Monday, January 8, 2018

City Manager Reflection on 2017 and Looking Forward to 2018

In the blink of an eye, 2017 has come to a close. And with every holiday season, this time of the year is a thoughtful reminder to me to share my gratitude, as well as to reflect on all we have accomplished together – as an organization and a community as a whole. 

As a cornerstone of good governance, City Council had reconfirmed its six (6) priority focus areas in 2017. This, in combination with clear policy direction over the course of the year, served as guiding principles for City staff to carry out key initiatives and programs.

I have been fortunate to have an Executive Team whose leadership within their own departments and cross-functionally has led to many successes throughout the organization. Every day, staff members practiced good stewardship, bringing exceptional services and skills in their respective roles.

2017 brought forth its fair share of challenges; however, there were many more exciting projects and endeavors to celebrate. As a City Manager, I can confidently say that these efforts have and will have a positive impact on our community. To name a few: 
  • Community Dialogue Series – Surely a highlight of the year, Foster City kicked off the first-ever of its kind. This series of community meetings focused on critical topics affecting our City today. Hundreds of community members joined in on the conversation and we look forward to continuing this in 2018!
  • Levee Project – Strides were made in 2017 with the Levee Project. Most notably, the City Council held an All-Hands Environmental Agency meeting, certified the Environmental Impact Report, decided to proceed with a 2050 Sea Level Rise and Future Adaptation Strategy, and to further explore a potential bond measure in 2018.
  • Recreation Center Master Plan – After extensive public outreach to better understand the community’s needs and interests in this facility, City Council directed staff to move forward with issuing a Request for Proposals on Conceptual Design Services. We will see this come to fruition later this year.
  • Fire JPA – Foster City entered a Fire Joint Powers Authority with the City of San Mateo and Belmont Fire Protection District for service level improvements and cost savings through the Shared Fire Services Contract.
  • CalOpps Website – The new and improved CalOpps site was launched, providing over 2 million job seekers with access to government jobs in over 250 cities, districts, and county agencies.
  • New City Website – Currently underway is the New Website Project, where City staff has worked diligently to design, refine, and revamp the City’s website. Stay tuned, as this will be launched in early 2018!
  • Public Safety – As public safety remains of the utmost priority, the Police Department designated an Exchange Zone for Private Property Transactions, as well as launched a Neighborhood Video Imaging Program. In 2017, Foster City was named the 8th Safest City in California and the 63rd in America.
  • Innovative Technology – Robots came to Foster City! The City partnered with Starship Technologies to allow the use of autonomous robots as Personal Delivery Devices for goods from our local businesses & restaurants.
  • Transportation & Mobility – After much popularity, the Scoop partnership was extended to continue to provide a subsidized carpool-matching program. The 92 Corridor Alliance was also established, which is a public-private group working towards strategies to improve commuter traffic along Highway 92.
  • Employee Rental Assistance Program – City Council authorized $60,000 towards an Employee Rental Assistance Program, as part of the City’s effort to recruit and retain quality employees, allowing employees to become a member of the community they serve, eliminating environmental, physical, and emotional impacts of long commutes, as well as having employees in close proximities to respond to after-hour emergencies.
  • Environmental Sustainability – Foster was one of two cities in San Mateo County awarded the Silver Beacon Award and Platinum Sustainability for Best Practices Award. This was earned from a culmination of activities the City has undertaken to promote and achieve environmental sustainability.
  • Infrastructure – The City began its annual Street Rehabilitation Project, which included the installation of curb ramps, asphalt paving, and amongst other improvements, sharrows. This type of project is just one example of the continued investment in the City’s infrastructure, improving the safety and mobility of our citizens.

Finally, I would also like to express my appreciation for the “unsung heroes” of our community. These are the many liaisons and proactive constituents who we have had the pleasure to work with in 2017 in accomplishing these goals.

As we begin 2018, I hope we all come in high spirits and with a renewed vigor! I look forward to the New Year and the opportunities that lie ahead. Thank you all for your continued support and commitment to this beautiful community.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

City Manager’s Perspective on Development, Workforce Housing, & Transparency

There has been an ongoing discussion about the need for workforce housing in Foster City and the proposal to revise a portion of the Pilgrim-Triton Master Plan to provide townhouses and below market rate workforce housing in place of the currently permitted office development. As City Manager, I would like to provide my perspective on the amendment to the Pilgrim-Triton Master Plan, workforce housing, and transparency in government. 

To provide some context, the Pilgrim-Triton Master Plan began as a discussion in 2001 regarding the reuse of underutilized and outdated buildings in the older commercial/industrial areas of the City. The City held several study sessions beginning in Fall 2005 to discuss how this area could be best used in the future. As a result of those study sessions, the Land Use and Circulation Element Goals, Policies and Implementation Measures were developed in 2006 for the Chess Drive/Hatch Drive and the Pilgrim Drive/Triton Drive Commercial Industrial Areas. 

Following the development of the draft Land Use Policies, the property owners in the area requested that the City consider a Master Plan for the entire 20-acre project site that was more consistent with the recently drafted Land Use Goals and Policies. Over the next year and a half, a number of public meetings were held to review and solicit feedback on the Master Plan proposal, which was approved in 2008. The approved plan consisted of 730 housing units and approximately 290,000 square feet of commercial and a one-acre open space plaza.

In the following years, development permits were granted for the following phases of the project:
  • Phase A – The Plaza (307 units and 8,000 square feet of commercial) opened in 2013
  • Phase B – The Triton Apartments (220 units and 5,000 square feet of ground floor commercial) should be open in early 2018
  • Phase D – 100 Grand Apartments (166 units and 6,000 of ground floor commercial) opened in 2016

The site for Phase C of the Master Plan was acquired by Sares Regis in July 2014. The 3.5-acre property currently consists of 38,000 square feet of light industrial/office and is entitled for 17 residential homes and 172,943 square feet of commercial uses. 

After purchasing the property, Sares Regis attempted to find office tenants for Phase C but was unsuccessful. This was primarily because most tenants preferred office space in large (300,000+) contiguous blocks and located closer to public transit. In 2015, Sares Regis submitted a proposal to amend the Master Plan and replace 172,943 square feet of commercial and 17 multi-family units with 70 townhouses.  

Market Analysis for the proposed amendment was prepared to compare the feasibility and economic viability of the existing property mix compared to various development scenarios including office, mixed-use, and residential. The analysis concluded that neither the existing office configuration nor a mixed-use scenario is currently viable. In the long-term, the market would need to mature sufficiently to justify investment in an office or mixed-use project.   

After considering comments from the City Council and Planning Commission, Sares Regis revised the proposal for the amendment and returned to the City Council on October 2, 2017 with a term sheet for Phase C that included:
  • Up to 70 for sale, market rate residential units and 22 affordable workforce housing units;
  • For Sares Regis to acquire fee title to the 1.2-acre Workforce Land (estimated value of $4 million) and contribute that land to the City at no cost;
  • For Sares Regis to contribute $3 million towards the design and construction of the Workforce Units to satisfy the affordable housing obligations for Phase C; 
  • Responsibility for cost overruns in excess of the agreed upon final budget to be shared 50%-50% between the City and Sares Regis; and
  • Rents from the project would cover the cost of managing and operating the project.

If this amendment to the Master Plan is approved, I believe this proposal will create an important community asset for the City by providing affordable workforce housing for City employees, including our police and firefighters. As we know, the Bay Area is one of the most expensive regions in the nation for housing. The high cost of housing is impacting the City’s ability to recruit and retain great employees and is simply not sustainable.  

This workforce housing proposal, along with others such as rental assistance and home loan programs, are part of an overall effort to recruit and retain great employees, who in turn provide the high level of services that our community receives. 

I encourage you to stay informed, ask questions, and be involved in the process as this proposal moves through the Planning Commission and City Council. As always, we remain committed to transparency, accountability, and honesty as we work to improve our City organization and our community.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Community Annual Report for FY 2016-2017 & State of the City Address

I am proud to announce the new Community Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2016-2017 and the State of the City Address featuring Mayor Charlie Bronitsky. The annual report is developed through a collaborative effort of all Foster City departments and provides important information about the City’s accomplishments and progress over the past fiscal year. 

In its second year, the new annual report provides more detail about services, programs and accomplishments. Some highlights from the report include:

  • Finances: Learn about the balanced budget that the City Council adopted and the City’s revenues.
  • Economic Development and Sustainable Foster City: The Economic Development Strategic Plan and Sustainable Foster City initiative launched new programs, such as Scoop and Kiva.
  • Community Engagement: Find out how you can connect with Foster City 24/7 and learn about the creation and transformation of the City in the 7 chapter docuseries: Jewel of the Bay.
  • Major Projects and Developments: Get the latest updates on important infrastructure projects and new businesses you will see coming to Foster City in the near future.
  • Safety: The Foster City Police and Fire Departments provide information about how Foster City remains one of the safest cities in the nation.

The City has had a successful year in FY 2016-2017, and I look forward to another outstanding year in FY 2017-2018. I hope that you take some time out of your day to read the report and watch the video.

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 – which helps promote our sustainable accomplishments and highlight new programs and initiatives and secondly,, 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
  • 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:

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:

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 or contact Program Manager Julie Tang at