With the threat of canopy fires in our region, we need strong leadership to work with our Public Safety Officers and Fire District to do whatever we can do to prevent such a disaster from striking Atherton.
Now more than ever I believe our residents deserve the best fire protection services we can provide for them. Atherton’s partnership with East Palo Alto and Menlo Park in the Menlo Park Fire District (“the District”) is more important now than ever. I have been consistent in my position in opposition to “detachment” as a solution to our financial arrangements with the Fire District.
While it is true that Atherton contributes more to the District than what it costs for Atherton’s historic delivery of services, the percentage formula was set back in 1978 when “Prop-13” was passed. It is not something that can be easily modified. Because the percentage formula is tied to the value of property taxes of Atherton, the amount Atherton contributes has grown exponentially over time.
I believe our residents should be fully-informed of how much of their tax dollar goes to the Fire District, what services are provided, how the money is spent and how we may mend relationships with the District to encourage more investments into Atherton’s fire protection programs, rather than attempting to “detatch” from the district without having as good or better alternative.
I would like to build better relationships with the District. There are investments and programs for Atherton which I’d like to explore with the District. One program in particular and which is a very timely topic is preparing and preventing potential canopy fires. Atherton’s lush tree canopies…especially west of the Alameda where homes live on hillsides is a critical issue to not lose sight of.
Atherton has one fire station within its boundaries; however, there are stations very closeby in Menlo Park which can quickly service our residents should the need arise. Building a full-blown fire station may not be possible; however, if there was an opportunity to build an emergency response center in a strategic location within Atherton, we should evaluate if that makes sense.
I promise to work with the District to use more of Atherton’s tax dollars to invest to make more services and emergency response a reality.