Update on Atherton Issues

Council member Rick DeGolia

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

This is my periodic letter regarding Atherton and the City Council. If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to respond. I answer every communication.

The Council has been working in an extremely open and cooperative manner for three years. 2016-2018 is a period of unprecedented Atherton Capital Improvement Projects. That is what I focus on here, but I will start with a short note on the Parcel Tax.

Parcel Tax: Measure F
Measure F is on the ballot for this Tuesday. PLEASE VOTE. It is important that we continue this tax for three years so that we can continue to use its funds to afford two police officers (including our school resource officer) and continue to invest in our important road maintenance programs. This is only a three year measure because in three years we should free up the projected surplus that is fully committed to help pay for the town center. This $750/parcel goes 100% to our police and roads, plus some to drainage. We need your vote now.

Marsh Road Drainage Project
In 2016, we completed a $4m drainage project to rebuild the Marsh Rd portion of the Atherton Channel and install a new, award-winning safety wall to keep cars out of the channel. This was the most costly project in Atherton’s history. We also installed the first pedestrian-initiated streetlight on El Camino Real at Almendral, where a pedestrian was killed two years before. CalTrans is now installing two more in Atherton and 13 on ECR.

HPP Water Capture Facility
In 2017, CalTrans awarded Atherton a $13.6m grant to build a water treatment and retention facility. This is designed for placement under one of the fields in Holbrook-Palmer Park. It will enable Atherton to satisfy our storm water treatment obligations to remove road-based waste from the Channel. This is the first of 5-6 similar CalTrans funded projects around SF Bay to control storm water pollution. Atherton will support the Bay cleanup, we will get a very significant supply of clean water for our park, it will enable us to manage excessive flows during large storms and we will get significant upgrades to our entry bridge, our irrigation system and the field under which the facility is built. It will be very disruptive for two years during construction. The Council has the right to walk away once we have seen the design and can weigh the costs and benefits. There is no cost to Atherton.

Atherton Town Center
In 2018, Atherton will start construction on our new town center. This $52m project includes $17m for the new library and $1m or so from a proposed CA Energy Commission grant to pay for solar panels, which would make this the FIRST Zero Net Energy civic center in California, resulting in greatly reduced operating costs after completion in mid to late 2020.

This new town center will include a complete reconfiguration of the streets in the current parcel surrounding the train station. Ashfield Rd will end at our historic Town Hall (which will become part of the new library) and a new street will connect Ashfield to Fair Oaks Lane. If you or someone you know would like to name that new road, please contact me. There are several naming opportunities within this project.

The new town center is being paid for with a combination of private donations and 100% of our unreserved, unallocated general fund surplus; however, we would like to increase private donations to enable us to use the surplus for other capital improvement projects, so please support this important community improvement with a tax deductible gift.

Please Vote on November 7,

Rick DeGolia
​Atherton City Council​
Atherton, CA 94027
650.793.2800 (m)

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December Letter to Atherton Residents on City Council Issues

 

Dear Friends & Neighbors,

This is my periodic letter summarizing major issues (as I see them) that are before the Atherton Town Council.  You are welcome to forward this to any other residents.  If you wish to be removed from this list, please let me know.  I encourage you to share your reactions and opinions with me on the items that I have addressed, and on those that I may have omitted. I respond to every email that I receive from an Atherton resident.

Atherton Police Department Toy Drive Flier

Click to enlarge

I wish each of you a wonderful holiday with family and friends.  In the spirit of the holidays, the Atherton Police are conducting a toy drive for students at Selby Lane School.  Please bring new, unwrapped toys for kids 5 to 11 yrs old to a box in the entry lobby to the police/admin building.  Please circulate the attached flyer.

I want to start by restating that it is a genuine honor to represent you and to work to improve our community.   This is my principal non-profit work and it has been very rewarding.  I strongly encourage you to consider getting involved in our community and there are numerous ways to do that.  You can do so by getting together with me to talk about Atherton, by attending a committee or Town Council meeting or by volunteering for one of the many civic committees that are active in Atherton.  I am always happy to talk to you about this.

I am addressing five issues in this letter and I encourage you to read all of them or to focus on those that interest you.  They are:

  1.      Atherton’s new Civic Center
  2.      Road Safety
  3.      Peninsula Clean Energy
  4.      Noise: the Train and Surf Air
  5.      Atherton Taxes

I see these as five issues that we face, but there are also important issues that relate to Holbrook-Palmer Park, drainage concerns, construction related problems, new bike lanes and more.

The New Atherton Civic Center

This project has been going on for three years (and that ignores the previous 20 years over which three attempts were made to replace our crumbling civic center).  Our architects, WRNS Studio, have been working for two years.  We are very close to completing the design for new library, police and admin buildings and a complete change to the Town’s 4.8-acre parcel near the train station from an automobile-centric parcel to a pedestrian-centric parcel.   The replacement of the current dilapidated buildings is essential to attracting and retaining highly qualified staff who protect and serve our community. I also believe that this project is critical to creating an attractive center in Atherton where the community can come together.

The latest designs for these buildings are attached to this email.  These designs should be completed by February, construction documents should be ready by the summer and construction should begin in a year.  These designs are excellent.  They are attractive, understated, very utilitarian and highly efficient.   IF we get the grants and the funding to pay for the solar panels and other less costly energy items, our civic center will be the FIRST Zero Net Energy civic center in California, which will be something that we can proudly point to as it will greatly reduce the facility operating costs and it will lead the way for others (both residents and municipalities) to learn from.

In order to make this a reality, we need to raise additional tax-deductible private donations from everyone in Atherton.  I encourage each and every one of you to dig deep and contribute to this center, which will serve our community for the next 50-70 years.  We have invested nearly $3m in this design process and WE WILL BUILD THIS CENTER, BUT WE NEED YOUR HELP!!  Toward this goal, we have a $1m matching offer with $500K left that expires December 31, so please participate.  If you know anyone who is interested in naming a building, an outdoor area or a new street after themselves or their favorite person or concept, please call me.

Road Safety

Atherton has struggled with this issue for decades as cut through traffic has increased and we have seen many deaths and injuries on El Camino Real.  When I joined the Council three years ago, the focus was on speeding traffic and deaths and injuries on ECR.  The leading proposal was to reduce ECR from 6 to 4 lanes on the theory that this would make it safer.  The Council decided to first look at the facts and we discovered that over the prior 14 years there were 39 deaths or serious injuries on ECR, but that 36 of those occurred when people tried to cross the road (often at one of the five unprotected crosswalks).

The Council is pursuing the following three major things to address this issue:

·      Protecting three of the unprotected crosswalks on ECR with pedestrian-activated streetlights at Almendral, Alejandra and Isabella.  I also predict that in 2017 a solution will be agreed to for the Selby Lane crossing, which would leave only Stockbridge as unprotected.

·      The Town is conducting a Complete Streets study of ECR to assess how to improve safety in coordination with Menlo Park and Redwood City.

·      We adopted a Neighborhood Street Protection Plan that empowers residents to identify streets with serious cut through traffic problems and sets up a process to authorize traffic calming devices to discourage it.

Peninsula Clean Energy

In 2015, I worked with others in San Mateo County (SMC) to organize Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE), San Mateo County’s new electricity provider.   PCE is a joint powers authority made up of all 20 cities in SMC and the unincorporated county.  Approval of PCE was the FIRST item ever to come before every city council in the county that received 100% of the possible council member votes.  PCE began its launch in October and will complete the launch in April.  It is the first start up that I’ve worked on that within one year of hiring its CEO will have a $250m per year run rate.  PCE will provide much cleaner and cheaper electricity to our residents than is provided by PGE.  PGE will still provide all service calls and all billing, but PCE will outsource the electricity that is delivered to our residents, cities and businesses.  Initially, this electricity will be 75% greenhouse gas free and 5% cheaper than PGE.  To illustrate the impact that this is having, watch the news because to fulfill its electricity delivery commitments, PCE will be enabling several entirely new solar facilities in the central valley that would not have come into existence without PCE purchasing 100% of the renewable energy that they will produce.

Noise: The Train and Surf Air

Noise remains a major issue in Atherton.  In 2016, we made a major leap forward by establishing THE FIRST QUIET ZONE on the CalTrain tracks. While a few CalTrain engineers seem to take delight in blasting the train horn north of Fair Oaks, this is mostly being adhered to and it has significantly improved the quality of life for those that live close to the Fair Oaks tracks.  Our next task is to improve the Watkins crossing to enable us to establish a Quiet Zone at Watkins.  This will likely take two years, but it has begun.  I am proud that Atherton has showed the Peninsula that it is possible to establish a Quiet Zone on the CalTrain tracks.

With respect to Surf Air, they continue to fly their planes with far more noise than other pilots who fly the same equipment into San Carlos Airport.  This is a major problem.  I believe that Atherton showed real leadership by publicly taking on Surf Air and by suggesting that this is principally a problem for the Board of Supervisors.  San Carlos is a county airport, so the Board needs to take the lead to get Surf Air to change their operating procedures or to find another airport.  I am proud of the effort Atherton made that resulted in the FAA supporting a new, good weather flight path over the bay.  While this new flight path has improved the quality of life for many residents, it hasn’t solved the problem.  More work is required on this issue.

Atherton Taxes

Everyone knows that we pay a lot of property tax.  What everyone doesn’t know is that Atherton only gets about 8% of the general property tax.  The rest goes to the Fire District, the Schools, the County and others listed on your bill.  Because Atherton gets almost zero sales or use tax because we are a residential community, we have a parcel tax to retain our police force and to keep up our roads.  Over the next year, the Council will look at alternatives that could replace the parcel tax in part or in whole.  There are four alternatives that are being considered are 1) retain the parcel tax ($750/parcel for most residents), 2) add a business tax that would be paid by those doing business in Atherton who aren’t sole practitioners, 3) replace the parcel tax with a utility users tax that would tax our utility use and 4) replace the parcel tax with a property transfer tax that would subject any real property transfer to a fee (to implement this Atherton would have to become a charter city).  Any tax, including renewal of the parcel tax, will need to be placed on the November 2017 ballot. I am very interested in your opinions on these four options.

What I haven’t addressed in this tax outline is any additional tax to supplement private donations to pay for the civic center.  I will address this in a letter that I send out in March 2017, but I don’t believe that an additional tax will be necessary.  We have a general fund surplus because of a state rebate program, called ERAF.  I expect that this surplus combined with what we select from the above four options should be enough to supplement private donations and pay for the civic center.

I want to repeat that it is a real honor to represent our community as a member of the Town Council and on the SMC Library and PCE Board of Directors.  If you have comments or would like to talk, please send an email.  I look forward to meeting each of you.

Happy Holidays,

RickSignature

Rick DeGolia

84 Clay Drive
Atherton, CA 94027
650.793.2800 (m)

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Last Day to Register to Vote

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

I’ve been asked by several people to send out an update on Atherton Civic Matters.  I apologize for the delay, but there has been a lot of activity with the election and many issues before us at the city council level.  I will get that summary out to you within two weeks of the election.  In the meantime, I wanted to send this out.  We have a significant number of new residents who haven’t yet registered at their new residences.  THIS IS A CRITICAL ELECTION WITHIN CALIFORNIA (because term limit rules have changed for the state legislature and those elected this year will set a new pattern) AND FOR THE NATION.

TODAY IS THE LAST DAY TO REGISTER FOR THIS ELECTION.  Instructions to do so are in the msg below.

Finally, if you didn’t get the message below from our City Clerk, then your email isn’t registered with the Town of Atherton.  Please register so that you can get the City Clerk’s very brief weekly updates about events and issues of importance to Atherton residents. You can register by sending an email to: tdellasanta@ci.atherton.ca.us

Thanks, Rick

Rick DeGolia
​Atherton City Council​
84 Clay Drive
Atherton, CA 94027

650.793.2800 (m)

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Theresa DellaSanta, Assistant to the City Manager <listserv@civicplus.com>
Date: Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 9:34 AM
Subject: Last Day to Register to Vote
To: degolia@gmail.com

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April Letter to Atherton Residents

Dear Atherton Friends and Neighbors:

I hope that you are well and enjoying the resurgence of Spring that came from this much needed late April rain.  My garden is showing its thanks in so many ways!

This email will address (1) a summary ​of​ your responses to the Open Town Hall Project, (2) the opportunity and value of joining one of Atherton’s committees which have several openings and address important quality of life issues for all of us, and (3) an outline of the current concept for a 10 gigabit fiber network in Atherton.

Open Town Hall

The Open Town Hall Project enables you to identify your priorities for the City Council​ over this year.  ​Here ​are the results to date: (I identify the number of votes and points are 3 for #1, 2 for #2, 1 for #3.​)

_______________________________________________

Traffic Issues (mostly ECR, but also school traffic) 26 votes, 54 pts

Gigabit Fiber Network 18 votes, 36 pts

Drainage Issues 17 votes, 36 pts

_______________________________________________

Balanced Budget 13 votes, 30 pts

Bicycle/Pedestrian Paths 14 votes, 23 pts

Civic Center Project 10 votes, 23 pts

_______________________________________________

HSR Issues 9 votes, 17 pts

Crime Prevention 8 votes, 13 pts

Aircraft Noise 7 votes, 14 pts

Train Quiet Zone 7 votes, 14 pts

Park Improvement 5 votes, 12 pts

​If you haven’t voted, go to ​http://www.ci.atherton.ca.us/OpenTownHall​

Atherton Town Committees​

​Atherton has key committees that review issues within their subject matter areas and provide much needed advice to the City Council.  These committees provide opportunity for residents to get involved with community issues, to work closely with other residents and to have a real impact on policies in Atherton.  At different points in our lives, we each get involved with what we consider meaningful non-profit work as a way to “give back”​.  These committees engage in community-oriented non-profit work that can be both engaging and fulfilling.  This work helps shape the future of our Town.  I strongly encourage you consider joining a committee of interest to you.  I am happy to talk to you about any of these committees and to address any questions that you may have. Here are the openings:

Audit/Finance Committee2 openings – recommends action on tax and spending issues that impact the Town of Atherton.  This committee meets once every other month on the second Tuesday at 2 pm.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory CommitteeNewly formed committee – will recommend implementation of new bicycle and pedestrian paths in Atherton.  Meeting times are not yet established.

Environmental Programs Committee 3 openings – provides leadership on water management, energy efficiency and sustainability issues.  This committee meets once every other month on the second Monday at 4 pm.

Park & Recreation Committee2 openings – provides guidance on programs, maintenance and policies related to Holbrook-Palmer Park. This committee meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 6:30 pm.

Planning Commission2 openings – focuses on land use, zoning and related issues.  This commission meets once every month on Wednesday at 6 pm.

Ad Hoc Telecommunications Committee – currently focuses on issues related to improving broadband and cellular connectivity in Atherton.  This committee meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 4 pm.

To fill out an online application for one of the vacancies listed in the Town Committees above click here . You may also  download the application and drop it off at Town Hall.

Proposed Atherton 10 Gigabit Fiber Network​

​​​The idea for a gigabit fiber network in Atherton grew out of discussions at the Ad Hoc Telecommunications Committee, which was established in June 2014.  After initially considering the state of broadband networks in Atherton and the difficulty associated with townwide WiFi, the Committee asked staff to send a letter requesting Information​ from all known and likely broadband network providers to see what they would propose to build a robust fiber network in Atherton.  We sent the letter in July 2014 and received no responses.

Beginning in September 2014 a resident began to explore creating a private company (comprised of residents) to design and deploy a robust fiber network in Atherton.  Over the past eight months the conceptual design for this effort has begun to take shape.  This group has engaged a design firm (Byers Engineering) that has designed many fiber networks. Byers is now in the midst of the Atherton design effort.

The concept for this network is that if following completion of the design, the private entity determines that projected costs are within the target zone, then it will hire a construction firm to lay underground fiber along our streets and throughout the Town.  Residents would be offered the ability to purchase the right to receive and own a bundle of four fibers (each providing up to 10 gigabits of bandwidth with current equipment and up to a terabit in the future) which will connect to a central office where network service providers (Comcast, AT&T, Google, Sonic etc.) could lease rack space and offer broadband service.  For residents that don’t want to purchase the four fiber bundle, the company would locate a single fiber at a connection point on the street in front of each resident’s house at no cost. This fiber would be owned by the company. Residents would be responsible to connect the fiber(s) from the street to their homes, which connection could be independently contracted or offered by the construction company or its sub-contractors for a fee.

​Service providers would offer service (which could include Internet, cable, phone and other broadband service)​ to all residents that connect to the fiber network.  The network wouldn’t be owned by the Town, it would be owned by the individual residents and the private company, but it would be independent from the service providers.  A key goal is to expand the capability of the Atherton Library to offer library services to its service population.  The 21st century library has to be about information management and we’d like to enable our new library in the Civic Center to gain lease access to this network and thereby provide residents with library services and programing in your homes.  The goal would be to offer basic Internet service to all those connected to the network at no charge.  Residents could pay for upgraded services, such as Netflix, movies, phone, cable and enhanced Internet service, just as you do now, but basic Internet and library programming would (hopefully) be at no cost.

​Besides enabling the library to be at the forefront of defining the 21st century library​, one great advantage of this system would be that the service providers would not own the fiber network.  For those residents that purchase the four fiber bundle, the fiber would be owned by the resident.  For others, the fiber would be owned by the private company.  In both cases, the cost of broadband service should be greatly reduced because there will be competition amongst service providers to offer services over this network. We will also protect future access and cost.

Please note that the foregoing description is entirely conceptual and subject to significant change.  I wanted to share this with you because I think that it is extremely exciting and a great improvement for Atherton and for our library.

My next month’s email will address traffic issues in Atherton.

If you find these emails interesting, please pass them on to your friends and neighbors. I’m happy to add any Atherton residents to this  list and to take anyone off who prefers not to receive these emails.

Warm regards,

Rick

Rick DeGolia
Mayor 
Town of Atherton​
84 Clay Drive
Atherton, CA 94027
650.321.7707 (h)
650.793.2800 (m)
www.rickdegolia.com

 

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Rick DeGolia Wins 4-year Term in 2014 Election

  • Holbrook-Palmer Park Fountain

In 2013, Rick DeGolia received 62% of the vote in an election to fill the remaining one year of Jerry Carlson’s term.

In December 2013, the Atherton Council appointed Rick to be Vice Mayor for 2014. 

* * * * *

November 4, 2014: Vice Mayor DeGolia has won re-election for a 4-year term on the City Council

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THANK YOU for your support and your votes! We appreciate you coming here to learn more about Rick DeGolia and his campaign for the Atherton Town Council. Rick will continue to post town updates here from time to time.
Here is Rick’s statement about why he has decided to run for re-election to the City Council:

My relationship with Atherton began in the 1950’s when visiting my grandparents, who lived for forty-three years on Catalpa Drive in Lindenwood.  I have fond memories of running through their garden and helping my grandfather with his berries and his compost.  After receiving a BA in American Studies from Cal and a JD from Harvard, I returned to Atherton thirteen years ago to raise my children here.

Over the past twenty-eight years, I have worked as a business lawyer at Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich and Rosati in Palo Alto and as a software executive at Genesys Telecommunications and other Silicon Valley companies. During this time, I have served on the Boards of many technology companies and non-profit organizations and I have learned how to approach difficult strategic issues and negotiate reasonable solutions that respect the needs of different stakeholders.  I believe that my years of board and executive experience and my personal style of deliberation and negotiation have proved to be extremely valuable to my work with the members of the Atherton Town Council and staff over the past year and that they will enable me to continue to work towards a respectful, intellectual and productive process on the Council.

Screen Shot 2013-10-15 at 11.55.17 AMI currently serve as Atherton’s Vice Mayor and as a council liaison to the Civic Center Advisory Committee, the Finance and Audit Committee and the Park and Recreation Committee.  I have also helped establish and serve as a Council liaison to the newly created ad hoc Aircraft Noise Committee and the ad hoc Technology Committee.  Working with other dedicated residents who are members of these committees has inspired and energized me to become more involved with the future of Atherton.  One of the critical changes that I believe we need on our town council is more thoughtful consideration of the issues that matter to the community well in advance of when a decision must be made.

I am running for Town Council because I believe that people deserve responsible, accountable, transparent government.

My vision and priorities to improve Atherton are as follows:

1.  Manage our Town’s resources in a careful, fiscally conservative manner.

  • Continue to manage operational costs with vigilance; focus on capital improvement projects.
  • Continue to reduce Atherton’s long term pension and healthcare liabilities through good management and smart negotiations.
  • Maintain the Town’s transparency on budget and decision making process.

2.   Protect our neighborhoods from traffic safety problems and crime.

  • Maintain Atherton’s close, cooperative relationship with the police, while carefully managing the costs.
  • Focus on finding solutions to make El Camino Real safer for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.
  • Leverage the tremendous expertise in the community by engaging more residents to solve road safety and other issues.

3.  Prioritize communication to residents and always be accessible.

  • Increase communication to obtain resident input on important Town Council decisions.
  • Actively seek resident input to prioritize capital improvement projects for our roads, drainage system and Holbrook-Palmer Park.
  • Continue to engage the community in the design and development of the new civic center and library near the train station.
  • Contribute executive expertise to Council deliberations and process.

I will listen to you. I am interested in your opinions and am eager to represent your interests. My experience representing people and creatively developing solutions to challenging problems will be a benefit to Atherton’s Council and to you, Atherton’s residents.

 

You can read  more about my personal and professional background and experience at the “About Rick” menu option above.  Also, if you are able, I would welcome your help with this campaign.   You can reach me at: rick@rickdegolia.com or at 84 Clay Drive, Atherton.

Thank you for your support!

RickSignature

 

 

 

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Atherton Green Building Subcommittee to the Civic Center Advisory Committee

img_65855_primaryThe Civic Center Advisory Committee (CCAC) has created a green building subcommittee. The subcommittee will focus on green building design, energy efficiency, and what is involved in a Zero Net Energy facility. The committee has defined its initial goals to be discovering what are the options for our new civic center from a green building perspective. This includes understanding the costs and benefits. Zero Net Energy facilities are designed to reduce total facility costs, when you factor in the ongoing operating costs of a facility.

The committee is looking to tap residents with green building interests and experiences to assist the subcommittee in developing ideas. If you are interested please send an email to Theresa DellaSanta at tdellasanta@ci.atherton.ca.us

Rick DeGolia

650.321.7707 (h)

650.793.2800 (m)

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July 2014 Update on Atherton Issues

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

rickdegoliaIt has now been eight months since I was elected to the City Council.  I am writing to give you a summary of my view of the issues before the Council and solicit your advice.  Please pick the issues that are of most interest to you in this long email.

In brief, my experience on the Council has been extremely interesting.  I think that I have materially contributed to move important issues forward, such as the troublesome aircraft noise problem around Middlefield Road and the Parker Street zoning matter, and to help foster a good working environment on the Council.  I feel lucky to be a member of this Council during a time when our finances are healthy and we can focus on major strategic issues, such as road safety, safe routes to school for our children and preparing for a new center in Atherton with the Civic Center project.   I hope that many of you will join in supporting these important efforts.

My contact list has grown over the past year and if you prefer not to receive this type of email, please let me know.  If you have thoughts on one or more of the following topics (or on other issues of concern), please do not hesitate to respond to me at this email address or by mail at 84 Clay Drive or call me at (650) 321-7707.

Here are the most important issues, as I see them:

Fiscal Management

In general, Atherton is in very good fiscal shape.  This is due to three main reasons: excellent cost containment decisions by the Council over the past 5 years, very good stewardship and management by our City Manager, Police Chief and other town staff, and a recovering real estate market that has resulted in increased revenue due to (i) a rapid catchup of the reduced property assessments that occurred during the 2008-9 recession and (ii) the sale and reassessment of an average of three properties a month with new, significantly higher assessed values (and the town receives about 8.5% of the property taxes that we all pay).

This has enabled the Council to pay down a significant portion of the town’s unfunded pension and retiree healthcare liabilities, which in turn reduces our annual operating costs due to reduced annual payments.  To add to this, in 2013, the Council approved a new contract with the police which increases employee pension and healthcare contributions, thereby reducing the town’s annual contractual cost by about 7.5%.

The long term result of this increased financial stability is that it enables Atherton to make some long overdue infrastructure investments.  We currently have four master plans which are designed to identify key capital improvement projects.  I believe that it is important for the Council to create a mechanism for residents to weigh in on which of these projects you consider to be the priorities.  I would like to see us use multiple touchpoints to obtain your thoughts and priorities on these projects and I would appreciate your opinions.

Safety First in Atherton

Atherton’s most significant road safety problem is El Camino Real.  This reality was recently made obvious by the July 23 pedestrian death on ECR at Almendral.  The principal problem is that it isn’t safe to cross six lanes of highway without a street light and it isn’t safe to walk or ride a bike along ECR, where there are neither sidewalks nor pathways.

One issue is that ECR is managed by CalTrans, not Atherton.  We have proposed and CalTrans has agreed to deploy two pedestrian-initiated street lights at Isabella and Alejandra.  There is also a discussion to do the same thing at Selby.  Finally, the Council has authorized a study to assess reducing ECR from 6 lanes to 4 lanes.  I support all of these efforts, as well as increased enforcement of the speed limit on ECR.  I believe that it is critical that Atherton take the lead to make it safe for our residents to cross this highway that cuts through our town.

Civic Center Project

In 2012, Measure L, which asked if Atherton should primarily use private donations to construct and design a new Town Center, was supported by 73% of the voters.  As you are probably aware, the City Council has approved a master plan for a new civic center near the train station and the town has engaged a project management firm to oversee the design and construction of this major, multi-year project. This project will not just provide Atherton with a modern police station and library, it will replace all of the temporary buildings and reshape the town’s 4.8 acre parcel along the train tracks from what is largely a parking lot into a real town center where people can come together.  It is important that, as the design takes shape, the Council actively reach out to you to obtain your thoughts, comments and input because this will be most significant project in Atherton’s history.

Holbrook-Palmer Park Master Plan

The second master plan focuses on the Holbrook-Palmer Park, which I believe to be Atherton’s greatest asset. The Council reviewed a preliminary version of this master plan that largely targeted an off leash dog area and modifications to some of the pathways to make them more convenient for walkers. The Council asked the consultant to include an assessment of the uses and conditions of the buildings in the park.  There are currently three privately funded projects in various stages of work/review, including improvement of the Little League field, creation of an event garden next to the Pavilion and restoration of the Carriage House.  This master plan will provide the framework for better managing the park and determining how to properly maintain the facilities and planting material that are the town’s investments in the park.

Pedestrian and Bike Path Master Plan

The third master plan focuses on how to create safe routes to school for children riding bikes and safer bicycle and pedestrian paths for our residents.  I consider this to be an extremely important plan because it involves the safety of our streets, and if done right, it should help relieve some of the traffic congestion that we experience around our schools.

The safety on our streets has to start with El Camino Real.  We need a safe way for people to cross ECR, whether on foot, on bike or in a car.  There should be a fair amount of foundation, state and county funding available to help with improvements to our streets to establish bike and pedestrian paths.

Drainage Master Plan

The fourth master plan concerns drainage in Atherton.  The Atherton Channel can handle a seven year storm, but it needs repair and maintenance and a more significant storm will result in considerable flooding, as we have experienced in the past.  There should be funding sources outside of Atherton to help with these expenses.

Aircraft Noise

It was approximately one year ago that Surf Air began flying into San Carlos Airport.  Almost immediately, residents who live under the San Carlos Airport GPS Approach path began to complain about the 6-12 very noisy aircraft per day operated by Surf Air that were interfering with their quality of life.  After I was elected to the Council, I was appointed to be one of the Council’s representatives to work with Surf Air and the airport to seek to address the noise problem. Although the noise hasn’t stopped, we have established a good working relationship with the parties and we have ideas and recommendations that, once implemented, should reduce the noise significantly.

Technology Subcommittee

Atherton has never put together a technology master plan that is focused on providing the best technological connections and communications interfaces to our residents.  We have many residents who have helped build some of the world’s most innovative companies providing advanced network and communications infrastructures, but we struggle in Atherton to have consistent, excellent connections and infrastructure.  This committee will look at this issue, including looking at what the Atherton Library may be able to provide with currently unused tax dollars as part of its rebirth in the new civic center.  This will be a residents committee.  If you would like to join us, please let me know.

Conclusion

I know that this email is far too long to maintain the interest of most of you.  I hope that you have selected topics that were important to you and that you will reach out to me with any thoughts that you may have on these and other issues.

Best regards, Rick

Rick DeGolia
​Vice Mayor
Town of Atherton​

84 Clay Drive
Atherton, CA 94027
650.321.7707 (h)
650.793.2800 (m)
www.rickdegolia.com

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Surf Air and Aircraft Noise Issue Update

Dear Athertonians:

Several months ago I was appointed by the City Council to be one of its representatives on an Ad Hoc Council Committee to study and work to alleviate aircraft noise that mainly results from the advent of Surf Air flying into San Carlos Airport, beginning in June 2013.  This committee was originally composed of myself and prior Councilmember Dobbie and now consists of myself and Councilmember Lewis.  We have had many meetings with officials at San Carlos Airport, representatives of Surf Air and representatives of the Atherton, Menlo Park and North Fair Oaks communities.  This group became an official Working Group with a common focus of reducing noise along the GPS flight path into San Carlos.  Among other things, we organized the well attended (110+) community meeting last December at the Pavilion in Holbrook-Palmer Park where Surf Air made a public commitment to vary its flight path by making visual approaches into San Carlos, so that those who live along the GPS flight path would be less subject to the aircraft noise caused by their planes.

Planes are required to use the GPS approach with the weather is such that a pilot cannot see the airport and are able to request a visual, alternate approach whenever the weather is good and they can see the airport. Attached to this message (now posted to the side) is a diagram of the current GPS flight path, with a red highlighted area where the airport believes aircraft noise is the biggest problem.

Surf Air Flight PathAs you may know, at the its last meeting the Working Group decided to support the San Carlos Airport’s effort to seek approval from the FAA for a new GPS approach into the San Carlos Airport.  This new approach would be along the same glide path that is in the attached diagram, but it would be elevated by 500 feet, resulting in a glide path with a 3.77 degree slope, rather than the current 3 degree slope.  All of the Working Group participants believed this new approach is worth examining because it might result in reduced noise over the Menlo Park, Atherton and North Fair Oaks neighborhoods.  We have been asked to reach out to any and all affected residents to seek supportive letters to the FAA for this elevated GPS approach.  Accordingly, attached to this email is a proposed form of letter for you to consider signing to indicate support of this request.  Of course, you are welcome to alter this letter in any way that you may prefer.

Please note that the contemplated new approach is one of several efforts to achieve a material reduction in the aircraft noise that you are experiencing.  The other potential solutions include the visual approach solution whenever the weather allows and modifications to the Surf Air standard operating procedures by not putting down landing gear until much closer to the airport (and therefore using less power, thereby reducing aircraft noise).
We would appreciate it if you could prepare this letter and send it to the FAA sometime over the next week.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you for your help,

Rick DeGolia

​Vice Mayor
Town of Atherton​
84 Clay Drive
Atherton, CA 94027
650.793.2800
www.rickdegolia.com
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Atherton: Relative unknown wins landslide council victory

by Renee Batti / Almanac

 

Image of Rick DeGolia by Dave Boyce

(Cross-posted from an expanded version of an earlier Almanac story. Image by Dave Boyce/Almanac.)

Atherton voters gave political newcomer Rick DeGolia a giant thumbs-up on election day, with 62 percent of them backing his bid for a one-year term on the City Council to fill the seat left vacant by Jerry Carlson’s July resignation.

“My name was not known when I started (the campaign), but I built a very strong relationship to a lot of people,” Mr. DeGolia told the Almanac when asked about his sweeping victory in the three-candidate race.

 

The lack of name recognition is understandable: Before January, Mr. DeGolia hadn’t served on a single town committee or commission, and before the November 2012 election, hadn’t participated significantly in the town’s often-polarized political arena.

By contrast, one opponent — Greg Conlon — has not only served on town committees for nearly 10 years, but also came in a close third in a race for two council seats last year.

The county Elections Office late last week reported Mr. DeGolia winning 1,066 votes (62.2 percent); Mr. Conlon, 357 votes (20.8 percent); and Diane Sandhu, also a relative newcomer to town civic affairs, 290 votes (17 percent). The county will update those figures on Nov. 12, according to the Elections Office website.

 

[Please continue reading this article at the Almanac Online]

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Congratulations, Rick!

Results of the 2013 Election, to fill the remaining one-year term for the seat of departed Councilmember, Jerry Carlson:

 

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 10.35.17 AM

Message from Rick DeGolia:

I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this campaign, whether by working on this website, hosting or attending one of the 15 neighborhood meetings, putting up a yard sign, donating to the campaign, expressing your concerns and opinions about issues facing Atherton or voting in the election.  Throughout this process, I have met more residents and made more friends than I thought possible when I began.  I am deeply honored by the depth of support that I received and I am thrilled to be able to join the Atherton City Council on December 4.

The experience of this election has strengthened my belief that Atherton is a truly special place and that people want to see change.  In addition, I want to give sincere thanks to Jerry Carlson for his exceptional service to Atherton and how seriously he represented our town in the many regional bodies in which he participated.  I am proud to count him as a friend and a mentor.  I also want to thank Greg Conlon and Diane Sandhu for their commitment to Atherton. I look forward to working with each of them on the issues facing Atherton into the future.

*  *  *  *  *

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DeGolia wins seat on Atherton City Council by large magin; residents overwhelmingly approve parcel tax renewal

Reposted from Mercury Breaking New article by Jason Green,

Daily News Staff Writer

A Picture of myself and KarenRick DeGolia will fill a single open seat on the Atherton City Council if semi-official election results hold.

With all eight precincts reporting Tuesday night, DeGolia had nearly 63 percent of the vote. Greg Conlon trailed with about 20.2 percent and Diane Sandhu had 16.9 percent.

Meanwhile, Measure X had secured 74.1 percent of the vote. The parcel tax, which needed a two-thirds majority to pass, generates about $1.86 million annually and helps pay for police service and infrastructure work.

The winner of the council race will serve out the final year of Vice Mayor Jerry Carlson’s four-year term. Carlson, 76, resigned July 1 because he wanted to spend more time traveling with his wife.

The city council couldn’t agree on a replacement for Carlson and voted in July to hold an election.

[Continue reading this article at the Mercury News: Breaking News site]

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What were you for Halloween?

photo 2Halloween is upon us and with it the welcome respite from the day-to-day normal into the freaky, bizarre and eerie.  So it was with the Rick DeGolia campaign that, unbeknownst to us, the serious, articulate and well-intentioned Rick transformed unwittingly into several (and we don’t know exactly how many) satirical, glib and possibly macabre figures roaming the streets on this hallowed eve, with nary a voter in sight.  photo 1We campaign staffers were heartened and rather charmed to learn the news that many and even possibly most of the Rick DeGolia yard signs that went missing over the last few weeks were taken by local students on some kind of viral craze that involved ritualistic usage of Rick DeGolia signs and backpacks.  Yes, it seems that being “Rick DeGolia” began to catch on with the youthful cognoscenti at the schools  a few weeks ago and, however improbable, being Rick DeGolia became the thing to be for Halloween.  So, what were you for Halloween?

 

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