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A Roundup of Nov. 23 City Council Meeting

The proceedings from the meeting included extending the city's local state of emergency, approving the special overlay zoning district for the neighborhood affected by the Sept. 9 fire and approving a design for the memorial recognition sculpture.

Here is a roundup of Tuesday night's City Council meeting.

Council awards residents for beautifying homes

The council started the meeting by recognizing the homes that won this year's beautification awards. Each resident received a certificate, check, plaque and a few kind words from Councilwoman Irene O'Connell. The following homes won first place:

  • 230 Madison Ave. for the improved single-family residence category
  • 455 Cunningham Ave. for the zeroscaping category
  • 786 Elm Ave. for the single-family residence category

The council also honored Steve Freitas, the city's parks facilities manager, who will be retiring today after 31 years working for the city.

First part of special overlay zone ordinance for Crestmoor neighborhood passes 

The council unanimously agreed to pass on first reading the ordinance creating the that would allow the planning process to be expedited for those who want to rebuild following the Sept. 9 gas pipeline explosion.

Following approval from the Planning Commission, the council voiced its support of the ordinance, which would give the city's Architectural Review Committee the final authority to approve building plans for those who want to rebuild their homes in the neighborhood. For those who want to build homes larger than before, the community development director would have authority to approve the plans, cutting the planning process in half. The special zone would only apply to the 55 homes that were either destroyed or damaged in the fire.

If the council passes the ordinance on the next reading in December, the Glenview Overlay Zone would be created in January.

Local emergency continued for fire recovery

City Manager Connie Jackson said the city is close to reaching a point where the won't be needed anymore. However, she asked the council to continue the emergency declaration until at least the first part of the rainy season ends. This will allow her to approve any contracts without a competitive bidding process if any more emergency repairs need to be made to help the Crestmoor neighborhood recover.

In addition, Jackson gave a report about the city's expenditures related to responding to the fire (see attached). So far, she said, the city has spent $2.125 million, which includes $200,000 for the overtime expenses related to battling the fire and cleanup immediately afterward. About half of the cost has gone toward . What isn't yet accounted for, however, are the costs associated with all the other agencies that helped out the city with the initial response to the disaster. Overtime costs for city staff haven't yet been accounted for either.

Fire station to get upgrades

The has received $15,000 from PG&E as part of the given to the city following the Sept. 9 fire. Fire Chief Dennis Haag gave the council his ideas on how he would like the department to use the money for Station 52 on Earl Avenue. With the council's direction, Haag said the department will use the money to replace equipment at the station such as chainsaws and hoses, install air conditioning units on the station's windows, and partially fund a project to replace the station's roof.

New street lighting, benches, trees and signage coming to downtown 

The council unanimously voted to allow the city to work with Caltrans on a project to improve sidewalk conditions for pedestrians along El Camino Real, San Bruno Avenue and Huntington Avenue. The cost of the project will be $350,000 and will be paid for with city redevelopment funds along with a grant from the City/Council Association of Governments.

The pedestrian improvements are expected to include more accessible curb ramps, trees planted along the streets, new benches, new signage outside of the BART station and a possible lighted sidewalk under the Interstate 380 overpass.

Memorial sculpture gets go-ahead—finally 

After the city's Culture and Arts Commission spent months toiling over a design for the long-anticipated memorial recognition sculpture, the council finally got a chance to take a look at three suggested concepts presented by a team of two artists. The sculpture, to be built on the east side of the , was commissioned last year to honor residents—those deceased and still living—who have provided exemplary service to the city.

The council was supposed to vote on the concept sooner, but the commission kept running into conflicts over the selection of the artists and the design. The final suggestions were approved with two of the commissioners dissenting, saying the proposed sculpture looked too futuristic for the space where it is planned to be built.

The council eventually chose a design of three curved steel pillars that will be built to blend into the landscape of . The project is expected to cost $50,000 and is expected to take seven to eight months to complete.

One of the artists said the design was meant to represent three different parts of the community coming together. Before the vote, Councilman Ken Ibarra said he disliked the design of the sculpture when he initially saw it.

"I disliked it even more when I saw the model," Ibarra, an architect by trade, told the artist. He described the design as looking like "tusks coming out of the ground."

It was only after he saw the artist's rendering of the sculpture juxtaposed against a photo of the area where it is expected to be built that he gave his approval.

In other action, the council adopted a resolution approving the Fire Department's joint agreement with San Mateo, Millbrae and Central County Fire for emergency medical services training.

The council also agreed to hire Santa Clara-based firm Verde Design to come up with a plan to convert from a grass field to one with synthetic turf. That work is expected to cost $97,165.

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