Atherton approves plans for $37 million civic center

Measure allowing using more public money for complex will be on June ballot

Atherton is on schedule to start construction of a new civic center by the end of the year, but first it will ask voters to allow using more public money to pay the $37.3 million estimated cost of the complex, which will include a new library; a police station; and town administration, planning and building offices.

On Feb. 15, the Atherton City Council approved the final design of a new civic center and its $37.3 million cost estimate. Included in the cost is close to $15 million the town already has set aside for a new library and renovation and reuse of the historic council chambers building. The police station and the town administration, building and planning offices, plus a combined council chamber and emergency operations center, are estimated to cost an additional $22.3 million.

The estimates include money already spent on design of the new complex.

The council also agreed to put an advisory measure on the June 6 ballot that would allow the town to use money it already has in its coffers to help pay for the civic center.

In 2012, Atherton voters approved a measure that said donated funds should be the primary source paying for new town facilities. But Atherton Now, the group formed to raise money for the civic center, has raised far less than its goal of $25 million.

The June ballot measure will read: "Should the Town of Atherton supplement private donations with available non-dedicated General Funds to meet the funding shortfall, where one exists, for construction of the new Town Center?"

The measure would not allow any new taxes to pay for the civic center, but would allow the town to borrow money to pay for construction and repay it from the general funds.

Council members still hope the town will raise the needed money with donations.

Drone ordinance

The council also gave preliminary approval to an ordinance that will control hobby use of drones in Atherton. The ordinance prohibits non-licensed, or hobby, drones in Holbrook-Palmer Park. Commercial use in the park, such as for photography, will require a town permit.

The ordinance also prohibits using any sort of camera or recording device with a hobby drone. If the drone has recording capability, it must be disabled to use it legally in Atherton, even on private property.

Different rules apply to commercial and government use of drones, which are governed by the Federal Aviation Administration and require a license to operate.

The ordinance requires a second reading and final approval, scheduled for March 15, and would go into effect April 14.


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5 people like this
Posted by CJ
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 17, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Is the civic center still planning on having a place to get coffee?

2 people like this
Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on Feb 17, 2017 at 2:45 pm

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

Yes, there is a room that could be a very small cafe or warming kitchen planned for the renovated historic council chambers building, which will also have a community meeting room and the town's heritage collection display and workroom.

2 people like this
Posted by Atherton American
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 24, 2017 at 11:56 pm

I realize its a game of musical chairs among the mayor and Council members in the Town of Atherton but did this group of progressive thinkers really draft an ordinance to make it illegal to fly a drone equipped with a camera on our own property?? I don't want my neighbor's drone spying on me but I don't assume he is and certainly don't think we need an ordinance "just in case". What is the collective wisdom, if any, behind this tactic? I can get serial images of my yard in various seasons? I can't take advantage oF aerial imagery tools to monitor the health of my lawn and vegetation??

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

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