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

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

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:

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 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 or find out how you may become a borrower at

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: 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 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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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 – Foster City micro-lending program and two new websites. The first new website is, a connection portal linking anyone travelling in and out of Foster City with the myriad of transportation alternatives available. 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!"