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Wednesday: El Camino safety, basement rules on Atherton council agenda

 

Public hearings on changes to the town's basement and special events ordinances, and an update on efforts to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety on El Camino Real, are on the Atherton City Council's agenda for its Wednesday, July 15, meeting.

The meeting is set to begin at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at 94 Ashfield Road, in the Town Center. It will follow a 6:30 closed-session meeting pertaining to a performance evaluation of the city manager.

The changes to the special events ordinance would require those hosting special events to pay for any police, public works or other services required by the event, as well as the costs for issuing a permit.

Town officials decided that the changes were needed after the town was left with $8,000 in bills for services required in 2013 when President Obama came to town for a fundraiser. There was no law on the books that would require the event's hosts to reimburse the town, and the town's requests for repayment were denied.

Under the ordinance, a $75 permit would be required for all special events held in the public right-of-way, such as road races, walks and bicycle rides. Permits would also be required for special events on private property if held over the course of two or more consecutive days and members of the public are invited. These would include fundraisers, antique shows, house and garden tours, concerts and others.

A permit would also be required for any special event "that requires the assistance of the town for traffic control, public safety services, extraordinary parking control measures, waiver of any local, state, or federal ordinance, or other mitigation measures arising from the special event."

The ordinance will provide"a mechanism for the town to seek reimbursement for events that require the use of town resources," according to the staff report.

The ordinance would go into effect 30 days after approval -- which means the planned Aug. 5 visit to Atherton by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won't be affected by it.

In general, events held at private or public schools and at venues such as the Menlo Circus Club won't require a permit, the report says.

Basements

The town will introduce amendments to its basement regulations recommended by the Planning Commission. The proposed changes include a small reduction in the amount of allowable building area for a basement when the basement extends beyond the first floor of the main building. The change would reduce the allowable building area from the current 130 percent of the total floor area of the first floor to 120 percent.

The other proposed changes shift review and approval authority from the Planning Commission to administrative staff under certain circumstances. For example, minor extensions of basement area beyond the first floor of the residence must now be approved by the commission but would, under the amended ordinance, be handled administratively.

Other building plans that would be approved administratively under the changes include specified situations involving basements beneath accessory buildings when the construction would not impact adjacent properties, according to the staff report.

El Camino Real safety

The council will also get an update on plans to increase safety for bicyclists and pedestrians traversing El Camino Real. The roadway has been the site of numerous collisions between cars and those on foot or bicycles, and the town has been working closely with Caltrans to install pedestrian beacons at several crosswalks located at intersections with no traffic signals.

A staff report indicates that between January 2005 and May 31, 2015, there have been 20 collisions involving bicyclists, and six involving pedestrians. Four of the accidents were fatal. Since May 31, however, one more fatal accident has occurred. Last month a Menlo Park woman was killed walking in or near the crosswalk at Alejandra Avenue and El Camino.

Caltrans plans to install two pedestrian beacons on El Camino -- at Alejandra and Isabella avenues -- but the measures are part of a countywide project that includes a total of 17 such installations. It's not known when the installations in Atherton will begin, but "it is likely that the beacons at Isabella and Alejandra avenues would not be operational until 2017," according to the staff report.

See the agenda for the meeting with links to staff reports.

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