Tuesday, December 27, 2016

City Manager’s Perspective: Reflection on Success in Governance and a Bright Future for Foster City

As City Manager, I am one part of a well-tuned engine that drives the City of Foster City forward. The City operates under a Council / Manager form of government, whereby the City Manager serves as the chief executive officer, who is responsible for overseeing all day-to-day city operations. The City Council, who is elected by the citizens, is responsible for providing broad policy direction for the City Manager to address and carry out. This form of government provides cohesiveness throughout the organization that enables the City Council and staff to align the programs, projects, and services that meet the needs and expectations of our citizens.

As City Manager I oversee an excellent Executive Team comprised of Department Heads who manage the respective departments of Foster City:
  • City Manager – provides administrative and legislative policy support to the City Council and provides oversight in the areas of budget, economic development, environmental sustainability, information technology, animal control, transportation and capital projects
  • Communications/City Clerk – maintains the official record of proceedings to ensure the continued operation of the City and also directs public information, media communication and civic engagement activities
  • Community Development – ensures construction code and building compliance and manages the long-term planning regarding growth and development for the City
  • Financial Services – manages the City’s financial resources responsibly
  • Fire – protects lives, property and the environment
  • Human Resources – provides a safe, healthy and positive working environment for Foster City employees
  • Parks & Recreation – manages the City’s parks and recreation activities, City facility maintenance and City vehicle fleet
  • Police – ensures public safety and the protection of property 
  • Public Works – manages infrastructure construction, operations and maintenance programs for streets, drainage, lagoon and levee, water and wastewater

A Year in Review - Daily Governance & Key Accomplishments

Through the continued leadership and dedication from your City Council and City staff, Foster City has achieved many accomplishments this past year. Of these, a few highlights include:
  • Delivered a new City Council agenda management system
  • Expanded the City’s presence on social media channels such as YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook
  • Developed and distributed monthly e-newsletters with updates on City events, activities, and projects, as well as local business community news to approximately 9,000 subscribers
  • Implemented Foster City Access/SeeClickFix, a citizen reporting tool that allows for ease of communication with the City; which in 2016, has had over 660 non-emergency issues successfully resolved
  • Hosted an ongoing series of Community Informational Meetings on major projects such as the Levee Project, which has given residents and business owners an opportunity to be involved and give valuable input
  • Worked alongside City Council and residents to begin the initial phase of the Recreation Center Master Plan Study; which through use of Foster City Forum, distribution of surveys, and meetings with different focus groups/City-held public meetings, have received over 200 responses
  • Coordinated Emergency Preparedness and Safety Days with residents and local businesses; including training of 87 additional Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members
  • Maintained fiscal responsibility through strategic financing for major projects such as the Clean Water Program/Wastewater Treatment Plant Project, as well as achieving a balanced budget for fiscal year 2016-2017
  • Responded to over 1,500 calls for service on a monthly basis between Fire and Police
  • Promoted over 20 internal employees in an effort to retain and encourage professional development within staff
  • Adopted the Economic Development Strategic Plan, outlining the first two years of programs and initiatives to help direct long-term economic development in Foster City
  • Hosted a Business Roundtable Meeting with over 60 business leaders to discuss challenges and opportunities facing our business community
  • Conducted over 25 business visitations to grow and enhance outreach efforts
  • Partnered with Scoop Technologies to bring a carpool-matching program to Foster City residents and employees, and have removed over 4,700 cars off the road in its initial 3 months
  • Partnered with Kiva to create a loan-matching supporter account for peer to peer microlending, offering loans to small businesses 

In these shared successes, City staff has delivered in a responsible and diligent manner the quality services that characterize good governance. This stems from a committed City staff who will continue to work closely with the community in an engaging way.

We have a bright future in Foster City and your City staff will continue to work as a team to make Foster City great. We will champion ethical behavior and integrity. We will be relentless in incremental improvements and innovations. The City of Foster City is committed to excellence in the delivery of services and it begins with the City Manager and the City Department Heads.

These values and guiding principles are what inspire City employees to make sound and professional work decisions and provide outstanding customer service to our residents.

I am proud to serve you and all who call Foster City home. Governance happens every day, and every day your Foster City Government is committed to working for you and with you.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fall Classic / 2016 World Series

Plenty of baseball to be played and who will it be, the Cubs or the Dodgers in the National League, the Blue Jays or the Indians in the American League. You just don't accidently show up in the World Series and four very good teams are battling to get in. I would have loved to have been rooting for the Giants, but I am still sure there will be some magical moments, great plays not forgotten and a home run that is epic in the game of baseball we love at the time all the world is watching the "Series." Enjoy.

Your Vote, Your Voice

Have you registered to vote? As the election date nears, please be reminded that there is one week remaining until voter registration closes. In California, the deadline is October 24th, 2016 at 11:59 PM. 

To register to vote, you will need to complete a brief voter registration application on paper or online. Paper applications are available at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), post offices, and many other government offices -- including Foster City City Hall. In a few simple steps, registration can also easily be completed online. 
  1. Go to www.registertovote.ca.gov.
  2. You will need:
    • A California Driver License or California Identification Card Number
    • The Last Four Digits of Your Social Security Number
    • Your Date of Birth
  3. Complete Steps 1-5 of the Application
And that's it! We strongly encourage all to register. Exercise your right to vote. Join the conversation, because your vote DOES count.

Halloween Festival

Halloween time is upon us and the annual Foster City Halloween Festival is being held this year on Saturday, October 29th, 2016 from 11:00 AM-2:00 PM at The VIBE. This event is filled with SPOOKtacular family fun, including arts and crafts, games, and a haunted house. And don't forget, wear your costumes! A costume contest will be sure to bring out the monsters, ghosts, and goblins in everyone. 

Admission is $3 per person (and free for ages 2 years and under). Any proceeds from this event will go to benefit the Foster City Youth and Teen Foundation.

We hope to have you join in on the festivities. Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

September: National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month, and it is the time of year that our community can come together  to protect the City from potential disasters. This means that community members should consider their own emergency preparedness plans, and consider ways to help during an emergency. There are many ways that the City is prepared to combat these disasters, however each individual resident of Foster City can play a major role. Here are the ways you can make a difference in the City’s preparedness plan:

Family Preparedness

The first step is to make sure that you and your family are prepared! A simple conversation at dinner, or Saturday breakfast can be the catalyst to getting the family ready. These conversations are vital and can lead to steps such as building a family emergency kit, and establishing a meeting place in case your home is uninhabitable due to fire or other emergency. Here are a few tips for taking action:
  • Children should know where the emergency kit is, and how to use some of the tools in the kit. 
  • Assembling a list of emergency contacts who live outside the area is also imperative. In the event of an actual emergency, local phone circuits will be impacted, and letting someone know that you are safe will give your family & friends peace of mind. 
  • Another problem families commonly forget is having a supply of vital medication on hand. Families should understand what medications are necessary for their own well-being. For example, diabetics who take daily medication for diabetes must have enough medication to last for at least a week, in case the disaster impacts typical ways of obtaining medications in a timely manner. 
  • Now is also a good time to review your homeowner or renter insurance policy for coverages related to natural disasters. 

For a top 10 list to see if your family is ready for an emergency, please visit: www.community.fema.gov/take-action/activities. Also consider signing up for SMC Alert for emergency alerts at www.smcalert.info.

Community Preparedness

There is a saying that “two heads are better than one,” and preparedness is no different. In this instance, having a community that is better prepared will have a greater impact than having only one individual being prepared. Emergency preparedness is a “whole community” effort. Your neighbor may need you when an emergency hits. Getting to know your neighbors, and planning with them, could be key to surviving a disaster and preventing as much damage as possible. Foster City has an amazing Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program that gives you the tools to help prepare your family to respond to a disaster with your neighbors.

Citizens can help first responders during emergencies by volunteering. CERT is a great way to get you, your family, and neighborhood prepared for an emergency. The City employs a team of volunteers whose sole purpose is to aid fire fighters, police officers, and other first responders in the event of an emergency. These brave volunteers provide an amazing resource in that they are citizens in neighborhoods across the City, and are trained to cope with the stresses of a disaster -- such as basic disaster skills, first aid, and team organization. When primary first responders are working on significant events, these individuals add to the recovery effort by providing these services. You may learn more about the program by visiting www.fostercitycert.org.

Community members can make a dynamic impact on disaster response and recovery efforts, but the first step to making a difference starts with being prepared. Start the conversation with your family, begin gathering the items you will need in your disaster kit, and get involved with the CERT program. You will be glad you did.

I would like to thank Jenelle Masterson for her continued leadership in her position as Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, as well as Vanessa Brannon who has passionately led the CERT Program.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Economic Development in Foster City

What does Economic Development mean for Foster City? The textbook definition of economic development is “any policy, program, initiative or activity that strives to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for a community by creating jobs and retaining jobs.” To Foster City, economic development means so much more. It means supporting our vibrant business community, keeping jobs local and encouraging people to play, work, and live in a town we all love.

Created by the Economic Development Ad Hoc Subcommittee and approved by City Council on September 19, 2016, the Economic Development Strategic Plan is the first two years of programs and initiatives supporting long-term economic development in Foster City. The Plan addresses everything from workforce housing to traffic to ways in which businesses can market to each other! Directing the plan are several guiding principles. They include: 

  1. Maintain positive, ongoing relationships with the business community and economic development stakeholders;
  2. Create and sustain a safe, clean, green, and fiscally sound business environment that benefits all those that live, work and play in this City;
  3. Support the health and growth of businesses, especially in the areas of business intelligence and training, workforce development, workforce housing, and access to capital; 
  4. Continue to invest in public infrastructure that commercial and residential property owners need to thrive; and 
  5. Improve Foster City’s transportation network to address traffic congestion for commuters and residents.

I’m very excited for the next two years of economic development programs and initiatives that will enhance and support not only our business community, but all residents.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Hard Work and a Little Bit of Luck

I recently read a very good article in Forbes Magazine by Jason Belzer. It was titled "Why the Oregon Ducks Teach Us That Luck Isn't Everything."

I agree that there is little question that luck plays a tremendous role in the outcome of an given circumstance, but there is no doubt that the pursuit of excellence and greatness is a combination of hard work, effort, your return on luck, dedication and passion.

I recently shared these thoughts with our City Executive Team, as outlined in the article by Jason Belzer.

  • Luck in and of itself is not enough to make any one individual or organization great, rather it creates the opportunity for greatness.
  • Entrepreneurial Forethought, Pioneering Innovation, and Disciplined Overacheivement. These are the principles that allow organizations like the City of Foster City to capitalize on lucky events through exacting preparation and precise execution.
  • Everyone understands that in order to keep us pointed in the right direction, even when things might seem perfectly fine, they have to be willing to hold each other equally accountable. We have to stay entrepreneurially oriented, but professionally managed.
  • At the City of Foster City, we lead by inspired standards, not inspired personalities.

So I challenge our team to adhere to these principles and be greater by choice!

Friday, August 5, 2016


Summer is in full swing in Foster City and there is still plenty to do in and around Foster City to enjoy the summer weather.

Whether you are a long-time resident or new to the community, there’s always something great to discover (or revisit) in Foster City. I encourage you to try something from the list!
  1. Enjoy the blue lagoons – right here in Foster City.
    Foster City is well known for its unique water ways, but they are more than a beautiful view! Everyone is welcome to boat, fish, swim, paddle, or windsurf the water. Three of Foster City’s parks also offer sand beach areas. Check the link below for more information.

  2. Have a picnic, play a game, and enjoy the parks.
    Foster City has 160 acres of park and open space to walk, bike, and enjoy. Use the link below to find which park suits your needs  may it be a playground, picnic area, basketball court, barbeque, dog park or more. 

  3. Enjoy a summer treat.
    When you need to beat the heat, what better way to do so than by treating your taste buds? Use the City of Foster City’s restaurant guide to find your next bite; and if you’ve tried it all, come to Off the Grid, a food truck festival hosted every Wednesday night at 5:00 PM at the Senior Center. 

  4. Read a book.
    Summer is a great time to catch up on some reading. Books are perfect to take to the beach, on a road trip, or even right in your backyard. The Foster City Library is hosting events all summer, and there is still time to join in on the Summer Learning Challenge where participants are reading, playing, doing, and finding lots of chances to win prizes!

  5. Attend a summer concert (or all 6!).
    The Summer Concert Series returns to Leo J. Ryan Park Friday, July 15. Enjoy live music from 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM every Friday through August 19. Be sure to bring a something to sit on and a picnic dinner! See the lineup at the link below. 

  6. While you’re at it, see what else the Parks and Recreation Department has scheduled!
    Along with the Summer Concert Series, the Parks and Recreation Department has tons of activities planned to keep your summer busy. Check the City Calendar for information, and mark your calendar for Neighbor Nights, the Family Overnighter (8/20), and the Community Bike Ride (9/18)!

  7. Go for a safe drive.
    If you finish this list, then you can consider taking a drive. Foster City has the convenience of being located in the center if the Bay Area. A short drive can get you to Palo Alto, Oakland, or the beach. A short drive north will take you to San Francisco, where there is more than plenty to explore. 
There’s always something to do in Foster City to soak up the summertime, whether on this list or other, I hope everyone has a safe and fun summer.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

City Manager's Message from the Community Annual Report

I am pleased to provide this information as part of our Annual Report for Fiscal Year 15/16. It continues to be an honor and a privilege to serve this great community as your City Manager.

The City of Foster City Annual Report for Fiscal Year 15/16 chronicles a year of hard work and success of a municipal corporation of city employees who provide the highest quality of service to the citizens of Foster City and excellence in all we do.

In FY 15/16, we have maintained a financially strong municipality, while providing top quality public service to the community. The City Council received and authorized a balanced budget with healthy reserves in all operating funds.

The City continues to invest and improve its infrastructure and park system through a robust Capital Improvement Project Program. Our Public Works and Parks and Recreation Departments are managing over 20 CIP projects that will assure a continued quality of life that our residents expect. We have started the process of two of the most important Capital Projects in the history of the City, with the Levee Improvement Project and the joint Wastewater Treatment Plant Project.

Our City Council has adopted a focused mission and vision statement with clear policy priorities that will position our community for a successful economic development strategy, open discussions on land use, addressing regional traffic and transportation issues, continuing to upgrade and maintain aging infrastructure, ongoing dialogue with the school district on quality schools, and encouraging citizen engagement on a daily basis.

Public safety is always a top priority in Foster City. We highly respect and appreciate the work of our police officers and firefighters. Maintaining a healthy balance among public safety services and all other important City services is a responsibility that is reflected in a well-balanced operational city budget.

The City was also pleased to host its first Business Roundtable to discuss economic development goals with the business community. The meeting marked the initiation of an ongoing conversation about the strategies, policies, and programs we need to put in place for our future economic health. We will be working with the City Council Ad Hoc Subcommittee and the community to develop a comprehensive Economic Development Plan over the next several months.

Lastly, I am also pleased to share that our Executive Team of Department Heads refined and refreshed our team's guiding principles that represent who we are as a City organization: professional, ethical, and the driving force behind our success as a public service team. As stated in the guiding principles, "The employees of the City of Foster City are dedicated to providing excellent service to our community in a positive and caring manner."

We have had a "Championship Season" and I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Mayor and Members of the City Council, City Staff and the community for your leadership and support. Thank you for your commitment to creating a dynamic, diverse, and beautiful community in Foster City.