First meeting of Measure A Oversight Committee takes place Tuesday, Feb. 4, at College of San Mateo

January 31, 2014

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – The Measure A Oversight Committee, which was created following voters’ approval of a half-cent countywide sales tax in November 2012, will meet for the first time on Tuesday, February 4.

The meeting will take place at 6 p.m. at the College of San Mateo, College Heights Conference Room, Building 10, Room 468, 1700 W. Hillsdale Blvd., San Mateo, 94402.

More than 65 percent of voters in November 2012 approved Measure A, which called for “an annual audit of the general fund revenues” generated by the half-cent sales tax. The tax took effect in April 2013.

The Board of Supervisors appointed 10 community members to the oversight committee, two from each supervisorial district. Those members will take the oath of office on Tuesday.

To view the agenda and other materials, visit www.smcgov.org/budget and click on “More” under “Measure A Oversight Committee.”

Following public hearings, the Board of Supervisors approved 22 separate proposals to be funded with Measure A. The full list along with accompanying staff reports is available with the agenda materials.

The College Heights Conference Room is located in Building 10, also known as College Center. The building is off of East Perimeter Road. Visitor parking is available in Forum Lot 8.

View a campus map: http://collegeofsanmateo.edu/map/images/Spring%202014%20Map.pdf


County Parks Presents Proposed Plans for Two Projects at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

January 29, 2014

San Mateo County Parks is in the early stages of preparing plans to manage the Cypress Forest on the bluff and enhance the habitat of San Vicente Creek at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.  Both projects were recommended in the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve Master Plan, which was adopted by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors in 2004.

This past Saturday, January 25th, County Parks staff and consultants hosted a public site visit to discuss and receive comments on the proposed plans.  This was done to gather public concerns and ideas early in the planning process, prior to completing plans for more formal public review and comment in the permitting phases.

Cypress Forest Management Plan

The County is working with consultants from The Planning Center DC&E on the inventory, assessment and proposed plans for both projects.  The consulting team included a certified arborist who performed a tree assessment of the Cypress Forest to create a plan for restoring the health and improving public safety within the forest.  Of the approximately 1,068 trees, mostly Cypress trees, identified in the forest, 137 trees are dead.   Other trees are in need of trimming.  At this time, project implementation is anticipated to occur in six phases over a five-year period based on priorities.  The highest priority is given to trees which present a hazard to visitors.

San Vicente Creek Enhancement Plan

Another plan being developed in the same area is for the enhancement of San Vicente Creek habitat.  The consultant team included a biologist specializing in “riparian enhancement”.  He inventoried San Vicente Creek to determine opportunities to eradicate or manage exotic non-native plants and facilitate native plant cover. Priorities are being ranked in three phases over a five-year period.

Steps to Date

These two conceptual plans were introduced at the December 5, 2013 San Mateo

County Parks and Recreation Commission meeting where public comment was received.  Department staff at the Saturday, January 25th public site visit received additional comment on the conceptual plans.  The public comment period on the conceptual plans is open through February 3, 2014.  While this comment period end-date is important to make necessary improvements to the plans, we will continue to encourage public engagement as the plans develop.

Next Steps

County staff will use the comments received to make adjustments to both proposed plans as they are developed.  The initial project plans will be placed at www.smcoparks.org for public viewing (estimated mid-February 2014), with the permitting and additional public review process to follow. The San Mateo County Planning Department will be the lead agency for CEQA review and issuance of a Coastal Development Permit.  Federal and state permits will be secured specifically for the San Vicente Creek Enhancement Project.  The San Mateo Parks and Recreation Commission will review the projects prior to implementation.

Implementation of these proposed projects will be based on available funding with a goal to implement initial phases of both projects in the summer of 2014.

Send comments or questions about these proposed future projects to Senior Planner Sam Herzberg at sherzberg@smcgov.org.


STARS Awards highlight top performers

January 28, 2014

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – A chat line that helps people get quick answers from the Tax Collectors Office earned honors for customer service in this year’s STARS Awards presented Tuesday by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.

The Board also presented STARS Awards to programs that increased patient satisfaction at a health clinic and reduced energy use in the County Hall of Justice.

“The STARS Awards allow us to highlight the great work that is done across our organization to continuously improve customer service, efficiency and program delivery,” said Dave Pine, president of the Board of Supervisors. “It’s important that we celebrate our successes while always striving to improve.”

Established in 2006, the STARS competition gives cash awards to County departments and programs that demonstrate excellence in performance and customer service. The program was expanded in 2008 to reward outstanding employee suggestions and environmental sustainability initiatives.

The cash awards must be used to support the winning department’s operations.

Two programs received awards for customer service.

The Treasurer-Tax Collector Office’s Live Chat allows customers to connect quickly the staff via the Internet. All staff members are signed into the chat system, allowing any available member to assist. The Health System/San Mateo Medical Center’s Patient Experience Project at the Willow Clinic improved customer satisfaction scores by 9 percentage points. Both programs received $5,000.

The Health System’s Kaizen Promotion Office received the Program Performance Award for training employees in ways to streamline operations. This has resulted in decreasing wait times for patients and improving services. Child Support Services also received the award for developing a dashboard system that helps employees prioritize work so they can collect child support and give the money to families more quickly. Both programs received $20,000.

The Green Award went to the Public Works Department’s Strategic Energy Master Plan for the Hall of Justice. Measurable results include an 18.4 percent decrease in electrical usage and an 80.4 percent reduction in natural gas use. The program received $5,000.

Honorable Mentions: Health System/Environmental Health’s Regional Approach to ReUsable Bag Ordinance ($1,500); County Manager’s Office’s Board Agenda Process ($1,500); and Sheriff’s Office Maple Street Complex Greening Project ($1,500).

Marina Yu of the Housing Department received $100 for the Employee Suggestion Award by recommending the County explore the feasibility of establishing community service activities for employees both to build teamwork and to provide service.

In all, County departments submitted 28 programs for award consideration and 14 employees submitted suggestions. All submissions were evaluated by a committee and programs with the highest scores were recommended for awards.


Local Farmers Gain Advocate: New Agricultural Ombudsman On the Job

January 23, 2014

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. – Brett Melone grew up on his parents’ fruit farm, learning all about what has kept farmers up at night for generations: pests, prices and precipitation. Later, as the director of a training program for aspiring farmers, he learned all about what keeps farmers up at night in the 21st Century: permits, process and policies.

Now at the Resource Conservation District as San Mateo County’s first agricultural ombudsman, Melone can’t do much about the former but he can ease concerns about the latter. His job is to act as a go-between farmers and the County to improve communication and to promote farming by helping to navigate regulations and rules.

“My goal is to help farming remain viable in our county by breaking down some of these regulatory barriers,” Melone said. “Agriculture may be small relative to other industries in San Mateo County.  But it’s a historic industry, an important industry. There are a lot of people in San Mateo County who make their living in agriculture, and in some ways are struggling to do so.”

San Mateo County’s agricultural industry in 2012 produced about $140 million in a variety of commodities. Many of these crops make their way to local farmers markets throughout the Peninsula and to international markets around the world.

“By promoting local agricultural, we’re helping to provide local, healthy food to our local markets and restaurants,” said Don Horsley, a member of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. Horsley represents District 3, which encompasses the majority of farming in the county, and worked to identify funding and gather support to create the new ombudsman position.

At the recent agricultural workshop, sponsored by Supervisor Horsley, local farmers asked for help in negotiating the complex permitting landscape. Farmers want to stay focused on the innovation needed to keep farms profitable in a fast-changing marketplace, not permitting processes .The permitting process can be particularly difficult for those who rarely interact with County Government.

At the same time, regulations help protect the environment and workers to ensure farming activities are done safely and in accordance with local, State, and federal codes. Melone will help farmers navigate a very complex permitting process.

The ombudsman services are free of charge, and in the first few weeks at his new job he has already worked with ranchers, organic growers and a greenhouse operator – “a real cross section of the ag community,” he said.

One of the knottier challenges to the job is the fact that farm operations, especially those near the coast, are often regulated by multiple agencies. “There is no one-stop shop to deal with all your permit needs,” Melone said. “While my focus is on the county’s regulations, I do what I can to help point people in the right direction.”

Melone can be reached at brett@sanmateorcd.org, or by calling 650-712-7765.

Media Contacts:

Fred Crowder, San Mateo County Agricultural Commissioner, 650-363-4700, fcrowder@smcgov.org

Kellyx Nelson, Executive Director, San Mateo County Resource Conservation District, 650-712-7765, or kellyx@sanmateorcd.org

Supervisor Don Horsley, 650-363-4569, dhorsley@smcogov.org


Free Dental Care to Low-Income Children on Give Kids a Smile Day

January 21, 2014

County celebrates 10 year anniversary of Give Kids a Smile Day  

SAN MATEO, Calif. – February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and on Friday, February 7,  San Mateo County dentists will provide free dental services to low-income children, ages 1 to 18, on Give Kids a Smile Day.

Give Kids a Smile Day is a one day event and residents are encouraged to call San Mateo County Health Coverage Unit at (650) 616-2002 to schedule an appointment.

Several San Mateo County dentists will participate in Give Kids a Smile Day by offering free services, such as oral exams, cleanings, and fluoride treatments, to families with children, teens, and young adults who may otherwise not be able to afford or access dental care.  The families also receive assistance with health insurance enrollment.

For the past 10 years, San Mateo County Health System and San Mateo County Dental Society have been hosting Give Kids A Smile Day as a means to provide free dental care to local children and young adults who desperately need dental health education and treatment.

“Nearly one in four children, ages 2 to 11, has untreated cavities in their baby teeth,” said Dr. Gracia Cua, San Mateo County Dental Society. “Untreated dental disease is painful and affects a child’s physical, emotional, and social well-being, and yet it is preventable through brushing, flossing, proper diet and regular visits to the dentist.”

Give Kids a Smile Day is a national event where nearly a half million children benefit from dentists donating their time to raise awareness on the importance of dental care, and to help parents who cannot afford proper dental care for their children.

San Mateo County Health System ensures that all children ages 0 through 18 years in San Mateo County have access to comprehensive health and dental insurance coverage. To learn about health insurance enrollment for children, please call San Mateo County Health Coverage Unit at (650) 616-2002 or visit http://www.smcchi.org.

A healthy body starts with a healthy mouth.

 


Put the power of data in your hands: Data Innovation Day is January 23

January 16, 2014

Explore publicly available data

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Do we owe you $1.8 million?

Or at least a share of exactly $1,818,449 in unclaimed checks? Come find out on Thursday, January 23, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at San Mateo County’s first Data Innovation Day.smc_data_innovation_day_logo

Whether San Mateo County has an unclaimed check with your name on it is just one feature of Data Innovation Day, which will be held at 455 County Center, Redwood City.

We invite the public to take a virtual tour through data that we collect. This open data can then be used by entrepreneurs or individuals to build new businesses based on the data they collect or to act as cyber-watchdogs to gauge how tax dollars are being spent.

“Local government collects vast amounts of data on everything from building permits to crime data,” said Supervisor Dave Pine. “We want to put the power of information into the hands of the public to hold their government accountable, provide feedback and help local government respond to emerging needs and dynamics.”

During Data Innovation Day, we will have computers available and tech-savvy employees to help the public explore data. San Mateo County is one of many public agencies around the world participating in Data Innovation Day, which is held to highlight the benefits that can be found in government data.

Over the past year San Mateo County launched numerous initiatives to help the public better understand the role of county government and to track expenditures and performance. For instance, the Open Data Portal (data.smcgov.org) is an ever-growing database of publicly available information.

For example, the County’s Controller, Bob Adler, has launched Open Checkbook (data.smcgov.org/checkbook). Open Checkbook allows the public to track any payment of $5,000 or more for any good or service. “In combination with our audited financial reports, Open CheckBook provides the citizens of San Mateo County with even greater transparency on how the County uses taxpayer dollars,” said Adler.SMC_LOGO

Another example is SMC Performance (performance.smcgov.org). This tool allows the public to track the progress of key measures starting with initiatives funded by Measure A, the half-cent sales tax voters approved in November 2012.

“Data is powerful,” Pine said. “We encourage the public to explore our data and to find useful ways to use that data to launch a business or tell us how to do a better job.”

Data Innovation Day will feature events in Washington, DC and across the United States as well as in more than 100 global partners in India, Ireland, England, Turkey, Nepal, Russia, Ukraine and Australia.

What:   Data Innovation Day

When:  Thursday, January 23, 2014, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: 455 County Center (across the courtyard from the Hall of Justice), First Floor, Redwood City (Google map) Metered parking is available on the street and in the County garage on Middlefield Road just off Veterans Boulevard.


Discover San Mateo County Parks: Winter Newsletter

January 15, 2014

Now is a great time to visit your San Mateo County Parks.

View the latest newsletter to discover where to visit and what you will see.

You will also find updates on construction projects and a message from Parks Director Marlene Finley.

Read the newsletter.


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