June Newsletter: Budget/IT Updates; Energy Savings; Celebrate Bluebirds at Edgewood Park

June 27, 2012

A new smart lighting system has slashed energy use by 67 percent in San Mateo County’s County Center Parking Garage, saving taxpayers an estimated $33,500 per year, or 73 percent of last year’s electricity bill.

Financed by the County in partnership with PG&E and the California Energy Commission, the new lights made their debut in late January. Visitors to the six-level, 900-space garage now enjoy motion-responsive lighting that brightly illuminates a “predictive” pathway for pedestrians, while leaving unoccupied areas with lower light levels. Lack of motion for five minutes causes lights to dim to 60 percent of maximum output, and an additional 10 minutes of stillness causes half the fixtures to switch off completely.

Noel Manuel of Public Works helps to cut costs while keeping the lights on in the County Center garage

A built-in astronomical timeclock automatically adjusts daily to accommodate longer or shorter daylight hours, taking advantage of natural light. The system’s wireless controls allow for flexible programming and easier maintenance.

In addition, the 279 new dimmable fluorescent lamps and fixtures cost about one-third as much as the energy-hungry high-pressure sodium lamps they replaced. Fluorescent light fixtures on the garage’s rooftop, where an array of solar panels was installed in 2010, were left in place, but upgraded with the addition of wireless controls. 

The $224,200 retrofit project cost the county $144,700, after factoring in rebates. Energy savings are expected to repay the county’s investment in less than four years.

An energy meter located in the lobby of 555 County Center shows the energy saved from solar panels atop the parking garage

And speaking of the parking garage, the solar panel system installed atop the garage in 2010 is doing more than provding additional covered parking. The 362-kilowatt system has generated the equivalent of more than 72,000 gallons of gasoline in energy. Put another way, it has saved the equivalent energy needed to keep more than 5,000 light bulbs burning each day for a year.

New Website to Assist Renters, Landlords

SMCHousingSearch.org is a free resource to help you find a home in San Mateo County that fits your needs and budget. Property owners and managers throughout the county can post apartments or homes for rent any time, which means that our list is always current.

This service is sponsored by the San Mateo County Housing Authority and the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County, along with contributions from a variety of community agencies and local business sponsors. SMCHousingSearch.org provides detailed information about affordable rental opportunities across the county and helps people find housing that best fits their needs. The service can be accessed at no cost online or through a toll-free, bilingual call center at 1-877-428-8844, available Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Budget Update

The Board of Supervisors on Thursday tentatively approved a balanced budget of $1.8 billion for the 2012-13 fiscal year that eliminates 216 positions while maintaining critical public safety, health and human services.

The budget emphasizes maintaining core services for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. Over the next 12 months the County’s 20 departments will develop plans to find long-term savings with such efforts as improving efficiency, restructuring or consolidating, negotiating labor cost savings and other means.

Since 2008 the County has eliminated 699 positions, or 12 percent of the workforce. The number of positions approved in the budget is 5,106, down from 5,805 in 2008.

“We are trying hard to avoid deep cuts to our core services – ensuring public safety, providing access to health care for our most vulnerable residents and helping residents who are still struggling from the recession with basic needs,” said Adrienne J. Tissier, President of the Board. “At the same time we are investing in some long-overdue projects.”

Read the entire news release.

Interim Director for Information Services Department

The Information Services Department (ISD) supports all County departments in leveraging technology to best serve the residents of the county. With the resignation of Director Chris Flatmoe last month, Deputy County Manager Reyna Farrales has stepped in on an interim basis while the County searches for a new Director and Chief Information Officer (CIO).

Reyna Farrales

Reyna has served as Deputy County Manager for Administrative Services since 2006. She has been with the County Manager’s Office for 18 years, starting as a Management Analyst then Budget Director from 1997 to 2006. Prior to San Mateo County, she was a consultant for a public sector software company, and a program and budget analyst for Santa Clara County.

Her priorities include five-year budget planning, individual and organizational performance management, and leadership development for managers and supervisors to prepare them for future promotional opportunities.

In addition to finding the best CIO/ISD Director for the County by January, top priorities for ISD over the next several months include acting on recommendations from the ISD Employee Engagement Committee, setting performance and development goals for all staff, updating the County IT Strategic Plan for the 2012-13 budget cycle, and exploring the creation of a County Core IT Team to support all departments.

These priorities align with the three strategic goals established by the County’s Information Management Planning Council:

• Increase access to and availability of County services
• Provide County staff with enabling technologies
• Realize efficiencies and cost savings

The County IT Strategic Plan was presented to the Board of Supervisors last November.

Ensuring U.S. Open Benefits San Mateo County

While the recent U.S. Open Golf Tournament was officially played in San Francisco at the Olympic Club, many of the golfers and spectators flew out of San Francisco International Airport — which is located in our county — and used our roads and services.

And in an interesting bit of geography, part of the Olympic Club is in San Mateo County — a very important part, it turns out: the part housing the main merchandise pavillion.

Members of the County Manager’s Office and the Planning and Building Department toured the grounds before the tournament. They checked the location of merchandise tents against the County line and then contacted the Board of Equalization to ensure sales tax revenues would go to our local agencies, not San Francisco.

Charles Clark of Planning and Building checks the location of the U.S. Open’s main merchandise pavilion; his main job was to ensure the safety of dozens of temporary structures built for the four-day event

New Officers for Women in County Government

Women in County Government this month installed new officers for its Executive Governing Board. They are:

           President Christine Hollender, Real Property
           Vice President Juda Tolmasoff, Board of Supervisors
           Secretary Gina Luiz, Treasurer/Tax Collector
           Assistant Secretary Ellen Eckler, SM Medical Center
           Treasurer Lorelei Bresler, Human Services Agency
           Assistant Treasurer Angela Sajuthi, Health System
           Program Officer Faiza Steele, Human Resources
           Media Officer Susan Wright, Public Works
           Membership Officer Irma Compton, Planning and Building
           Marketing Officer Brenda Bennett, Public Works
           Assistant Marketing Officer Tiare Pena, Planning and Building
           Immediate Past President Michelle Mendez, Probation

Christine Hollender and Leah

The organization meets regularly to provide network opportunities for all county employees, encourage positive working relationships, present discussion forums regarding common issues and challenges and acknowledge outstanding contribution by women who work for San Mateo County.

You may not know the new president, Christine Hollender, by name but you may have seen her around County Center with a furry friend or two. Hollender volunteers for Canine Companions for Independence (South Bay Champions Chapter) by providing pups with experience in a working environment. The young dogs, who are being raised by others, are essentially interns — gaining some experience while still learning.  She became involved with the organization through her friendship with our late co-worker, Sandy Cohen, and her Canine Companion, Menlo. She is now working with Leah, who will one day assist a person with disabilities. 

County Government on the Go

With the arrival of sunny weather the County has hosted numerous outdoor and educational activities. Two such events occurred on Saturday, June 16: Dad and Me at the Park and Take A Hike. Disaster Preparedness Day, held June 9, and May’s Streets Alive! Parks Alive! events drew thousands of particpants.

Danny Kim of San Mateo of and daughter Ilana, on his shoulders, waves to Kim’s wife during Dad and Me at the Park

Dad and Me at the Park, held at Coyote Point, was sponsred by the Fatherhood Collaborative, which seeks to provide fathers with opportunities to spend fun and educational time with their children. For information about upcoming events, call 650-363-4571.

Take A Hike is a monthly series of hikes guided by our Parks rangers or docents. They provide insight into the plants of animals of particular parks and help visitors enjoy a beautiful day outdoors. The next hike will be on Sawyer Camp Trail on Saturday, July 21, at 9 a.m.  

Hikers enjoy a sunny morning at Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve, the site of June’s Take A Hike

Streets Alive! Parks Alive! highlights our county’s great public spaces and parks by closing streets to cars and encouraging fun activities for residents, like hula dancing (above) in Belmont. The event is intended to inspire people to come together to be active and healthy in safe, car-free environments.

Several thousand people, including Kayley Yang and her father, attended the eighth annual Disaster Prepardness Day held June 9 at the San Mateo County Event Center.












New Essential Supervisory Skills Program

One hundred county workers will return to the job with new skills this month, the first graduates of a training program that aims to enroll every San Mateo County supervisory employee over the next two years.

The county’s new Essential Supervisory Skills Program expands training and support for every employee who supervises others, at both the management and frontline levels. The ESSP curriculum includes 16 hours of interactive workshop training designed to help supervisors:

• Set goals that connect employees to the organization’s purpose and achieve high levels of performance and job fulfillment
• Give effective feedback to recognize accomplishments and keep performance on track
• Provide coaching support to maximize learning and development
• Conduct performance evaluations that summarize the past year and motivate future success
Program graduates will also have ongoing access to mentors and additional courses.

The ESSP was sponsored by the county’s Employee Engagement Committee, which will monitor the program’s impact. Employees can visit the Employee Engagement page on the County’s Intranet site under “Common County Resources” for more information.

Want to keep up with Human Resources and learn more about working for San Mateo County? Visit the department’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/SanMateoCountyHR

Upcoming Events: Mark Your Calendar

June 28 Bluebird Celebration Join a celebration of bluebirds, suitable for 3 to 6 year olds, at 3 p.m. at Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve. 

July 3 Foster Care and Adoption Orientation Learn about foster care and adoption opportunities at an orientation, 7 to 9 p.m., Human Services Agency, 400 Harbor Blvd, Bldg B, Belmont.

July 4 Parade and Fireworks Parade in downtown Redwood City at 9 a.m. ; fireworks at Port of Redwood City at 9:15 p.m.

July 10 Disabilities Awareness Fair Hosted by the San Mateo County Commission on Disabilities from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., County Center Plaza, Redwood City.

Keep Up With San Mateo County

Sign up to receive news releases and announcements from San Mateo County at http://sanmateocountynews.wordpress.com

You can find a list of the County’s social media sites and ways to get conntected with County programs at www.smcgov.org under “Get Connected.”

This newsletter was produced by the County Manager’s Office. If you have questions or comments, send an e-mail to Marshall Wilson, the communications director, at mwilson@smcgov.org or call 650-363-4153.


Safety Net Gets $1 Million Boost From SVCF-San Mateo County Partnership

June 26, 2012

Silicon Valley Community Foundation and San Mateo County today announced that they will distribute $1 million to 19 nonprofit organizations providing food and shelter to the county’s most vulnerable residents.

The announcement marks the second collaboration between the county and SVCF since the start of the recession. The county contributed $500,000 through its 2012 Food and Shelter Grant Program – an amount that was matched by the community foundation for a total of $1 million.

San Mateo County nonprofits are still experiencing unusually high demand for food and shelter despite increased hiring and other signs of recovery in some sectors of the Peninsula and Silicon Valley economies.

Samaritan House, one of the county’s core service providers, said it experienced a 33 percent increase in new clients from fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2011. Officials also reported that more clients are seeking government benefits for the first time.

“The significant needs that were exposed at the start of the recession have not gone away,” said Emmett D. Carson, Ph.D., CEO of the community foundation. “It is more important than ever to maximize the resources available and public-private partnerships, such as our work with San Mateo County, are an effective solution. Throughout the recession, we have provided a consistent source of support for the most vulnerable in our region.”

The community foundation’s board of directors and San Mateo County’s Board of Supervisors approved the grants, which include funding for organizations serving populations and geographic regions where the need is greatest. The grants will support programs that help low-income and disadvantaged children and adults meet basic food and shelter needs as well as agencies that serve residents in areas of the county where the need is greatest.

“The economists may say that the recession is over but we know that many of our residents are continuing to struggle,” said Adrienne J. Tissier, President of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. “These grants will help our community’s nonprofit agencies help our most vulnerable residents.”

Since 2008, the community foundation has awarded more than $7 million of safety net support in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Separately, SVCF awarded $500,000 in grants to nonprofits serving Santa Clara County.

The full list of grants awarded under the joint SVCF-San Mateo County effort is available at:



Board Approves Recommended Budget

June 21, 2012

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors today tentatively approved a balanced budget of $1.8 billion for the 2012-13 fiscal year that eliminates 216 positions (net) while maintaining critical public safety, health and human services. In all there are 276 deleted positions and 60 added positions. Of the 276 deleted positions, 234 are filled.

The budget emphasizes maintaining core services for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. Over the next 12 months the County’s 20 departments will develop plans to find long-term savings with such efforts as improving efficiency, restructuring or consolidating, negotiating labor cost savings and other means.

Since 2008 the County has eliminated 699 positions, or 12 percent of the workforce. The number of positions approved in the budget is 5,106, down from 5,805 in 2008.

“We are trying hard to avoid deep cuts to our core services – ensuring public safety, providing access to health care for our most vulnerable residents and helping residents who are still struggling from the recession with basic needs,” said Adrienne J. Tissier, President of the Board. “At the same time we are investing in some long-overdue projects.”

Read the full news release.

Bluebird Celebration, an Edgewood Playdate on June 28

June 21, 2012

Join a celebration of bluebirds, suitable for 3 to 6 year olds, on Thursday, June 28, at 3 p.m., at Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve.

 Take a short, guided, nature walk. View a bluebird nest and hear a story about a young bluebird’s adventures. Take home your own bluebird art project.

Please bring at least one adult caregiver per family, drinking water, sun protection and closed-toe shoes. The event is free. Meet at Bill and Jean Lane Education Center at Edgewood Park. Space is limited, so email events@friendsofedgewood.org to reserve your place.

You can find more information and a map on the Parks Events page.

Burlingame Long Term Care Will Remain Open Under New Management

June 19, 2012

SAN MATEO, Calif. – San Mateo County Board of Supervisors (BOS) unanimously approved today an agreement to allow Burlingame Long Term Care (BLTC) to be managed by a private company for three years. The agreement is for Brius, LLC, a company that operates a large number of nursing facilities in California, to take over management of BLTC, effective July 15, 2012.

“This is a very positive turn of events for the County, for staff, and for our residents,” said Jean Fraser, Chief of San Mateo County Health System. “It allows over 230 nursing beds to stay open in our County, and over 150 employees being laid off from the County to obtain positions with the new management company. In addition, residents will be able to remain at BLTC, which many consider to be their home.”

Brius will be purchasing the building from the current owner and has committed to invest a minimum of $3.5 million in upgrades. Brius will need to operate with a low number of residents while upgrades are made.

“We are projecting heavy financial loss for the first few years,” said Brius owner Shlomo Rechnitz. “My goal is to keep the facility open with employees and residents in place, and to ensure the safety of every patient we care for.”

All current residents will be allowed to stay at BLTC. Those residents who have already been transferred to other skilled nursing homes will be given priority to return as beds become available after renovations to the building are made. To address earthquake and fire safety concerns, those residents who cannot walk will be housed on the first floor.

Most County staff who were scheduled to be laid off will be offered the opportunity to continue working at BLTC as Brius employees, starting on the day Brius assumes
management of the facility, which is targeted for July 15, 2012.

“This is a huge win for union members and residents in San Mateo County,” said Nadia Bledsoe, an agent for AFSCME union. “Brius has been flexible and very responsive to our employees’ needs, and Mr. Rechnitz’s efforts to retain staff have certainly paid off.”

The Health System’s recommendation earlier this year to not renew the BLTC lease was based on a 23% reduction in the rate paid by the State for care at BLTC, as well as concerns about the age and safety of the building.

As a private operator, Brius has lower costs than the County for running nursing facilities, and can therefore manage on a lower reimbursement rate. Brius will purchase and upgrade the facility.

Brius will initially manage the facility under San Mateo Medical Center’s direction and on the hospital’s license, transitioning in three years to operating the facility as an independent nursing home. The Health System will continue moving forward with the Long Term Care Integration Pilot Program, with a goal that by the time Brius transitions to running BLTC independently, there will be more alternatives to nursing homes for low-income elderly and disabled county residents.


Health System Press Contact: Robyn Thaw (650) 867-1661
Brius Press Contact: Alain Kuppermann, (323) 924-8850.

Recommended Budget Hearings Begin Monday

June 14, 2012

The Board of Supervisors will begin a series of public hearings on the County Manager’s Recommended Budget on Monday, June 18, at 9 a.m. in the Board Chambers, 400 County Center, Redwood City.

Hearings with continue Tuesday and Wednesday with an anticipated Board vote on Thursday afternoon. This link contains a complete schedule by department. 

The entire budget is available at www.smcgov.org/budget under “Current Budget” on the left side of the page.



Grab Some Healthy Fare at the County Fair

June 13, 2012

SAN MATEO, Calif. – Finding a healthy meal or snack among the mountains of corn dogs, cotton candy, funnel cakes and sodas at the fair might seem an impossible task. At the San Mateo County Fair this year, which runs now through June 17, some of the fair’s most popular food vendors will offer a variety of delicious, healthy menu items.

“As rates of chronic disease and obesity continue to rise across the country, more and more people are looking for healthier options at fairs and other community events,” says Julie Hosfeldt, R.D, registered dietitian for the Health System.

Though San Mateo County recently received the good news that it was one of the few counties in California whose childhood obesity rates had decreased, Hosfeldt says sugary drinks and unhealthy food continue to put the health of our children at risk. “This project is one small step in the right direction,” she said.

To participate in “Healthy Fare at the Fair”, food vendors voluntarily submit recipes for healthy menu items. Recipes must meet certain nutrition criteria, such as low fat content, reasonable portion sizes, and the use of fruits and vegetables. Healthy menu items will be advertised on large sign boards outside vendor booths, such as:

Coral Reef Smoothies (Pomegranate-Strawberry Smoothie, Fresh Fruit Cup, Strawberry-Banana Smoothie and Low-Sugar Strawberry Lemonade);

Noel’s Mexican Food (Chicken Taco, Veggie Taco, Whole Beans with Rice, and Veggie Burrito with Whole Wheat Tortilla); and

Thai Cuisine (Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowl, Teriyaki Beef Rice Bowl)…and other vendors will be participating that day.

“Healthy Fare at the San Mateo County Fair” is a project of the San Mateo County Fair staff, San Mateo County Health System and WellKiddos™, an organization that advocates healthy food choices for children. “Healthy Fare” is modeled after a successful program in Marin County.

The San Mateo County Fair is held at the San Mateo County Event Center, located at 1346 Saratoga Ave. in San Mateo. For more information, contact Julie Hosfeldt at 650-573-3922 or jhosfeldt@smcgov.org.

Media Contact: Robyn Thaw (650) 573-3935


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 39 other followers