Atherton council digest: Sea level rise and waste haulers


After a lengthy discussion, Atherton's City Council voted at its April 17 meeting to pitch in funding to help transform the county's flood control district into a more comprehensive agency that will also address sea level rise. Council member Cary Wiest cast the lone dissenting vote.

Atherton committed to giving $25,000 a year for three years to the San Mateo County Flood and Sea Level Rise Resiliency Agency. The county has asked every municipality in the county to contribute to the agency.

Woodside's council recently voted not to contribute, but Larry Patterson, who represented the new agency, said that council will hold another vote on the issue at an upcoming meeting.

Patterson said a major reason for the expanded agency is to help get federal funding for flood and sea level rise projects.

Town officials had worried that because the expanded agency will have only five elected municipal officials and two county officials on its governing board, the needs of small towns could be overlooked.

"This council doesn't want to do something that ties the hands of a future council," said Mayor Bill Widmer.

City Attorney Bill Conners told the council, however, that approving the funding was not a long-term commitment. "This is not a contract. It's a resolution," he said, adding that it could be changed at any time. "It states the council's position today."

At the meeting, council members also directed City Manager George Rodericks to start the process of looking at alternatives to Recology as the town's garbage and recycling company. The contract with Recology is due to expire at the end of 2020.

Mayor Bill Widmer said the proposed new 15-year contract could be costly. "I can guarantee you that with this contract your rates would at least double," he said. Over the life of the contract, he added, it could cost residents $75 million.

After the meeting Widmer said the $75 million included the costs to residents of the town's remaining in the South Bayside Waste Management Authority (also known as ReThink Waste) joint powers association, which runs the Shoreway recycling facility and waste transfer station.

The town could choose to remain in the JPA while contracting with a new hauler, or contract with a hauler that uses a different facility.

Rodericks will come back to the council with a draft of a request for proposals from consultants who could help the town seek out new bids.

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