DeGolia, who joined the council in 2013 and whose current term ends in 2022, held the vice mayor chair in 2019. He last served as mayor in 2015.
During the meeting, he outlined eight of his goals as mayor. These are to:
•Keep lines of communication open with residents. DeGolia will hold office hours in Holbrook-Palmer Park's Main House, at 150 Watkins Ave., every Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. for those interested in speaking with him in his capacity as mayor.
•Improve safety in town and support the Atherton Police Department. This includes supporting the expanded use of automated license plate readers, known as ALPRs. ALPRs are mounted on police cars or on fixtures such as road signs and bridges.
•Continue the town's conservative fiscal management, and in particular, closely monitor its $31.6 million new civic center project to ensure that it remains on time and on budget.
•Improve traffic safety and reduce traffic congestion. The town needs greater neighborhood engagement to identify solutions to growing traffic problems, he said.
•Greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the town's future energy use at its new civic center.
•Continue to monitor, and advocate against, state control of local zoning that could affect Atherton's "single-family home environment."
•Design quad gates to improve safety at the Watkins Avenue railroad crossing.
•Begin construction on the Caltrans-sponsored water treatment facility at Cartan Field this year to clear up Atherton's persistent drainage problems along El Camino Real.
In an interview with The Almanac, DeGolia answered questions about challenges Atherton faces, how the town has changed over the years and how his priorities have changed since joining the City Council. Here are his answers, with some minor edits for length and clarity.
What are your top three goals?
It's the responsibility of every city council to practice conservative fiscal management. It's tough not to give people everything they want; that's why there's a pension issue (in many California cities). Atherton has done a particularly good job of being fiscally conservative.
Safety and supporting the police are priorities. ... We're (also) really focused on the unique building of a new civic center. It's taken 20 years to get the support to build it and I want to make sure it's properly managed.
Tell me about your decision to hold office hours?
It's the obligation of anybody who's on a council or (serving as) mayor to enable people to have contact with you. People want to be informed. ... One resident came in (to office hours during DeGolia's last term as mayor) with a problem with train horns and we established a quiet zone on the (Atherton Fair Oaks) tracks after that.
What are the three biggest challenges facing Atherton?
Making sure the civic center project remains on time and on budget. This is the biggest project by an order of magnitude in Atherton. Before this, our biggest project was a $4 million drainage project along Marsh Road (a 2016 rebuild of the Marsh Road portion of the Atherton Channel, which involved installing a safety wall to keep cars out of the channel). The council tasks the city manager (George Rodericks) with that (the civic center project) being his top priority. We have a report on the project at every (City Council) meeting and walk through the site. We have financial and construction experts to advise him (Rodericks).
Congestion is a problem. Atherton is a small residential community that sits between Redwood City and Menlo Park — each (of which) is very actively developing office buildings and housing. We have almost no ability to do anything about it. Regionally, we need to figure out how to manage this. I hope to have a joint meeting between Redwood City and Atherton city councils this year. (Atherton held a joint meeting with the Menlo Park City Council in 2019.)
There's a public meeting on Jan. 21 to discuss the water capture facility at Cartan Field that's important. This project can be approved by the end of the year and work could begin (then). I hope that the Caltrans-sponsored water treatment facility is expanded to clear up our persistent drainage problems along El Camino Real. This is important for Atherton and to protect the Bay.
How has Atherton changed since you first moved here in 1999?
A big change has been a lot of residential construction. Everyone has construction on their street.
How has the City Council changed since you joined in 2013?
The council was extremely contentious when I joined. Over the last six years it's become incredibly collaborative. The change came from the commitment to work together and not to pigeonhole each other.
How have your priorities shifted since you first joined the council?
My biggest priority when I first joined was to get the civic center (project) approved and I wanted to establish a (Caltrain) quiet zone. Those were achieved so I feel great about that. I would love to find a solution to cut-through traffic and congestion. This year, I would like to enable neighborhoods to get together and decide on traffic calming devices.
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