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!


Monday, March 6, 2017

Looking Ahead Into March ...

March 12 is Plant a Flower Day and March 30 is Take a Walk in the Park Day

After bouts of rain and with the onset of Spring, I'd like to highlight a cornerstone of Foster City: our City parks. From water-lined pathways, to fields of greenery and overlooking views of the bay, Foster City's parks system boasts some of the best around. There are a total of 24 parks that contribute to the unique beauty of our City, while providing a plethora of open space. The vitality of our community is due in part to the recreational opportunities provided by these areas. These include sports fields, picnic areas, bocce ball, and aquatic sports -- just to name a few. 

At a glance, here are some timely trivia about our parks system:

24                                        

Foster City has 24 parks comprising approximately 200 acres of parks and open space, and including dozens of amenities such as playgrounds, sports fields, tennis and basketball courts, beaches, picnic areas, boat ramps, walking ramps, a dog park, windsurf rigging area, school garden and 8 miles of recreational facilities along the Bay Trail.




25,000                               

Thousands of people flock to Foster City's Leo Ryan Park for its signature events, including the annual cityFEST! Celebration, Fourth of July Celebration, epic Summer Concert Series, Polynesian Festival, and Holi Festival. In 2016, it is estimated that 25,000 people visited the park for the Fourth of July Celebration alone.



17                                      

The City employs 17 full-time people to maintain the park system. Although they work in teams, this means that each employee maintains the equivalent of almost a park and a half, or about 10 acres per employee. Parks employees also spend 600 hours per year supporting special events in the City's parks. Parks employees maintain and upgrade planting materials, prep ball fields, repair irrigation systems, maintain park facilities, and ensure parks are ready & safe for all users.

212                                    

The Foster City lagoon is the City's primary stormwater drainage basin, but also serves the dual purpose of providing a recreational amenity. The beautiful lagoon contains 212 acres of water. Residents use the waterway for swimming, fishing, and boating. Foster City also offers concessions that rent boating & windsurfing equipment of use on the lagoon.

12                                      

Foster City serves as a regional amenity for youth sports enthusiasts, with 12 soccer and baseball fields, including 5 year-round synthetic turf fields. There can be 200 games a week during peak seasons and about 7,000 practice hours annually associated with AYSO, Peninsula Youth Soccer, Pony/Colt Baseball, Foster City Youth Softball and Foster City Little League.




320                                      

From July 1, 2015 to June 20, 2016, 320 park permits were issued, in addition to the hundreds of "drop-in" park users who come to play on the playgrounds, walk their dogs, play games with friends, and otherwise, use the parks as part of their daily lives.


As you gear up for Spring (and before we know it Summer!), visit our Parks & Recreation page for more information on the City parks and what we have to offer. If 24 parks aren't enough, I promise you we have many events & activities in store for the upcoming months!

Monday, February 13, 2017

2016 Annual Traffic and Crime Reports

Foster City is a wonderful community known for its beautiful parks, excellent infrastructure, engaged citizens, and dedicated City Council & City staff. It is also one of the safest cities in the nation. In my monthly meeting with Police Chief Joe Pierucci, he shared the 2016 Annual Traffic and Crime Reports. Both reports contain useful information regarding statistical data, trends, and prevention efforts made by our staff. I would like to take a moment to highlight a few significant points from each report as a quick reference.


  • 220 collisions occurred in 2016, up slightly from 212 the prior year
  • Over the past five years, we have averaged 215 collisions a year 
  • 40 people were injured in collisions in 2016, which is fewer than the 58 injured in 2015
  • There were only six collisions between vehicles and bicyclists in 2016 – all of which were low speed/low impact with injuries deemed minor in nature. 
  • There were only six collisions between vehicles and pedestrians in 2016, again with no major injuries occurring and similar vehicle speeds involved. 
  • FCPD Officers continue their efforts in DUI detection, seatbelt enforcement, distracted driver enforcement, regional enforcement, and directed enforcement


  • Overall “Calls for Service” increased by 3% during 2016. This is the third consecutive year that “Calls for Service” has increased
  • Foster City experienced a drastic reduction in residential burglaries during 2016 (18 total). There were 43 residential burglaries in 2015. This was a 59% reduction!
  • The general category of “Theft” increased during 2016 (179 total) as compared to 106 in 2015

According to Chief Pierucci ...

"This is a trend being experienced by Law Enforcement agencies throughout the State of California. Recent changes in legislation over the last few years (Early release of prisoners; reclassification of numerous “felony” crimes to “misdemeanor” level offenses; the threshold for felony theft being raised to $950; the reduction of numerous narcotics violations from felony level crimes to misdemeanor level; and the knowledge by criminal offenders that being caught for one of these new classified criminal offenses will result in a citation and release with a later court date of six weeks or more in the future (rather than an immediate incarceration at the County Jail) has empowered many criminals with the thought that the “gain” from their crimes far outweighs the “risk” of being arrested. Frequently, these criminals will continue committing crimes and fail to appear for their court dates. Once again, the need for our agency to emphasize the importance of removing “opportunities” for criminals to commit crimes here in Foster City through education, crime prevention and active patrol work remains one of our main goals." 

  • In summary, Foster City saw decreases in residential burglary, graffiti, vandalism and stolen vehicles. There were increases in theft related crimes and commercial burglaries. Retail stores remain heavily impacted by theft.

Public safety is a priority as we continue to assure that Foster City is a great place to live, work, and play. So stay safe Foster City and I can assure you that when you engage with our Foster City Police Department, they will provide you "Excellent service, every call, every contact, every day, and then some!"


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Excellence in Governance & Economic Development Update

Excellence in Governance Program

Throughout any organization, and especially in municipal government, a universal goal is to provide excellent service in what we do everyday. Here in Foster City delivering good governance is not only a core value characterized by our City team but continues to be ingrained in the work culture & environment.

In September 2016, the City launched the “Excellence in Governance” Program with the purpose of capturing achievements made by our City staff, including those related to City Council policy.  Each department provides a monthly recap structured around five (5) focus areas:

  • Sound Financial Management
  • Effective Community Planning and Neighborhood Preservation
  • Effective and Efficient Municipal Operations and Services
  • Positive Community and Governmental Relations
  • Effective Professional Development

The reports received from the various departments are then compiled and refined to create one complete snapshot of the City’s accomplishments over the course of a quarter – encompassing anywhere from daily interactions made with our constituents to reaching a milestone in a major project.

It is with great pleasure that I present to you the first quarter summary of Excellence in Governance - FY 2016/2017 2nd Quarter Accomplishment Highlights. We will bring you this report on a quarterly basis as we work to serve our community and keep our citizens informed.

http://www.fostercity.org/departmentsanddivisions/citymanager/upload/Accomplishment-Highlights-2nd-Quarter.pdf

Economic Development Update

There have been several exciting updates in terms of Economic Development efforts in Foster City. The partnership with Scoop Technologies to bring the carpooling app and $2 rides to Foster City has yielded outstanding results. There have been 8,858 fewer trips in and out of Foster City since launching in October of 2016. This is the equivalent of 102,200 pounds of CO2 saved during the same time. Additionally, in 2016 City staff spent 40 hours assisting Foster City businesses solving problems and helping to negotiate resolutions as part of the Office of the Ombudsman out of the City Manager’s Office. City staff also conducted 50 business visitations, directly reaching out to Foster City’s thriving business community.

Coming up this year are more sustainable initiatives to help residents and businesses live, work and play in Foster City including the launch of a Kiva.org – Foster City micro-lending program and two new websites. The first new website is www.connectfostercity.com, a connection portal linking anyone travelling in and out of Foster City with the myriad of transportation alternatives available. Sustainable.fostercity.org will also be launched this year as part of Sustainable Foster City, where anyone interested in Economic, Environmental and Social initiatives can go to learn more. 2017 promises to be an exciting year.


Have a super weekend and enjoy the game on Sunday! I hope the team you are pulling for is excellent and "Plays Like a Champion!"

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.