Atherton broke ground on its long-awaited civic center project in April. The $31.6 million project, scheduled for completion in 2021, includes a police and administration facilities, building and planning offices, and a library.
Still determining the fine points of how to pay for the massive project, town officials are leaning toward implementing a "certificates of participation" financing mechanism (COPs) at about $7 million over a 10-year term for construction costs. Without an influx of cash, the town's general fund is projected to be in the red by $1.9 million by October 2020, according to staff.
The town also had several administrative changes and tackled ongoing issues, such as security, gasoline-powered leaf blowers, traffic and prolonged home construction projects.
The town decided to explore adding automated license plate readers, known as ALPRs, in town following a rash of 20 home burglaries between November 2018 and February. ALPRs are mounted on police cars or on fixtures such as road signs and bridges.
Some residents questioned how their privacy can be protected if there are cameras recording their movements daily.
The town already has some license plate readers, but began testing additional readers in Holbrook-Palmer Park in December.
In July, the City Council asked staff to study priority projects to keep traffic moving on the most heavily used streets.
Council members said that they prefer a strategy of moving traffic smoothly through town on major roadways such as El Camino Real and Marsh Road, rather than trying to discourage drivers from traveling through town on residential and secondary streets.
In November, the council amended a contract with transportation consulting firm TJKM to include an additional fee of up to $149,300 for community outreach efforts related to traffic-calming projects in town.
The council voted in October to eliminate a $250,000 penalty cap on building projects that violate the town's construction time-limit provision, given the size and value of homes covered by the rule. A harsher penalty, town officials have said, might help speed up projects, which create noise and more traffic from construction vehicles.
The ordinance laying out construction rules grants a 30-day grace period before daily fines were imposed, starting at $200; they increased to $400 after two months. The fines escalated to $1,000 a day when projects go 121 days beyond the time limit. Before it was amended, there was a $250,000 cap to the penalties.
Leaf blower restrictions
The council examined the town's policy on the use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers in town with an eye toward reducing noise and air pollution.
In September, council members asked staff to estimate the amount of time it would take to look into restricting the use of gasoline-powered blowers. The staff found that researching and amending the current ordinance would cost between $33,800 and $38,800, according to a staff report.
The council opted to begin the project this fiscal year, which closes at the end of June, following a budget amendment in February.
City Attorney Bill Conners announced in early August that he would retire at the end of December. Conners joined the town in 2011.
Earlier this month, the council hired Mona Ebrahimi of the law firm Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard for the town's city attorney services.
The council honored outgoing Conners and Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Larson during the same meeting. Conners' last day in his role is Dec. 31.
Theresa DellaSanta, city clerk/deputy city manager, left her post in May to take a human resources manager role with the city of Menlo Park. Anthony Suber took over her position in May.
The council on Dec. 18 elected Rick DeGolia as mayor and Elizabeth Lewis as vice mayor to serve during the 2020 calendar year.
A new neighbor
The Golden State Warriors point guard and his wife, a celebrity chef and cookbook author, bought the three-story home, which includes a guest house and detached garage, according to the report.
The purchase of the property this year follows comments Curry made in April that he was considering a move because of a potentially difficult commute from his home in the East Bay to the Chase Center, the Warriors' new stadium in San Francisco.