Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Out with the Old, In with the New

It's that time...time to ring out 2008 and welcome 2009! We hope that you have a safe and enjoyable time celebrating the start of new hopes, dreams, and expectations. Be sure to keep in mind that City Hall will be open tomorrow, New Year's Eve, until noon, closed New Year's Day, and then open 8:00am - 5:00pm on Friday, Jan. 2nd.

The New Year also allows the opportunity for improvements in the way you live, and plan for the future. Therefore, there's no better time than now to Resolve to be Ready for 2009.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Ready Campaign is reminding Americans to Resolve to be Ready in 2009. Resolve to be Ready is a nationwide effort designed to encourage individuals, families, businesses and communities to take action and prepare for emergencies in the New Year. One of the ways you can do this is to pick up an emergency preparedness kit at City Hall. It could turn out to be the most important purchase you'll have made all year.

With that, have a happy and SAFE New Year!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Big Things Will Be Happening Here in Brisbane in the New Year!

This year is quickly drawing to a close, with already there being much to look forward to in 2009. In January alone, there are a few items well worth mentioning:

On 1/10, you’ll have the opportunity to help beautify Old Quarry Road. From 9am-noon, come and lend a hand planting indigenous, native plants and pulling the less welcome ones like broom and ivy. Meet at the entrance to Old Quarry Rd. @ San Francisco St. Hopefully the rains will remain at bay (in case of showers, the event will be canceled). This event is co-sponsored by Lipman School and the City of Brisbane Parks & Recreation Dept., with Lipman students able to earn community service points for this activity. For more information, please contact Peter Stiehler at (650) 291-2400.

Also taking place on the 10th is the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the Bayshore North-South Bikeway project. This project was started in early October, propelled by the Council’s desire to reduce greenhouse gases and increase the safety for our citizens who walk or ride their bikes on Bayshore Blvd. A total of $550,000 (87% of the project) was granted through the California Transportation Development Act to widen and smooth over the bike lane on Bayshore Blvd., as well as install grooved pavement rumble strips and a 6” wide bikeway shoulder stripe for further safety. See the photo below for details:

Come join us at 10:00am in the Park and Ride Station at Bayshore and Old County Rd. as we celebrate the successful completion of this project! Light refreshments will be served.

The Calendar of Events located on the City’s website will begin incorporating the meeting times and special events information for community groups here in town. Click here for a listing of the community clubs and organizations that exist in Brisbane. With currently over 20 groups, you are bound to find something that suits your needs. If you would like to add your club’s meetings times or include one of their upcoming events on the Calendar of Events, please contact Parks & Recreation supervisor Steve Beaty at sbeaty@ci.brisbane.ca.us.

Then there are some events that don’t necessarily require any reminders. One of those being the inauguration ceremony of president-elect Barack Obama on 1/20. U.S. senator Dianne Feinstein, heading the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, has invited both the San Francisco Boys Chorus and San Francisco Girls Chorus to lend their voices as Obama is being sworn-in on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. You may recall the San Francisco Girls Chorus (previously Chorissima) had performed at Live at Mission Blue as part of the 2007-2008 season.

Make sure to tune in for the swearing-in ceremony, as you may catch one of Brisbane’s own, Elizabeth Stern, performing alongside 85 other choristers from the Bay Area (43 young singers from the SF Girls Chorus and 43 from the SF Boys Chorus will be singing Obama into office). In a press release, Dianne Feinstein said that the “two choruses were selected for their high level of artistic excellence, embodiment of the American spirit and promise for the future.” To hear more on this much talk-about event, click here for a webcast of NPR’s “All Things Considered”.

Congratulations to all the young singers! You’ll soon be a part of history, and that alone is considered to be a huge achievement!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wishing You a Wonderful Holiday Season~!!

Photo courtesy of www.panza.smugmug.com
All Brisbane is aglow...and City Hall will be open next week: Mon. & Tues. 8-5pm, Weds. (Christmas Eve) 8-12pm, closed Thurs. Christmas Day, and Fri. 8-5pm.
May you have a joyous and star-filled holiday!

Friday, December 12, 2008

In Hopes of Creating a Sustainable Crocker Industrial Park

There is no doubt that change is imminent. The idea of change can quickly conjure up more fearful sentiments at first, but with the proper resources, thought, and planning, the fearfulness is bound to fade away, as it is replaced with actionable steps in how to move forward. And politics aside, change with a purpose is something that this City of Stars has always believed in, and fought hard for.

With 2008 drawing to a close, we find ourselves at a time in Brisbane's history that can greatly affect the future state of the City. With the economy the way that it is, even more thoughtful planning and foresight is being required than ever before. These are uncertain times, but one thing's for sure...decisions having to do with the preservation of Brisbane's community will always involve weighing all the possible alternatives. We who have come to love this place want to know for certain that future generations will also stand to benefit from all the big prospects and hopes this small town has to offer.

A part of the methodology which has become ingrained in the Brisbane Way is questioning what is right, and best for the city. That is where this idea of change becomes the most dynamic. When everything around us is changing, there is a need to start entertaining how we can stay sharp, actively pursuing that which will lend the most strength in providing for a sustainable and viable community.

As the City Council picks up the conversation regarding freight forwarding this coming Monday (12/15), this notion of sustainability and what it entails for Crocker Industrial Park is what will be at the forefront. As they review proposed changes to the Industrial Park, most notably -- current regulations which limit freight forwarder uses in Crocker Park equal to 20% of the total gross square footage of all the buildings in the Industrial Park -- the Council will entertain questions regarding whether a change in the current policy fosters 1. economic vitality, 2. if it will improve (or at least not diminish) the environment, and 3. whether it leads to social equity. For a more complete look at each of these three areas, click here and read the prepared staff report.

But before any policy is created, or changed, you can expect there to be some changes to the weather patterns first. In anticipation of a wet and rainy weekend, there have been two pallets of sand bags made available for the public at the Fire Station (3445 Bayshore Blvd.). Look for the orange cones on the left when you pull in!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Beware of Fake Fire Inspectors!

North County Fire Authority, which serves the cities of Brisbane, Daly City, and Pacifica, is advising local businesses and apartment complex owners to be aware of a scam involving fake "fire inspectors". At least one Bay Area business has been targeted by a company going by the name of "Fire Systems Inspections of USA." This company has recently been victimizing businesses throughout California, with the scam first being reported in Los Angeles, making its way up to Central California, and just now hitting the Bay Area. Individuals from the company usually arrive in a uniform and say they are there to conduct a fire inspection on behalf of the City. Once they complete the inspection, the business is sent a bill for the service.

Brisbane businesses should be aware that North County Fire Department’s inspectors always arrive in an officially marked vehicle, not a private, unmarked car. If in doubt, business owners should ask inspectors for proper identification and official inspectors should willingly present it. Additionally, North County Fire inspectors wear their badges on their chest, along with their name plate. When they are through with their inspection, they will leave a Fire and Life-Safety Inspection Report, not an actual invoice. A copy of that report is given to the administrative office at North County Fire Authority who in turn will bill the business or property owner. Invoices will display the official North County Fire Authority logo and request the remittance be sent to them at North County Fire Authority, 10 Wembly Drive, Daly City, CA, 94015-4314.

If you are a business and receive a false invoice you should immediately file a police report. If you are able, discretely call police while the phony inspectors are in your business. For more information, please contact North County Fire Authority at (650) 991-8138.

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Today has been designated as a Winter Spare the Air Day.
As you may know, it is now illegal to burn wood from noon the day the alert is issued to noon of the following day. Those who violate the rule will receive a warning for their first violation, followed by fines upwards of $1,000.
You can sign up to get these Winter Spare the Air alerts directly from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District by clicking here or on the BAAQMD's Burn Status widget in the left sidebar.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

2nd Public Meeting for Bi-County Transportation Study Tomorrow Night

Last month we blogged on the first of the public outreach meetings, which took place at Bret Harte Elementary School in San Francisco. Tomorrow night, 12/10, there will be a second opportunity for the public to get involved in this portion of the Study...and it will be happening at a location closer to Brisbane. This time, the meeting will be held at Visitacion Valley Elementary School (55 Scherwin St.), which is less than 2.5 miles away and just beyond the city limits. This gets at exactly what the Bi-County Transportation Study hopes to ultimately address in its evaluation: potential transportation improvements based on current and anticipated land use growth on both sides of the border. So, if you've got an opinion to express, now would be the time to do so. The meeting starts at 6:00pm and is scheduled to run until 8:00pm. For more information, contact Chester Fung from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority at chester.fung@sfcta.org or (415) 522-4804.

Friday, December 05, 2008

There is Much Celebrating to be Had...Due in Part to All That We Have.

There is true meaning behind the name "City of Stars". This coming Sunday marks the day that Brisbane's mountain hillside will tranform into an even more stunning canvas, as it becomes aglow with holiday stars of all sizes. It is the brilliance of these stars that further distinguishes Brisbane's small-town charm, quickly felt by all who stop by (or drives by, for that matter).

This was the sentiment expressed by a fellow citizen, saying that he's only been living in town for 6 weeks now, but quickly realized how special of a place Brisbane is. He went on to say that he's hoping to one day retire here.

The rest of Monday night was nothing short of distinct and memorable. With a Resolution presented by former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown in dedication to the new "old" City Hall, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the entrance of the first-ever Community Meeting Room (as Senator Leland Yee and SF Board of Supervisors member Sophie Maxwell looked on), it was an outstanding turnout by the community to celebrate former Mayor Michael Barnes' past year of service to Brisbane and welcoming newly-appointed Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tem, Sepi Richardson and Clarke Conway. Enjoy the pictures that highlight the night's festivities, courtesy of Beth Grossman.

We look forward to all the things that will be celebrated in Brisbane in the year to come. But first, one of the most celebratory nights in town is taking place this Sunday with the Festival of Lights. Start the night by lighting your holiday star at 4:00pm and then join in with the carolers at the top of Visitacion starting at 5:30pm to help spread some cheer as you progress down the hill to the Community Park for a short holiday program performed by the children in the Brisbane Dance Workshop and the traditional lighting of the Festival Tree. There will be cookies and cocoa to warm you through the night.

As this evening approaches, may we all be reminded of all that we have, and remember those less fortunate. Look for donation boxes near the Festival Tree for canned food and/or unwrapped toys. The Brisbane Lions Club and the Brisbane Fire Department will cheerfully distribute your gifts to those in need. There will also be a collection bin at City Hall for the next few weeks to afford you the chance to give a little this holiday season.

Monday, December 01, 2008

"Timing is Everything"

This oft-used expression doesn't seem to ever lose its luster, evoking the sentiment that the outcomes of life situations and circumstances fall outside the realm of our control. The theme of happenstance seemed to be what was driving the economy, as we heard and read about the Fed's decisions in who they would "bail out". "Winners" such as Citigroup Inc. had hundreds of millions of dollars of capital injected into them, while "losers" such as Lehman Brothers failed to find a buyer and were forced to then file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. This became one of the largest failures of an investment bank, which undoubtedly left casualties in its wake.

This may sound like more dreary financial news, but there is a silver-lined cloud amidst the storm, and remarkably so for Brisbane. As was mentioned by newly-appointed Mayor Richardson during last night's City Council meeting, the City's loss after Lehman's collapse was just $6,000. This represents a fairly small amount, for reasons explained as you read on. But first, a photo from the meeting, the first-ever City Council meeting in the new Community Meeting Room located at City Hall (more to come, along with an overview of a very celebratory night):

Lehman's main customers were big institutions, with the County of San Mateo having invested 5.7% of its funds in short-term unsecured loans. Therefore, when the investment firm collapsed in mid-September, some jurisdictions felt the financial blow harder than others. The Menlo Park City School District was one of the most impacted agencies, themselves hit with a $3.5 million loss. On the other hand, jurisdictions which invested with State-operated programs such as LAIF (Local Agency Investment Fund) were not as hard hit. Fortunately, this was the case for Brisbane, itself invested in LAIF at the time Lehman collapsed. LAIF, an investment alternative for California's local governments and special districts, pays a lower interest rate than the County, but has grown from 293 participants in 1977 to more than 2,715 participants and $21.3 billion in October of 2008.

The City of Brisbane regards safety of principle a higher priority than yield on investment, and in this occurrence, this more conservative way of thinking ended up being the better approach.

There is, however, a slight loss for all San Mateo County cities due to the 1992 state-enacted legislation (Prop. 98) that shifted partial financial responsibility for funding education to local governments (cities, counties and special districts). The state did this by instructing county auditors to shift the allocation of local property tax revenues from local government to "education revenue augmentation funds" (ERAFs), directing that specified amounts of city, county, and other local agency property taxes be deposited to these funds to support schools.

Beginning in 2002-03, the City began receiving ERAF reimbursements from the County since so many County school districts are basic aid. However, due to the County having a portion of their investment pool in Lehman Brothers, approximately $6K of our ERAF funds was lost. Though this is not a very significant amount, all cities in the County were named in news articles dealing with the lawsuit now being brought before Lehman Brothers, in hopes to recoup the $155 million loss, including $25 million of school district finances.

In this tumultuous age, there is no telling what actual finances will be recovered. We in Brisbane are just fortunate to not be as negatively affected as could have easily been the case. Whatever the outcome, we'll have to do what another oft-heard expression suggests...just "wait and see".