We Work for....You!!
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We Work for....You!!
There is a fact……a little known fact I guess…. that your City Council works for you.

You, the residents voted for us to represent you and be your advocate on matters that pertain to you and your property and your quality of life.

The staff that works at City Hall has been educated in the administrative side of how to run a city. From our City Manager that oversees the staff to the Department Heads that oversee their departments. I have said so many times that I do not have a degree in public finance or public administration. When folks decide to run for city council they sometimes think that since they ran a million dollar company or ran a non-profit that they will be qualified to run this city. Nothing is further from the truth because if you care to look close at our budget process it does not in any way look like a budget you’ve ever seen.

We have funds designated for so many different needs that have restrictions as to how we may use them. It is up to the five of us to consider what is appropriate and will serve the needs of the majority of our residents.

I am setting the stage for the latest controversy……..

A resident was notified that her hedge was blocking the light from one of our newly installed LED streetlights and needed to be trimmed. She complied by trimming it back to the required amount.

The staff member, doing their job by the book, noticed some hedges in that area that also seemed a little too high. Code enforcers have a book of ordinances they follow and it IS an ordinance that hedges in Foster City be 40” or lower when located in the front yard. AND this is when it got a little too aggressive……letters were sent to 25 residents in neighborhood 1 to trim their hedges to that height. In a perfect world the code enforcement folks would have looked at the entire city and noticed it was an unrealistic request. Again, they were doing their job however….

What I wish would have happened next did not!!!

Those residents should have called me as the mayor or any council member, all our emails are on the website, to make us aware of this issue. This is where we step in as your advocate to address staff with your displeasure. Instead the neighbors united and the disappointment and anger grew stronger. By the time I heard from them and stopped by to meet them and take a look at the issue, it was almost too late but it WASN’T. These folks got to know their neighbors better as they discussed options and came to a council meeting under public comments to speak of their displeasure. We listened to their words and HEARD their message.

At the end of their speeches the city council decided to put this item on our next agenda where we can actually speak about it. Since it was not on the agenda we could really only listen. After we hear the staff report (maybe comparing our ordinance with other cities) at our April 1st meeting we will then give our opinions and direction. If the direction is to make changes to the ordinance, the next step would be to refer this issue to the planning commission as they are who would craft a revised ordinance. The public would be able to attend the planning commission meeting when this item would be heard. The agendas are listed online or email me. The new ordinance would then return to the City Council for the final decision.

A few residents abided by this letter even though unhappy about it and cut their 6’ hedges down to 40”…….enough said. I applaud them for complying however feel badly they are left with some unsightly hedges. By putting this on the next agenda all enforcement is on hold.

My point my dear residents is that our job is to advocate for you so when you are unhappy with a letter the city might send please let us help you. Our employees are doing their jobs albeit a little too by the book in this instance. We all live in this city and feel just as strongly as you do about our properties and the care we take to make them look beautiful.

I welcome your comments at pfrisella@fostercity.org.

Council Corner

March 27, 2013
We Work for....You!!
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