Tonight: Atherton council has packed agenda

ECR stoplight, civic center, bike routes, PG&E's tree plans are all on agenda

Perhaps it's what they get for taking August off. The Atherton City Council has such a packed agenda for its Wednesday, Sept. 16, meeting that Mayor Rick DeGolia may have to break his vow to have all council meetings end at a reasonable hour while he's mayor.

The council will:

● Hear Pacific Gas & Electric representatives answer questions about the utility's plans to remove trees from its gas transmission line right-of-ways.

● Hold a public hearing on the final environmental report on the civic center master plan.

● Discuss plans for a pedestrian-controlled stoplight on El Camino Real at Almendral Avenue.

● Finalize plans for a set of new bike routes though the town.

● Consider a request by the Friends of Holbrook-Palmer Park to apply for a historic designation from the National Register of Historic Places for the park's carriage house and water tower.

Go to the town's website to see the agenda and 376 pages of supporting materials.

PG&E and trees

When PG&E representatives in July presented the Atherton council with plans to remove as many as 600 trees on 48 Atherton properties with gas transmission pipeline easements, council members got a bit defensive. They asked PG&E to return with more information and to put the promises made at the meeting in writing.

PG&E began its "community pipeline safety initiative" after it was ordered in April by the California Public Utilities Commission to put $850 million of shareholder funds into "gas transmission pipeline safety infrastructure improvements." In 2010, an explosion at a gas-transmission line in San Bruno killed eight people.

El Camino stoplight

Atherton has been pressing Caltrans, which has responsibility for El Camino Real, to make safety improvements for years after a number of serious and fatal pedestrian and bicyclist accidents on the state highway. Caltrans agreed to install two pedestrian-activated stoplights on El Camino at Isabella and Alejandra avenues. However, despite political pressure from the town, Caltrans does not plan to install the stoplights until 2017.

When 32-year-old Atherton resident Shahriar Rahimzadeh was fatally injured in July 2014 crossing El Camino at Almendral Avenue, the city decided to try something else: paying for the pedestrian-activated stoplight itself. This time the process is proceeding much more quickly. The town is expecting Caltrans to soon approve its plans and is preparing to go out to bid this fall.

The cost for the light may also prove less than the $330,000 the town had anticipated because the town is going to ask the Menlo Park Fire Protection District to pay part of the cost. The district has a station on Almendral Avenue and has said it would like to use the signal to allow emergency vehicles to more easily get through the intersection. City staff has recommended the district pay half the cost.

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2 people like this
Posted by Sludgey
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 15, 2015 at 12:14 pm

I'm really worried about how many trees Atherton and surrounding areas will lose when PGE and HSR get started with upgrades.
PGE I understand, but can we keep out lovely tree heritage and not remove unless absolutely necessary? I know many are falling due to the drought already, and falling limbs has become an issue.
I fear no one will stop on El Camino for pedestrians, even with lighted crossing areas as proposed.

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

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