Key Issues for Atherton Residents
I strongly feel we need to develop a solid housing plan, respecting the values laid out in our General Plan so that we can manage the growth of the Town as it pertains to the State’s current and future housing requirements. That is what I call "Our Way". You may have seen a number of news articles on this lately. While residents are considering the development of ADU’s (Auxiliary Dwelling Units) and SB9 lot splits, there are other areas which also need to be reviewed. Residents have been made aware of this issue and want to participate in developing plans for both the coming State mandated 8-year development cycle as well as the next one. Student and Faculty housing for our public and private schools and College and housing of Water District employees at the reservoir area are also keys to meeting our targeted growth plans. This needs to be properly managed so as not in impact our quiet neighborhoods. Many of our schools have land, internal to their campuses that could be intelligently developed to support their growth. However it will be necessary not to adversely impact neighboring communities. I have listened to and responded to every resident letter I have received on this subject as well as others. All those resident emails are all thoughtful and express willingness to assist. I say, more ideas will help us craft a solution we can all live with.
Resident safety, be it at their home or while on our roads driving, biking or as a pedestrian has always been at the forefront of my focus. Our residents should both be safe and feel safe. Over the years, our Chief has hired excellent local policemen and we need to keep them funded with the tools to assist all residents. I am pushing for technology additions which will improve our police response times, as I believe one burglary is too many and we need to solve cases. More traffic patrols are necessary to keep speeding down. Furthermore, more funding is necessary to mitigate traffic and speeds, especially the cut thru traffic we experience and which results in congestion, pollution, noise and make our streets more dangerous. I have worked hard to get funding for streets as well as Bike and Pedestrian ways. As the lead Council member on the development of the Town’s Bike/Ped Master Plan, developing safe routes to school and key bike lanes and pedestrian ways is a passion of mine. Finally, as a member of our Disaster Response team and a trained community emergency response volunteer, I will continue to ensure the Town continually funds assets and programs to support our Town in preparation of or during an emergency or disaster. I fully support our Police as well as our Fire Department. Both are well staffed with excellent leadership.
As always, money plays a big part of this, for without proper funding, nothing can be done. Since my first day on the Council, I have been fully focused on ensuring our Town is well run. This includes operation with continued surpluses. To do this I pushed for the restructuring of our Town Staff, revamped our benefit plans, moved Atherton (during my first term as Mayor) from deficit spending to net positive, and supported paying down our long-term liabilities (pension and other post-retirement benefits). We did all this, while still keeping our streets in good shape, improving our park, and funding our Police Department. We need to continue strong fiscal management.
Our work on the Housing Element was not communicated well enough to get timely resident attention, based on the feedback. I know we can do better. Over my terms, the Town has substantially improved its outreach to residents through the use of technology, including social media. The Town has revamped its website, developed tools to allow searching and drilling down on budgets and plans. Additionally, the recent See/Click/Fix tool has improved the responsiveness of Town Staff in addressing issues. While mailers and emails do go out to residents regularly, they do not seem to gain the attention of our residents so they can be both informed and involved, if they so choose. I will push the Town to examine Best Practices to set a course to better inform and engage residents.