Your Man Around Town!!
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Your Man Around Town!!

On May 30th and 31st, the annual Foster City Arts & Wine Festival was in full swing. The weather was typical Foster City – sunny and a light wind, with just a few perfectly scattered clouds! (Maybe I should be a weather person??) My wife and I volunteered at the Village booth, selling glasses and drink tickets. It was nice to see so many residents and non-residents enjoying what I feel was one of the best ever Arts & Wine events ever. Kudos to our Foster City Chamber of Commerce for a job well done!

Also in the news…Bowditch Middle School gave a project to some kids in the 6th grade. (Earthquake Home Safety) I was called to be interviewed about emergency preparations that Foster City has in place. This is a great topic for a 6th grader, but even more important for every resident of Foster City. Each and every one of us needs to be prepared and understand what to do when an emergency occurs.

I contacted Jenelle Masterson, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the Foster City Fire Department to answer a few questions.

1)  Does Foster City have designated housing or emergency shelters? If so, where and how many?

In a catastrophic event such as an earthquake, our potential emergency shelter sites include our city facilities such as the Recreation Center or the Vibe. If additional facilities are needed, we would then reach out to the schools, and then private organizations with appropriate shelter space. It is important to keep in mind that while we have a prioritized list of potential shelter sites, those locations are not highly publicized to our citizens for the following reasons: 1-Before a site can be opened as a shelter post-earthquake, it must be inspected by engineers and determined to be safe for occupancy. We would not want to endanger our citizens while they attempt to self evacuate to a facility that may be found to be unsound. 2-Even if a facility is structurally sound and safe for occupancy, conditions in the area, such as broken gas lines, roadway obstructions, or hazardous materials spills, may make that particular site a poor choice for evacuees. 3-If individuals begin evacuating to a site before it is open and prepared to take on evacuees, logistical problems may occur due to the hindrance of access of needed staff, volunteers or supplies due to crowds or blocked roadways. 4-Depending on the disaster and resources of our entire Operational Area, our city may not be able to staff a local shelter, but may need to assist in the transport of our residents to a larger regional shelter, such as was used in the December 11, 2014 storm when Belmont residents were relocated at the College of San Mateo.

I would like to let you know that sheltering is a topic identified by emergency managers across the County and within the San Mateo Emergency Managers Association Care and Shelter Working Group, of which I am a member. In these forums, all cities, the American Red Cross and the County Office of Emergency Services come together to create plans and strategies for coping with what will inevitably be a challenge across our region during a catastrophic earthquake.

2)  Does Foster City have or provide emergency food/water rations?

Our city has Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) and water to sustain our staff during an EOC activation and for our disaster service workers in the field as they provide services during the initial disaster response. At this time, our city does not have the resources on hand to distribute food and water to citizens. It is for this reason that we encourage our citizens to have enough food and water supplies for their families to be self sufficient for a minimum of 72 hours. Our city has many resources on emergency preparedness located on our website Other great resources for preparedness information include or Community members may also stop by the Fire Administration Office at 1040 E. Hillsdale Blvd. to pick up printed copies of the resources and checklists located on our website. Another fantastic way for Foster City Residents to learn how to be prepared is by taking our Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training. The CERT Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area, and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. Our next class will begin on September 2, 2015, and folks can learn more about the program by visiting

3)  What is the current evacuation plan?

Our police department is the primary agency responsible for evacuation, and they will utilize routes throughout our city that are safe and available following a disaster. Again, our plans are intended to be flexible depending upon the conditions of the disaster. In a disaster, evacuation routes will be coordinated by members of the EOC staff in the Planning Section based on the information on roadway availability provided by the Operations Section. Another item to note is that sometimes sheltering in place is the best course of action following a disaster, so that roadways can be kept clear for first responders to respond to high priority incidents in our city. Please refer again to the resources above for information on how to plan for your family to be self sufficient for at least 72 hours, which would include a shelter-in-place scenario.

4)  What is FC public warning system and how is it managed?

Our city has a number of ways to communicate with our community in an emergency. One of the methods is the Telephone Emergency Notification System (TENS), commonly known as "Reverse 911." This system is effective for individuals and businesses with landline phones. Another method is through SMCAlert (, a system that allows folks to self-register an unlimited number of home phone lines, mobile phone lines and email addresses. Foster City also broadcasts emergency information on the radio on 1680AM. Our city is also fortunate to have a number of Amateur Radio Operators that will broadcast over HAM frequency 147.570 MHz.Emergency information will be broadcast over Foster City TV on Channel 27. Alerts will also be broadcast on the city's marquee, website, and social media pages. Emergency information will also be broadcast through other traditional media such as FM radio and TV when appropriate or available. Another method is to have public safety personnel and/or activated CERT teams provide notifications by canvassing neighborhoods street by street in situations where technologies are not available or not appropriate for the disaster situation. In a catastrophic event, it is unknown what communication methods will be available, and some public warnings and messaging will be coordinated in the field by our first responders in situations with immediate life threats. Otherwise, public messaging and warnings will be coordinated in our EOC by our City's Public Information Officer and Director of Emergency Services. In regional events, a Joint Information Center (JIC) may be established to co-locate representatives from cities throughout our area, and public messaging may be coordinated at this level.

Here is my plug for Foster City CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) – Join the next class and be part of what over hundreds of your fellow citizens have done to help our community be prepared. Yours truly did – so why not you? The next class begins September 2 and registration ends August 26, 2015. Visit

Each year, the Leadership program of San Mateo, Foster City and Hillsborough, holds a ten month program that includes topics such as Education, Business, Safety, Arts and Housing - to name a few. Many of our elected officials and community partners have graduated from this program. On June 16th, the current class will graduate and we will be congratulating Foster City’s own, Sam Hindi, Chair of the Board for Foster City Chamber of Commerce, Charles Tomberg, member of the Park & Recreations Committee and Marah Curry, member of our Foster City Chamber of Commerce.

In closing, this will be my last Council Corner with Jim Hardy as our City Manager. From the minute I considered running for a seat on the council, I met with Jim on numerous occasions. His expertise and leadership taught me how to best prepare for what I was about to undertake as a representative of the people of Foster City. Since then, Jim has shown constant guidance and passion for our city. His love of Foster City is reflected in the staff we have and the tireless work they all do. My family wishes the Hardy Family all the best as they begin a new and exciting chapter.

Help us continue to enjoy what is now known as work, play and live in Foster City.

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

Council Corner

June 10, 2015
Your Man Around Town!

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