Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Sustainable Foster City

We recently celebrated the fourth anniversary of Sustainable Foster City Day with an infographic of accomplishments presented to City Council. What is Sustainable Foster City? As an overview, the Sustainable Foster City framework is for sustaining and enhancing the quality of life for those that live, work and play in Foster City, and includes:

  • Economic Development, which serves the common good, is self-renewing and encourages a wide variety of community-serving businesses to operate locally, creating self-renewing economic resources to support a thriving community;
  • Environmental Sustainability, that seeks to maintain a healthy environment including clean air, clean water, and the life resources community members need today and for generations to come; and
  • Social Engagement and Education, which seeks participation and benefits for all segments of our community to allow each member of that community to pursue and enhance the quality of their lives.

The Policy Implementation Tools for the Sustainable Foster City Plan are:

Since that last update on the Sustainable Foster City Plan in November 2016, there are several accomplishments to report:
  • Staff launched two community websites in 2017, first – sustainable.fostercity.org which helps promote our sustainable accomplishments and highlight new programs and initiatives and secondly, connectfostercity.com, which consolidates all the transportation and mobility options available to Foster City commuters.
  • Since launching the Scoop carpooling initiative in October, there have been over 15,000 fewer commute-time car trips in and out of Foster City, saving over 375,000 pounds of CO2.
  • Foster City residential water use from 2007 to 2016 reduced by 32%.
  • City staff received the final 2015 Municipal Operations Inventory report which tracks the City’s greenhouse gas emissions. The report showed a 22.9% decrease in CO2 emissions from the 2010 report.
  • The City launched a Community Dialogue Series in 2017, a series of four interactive community events designed to inform, engage and involve, centered around topics such as workforce housing, transportation and commercial retail. You can learn about upcoming sessions at sustainable.fostercity.org/social.
  • Since launching Foster City Access in February 2016, residents have reported 1028 non-emergency issues and the City has resolved 938, so far.

The Sustainable Foster City Plan has evolved over the past four years to include new initiatives, programs, and even technology, but the framework remains the same and continues to serve the residents, businesses and visitors of Foster City.

Monday, July 3, 2017

“Get Your Play On!” - Fourth of July & Summer Concert Series

In honor of Parks & Recreation month (brought by the National Recreation and Park Association), I want to challenge everyone to “get their play on with their local parks and recreation.” In a city where we boast 24 spectacular parks – all of which are unique in character! – I can’t help but encourage everyone to join in on the many festivities we have this coming month. How else can we make sure you start your summer off right?

First and foremost, tomorrow, the City of Foster City and Lions Club will be hosting the annual Fourth of July Celebration. This all-day event will begin at 9:00 AM with a Pancake Breakfast, followed by a Family and Dog Parade, concert performances, and games (to name a few). And of course, the grand headliner of them all, the fireworks show! So gather your family & friends, this event at Leo J. Ryan Park is surely one not to miss. Visit the Fourth of July Celebration event page for more information: www.fostercity.org/parksandrecreation/generalinformation/4th-of-July.cfm.

The following week, we are kicking-off another special event, the Summer Concert Series! The concerts will take place on Friday nights for the next six weeks, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, at Leo J. Ryan Park Amphitheater. This year’s line-up includes:

2017 Summer Concert Series Line-Up
  • July 14th – Zoo Station - U2 Tribute
  • July 21st – Livewire - Pop/Rock Hits
  • July 28th – Cripple Creek Band - Country
  • August 4th – Total Recall - 90s Alternative
  • August 11th – Lost Dog Found - Swing/Jazz
  • August 18th – Nathan Owens - Motown/Soul

Join us for a great evening of live tunes, dancing, and fun; all the while enjoying the scenic backdrop of the City we know and love.

A huge thank you goes out to our sponsors, whom without, this event would not be possible: Gold Medal Martial Arts (Title Sponsor); T.M. Tobin Co. and Loral Landscaping Inc. (Gold Sponsors); Mariners Point, Edgewater Marine, Charlie Tomberg, Julie Flouty Homes, AAAAA Rent-A-Space, and Bay Area Pediatric Dental Wellness Group (Silver Sponsors); and Foster City Preschool & Day Care Center, Foster City Courtyard by Marriot, and Jim & Chris Freshour (Friendship Sponsors). Visit the Summer Concert Series event page for more information: www.fostercity.org/parksandrecreation/generalinformation/summer-concert-series.cfm

Monday, June 26, 2017

Foster City City Council Adopts FY 2017/2018 Annual Budget

The annual budget, as adopted and approved by your City Council on June 19, 2017, is built upon Citywide Organizational Goals and Department Strategic Plans that support the City Council's vision for our community that includes:
  • Fiscally sound municipal governance 
  • Vibrant strong neighborhoods 
  • Commitment to public safety
  • Economic development 
  • Environmental stewardship 
  • Active regional partnerships
  • High quality services for all citizens

The highlights of the annual budget as adopted by City Council for FY 2017/2018 include:
  1. Meeting the City Council's policy of maintaining a General Fund Reserve of $20.65 million (50% of FY 2017/2018 operating expenditures) and projecting a balance of $17.65 million of Unrestricted Fund Balance (excess of Reserves) at the end of FY 2017/2018).
  2. Adoption of new wastewater rates to support financing for the replacement of the aging Wastewater Treatment Plant (jointly owned with the City of San Mateo) to meet regulatory requirements and future usage demands.
  3. Adding a Senior Community Services Officer in the Police Department to help the Department bolster field operations capabilities and ensure service levels for the Foster City community.
  4. A $1.9 million transfer from the General Fund to the City Capital Improvements Program that will pay for important City Public Works projects, including parks improvements for resurfacing 8 tennis courts and 6 basketball courts, walkway replacement at Edgewater Park, and playground equipment replacements in Gull Park and Marlin Park.
  5. Establishing a $2.06 million Employee Home Loan and Rental Assistance Program to incentivize staff to live in or near Foster City for 1) emergency response; 2) attract and retain a committed workforce; and 3) enhance the work/life balance by reduced commute time.
  6. Adding a part-time Sustainability Intern in the City Manager's Office to assist in the implementation of the Sustainable Foster City Plan (economic development, environmental sustainability, social engagement).

The City of Foster City/Estero Municipal Improvement District have been well managed and are in sound financial condition. I want to take the opportunity to thank all of our City employees for their active participation in, and valuable contributions to, the development of the Budget. As a City team focused on providing exceptional services to the community, our employees remain the City’s most critical resource. I believe the Budget will provide us the resources necessary to maintain vital City services and move forward with a strategy to ensure a positive sustainable future for the community of Foster City. I would also like to thank the City Council for their policy vision in adopting the annual budget as it will ensure an outstanding quality of life for the residents of this great city.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Foster City: A Community Filled with Commitment & Passion

At a recent Coffee in the Park with Councilmember Gary Pollard, I had the opportunity to meet resident Julie Tang who lives here in Foster City with her husband, Ed, and children, Kiersten & Johanna. Julie stood out from the crowd that morning, as she exuded a certain energy and confidence, a spirit of a "champion", and the qualities needed for Julie to form a support group for families who have children with Down syndrome (DS).

Julie's desire to create this group was all because of Johanna, their younger child with Down syndrome, who inspired Julie to create a DS community support group on the peninsula.

I met with Julie & Johanna in my office to get to know each other better and talk about the group. With a leap of faith, the group started right in her living room. It started with 4-5 families and now surprisingly very close to 100 families on the list. Last summer the Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area (the only non-profit in the Bay Area serving families and their children with DS since 1998) brought Julie on board to help them expand and build more services on the peninsula. Before all of this, there weren't any services or programs specifically for people with DS. Now, they have music therapy classes, monthly support group meetings, parent workshops, educator workshops, art workshops, Mom's Day Out events, fundraising events, holiday parties, and peer development classes coming soon in September on the peninsula!

As Julie graciously shared with me:
"We could not have done this without amazing families coming together as a team, heart-centered support from businesses, organizations, and local government of Foster City, and of course, the Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area for providing the DS community on the peninsula this incredible opportunity of working together and making us a part of the DSCBA so that we can be supported in our efforts as we continue to grow. This was how DSCBA-peninsula was born." - Julie
As they are heading into their 2 year anniversary of their DS community on the peninsula, they are planning a huge party celebrating this special time on Sunday, July 9 from 12-3pm at Maddux Park in Redwood City. It's a time for families to connect and rejoice what they have already created as a community and feeling hopeful of what's ahead of them.

The Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area's mission is to "empower, inspire and support people with Down syndrome, their families and the community that serves them, while fostering awareness and acceptance in all ares of life." With your support and advocacy, they can do so much more for these families. There are many ways to support them and make a difference. Here are a few opportunities on the peninsula:
  1. Monthly support group meetings - need volunteers for childcare
  2. Music therapy classes - need volunteers to assist the teacher and kids
  3. Peer development classes - looking for facilitators (paid position) and volunteers to assist
  4. Looking for sponsors who could donate food, talents, facilities, etc. Currently looking for entertainers and food vendors who would be interested in sponsoring 2 year anniversary
Based on my newfound knowledge of the peninsula DS support group, they are accomplishing one of their goals in creating a safe place for families to connect, support, and empower each other as they walk through this journey together with hope and faith.

If you are interested in any of these opportunities or would like to learn more about the organization, please feel free to check out their website at www.dsconnection.org or contact Program Manager Julie Tang at julie@dsconnection.org.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Message from the City Manager – Levee Protection Planning & Improvements Project: A Critical and Needed Infrastructure Improvement

As your City Manager, I understand that there is a great deal of concern regarding the Levee Protection Planning and Improvements Project. There have been questions and comments about the project online, at meetings, and in conversations with City Council, City staff and myself. I first want to thank citizens for being engaged and sharing their thoughts with us. It is invaluable to our communication that citizens care enough to get involved with the process of local government. So let me address what I believe is the most important Public Works infrastructure project since the construction of Foster City.

The project began in 2014 with news that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) determined that the current levee system did not meet accreditation standards, meaning that Foster City would be designated as a flood zone if changes were not made.

In 2015, the City brought together a team of staff and consultants, and met with FEMA to request that Foster City properties not be designated in a flood zone. FEMA informed the project team that Foster City would be considered for “seclusion mapping” (which would delay the flood-zone designation) if progress was made to improve the levee. With that information, on April 28th, 2015, the City Council accepted “seclusion mapping” and on behalf of the City Council, former Mayor Art Kiesel informed FEMA (via letter) that improvements would be made to the levee system to regain accreditation.

On August 28th, 2015, the City held a kick-off meeting inviting our regional elected officials and all environmental agencies involved to discuss the proposed levee improvement project. Those in attendance included Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Senator Jerry Hill, Assemblymember Kevin Mullin, and County Supervisor Dave Pine; all of whom indicated the importance of collaboration, communication, and their interest and support in the City delivering a successful project. City staff continues to converse and meet with staff members of those leaders as we move forward to successful implementation of the Levee Protection Planning & Improvements Project.

For the past 2 years, the project team has worked diligently with consultants, over 20 environmental agencies including 4 regulatory agencies, residents, businesses, and engineers to decide the best course of action for the community.

This project is the largest and most complex since the initial development of the City. The levee along the bay is an integral part of the City’s infrastructure, safety, and enjoyment for the community. The priority for the City has been to maintain resident’s safety and property in a way that would be fiscally and environmentally responsible. A variety of options were presented to the City Council, and on May 8th, 2017 the City Council directed staff to proceed with the “2050 Sea Level Rise Plus Adaptability” Scenario, to further develop and analyze a future offshore adaptation strategy, and proceed with a general obligation bond financing alternative over a 30-year period. This option will not only protect your property and provide a cost effective approach to address sea level rise concerns, but prevent many property owners from having to purchase costly flood insurance. These improvements would also address potential hazards to the City’s infrastructure; such as the Corporation Yard, which houses the City’s water storage tanks and pumping station, providing for quality and reliable water and wastewater service, in addition to the lagoon pumping system.

Since 2015 we have held 37 public, regulatory, and project meetings on this project. We will continue to conduct meetings to ensure that informed decisions are made and everyone is kept up-to-date as we move forward.

Here are a few key facts that I ask you to keep in mind:

  • FEMA has determined that the Foster City levee system no longer meets FEMA accreditation requirements.
  • FEMA has temporarily granted Foster City “seclusion mapping” designation, so long as progress was made to address the deficiencies of the levee.
  • If the appropriate steps are not made, Foster City may be declared as a high-risk Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). In terms of impact to properties, this would mean that:
    1. All properties with federally backed loans or other types of loans, as part of the flood zone, would be required to indefinitely obtain flood insurance at a cost of over $1,000 and up annually; 
    2. All property owners would be required to disclose flood zone designation when selling their property; and
    3. Property values may be impacted.
  • Permitting is required from all 4 regulatory agencies involved. This includes FEMA, San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), Army Corp of Engineers, and the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB). 
    • BCDC requires resilience through design to the high range of 2050.
    • Both RWQCB and BCDC require risk assessments and adaptation strategies to address 2100 Sea Level Rise.
  • The City continues to meet with BCDC to discuss project design requirements, as well as the impact to construction costs.
  • The City also continues to meet with our regional elected officials to discuss the progress made thus far and the appropriate next steps in this project.
  • Estimated construction and project management costs are initially $90 million for the 2050 Sea Level Rise Scenario with future adaptation to 2100 Sea Level Rise.
  • A general obligation bond was determined to be the most cost-effective form of financing for this project out of the alternatives that were studied. A bond measure that requires 2/3rd votes to pass is projected to be on the June 2018 ballot.
  • No local, state, or federal funding is currently available for this project. However, the City continues to seek any grant opportunities, as well as work with local, state, and federal officials to seek other funding sources.
  • Lowering the lagoon levels in significant amounts is not a viable solution because our lagoon pump system would not be able to sustain flood protection or maintain its structural integrity in the case of a breach to the levee. In addition, this alternative is NOT acceptable to FEMA in order to retain accreditation.

The project team has posted detailed information about the project to the City website at every step of the way, and will continue to do so. We encourage citizens to learn about the project and continue to engage with us as it progresses over the next several years. Ask questions and bring your concerns to us, so that you may obtain accurate information. Visit the project webpage, sign up for the Levee Project listserv, sign up for the City’s monthly newsletter, follow us on social media, or contact Project Manager Allan Shu directly at (650)286-3271 or ashu@fostercity.org.

In closing, I want to emphasize and assure residents that the City and its staff will do all that we can to ensure the health and safety of the community and it is paramount that you have confidence and trust in us by working together.

After nearly 32 years with the City of Foster City, I care about you and this City. I have dedicated my career to this community, and it has given just as much back to me. I have full confidence that the improvements to the levee will serve everyone, and I applaud the community for their interest in the City of Foster City, and encourage you all to stay engaged.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Quarter Into 2017, Exciting & Challenging Times!

Levee Protection Planning & Improvements Project


On Monday May 8, 2017, the City Council provided direction regarding the Levee Protection Planning and Improvements Project. The Environmental Impact Report was certified by the City Council, policy direction was given to proceed with a design that includes meeting FEMA accreditation and anticipated Year 2050 Sea Level Rise, as well as choosing a preferred financing alternative in the form of a General Obligation Bond. The City project team will be proceeding with design based on this direction. A ballot measure will be presented to the voters in November 2017 for approval of the project, due to the tax measure associated with the General Obligation Bond. Public outreach will continue as it is of utmost importance that the ballot measure be approved to proceed with project construction.

Read more on one of the most critical projects in this City's history at: www.fostercity.org/leveeproject.

Water and Wastewater Rates


Coming up on June 5, 2017 at 6:30 PM, the City will be conducting a public hearing on the newly proposed water & wastewater rate increases from Fiscal Year 2017 to Fiscal Year 2021. These proposed rates come from evaluation of infrastructure needs, operation and maintenance costs; which are done on an annual basis. These costs are essential to maintain safe, reliable, and cost-effective water and wastewater services for the Foster City community.

The two part increase in water and wastewater rates are primarily a result of the following factors:
  • Water - Increased cost of wholesale water from the San Francisco Public Utility Commission (SFPUC) and the associated bond surcharge paid to the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA), along with maintenance, operational and capital improvement costs for the District’s water system.
  • Wastewater - Capital improvements to the San Mateo Wastewater Treatment Plant, along with maintenance, operational, and capital improvement costs for the District’s wastewater system. The Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) project includes approximately $900 million in improvements, of which the District is responsible for $119 million.

To learn more on why such increases are necessary, including rate calculations, please view the Public Hearing Notice here. Please also feel free to contact Dante G. Hall, Assistant City Manager, at (650)286-3214 or dhall@fostercity.org with any additional questions.

Kiva-Foster City Partnership


On the Economic Development front, Foster City has recently partnered with Kiva -- a microlending non-profit organization based in the Bay Area. Just in time as we celebrated National Small Business Week this past week, Foster City's partnership with Kiva will provide 0% interest crowdfunded loans and matching loan funds to small and micro business owners in Foster City. With this, the City will match every dollar that individuals lend to Foster City borrowers. 

This commitment stems as an initiative from the City's Economic Development Strategic Plan, which was adopted in September 2016. Small businesses are a crucial part of our community and to best help them thrive, providing access to capital and financial opportunities has become evermore important. Become a part of a local success story or allow us to be a part of yours! You may reinvest in our local businesses at www.kiva.org/lend/foster-city or find out how you may become a borrower at www.kiva.org/borrow

CommUNITY Dialogue Series



As we work to find solutions on how to best provide services to our community, we also want to continue the dialogue with our constituents. Starting this month, Foster City will be hosting the "CommUNITY Dialogue Series" -- a four session program spanning from May to December. Each session that takes place will focus on critical topics affecting our City, that being Land Use, Affordable Workforce Housing, Transportation, and Commercial Retail. 

The first of this series is on Wednesday, May 17 at 7:00 PM in the Foster City Community Center. This session is entitled Celebrating the Evolution of Our City. The discussion on this evening will set the foundation for all the subsequent sessions. Join us for live music and great food as we explore what has brought Foster City to where it is today, as well as what's to come in the future. It is also an opportunity for you to share your thoughts and ideas for our City.

For more information on the CommUNITY Dialogue Series (including registration details), please visit: www.sustainable.fostercity.org. Whether you live, work, or play in Foster City, we encourage and invite you to attend! 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Inaugural "Coffee with the City Manager"

This past week, I hosted the first "Coffee with the City Manager" event here at City Hall. The purpose of this meeting was to provide an informal, open forum for community members to come speak on topics that matter most to them.

Thank you to the seven residents -- Georgia, Peter, Karen, Ran, Paul, Jim, and Brent -- who joined me for a cup of coffee last Wednesday. I found our conversation to be a dynamic and inclusive dialogue -- and if I may say so myself, of most healthy and much-needed public discourse.

We started our meeting with a brief update on key City initiatives -- including, but not limited to, the Levee Protection Planning & Improvements Project, Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvement Project, annual budget process, and the recent endeavors under the Economic Development Strategic Plan.

A variety of other topics were also brought to discussion. Here are a few key highlights from our conversation:

What does the City Manager do?

  • The City Manager is appointed by and responsible to the City Council, serving as the Chief Administrative Officer overseeing the day-to-day operations and City personnel. In summary, the City Manager also develops the annual City budget, proposes new policy objectives, and implements those policies and programs that are adopted by the City Council.
  • There are nine departments that report to the City Manager, which is supported by a team of Department Heads.
  • Legal counsel is provided via the City Attorney, who is tasked with minimizing the City's liability risks, ensuring all departments are legally compliant; as well as providing information and legal advice to the City Council.

City Center Concept & Foster Square

  • Originally, the 15-acre site adjacent to City Hall proposed an idea that revolved around the "City Center Concept." Public input was gathered through surveys and of these, some suggestions included shops/retail, dining, a movie theater, etc.
  • Today, Foster Square is gradually coming to fruition. There are three housing developments that are being constructed on the project site -- Alma Point, Atria, and Lennar. Of this, 21,169 square feet of retail space is also included. These projects are currently underway and are near completion.

Charter Square Shopping Center & the Fourth Elementary School

  • The San Mateo-Foster City School District has begun its process in regards to the fourth elementary school in Foster City. It should be noted that the San Mateo-Foster City School District is exempt from the City's zoning ordinances, per Government Code Section 53094.
  • The San Mateo-Foster City School District recently issued its Notice of Preparation on the Environmental Impact Report. There will be a public comment period in which citizens may submit their concerns. The City has prepared a preliminary letter in response to this.
  • An Ad Hoc Citizens Education Facilities Committee will be created to engage the School Board throughout this process. Committee members will be appointed at the April 3, 2017 City Council meeting.

Community Engagement

  • Foster City has several sources where community members may access the latest City information and events. This includes the City website, City app (Foster City Access), e-newsletters (Foster City Current & Business), FCTV, daily Police Report Bulletin, and much more! The City is also active on a number of social media streams. Visit the Communications Hub for all the ways you can stay connected.
  • Woven within Foster City's fabric is its vibrant and diverse community. This City has been known to be rich in cultural events. City staff will continue to do its best to preserve and promote this element by bringing forth the many cultural events & activities you see daily.

Relationship with Chamber of Commerce

  • The City has a collaborative partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, working together to execute the City's economic development vision & strategic plan, providing resources to our local businesses & stakeholders. 

As your City Manager, I will continue to host these forums as a means of fostering a robust public dialogue and integral partnership between you, our citizens, and your City government. 

Please feel free to reach me via phone at (650)286-3220 or email at kmiller@fostercity.org. Stay tuned for more "Coffee with the City Manager" events to come!