This year is starting out to be a very busy one for the City Council and staff as well. City Council meetings in Foster City are regularly scheduled for the first and third Mondays of each month, with an occasional special meeting occurring on either the second, fourth or fifth (if a month has a fifth one) Monday. Those special meetings have usually been dedicated to budget sessions or to some specific issue or study session. We have already had four council meetings in January, four are scheduled in February, four in March, and already there are three scheduled in April.
On Jan. 13, the City Council and staff had their annual retreat, where the entire day is spent brainstorming and identifying issues that should be addressed in the coming year. From that session, the policy calendar is developed, which serves as the road map for City Council expectations and staff direction.
One of the many items that made its way to the policy calendar is a comprehensive review of the Foster City Municipal Code. When Foster City was formed in 1975, ordinances to govern the city were established. As time has passed, modifications and updates have occurred on an “as-needed” basis. It is almost 40 years later and the council felt that a proactive review of all the ordinances is in order to ensure that they are up to date, particularly with the topographical changes in the city, our soon to be built-out environment and advances in technology. It is expected that a municipal code review will take several years depending upon the amount of resources that are available to do the work.
Foster City is and has been arguably one of the best-run cities in the region, if not the state. This is no accident; this is due to the proactive approach that the city operates under and how it has been governed for many years. Prior city councils have included a five-year look ahead into the budget process and this has served the city well. Other cities are just beginning to incorporate this look ahead into their budgetary processes. Maintaining and keeping our ordinances current and modernized is just as important to the citizens of the city.
In the coming council meetings, we will be addressing potential amendments to the smoking ordinance and the ordinances that address fences, hedges and walls. As a result of the recession that some feel we are working our way through, we have initiated an effort to develop a sustainable economic development strategic plan. It is hoped our local economy will fare even better when the next eventual economic downtown occurs.
I have every reason to believe that there will be more special meetings of the City Council during the year to address other needs as they come up. Water (or the lack of) is quickly becoming a major concern for all of us in the region. The governor has declared a statewide drought emergency. The consequences range from water rationing, expectation of more wildfires and potential devastation to one of our biggest economic sectors: the farmers and related crops from the Central Valley. We could be faced with some of our fire personnel and equipment being assigned to fires or paying more for produce at the grocery store. And, of course, there is the state budget that right now sees a projected surplus, but how long that lasts remains to be seen.
Some good news is that the economy continues to show signs of improvement, although moderate. The feeling in Sacramento is cautiously optimistic and the word “recession” has not exited many vocabularies of the serious economic observers.
As for some of the special sessions, you might want to attend one or more of them to further participate in the decision-making process as it affects our community.
Art Kiesel is the vice mayor of Foster City. He can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 573-7359.