The Man Around Town! 02.25.15
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The Man Around Town! 02.25.15

Spring is in the air already and Sea Cloud Park is once again full of kids practicing baseball and softball. My walks and bike rides around town always include a stop at Sea Cloud Park or one of the other 20+ parks in Foster City. Our park system is one of the finest in California if not the country. Much hard work has been done over the years, by so many – but the guy responsible for pulling it all together has been Kevin Miller, our Director of Parks & Recreation. As many of you know, Kevin will become our new City Manager as of July 1, 2015. Each of us on City Council is excited for Kevin.

Update on Housing…

At the Feb 2 council meeting, the state-mandated Housing Element was discussed. This state law mandates that, "local governments adequately plan to meet the existing and projected housing needs of all economic segments of the community. The law acknowledges that, in order for the private market to adequately address housing needs and demand, local governments must adopt land use plans and regulatory systems which provide opportunities for, and do not unduly constrain, housing development" In order to meet the requirements, the Foster City Staff and Planning Commission presented their findings on locations where affordable housing units could be built with the least impact to the community. This was done by utilizing existing developed apartment sites that are already zoned for residential use. No recommendations were made to include any current non-residential sites to meet the housing requirements. The council voted 3-2 to accept their recommendations.

Councilmen Perez and Bronitsky who did not vote in favor of these recommendations, instead, offered up Mariners Point Golf Course as the location to concentrate all below market residential units (for the record, Foster City owns the land, but leases it back to Mariners Point). According to Councilman Perez (Foster City Islander February 18), Mayor Art Kiesel, Councilmen Steve Okamoto and I voted to add an additional 430 units to be built in Foster City. While the Housing Element requires we identify zones for additional housing, it does not require the housing be actually built in recognition that the sites are privately owned and subject to market conditions.

So is rezoning Mariners Point Golf Course the answer? First of all, it would remove a key recreational activity from the residents of Foster City with impact on our quality of life. Secondly, rezoning the golf course would add at least 430 housing units, if not more. Thirdly, housing at the Mariners Point site would create an isolated neighborhood and an additional traffic impact because the residents would need to travel through the intersections near Highway 92 to access the schools, parks and services that are located in the current residential neighborhoods. According to Councilman Perez, the Housing Element in its present form is a "detriment to the City." For the reasons stated above, an approved Housing Element with Mariners Point as the location to meet all affordable housing requirements would be even more detrimental to the City in my opinion. So the question we should be asking is, "Why would we want to rezone the golf course for housing?"

Many times I have stated that I believe in Managed Responsible Growth and I will continue to practice what I preach...I look forward to spirited engaging conversation with my colleagues, city staff and most importantly, you the residents!

Fun time was had earlier this month. My wife and I attended the Rotary Club & Lions BINGO plus spaghetti dinner that provides proceeds to our Police and Fire department. It was an honor to spend time with the folks from both organizations who do so much for our city and its youth.

In previous columns, I mentioned that in each of the next few council corners I would address one of four core elements of our city: Housing, Traffic, Education and Finance. So far, we have talked about Housing and Traffic. Today – let's go to school…

In my travels around town talking with residents, and via e-mails, I hear a consistent message – WE NEED MORE CLASSROOMS for our kids. As you know, Foster City elementary and middle school students are served by the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District (SMFC). This means that the district must take into account that any action taken can and usually does affect both San Mateo and Foster City. The school board members, who are elected by residents in both cities, have a tough job balancing the needs and educational concerns of two different cities. The school district is mandated to provide the education and facilities necessary for our students to succeed. I hope you agree with me that the number one task of any district is to provide the BEST education possible. We on the City Council can, when asked, work in cooperation to find potential solutions such as available land or other areas within our city to accommodate a school.

The performance of Foster City schools, including such metrics as API scores, reflects well on our community and the district. The superintendant, Dr. Cynthia Simms, has done a remarkable job navigating a road that was bumpy when she started more than four years ago. Most if not everyone who moves to Foster City, does so because of our schools and this is a key element to helping keep our home values where they are. If we do not resolve the school issues and families do not relocate to Foster City, then what might happen to our home values? We all have a vested interest in this issue, even if we are empty nesters.

Most of you have read about the NEXT STEPS group that is charged with working though the issues facing parents/students in both cities and determining how best to find solutions to overcrowding. Each of us should keep tabs on the current status of this group by going to their website – www.smfcsd.net and clicking on the NSC link.

If you wish to comment or share your thoughts, please contact me at gpollard@fostercity.org or 650-286-3505

Council Corner

February 25, 2015
The Man Around Town!

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