of alcohol if those details can be worked out.

Having cleared the entire Agenda, at approximately 8:35 pm, that as they say - was a wrap!


The next meeting of the City Council will be a Study Session on May 4 at 4 pm. The Agenda will include a review of Special Funds and the Capital Improvement Program for the FY 2022/23 Budget; as well as an Overview/Education on the Town's Pavement Management Program and Atherton Channel District. 


GeorgeThanks for reading!
 
 George Rodericks
 City Manager
Town of Atherton
grodericks@ci.atherton.ca.us

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