Monthly Archives

March 2015

Community Development

Community Development Department Management Audit Update

Progress Made. Improvements focusing on increased staffing, technology and customer service have been implemented since the completion of the management audit.

In April 2014, the City Council approved the Community Development Department (CDD) Management Audit Implementation Roadmap, which identified 224 prioritized recommendations from the Zucker Systems audit conducted in 2013.  The recommendations focused on ways to improve the Department in areas such as public counter space, public noticing processes, customer service, staffing levels, and processes related to development and building projects.

One year later significant progress has been made by increasing staffing levels, focusing on technology improvements, and developing a plan to redesign the CDD public counter and user experience at City Hall.  Highlights of the improvements that have occurred or are in the works include:

Increased Staffing 

DRB MeetingIncreasing staffing levels and bringing CDD’s capacity back to pre-recession levels was a key recommendation of the Management Audit.  It identified several key positions that would allow the department to achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction and improved levels of service.  The majority of the positions including the Community Development Director, critical positions in the Planning and Building Divisions as well as areas of administrative support have been filled.

CDD staff continues to work with the Human Resources Department to recruit for additional plan check and inspector positions in Building and is developing a strategy to create a stand-alone Code Enforcement Division.

Technology Improvements 

Customer ServiceCDD has been working towards the implementation of EnerGov, an online software system that will help to streamline the permitting process for many functions within Community Development and other related departments.  Many of the audit recommendations are related to the launch of this system.  The EnerGov system is on target to go live this spring. With its launch, many of the technology related will also be implemented.

 

Public Counter Enhancements

Planning CounterImproving the user experience at City Hall is another significant project that was identified as a recommendation in the audit. This summer, the City will begin a redesign of the CDD public counter in the City Hall Atrium.  The renovation will provide for greater customer service, improved accessibility, and an overall more positive experience when visiting Community Development. Design features include: more counter space, flexible seating and meeting room at the Counter, and a staffed Welcome Center for all members of the public visiting City Hall.

Office space is also being redesigned to accommodate the expansion of CDD and the return of the Parks and Recreation staff to City Hall. This project is in the final planning and design stages and is targeted for a late summer completion.

Please visit the City’s website for more information about the progress being made on the implementation of the Management Audit.

Community Events

Unlimited Possibilities @Your Library

Celebrate National Library Week April 12-18 with the San Mateo Public Library

During National Library Week, the San Mateo Public Library has created an exciting program featuring a series of hands-on workshops and community art projects to celebrate this year’s theme of Unlimited Possibilities!  To connect with your library and explore the limitless bounds of your imagination, you’ll want to attend any number of these workshops that encourage community members to discover and learn.  This is only a sampling of the fun activities you can do! Visit the full event listing for more information.

Tote Bag

Additionally, several community art projects will be ongoing throughout the week to foster stronger connections with the library and a sense of creativity. Visitors will have an opportunity to share via a community board how the library has made an impact in their life and helped them create possibilities. In the lobby, there will be boards where community members can participate in creating a visual rendering of the Library’s tagline – “Discover, Enjoy, Connect, & Learn” using string art. Throughout the library, there will be instructions on how to take a work or study break and participate in a creative endeavor, such as drawing zentangles or weaving a CD. These pieces will then be put on display in the library.

There will be activities for all ages (including adults!). No RSVP is required – workshops are first come, first served and all events are free. There will be multiple opportunities to win prizes for visiting the library during National Library Week – drawings at each workshop and a grand prize for participating in our community board. Grand prizes include tickets to the upcoming MakerFaire in San Mateo and more.

Plan to visit the Library from April 12th through 18th with your family and friends and help spread the word!  Like and follow the San Mateo Public Library on Facebook for the latest information on National Library Week.

City Council, Downtown, Sustainability

Downtown San Mateo slated for installation of two DC Fast Chargers

DC Fast Charger_02San Mateo City Council approves public/private partnership to install the first publicly available EV charging stations in Downtown San Mateo.

Expanding the use of Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers throughout San Mateo is a priority of the San Mateo City Council and a goal identified in the Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. On Monday, March 16th the San Mateo City Council approved an agreement to install the first publicly available charging stations in the Downtown.

Through a unique partnership between the City of San Mateo and NRG eVgo, San Mateo is the first city in Northern California to install a Freedom Station® on public property. A Freedom Station® site provides multiple EV charging stations including two Level 2 charging stations as well as two DC Fast Chargers that can charge a car in 30-minutes or less.

“Installing the Freedom Station® is the first step in a greater initiative to make EV charging stations widely and readily available throughout San Mateo,” said Joe Goethals, San Mateo City Councilmember. “This is only the beginning and I’m looking forward to the installation of these and other stations throughout the community.”

The DC Fast Chargers are coveted among electric vehicle car owners. In the time it takes to have a quick lunch or run an errand an EV is fully charged and back on the road. The installation of these lightening quick chargers will differentiate San Mateo from other communities and will make Downtown San Mateo a sought-after destination for EV drivers. Additionally, the installation of the charging stations will showcase the City’s commitment to sustainable transportation, will promote alternative energies and expose new visitors to the Downtown.

NRG eVgo’s investment in San Mateo is part of the company’s larger plan to develop a network of EV charging stations from San Diego to Seattle. This network of electric vehicle infrastructure is rapidly expanding throughout the State and across the nation. There are currently more than 120 NRG eVgo Fast Chargers in California, which includes 30 Freedom Station® sites in the San Francisco Bay Area at numerous retail locations as well as 16 stand-alone stations at Nissan dealers.

Downtown San Mateo is desirable to NRG eVgo for its proximity to Highway 101, shopping and dining amenities and is a strategic location of the overall network throughout California. San Mateo is excited to be part of this network and to be one of the first communities to offer a Freedom Station® on public property.

“NRG eVgo is excited to partner with San Mateo to add to our growing fleet of fast charging stations in Northern California,” said Terry O’Day, Vice President of Development for EV infrastructure in California. “This station has the capability to charge any EV or plugin hybrid and is located in a perfect area to meet the needs of all EV drivers.”

The installation of EV charging stations will expand the City’s use of electric vehicle charging stations on public property and is a greenhouse gas emission reduction strategy in the City’s Climate Action Plan. The Freedom Station® will be installed this summer and will utilize five spaces at the Downtown Transit Center. NRG eVgo is installing and operating the EV chargers at no cost to the City. The City is also exploring the possibility of installing additional Level 2 charges at the Central Parking Garage, San Mateo Main Library and City Hall. For more information please visit the sustainability pages of the City’s website.

“Electric vehicles are both more fun to drive and cost less to run than conventional vehicles. And with the new eVgo fast-charge stations, the choice to go EV is even easier and more convenient,” says Rafael Reyes, Chair of the City of San Mateo Sustainability Commission and EV driver. “Having them downtown will give EV drivers throughout the region yet another reason to visit San Mateo.”

Downtown

Attend the first Downtown Future Forums. A key component of the Downtown Engagement Process

San Mateo Downtown EngagementDowntown 2050: How social and economic trends are re-shaping the future of downtowns

We are excited to introduce the first in the series of San Mateo Downtown Future Forums on Wednesday, April 1st from 6-7:30pm at the San Mateo Public Library. The forums are a key component of the San Mateo Downtown Engagement process, leading to an update of the City’s Downtown Area Plan later this year. This kick-off event will focus on the direction of regional social and economic development and how downtowns are responding to them (e.g., by balancing development activity with the need for a diverse range of housing, office space, retail, community-oriented amenities, and parking).

The discussion will include an overview of emerging socio-demographic trends impacting downtowns, followed by a panel discussion with local representatives from cities around the Bay Area who are leading Downtown initiatives. The format of the forum will be designed to encourage community feedback, interaction and discussion. We hope you can attend!

B Street Books 2

The Future Forums is one of several ways to participate in the Downtown Engagement strategy. Share your thoughts and be part of the process by visiting the Downtown Engagement website for more information, join the online conversation at San Mateo Town Hall, and visit us at Central Park on Saturday, March 21st to participate in a Pop-up Workshop. We want to hear from you!

Community, Downtown

Help Make Downtown Sparkle and Shine!

DSMA CleanUp LogoVolunteer during the Third Annual Downtown Spring CleanUp.

The Downtown San Mateo Association is partnering with the City of San Mateo and local businesses to host its 3rd Annual San Mateo Downtown Spring Cleanup.

Come join us on April 18, 2015 from 8:30 AM to Noon, for the Downtown Spring CleanUp.  200 volunteers are needed to assist in removal of graffiti, sweeping, litter pick-up, weeding, and painting.  We need your help to keep our Downtown clean and beautiful.

Volunteers of all ages are welcome at this annual community event. Cleaning supplies and Downtown Spring CleanUp Volunteer T-shirts will be provided. This event is limited to 200 volunteers this year.  Everyone participating will need to go online to secure and print their FREE Spring CleanUp Volunteer Registration Pass before the event.

Simply visit www.cityofsanmateo.org/volunteer to sign up for your Spring CleanUp Volunteer Registration Pass in advance of the event.  IMPORTANT: Be sure to bring your CleanUp Volunteer Registration Pass to the Check-in Table on April 18th.

Volunteers will meet at the  Central Park Entrance off 5th Avenue near the the baseball field and split into teams to accomplish projects in various locations around the Downtown. The event ends with a Thank You BBQ for volunteers in Central Park. We look forward to your support for this event.

City Council

Three components of a successful Goal Setting Meeting

Goal Setting Session_01The City Council held its annual Planning/Goal Setting Meeting on Wednesday, February 25th where the City Council received an update on the City’s financial condition as well as information about capital and infrastructure needs.  Additionally, the Council was able to discuss priorities for the coming fiscal year and community members were able to share their ideas during the public comment period.  These components all led to a successful meeting focusing on transparency, future needs, and dialogue.

 Transparency

The meeting began with an informative and in-depth discussion about the factors that will influence the City’s finances down the road. The City has a stable financial position at this time with anticipated $4.1M in additional revenue expected for this current fiscal year.  The City has also achieved its policy goal of establishing an emergency reserve of three months (25%) of operating expenses totaling approximately $23M.

However, the seven year-forecast presented at the meeting shows that changes in both revenues and expenses could impact this period of stability. Solutions to address the following factors will need to be identified.

  • The expiration of Measure L, the 1/4-cent temporary sales tax approved by voters in 2009, is on the horizon.
  • In recent years the City has negotiated significant changes in benefit cost sharing with employees, however increased employee pension costs required to eliminate unfunded pension liabilities will have a significant impact on the City’s budget in the near future.
  • The need to fund significant investment in the City’s infrastructure is another significant factor that will place pressure on the City’s General Fund and will likely require identification of a new revenue source.

In addition to sharing this information at the meeting, City staff is working to identify alternatives to address these future challenges as part of the City’s financial planning process.

Future Needs

The City is developing a comprehensive Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for the first time that will identify the City’s significant infrastructure needs.  More than 170 projects have been currently identified in a number of categories including: streets, parks and recreation centers, sewer and wastewater systems, storm drains, bicycle and pedestrian pathway, and other City facilities. A complete list of the infrastructure needs as well as recommended projects in next year’s proposed budget will be presented to Council this spring.  Many projects currently do not have an identified funding source; however, the purpose of the CIP program is to illustrate the magnitude of the City’s capital needs and to identify what is needed to maintain and enhance this vital infrastructure to support the community.

Dialogue 

Goal Setting Session__04Communication is the keystone of all successful relationships. Creating opportunities for the San Mateo community to have an ongoing dialogue with the City Council and City officials helps build effective relationships with our residents and businesses. The Planning/Goal Setting Meeting provided a great opportunity to share ideas and suggestions with the Council. Twenty-seven speakers, each representing different segments of the community, attended the meeting and presented a variety of interests ranging from sustainability, social equity, transportation, smoking bans, and opportunities for community building. Many of these ideas were related to Council’s list of priorities, which includes nine new initiatives that will be incorporated into the City’s 2015-16 work plan.

With these three factors in mind, the Council Planning/Goal Setting Meeting was a success.  It created a lively dialogue while sharing important information about the City’s financial condition and future capital needs. Effective communication, transparency, and creating awareness about the future will help to establish an effective relationship with our community.  We encourage you to share this information and join the conversation.

Hello My Name Is Concept
City Council, Community

Community Spotlight

New Council agenda item gives community members a chance to say, “Hello”

Are you a new resident? Have you recently opened a business in San Mateo? Have you taken on a new role as a community leader? Or would you just like to introduce yourself to the City Council.  Mayor Maureen Freschet is adding a new item to Council’s agenda.  The new “Community Spotlight” is an invitation for interested community members to say “hello” and become acquainted with City Hall and the Council.

“San Mateo is continually becoming home for new businesses, new residents and new community leaders,” says Mayor Freschet. “My intent is to create a forum where members of our community can introduce themselves and connect with their City Council members.”

The Community Spotlight will be held during the first Council meeting of the month (City Council meetings take place the first and third Monday of the month and begin at 7:00 PM). This is an opportunity for interested community members to share a little about who you are and what brought you to San Mateo.  For more information please contact San Mateo City Clerk, Patrice Olds.