March-April 2017 NEWSLETTER
ON MOBILE PHONE/TABLE, VIEW IN LANDSCAPE MODE
NEWSLETTER EDITOR: YOUTH INTERN SHAUNAK VAIDYA
BELOW ARE TOPICS COVERED IN THIS NEWSLETTER - click here to read
NOTE FROM RISHI
CITY COUNCIL HAPPENINGS
NEWS OF SARATOGA
Q&A with Councilmember Kumar
GLIMPSES - A PICTORIAL VIEW
Public events and activities from March and April
Click here for details
A NOTE FROM RISHI
“CRIME CONTINUES TO BE A CONCERN”
Crime continues to be a concern in Saratoga. The first quarter, January through March was relatively quiet, but we are beginning to see resurgence in crime activity these past few weeks. Please take steps to place deterrents in and around your home. You can review safety tips at www.RishiKumar.com/tips . Take action now, adopt some protective measures to protect your home
Are you planning a summer vacation? You will find some interesting tips and measures to take here before you leave
Safety has been a top priority (along with the issue of super high water bills) for me this past year. Here are some numbers for you to ponder upon:
I recommend you join this group and stay engaged with the latest safety challenges and solution, collaborate with other Saratoga citizens
Here are the the crime stats from 2016. Also, here is the deck that was presented by Captain Urena at a recent Neighborhood Safety Watch certification meeting that was attended by 10 Saratoga neighborhoods who are on the path to getting certified. Please review - you will find some information that is pretty interesting and actionable.
I recommend you read this newsletter (just scroll down) to stay informed with your water rates and specific changes going on with electricity - it has pertinent and relevant information. Please scroll down below to find such topics covered in this latest newsletter.
Do not hesitate to reach out if there is anything that I can help with. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve and to continue doing important and satisfying work in Saratoga's interest. Notwithstanding the challenges of this 'voluntary' role, and the imperfections of the system, I am perpetually excited about the possibilities to make it better. And through my service over the years, I hope to express my thanks to you and Saratoga in impactful ways.
CITY COUNCIL HAPPENINGS
1. America in Bloom judges will visit in May:
Jill Hunter leads the way for Saratoga with America in Bloom again this year, work that started in November. The judges arrive for 4 days, May 17th to the 20th. Paula Cappello, Charlotte Roman, Marilyn Marchetti, Laurel Perusa, Tina Liddie, Annette Stransky and Sean Halasz have been working hard, with support from Village Gardeners team, Saratoga Public Works Director John Cherbone and Kevin Meek from his team. Visit the Village and you will see it in all it’s glory with flowers in pots and urns and new hanging baskets. Wednesday May 17th and Friday May 19th the judges will be walking around the Village going in and out of shops. They will not identify themselves so please be welcoming to everyone. Friday night, May 19th please mark your calendars and join us for our community dinner at Bella Saratoga, 6:30 pm, to say goodbye to the judges.
2. Big Basin Way’s Proposed 4 Way Stop: Proposed 4-Way Stop at Big Basin Way and 4th Street On March 9, the Traffic Safety Commission’s (TSC) agenda included hearing a request for a 4-way stop at the intersection of Big Basin Way and 4th Street in the Village. Over the past several years, the City of Saratoga has received several requests from community members to improve the safety of both pedestrians and motorists at that intersection. Due to the slope of 4th Street, there are sight distance issues that create a hazard for travelers crossing the intersection. The Traffic Engineer and the TSC Commissioners recommended that the City install a 4-way stop at that location.The City will apply for an encroachment permit from Caltrans, who will ultimately decide whether the City can install the stop signs. The City believes it has a strong argument to convince Caltrans that the intersection warrants a 4-way stop.
3. Holiday Tree Planting: Staff has recommended that the City move forward with replacing the holiday tree after it was recently damaged by a vehicle collision at Blaney Plaza. The City Arborist recommends that the holiday tree be more drought tolerant and suggests a 15’ – 20’ Deodar Cedar. The best times of year to plant the tree are either now or next fall. Because the City’s Holiday Tree Lighting event is held in November, the tree should be planted soon. After studying the Plaza and available planting locations, staff recommends the holiday tree be planted just left of where the Stone Pine stood. Stay tuned on this
4 Website Design Concept Survey: On Friday, April 21, the City opened a survey on Peak Democracy to receive community input on the proposed design concept for the new website. Participants will view images of the design in draft form and answer 4 questions about the design elements (appearance, colors, layout, etc.). The link to take the survey will be shared on the City’s website and via the City’s Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor accounts. The results of this survey will be presented to the City Council on May 3.
5. Weed Abatement Program Update: Due to recent rains, County Weed Abatement Program staff have received several requests for extensions to the May 1 deadline to meet the program requirements. Wet ground conditions are preventing owners from performing weed abatement work. To preserve the 2017 program timeline approved by the City Council, accommodate unusual weather conditions, and ensure hazardous vegetation is eliminated before the peak of the fire season, properties that have been granted an extension will be included in the nuisance declaration scheduled for May 17, 2017. These properties that have been granted an extension will be included in the nuisance declaration scheduled for May 17, 2017. These properties will be provisionally declared a nuisance and will not incur any fees if the property is compliant with weed abatement requirements by June 18, 2017, the nuisance correction deadline. The City will send letters to the owners of these properties to make sure they are aware that they will not incur any fees or penalties for being included in the interim nuisance declaration as long as they meet requirements by June 18. Owners that would like to request an extension should contact the County Weed Abatement Program at 408-282-3145
6 Blue Rock Shoot/Grover House Status Update
Building permits were issued on December 15, 2016 for the Blue Rock Shoot and Grover House mixed-use project on Big Basin Way.
Since that important milestone, the property owner and general contractor have been working to obtain approvals for several deferred submittal items, such as a mandatory shoring/stabilization plan, encroachment permits, and clearance from the State Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) for the necessary foundation excavation work. No construction will occur until theses approvals are issued
7 Saratoga’s Public Safety Task force gets going
Saratoga's Public Safety Task Force held its first meeting on March 27. During the meeting, the group selected John Hirokawa as Chair and Chuck Page as Vice Chair. The Task Force also decided to hold regular meetings on the fourth Thursday of the month at 6:00 p.m.
At the April meeting, the Task Force will consider Saratoga crime trends and insights from the Sheriff’s Office to help inform their proposed work plan, which will come before the City Council as a regular meeting agenda item once drafted.
We had a wonderful dedication of Madronia Arboretum on May 1st at Arbor Day
2. Saratoga’s Annual Wine Stroll Experience: The annual Wine Stroll event is happening again this year on May 13. The event is put on by the Saratoga City Chamber of Commerce, and information about the event can be found here : http://saratogachamber.org/may-wine-stroll/ Come out and enjoy the festivities!
3. Documentary Screening at AMC Saratoga: There will be an exclusive documentary screening of “What The Health”, a health based film from fParis Harvey. Details of the event can be found at https://www.tugg.com/events/what-the-health-3ogl The screening will take place on Thursday, May 11, from 6:30pm–8:30PM at the AMC Saratoga 14 Theaters (700 El Paseo De Saratoga, San Jose). Please join SVHB for a ONE NIGHT presentation of What the Health. From the creators of the unprecedented documentary of "Cowspiracy" with Rishi Kumar
4 Saratoga Seniors Music and Dance night - A free event for Seniors
We invite all the Saratoga Seniors for an evening of music and dance
WHEN: August 4th 2017 6pm to 10pm
WHERE: Saratoga community Center
DINNER: Gourmet dinner from Mynt Indian restaurant
RSVP is required by all seniors http://tinyurl.com/Anandvan
Live band with the “Bollywood Geetanjali band” of Rama and Minnie Shukla on August 4th at the Saratoga Community Center
Lots of dancing, food, music, and the best part, we would love to see every Senior participate and have a fantastic time!
THEME “BE THE STAR” Seniors get to dress like their favorite movie stars. We will bring the mic to Seniors on their table and they get to act or say a dialogue or sing a couple lines from a song. Ideally, love to have everyone perform. If you are shy, I will act for you ;-)
RSVP is required by all seniors http://tinyurl.com/Anandvan
5 Saratoga’s Monthly Bollywood night *6th year of absolute fun* on Fri, May 5th
This monthly open mic started July 2011 to coincide the launch of the Saratoga Village Farmer's market, at the Bell Tower Bistro . Our intention was to jump start our downtown economy and bring net new foot traffic to Saratoga Village...a good cause, turned into a fun event. We moved to the Blue Rock Shoot for many, many years, led to raising money for Saratoga Senior Center, a Saratoga's got Talent annual competition (2012-2015)....and with the recent BRS project, we have moved to a new location and a format that includes a catered dinner. A fantastic evening to relax, make a few new friends and kick off the weekend in style. Your network grows, you allow your cool vibe to imbibe upon the gathering, and a monthly karaoke gathering becomes a way of life for you too :-)
6 Lego Robotics Team formation on June 4th
Our annual Saratoga Lego Robotics Club team formation day is set for JUne 4th
Open for kids between 9 and 14
Read the FAQ here
WHERE:Joan Pisani Community Center 19655 Allendale Avenue, Saratoga CA
WHEN: 2pm to 3pm, June 4th 2017
This is a free event, instructor Sajiv Shah and Hitesh Shah
For all the new coaches that sign-up to coach on the Team Formation Day, we will conduct a 4 week bootcamp for coaches starting June 12th
RSVP for Bootcamp is here http://tinyurl.com/roboticsbootcamp
NEWS OF SARATOGA
1 SJWC Surcharge is gone, but the 11.5% water rate increase request by SJWC (Letter 501) is still under consideration
You may know that the San Jose Water Company surcharge is gone effective February 1st. Thanks to all who sent in your protest letters to the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board. The stance of San Jose Water Company (reluctance to remove) versus Great Oaks Water Company (will immediately remove the surcharge) was in stark contrast. We appreciate San Jose Water Company’s immediate action following these protest letters in taking out the surcharge.
But here are rate increases coming
There is a new water rate increase coming If it is approved by CPUC, there is a 2.1% rate increase. Who is ready to protest? https://sjwater.s3.amazonaws.com/files/documents/publicnotice_ADapril2017_4col_final.pdf
Stay tuned for the protest letter
See letter 506 that was approved by CPUC - leads to a 1.5 % in our water bill
2 PG&E Surcharge is already here...
Is your PGE electricity bill higher than $340 during the Summer months? Well, brace yourself for PGE surcharge. CPUC has already approved this surcharge and they are in effect since March. Only 10% of PG&E customers will be impacted. Will you? Details at https://www.pge.com/en_US/residential/rate-plans/how-rates-work/rate-changes/high-usage-surcharge/high-usage-surcharge.page
3 Saratoga switching to Silicon Valley Clean Energy
As you may know, our city is starting to offer an alternate to PG&E with Silicon Valley Clean energy SVCE, a county run program. We will all be eventually opted into the program and if we want PG&E, we will need to opt out. You will receive many notices as we switch to a more environmentally friendly source of energy that will be supplied over the PG^E infrastructure; bills will continue to be paid via PG&E.
For details visit this informational doc and/or the website svcleanenergy.org
Read the SJM coverage here
Phased rollout in Saratoga starts April, but we can all switch today via the website cleanenergy.org to 100% renewable energy option Green Prime (100% renewable, 100% GHG free)
Many have already switched to Green Prime. Solar customers, customers with electric car charging 2 meters - almost every scenario is taken into account as you switch to SVCE. A seminar was conducted on March 6th to provide Saratogans an opportunity to ask questions.
4 Mattress Fundraiser at Saratoga High School
Need a new mattress? Support Saratoga Music Boosters (SMB) students at their Mattress Fundraiser Sat, May 13th 10a-5p @ Saratoga High School. SAVE and SUPPORT! bit.ly/mattressfundraiservideo
5 Senator Beall’s SB1 passes
I am personally pleased to see Senator Beall's leadership deliver SB1. Californians deserves a revamp of our crumbling infrastructure...There will be money for various Saratoga projects that will start trickling in as a result. Read Office of California State Senator Jim Beall Senator Beall's statement below
Earlier this month, Senate Bill 1 received the necessary two-thirds majorities it needed in the state Senate and Assembly to reach Governor Brown's desk for his signature.
The action culminated a process that began more than two years ago when the Governor called for a special session to solve California's growing road repair crisis. Because I serve as the chairman of the Transportation Committee, it was my responsibility to find a solution to stop our roads from sinking further into deterioration.
Unless action was taken to increase funding for repairs, California potentially would have faced spending as much as eight times more in the coming years to restore heavily damaged roads. With SB 1, the state and cities will avoid up to $9.6 trillion in possible higher costs.
SB 1 paves the way for state and local governments to catch up on delayed repairs to streets, highways, and bridges. This bill generates $5.2 billion annually for transportation infrastructure maintenance to halt the growing number of repairs that threatened to engulf the budgets of cities, counties, and the state.
For Santa Clara County and its cities, the bill is projected to pump an addition $568.4 million for repairs. The county will receive an estimated $292 million. The cities will receive their separate allotments: San Jose, $238.5 million; Campbell, $9.7 million; Cupertino, $13.3 million; Los Gatos, $7.2 million; Saratoga, $6.9 million; and Monte Sereno, $800,000.
SB 1 also fights the spread of climate-changing pollution by getting more cars off the road, providing traffic congestion relief. It invests $750 million for mass transit improvements, such as extending BART to San Jose, which local Santa Clara County voters have supported on two separate ballot measures. No funds raised under SB 1 will be used for the high-speed rail project.
The bill ratchets up enforcement to compel 300,000 smog-dirty diesel trucks to meet clean air regulations, eliminating 90 tons of nitrogen oxides and three tons of toxic diesel soot per day – equivalent to removing 26 million single-passenger car from the road.
Some claim there is enough money in the general fund to pay for repairs. But their strategy called for diverting billions from schools and universities. Their scheme would have required cuts in health and human services, forcing more seniors and families into hunger, homelessness, and hospital emergency rooms.
I drafted SB 1 to expressly follow the state's "pay-as-you-go'' policy of making the users of the road responsible for maintaining it. SB 1 does that, and for the first time owners of zero-emission electric car owners will be contributing toward road maintenance.
The bill increases the gas tax by 12 cents per gallon, the first time since 1994 that it has been raised. Over the course of 23 years, the tax has lost over half its value to inflation, undercutting the purchasing power of a key revenue stream for repairs and maintenance. For the average driver, the bump in gas will amount to approximately $10 a month.
A new transportation improvement fee will be applied to every vehicle. The fee amount is based on the value of the vehicle. Eighty-seven percent of all registered vehicles fall within a $50 or less category.
Other changes also include increasing the diesel fuel tax by 20 cents per gallon and adjusting the diesel fuel sales tax by 4 percent. The revenue will help improve trade corridors, especially the routes that connect ports to inland distribution points and businesses.
Regions throughout the state are feeling SB 1's benefits. BART has put off proposed cuts in train service and ticket hikes for students, seniors, and people with disabilities. From Orange County to Monterey County, local transportation officials are saying SB 1 will enable them to start reducing their lists of "fix-it-first'' road repairs.
SB 1 is a plus to the economy, especially in regions that are still recovering from the recession. The bill has the potential to sustain 500,000 jobs that provide a middle-class salary with benefits. It also promotes pre-apprenticeship programs for people with low-incomes.
Along with my bill, I pushed for a state Constitutional Amendment that will put new revenue into a lock box to preserve its use only for transportation-related projects, such as road repair. The proposed amendment, ACA 5, will be put before voters next year.
When we invest in infrastructure the benefits are enormous: Smoother and safer roads. Efficiency. More jobs. More mobility. Faster cargo movement. A bigger and stronger California economy.
6 The first line of defense for our home
What is the first line of defense at your door to prevent a break-in? A talking camera/doorbell - that captures video footage of the squirrel soliciting for nuts at your front door, and even lets you talk to the squirrel too whether you are in the home office, having dinner, at a party or in Hawaii. NOTE: The squirrels will never break-in into an occupied home, they are just NOT keen for a confrontation. Saratogans get 30% off when they buy this product off the ring.com website (using special code 8saratoga30). But this deal at Costco is pretty good too. Also evalate Nest and Arlo that have a similar product.
7 Saratoga High wins the Gold Ribbon School Recognition
Proud of Saratoga High School : Congratulations to Saratoga High - winning 2017 Gold Ribbon School Recognition , Saratoga High School was among the 275 schools recognized, across the state, as a California Gold Ribbon School. State Schools Chief, Tom Torlakson, announced the 2017 winners of this prestigious award, created to honor schools in place of the California Distinguished Schools program.
8 Miller Middle School wins National Science Bowl
Proud of students of San Jose’s Joaquin Miller Middle School, one of the two winners in this year’s Department of Energy National Science Bowl. As you know, many students from Saratoga attend Miller Middle School. Proud of this special achievement. You can read about it here. The members of the winning middle school team are Jonathan Huang, David Hu, Wilson Ho, Michael Zhao, and Alexander Zhang. They were coached by Raymond Huang and Vibha Walia.
8 A smashing Silicon Valley’s got Bollywood just wrapped
The 4th annual Silicon Valley’s got Bollywood was conducted in March at the Joan Pisani Community Center. A fabulous community gathering and some incredible talents were competing for the top prize. YOu can see pictures and the winners further down in this newsletter. Funds raised from this event help support youth programs that are being held/ were held in Saratoga such as Silicon Valley Coders club, Saratoga Lego Robotics Club, The Art of Etiquette, Debate Academy etc
Q& A WITH COUNCILMEMBER KUMAR
1 Question: I have a question on AirBnB rentals. I was going through a post on nextdoor.com today where a resident had posted a link to an article about a Miami neighborhood that went south because of Airbnb rentals. A quick check on Airbnb for Saratoga, that showed about 4 rentals. I believe Saratoga city does not permit short term rentals such as airbnb or vrbo : see below for the link from Airbnb. What does the city do to enforce the code ? Is there an active check on such rentals ? Is there any publicity around the code ? With all the action some months ago about neighborhood watch programs, I think this goes hand in hand with keeping our city safe and pristine.
ANSWER:Please email your concerns to code enforcement
2. Question: How is the Anderson Reservoir retrofit project coming along?
ANSWER: Yes, we have a very informative powerpoint on the project as well as an FAQ sheet. You can find those materials here here:http://www.valleywater.org/Services/AndersonDamAndReservoir.aspx
3. Question Can I have pet pigs in Saratoga?
ANSWER: The City Code is not specific on pet pigs. Section 15-12.020 (Permitted uses in single family residential zones) states. It comes down to pet owners being responsible and not impacting their neighbors.
4. Question How can I launch a Neighborhood Safety Watch? What exactly is this program?
ANSWER: Saratoga’s decades long Neighborhood Watch Program is considered one of the most effective and least costly ways to prevent crime and reduce fear in our neighborhood. Neighborhood Watch Programs forges bonds among area residents, helps reduce burglaries and robberies, and improves relations between police and the communities they serve. Contact email@example.com to get one started in your Saratoga neighborhood
Details of this program at www.RishiKumar.com/NSW
5 Question Can we install surveillance cameras in my neighborhood?
ANSWER:Thinking of surveillance cameras for your neighborhood? You can join the pilot being run. Review the deck at www.RishiKumar.com/pilot
City is now accepting requests from homeowners Associations (HOAs) for encroachment permits to install security cameras in the public right of way. The first step of the process will require applicants to submit documentation to verify that they meet criteria for an HOA per the City’s standards for encroachment permits for private security cameras in the right of way. Information and the application for an encroachment permit for private security cameras is available on the City’s website at www.saratoga.ca.us/ep
You can read the SJM article here
6 : Question How can I get critical alerts from the city of Saratoga?
ANSWER:Our city uses the county service. You can sign up at www.Tinyurl.com/AlertSCC which will take you to the county site
7 : Question How can I get involved with our city?
ANSWER:Happy to discuss how you can join one of our Saratoga Commissions listed here
You can also join the Safe Saratoga Citizens committee facebook.com/groups/safesaratoga
Here are organizations to consider joining
Saratoga Historical Foundation http://www.saratogahistory.com/membership.htm
Hakone Garden http://www.hakone.com/get-involved/become-a-member.html
Saratoga Sister City is looking for board members. Contact Ginger Lai <firstname.lastname@example.org>
8 : Is Saratoga planning to address the Leaf blower noise I think it’s a fair assessment that most everybody is annoyed by the excessive and obnoxious sound that most leaf blowers create. They permeate our audible landscape daily. I used to think that maybe I was just unlucky enough to live near commercial properties that employ leaf blowers, until I started to bring it up with others who live in more conventional neighborhoods (and not just in Saratoga of course). What is Saratoga considering to address this noise pollution?
ANSWER: Saratoga city staff is planning to submit a report to city council on this topic. If you are interested on this topic contact Crystal Crystal Bothelio <email@example.com>
GLIMPSES - PICTORIAL VIEW
With Saratoga’s Citizen of the Year Richard Angus
Flipping pancakes at the Annual Saratoga High Pancake Breakfast w/ Asst. Principal Brian Safine, SUSD Superintendent Nancy Johnson
Saratoga CERT Certification Day - April 29th 2017\
Silicon Valley Innovation and Competitiveness Panel Discussion- hosted by SVLG at Linkedin
With California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones
With Assemblymember Kansen Chu at a public event
A recent College Admission Seminar in Saratoga
Chatting with Jack Dunstan about Saratoga Pride
Neighborhood meeting with Sheriff
Hakone Garden unveils Centennial Celebration Exhibit
At the Juniper campus - Fireside chat with Dianne Feinstein at the Juniper campus
Yin Shih at a recent city council meeting - Yin provided an update on the Neighborhood Watch program at Congress Springs
Subhadra Venkatraman at a recent city council meeting speaking about her efforts of an annual block party at the Meadowbrook neighborhood
With SUSD Trustee Sophia Cao at the State of the City
With SUSD Trustee Coffee meeting with John Hirokawa who Chairs the Saratoga Safety Ad hoc committee
Silicon Valley Clean Energy presentation in Saratoga - March 2017
With Saratogan Bob Zager chatting about Saratoga challenges
An Afternoon at the opera
Saretoga’s USA Top 25 Chess player Pranav Sampath
At the sets of “Doctor by Heart” (playing myself) - slated to release in August
Quarterly synch-up with local elected leaders
Winners of Silicon Valley’s got Bollywood 2017
With the judges of Silicon Valley’s got Bollywood 2017
With the Tabulation crew of Silicon Valley’s got Bollywood competition
Our City Forest" in Saratoga planting trees in the El Quito Neighborhood
With the starcast of “Doctor by Heart”
Handing out trophies at the Undercover Rockstar event in San Jose
Game Changes of Bay Area - presenting awards at Dance Dil Se
Honoring our Saratoga Yoga Teacher for volunteering her time
South Asian Heart Center’s Masquerade Ball
Festival of Colors
Fashion Show - Silicon Valley’s got Bollywood at Joan Pisani Community Center