The 40-Year Plan
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The 40-Year Plan

Some say that it is simply not possible to plan 40 years in the future because who knows what the future holds. I disagree. While you cannot plan for 40 years from now like it is next year or even five years away, you can set goals you want to reach and then plan to reach those goals with a plan that changes as times change. That is a 40-year plan. Many told President Kennedy that his promise to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s with technology that had not been invented yet was folly. But the fact is that we put a man on the moon and we can reach more modest goals right here in Foster City, but only if we plan for them.

My 40-year plan for Foster City can be summed up in one word - diversification. We need to strive for economic, environmental and social diversification. We can start today by taking leadership roles in each of these three areas.

I have written and spoken about economic diversity many times. For Foster City it means less reliance on property tax as our major source of revenue. If we plan to have property tax be 1/3 of our revenue in 40 years that becomes our goal and we can move towards that goal today and revise the ways we reach it as economics and times change. For today it means to continue to invest in our City by offering incentives that bring businesses into Foster City that generate sales tax. We have done that recently and we should continue to look at businesses that we can bring into our City and generate such revenue.

Another area where we are not sufficiently diversified is in our environment. Today we rely on one source of water and primarily one source of electricity. If we set a 40-year goal of reducing our reliance on the current water supply and PG&E supplied electricity in half, we can work today and continue into the future to meet those goals. Today we are looking at adding a source of recycled water from the new wastewater treatment plant that we will be building with San Mateo. We can also look at partnering with Redwood City to get recycled water from their wastewater treatment plant in Redwood Shores. Desalinization might be something we look at regionally in the future as we see over time how we are meeting our goals.

Electricity supply diversification starts today in Foster City with solar programs. We have added solar panels to our library and will be looking at other City facilities where solar makes sense. We have rolled out some incentive plans for residential solar and I have made a number of recommendations for plans and programs that will incentivize solar for multi-family and commercial buildings. Wind power might be an option that we could look at on a long term basis as anyone who has lived here for any length of time knows that we have plenty of wind. New battery technology will be developed, new energy sources will be invented and if our plan is to diversify we can look at implementing these technologies as they come to be.

Social diversification is already somewhat a fait accompli for Foster City. We have a very ethnically diverse population and we need to encourage diverse amenities in our City that are geared towards those cultures. Assimilation, it is often argued, is the solution, but growth, flexibility and a willingness to look at something different not necessarily as something bad but simply as different, something that once understood can be enjoyed or even cherished. Residential outreach, making our residents more a part of our decision making process is the way to reach that goal, the way to ensure that the plan we are making for our future is a plan for the future, rather than a return to a past that no longer exists.

40 years is a long time, but if we have goals to reach when we get there, we know that we will have the City we want, the City we want for our children, when that day comes. These are just a few of my ideas but I urge you to share your ideas with me as I am hopeful that early next year, when our new City Council is seated, that one of the first things we do is to start to work on our 40-year plan. I am very excited to be part of that effort and I hope you will be too.

As always, the best way to reach me is email

Council Corner

August 12, 2015
The 40-Year Plan

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