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 Committee – 2 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 Committee – Newly 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 Committee – 2 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 Commission – 2 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.
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.