Menlo Park Mayor Drew Combs and state Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) met for a virtual community chat on July 22, discussing the various local and statewide efforts to tackle problems affecting Menlo Park residents.
Berman highlighted a number of the initiatives in the California budget aimed at boosting housing affordability, tackling homelessness, supporting youth mental health, and improving local communities' resiliency against wildfires.
He mentioned legislation he's leading, such as AB 1346, a proposal to ban new gas-powered "small off-road engines" like leaf blowers and lawn mowers; AB 390, a proposal to ensure that consumers who sign up for services online are also able to cancel their subscriptions online with ease; and AB 928, a proposal to standardize course numbers at community colleges and make the college transfer process less confusing.
Combs talked about some of the city initiatives in Menlo Park, noting that the city has kicked off its reopening process and hopes to end the summer with a "full and complete reopening of the city's traditional programming and services."
The city has also begun to have talks about redistricting, updates to its climate action plan and hopefully will be moving forward with implementing the city's parks master plan, he added.
The Menlo Park City Council on July 20 voted 4-1, with Councilwoman Cecilia Taylor absent, to reauthorize an existing stormwater fee.
Currently, a master plan laying out stormwater system improvements over the next 25 years is being developed. The city has an agreement with Wood Rodgers, Inc. to develop the plan, a draft version of which is expected to be completed in 2022, according to the report.
In Menlo Park, property owners are responsible for paying both city-specific stormwater fees as well as a countywide fee related to stormwater.
The Menlo Park fee is collected as part of the San Mateo County tax roll, while the countywide fee is collected by the Countywide Flood and Sea Level Rise Resiliency District, according to a staff report.
The city charges $5.25 per 1,000 square feet of impervious area on each city property, a fee established in 1994 that has remained the same since then, according to staff. Smaller home parcels average roughly $16 to $18 per property, while larger home parcels average $20 to $26 per property. Typical 5,000-square-foot commercial properties along Santa Cruz Avenue pay $26 per property.
The funds are used to cover the administration and operating costs, and help pay for overhead and various professional services, according to the report.
The Atherton Police Department will host a "National Night Out" event on Tuesday, Aug. 3, from 6 to 8 p.m. in front of the Main House in Holbrook-Palmer Park, 150 Watkins Ave.
National Night Out is a nationwide campaign held annually by the National Association of Town Watch. Neighbors are encouraged to step out of their homes and interact with police, fire and safety officers, often during a block party-style event, according to the organization's website.
People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to wear a mask, but unvaccinated attendees are required to wear a mask, according to the town. There will be free food and drinks, which will be provided cafeteria-style on individual platters.
Anyone feeling sick is asked to stay home.
RSVP for the event by July 30 online here, though reservations are not necessary, Deputy City Manager/City Clerk Anthony Suber noted.
Menlo Spark, a nonprofit in Menlo Park working to make the community become climate neutral by 2025, on July 23 released a new report called "Gassed Out: How Building Electrification Now Means a Healthy, Prosperous Menlo Park." The report lays out a pathway for the city to achieve all-electric buildings. The City Council has enacted a set of "reach" codes that mandate all-new buildings built as of January 2020 be heated and powered by electricity rather than natural gas.
According to an early announcement of the report's findings, methane gas is responsible for nearly 40% of the carbon pollution in Menlo Park.
In addition, it can have health impacts, according to the report, children in homes with gas stoves are 42% more likely to develop asthma than those with electric stoves.
Switching to electricity can also help households save up to $800 per year in utility bills, and, the report states, making the switch can be affordable to everyone in the city "with the right mix of support programs and incentives."
Access the full report here.
The city's Environmental Quality Commission discussed the topic, one of the city's climate action priorities, at its July 21 meeting. Access the meeting video here.
The Atherton Police Department is hosting a Citizens' Police Academy, a one-day citizen engagement program, on Oct. 30 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Holbrook-Palmer Park's Main House, 150 Watkins Ave.
The program is designed to provide Atherton residents with firsthand information about how the local police department works.
The instruction will be provided primarily by both sworn and non-sworn staff from the police department's patrol detail, dispatch, property and evidence, K9, and investigations departments.
Topics of discussion will include crisis intervention training, use of force, traffic, security systems and cameras, and dispatch and the patrol call.
Spaces for the workshop are limited. The department plans to accept the first 25 applications so that the class size allows for better interaction and hands-on training. If there is a high level of interest, there may be other workshops in 2022. To attend, you must be at least 21 years old, an Atherton resident, and not have any felony convictions.
Go to the town's website, for more information and to apply. The deadline is Sept. 10.