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Menlo Park Fire Protection District’s Policy to Finance Fire Hydrant Upgrades

From: Jeffrey Gould <jpgouldjr_at_(domain_name_was_removed)>
Date: Sun, 31 Oct 2010 17:15:40 -0700

To Members of the Menlo Park City Council: We’ve been meaning to write the City Council a letter concerning how Menlo Park plans for and funds replacement of its fire infrastructure. In 2009, we remodeled a portion of our home and added one new bathroom. In addition to the permit process overseen by the City, we needed special approval from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District. As part of the Fire Protection District’s review, they determined that we were remodeling more than 50% of our house and adding a bathroom, so we needed to pay to replace the nearest fire hydrant to our house. This unwritten policy was quite a surprise to us as nowhere in any City or Fire Protection District materials (printed or electronic) had I seen any mention of the potential for such a cost. The cost to replace the fire hydrant was casually estimated by Fire Protection District staff at between $3,000 and $15,000 depending on how much work needed to be done and the competitive environment. The City would not sign off on our permits approving our completed project until the Fire Protection District gave its consent. Fortunately, we were able  to show the Fire Protection District that they had incorrectly estimated the size of our remodel, and we did not have to upgrade the fire hydrant with our project budget which had not anticipated this sizable cost. It is obviously important that infrastructure such as fire hydrants be upgraded to meet current safety codes, and we are happy to pay our fair share of the cost. However, it is not reasonable to expect an individual homeowner to shoulder the cost on behalf of the entire neighborhood just because they happen to be the first homeowner to undertake a remodel/building project in an area without an upgraded hydrant. Also, if it really is important that the hydrants be upgraded, it seems like the City deserves a better strategy than waiting for a large project near an antiquated fire hydrant to trigger the Fire Protection District’s threshold for upgrading it. I hope this letter begins a dialogue between the City of Menlo Park and the Fire Protection District about how to plan for and finance a general upgrade of the City’s fire infrastructure in a way that spreads the cost among all those who benefit, not an unlucky few. Sincerely, Pierce Gould and Glenn DeSandre 765 Evergreen Street Menlo Park Cc: Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board of Directors (via US Post) Received on Sun Oct 31 2010 - 17:16:04 PDT

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