Year in review: Atherton welcomes a nearly complete new civic center and grapples with burglaries | January 7, 2022 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

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News - January 7, 2022

Year in review: Atherton welcomes a nearly complete new civic center and grapples with burglaries

by 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

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.

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

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.

Email Staff Writer Angela Swartz at [email protected]

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