Christmas 2017 Newsletter
On Mobile/Tablet, View in Landscape Mode
A Note From Rishi:
Let us pushback on the relentless water rate increase!
City Happenings, Info, & News
Q&A with Councilmember Rishi Kumar
A Note From Rishi
A collective pushback on the relentless water rate increases
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas Wherever and however you're celebrating, we hope you'll enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season. My best wishes in advance to you for a swashbuckling 2018!
Here is some good news and bad news + call to action.
We end the year on a very good note. A key barometer of Saratoga safety is the residential burglaries, the one that causes the most angst. We are at 66 break-ins so far for 2017 compared to 130 for 2016. Huge drop! It is down to 2013 levels when Saratoga reported 72 residential break-ins. Reducing crime this year has been a success thanks to the collective effort of each you, our neighborhood safety leaders, our Sheriff (who have done a stellar job capturing the bad guys), and our city council. Safety has obviously been a key focus for my charter on the city council. As I look back at launching 51 Neighborhood Watch programs in Saratoga since June 2016 (when there wasn’t really any specific Saratoga neighborhood safety watch focus), holding neighborhood meetings, discussing best practices to better protect Saratoga homes, identifying neighborhood leaders, launching neighborhood communication frameworks, neighborhood surveillance cameras etc,, all this have provided me excellent insights into Saratoga’s safety. Neighborhood Watch programs is obviously a proven component of neighborhood safety based on the drop in crime this year. I was very happy to see our city council converge behind this effort later in November 2016 and today it is a well managed city program with neighborhoods even getting city grant funding. We collectively continue to tweak the model to enhance your safety. You can see the list of 51 neighborhood safety watch programs here .
Another good news: SJWC’s rate increase proposal AL 513, an increase of 4.43% was suspended by CPUC on December 15th
Bad news: SJWC *very quickly* submitted AL 513A to increase rates by 4.22%, looking to leverage the step rate increase filing from 2016.
Asking your help again to push back against the rampant water rate increase that we are all dealing with. Deadline is December 29th.
SJWC is relentlessly pushing forward with new rate increase proposals and your help is needed. Our protests are working based on the recent rejections/suspensions by CPUC of SJWC rate increase proposals 501, 510, 512 and 513.
CALL TO ACTION: It will take you 10 minutes to follow through the simple suggestions below:
#1 Sign the petition that 2,400+ have signed to replace SJWC with a municipal utility company http://tinyurl.com/noMoreSJWC This petition seeks to find a once and for all solution to the water challenge we have on hand i.e by replacing SJWC with a municipal utility company just like 58 cities in America have already done including a few in California. The petition provides a summary of how to. I believe this is a better choice…or should we just work in a reactive mode, send out hundreds of protest emails whenever SJWC wants to increase our rates (which is very often)? We absolutely need a better strategic plan and need to take control of our water.
****#2 Email CPUC by DECEMBER 29th to address W-5153 which is on the CPUC agenda on January 11, 2018 and also AL513A (which has a deadline of January 9th). Follow instructions at www.RishiKumar.com/water (search for protest). Make sure the subject is : “Proposed Resolution W-5153. This web page has contents for you to copy, paste, from a word doc or a google doc. The google doc link is here
#3 Forward this email to five of your friends and get them engaged or post it on your NextDoor or neighborhood email group. The protest is working and we just have to send these emails; let us continue pushing back collectively. As you know, thanks to all of your emails, SJWC is currently under investigation and audit, and CPUC is paying attention to all SJWC filings. We have even rejected rate increases that has seldom been seen before
NOTE: If you are on a mobile device/tablet, copy the google doc contents from here or https://tinyurl.com/SJWCGoogleDoc and email CPUC
If we don’t protest *now*, San Jose Water Company would have approved a whopping +20% rate increase this year
I am dejected and dismayed at SJWC’s techniques and tactics…but we collectively can fight this!
Appreciate you taking the time to read this and taking action
4-way Stop at Big Basin Way and Fourth Street
Over the past few years, community members have visited the Traffic Safety Commission stating that pedestrians feel unsafe trying to cross Big Basin Way at Fourth Street due to the speed that vehicles travel down from the mountain. In September, Public Works staff submitted an application to Caltrans requesting a 4-way stop at the intersection of Big Basin Way and Fourth Street. On December 19, City staff received approval and the encroachment permit to install the 4-way stop. Public Works staff will implement this plan soon after the holiday break, weather permitting. – by Mainini Cabute
Earlier this month, the council approved and authorized a contract with BkF Engineers for 90% design of the Guava Court Pedestrian Railroad Crossing
The formal application is currently in the review phase of the process and City staff has been working with the City Attorney to prepare responses to the CPUC Administrative Law Judge’s request for information. Once the CPUC approves the City’s formal application, the final design plan for the proposed project can be completed. The City plans to begin construction as soon as the plan is 100% complete in order to meet the project timeline of December 2018.
The request for this project came from Saratoga community members who attended the City’s Parks and Recreation Commission in 2013 and requested to reopen the access into Guava Court from Fredericksburg Drive. City staff has been working closely with CPUC, UPRR and Senator Beall
Saratoga received public Assistance Funds
Due to severe storms last February that resulted in disaster declarations made by both the President and the Governor, public assistance funds became available to reimburse the City for clean-up efforts. Those efforts included fallen tree and debris removal and some minor structural repairs, totaling approximately $101,000. Public Works and Finance staff worked with the State of California’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal-OES) to compile the necessary documentation for the claim submittal. Combined, federal and state public assistance funds totaled $93,219, or 93.75% of the City’s total claim.
Residential burglaries have dropped this year in Saratoga. Please review this update from our sheriff
In a report delivered to the Public Safety Task Force in advance of its Nov. 30 meeting, the crime statistics tallied since 2014 show a rise this year in just those two categories, though the 2017 numbers are only to end of October. According to these tallies, Saratoga’s top 2017 crimes are ID theft, forgery or fraud (57 cases, or 26 percent of all crime) and residential burglary (54 cases, or 25 percent of all crime). Sex crimes and robbery are the least likely crimes in the city at 2 percent each.
April was the most active crime month this year, but August saw the most amount of calls for service.
Arrests in Saratoga
West Valley Patrol, Santa Clara County SheriffAGENCY
On Nov. 27, at approximately 1000 hours, a resident of Saratoga called to report a suspicious vehicle driving rapidly through the neighborhood of Brockton and Homes. Within minutes, additional neighbors called reporting two males had broken into a home on Brockton and were running down the street with a laundry basket. They were able to describe the suspects and one attempted to follow them. Both suspects were apprehended on Saratoga Creek Drive. The suspects gained access into the Brockton home via a skylight which led into the kitchen. The suspects had been driving a stolen white Mercedes from San Jose.
This is another example of vigilant neighbors looking out for one another and calling the Sheriff’s Office to report suspicious activity. Great job to those neighbors, and thank you all for being such great partners in helping stop these types of crimes.
On December 8th, at about 1:50 PM, our sheriff attempted to stop a vehicle on Saratoga Sunnyvale Road and after a short pursuit, the occupants stopped on Marion Road and fled. Sheriff captured two females and the sheriff searched for a 3rd. Residents on Canyon view drive at Elvira Street were asked to stay indoors during the search, eventually a 3rd was apprehended with the use of our K9 and helicopter. Due to the dog bite, an ambulance was summoned and they subsequently transported the suspect to the hospital for evaluation.
Marijuana in Saratoga?
Commercial Sales and Outdoor Cultivation of Marijuana Prohibited in Saratoga
On January 1, recreational marijuana will become legal in California. In June 2017, the Saratoga City Council adopted an ordinance prohibiting all commercial sales and outdoor cultivation of marijuana within the City of Saratoga. This step is expected to eliminate the public safety and health risks associated with outdoor cultivation and commercial marijuana activities and will also reduce opportunities for people under 21 to obtain marijuana.
Village Design Guideline update
Village Design Guidelines Update Request for Proposals – by Nicole Johnson In preparation for the Village Design Guidelines Update, staff drafted and circulated a request for proposals (RFP) to five (5) consulting firms on Thursday November 29, 2017. As part of the RFP, staff included a scope of work to include updating the text and graphics of the Village Design Guidelines to reflect recent Council direction on policy and design changes, as well as the expanded Village boundary. Responses are due Thursday December 21, 2017. Staff anticipates presenting a contract for the project to the City Council in early 2018.
Santa Cruz Mountain Winery Signs
Santa Cruz Mountain Winery Directional Signs City staff will install 17 directional signs along the Saratoga Wine Trail by the end of this week. The signs will guide drivers to various Santa Cruz Mountain Winery destinations, including Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards, House Family Vineyards, The Mountain Winery and Ridge Vineyards. Sign locations include: Saratoga Avenue; the Village; Saratoga-Sunnyvale and Pierce; and Highway 9 and Pierce.
Property impacted due to fire? Property Tax relief
Under California’s Revenue and Taxation Code for Disaster Relief, affected property owners, such as those in the recent Northern California fires and now the Southern California fires, who have suffered a calamity that destroys their property may be eligible for property tax relief. To qualify for property tax relief, property owners must file a claim with the county assessor. If the loss estimate is at least $10,000, the property will be reassessed according to its damaged state and property taxes will be adjusted accordingly. This reduction will be effective from the month in which the damage occurred, and will remain in effect until the property is rebuilt or repaired. When the structure is rebuilt in a like or similar manner, the property will retain its prior value (Proposition 13) for tax purposes. This property tax relief is available to owners of real property, business equipment and fixtures, orchards or other agricultural groves, and to owners of aircraft, boats, and certain mobile homes - it is not available to property that is not assessable, such as state licensed mobile homes or household furnishings.
Prospect Road Improvement Project – by Macedonio Nunez
Preliminary work started on Monday, December 11 and included the following:
1. Notified the public of upcoming construction by delivering flyers to their homes
2. Surveyed work for construction preparation
3. Implemented erosion and sedimentation control due to the size of the project, which meets the Clean Wa ter Regional Board requirements
Next week , the contractors will install construction signs throughout the limits of the project. They will also prepare the project staging area for constructi on equipment and material with the goal of starting construction soon after, weather permitting.
Brookside Club of Saratoga (19127 Cox Avenue) – by Christopher Riordan On December 12, 2017, the Planning Commission held a Study Session to review a request by the Brookside Club to modify their existing Conditional Use Permit. The Club is proposing earlier start times for the use of the pool for swimming (6:30 a.m. on weekdays and 8:00 a.m. on weekends) and a modification to their off street parking requirements. A total of 43 of the Club’s parking spaces are located on an adjacent leased parcel, and the use of that parcel for parking is not guaranteed for the future. The Club is proposing a
parking plan which could locate all of the 75 required parking spaces on site. Approximately 20 members of the public attended the Study Session. Comments provided to the Commission were primarily related to noise during the earlier swim start times, questions about onsite traffic circulation, and a possible increase in traffic on Brookglen Drive.
Silicon Valley Shark Tank was held in Saratoga on December 17th
Silicon Valley Coders Shark Tank was held at the Joan Pisani Community Center in Saratoga on December 17th
Unity in Community Speech Competition on January 14th 2018
---An opportunity for students to debate at “3rd annual Unity in Community Day on January 14th 2018 Mark your calendar. Prepare your Unity speeches RSVP at tinyurl.com/siliconvalleySTEAM
Audition for Silicon Valley’s got Bollywood
Calling performers to audition and win big at Silicon Valley’s got Bollywood 2018 on March 24th 2018
Not just Bollywood - performances can be absolutely anything - songs, dances, comedy, magic, just show case your amazing talent.
Submit your audition videos at http://tinyurl.com/SiliconValleyBollywood or http://www.siliconvalleybollywood.com/
State Route (SR) 85 Transit Guideway Study - Take the Online Survey
The State Route (SR) 85 Transit Guideway Study evaluates transportation alternatives of the 23.7-mile corridor that connects the cities of Mountain View and San Jose, from the SR 85/US 101 interchange in Mountain View to the SR 85/US 101 interchange in South San Jose. Study alternatives will include Bus Rapid Transit service and infrastructure, Light Rail Transit, and possible future transportation technologies or other options.
The SR 85 Transit Guideway Study will be conducted by VTA staff under the direction of the SR 85 Policy Advisory Board (PAB). The advisory board will be instrumental in identifying the alternatives that will be analyzed and ultimately making a recommendation to VTA’s Board of Directors about how to proceed with a transit improvement plan along the SR 85 corridor.
VTA values input from the community and we believe that more voices help us produce better outcomes. Please take a short survey about how you currently travel and would be willing to travel on State Route 85. Help set the criteria used to guide the study for transit improvements and alternatives.
contact VTA Community Outreach at (408) 321-7575 TTY (408) 231-2330
For More Information and to take the survey!: http://www.vta.org/projects-and-programs/planning/sr-85-guideway-study
Q&A with Councilman Kumar
Visit www.RishiKumar.com/faq for the complete list.
Question: Status of Prospect Road project?
Answer: Though we had the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Prospect Road project in September, due to limitations in the contractor’s schedule, we were unable to start the work on the project till later this month.
However, it is still on schedule for completion next year.
The first phase of work will include construction of the new concrete sidewalks, curbs and gutters, and handicap ramps. This will allow the contractor to secure and winterize the project during the rainy season. Construction of the medians will begin in the spring after the rainy season. This allows the project to avoid trenching and excavating the medians during the rainy season, which could lead to a flooding of dirt debris onto Prospect Road. The project is estimated for completion in fall 2018.
Question: How will Proposition 64 / Marijuana Proposition impact Saratoga?
Answer: On January 1, Proposition 64 will take effect in California. In June 2017, the Saratoga City Council adopted an ordinance prohibiting all commercial sales and outdoor cultivation of marijuana within the City of Saratoga. This step is expected to eliminate the public safety and health risks associated with outdoor cultivation and commercial marijuana activities, including burglary, trespassing, robbery, and chemical or pesticide use that can harm people and the environment.
This will also reduce opportunities for people under 21 to obtain marijuana, which aligns with the City’s updates to its tobacco policies to protect youth from smoking and reduce overall exposure to secondhand smoke.
Question: What is the latest on the Air Traffic noise over Saratoga?
Answer: Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Jackie Speier (CA-14), and Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) released the updated final version of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) response to recommendations made by the San Francisco Airport/Community Roundtable and the Select Committee on South Bay Arrivals.- https://eshoo.house.gov/uncategorized/eshoo-speier-panetta-release-updated-faa-responses-on-aircraft-noise-concerns-in-three-congressional-districts-14-18-20/
The FAA developed this document “Initiative to address noise concerns of Santa Cruz/ Santa Clara/ San Mateo/ San Francisco”. as a result of meetings with elected officials and community leaders over the last several months. Congresswoman Eshoo is also introducing legislation that would require FAA to plan with communities before implementing changes and also to restore the EPA’s Office of Noise abatement and Control - that was defunded more than 3 decades ago. Stay tuned - we are pushing this issue
Join this group Quiet Skies NorCal http://www.quietSkiesNorCal.org
Question: I am going to be on vacation in December. What deterrents should I place around my home?.
Answer: Are you planning a vacation during the holidays? You will find some interesting tips and measures to take before you leave here Please take steps to place deterrents in and around your home. You can review safety tips at www.RishiKumar.com/tips . Please take action now, adopt some protective measures to protect your home
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
Question: How can I optimize the use of water in my yard? Answer: Mulch is good. A layer of mulch several inches thick will gradually decompose, feed the tree, retain soil moisture, improve soil texture and pH, create an environment that stimulates root growth, and can even destroy disease organisms. Mulch can consist of a mixture of chipped wood, leaves, and branches obtained from tree companies. This material is typically free and often better than that purchased from a nursery.
Question: How can I contact the Santa Clara County Agricultural org?
Contact the Santa Clara County Agricultural Commissioner at 408.918.4600
Question: What should I do if I experience flooding or other hazards during a storm this winter?
Answer: Flooding, fallen trees, power outages, and landslides are all possible outcomes of storms. It's always best to prepare ahead of time.
If you live in a flood-prone area, please prepare your property in advance. A free, 24-hour sandbag station is available right outside of the City's Corporation Yard (19700 Allendale Ave.) where you will find bags, sand, sandbag fillers, and shovels. There is a 25-bag limit per household. You can find information on proper sandbag techniques on the Santa Clara Valley Water District's website at www.valleywater.org/sandbags
You can report fallen trees, landslides, and flooding on roads and public property to the City of Saratoga by calling 408.868.1245 between 6 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. At all other times, contact Santa Clara County Communications at 408.299.2507. Report power outages and damaged power lines to PG&E at 800.743.5000. You should also call 911 to report downed power lines and in the event of any other emergency. For more information, visit www.saratoga.ca.us/WinterStorms
Question: What are the options if someone’s home was lost in the recent California fire?
Answer: Under California’s Revenue and Taxation Code for Disaster Relief, affected property owners, such as those in the recent Northern California fires and now the Southern California fires, who have suffered a calamity that destroys their property may be eligible for property tax relief. To qualify for property tax relief, property owners must file a claim with the county assessor. If the loss estimate is at least $10,000, the property will be reassessed according to its damaged state and property taxes will be adjusted accordingly. This reduction will be effective from the month in which the damage occurred, and will remain in effect until the property is rebuilt or repaired. When the structure is rebuilt in a like or similar manner, the property will retain its prior value (Proposition 13) for tax purposes. This property tax relief is available to owners of real property, business equipment and fixtures, orchards or other agricultural groves, and to owners of aircraft, boats, and certain mobile homes - it is not available to property that is not assessable, such as state licensed mobile homes or household furnishings.
Question: What is the latest on the Saratoga to the Sea trail?
Answer: Saratoga-to-the-Sea Partnership Agreement
Recently, Public Works received the partnership agreement with Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District involving Measure AA funding for the Saratoga-to- the-Sea Trail. Staff has scheduled this item for approval at the December 20 City Council meeting. Concurrently, staff is drafting an RFP for the trail’s design contract with help from the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District staff.
Add as many pictures
Speaking about our water challenge to the League of Women Voters At their Christmas meeting. I got to speak after Senator Jim Beall’s speech ...always a tough act to follow...who spoke on various state and local topics. But I did have a very compelling story on our water challenge :-)
Have you visited Saratoga Village? It is sparkling!
At a Congressman Honda Debt Retirement Fundraiser - also in the picture Senator Bob Wiecowski
With Congressman Ro Khanna
Interviewed at a radio show for Bolly 92.3FM