San Mateo County is facing a staggering $150 million structural deficit. Budget reductions are no longer a choice but I am committed to protecting critical services to the greatest extent possible while living within our financial means.
To maintain effective services such as the essential health and human service programs offered through the county we must innovate, reduce overhead and utilize best practices that we know will work.
Make the Most of County Resources
As Supervisor I will identify opportunities for cross-departmental sharing of services to reduce the county's management structure. Already, the county has begun the process of merging what was the County Parks Department with the County Public Works Department. The savings will largely be derived from reducing the number of managers of separate departments and divisions.
The county must also cut the cost of doing business by, for example, maximizing use of office space to reduce rental costs. The County doesn't use enough of the space it has and rents too much space, paying between $191,000 to $600,000 in rent every month. I will work to ensure that any and all unused facilities be sold as surplus or leased for revenue, whichever may yield the greatest long-term benefit.
As Supervisor I will also work to ensure that fees levied for services provided by the county have a clear and enforceable recovery method and explore alternative means of providing such services in the absence of a true compensation.
Improve Our Economy and Jobs
I want to raise new revenue through innovative public-private partnerships, such as by working with advertisers to put ads on county dumpsters. In Los Angeles County, the county government there is examining the possibility of offering unused space in county-owned hospitals to biotech and biomedical researchers as a means of attracting startup companies in those industries.
Already, the San Mateo County Workforce Investment Board (WIB), using federal dollars provided under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 for job training for adults, dislocated workers and youth, provides excellent training resources for workers looking to emerging industries for new careers. The WIB maintains many educational and corporate partnerships to create opportunities for new and existing job-seekers. I will work to ensure that county resources are leveraged well and new partners sought wherever opportunities may exist.
San Mateo County continues to be a vibrant and dynamic community and I will work with businesses large and small to ensure they have the tools and the workforce necessary to succeed.
At present, our current pension system is not sustainable. Many reforms have been already put in place and I will continue to champion the cause of financial sustainability. Nonetheless, San Mateo County must meet obligations that have already been made. The largest savings that will be derived from pension reform will not be realized for many years until newer employees begin to retire in the future.
In the interim, San Mateo County must develop efficiencies by reducing the number of managerial positions and requiring that those in such positions begin contributing the same amount to their pensions as rank and file employees. This has begun to happen, but I will continue to explore opportunities to put San Mateo County's government on firm financial footing. My first priority will be to work with employees to structure a pension system that works for everybody and will not negatively impact the county budget going forward.
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High Speed Rail
I am a strong advocate for a balanced approach to High Speed Rail. I will continue to support alternatives that will minimize the impact on our communities within San Mateo County and requires engagement of community members. High Speed Rail has the potential to be a tremendous asset to the Peninsula by improving train service and promoting economic growth. In order to best leverage the potential of High Speed Rail, however, our communities' voice must be heard.
To ensure the best result for our communities I am an active participant in the High Speed Rail Policymaker Working Group, an association of local elected officials who represent impacted communities. As a member of the Working Group I am charged with reviewing and providing input on the environmental and engineering studies currently underway as part of the project level environmental impact report (EIR) for the proposed California High Speed Rail project.
I stand with Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, State Senator Joe Simitian, Assemblyman Rich Gordon, and many other community leaders in demanding that High Speed Rail be done right and must have a minimal impact on our communities. I also stand with my honorable colleagues in wanting to take this opportunity to bring the Caltrain system from San Francisco to San Jose into the 21st century.
The viability of High Speed Rail remains in question and the Peninsula communities are unlikely to see any High Speed Rail work in our communities for many years. Nonetheless, when and if High Speed Rail becomes a reality in San Mateo County I will continue to advocate for the best possible project to protect our communities. I look forward to working with each city to find the best solutions to everybody.
I am committed to securing the long-term viability of Caltrain we must reinvent this critical service by modernizing our infrastructure, electrify the system, improve operational efficiencies and develop a dedicated revenue stream. Without Caltrain service our highways would be need to be expanded by a lane and half to accommodate the additional vehicle traffic. Maintaining Caltrain is a cost-effective and environmentally beneficial transportation asset and as a Supervisor I will work to ensure its future.
Our Bus System
Our County's bus system provides a critical service to many of our residents and workers and is the last link of service connecting other modes of transportation together.
The system is struggling financially and service has been reduced repeatedly over the years, leaving many county residents without reliable and accessible transportation options.
To help supplement our bus service, I have worked as a member of the Peninsula Congestion Relief Alliance, San Mateo County's designated Transportation Demand Management Agency. The Alliance leverages public and private funds to provide shuttles to residents within cities to provide access to our downtowns and to connect with other transportation options.
The Alliance also works with large employers to provide their employees with shuttles to and from our major transit systems. In addition, the Alliance also provides funding for bicycle infrastructure such as funds for local cities to plan for bike lane systems and bike racks among many investments.
I am proud of the work I have done in concert with my city council colleagues throughout the Peninsula to provide real alternatives to our residents to access and use public transportation.
Serving Bicyclists in Millbrae
Gina is a firm believer in the benefits of safe cycling throughout Millbrae and San Mateo County. Gina was part of the implementation of several programs that have made the City of Millbrae more bicycle friendly. Gina brought a bicycle lane to Skyline Boulevard which was completed in 2009. Gina supporter a study that would help to build an overpass for bicyclists, but the funds are still needed for the completion of the project. The City's Bicycle Plan which was completed in 2009, resulted in the formation of Millbrae's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee in April 2010. This committee helped the City to better understand the needs of the bicycle and pedestrian community. These actions later enabled the City to apply for the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Grant in March 2011 for Class III Bicycle signage through out the city. Gina is working on additional bicycle parking spaces at new businesses.
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As an individual, as a Councilmember and past Mayor of the City of Millbrae, I have a long record of protecting our environment.
Papan Reduces Our Carbon Footprint
As Mayor, I made it my priority to sign the U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement and we established a task force to begin to identify and implement opportunities to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.
During my time on the City Council, Millbrae has undertaken numerous actions by implementing a waste reduction strategy that has included:
- Using compressed natural gas vehicles as part of the city fleet,
- Transitioning to energy-conserving light-emitting diode (LED) technology for its traffic signals,
- Installed energy efficient light bulbs throughout city facilities,
- Participating in the Spare the Air program,
- Utilizing waste restaurant grease to cleanly power the city waste-water treatment plant,
- Joining the Climate Protection Task Force for San Mateo and Santa Clara counties,
- Diverting waste from landfills. Millbrae has achieved the 50% State-mandated requirement and currently has a 67% waste reduction and recycling rate.
As Mayor in 2008, I directed staff to look into the establishment of a consortium of cities for solar panels to reduce costs and encourage instillations, seek grants from the Bay Area Quality Management District for clean air initiatives to pay for a study of our carbon footprint, look into restricting hard landscaping to reduce solar reflection and radiation.
Ban on Polystyrene (Styrofoam)
As part of the Millbrae City Council, I fought for and voted to implement the county’s first ban on polystyrene food service ware, Styrofoam, as its harmful solid waste that can easily be replaced with biodegradable and recyclable materials.
Papan Starts Regional Battle Against Plastic Bags
I have taken on the battle against the use of plastic bags because of the negative environmental impact resulting in volumes of plastic that end up in our landfills, and the fly away factor causing major litter which becomes stuck in storm drains and harms marine life in the San Francisco Bay. I am examining options to not only eliminate a portion of our waste stream and protect our marine life, but to stimulate the production of environmentally friendly substitutes such as biodegradable starch bags. The city has distributed well over 3,500 reusable bags made from recycled plastic bottles.
Recently, I called on the cities of San Mateo County (C/CAG) to come together to reduce costs by paying for a single Environmental Impact Report for a countywide ban of plastic bags. My efforts were reported in the Mercury Times, click here to read more.
Step one as Mayor, I advocated for the garbage contractor to include picking up plastic bags as part of our curbside-recycling program. I am championing this issue because I am committed to supporting policies that will help San Mateo County address our litter and marine pollution challenges.
Co-generation – Turning Restaurant Grease into Clean Energy
In a public-private partnership, Millbrae became even more environmentally friendly following construction in 2006 of a first-of-its-kind on-site energy co-generation facility. The innovative new system supplies 80% of the plant’s electricity with clean energy produced from inedible kitchen grease – a common urban waste – that would otherwise be sent to landfills and decompose into methane, a formidable greenhouse gas. The on-site energy production at the plant reduces carbon emissions by nearly 1.2 million pounds annually, having the same effect as planting 166 acres of trees or not driving 116 cars for a year.
Papan Proposes Statewide White Pages Legislation
I led the effort supported by Californians Against Waste, the Sierra Club, California Resource Recovery Association and the Natural Resources Defense Council to draft legislation with Senator Leland Yee to prohibit telephone companies from delivering the white pages unless the customer opts-in to receiving them. This is common sense; the amount of waste generated every year by unused books is tragic. Ending unnecessary distribution of the white pages is a step forward that we can take at the local level to address the global issue of climate change. I am proud to have taken the lead on this issue to help save the environment and reduce local recycling costs.
Water conservation has also been a major focus of my tenure on the Millbrae City Council. I am actively developing policies to support improved water efficiency in Millbrae. The City’s Water Resources and Conservation Program helps residents reduce water use through education and incentives, including a rebates for residents to support increased use of low-flow toilets and shower heads, distribution of lawn watering guides, sprinkler gauges, and toilet leak dye tablets. We also provide workshops on water-wise landscaping. Additionally, we use recycled water to irrigate the 101-Millbrae interchange.
Public Private Partnership
I have a proven track record of establishing partnerships with private corporations in order to bring better services to Millbrae. On the City Council, I worked with PG&E to improve our wastewater treatment plant.
The City of Millbrae is building a new Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) to serve its 21,000 residents. WPCP treats the City’s wastewater to meet the stringent requirements of its National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit.
A Sustainable San Mateo County
We must strive for a sustainable county budget; reserves will not last forever. By increasing our energy efficiency, we will also encourage a boost in renewable energy production and green jobs. I will actively seek to bring new jobs to San Mateo County to improve our overall economy.
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