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Atherton welcomes nearly complete new civic center, grapples with burglaries in 2021

Mayor Elizabeth Lewis speaks to the crowd before opening at up the Town Hall for tours to residents on Dec. 11, 2021. Photo by Angela Swartz.

Much of the focus in Atherton during 2021 was completing the town's long-awaited $32 million civic center. In the fall, staff moved into the new Town Hall and the Town Council commemorated the opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony and tour of the facilities in December.

The council and committee members continued to meet remotely during the pandemic. They plan to resume in-person meetings once the Council Chambers are complete in 2022.

Like other small towns on the Midpeninsula, Atherton began to grapple with a big increase in state housing mandates.

Civic center and other construction

Anthony Suber, Atherton deputy city manager and city clerk, stands in the lobby of the newly constructed civic center on Oct. 25, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

After a little over two years of construction, the two-story, cream-colored, nearly 30,000-square-foot City Hall building between Fair Oaks and Dinkelspiel Station lanes is nearly complete.

The police and town administrators began working on the first floor in Town Hall this fall. Public works, building and planning departments moved into the second floor of the building. Though government meetings remained remote, the council plans to start meeting on a hybrid basis once the 50-seat Council Chambers are completed sometime in February. Some audience members would dial in through Zoom, while others could attend in person.

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The 10,000 square foot library is expected to be completed around February 2022. Atherton's original 1,696-square-foot Town Hall opened in 1924.

Menlo College, at El Camino Real and Encinal Avenue, broke ground on its new $20 million 288-bed residence hall in the spring. This will be the first new housing built on the campus in more than 30 years, according to the school.

Menlo College President Steven Weiner speaks to the ground gathered at the groundbreaking ceremony for a new dorm at the college in Atherton on May 13, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Town Council updates

After Vice Mayor Mike Lempres moved to Paris in the fall, the Town Council opted to appoint longtime audit and finance committee member Bob Polito to finish out the last year of Lempres' term.

Without a clear successor to the mayor (the vice mayor is usually selected), the council chose Rick DeGolia as its mayor for 2022.

Burglaries and cameras

There was a new string of burglaries, which police said is likely tied to a 2018 crime spree in town. Town officials decided to install more automated license plate readers in Atherton in response to break-ins. There are now a total 47 license plate readers, according to Town Manager George Rodericks.

State housing allocations

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Town officials also kicked off their housing element planning processes in 2021.

The town faces significant increases in the number of units they're required to designate for development by the state in the 2023-31 Regional Housing Needs Allocation. Atherton is required to plan for the development of 348 new housing units compared to just 93 during the 2014-22 cycle.

Angela Swartz joined The Almanac in 2018 and covers education and small towns. She has a background covering education, city politics and business. Read more >>

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Atherton welcomes nearly complete new civic center, grapples with burglaries in 2021

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Mon, Jan 10, 2022, 10:39 am

Much of the focus in Atherton during 2021 was completing the town's long-awaited $32 million civic center. In the fall, staff moved into the new Town Hall and the Town Council commemorated the opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony and tour of the facilities in December.

The council and committee members continued to meet remotely during the pandemic. They plan to resume in-person meetings once the Council Chambers are complete in 2022.

Like other small towns on the Midpeninsula, Atherton began to grapple with a big increase in state housing mandates.

After a little over two years of construction, the two-story, cream-colored, nearly 30,000-square-foot City Hall building between Fair Oaks and Dinkelspiel Station lanes is nearly complete.

The police and town administrators began working on the first floor in Town Hall this fall. Public works, building and planning departments moved into the second floor of the building. Though government meetings remained remote, the council plans to start meeting on a hybrid basis once the 50-seat Council Chambers are completed sometime in February. Some audience members would dial in through Zoom, while others could attend in person.

The 10,000 square foot library is expected to be completed around February 2022. Atherton's original 1,696-square-foot Town Hall opened in 1924.

Menlo College, at El Camino Real and Encinal Avenue, broke ground on its new $20 million 288-bed residence hall in the spring. This will be the first new housing built on the campus in more than 30 years, according to the school.

After Vice Mayor Mike Lempres moved to Paris in the fall, the Town Council opted to appoint longtime audit and finance committee member Bob Polito to finish out the last year of Lempres' term.

Without a clear successor to the mayor (the vice mayor is usually selected), the council chose Rick DeGolia as its mayor for 2022.

There was a new string of burglaries, which police said is likely tied to a 2018 crime spree in town. Town officials decided to install more automated license plate readers in Atherton in response to break-ins. There are now a total 47 license plate readers, according to Town Manager George Rodericks.

Town officials also kicked off their housing element planning processes in 2021.

The town faces significant increases in the number of units they're required to designate for development by the state in the 2023-31 Regional Housing Needs Allocation. Atherton is required to plan for the development of 348 new housing units compared to just 93 during the 2014-22 cycle.

Comments

Really !
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 10, 2022 at 1:15 pm
Really !, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Jan 10, 2022 at 1:15 pm

Perhaps redirect APD's efforts towards burglaries and serious crime
AND AWAY from traffic stops.
I get the [email protected] every day and am disturbed that (on avg)
MORE THAN HALF the APD activity is traffic enforcement.
This is a major issue the Town Council is not effectively addressing.


Thoughtful
Registered user
Atherton: other
on Jan 11, 2022 at 9:27 pm
Thoughtful, Atherton: other
Registered user
on Jan 11, 2022 at 9:27 pm

The burglary issue is very, very serious.

If it's not safe to live in Atherton, property values are going to go down. It's going to happen, and is a matter of time.

The rationale of paying top dollar for our own police department has been for safety.

What's going wrong here?

Who's going to tell the emperor he has no clothes?


MenloVoter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Jan 12, 2022 at 8:04 am
MenloVoter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Jan 12, 2022 at 8:04 am

Thoughtful:

part of the problem is that, even though residents can have their alarms tied directly to the police department for a faster response, they don't use them. I build in Atherton and every home I've built has and an alarm system. And I can count on one hand the number of owners that use the systems on a regular basis. When a home is behind tall walls it is virtually impossible for anyone to see into the property to see a burglary in progress. That is why alarms are so important to use. The residents of Atherton need to look at themselves, at least in part, for high burglary rates. A house with an alarm system that is used is a "hardened target" and the crooks quickly figure this out and go somewhere else.

And for those that complain the APD makes too many traffic stops, why do you think they make those stops and who do you think they're stopping? They're profiling and stopping people that don't look like they belong.


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