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RE: Vintage Oak Neighborhood Services -- What do our taxes cover?

From: Quirion, Jesse T <"Quirion,>
Date: Tue, 14 Jul 2015 15:36:07 -0700

Mark & Candace,

We appreciate your questions and comments. All of the division's and staff members that you listed below fall under my direct supervision within the Public Works umbrella.

It is clear to me that you have spent some time developing this email and your questions and I would like to have an ample amount of time to collect all of the information that I need to accurately respond to all of your questions in a meaningful way. Please allow me to work with me team to do some research on all of these topics and I will get back to you with a full response to each item. In the meantime, if you have any additional questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Jesse T. Quirion
Director of Public Works
City of Menlo Park
E: jtquirion_at_(domainremoved)
P: 650-330-6744

From: Mark Berger [mailto:mberger_at_(domainremoved)
Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 9:53 AM
Cc: MARK; 'Candace Deleo'
Subject: Vintage Oak Neighborhood Services -- What do our taxes cover?

July 14, 2015

City Council Members
Menlo Park City Hall
701 Laurel Street
Menlo Park, CA 94025

Dear City Council Members,

I am writing regarding the refusal of certain services to the Vintage Oaks neighborhood and the uneven treatment of our neighborhood. Our issues are not restricted to just the trees in the Seminary Road Island (see below). Actually, I'm/we're looking for more extensive discussions and answers because it appears to me/us that some City Departments "got the memo" about supporting Vintage Oak services while others did not or they think that we have a Home Owner's Association when we do not.

So, let me be more specific, we are looking for a written statement from the City of Menlo Park with details as to which services it is committed to providing the Vintage Oaks neighborhood. These services are the following but if I have missed certain services then we'd appreciate having those listed as well:

* Tree services - trimming, removal, etc. of trees on the streets within and surrounding Vintage Oaks. This includes trees at the front entrance of Vintage Oaks lining and lining Middlefield Road, Ringwood Avenue, Arlington Avenue, Coleman Avenue and Santa Monica Avenue. Most of these trees have not been trimmed since Vintage Oak was formed.

In June, Dennis O'Brien told us that The O'Brien Group gave the City money to maintain the entrance, the shrubbery and trees along Middlefield and the oaks on the island.

My personal experience is that after submitting a request regarding trees on the island on Seminary Drive, I have been told by Christian Bonner, City Arborist for Menlo Park that the trees in Vintage Oaks are the responsibility of the home owner. When I asked him if there was any other neighborhood which was responsible for its own trees, he confirmed that Vintage Oaks is the only such neighborhood in the entire City of Menlo Park.

And yet the City removed a vintage oak tree at the entrance after it split and fell blocking the front exit from Vintage Oaks. I would add that if that City tree had been trimmed in the prior 19 years of Vintage Oak that it would not have fallen.

* Fire hydrants - in the 19 years that I've lived here, I've never seen the fire hydrants tested, opened and flushed as I used to see in Palo Alto during the decade plus we lived there. This concerns me because ensuring that the hydrants are up and ready to go if ever needed is a critical safety issue.

* Street lights - my anecdotal experiences have been hot and cold regarding the City's response to service requests in our neighborhood. It's not clear to us when a service request gets prompt action versus residents having to prod the City into action.

* Streets - we regularly see street cleaners come through Vintage Oak and we thank the City for those services. But is the City committed to fix our roads when repairs are needed?

* Sidewalks - again, we have anecdotal stories from residents that the City has fixed certain sidewalks where tree roots were uplifting the sidewalks. But what's the City's official position regarding fixing Vintage Oaks sidewalks?

* Removal of graffiti - After submitting a request to clean up the graffiti on the back wall of our home and our neighbor's wall, my wife was told by Ivr Meachum, "Please have your homeowner assoc. address. The city does not remove graffiti from that location." And when she informed Mr. Meachum that there was no HOA and to please escalate this issue to his management, she was told, "I have forwarded this to Assistant P.W. Director Ruben Nino, you may address the issue with him. He will explain it more." We've heard nothing more.

Both the tree and graffiti removal requests were met with the canned response of go to your HOA, it's their responsibility. The City seems to be under the impression that we have a Home Owners Association which collects fees from its home owners for such services. We do not have a HOA nor are HOA fees collected.

We have seen the City remove graffiti from the brick entrance of Vintage Oaks and we thank the City for that abatement. We would like the City to clarify whether and when it would remove such graffiti.

I'd like to point to an online graffiti reporting application from the City of San Mateo (http://www.cityofsanmateo.org/index.aspx?nid=2154) that allows a resident to take a picture of the graffiti, tagged with GPS coordinates, and send it to the City for their consideration and removal.

* Any other services which I've missed?

By the way, the City of Menlo Park website (https://clients.comcate.com/newrequest.php?id=2) for submitting service requests does look promising but I could not ascertain what's covered and not covered without submitting a specific service request. Putting some guidelines or rules upfront to help residents understand what services will be delivered (and won't) would be helpful.

Bottom Line: Vintage Oaks residents are under the impression that when Vintage Oaks was formed in the mid-1990s that this land was re-zoned from Unincorporated San Mateo County to the City of Menlo Park via an agreement between the City and The O'Brien Group. Is this untrue (because this is what the original Vintage Oaks residents were told)?

There seems to be an uneven treatment of Vintage Oak as a neighborhood:

* We pay our property taxes regularly (see chart below) and the City of Menlo Park appears to get 17% of our property tax funding

* Menlo Park Police regularly ticket cars parked on parking pads at night - a source of revenue to the City

* We are told that the trees on our property may not be cut down without a permit or consulting with the City of Menlo Park and yet we are told that the trees are our financial responsibility. This seems inconsistent.

* What other services are denied to the Vintage Oaks neighborhood?

The City delivers some services in some situations but refuses to deliver the same services in other similar situations. Why is it that Vintage Oaks residents pay for the same services that other neighborhoods get but we are told that we may not have these services? There doesn't seem to be a consistent policy in place.

As requested above, can you please explain, in writing, what services are supposed to be delivered and which ones are not and, most importantly, how much property tax we get to deduct for the non-delivery of those services which the rest of Menlo Park does get? Please explain this situation to the Vintage Oaks residents and answer the questions posed herein.


Mark E. Berger and Candace DeLeo
145 Gloria Circle
Menlo Park, CA 94025

CC: Dennis O'Brien, The O'Brien Group (via U.S. Mail)

Mark Berger
(650) 208-5281

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Received on Tue Jul 14 2015 - 15:33:51 PDT

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