Atherton plans tighter right-of-way regulations


Atherton's current practice of allowing everything from wireless facilities to big rocks to be placed in the town's right-of-way should change, City Council members said at a study session on Feb. 4.

Council members said residents should help craft a new encroachment ordinance and the town should make sure everyone knows about the new regulations before starting enforcement.

The town began discussing the subject as a way to give residents of Parker Avenue, where the town has a 70-foot right-of-way, a formal way to use some of the town's property in front of their homes.

The town has also looked at the use of its right-of-way while exploring of ways of making the town safer for bikes and pedestrians.

In his report to the council, City Manager George Rodericks says private improvements on the town's property include "wireless facilities, fencing, walls, landscaping, mailboxes, security panels, pathways, pavement, stepping stones, large drainage facilities, rocks, and/or lumber barriers."

"Because they are essentially unregulated, the private improvements place the town at considerable risk," he says.

The proposed regulations would allow "revocable permits" for objects in the right-of-way. Council members said it will be important to enforce the regulations, such as those that currently say fences can't be more than 3 feet tall near an intersection, or that gate keypads and intercoms, logs and rocks must all be at least 6 feet from the pavement edge.

"I think this is way overdue," said council member Elizabeth Lewis. "It's a big task that we are undertaking."

City Attorney William Conners said that the council might consider an amortization period for items that aren't safety hazards, allowing non-conforming items to remain for a set period of time.

Council members will form an ad hoc committee to decide how to publicize the new regulations once a draft has been crafted.

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Like this comment
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 10, 2015 at 12:34 pm

You will esentially require a huge number of residents to move keypads, intercoms, and mailboxes back 6'. What about all the trees that are within 6' of the pavement. Some are inches away from pavement...
Will the town remove them ? Uh, no.

While bikers and pedestrians have a right to use the road, try getting them off the pavement. Won't happen. I'm all for safety, but lets start with getting pedestrians to use the left side of the road.

BTW, USPS guidelines for mailboxes is 8" off the road.

Let the absurdity begin..

1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 10, 2015 at 1:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Mailboxes, whose location IS governed by USPS regulations, will not be impacted by the proposed ordinance.

Like this comment
Posted by Jim
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 10, 2015 at 2:49 pm

This is outstanding. Now we can force or neighbors to rip out all of that beautiful landscaping that they have invested so heavily in so that we can get back that tobacco road look that we admire so much.

Like this comment
Posted by NIMBY
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 10, 2015 at 2:58 pm

I'll be damned if I will have someone else's workers park in front of MY estate. Time for a recall.

1 person likes this
Posted by Carol
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Feb 10, 2015 at 6:29 pm

It's about time the Town did something about people blocking the right of way in front of their "estates" to prevent people from parking off the pavement. Logs, rocks, stepping stones and "No Parking" signs are not neighborly and only narrow the roadway worse than it is now in some instances.

Like this comment
Posted by Liability
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 10, 2015 at 9:28 pm

I think it's about liability especially living in a litigious state like California (which doesn't faze me, California is still the absolute best place to live). I believe the town must officially pass measures that help comply with potential legal issues by the resident or visitor to Atherton who may be injured due to an obstruction. Although a previous poster wrote accurately about the USPS regulations for mailboxes, I have lived in a prior community in a different state where they banned brick or stone built up mailboxes because of the risk if a wayward car were to hit it, causing serious injury. All the mailboxes had to be wood post based. Many people ignored the ordinance, but at least the city was making its position clear and keeping clear of potential lawsuits. I think the same could be said for some of the landscaping.

I would be surprised if the town would ever be able to enforce this on existing "violations" -it's probably just going to be a requirement for new construction or new landscaping to the extent that requires permits from town. Already, even driveways and curbs related to new construction need to be approved in advance by public works before a final occupancy permit is granted.

As a tax payer like all of you, i am happy if the town goes through steps to avoid using our taxpayer dollars to defend against frivolous lawsuits if such a measure is not passed and people are injured and decide to sue.

In recent years, from what I can see, the elected officials of Atherton have been very mindful of fiscal spending and I believe they will continue to be good stewards of taxpayer money and leave residents to largely live in peace (just like they themselves want to be treated).

Like this comment
Posted by Walkers
a resident of another community
on Feb 12, 2015 at 5:11 pm

Memberone, pedestrians are required to walk facing traffic, not on the left side of the road.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 12, 2015 at 7:55 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.


it's not "required" it's suggested.

Like this comment
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 13, 2015 at 1:28 pm

Walkers, the left side of the road IS facing traffic and thank you Menlo Voter, while it is not required, it is not the way to live a long happy life by challenging common sense.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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