March 26, 2013

North Fair Oaks Community Council Meetings to Air

BEGINNING IN April, the meetings of the North Fair Oaks Community Council, will be videotaped and air on Peninsula TV/Channel 26 and AT&T/Channel 99 on Monday nights at 10 p.m.  Links to the video files will be posted on my website, and on the North Fair Oaks website,, so that anyone interested will be able to watch the meetings online at a time when it is convenient. 

“With the Implementation Phase of the North Fair Oaks Community Plan coming before the Board of Supervisors later this year, it is vitally important to engage and inform the community." “This is one strategy to begin to disseminate more information and expand the conversation.  A redesign of the North Fair Oaks website is also being planned.”  The North Fair Oaks Community Council meets on the fourth Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room at the Fair Oaks Community Center at 2600 Middlefield Road in Redwood City; the meetings are open to the public. 

The Council selected its priorities for 2013 at the Annual Retreat held last month. The priorities include: the North Fair Oaks Community Plan implementation, Activities – including a Clean-up Day, CSA-8 Funds, and the improvement of external communications and the integration of outreach efforts.

Highlights of the March 28th meeting include the following:  Lee Michelson, CEO of the Sequoia Health Care District, will be presenting an update to the Council on the work of the district and the community investments underway. Standing agenda items include a Sheriff’s report, a CHP report, Council member reports, and Supervisor Slocum’s report. 

The Council advises the Board of Supervisors on the matters of public health, safety, welfare, public works, policy, planning, community development and services pertaining to North Fair Oaks policy on behalf of the residents.                                      

March 9, 2013

Can Technology Replace Inspectors?

EVER BEEN been frustrated by a city's cumbersome permit process? According to a story in The Atlantic Cities, some owners of commercial real estate in Chicago decided to skip the permit process altogether, installing unauthorized billboards in the Windy City. And because the city's understaffed inspection team has trouble enforcing billboard permit rules, the risk-takers get away with their offenses. Even worse, those unpermitted billboards represent millions of dollars in revenue the city will never see.

A new technology making its way into municipal government combines data on local codes and open permits with street-level maps to identify code violators. CityScan is working with map developer NAVTEQ, which uses light detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology to create precise street-level maps.

Read more here

March 7, 2013

Government to Go: Boston Takes City Hall on the Road

HOW DO you make city government more accessible? The City of Boston has taken the challenge literally, and taken city services on the road. Inspired by a food truck - and built to look like one - the mobile City Hall to Go visits Boston neighborhoods offering a menu of specific services.

Instead of a burrito, you can get a library card, dog license, or register to vote.

City Hall to Go from Kris Carter on Vimeo.

March 5, 2013

Addressing Illegal Dumping

Illegal dumping plagues many areas of San Mateo County but perhaps none worse than the unincorporated area of North Fair Oaks. Within that neighborhood of some 15,000 residents there are mostly deserted areas that repeatedly receive illegally dropped mattresses, sofas and household junk.

The problem has increased in recent years and it's become a significant community issue. To date, however, no sustainable solutions have been found but it's time to address the problem and implement a workable solution that will keep our communities junk free.

In my research on this important topic, there are six key "take-aways" from best practices in the U.S. on the subject of illegal dumping. Those six keys include:

 1. Political Buy-In Planning - support must be provided by local gov staff and this includes having enough money available to implement and operate the program plus having sufficient staff to do the work.

 2. Management Structure - Common in this area are the involvement of law enforcement and other gov agencies - and all need good communications.

 3. Education - Critical for success. Allows for public buy in and notification. There are multiple audiences and they should be targeted with clear messages like "STOP TRASHING OUR PENINSULA." Hotlines are essential.

4. Enforcement and Prosecution - Illegal dumpers must face real threat of being caught and punished.

5. Clean Up - cleanup of existing dumpsites is integral and methods for keeping sites clean include signs, lighting, barriers, education and surveillance. Funds can be available through dumping fines.

6. Program Administration - Dumpsites should be mapped, data for number of complaints and cases prosecuted maintained and program evaluation are important components.

Our challenge is how to craft these six areas into a workable policy that effectively deals with the issue of illegal dumping.

March 2, 2013

Help Redraw Political Boundaries in San Mateo County

ON APRIL 9, 2013, the Board of Supervisors will consider forming an ad hoc committee to recommend a redistricting plan. The members of the ad hoc committee will likely include two members of the Board of Supervisors, two members of local City Councils, five public members and one non-voting alternate public member.

The public can participate in two ways.

First, the County is soliciting applications from members of the public who would like to be appointed to the Committee. In order to be eligible for appointment as a public member, a person should:

1. Be a current resident of the County

2. Not be a sitting elected official

3. Be without a conflict of interest

4. Have available time to participate in the work of the committee; and

5. Have knowledge of the County's neighborhoods, geography, and communities of interest. In addition, public members must be registered to vote at the time they serve on the committee.

If you are interested in serving as a public member, please fill out the application here. The deadline is 5 PM on March 15th.

Sheriff Rolls Out Online Crime Data

THE SAN Mateo County Sheriff's office is making it easier for the public to access crime data and arrest information by unveiling a new website where visitors can learn what is happening and who may be doing it.

The database used will map crimes by dates, location and type, show adult arrest information for the past 30 days and let users sign up for email notifications.

The site's rollout coincides with the department's inaugural virtual ride-along Saturday night where an officer will use Twitter to give followers a peek into a deputy's typical evening in San Carlos. That officer will also answer questions. (

Future additions planned for the site include a database of outstanding stolen vehicle, missing persons and warrants. Arrest information will include names, ages, charges and mug shots.

A big congratulations to our innovative Sheriff, Greg Munks. Government 2.0 is alive in San mateo County.