September-October 2018 Newsletter
Newsletter Editor (intern): Sanaa Lokray
On Mobile/Tablet, View in Landscape Mode
1 A note from Rishi
Saratoga's heroes on Blaney Plaza
You may have heard of this saying, “The campaign trail builds character"
Well…we are at it once again getting the pulse of Saratoga by going door-to-door and engaging with Saratogans. I have personally visited thousands of Saratoga neighbors - it is *wonderful* opportunity to engage in conversation about Saratoga and get the input of our citizens who just love Saratoga and want the best! These conversations have been such an educational experience! Simply stated, the reason we did what we did over the last four years on the city council is because of what we learned from the campaign trail of 2014….getting the pulse of the community builds the fortitude needed to NOT shy away from taking on the tough challenges. As we look back over the last four years, there is a sense of fulfillment ... in knowing that when there were major issues like water and safety, we not only informed, we also engaged Saratoga and took firm, impactful results-driven action to solve the problem.
So here is an interesting story from this last week.
On the campaign trail, one of our neighbors brought to my attention that our city should “resurrect names of fallen soldiers on Blaney Plaza - the names have faded and need some work to bring them back”
So we swooped into action. Our city staff, Public Works Department led by PWD Director John Cherborne took charge and literally in less than a week had the names painted and shining. I have been always impressed by their speed of execution…
Of course, we will NEVER forget our fallen heroes, Frank William Mann, John P Pourroy, Frederick Edward Sanders, Clark Booth Waterhouse, Christian Pedersen and Fred Gordon Thomson. Your names will be forever shining in the annals of the history of Saratoga and our nation. Blaney Plaza standing tall, will forever remind future generations of Saratogans about your sacrifice. We salute you!
Yes, our city GETS THINGS DONE.
Yes, we listen and we are responsive!
Yes, this is how a citizen-centric governance should operate.
So, do keep the feedback coming please. We are doing our best to address all the concerns, suggestions from the campaign trail - and we get a lot of it! That is why you elected me to office - not to hide behind statements, or to raise our hands and give up - but to serve our citizens to the best of our ability. And when the tough challenges arrive, the tough get going! When we have a challenge like rising break-ins or rising water bills or pothole on a city street, it behooves us to step up, take action and protect our citizens!
Please keep the feedback coming. We do our best to respond to every email and every phone call. No excuses!
If you see me falling short, please remind me.
I look forward to the opportunity of continuing to serve Saratoga diligently, ethically and prudently.
Let us continue getting things done!
2 Saratoga Happenings, Info, & News
3 Glimpses via Pictures
Please exercise caution.
Is your home protected? Do you have deterrents in place?
Review the Top 25 Safety Tips at www.tinyurl.com/top25safetytips
****Six burglaries this past week
ATTEMPTED 9/24 Between 10:10 AM and 10:15 AM, unknown suspect(s) entered a residence in the 18000 block of Ansley Place by kicking in the front door. The suspect(s) fled the scene without taking anything upon realizing the victim resident was home at the time.
9/25 Between 10:00 AM and 12:30 PM, unknown suspect(s) entered a residence in the 13000 block of Lexington Court through unlocked doors and took keys for an unknown total loss.
9/25 Between 10:40 AM and 10:50 AM, unknown suspect(s) entered a residence in the 13000 block of Lexington Court by using body force to open an interior garage door and took a laptop for a total loss of about $1,500.
9/25 Between 7:40 PM and 9:00 PM, unknown suspect(s) entered a residence in the 14000 block of Granite Court by prying a sliding glass door open and took cash and jewelry for an unknown total loss.
9/28 Between 4:00 PM on 9/26 and 12:00 PM on 9/28, unknown suspect(s) entered a residence in the 13000 block of Old Tree Way through open doors and took an air mattress and a television for a total loss of about $300.
ATTEMPTED 9/29 Between 9:47 AM and 9:50 AM, unknown suspect(s) entered a residence in the 19000 block of Braemar Drive by kicking in the front door, but quickly fled the scene without taking anything upon realizing the victim resident was home at the time.
On September 26 at approximately 10:20 a.m., Deputies observed a suspicious vehicle with paper license plates in the area of Saratoga Avenue and Prospect Road and made contact with the vehicle’s three occupants.
An investigation revealed the suspect vehicle was previously stolen from Pleasanton, and the suspect driver was in possession of brass knuckles and a dagger, in violation of the suspect’s probation for vehicle theft and possession of stolen property. Further investigation revealed one suspect passenger was recently arrested for auto theft, was out of custody on her own recognizance, and was in possession of Methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. The other suspect passenger was on probation for burglary.
Deputies also found numerous items and property in the car, including electronics, a license plate, a personal check, sports equipment, and tools. The property is believed to be stolen, and detectives are working to locate victims and restore all property to the rightful owners.
All three suspects were arrested and booked into Main Jail.
Below, find an information release related to a new, formal investigation into San Jose Water by CPUC
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE PRESS RELEASE
Media Contact: Terrie Prosper, 415.703.1366, firstname.lastname@example.org Docket #: I.18-09-003
CPUC TO INVESTIGATE SAN JOSE WATER’S BILLING PRACTICES
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 14, 2018 - The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) yesterday opened a formal investigation into San Jose Water Company’s billing practices.
An informal staff investigation alleges that for at least 30 years, San Jose Water has failed to pro-rate its customer bills when a change to its service charge went into effect in the middle of a customer billing cycle. Rather, the company’s apparent practice for more than three decades was to bill its customers the new, increased service charge for the entire billing cycle instead of pro-rating the bill so that customers were only charged the new, increased service charge for the period of time it became effective. In addition, San Jose Water is alleged to have double-billed its customers when it converted from billing its service charge in advance to billing in arrears.
The formal investigation provides a forum to consider evidence and argument on these issues from CPUC staff, San Jose Water, and other parties to the proceeding. Evidence taken in the proceeding will be the basis for findings, conclusions, and CPUC orders, including whether San Jose Water should provide refunds to customers as well as whether the company should face additional financial penalties.
The informal staff investigation began when a San Jose Water customer filed an informal complaint with the CPUC and then a formal complaint (C.17-06-009) in April and June 2017, respectively. Based on the complaint, San Jose Water reviewed its practices and determined that it will change its billing practices to begin to pro-rate its service charge when a rate change goes into effect during the middle of a billing cycle (starting in January 2017). Additionally, San Jose Water filed Advice Letter 510, which requested CPUC authorization to implement a credit to its customers totaling approximately $1.8 million to reflect service charge amounts that it had not prorated from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2016.
The informal staff investigative report recommends that San Jose Water implement a credit to its customers of approximately $2 million for the January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2016, time period, as well as another $1.9 million to reflect the 1987-2013 time period. Additionally, staff calculated that the total amount of double billing when San Jose Water converted from billing in advance to billing in arrears amounts to nearly $5 million in overcharges.
The staff report and the proposal voted on are available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/SearchRes.aspx?docformat=ALL&DocID=224273517.
You can subscribe to documents related to this proceeding at http://subscribecpuc.cpuc.ca.gov/ using proceeding number I.18-09-003.
The CPUC regulates services and utilities, safeguards the environment, and assures Californians’ access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services. For more information on the CPUC, please visit www.cpuc.ca.gov.
The 2018 Pavement Management Program is underway and going well. Subcontractor J D Partners is finishing up the last of the curb, gutter, and driveway work, while O’Grady Construction has completed preliminary repairs to Mt. Eden Road and plans to start paving on Monday, October 8. Repaving work on Pierce Road will continue into next week as well. Below is the approved list for 2018
4-Way Stop at Big Basin Way and 4th Street – by Mainini Cabute
The Traffic Safety Commission held a Special Meeting on Tuesday, September 25 to review traffic data collected during the summer months around the 4-way stop at the intersection of Big Basin Way and 4th Street. City staff notified residents who attended previous meetings regarding this topic and also notified the public through Nextdoor and Facebook.
Approximately 35 residents attended the meeting. The City’s Traffic Engineer presented the data, and the Traffic Safety Commission received comments from the public. The Commission was satisfied with the data presented, which supports that the 4-way stop is achieving its intended purpose to improve pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorist safety, as well as resolving the sight distance issue turning off of 4th Street.
The Commission will prioritize its efforts toward improving traffic congestion on Big Basin Way by reviewing the intersection of Saratoga Avenue and Big Basin Way, the left turns into Starbucks and the Saratoga Village Center parking lot, and the parallel parking spots.
In March 2015, the Traffic Safety Commission approved the installation of speed tables on Allendale Avenue between Via Alto Court and Montpere Way. This stretch of road has been reviewed by the Traffic Safety Commission multiple times due to the unsafe speeds of vehicles which have resulted in collisions where vehicles have rear ended other vehicles, hit trees on private property, and collided with the pedestrian bridge. After working with neighbors in the area and the City’s Traffic Engineer, Public Works staff has determined the two appropriate locations for the speed tables that will be installed by Duran & Venables. Staff will send out a letter next week to inform the neighbors and West Valley College that the project will begin in mid-to-late October.
Disasters don’t plan ahead, but you can! September was National Preparedness Month, which serves as an important reminder to make sure you and your family are prepared for disasters.
The first step is to make a plan. Identify safe locations in your home to take shelter and paths to evacuate. Prepare a portable emergency kit with supplies for all family members and pets. Know how your family plans to communicate and where to meet if you are separated.
Sign up for AlertSCC to receive free emergency notifications where you live and work in Santa Clara County. To register, text your zip code to 888777 or visit www.alertscc.org
You can also volunteer for the Saratoga Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and learn to provide essential services to assist first responders during a disaster. To learn more, visit www.saratoga.ca.us/CERT
Visit www.ready.gov for more National Preparedness Month resources, and www.saratoga.ca.us/stayingsafe for information about the City’s programs.
Santa Clara County Fire Department Chief Tony Bowden stepped into his new role in August. Chief Bowden was born nearby in San Jose. Growing up, Chief Bowden lived next door to a firefighter who left a lasting impression on him. After graduating high school, Chief Bowden took an EMT course and began his journey in public service.
Chief Bowden began his fire service career with the City of Los Altos in 1996 and joined County Fire later that same year when the City contracted their fire services. He also has experience as a small business owner, and he spent 10 years coaching girls’ softball while serving on their Board of Directors. A culmination of these experiences have helped him become a well-rounded Chief Officer.
His first priorities as Fire Chief include working with County Fire staff to ensure personnel development and future succession planning, and focusing on a number of key capital projects in the works. He would like to help grow and develop more strong fire service leaders who are actively engaged in the community and focused on the changing needs of the citizens County Fire serves.
If I need to…
Apply for a tree removal permit
Find out when my streets will be swept
Get a building permit
Have a pothole or a street light fixed
Host an event
Learn about serving on a City Commission
Licence my pet
Receive a business licence
Remodel my home
Report a missed garbage/recycling pick up
Reserve a City park or faculty
Sign up for a recreation program
Start a Neighborhood watch group
Preventing and reducing crime continues to be a priority in Saratoga. The City has increased public safety communications by mailing quarterly safety tip postcards. Interest in Neighborhood Watch continues to grow, and there are now 70 registered groups. Neighbors looking out for each other has contributed to a decrease in crime, with zero residential burglaries in June.
Recent efforts to enhance public health include improving the air quality in Saratoga, reducing youth access to tobacco, and adopting a water access policy. The trail in Quarry Park has also been extended so the community can get outside, exercise, and take in the beautiful views.
Public Art is on display throughout Saratoga. And residents are encouraged to participate in #SaratogaROCKS by decorating their own rocks or borrowing a kit from the City to get started. You can also visit the PLACE Bench at the Saratoga Library, or take a seat on the Willys and Betty Peck Blessings Bench in the Saratoga Village.
This year, the City will continue to contribute to safety net services for Saratoga residents, such as United Way 211, Catholic Charities Long-Term Ombudsman Program & R.Y.D.E. a curb-to-curb transportation service for adults ages 55 and older living in the Cities. The City will increase funding for West Valley Community Services, which provides a range of basic needs to family support.
The City has a number of upcoming efforts planned to help make City facilities, the website, and other communication methods more accessible for older adults, individuals with disabilities, and non-English speakers. These projects include an assessment of City parking areas, traffic signals, the remodel of the Senior Center entrance and the translation of several key City publications to Chinese, the second most used language in Saratoga households.
Major Capital Improvements - from our city’s newsletter
The City of Saratoga has an ongoing process through which it identifies, prioritizes, and develops a multi-year plan for major capital projects. Capital Improvement Plan projects enhance the quality of life in Saratoga by upgrading the City’s roadways, parks, facilities, and other infrastructure. These projects are approved by the City Council during the budget process and many are funded through grants.
1 Prospect Road Improvements
This project is underway to make Prospect Road easier and safer to travel whether driving, biking, walking, or taking public transportation. Improvements include the installation of medians, defined turn lanes, sidewalks, ADA ramps, safer crosswalks, bicycle detector loops, and landscaping. This $7.3 million project is funded by a $5.3 million OBAG grant, Gas Tax revenues of $1.1 million, and CIP reserves of $1 million.
2 Fruitvale Avenue & Allendale Avenue Intersection Improvements
To improve pedestrian crossings at the Fruitvale Avenue and Allendale Avenue intersection, the right- turn slip lane closest to Redwood Middle School will be removed, and the existing traffic signals will be replaced. This will increase pedestrian visibility and reduce vehicle speeds.
3 Saratoga Village to Quarry Park Walkway
A pedestrian walkway from the Saratoga Village, through Hakone Gardens, to Quarry Park will
help bring foot traffic to the Village and provide a pedestrian-friendly path along Highway 9. This will also be the starting point of the future Saratoga-to-the-Sea Trail.
4 Quito Road & Pollard Road Open Space Improvements
A new park will be created by improving the open space area at the corner of Quito Road and Pollard Road. Beautification improvements will include a meditation garden, drought tolerant and native landscaping, pathway enhancements, and irrigation.
Have you noticed Saratoga’s first green bike lane on Prospect Road? These green lanes clearly define space for bikes and cars, increase visibility of cyclists, promote orderly flow of traffic, and encourage cycling as a means of transportation to reduce vehicle emissions and increase healthy activity!
Will you be riding in the new green bike lanes? Make sure you ride safely and always wear a helmet and visible clothing, stay alert and aware, and obey all traffic laws.
Starting December, Silicon Valley Young Coders Club will host a meeting for Saratoga Seniors who need help with the technology. Youth volunteers will help seniors find solutions to challenges they face using their devices. For information reach out to rishi<at>rishikumar.com
See various crime incidents below
It is gut wrenching and emotionally draining for me to observe such crime in our beautiful Saratoga. We all aspire for a high quality of life for our families and a crime experience is totally contrary to that! This is the reason why I made fighting crime my top agenda over the last few years.
Please alert your neighbors and ask them to take precautions and apply deterrents.
Now is not the time to drop the guard
Follow the top 25 safety tips https://tinyurl.com/Top25SafetyTIps <— this doc has been updated. I highly recommend you print this doc and post it on your fridge for reference.
NOTE: This email is NOT to alarm you, but to be transparent with what is going on. There are break-ins, mailbox thefts, car burglaries that do occur once in a while in Saratoga. We do not want to be caught off guard like the Ostrich with the head in the sand, but take simple precautions, apply deterrents and send the crime somewhere else. Please take action today.
From a resident who experienced a break-in
Residential burglary in the Platinum Triangle area of Saratoga
I am writing to all the Saratoga City Council members about the rising crime in our neighborhood.
Our home was broken into earlier in the week and it has left us quite upset. One's home is their "sanctum sanctorum" and we feel violated. We hear more and more neighbors complain about crime and feel that the city council needs to take action.
We build our two beautiful homes in Saratoga over 20 years ago and have raised our two sons in these very homes.
We have felt safe so far, but not any longer. I now have to spend over $400K to further protect our homes with the latest equipment and personnel.
I sincerely hope that this email is not just deleted or ignored, but is a call to action to our elected officials to take the safety of our folks seriously.
Only one who has had their lives shattered knows that pain. I do not wish this to happen to anyone, so please take this call to action seriously.
We the residents of Saratoga want to see some concrete (not just feel good) steps towards safety.
(Please see some attached pictures of the crime that took place at our home)
Kicking the door: From a Saratoga Woods block captain
Subject: Ansley Pl attempted burglary
Yesterday morning approx 10am 3 hooded men backed their car into my neighbor’s driveway. They knocked on the front door as well as rang the bell, and when no one answered they kicked the door in and entered. The owner was indeed home and in the bedroom and chased the guys out. All was witnessed by the neighbor across the street, who has a ring doorbell camera, but happened so quickly that there was not enough time for police to catch the intruders. The police feel the house was targeted as it appeared unoccupied (no cars outside).
Damon Lane attempted break-in
9/10 Between 12:30 PM and 12:35 PM, unknown suspect(s) entered a residence in the 13000 block of Damon Lane through an unlocked window. The suspect(s) fled the scene without taking anything when confronted by the victim resident who was home at the time
3 Vehicle Burglaries occurred week of 9/10-9/16 as mentioned in the sheriff report: Kosich Drive, Thelma Avenue and Tollgate
Please stay alert
October 28, 2018 – March 17, 2019
Tickets on sale now!
Tickets are now on sale for this astonishing new exhibition by artist Bruce Munro. Featuring 10 light-based works ranging in scale from immersive to intimate, Bruce Munro at Montalvo: Stories in Light will utilize multi-hued waves, clusters, cascades, flocks, and seas of illumination, transforming Montalvo’s historic Villa and grounds into a breathtaking spectacle of light. This is the first time Munro's work will be publicly on display on the West Coast, and will be the largest number of his works ever on view at a single venue. To information on the exhibit, dates, and to buy tickets, please visit https://www.munromontalvo.org/
The exhibition is open to the public on select days from October 28, 2018 - March 17, 2019. Standard tickets are $25 with timed entry between 6:00pm – 8:20pm. Please note that no cars will be allowed on site, and all patrons must park at West Valley College and board a free shuttle to Montalvo.
TRAINING CLASSES BEGIN MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 7- 9PM
Montalvo Arts Center will be opening its fantastic Bruce Munro at Montalvo: Stories in Light show on October 28, 2018—and we are actively recruiting volunteer docents for the run of the exhibition! No special knowledge of art or art history is necessary, we will train you in a series of four evening workshops, each on Monday evenings starting September 24. Subject matter covered will include the exhibition, the artist, and Montalvo as an organization. Once the training is complete, you will be qualified to lead both nighttime exhibition tours for the general public and/or daytime school trips for elementary, middle, and high school students.
Other volunteer opportunities are available! Contact email@example.com or call 408-961-5828 to find out more.
FRAUD ALERT: District Attorney Urges Caution in Accepting Unsolicited Offers to Buy Your Home
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit is urging elderly homeowners to be extremely cautious about accepting unsolicited offers to buy their homes. Elders may be at risk of selling their homes for much less than they’re worth and end up not being able to easily find a new home in the area once the old one sells.
The DA’s message to seniors: Don’t be pressured into selling your home without fully investigating its true value. Make sure you are going to get paid once the deed you signed is recorded. And don’t sell without knowing where you are going to live after the home is sold.
It may be a crime to buy property from an elderly homeowner, who lacks the mental capacity to enter into a contract. It is also a potential crime to purchase property from a homeowner facing foreclosure, if – for example - the contract does not provide the right to cancel the deal within five days.
WHY WORRY NOW?
It’s one of the hottest real estate markets in history in Silicon Valley. The District Attorney is increasingly receiving reports from elderly homeowners that they are receiving mailers offering to purchase their homes which are not on the market. These offers promise to buy their homes without inspections and with no involvement of any real estate agent, saving the seller commissions.
While these deals sound good, elderly homeowners may be the target of these mailers in the hopes that the owners do not know the true value of their property. There are individuals and companies seeking to take advantage of unsophisticated homeowners, by purchasing property at an unreasonably low price, and then flipping the property a few months later at a substantially higher price.
If you are going to sell your home, make sure you have arranged a new place to live and can afford your new residence. Housing and rental prices may be higher than you anticipate, especially if you intend to continue to live in Santa Clara County. Homeowners intending to accept an unsolicited offer to buy their home may also want to contact a tax professional concerning the tax consequences of selling their potentially biggest investment.
VICTIM OF A SCAM?
If you think you have been the victim of a real estate scam, please call the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud hotline at (408) 792-2879. If you think you, or an elderly relative, is a victim of elder financial abuse, you can call the District Attorney’s Elder Financial Abuse hotline at (855) 323-5337. If you have a complaint about a business, you can contact the District Attorney’s Consumer Mediation Services Unit at (408) 792-2880.
District Attorney's Public Service Announcement: http://bit.ly/Real_Estate_Fraud
For more information about scams, visit: http://bit.ly/ScamsBrochure(English), http://bit.ly/ScamsBrochureSpanish (Español) or http://bit.ly/ScamsBrochureVietnamese (Tiếng Việt).
If you are a business owner, please read the email in purple below
Did you get hit with a law-suit? There is a solution
Contact Chad Garton who got legal help and the lawsuit was dropped like a hot potato
Regarding ADA - just further clarification - please read
Our Saratoga City Council funded a city-wide ADA assessment of City owned facilities such as the parking districts which we will be starting soon. Once the assessment is done we will bring forward prioritized funding requests that our Council can evaluate to fix deficiencies.
Now regarding the businesses that are getting impacted. The building / private lots are owned by a private entity and NOT the city
The City will require ADA upgrades through the building permit process when a new business is doing substantial tenant improvements that trigger such requirements. New businesses that move into existing spaces with minimal improvements do not trigger the required upgrades.
NOTE to property owners: The property owner can always require full compliance with ADA with any level of tenant improvement or lease.
The California Division of the State Architect does have resources to help businesses with ADA compliance on their web page http://www.dgs.ca.gov/dsa/Programs/programCert/casp.aspx
********Email received by Councilmember Rishi Kumar
We thank you for all you have done with the Neighborhood Watch Program in Saratoga. There is another kind of shakedown happening in Saratoga that I would like to tell you about.
Six small businesses(possibly more) in Saratoga are now being sued by Attorney Scott Johnson from Carmichael, CA. Johnson is a well known quadriplegic lawyer whose employees look for handicapped parking spaces that aren’t properly painted(striped) and/or do not have the two handicapped signs that are required. Both of these problems were/are found in the complex’s parking lot outside my son’s business downtown. If Johnson’s staff finds problems with the handicapped parking spaces, he or his employees enter the business or businesses to look for more ADA non compliant problems.
So how much money does this serial disability litigant want for a faded handicap parking space, an out of date handicapped parking sign and a chair blocking a W/C accessible counter? The answer to that question is tens of thousands of dollars(which doesn’t include an ADA audit and legal fees). Most states have laws requiring a disabled person to notify a business by letter of disability access problems. Sadly California doesn’t have such a law.
If you Google Scott Johnson, you will find he has sued hundreds if not thousand of small businesses over many years and many small businesses have closed because of this man. Please get the word out to all businesses in Saratoga that this is happening as such a lawsuit is disastrous for a any business.
I have tried to keep my emotions out of this letter but this is such a travesty and doesn’t help anyone with disabilities except Scott Johnson!!!!
*** end Email
Creek Cleanup with Senator Jim Beall
Many Block parties and safety meetings are happening in Saratoga
A good block party coming together via a thriving Neighborhood Watch program and strong neighborhood leadership
Saratoga crime prevention forum.
Packed neighborhood discussion on surveillance cameras.
2018 Campaign Related pictures below