Community News

Board of Supervisor Slocum's March Newsletter

It’s been 2 years since the beginning of the Pandemic – what have we learned?

 
March 2022 Newsletter
 
 
Greetings!
 
Spring has sprung – and historically this signifies rebirth and regeneration. Unfortunately, for Ukrainian’s, this Spring brings heartbreak, fear and destruction. At our March 22 Board of Supervisors meeting, we adopted a resolution supporting the Ukrainian people.
 
I invite you to consider helping. Here are some trusted resources:
 
Highlights of the D4 March newsletter:
  • COVID19 update and the road ahead;
  • Help for Veterans and their families;
  • Board of Supervisors’ update; and
  • Updates inside District 4
 
Please share this newsletter.
 
Regards, 
Warren Slocum
 
WE ARE COMMITTED TO AN
EQUITABLE RECOVERY
 
This month marks this two-year anniversary of the first Shelter-in-Place order which was on March 17, 2020. It’s been a huge challenge and while we are getting some relief, we have much work ahead of us.
 
When the Board of Supervisors selected me as President in January 2020, just before COVID19 struck in full force, I used my selection to call on the County to focus on equity and social justice. The pandemic has made clear all of the reasons why this initiative was so important. Our work continues and is being shaped daily by the lessons learned. And now, two years later it appears that COVID19 has reduced its deadly grip on us and thanks to the work of our County staff, locally elected officials and community partners, we have met the challenges head on with focused resolve; we have provided much needed help for so many of our neighbors. Our values of compassion, collaboration and caring will continue to guide our work and shape our future. We remain committed to an equitable recovery.
 
COVID19 will be with us for the long haul and new variants will emerge. What has changed now in this fight is that over 94% of San Mateo County residents who are 5 and older are vaccinated, case rates are significantly down and even through January’s Omicron surge, hospitalizations were low and mostly those who were not vaccinated. Earlier this month, the state and the CDC refined their regulations making indoor masks no longer required, though still strongly recommended. The state followed suit for schools, and March 14 students and staff were also allowed to go mask-free, though again masks were strongly recommended.
 
We are heading into the recovery from this pandemic – economically and socially. And even with the County investing some $225 million in our communities, many in the most vulnerable communities, who were hardest hit by the pandemic, will continue to struggle.
 
We have much work ahead of us.
 
HELPING VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES
 
At the March 22nd Board of Supervisors meeting, I carried three veteran-related items that were unanimously approved. As a Vietnam veteran, I could not be prouder of our Board, and of the Veterans Commission who spearheaded these efforts.
 
Supporting the construction of a Veterans Home at Fort Ord: Monterey County is currently seeking authorizing legislation for the construction of a State Veterans Home at Fort Ord in Monterey. Veterans Homes, which date back to the post-Civil War, provide shelter and services to aging, disabled, and homeless veterans. A new home at Fort Ord is vital to our veterans because of the 8 Veterans Homes in California, the closest to our region is either in Yountville, Redding or Fresno – and all locations have long waitlists of up to 5 years. The location of this home would be significant for veterans in our region that includes region that includes Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, San Benito, Santa Clara, and San Mateo Counties. Both our Board and the Veterans Commission have given their support to this project and we will be sending a letter of support to the appropriate federal and state legislators.
 
Veterans Caregiver Program: Both the Board of Supervisors and the Veterans Commission are calling on Congress to restore eligibility requirements and benefits for the United States Veterans Administration caregiver program. This program allows family members to receive financial assistance to care full-time for their disabled veteran. At this January’s Veterans Commission meeting, a veteran spouse, full-time caregiver to her husband who suffered multiple traumatic brain injuries from a combat mission in 2004-2005, brought this to our attention. This veteran and spouse had benefited from the Caregiver Program for 9 years and may now lose eligibility due to new requirements. And her story is similar to thousands of other veteran family caregivers. We strongly urge these requirements and benefits be restored to veterans who gave all for our country and now pay the price. The US Veterans Administration has just announced that they are reviewing the changes in this program.
 
Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day: On March 30, 1973, the last of the US troops left Vietnam, where over 2.7 million American during the war. I was only 18 years old when I served there for one year. Our Board of Supervisors have approved a proclamation declaring March 30 as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day, so that, as the motto of the Vietnam Veterans of America states: “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”
 
AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND MORE IN EAST PALO ALTO
There is much happening in East Palo Alto regarding affordable housing, work with the homeless and community space. Let me tell you about a few of them.

We have been featuring affordable housing developments that are in process in District 4. The Light Tree Apartments in East Palo Alto is one that deserves mention. This redevelopment project, led by Eden Housing and East Palo Alto Community Alliance and Neighborhood Development Organization (EPACANDO), will bring 185 affordable rental apartments, including 150 family and 35 supportive housing apartments (for formerly homeless and persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities) to East Palo Alto. These units will also be 100% electric – which is good for the environment! I look forward to their grand opening in June 2023. Rental pre-applications can be submitted up until April 4 at 5pm, and residents will be chosen by a lottery. More information can be found here.
 
This month, though years in the making and through the leadership of East Palo Alto Mayor Ruben Abrica, the East Palo Alto City Council directed staff to advance negotiations with the County for a land swap. This exchange of property will allow for the County to build much needed affordable housing on University Avenue and the City to expand Martin Luther King, Jr. park at Beech Street. It’s a win-win for the community!
 
The County will also be contributing funding towards a study to look at options for the East Palo Alto City Hall, including possible renovation and other ideas.
 
2022: WORKING TOGETHER TO END HOMELESSNESS
We are calling 2022 “Our Year of Working Together to End Homelessness.” To achieve that goal, all of us – businesses, cities, faith communities, non-profit and service organizations, and individual community members – must work together.
On April 22nd, the County will host the virtual kickoff event about why homelessness is a countywide issue. You can register for this event here.
 
And there is more news on housing our homeless. San Mateo County is building a Navigation Center in Redwood City that will provide 240-bed state-of-the-art shelter with wrap-around services including intensive counseling. Included in the Navigation Center will be private sleeting units, dining services, support modules and outdoor areas for activities. It will provide a safe and dignified atmosphere that will serve the needs of the Clients and social services operators for decades – and is key in our strategy to end homelessness. Right now – we are on track for this center to open around Christmas 2022.
 
WOMENS’ HISTORY MONTH
Did you know that Women’s History Month started as just a day-long celebration in Sonoma County in 1978? Then in 1987, it became a nationally recognized month of celebration. And we have so many remarkable women here in San Mateo County. Of course, our two congressional representatives, Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo, are at the forefront. And there have been strong San Mateo County Supervisors, past and present, including Carole Groom, Adrienne Tissier and Rose Jacobs Gibson. But there are also so many unsung heroes, particularly during the last 2 years, whose work was significant during the pandemic. We honor them all. On March 8, our Board recognized Women’s History Month and you can read the proclamation here.
 
BOARD OF SUPERVISOR UPDATES
Here are some of the updates and decisions our Board of Supervisors made since the last newsletter:
 
A New County Attorney: on March 8th, the Board approved the hiring of our next County Attorney, John Nibbelin. Current County Counsel (there will be a name change for this County position effective March 28) John Beiers is retiring after a long and impressive career with San Mateo County. I have had the pleasure of working with John Nibbelin – he is dedicated, collaborative and has an intellectual curiosity that makes him perfect for this position. Congrats to John.
 
Anchor Institutions: I’ve prioritized equity since January 2020, when I began a term as Board President. At our March 8th meeting, the Board took a bold step in the equity framework. We made a commitment to Anchor Institutions using the equity lens to look at the business side of our operations. This is a is a nationally established framework for inclusive hiring, procurement, and investment, for large organizations that are mission-driven and connected to communities, such as San Mateo County. We believe that the County is uniquely positioned to better align its business practices with its commitment to advancing equity and serving the community by leveraging our assets and economic activity to improve shared prosperity and racial equity.
 
County is Hiring – New Emphasis on Recruitment and Retention: as we come out of this pandemic, and its financial uncertainties, the County is hiring! The County had a hiring freeze April 2020 through June 2021, at the height of the pandemic, and departments have once again begun to recruit for open positions. And we will see the results of a retention study in June of this year to help us best position the County for employees of the future. Right now, we have a number of recruitment incentives for positions in law enforcement, nursing, and other career paths. If you or someone you know is looking for employment in these areas, you can search our openings here – the County is a wonderful place to work for those interested in public service, and we have competitive benefits! independent.
 
INSIDE DISTRICT 4
New Empower Library Cards for Students: San Mateo County Libraries and Redwood City Library are launching a collaborative pilot for a new library card – the Empower Card - designed to simplify and expand student access to library resources from both libraries. Getting this innovative card into the hands of students will fuel academic success and revolutionize how students use the public library by opening the door to an incredible amount of online and in-person resources. These resources will include: online tutoring, online test preparation, eBooks, eMagazines, apps for language learning and meditation and read-along digital storybooks. Empower Cards will break down barriers to library access and address inequities in resources by sending library cards directly to families. The goal will be to provide Empower Cards to all 62,202 students enrolled in districts served by San Mateo County Libraries and Redwood City Public Library by the end of the year. 
 
Realize Flood Park: After extensive community outreach since 2015, and collaborative community input to our San Mateo County Parks to reimagine Flood Park, along with the completion of the EIR process, this 21-acre park is about to realize the goals set as a new park for all. Building upon the community-developed landscape plan for Flood Park, the public is now asked to participate in the next stage of the project - designing the 2020 Landscape Plan features. The first community meeting was held on February 2nd, and more are planned, including with our Spanish-speaking residents. You can read more about this project and take the community survey by March 31 here.
 
Bayfront Canal and the Atherton Flood Project: For decades, high tides have kept flows in the Bayfront Canal and Atherton Channel from draining to the Bay, resulting in, with even minor rainfall, the flooding of nearby mobile home parks and businesses. And these properties have experienced flooding 40 times over the past 70 years – most recently in 2017. Now, the much-needed construction of the Bayfront Canal and Atherton Channel Flood Protection and Ecosystem Restoration Project is nearing completion which will protect developed areas of Redwood City, Menlo Park, and unincorporated San Mateo County against frequent flooding, provide water quality and ecosystem benefits to the managed ponds, and complement existing and future flood protection efforts upstream along Atherton Channel. Read more about this project here.
 
Middlefield Road Improvement Project: The Middlefield Road Improvement Project, a hallmark of the North Fair Oaks Community Plan, is well underway. And when it is completed, this stretch of roadway in the heart of North Fair Oaks will be the smartest street in America! And the community cannot wait – this well-travelled road is where families of North Fair Oaks meet, dine and shop. This project will bring widened sidewalks so parents can walk side-by-side with their children, dedicated bike lanes, and celebrate the diversity of this neighborhood. Read more about this project here.
Every culture has a storytelling tradition. From the time the first Filipinos landed in California in 1587 to the time they began settling in San Mateo County in the 1920s, storytelling has always been part of the fabric of the community's lived experience. Join our Poet Laureate Aileen Cassinetto and other Filipinx leaders on March 31 from 6-7 pm for the Equity Through Art Series' "Filipinx Kwentuhan" that will feature unique stories of resilience, healing and bayanihan in the Filipinx community in San Mateo County. To register for this event, click here.
 
And, if you missed the last Equity through Art event focused on the East Palo Alto Nairobi Movement, the video is available here. It was a powerful session showcasing a political, social and cultural renaissance period in East Palo Alto between 1960 and 1980. Community elders who played leading roles during the EPA Nairobi Movement shared personal stories about the Black Experience in East Palo Alto during the Nairobi era.
 
Does your child still need their COVID19 vaccine? All of County Health’s community clinics now offer one day dedicated to children’s vaccines (ages 5 to 11), in addition to their regular schedule of vaccines and boosters for individuals 12 and older. See all schedules here
 
As of March 15, 2022, COVID19 testing will no longer be offered at the San Mateo Event Center. Testing is still widely available at County-sponsored locations, private testing companies, pharmacies and through at-home test kits.
 
The City of Menlo Park will be hosting a virtual Summer Camp Fair on April 1 from 6-7pm. Get information about the fun and exciting camps offered this summer here.
 
Are you registered to vote in San Mateo County? If not – as the former Chief Elections Office, I encourage you to do so. This goes to the heart of our democratic values and rights. You can register to vote here.
 
 
If you want to get more insight into what my staff and I are working on, please connect with us on social media. It’s also a great way to interact with our office and to get notifications for upcoming events. Click the icons and like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. 

Finally, if you would like to see back issues of this newsletter, they can be found on my website here. They certainly reflect the long way we have come!
 
Warren Slocum
District 4 Supervisor
San Mateo County
 
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