San Carlos Real Estate Agent, San Carlos Realtor San Carlos City Council Pushes Turf Through – Budget Battle Next on the Horizon. | The White Oaks Blog

San Carlos City Council Pushes Turf Through – Budget Battle Next on the Horizon.

by Chuck Gillooley

Turf Contract Awarded.

I attended Monday night’s City Council meeting, which drew a packed house, as pro-turf and anti-turf residents squared off one last time in the Council Chambers.  As I’m sure you are aware, after nearly two hours of discussion, the Council voted 4-1 to award the contract to resurface the athletic field at Highlands Park with synthetic turf, with the start of construction delayed for another 90 days until the pending litigation to block the installation of turf is resolved.  Councilman Matt Grocott was the lone dissenting voice on the Council for this particular vote.

I sat in the front row of the spectator section and listened to Public Works Director Robert Weil’s introduction, as well each and every resident presentation.  If you haven’t taken the time to attend a City Council meeting in person, I highly recommend doing so — especially with the crucial budget discussions right around the corner.  Besides, seeing our government at work is a very interesting experience.  Some impressions I took away from the meeting:

  • Funds: Councilman Omar Ahmad, with the assistance of the City Staff, did an outstanding job of defining the different funds were being considered to fund this project.  I wasn’t clear at the outset about the differences between Measure G Funds, Park-in-Lieu Funds, and Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) Endowment Funds — but after that discussion it was very clear.  Well done.
  • Public Speakers: Every person who spoke, regardless of which side they were on,  spoke eloquently and effectively on their position.   This takes a lot of guts to do in front of a packed house, a full council,  and a television audience.  I was very impressed with everyone who spoke.
  • Representation: I kept an approximate count of the number of speakers and their positions on this issue.  35 speakers total:  20 (or 57%) either wanted a delay in the decision, or were against it entirely.  15 (43%) were in favor of moving forward.   In addition, at the start of the meeting the turf poll that is currently running at the top of the site already had over 100 votes — 86% were against moving forward, and about 11% were in favor (the rest voted “don’t care.”)   Granted, both of these datapoints are highly unscientific, but for all the claims that the pro-turf contingency was the majority, these numbers tell a different story.  Yet the council still voted 4-1…  I will let you draw your own conclusions.

Next Up:  Budgets.

I stated in my previous post (and I remained convinced) I believe the turf contract approval process should have taken place at the same time the City Budget was being decided, not months in advance.   Why?  Not for the hope of using capital improvement funds for like those above to solve our operational issues.  I fully understand that those monies cannot be mixed.  But even though the funds come from different sources — it’s still money…and the Park and Rec Department just got a golden egg — an egg that should be taken into account when the City ultimately decides how and where to make their cuts to balance the budget.

I will be writing more posts as the budget battle starts to heat up in the coming months.    Believe me, if you were looking for a time to get involved in civic issues, there isn’t a better time than now.
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Comments 6
  • What four members of the City Council did was a PR bonehead mistake. They failed to realize was that their decision will be an eyesore and an affront to common sense in 90 days when the bulldozers arrive at Highlands. In the midst of this, a budget crisis will be discussed or service cuts will have taken place. The turf issue and the budget issue belong on the same plate. I really don’t see how we can cut enough to balance the budget.. How much can we really generate in extra revenue from business taxes, higher fees, etc.? At some point, San Carlos residents will need to bail out their city. I’d like to suggest that City Hall needs to use the public announcement service that the police dept uses occasionally to notify all residents that we face severe cuts in city services. Let people come together to find out the facts and figure out acceptable solutions. There will always be diehards on opposite ends. It’s the people in the middle who can make the most difference.

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    • I was also chagrined to see the turf issue take precedence over the budget crisis at Monday’s meeting. The decision essentially says that it’s okay to change part of Highlands so that essentially one sport (soccer), run by organized private teams, can use it year around to the detriment of others wishing to use it for other activities. This bad decision is a done deed, and we should now focus on making sure the budget decisions don’t get botched. Here are my recommendations.
      1) Let the parks go unwatered and uncut. They will look ugly but it will save a lot of money.
      2) Since City Hall will have a skeleton crew anyway, shut down Parks and Rec. They’re not needed.
      3) Revert existing parks to non-organized sports fields. Just tell organized sports leagues that they can’t use the fields.
      4) Sell the Senior Center. the building occupies a prime corner.
      5) Sell the Youth center or have a private recreation operator run it.
      6) Sell Crestview Park to a housing developer. I bet a few million could be made.
      7) Lastly, get rid of the city manager. I envy how Foster City is run, has healthy reserves and knows how to spend prudently. Incidentally, none of their parks has been affected and city services are doing just fine.

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      • Dave–I love your post and your thoughts. Nice work!

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      • Dave, Are you sure your name is not Matt [Grocott]? You sound a lot like him.

        Or perhaps you are doing a satirical David Letterman routine—-that’s funny.

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  • I completely agree with you Chuck – the turf conversation should be a part of the entire budget conversation. Also, I can’t believe PAMF would say no to our city’s request of designating their $1,000,000 donation to safey operations expenses given our disasterous budget situation. I really think the council should be considering all of the options discussed on your blog by the members such as:

    – partering with other cities to provide services and save on costs

    – further reductions to salaries, benefits and retirement for city employees

    – ELIMINATE MANAGEMENT JOBS FIRST to hopefully save some safety jobs. Do we really a Community Development Director position when times are this tough? Sorry, but that position was added about 3 years ago and costs over $200K per year. We seemed to function just fine as a city with out it for decades, the council should start their cuts with that position and look for other management jobs to cut, BEFORE they cut safety positions. Right now their are NO management jobs on the cut list!

    – charge more for parks & recs classes

    – charge more for all athletic teams to play on SC fields

    – contract out all suitable services

    I would really like the council to consider all viable options in order to balance our budget and provide essential services.

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  • Chuck,

    Do you know if the city is planning to cut any management jobs? I know it has been brought up here before and I was unable to find information about management job layoffs on the city websit.

    Thank you.

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