Friday, October 30, 2015

“El Nino” – Is Foster City Ready? Yes We Are!

There has been a lot of talk lately about El Nino and the potential impact it will have on the Bay Area.  While we are all hoping for rain, it is important to remember that the impact of an El Nino winter can be significant. I recently checked in with my staff to make sure the City is prepared, and I believe we are.

In terms of preparation, both the Fire and Public Works Departments have been actively coordinating at the County level to access current resources and to determine additional resource needs (such as sandbags, equipment, etc.). Our Public Works Department recently participated in a regional workshop on October 21 with members of the County, State, FEMA and Army Corps of Engineers to identify additional steps that may supplement Foster City’s existing preparedness activities. As part of Foster City’s regular operations, staff has identified and routinely implements maintenance and prevention steps that are done to eliminate the pressures of excessive storm runoff, such as clearing storm drains. Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Police and Fire also have standard operating procedures for coping with the effects of storms (such as monitoring and lowering the lagoon level, handling downed trees, unsafe roadways, etc.).

With regard to incident response, staff is currently working to develop an Incident Action Plan (IAP). Once completed, the IAP will be activated in the days leading up to a significant weather event containing up to date reports and predications, as well as contact information, call out procedures, and will reference the aforementioned standard operating procedures that relate to the hazard specific response. During these weather events, regular conference calls with the County take place to allow for Foster City to communicate our status and request assistance, if necessary. In the unlikely situation that the effects of a single weather event, or cumulative effects of an extended period of weather, exceeds the capability of our city’s response resources, the City Manager may choose to enlist additional support in the form of a partial or full activation of Foster City’s Emergency Operations Center. At such time, the Emergency Operations Plan would be employed.

I am confident that the City is in a position to handle the forecasted El Nino winter. I urge residents to take the same level of precaution. Here are a few things you can do to prepare your family:

1)      Keep an Emergency Kit with non-perishable foods, water, a first aid kit, flashlight, portable radio, and extra batteries.

2)      Make an Emergency Plan for your Family – Does your family have a meeting place? Where will you go if you need to evacuate? How will you contact family if cell phones are down? Plan ahead!

3)      Clear rain gutters and check your roof for leaks (before the rain starts!).

4)      Check your yard for items which could potentially be carried by wind.

5)      Store your important documents (birth certificates, insurance policies, etc.) where they will not be affected by leaks or flooding.

6)      Check your car tires and windshield wipers.

7)      Stock up on sand bags and keep them in a dry location until they are needed. Sandbags will be available as needed in the City Hall Parking lot for residents to fill up and take home.

8)      Check the exterior of your home for cracked paint and loose window panes, which could allow for leaks or promote dry rot.

9)      Consider investing in a portable generator for your home.

10)   Bring your pets inside away from the weather.


These are just a few of the things which you can do to help keep your loved ones safe in the event that we are affected by a strong El Nino winter. For more information on emergency preparedness, please visit the City’s website at

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fall, Open House and the World Series

As we enter the Fall Season, I reflect back on my childhood school days and fondly recall the tradition of back to school "Open House." And of course, October was the month for the Major League World Series (never went into November back then as it can today!).
The Open House is a chance for you to "show off" your school, your classroom and classmates to parents and family! It was always a fun evening of sharing what was going on in your life from 8AM to 3PM inside your learning world, the elementary school classroom and playground! The City recently offered the same Open House opportunity where residents, family and friends could tour our Fire House, Police Station and City Hall. Residents had the opportunity to learn about our City Government, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), emergency preparedness, and fire and crime prevention. For the kids, the highlight of the day was definitely checking out the police cars and fire engines!
As the City Manager, it was an opportunity to "show off" our great community facilities and my “my classmates” (in this case the City Executive Team) who are some of the greatest department heads in the nation! At the Open House, residents had a chance to meet and talk with City staff including Police Chief Matt Martell, Fire Chief John Healy, Assistant City Manager Dante Hall, City Clerk Doris Palmer, Human Resources Director Ann Ritzma, Public Works Director Jeff Moneda, Finance Director Edmund Suen, Community Development Director Curtis Banks, Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Liu and my Management Assistant Julie Paping. Don't forget to put the Fire, Police and City Hall Open House on your calendar for next October (it usually falls on the first Saturday in October).
In regards to the World Series, our ball club the San Francisco Giants won't be there (back in 2016!) but it is shaping up to be a great series. As I write, it seems it may be a Mets-Royals World Series. Even though our Giants are not in it, October still brings the same excitement of a great Fall Classic with the World Series!
I still recall the special days in elementary school when the teacher would roll in the TV and set it up in front of the classroom to watch a few innings of the World Series. Baseball instead of Math, English, or History...Wow! What a treat and what an era! I have a vivid memory of watching the Dodgers and the Baltimore Orioles in my 4th grade classroom, while Sandy Kolfax and Jim Palmer battled it out. A great memory for me! Giants fans, you will be glad to remember that the Baltimore Orioles won that series from our rival LA Dodgers, sweeping the Dodgers 4 games to nil and shutting them out 3 of the 4 games.
Open House, World Series, "showing off" your classmates and school, it doesn't getter better than that. Enjoy the rest of October and I hope it is a classic!


Friday, October 2, 2015

Beacon Spotlight Awards

I am pleased to report that yesterday the City of Foster City received 4 Beacon Spotlight Awards from the Institute for Local Government. The Institute for Local Government promotes good government at the local level with practical, impartial and easy-to-use resources for California communities.  The Beacon Award Program is a statewide program recognizing cities and counties that are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save energy, and adopt policies and programs that promote sustainability. 

The City of Foster City received the following awards this year:

·         Platinum Level Award for 20% Agency Energy Savings Reductions

·         Gold Level Award for 13% Natural Gas Savings Reductions

·        Gold Level Award in Sustainability Best Practices (achieving at least three in each of 10 categories)

·         Silver Level Award for 8% Community Greenhouse Gas Reductions

What’s great about this award is that it recognizes Foster City’s many accomplishments in a wide variety of aspects of Environmental Sustainability.  Many people have seen the new solar panels at the Foster City Library/Community Center, but they may not know that our commitment to sustainability and energy savings goes well beyond that.

Here are just a few examples of Foster City’s sustainability activities which helped earn those awards:

·         Replaced all traffic and pedestrian signals and street lights with Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology.

·         Implemented energy efficiency upgrades for city buildings.

·       Reduced water consumption by installing low-flow toilets and state of the art irrigation systems, using drought tolerant plants and hardscape, and installing artificial turf in City parks.

·         Offers significant water conservation rebates for EMID customers.

·         Banned single-use carry-out plastic bags and polystyrene disposable food containers.

·         Sponsored community compost giveaways, electronics recycling, and paper shredding.

·         Installed solar voltaic panels at the public library / community center.

·         Purchased fuel efficient and alternate fuel vehicles for city fleet.

·        Took action to enable Foster City property owners to access Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing.

The Beacon Spotlight Award is a cumulative, on-going program and Foster City plans to continue to take actions and promote programs in sustainability until we achieve Platinum (or better!) in all four categories.
I could not be more proud of the City and its staff, its businesses and its residents for all you do to promote sustainability and a “green” way of life here in Foster City. Sustainability is very important, not only in Foster City, and we must continue to do our part by implementing policies and practices which promote sustainability.