Happy New Year to you all.
This week’s Foster City Islander contains a very long article entitled “The Year in Review.” I have no interest in antagonizing anyone, but there are a few significant factual errors in the article and so I think it is important to the residents and businesses of Foster City to set the record straight.
The Gatekeeper Ordinance Was Not The Result Of Any Dissatisfaction with the Planning Commission – In 2014 we passed a law that provides for a public hearing before the City Council for any project that would require a change in zoning or land use designation. I can say with absolute certainty that the reason for the ordinance was not any dissatisfaction with the Planning Commission. The reason for the ordinance was to provide a way for the public and the City Council to weigh in on significant land use changes as the first step in the process rather than after the property owner has invested large amounts of money and time. As the primary advocate for this process I can tell you that I heard from many people who felt that by the time a new project came to the Council, they felt it was a “done deal.” By flipping the process on its head and starting with a public hearing, we gave the public and the City Council a chance to really have their opions heard. In just a few months this year, we heard five projects and the public was very strong in turning out and giving us their opinion. The Council now understands how the residents of Foster City feel about further housing development and can act accordingly. A major success I would say.
Sustainable Foster City Is Not Dead – In February of 2014 the City Council unanimously approved the Sustainable Foster City Economic Development Plan. It is the first economic development plan ever considered or passed in Foster City. It was the result of two years work by a committee of eight, including myself, Councilmember Herb Perez, and City Manager Jim Hardy. Because it was our first economic development plan we wanted to start modestly and the proposal was to hire the Foster City Chamber of Commerce to do much of the intial legwork. When the proposal to fund that effort came before the Council in March, some felt that there was not sufficient details to understand what the City would be getting from the Chamber so the funding was, by a 3 – 2 vote, not approved. However, the Plan itself is still in place and this year I expect there will be studies done to come up with an alternative implementation stategy, likely the hiring of an economic development director or manager. The Plan however, can be seen alive and moving forward on a daily basis in much of what we are doing. It is in our Climate Action Plan, It is in the new solar panels going onto the library roof. It is in the solar plans and programs that are being implemented with Foster City as the lead but on a County-wide basis. It is in the consideration of loans to HOAs to provide separate water meters to each unit. It is going on all around us and so long as I sit on the Council it will never be dead.
There Is No Brain Drain – When I first started my tenure on the City Council all of the then-current deparment heads were people who had been working for Foster City for decades. Between 2009 and 2013 (prior to 2014) we replaced the Development Director, Public Works Director, Police Chief, Fire Chief, Assistant City Manager, Finance Director, and City Clerk. Last year, 2014, we lost our Assistant City Manger, who went to Milbrae and is now moving out of State and our Public Works Director, who was on the job for only about eighteen months. Yes, that is a lot of key people to replace, but it was not something that started in 2014 and our City Manager, Jim Hardy, has managed the transitions so that to most residents and businesses they are invisible. Our staff continues to provide stellar service in a friendly manner and I do not see that changing ever.