Menlo Park council OKs $1.99 million budget for City Hall renovations

Other action: City will join clean-energy program; council adopts landscape water-saving ordinance

A controversial increase in budget allocations for renovations to City Hall was approved by the City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 26, on a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Ray Mueller opposed.

Project estimates are now at $1.99 million, according to the most recent staff report, due to unanticipated costs for the heating/cooling and electricity systems.

In other actions Jan. 26, the council adopted a landscaping ordinance aimed at reducing water use and agreed that the city would join a county "community choice" energy program, which will give electrical energy users the option to purchase more sustainable energy at a cost comparable to PG&E rates.

City Hall renovations

The renovations would change City Hall to a more open layout and would add space for new employees. The city would shrink conference rooms to smaller "duck-out" rooms, for phone calls or small meetings. Stand-up/sit-down desks would be added.

The $565,000 additional cost would be appropriated from the city's 2014-15 general fund surplus, and $25,000 would come from the city's "water fund."

Several council members said they were not thrilled at the request for more funding for the project. Councilwoman Catherine Carlton said her patience is "wearing a little thin," while Councilwoman Kirsten Keith said, "I feel like we've discussed this too much."

Councilman Peter Ohtaki said he didn't like it, "but that is the reality of the construction market."

Councilman Mueller, the lone vote against the increased budget appropriations for the project, said, "I'm not sure the case has been made for all of these amenities that are being provided."

Clean energy program

The council unanimously adopted an ordinance to join Peninsula Clean Energy, a program designed to buy clean electric energy and provide it to residents of participating cities and unincorporated areas within San Mateo County at rates competitive with PG&E's.

The program will be governed by a joint powers authority with representatives from participating cities and the county. Starting in February, those representatives will work through details about the percentage of clean energy that will be offered to users and what the rates will be. Before these decisions are made, the matter will return to the City Council for a vote.

Councilwoman Carlton will be the lead representative from Menlo Park. Mayor Rich Cline will be the alternate.

Landscape ordinance

Menlo Park also agreed to adopt the BAWSCA (Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency) version of new California water conservation regulations. Under the new rules, people modifying 1,000 or more square feet of land for landscape renovation, or 500 or more square feet for a new landscape projects, will be required to comply with the new water conservation measures.

Related story: Woodside joins clean energy collective.

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