Council member Rick DeGolia

Update on Atherton Issues

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)

Spring 2017 Update on Atherton Issues

Friends and Neighbors,

[Note: This is my periodic letter summarizing major issues (as I see them) before the Town Council.  ​Please​ ​forward this to other residents.  If you wish to be removed from this list,​ ​just​ let me know. I encourage you to share your reactions and opinions with me ​on any Atherton issue. I respond to each​ email that I receive from Atherton residents​.]
There are lots of issues before the Council this spring, including neighborhood traffic matters, construction issues, safety on El Camino, Holbrook-Palmer Park, train noise and Surf Air, but by far the biggest issue is the new Town Center.  ​On about ​May 10 you will receive a mail ballot on funding for the new Town Center. This is an extremely important ballot. Please return it ASAP! Here is the background:
 
We are at the end of the fourth serious review of Atherton’s critical need for new facilities for our police and town staff.  The current facilities are crumbling.  Our staff work out of 60-90 year old buildings and seven temporary trailers that don’t comply with code, are not suitable for the electronic age and are falling apart. Click on this to see the condition of our ​current ​facilities.
 
This isn’t new information. Atherton has created three prior resident committees over the past 20 years to replace these facilities, but each effort failed for lack of funding. Atherton has never created a facilities replacement fund.  This is a major mistake.
 
Four years ago, Atherton launched a fourth attempt to correct this with a master plan design process that included hundreds of residents and was followed by hiring WRNS Studios, a highly regarded SF-based architect with excellent work in our area. Our focus has been to fund the design and construction with private donations. Atherton Now, a resident organization, was formed to raise the money.  Unfortunately, over the past 3 years they only raised about $7m, $18m less then their target.  The current design and estimated construction costs are $43.1m.  Of this amount, $17m are library expenses that will be covered by library taxes and $2.9m are covered by dedicated building dept. fees, but that leaves (after current private donations) a shortfall of $16.2m.  We have three options: (1) delay the project until we raise more private donations, (2) seek to pass a bond that with interest and other expenses would cost Atherton residents about $10,000 per household or (3) supplement private donations with existing and near term general fund surplus.
 
Some residents have called for us to downsize the current design, but this design has been seriously downsized.  The operable facilities for police and admin are about the same square footage as we currently have.  If there is any error in the size of this facility, it is that we have erred to not allow for future growth. These facilities are expected to last for 75 years.  We need to be forward thinking, not shortsighted.  We have spent $3m on the design.  We need to build this one way or the other.
 
Just look at the cost of other local public facilities: a 23,000 square foot addition to Menlo Park’s library would cost $32.3m.  Our 19,000 sq ft police/admin facility will cost $26.6m.  A 50,000 sq ft Palo Alto police facility is estimated to cost $75.3m. It is VERY EXPENSIVE to build police facilities. Atherton has managed the design costs very carefully. This is a great solution for Atherton. NOW WE NEED TO BUILD IT.
 
Folks: This is a huge project for Atherton.  It is an order of magnitude bigger than any other project in our history.  Just think about our employees: They drive 30-100+ miles to get to work and they work in crowded, crumbling facilities and trailers.  We need this project to hire and retain our high quality staff.
 
This year, the City Council created a funding plan that will use current and future unrestricted, unallocated general funds to supplement private donations to build this project. We currently have $12.5m of these surplus funds.  This is sufficient to get the construction started.  We expect about $7.5m of additional surplus funds over the next four years.  This is sufficient to complete the project.  If we have unexpected costs, either related to the project or otherwise, then we can borrow a small amount of money to cover the difference. This plan does not cancel any approved capital improvement project.  It will delay future capital improvement projects because it will use up to $16m to fund our biggest and most important capital improvement project! The value of this funding plan is that (A) we don’t delay the project (which is very costly) and (B) we don’t create any new tax or other fee on our residents to complete the project.  This is the best plan that the Council and our financial advisers have come up with. This is the issue that will be on your mail ballot.  Please vote yes to support this funding plan and to get this Town Center built without new taxes.

Attached are (1) images of the new facilities and (2) a summary of Measure A issues.
 
Warm regards, Rick DeGolia
 
Rick DeGolia
​Atherton City Council​
84 Clay Drive
Atherton, CA 94027
Three conceptual images of the new Atherton Town Center
YES on MEASURE A
Investing in the Future of Atherton
10 Things You Should Know

 

  1. What is Measure A?

Measure A is an Atherton ballot measure for the June 6, 2017 election. It allows the Town to use limited, non-restricted and unallocated public funds to supplement existing and future private donations to construct the New Atherton Town Center.

  1. Why do we need a New Town Center?

Atherton’s existing Town Center buildings are falling apart and past the end of their useful lives. Watch this video to see the current condition of our Town’s facilities.

  1. Why do we need Measure A approval?

$7 million has been privately donated to date. However, $15.3 million more is needed to construct the New Town Center. Approving Measure A allows Atherton to move forward with construction of the completed design that is already paid for with private donations.

  1. Why now?

The design is now complete and has been paid for by private donations. Construction bids will be received by the end of the year. We cannot proceed without all of the funds identified to complete construction. Measure A allows Atherton to prudently use available nondedicated, unrestricted, and unallocated public funds to supplement private donations.

  1. Can Atherton afford it?

Yes. Atherton’s financial condition is very strong. Sufficient non-dedicated, unrestricted, and unallocated public funds have been identified to prudently invest now, and throughout completion of the project, without sacrificing other critical projects.

  1. Will Measure A cut funding for currently approved Atherton capital projects?

No. All existing approved capital projects will continue to be 100% funded.

  1. Will Measure A lead to higher taxes or resident fees?

No. Measure A will not increase resident taxes or fees in any way.

  1. Who supports Measure A?

100% of the Atherton City Council. 100% of the Atherton Civic Center Advisory Committee, numerous other Atherton Civic Leaders, and hundreds of your fellow Atherton residents.

  1. How do I vote?

Measure A is a vote-by-mail ballot. You will receive your ballot in your mailbox the week of May 8, and the final date to return it is June 6, 2017. Measure A will be the only item on your mail-in ballot. Please make sure to open, review, vote YES, and return ballot by mail or drop it off in the Atherton Post Office ballot box before June 6, 2017.

  1. Where can I get more information about the New Atherton Town Center?

Go to the Town’s Website and click on the Civic Center Project link on left side menu. Or email MeasureA@outlook.com with your questions.

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)

Rick’s Endorsers from the 2014 Election

Past Mayors:

Jerry Carlson
Malcom Dudley
Didi Fisher
John Fisher
Jim Janz

 

Other Elected Officials:

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo

. . .

Maryan and Steve Ackley
Gail Alberti
Karen and Ellis Alden
Bianca and Jamie Alexander
Muffie and Fred Alvarez
Colleen and Grant Anderson
John Anderson
Tom and Tami Arrington
David and Marty Arscott
Alan and Marianne Austin
Melissa and Jim Badger
David Bagshaw
Rafi Bamdad
Ilda and Carl Barbieri
Elyse and David Barca
Ildiko and Robert Barker
Scott Barnum
Bill and Kay Bates
Todd and Inna Beardsley
Margaret and Daniel Beltramo
Eric and Edith Bergstrom
Rebecca and Jeff Berry
Cameron and Tito Bianchi
Susan Bird
Kerry and George Bischoff
John and Linda Bolger
Lori and Steve Bouret
Joni and Tom Brown
Beverly Browne
Kelly and David Burke
Suzanne and Bill Burrows
Sandra Buscemi
Shawn and Brook Byers>br />
Ferne Calcaterra
Peter Carpenter
Jennifer Carrico
Armando Castro
Shirley Carlson
Leslie Coleman
Chris Darwall
Liz and Mark Daschbach
Christine and Mike David
Jean and Duncan Davidson
Patti and Mark Davis
Kathy and Norm Dewitt
John and Susan Diekman
Michelle and Gary Dillabough
Dimitrios Dimitrelis
Betsy and Don Dixon
Dave Dollinger
Steve Dostart and Sharon Meers
Julie and Mark Douglass
Jim and Mary Drake
John Duane
Peter Drekmeier
Cosette Dudley
Elizabeth and Bruce Dunlevie
Louise El-Sum
Alain and Rosemary Enthoven
Kyle Enright
Carolyn and Scott Feamster
Claire Feder
John and Chris Fennell
Sandra Ferrando
Judi and Jerry Finch
David Fleck and Elaine Wong
Mark Flegel
Jill and Norm Fogelsong
Diana and Freeman Ford

Laura and John Foster
Karen Francis
Keiko Franklin
John Friedenrich
Liz and Doug Fritz
Marilee Gardner
Valerie Gardner
Dominic and Eva Geraghty
Diane and Charlie Giancarlo
Margaret Gill
Betsy Glikbarg
Ernie Goiten
John and Marcia Goldman
Bianca Gonzalez
Edward Goodstein
Peter and Carol Grassi
Josh and Judy Green
William and Susan Grindley
Bob and Anne Gunderson
Susan and Steven Hailey
Sherman and Jane Hall
Jim and Marsha Hannay
Griff Harsh
Ken Hausman
Bob Hellman and Holly Cao
Sarah and Stephen Herrick
Margaret Hinman
Tom and Kathy Holt
Susan and Joel Hyatt
Frauke Janssen
Kathy Janz
David Jones
Anita and Chris Joy
Kent and Linda Kaiser
Alyce and Steve Kaplan
Guy and Beth Kawasaki
Chris Kelley
Elizabeth Kerrigan
Nancy and Andy Kessler
Ed King
Leslie and Charles King
Jill and John Kispert
Fred and Gail Kittler
Kris Klint
Ross Koningstein
Vivian Kral
Denise Kupperman
Kathy and Michael Ladra
Rajeeva and Sangeeta Lahri
Randy and Lisa Lamb
Joan Lambert
David Lampert
Janet Larson
Lois Larson
Gary and Laura Lauder
Linda and Skip Law
Herb Lechner and Kay Clarke
Jeffrey Lee
Bren and Larry Leisure
Darcy and Mark Leschly
Ginger and Doug Levick
Sandy and Dave Levison
Joe Lewis
Linda and Sid Liebes
Debbie and Mike Linton
Joyce and Phil Lively
Connie and Robert Loarie
Greg Loew
Larry and Jennie Lowry
Connie and Bob Lurie
Helen and Dick MacDonell
Jillian Manus
Jim and Judy Massey
Susan Masetti
Louis Matas
Anne and William McNertney
Janice and Kevin Meier
Janice and Kevin Meisel
Clive Merredew
Alan Miller
Bill Miller
Suzanne and Indra Mohan
Russ and Kate Moore
John Moragne
Mark Moriconi

Jeff Morris
Merv and Roslyn Morris
Elissa Murphy
Susan and Gib Myers
Ben and Alex Narasin
Maaike Neves
Lorrie Norrington
Pejam and Mania Nozad
Sue and Bob O’Donnell
Michelle and Erik Olsen
Marion and Bob Oster
Robert Oyster
Hana and Peter Palecek
Lori and Vic Para
Roslyn and Lisle Payne
Wendy Petersmeyer
Bill Peterson
Barbara and Ron Peyton
Jack Phillips
Laura and Mark Pitchford
Bob Polito
Barbara and Charles Preuss
Linda and Eric Protiva
Russel and Helen Pyne
Andrea and Geoff Ralston
Jan and Neil Rasmussen
Jenny Redo and Kevin Brown
Earl Rennison
Jack Ringham
Walter and Judith Robinson
Mindy and Jesse Rodgers
Sharon and Bob Roeser
Danielle and Mario Rosati
Debbie and Stuart Rosenberg
Shelley and Bernard Ross
Peter Rukavina and Wendy Adams
Kim and Henry Sabet
Mansour and Liza Salame
Steve and Lisa Schatz
Randy and Kelly Schmitz
Lee and Bill Schroeder
Bobbie Schumacher
Alicia and Jim Seebold
Susan and Richard Seiler
Anne Senti-Willis
June and Mario Sevilla
Hildy Shandell
Sheri and John Shenk
Mark Silverman
Howard and Susan Slayen
Carol and Ned Spieker
Madeline and Isaac Stein
Mary and Mark Stevens
Margaret Tao
Barry Taylor and Libby Tyree-Taylor
John and Debbie Thibault
Jonathan Tiemann
Marylue Timpson
Paul Tonelli
Tom Toy
Carolyn and Todd Tuomala
Roxanne Velez
Loren Viegas
Stephanie and Gregg von Thaden
Anne Yvonne Walker
Ray Walton
Don and Sylvia Way
Betty and Michael Weinstock
Heidi and David Welch
Steve Westly
Catherine and Robert Westover
Zachary Whitman
Barb and John Windham
Jeff Wise
David Wollenberg
Keith Wollenberg
John and Margaret Worthing
Elizabeth Wright
Marsha Wythes
Patricia and Newt Yaeger
Amy and Geoff Yang
Kim Young
Tricia Young
Ingrid and George Yule
Barbara zuPutiz

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)

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

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

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]

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.

*  *  *  *  *

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]

Rick Receives Almanac Endorsement

On October 21, 2013 Rick received the endorsement of the Almanac’s editorial board. We are pleased to reprint the article below, or you can see it on the Almanac’s website here.

ALMANAC

Viewpoint – October 23, 2013

2013 Editorial: Rick DeGolia for Atherton Council

Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 1.11.44 AM

Besides deciding whether to renew the parcel tax (see below) Atherton residents will select one of three City Council candidates to replace Jerry Carlson, who resigned in July.

Of the three candidates running, our choice is Rick DeGolia, vice chair of the Civic Center Advisory Committee and a high-tech business executive and lawyer who has some fresh ideas that we believe could improve the council’s relations with the community. His opponents are Greg Conlon, a former state Public Utilities Commission member who now serves as chair of the town’s finance committee, and Diane Sandhu, who is now that committee’s vice chair.

In our opinion, Mr. DeGolia stands out in this race due to his insights as a longtime business executive and corporate board member and his willingness to listen, respectfully, to all ideas and try to come up with creative solutions to problems before the council and of concern to residents. His decision to get involved in town government was sparked in the last election, when he was dismayed that the proposal to build a library in Holbrook-Palmer Park was pushed “from the top down” by a slim council majority, he said.

Mr. DeGolia notes that the town was recently able to pay $2 million toward its long-term pension obligation, which he says is due in part to the influx of many young families who are moving to Atherton and paying higher property taxes. Mr. DeGolia says these families will want playing fields, bike lanes and a safe way for pedestrians to cross El Camino Real, where several fatal accidents have occurred recently.

Mr. DeGolia did not accept support from the police union, and said he believes there is almost no possibility that the town will outsource police services. He did say that police costs and pensions, which take up more than half the town’s budget, are worthy of discussion.

Mr. DeGolia is a candidate who will make sensible decisions as a council member. He vows to listen to residents and says he will try to make the council’s decisions as transparent as possible. He is not endorsed by any current council members, who split 2-2 on many issues, so Mr. DeGolia could be a swing vote. We urge voters to elect Rick DeGolia to the Atherton City Council.

[To read the endorsement as posted on  the Almanac Online, click here!]
Reprinted in its entirety with permission.

Helping residents address a problem

[Re-printed from an email message sent to NextDoor]

Hello,
To Atherton voters,

airplane-noise-over-dearborn-300x199I would like to share how active and strategic Rick DeGolia (who is campaigning for Atherton Council) has been with the Surf Air noise matter.  From the moment I met him at our meeting, I could see he was deeply involved, he has championed the cause for all of us and provided thoughtful guidance. He has provided really good leadership in these areas:

  1. The encouragement that we reach out and create a strong resident group before we meet with Surf Air and the Airport;
  2. The inclusion of Elizabeth Lewis, Atherton representative on the Noise Abatement Roundtable, and George Rodericks, City Manager;
  3. Making sure that we get a decibel reading under a Surf Air flight before the meeting;
  4. Guidance and redirection of our focus to make our strategy to seek to change the flight path for all planes approaching the San Carlos airport. This is a much more fundamental fix to the noise and safety problem than our prior focus;
  5. Involvement and summary at the meeting with Surf Air that while it is right for Surf Air to make incremental changes to their flap use and other operational procedures that it is imperative that they invest in understanding why their flights are more noisy than other flights coming into the airport; and
  6. Work to forge a consensus at the meeting to get both Surf Air and San Carlos Airport to agree that the only fundamental fix is to change the flight path and to agree that this is in the interests of Surf Air and the Airport, such that they agreed to work with us (and even to lead the effort) to act as a united front in our approach to the FAA.

This is an ongoing concern, and I am confident that with Rick’s help, Surf Air and the airport make changes, but they will also work with us to craft a solution that we can take to the FAA. Ultimately, Rick would be a superb asset to the Atherton Council — Please vote for him.

Kind Regards,
Dan

DeGolia campaign takes high ground

LawnSignforWebSiteIn a development that is reminiscent of the bitter political battles characterizing the council era dominated by a circle of long-time political insiders, lawn signs placed by the “Elect Rick DeGolia” campaign around town have been reported missing.  All of the missing signs had been placed at the request of, and with the permission of, the homeowners.

Writing to supporters, Rick chose to take the high ground regarding these thefts.  He suggested that while he didn’t know who was doing this, that part of the possible motivation was to generate controversy in his campaign that they could then capitalize on.  Instead of responding with an approach that gets negative press, Rick wrote: “I think that the right solution is to replace the signs as quickly as possible . . . .  The best response to this theft is quickly increase the number of signs that were out there.”

“The reason that they are doing this is because they are threatened: I got my signs out early and I only put them in locations where I received permission from the property owner.  Someone obviously feels threatened by my candidacy.   I have been endorsed by a very broad range of Atherton residents.  I have been told that this is the broadest support that someone has had in 30 years.  I am proud of that.  The right way to fight back is to fight back in numbers, not in the press.”

Rick has now ordered and received another 100 signs and, while Rick is not willing to engage in the same old “fighting with accusations in the press,”  he continues to campaign with a very vibrant and active schedule of resident-hosted events where he meets and talks with an increasingly broad cross-section of the community.  We invite you to come meet Rick at one of these events and we thank those of you who have gotten to meet Rick for making contact with your friends and neighbors about Rick’s positive campaign.  We welcome all supporters and we will continue to provide those who would like a lawn sign placed or replaced at their home.