At its virtual meeting May 13) beginning at 7 p.m., the Portola Valley Town Council will consider an extension of the local emergency declaration in response to the new coronavirus and receive an annual progress report on its housing element .
The council adopted an emergency declaration on March 17, the first day of the shelter-at-home order. "Extension of the order will allow for continuity of service and allow staff to respond quickly to new needs," according to the staff report.
Town staff recommends the order be revised to run for an additional 60 days through July 17.
The council will discuss the 2019 housing element annual progress report, which the town is required by law to submit to the state.
According to the report, the town's state Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), which contains guidelines for meeting affordable housing needs in different income categories, is 64 net new units for the 2015 to 2023 housing cycle. In 2019, 10 building permits were issued for new residences and accessory dwelling units (ADUs), bringing the total number of units the town has permitted to 79.
Although the town has exceeded the total number of units assigned through the RHNA process, "there is a deficiency in the low and moderate income categories," a staff report states. Specifically, nine more low-income units and seven additional moderate-income units are needed to fulfill RHNA requirements.
Other council actions
SMC Strong fund donation
At its meeting April 29, the council approved a $100,000 donation to the Mateo County Strong fund to support Portola Valley businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
A number of cities, including Woodside, San Carlos and San Mateo, have contributed to the program, which provides grants to individuals and families, small businesses and nonprofit groups impacted by COVID-19.
A total of $1.4 million in grant funding has been awarded to 142 eligible small businesses that demonstrated hardship related to COVID-19, according to Rosanne Foust, president and CEO of the San Mateo County Economic Development Association (SAMCEDA), which is helping to raise funds and administer grants. More than 1,000 donors have contributed a total of $8.2 million to the SMC Strong fund, according to a May 12 press release. Since the fund has grown, donations will be directed toward the following categories:
• $1,998,991 million toward individuals and families to help cover basic household expenses
• $3,668,183 million to small, local businesses to help them avoid layoffs and stay open or reopen
• $1,912,234 million toward nonprofit organizations that provide services to the most vulnerable residents
• $650,000 in undesignated funds
COVID-19 fiscal impact
The council also discussed a report on the fiscal impact of the coronavirus pandemic at its April 29 meeting.
According to the report, the town expects an operational budget deficit of $43,608 for the remainder of this fiscal year due to impacts from the coronavirus and ensuing shelter-at-home order.
"This structural budget deficit can be accommodated by applying a combination of thoughtful expenditure reductions in other expenditure categories (such as services and supplies that are not taking place as staff is working remotely), potential growth in certain revenues that have been conservatively set in this analysis (such as property taxes over the remainder of the fiscal year or permit fees realized), and the use of reserves that have been set aside for emergencies," the report says.
The pandemic has caused sales tax revenue to drop significantly due to business closures, and revenue associated with rentals, instructors and field use has ceased. There has also been less revenue from land use permits and affiliated fees, the town's second-largest general fund revenue source based on projections for this fiscal year. Significant expenditure changes as a result include new spending to support coronavirus response efforts, a freeze on projects such as a general plan update kickoff and user fee study, and a potential freeze on a variety of public works expenditures related to facilities, landscaping and fields, according to the report.
Staff estimated the expected budget deficit based on several revenue assumptions. Property tax revenue may be slightly higher than budgeted, and staff assumed a conservative approach of no new sales tax, "which is unlikely given that a few businesses are operating, and with restaurants providing take-out options," the report says.
Town staff is developing a provisional budget that the council would need to adopt by the end of the fiscal year in June, after which staff would work on a revised budget that will include more up-to-date revenue projections, according to Town Manager Jeremy Dennis. The revised budget would be presented to the council in September, barring new coronavirus impacts.
Spring classes, sports canceled
Portola Valley has canceled spring classes and sports programs held at town facilities, Mayor Jeff Aalfs said in an email to residents.
"The town is working closely with the leagues and instructors to explore opportunities for future programming and will update the community as new information is available," he wrote.