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Original post made by Observer II, Atherton: other, on Jan 13, 2020

For many years, the Atherton City Council has toyed with the idea of leaving the Fire District and instead either providing their own internal Fire Department or asking a nearby city to perform that essential service. As a result, it has become a LOVE AND HATE scenerio with the Town complimenting the Fire District for their excellent and consistent service on one hand while at the same time berating them for potentially receiving more property tax dollars than they spend servicing the town.

Consider for a moment what potential impact that might have- during these past approx. seven years on the moral, loyalty, support, service, dedication, innovation, etc. It's like cutting off your NOSE, despite your face!

Neighboring cities may take the position that working with Atherton is bad news. They never seem satisfied, that is, being short changed, deprived, left out and diminished while others receive a bigger slice of the pie. It's unlikely that a neighboring city would embrace a love affair with them, given the facts.

For a moment, consider if the shoe was on the other foot. What do I mean by that? In essence, if the current Fire District announced that they didn't want to be where they were NOT WANTED, withdrawing their service within 90 days! Panic may set in, as few could provide the level of service that RESIDENTS have enjoyed for nearly 100 years or more. Sometimes one never values what they have until they are about to LOSE IT.

Thus, ATHERTON may be playing with fire, pursuing an ill advised path that harms everyone. If REASON rules, then moving on to more productive issues would be well advised.

Comments (1)

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jan 14, 2020 at 5:57 am

Observer II - well stated.

Here is my recent email:

Public Safety Alert to residents of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District and your elected representatives

Dear Fellow Residents and your elected officials,

Seven years ago the Atherton Town Council began a campaign to extract your property tax dollars from your Fire District for the benefit of the very affluent Town of Atherton. After seven years and expending or causing to be expended more than $100k of our tax dollars this effort has produced nothing except ill will.

When all their other efforts to do take your tax dollars from the Fire District failed the Town Council then approached the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) to propose that the Town detach from the Fire District. Even after being advised by the LAFCO (see excerpts from the Town's own Staff Report – Attachment 1) that it would NOT support the Town Council's proposal to detach from the Fire District the Town Council is now proposing (attachment 2) to use this LAFCO process as a subterfuge for further expenditure of our tax dollars.

Were the Atherton Town Council to succeed it its efforts to extract your property tax dollars from the Fire District two things would happen:

1 – the Fire District would be forced to REDUCE its level of service to ALL the residents of the Fire District and

2 – the property taxes of Atherton residents would not be reduced by a single penny.

What can you do to stop this proposed money grab by the wealthy Atherton Town Council from the 90,000 residents of the Fire District?

1 – Email your elected representatives and alert them to this ill advised and selfish proposal by the Atherton Town Council,

East Palo Alto City Council -

Ruben Abrica

Larry Moody

Carlos Romero

Lisa Gauthier

Regina Wallace-Jones

Menlo Park City Council -

San Mateo County Board of Supervisors -

District 3

District 4

2 – Email the Atherton Town Council -

BEFORE their 15 Jan meeting and urge them to stop their irresponsible effort.

3 – If the Atherton Town Council persists in this ill advised effort then attend and bring all your neighbors to the Town Council's proposed “community” meeting (to which the Town Council only intends to invite Atherton residents) to speak out about the impact of their selfish actions on YOUR fire and YOUR emergency medical services.

Peter F. Carpenter

Former Director MPFPD 2002-2018

Former President Atherton Civic Interest League

Former Atherton Resident

Current Menlo Park resident

Attachment 1 – From Atherton Town Staff Report of 18 Dec 2019

“In October 2019, following a report out by the Subcommittee, the Council directed that the Subcommittee meet with representatives from the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) to explore the possibility of next steps through detachment or other solutions. The Subcommittee met with LAFCO in November 2019. LAFCO advised that they did not support the Town’s detachment from the Fire District and believed that the consolidation of services, even at the countywide level, was the best course. Overall, LAFCO advised that they did not have concerns about the fiscal equity issue(s) raised by the Town and felt that remaining in the District provided the best opportunity, not only for Atherton, but for other communities within the District’s boundaries. “

Attachment 2

Item No. 19 Town of Atherton





Review and discuss the proposed education/outreach program related to the Fire Services Study and provide direction.


At the December 18 City Council meeting, the Council discussed issues arising from completion of the Fire Services Fiscal Review and provided direction on next steps. The Council opted to consider:

pursuit of further public education and outreach;

completion of an application before the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) for detachment; and

further conversation with County and/or State legislators for possible legislative relief.

Because items 1 and 2 could result in additional fiscal impact, the Council provided direction to staff to return with a proposal for an education and outreach plan (and any associated costs) for the Council’s consideration and return with a cost estimate and necessary reports for the LAFCO process, should it be pursued. The staff report and analysis on the LAFCO cost will likely return to the Council at the March 4 Study Session. Attached hereto is a proposal for public education and outreach and an estimate of associated costs.


The City Council has been engaged in issues related to fiscal review of fire services since 2013. A Town website was created chronicling the process and providing links to various reports and studies - Web Link The website provides a History and Overview, a brief description of the revenues and costs for fire services as well as a table/map of calls by incident type. The website also provides links to the various Council meeting staff reports and studies. The January 2018 Staff Report link includes the letter sent to Atherton residents in January 2018 outlining the issues facing the Town.

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