I decline to accept what others seem to propose which is to continue to spend money and hope for economic recovery. I believe that such a choice is too risky and requires unnecessary spending of tax dollars to provide services that are not essential to what a city must do to maintain its infrastructure and provide essential services. I therefore believe it is my obligation to find other ways to provide services that the City can no longer afford to provide and are better dealt with privately rather than through government.
I wrote in my last Council Corner about privatization and public – private partnerships and want this latest article to continue to plan and work in that direction. I believe that not only does this benefit the City by eliminating expenses, but it is highly advantageous to the residents who can now control when and what services they want and need without the risk that someday municipal budget constraints will eliminate services they have come to depend upon.
One of the areas I wrote about last time was the adoption of the Village Model, whereby services such as transportation, activities, shopping and the like are handled by the manager of an association of people who group together, as if they were a village, and the village provides these services to its members. This is a model that has successfully worked around the country and right here on the Peninsula. My first thought was that this would be a great opportunity for our seniors, but frankly I think it could be something made available to anyone who wanted to join and participate. I also think that the model can help to build synergy between the resident community and the business community to the mutual benefit of both.
The remainder of this article will deal with early stage implementation, but if you want to learn more about the Village Model and how it has been successfully used locally, go to http://www.avenidas.org/village to see how it is working right now in Palo Alto.
Turning to the plan, I have already spoken with several people, some of whom will ultimately be the initial leaders in the project. In June we will start the process of putting together the initial board of directors and putting together the organization. If you have prior experience in this area and would be willing to serve on the formation board, please email me so that I can keep you in the loop.
Starting in July, I will be asking interested people to host town hall type meetings in their home. Gather together ten to fifteen of your interested friends and neighbors and someone from the organization will come to your house and talk about what we are trying to do and how to get involved. Much of what we will have to offer may be preliminary, such as costs and scope of services, but these meetings should give you a good idea of where we are going so that you can see if it is of interest to you.
I am also hopeful that Foster City businesses and service providers will take an interest in the process and get on board early. One of the services we are hoping to be able to offer is a discount buying service where local merchants and service providers will agree to give a modest discount to association members in exchange for which the association would be able to send more business their way – in essence, a “Shop Foster City” type program. I think this could be a “win-win” for everyone.
I hope you will see the benefits of looking into this new model of providing services here in Foster City and will join with us in the coming months of turning this idea into a reality. I believe that the time has come for use to take control of our lives and help our City in difficult financial times. In this way we can do both.
Those are my thoughts. Tell me what you think. Share your ideas with me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (650) 286-3504.