Menlo Park City Council Email Log

[ Home ] [ City Council ] [ Search ] [ 05/06 Archive ] [ 07/08 Archive ] [ 09/10 Archive ] [ 2011 Archive ] [ 12/13 Archive ] [ Watch City Council Meetings ]

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

From: Johnston, Jon <"Johnston,>
Date: Mon, 20 Jul 2015 17:07:04 +0000

Mr. Berger,

Each Water purveyor has their own maintenance records and requirements for flushing of which we can obtain copies for verification of the system maintenance. We work closely with each water purveyor for status of hydrants and water mains that are out of service, need repair, additions, Master Planning etc. We work with water purveyors daily for new permits with construction, system improvements and repairs. All lines are flushed prior to being placed in service.

Thank you!

Jon Johnston - Fire Marshal

From: Schapelhouman, Harold
Sent: Thursday, July 16, 2015 12:39 PM
To: MARK; Johnston, Jon; Shaffer, Michael
Cc: Jesse T Quirion; Chang Kiraly, Virginia; Cat Carlton; Berger, Mark; _CCIN; DeLeo, Candace
Subject: Re: Vintage Oak Neighborhood Services -- What do our taxes cover?

Mr Berger

Our Fire Prevention Bureau works closely with all the water providers and checks their records. I have cc'd our Fire Marshal, Jon Johnston, who can better describe how we work with the Water Companies to verify that they are checking their system so we maintain public safety and reliability for emergency operations.

The Fire District used to conduct a basic check on the 2000 plus hydrants located in the District under the jurisdiction of five water companies. We have never done a flow or flushing test. We discontinued doing this work because the Water Companies, like Cal-Water, are required to do these tests and checks.

We needed that additional time capacity to keep up with hundreds of newly mandated State building inspections for multi-dwelling structures.

To your point, when we were checking hydrants, I believe we have records dating back years for your neighborhood. So while I appreciate your concern, basic peer review on the hydrant system was being done not to long ago by the Fire District.

Thank you

[Description: menlofirerotate]

Harold Schapelhouman
Fire Chief
Menlo Park Fire Protection District | 170 Middlefield Road | Menlo Park, CA 94025<x-apple-data-detectors://0/0>
(650) 688-8426<tel:(650)%20688-8426> | (650) 323-9129<tel:(650)%20323-9129> FAX
Mission Statement: To protect and preserve life and property from the impact of fire, disaster, injury and illness.

On Jul 15, 2015, at 8:26 AM, MARK <mark94025_at_(domainremoved)
Thanks for the responses, Jesse, Catherine, Virginia and Harold,

We'll certainly follow-up with CalWater.

In Dec. 1996 we were the 2nd family to move into Vintage Oaks. But I've never seen anyone flush the fire hydrants. I'm polling the other 150 residents to see if anyone else has seen fire hydrants flushed in the past.

Does the Fire District have any oversight of the water providers? It seems to me that the "trust but verify" would be a good policy here for the Fire District. In other words, some type of supervision so that they know the hydrants WILL work when they show up for a fire. Even something as passive as knowing/having records of the flushing schedules would be advisable from my viewpoint.

Can you comment on this aspect too?


From: "Jesse T Quirion" <jtquirion_at_(domainremoved)
To: "Harold Schapelhouman" <harolds_at_(domainremoved)
Cc: "Cat Carlton" <cat.carlton_at_(domainremoved)
Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 8:17:41 AM
Subject: RE: Vintage Oak Neighborhood Services -- What do our taxes cover?


I will provide the rest of the response later. However, to close the loop on the fire hydrants, below I have provided a link to the City's interactive water district map which confirms that Vintage Oaks falls under the Calwater Water District and therefore all fire hydrant and any other water related questions should be directed to Calwater.

You can enter your home address into the map and it will pinpoint your home in relation to the water district that serves your area: Menlo Park Interactive Water District Map <https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?mid=zVsOqhaqB9Vg.kapZhWp2e-KE>

Below please find contact information for Calwater as it relates to question about the fire hydrants:

* Phone: 650-367-6800

* Email: infoBG_at_(domainremoved)

* Website: https://www.calwater.com/about/district-information/bg/
Jesse T. Quirion
Director of Public Works
City of Menlo Park
E: jtquirion_at_(domainremoved)
P: 650-330-6744

From: Schapelhouman, Harold [mailto:harolds_at_(domainremoved)
Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 12:48 AM
To: Chang Kiraly, Virginia
Cc: Cat Carlton; Mark Berger; _CCIN; MARK; Candace Deleo; Quirion, Jesse T
Subject: Re: Vintage Oak Neighborhood Services -- What do our taxes cover?

Mr. Berger

Fire hydrants are not maintained under the Fire District but rather your water company. I would guess that your vendor is either the City of Menlo Park or Cal Water so check your billing statement.

Hydrants are required to be checked at least once per year. No one is flushing them any more because of the drought and it stirs up sediment in the system which generates customer complaints.

Your neighborhood has never had a water supply or system problem that I am aware of and as I recall it was installed as a looped system which is highly reliable and efficient. Hydrant spacing or the distance between them is in line with current codes and the configuration or type of hydrant meets the most recent standards.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions or concerns for the Fire District, we are not affiliated with the City but work closely together.

Thank you

Harold Schapelhouman, Fire Chief
Menlo Park Fire Protection District

[Description: menlofirerotate]

Harold Schapelhouman
Fire Chief
Menlo Park Fire Protection District | 170 Middlefield Road | Menlo Park, CA 94025<x-apple-data-detectors://0/0>
(650) 688-8426<tel:(650)%20688-8426> | (650) 323-9129<tel:(650)%20323-9129> FAX
Mission Statement: To protect and preserve life and property from the impact of fire, disaster, injury and illness.

On Jul 14, 2015, at 11:53 PM, Chang Kiraly, Virginia <virginiack_at_(domainremoved)

Dear Mark,

Many thanks for your question about your neighborhood fire hydrant.

I know that the district's fire hydrants are routinely inspected and tested. However, I do not know if there is a schedule when fire hydrants are inspected and tested, so I have cc'd Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman so that he can answer your question and give you more information.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me.

Virginia Chang Kiraly

Menlo Park Fire Protection District

On July 14, 2015 10:54:11 PM Cat Carlton <cat.carlton_at_(domainremoved)

Thank you so much for your letter. I see that Jesse is forming an answer to your questions, but the fire hydrant question is under the management of the Fire Board. So that all of your questions are adequately answered, I am forwarding your letter to the head of the Fire Board, Virginia Chang Kiraly, so that she can answer you. I'm sure she'll be happy to answer your question.

All the best,


Catherine Carlton
Mayor, Menlo Park

Typoed on my iPhone

On Jul 15, 2015, at 12:52 AM, Mark Berger <mberger_at_(domainremoved)
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

This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.
<Final Letter to City of Menlo Park.docx>
Received on Mon Jul 20 2015 - 10:05:22 PDT

[ Search ] [ By Date ] [ By Message ] [ By Subject ] [ By Author ]

Email communications sent to the City Council are public records. This site is an archive of emails received by the City Council at its city.council_at_(domainremoved)