Our Achievements

 

It has been my privilege to serve you for the last four years as a Director on the Kensington Police Protection and Community Services District (KPPCSD) Board. With your support, I've been able to work with other Board members and District staff to improve the accountability and quality of our town's governance and services. I am proud of what we have been able to achieve!

Police Reform

I’ve worked hard over my first term to hold the police accountable to high standards of professionalism. I 

eliminated an inherent conflict of interest by separating the role of the General Manager from the Chief of Police. ...

community Investment

In this moment of multiple, compounding crises, Kensington can be a model of supporting important community services in addition to executing on the District’s responsibilities for law enforcement. ...  

Good Governance

After my election, I made good on my promise to restore our trust in the KPPCSD’s governance and administration. I made tough but smart choices to stabilize our finances for the long haul, saving nearly $2 million. ...

Public Safety BuildinG

We must ensure that we continue to house Kensington's Police and Fire Departments in one Public Safety Building. The renovation of our current building, which co-houses the District’s administrative staff, Police and Fire, is illustrative of the financial challenges we face. ...

Police Reform

I’ve worked hard over my 1st term to hold the police accountable to high standards of professionalism. I am proud to have separated the role of the District’s General Manager from the Chief of Police just three months into my term, eliminating an inherent conflict of interest. I  strengthened police accountability with the adoption of body-worn cameras revised use of force policy in line with the #8Can’tWait campaign.  

 

I voted for the subsequent hire Interim Chief Steve Simpkins, a “turnaround expert” with strong leadership skills to change the culture of the department. Over the past year, the police have refocused on residents’ top concerns: emergency evacuation, traffic safety, crime prevention, and community engagement.

 

If re-elected, I will continue to provide rigorous oversight of the department and its still-nascent effort to operate with high standards of professionalism, community-based policing, and the full confidence and support of Kensington residents.

 

We need to explore adding community service officers to handle the community policing and crime prevention our residents desire while ensuring public safety with essential law enforcement and robust 911 services.  We are a low-crime district and could do more to utilize partnerships with other police jurisdictions to lower the total cost of an in-house department. Interim Chief Simpkins recommended contracting for several functions. Our Fire Department, now entering it’s 31st year under contract with El Cerrito, is a model partnership. 

 

We cannot go back to the bad old days of 2013’s “Renogate” cover-up, or even last year’s, embarrassing, and frankly chilling, attempt to intimidate our General Manager with a citizen’s arrest by one of our officers. The effort to provide appropriate, accountable, police services needs consistent, rigorous oversight and there’s much more work to be done.

Community Investment

In this moment of multiple, compounding crises, Kensington can be a model of supporting urgent community services in addition to executing on the District’s responsibilities for law enforcement.  Health, environmental and safety needs are urgent priorities in my family. During their young lives, my two daughters have faced multi-year droughts, the threat of wildfires with unbreathable air, extreme heat over the Bay area, and now a shelter-in-place order in response to Covid-19. 

 

For a number of years, our community center and park, the core of our civic life and green space, had been under-funded and neglected. I co-led a public-private partnership to renovate our 65-year-old community center to meet today’s safety, accessibility and energy standards. We completed the project on time and under budget. Additionally, we have:

  • removed poison oak, trimmed and limbed trees

  • identified dead and dying trees and budgeted for their removal

  • authorized funds for the taping and resurfacing of the tennis courts

  • created a capital account with $80,000 for improvements to the park and park buildings.

 

Seniors, many living alone, makeup 36% of Kensington today and are our state’s fastest-growing population. I want to see our District transform its recreational programming to help older adults lead vital, connected, safe and comfortable lives as their needs change. The District should strengthen and expand its recreational programming to support an all-volunteer network of neighbors, organize social activities, information sharing, and extend a helping hand to neighbors as they continue to age at home.

 

During my tenure on the Board, we switched to MCE’s Deep Green electricity so our District runs on 100% renewable electricity. We brought our 65-year old community center into compliance with today’s stringent energy efficiency standards during its renovation. And we replaced decade+ old, low-mileage police cars with 3 hybrid SUVS.

 

If re-elected, I will add food composting to our contract with our sanitation service provider. It has been desired by our residents for many years and will be required by state landfill diversion regulations. Food composting is one more way our district can contribute to the fight against catastrophic climate change.

Good Governance

After my election in 2016, I made good on my promise to restore our trust in the District’s governance and administration. I made tough but smart choices to stabilize our finances for the long haul with a police contract that reigned-in medical inflation costs, and to refinance our police pension debt, saving taxpayers nearly $2 million over the life of the bond. I supported long-overdue modernization of the District’s finance and accounting procedures and controls, the adoption of a fiscal reserve policy, 2-year budgeting, and a 5-year budget projection model. 

 

To communicate more frequently and with more District residents, our board adopted a schedule of two regular meetings per month, held numerous town halls on police services and other issues, and created a newsletter mailed to every household twice per year. We also upgraded our website to be fully ADA compliant and searchable. All these actions are designed to enhance transparency and the accessibility of the KPPCSD. The District is on track to earn The California Special District Association’s (CSDA) Transparency Certificate of Excellence in operations and governance later this summer for the first time. 

I want residents to have a clear picture of the resources it takes to provide the services at the levels we have, identify areas that could benefit from partnership and realignment, and help them navigate the choices before us. 

Public Safety Building

We must ensure that we continue to house Kensington's Police and Fire Departments in one Public Safety Building. The renovation of our current building, which co-houses the District’s administrative staff, Police and Fire, is illustrative of the financial challenges facing our residents’ pocketbooks. It has grown too small, especially for today’s fire fighting vehicles, and is past its useful life, with maintenance costs that continue to rise.

Under current regulations, it must be upgraded to meet an “essential services” seismic standard. And, the situation is further complicated because the public safety building is located right on the Hayward Fault. The renovation was last estimated to cost $10-$12 million. 

 

I voted to work collaboratively with the Fire Board and spend up to $20,000 of district funds on the development of designs that include the police department.  The capital account I supported for park improvements, could be used to renovate the “Annex” building for District administrative staff, alleviating the space crunch and allowing our police to remain in the public safety building.

 
 
 
 

© Hacaj for KPPCSD Board 2020

205 Columbia Ave

Kensington, CA 94708

Sylvia4Kensington@gmail.com