The 40-Year Plan - The Reprise
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The 40-Year Plan - The Reprise
I have written about coming up with a long term plan for Foster City for years, the last time was back in August of 2015. Fortunately, I can finally say that I think we are making some progress. On January 25, we held our annual all-day visioning session with City Council and City Staff. Happily, there were more members of the public there than had ever attended before. I think that we are starting to make our outreach and challenges count and we are seeing more involvement. That is a great thing and I hope it continues. Anyway, I digress; the issue for me right now is the long term plan.

One of the things I did before our meeting was to meet with the Mayor and the City Manager and ask for a more long term financial project than the general 5-year projection we have routinely been using. So this time we looked at a 20-year projection. The news was good and bad. The good news is that we are currently relatively financially strong. We have increasing reserves and no current debt. We do have about $50 million in unfunded pension liability and about another $200 million in what we expect to be paying for the levees and the wastewater treatment plans. The preliminary cost estimate for the Levee Improvement Project is $75 million, while the preliminary cost estimate for Foster City's portion of the Wastewater Treatment Plant Project is $116 million. However, we have policies and plans in place to deal with those issues and you will be hearing lots more about the latter two in the not too distant future.

The bad news, however, was what I had always suspected, which is that even using optimistic projections, by more or less the end of the next 20 years, our expenses will exceed our income and we will be back in a deficit spending scenario. I think that we will experience that sooner than twenty years from now, but regardless of when it will happen, there is simply no longer denying that it will happen. Thus, as I have argued for some time now, we need a long term plan that deals with the long term sustainability of our City.

Now I am pleased to say that we have actually taken the first steps to coming up with that plan. We have started by restructuring how we will do business in a more proactive way. We came up with a short list of major issues such as Land Use, Transportation, Education, Economic Development, Infrastructure, Regional Involvement and Planning and assigned two Council Members to work with staff on coming up with a plan to analyze the immediate, mid-term and long-term issues on those subjects, as they relate to Foster City and to come back by mid-year with some data and recommendations on the next steps.

We also talked at length about outreach to our various stake-holders to involve them in the process of planning for the future. We discussed residential groups, HOA groups, business groups and the like that we would form for the purpose of educating people about Foster City, the needs for its future, the options we can look at, the impacts that will accompany what we do and the decision making process. We, as your Council, took a strong stand that we are going to lead by example; we are going to become more proactive in our outreach. We will expect no less of City Staff as well.

No one today knows what the next forty years holds for us. Just go back forty years, if you can, and see how different things were then than they are now. We can, however, say for some certainty, that the financial realities of the future make it incumbent on us to start planning today so that we are not taken by surprise and so that, above all else, we maintain both financial solvency and quality of life.

We want Foster City to be "THE" place to live, work and play and so we need a plan to make sure that it becomes what we want it to be. I am pleased that we are moving forward with that plan today and I look forward to meeting many more of you over the last two years of my term to hear what you think and what you want to see Foster City become.

There is an old curse that says "May you live in interesting times." Well, we certainly do and I do not feel cursed, I feel challenged and I am excited about our future. I hope you are too.

As always, the best way to reach me is email

Council Corner

February 03, 2016
The 40-Year Plan - The Reprise

City Hall - 610 Foster City Blvd.
Foster City, CA 94404
(650) 286-3200