September 28, 2013

Social Media Conference For Government Officials At YouTube

OUR WORLD is changing rapidly as residents toting smart phones and tablets demand instant service and access to information. Keeping up with a tech-savvy constituency is a monumental challenge for public agencies.

As elected representatives in Silicon Valley, Assemblymember Kevin Mullin and I created Connect13: Strengthening Communities through Social Media. Our goal is to explore how local government leaders can embrace technology and social media to not only improve public service but to engage residents in civic life and create a digital commons.

This is the first – ever gathering of San Mateo County’s elected and appointed government leaders to discuss why and how our communication strategies must change to engage a technologically savvy constituency.  This series of panel discussions and keynote presentations by recognized thought leaders will address social media and help plant seeds on how to use it effectively to engage people in civic discourse, encourage them to volunteer, and take an active leadership role.

September 27, 2013

North Fair Oaks Business Advisory Council Formed

I HAD the priviledge of hosting a dinner at El Guanaco in North Fair Oaks for the business leaders of the Middlefield Road Corridor. For the first time in many years, the business owners gathered, (some meeting for the first time) and talked about their concerns - parking, illegal dumping, flooding that occurs from clogged storm drains in winter, non-functioning crosswalk safety lights, improving the presence of businesses and areas of Sheriff patrol, and more.

It was an excellent exchange of issues and concerns. We were honored to have Sheriff Greg Munks as our special guest. The concerns and preference of the business community will be critical to the shaping and implementation of the North Fair Oaks Community Plan.

I gave an update on the County budget which allocates $13 million in improvements to Middlefield Road--including the under grounding of utilities and an improved entrance to the Fair Oaks Health Center which will open in December.

The group, called the North Fair Oaks Business Advisory Council, will meet informally as topics of community concern come up - like parking, for instance. Every six months we plan to have a formal conversation with the entire group. I will, of course, keep the group informed of issues and upcoming important news.

I would like to give a special thanks to Manuel Ramirez for being the Emcee & Translator for the evening, to Esperanza Vasquez of the North Fair Oaks Community Council for her leadership and to Sergio Gonzalez and Mina Gonzalez for allowing us to host the event at their restaurant! The food was great!

Lastly, I would like to thank Irving Torres, my Legislative Aide and Ana Corona and Elijah Kirton, my Interns who helped put this dinner together!

September 26, 2013

New Members Join The North Fair Oaks Community Council

THE NORTH Fair Oaks Community Council is an official advisory body for the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. The Council meets monthly at the Fair Oaks Community Center.

Four new members were added to the Council on September 19th as the group heard briefings on the County Service Area 8 budget, an update from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office and a report from me on recent community developments.

The new members of the Council are: Rafael Avendano, Jenny Corral, Linda Lopez, Nereyda Guzman (Youth Initiative Member).

Thank you to the members of the North Fair Oaks Community Council for your past service and your future contributions.

Learn more about the Council here.

September 25, 2013

Three Redrawn District Maps Approved For Board of Supervisors To Consider

A MAP that would split Menlo Park into two San Mateo County supervisorial districts but unite Redwood City into one emerged as the favorite among three that a committee endorsed Tuesday night.

The group forwarded the three ranked maps to the Board of Supervisors, which is scheduled to review them Oct. 8.

Dubbed "Community Unity 4" because it was revised four times since June, the preferred map essentially leaves intact the top part of the county -- District 5 -- as a "majority-minority Asian district" and places all of Redwood City, east Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and North Fair Oaks in District 4.

Committee member Gonzalo "Sal" Torres, a Daly City council member, said the Community Unity 4 map does the best job of not dividing cities while also forging "communities of interest."

Six of the nine committee members voted to make that map their top choice. The other three -- supervisors Adrienne Tissier and Warren Slocum and public representative William Nack, a Menlo Park resident and San Mateo County Building Trades Council business manager -- abstained.

Read more here.

View all maps here.

September 24, 2013

District Lines Committee Online Resources

YOU HAVE an opportunity to help shape the political future of San Mateo County.

As I mentioned in a previous post, tonight is the last public meeting for the San Mateo County Supervisorial District Lines Committee. Tonight's meeting will feature public testimony, committee debate as the nine members discuss the eight maps submitted by the public and the committee consultant. It should prove to be a lively meeting so if you have time, I encourage you to attend and share your perspectives on possible new district lines for your community.

You can find various resources on the Committee's website which are summarized below.

1) The three "Active" maps from our September 12 meeting, plus five new maps submitted by the public. You can find these at this link:

2) Draft summary minutes from our September 10-12 meetings:

3) Video and transcripts of our September 10-12 meetings, under the "News" button in the upper right of the screen.

Our final meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. and will be held in the Choral Room, Building 2, Room 110. Here is a map to CSM:

To find the location, look for the "Beethoven Lot 2" (the upper of the Beethoven lots). Then to the right you will find "Theater 3" and "Music 2." The Choral room is located in Music 2, next to the theater.

CSM will cordon off numerous spaces in the Beethoven lot so that neither the Committee nor the public should have to pay to park. In addition. several staff members have volunteered to help escort the public to the Choral Room.

County Launches SMC Performance: Gives Residents the Power to Track Government Performance Online

WHEN VOTERS of San Mateo County approved a half-cent sales tax increase last year, the Board of Supervisors promised that the public would be able to see how their local tax dollars are spent.

Now San Mateo County has launched online dashboards that give residents power to track spending and evaluate the performance of County programs and services, starting with those funded by Measure A, the half-cent sales tax that took effect April 1, 2013.

Called SMC Performance, the dashboard site serves as a powerful tool to increase transparency and allow the public to comment. It will grow and evolve to show the performance of all County services toward achieving the goals and priorities of Shared Vision 2025.

You can check out SMC Performance here.

September 23, 2013

Last Public Meeting of District Lines Advisory Committee

A COMMITTEE tasked with studying the boundaries of San Mateo County's five supervisorial districts and recommending possible adjustments will hold its 10th and final meeting on Tuesday, September 24.

The committee, called the San Mateo County Supervisorial District Lines Advisory Committee, has held public meetings since June. The Committee has gathered public input and reviewed boundary adjustments plans submitted by the public and a consultant.

At its September 24 meeting the Committee is expected to consider whether to recommend one of more plans to the Board of Supervisors. The Board is expected to meet on the matter October 8th.

WHAT - San Mateo County Supervisorial District Lines Advisory Committee

WHEN - Tuesday, September 24, 6:30 pm

WHERE - College of San Mateo Choral Room, Building 2, Room 110, 1700 W. Hillsdale Blvd., San Mateo (Free Parking in Beethoven lot).

Review submitted maps and learn more here.

Need more information? Send email to

September 22, 2013

Open Checkbook Debuts in San Mateo County

DURING MY campaign for County Supervisor, I often suggested that we needed to publish the county's checkbook online. The idea was to become more transparent and accountable in the area of public finance.

I am pleased to announce that San Mateo County has launched "Open Checkbook," a free public database detailing the checks written by county departments and agencies. It's the public's window into county spending.

Open Checkbook lists payments of $5,000 or more issued for goods and services at all county-operated sites, from health clinics in Daly City to social service centers in East Palo Alto. You can find it at:

Open Checkbook is for those without an accounting degree or hours on their hands to pore over complex economic data - it offers an easy to use search engine that contains reams of raw financial data that residents are welcome to mine, sift, analyze and cross-reference as they wish.

Check out Open Checkbook here.

September 21, 2013

North Fair Oaks Pocket Park Opens

DESPITE THE rain, about 40 people turned out to celebrate the opening of a new Pocket Park in North Fair Oaks. The park is located at 18th and Bay Road - just off Marsh Road.

The park's journey started two years ago with $11 in the bank and 4 people working on the effort. At the time the land was empty but for the weeds that covered much of the SFPUC owned property. Then Sandra Stafford-Ceil got involved.

In two years she raised around $40,000 for the park and got much of the design, landscaping and work donated. San Mateo County helped out by contributing $25,000 to the much needed park. In an area that has few natural spaces, this park is a welcomed addition. It's a testament to what people can do when they share a dream, work toward it in a positive and collaborative manner and never give up. 

Congratulations to everyone for making this park possible. And thank you for including me in the dedication/ribbon cutting ceremony.