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OP-ED: I will be the champion
July 16, 2013, 05:00 AM By Charlie Bronitsky

Charlie Bronitsky

A few weeks ago, Foster City Councilman Herb Perez wrote an excellent guest perspective about change in Foster City and asked the rhetorical question, “who will champion the redevelopment of Charter Square?” This gave me pause to think about leadership for the future of Foster City as a whole and hence the title of this piece, I will be the champion.

I do not say that to be egotistical and probably what I really mean to say is that the City Council as a whole is the champion of our future, but even as a council, we must act and lead as individuals. More importantly, the individuals selected to lead must be those with whom the residents and businesses of Foster City share a vision.

In the three-and-a-half years I have been privileged to serve on the Foster City Council, we have lead the city through the deepest recession in modern history and are coming out of it stronger and more ready to face the changing world of tomorrow. We have taken a structural budget deficit of about $5 million and in three years, balanced the budget without any material changes in the quality of services provided and without layoffs or salary reductions. Our need for champions in this area has not ended, however, as we will have to deal with the loss of significant sales tax revenue and increases for pension reserves over the next three years.

Over the past three-and-a-half years, we have been reaching out to and partnering with our community to strengthen our city. We have had the first joint meeting with the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School Board to talk about the future of our local schools. We have invited the Foster City Chamber of Commerce to be a key member in our sustainability programs and, in many instances, they have led the way with new and innovative ideas. We have partnered with the cities of San Mateo and Belmont to make the administrative branch of our fire services more efficient and effective and provide significant savings to the city without any service loss. The great news, however, is that this is just a start and, as we continue forward, we will champion other community, business and residence partnerships to benefit Foster City.

In the past three-and-a-half years, we have overcome a great setback on the initial 15-acre project, but returned to the market to find an even better solution, one that will integrate more consistently with the lifestyle of Foster City, yet still provide a much-needed facility to our seniors. We also worked with various property owners and developers to redevelop the Pilgrim-Triton area into what is already one fabulous residential facility and will soon be more. We did so in a way that is consistent with our way of life, adding park facilities and improving roads to avoid traffic congestion.

Just this past year, we implemented Foster City’s first economic development plan, Sustainable Foster City. You have already seen some elements of this in the new LED lights throughout our city, in the nearly 20 percent overall reduction in water usage accomplished through city-initiated conservation programs, the use of synthetic surfaces at city parks and the implementation of a new water rate model now being studied to be a model for all communities. Again, these are but examples and there are many more initiatives on the way, all consistent with the lifestyle we have come to enjoy in our beautiful city.

Charter Square, for example, is a piece of this puzzle — significant piece, no doubt, but just a piece. What we have learned from our experiences on the council is that we can no longer look at just a piece of the puzzle, we must look at the entire puzzle, the entire city and we must look long term. We have already started in that direction and are currently looking at retail, including service businesses, citywide. How much retail do we need and where should it be? What is the impact of reducing, adding or maintaining the current retail and how do we improve retail businesses in Foster City? We are currently looking at all these issues and several programs are already in development, but the long-term solution for Charter Square is not just about Charter Square, it is about Foster City as a whole.

Thus, I believe that what Foster City needs is its City Council to continue to champion Foster City. It needs us to have a vision, to innovate, to hear divergent viewpoints, to build consensus, to look at the future — both short and long term — and most importantly, to never lose sight of the fact that the quality of life we enjoy here, whether as resident or business, is the key to who we are and how we succeed in the future. If we do that, if I do that, I and we will continue to be the champions of Foster City’s future.

Charlie Bronitsky is the vice mayor of Foster City. He can be reached at cbronitsky@fostercity.org or 286-3504.



Tags: foster, future, about, champion, council, piece,

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