Peninsula services mostly survive U.S. government shutdown 

The vast majority of government services in San Mateo County won’t be affected by the federal shutdown — save for several federal research facilities and veterans affairs.

In the short run, most cities on the Peninsula expect to be able to maintain services and normal governmental functions. In Redwood City, for example, only one federal government program has the potential of being affected — certain grant reimbursement requests — and there’s only a small chance of that, according to city spokeswoman Sheri Costa-Batis.

The county government also doesn’t expect any immediate impact on services. That includes the health system and rolling out the Affordable Care Act. But should the gridlock in Washington, D.C., continue, some services may be impacted, said Board of Supervisors President Don Horsley. The Housing Department, “which depends on federal funds,” would be the first, followed by any other county social services funded with federal money, Horsley said.

Unlike public land overseen by federal agencies, county and state parks will remain open. Although most of the parks in the county are locally run, there are five, such as Rancho Corral de Tierra, that are part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and thus will be closed.

But the shutdown has more serious consequences for the 3,700 federal employees within the county — many of whom were given furlough notices.

The U.S. Geological Survey’s Western Region Earthquake Science Center is located in Menlo Park and is closed. According to earlier media reports, three USGS employees will continue to work, along with another 40 nationally who will monitor the environment for hazards.

Although specific details about San Mateo County are unclear — federal communications staff are among those furloughed — parts of the Peninsula’s U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facilities will remain open. In addition to essential services such as health care, there were personnel working at the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno.

The nearby NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View also is shut down because of the federal stalemate, leaving some NASA interns stationed there scrambling to find shelter. According to intern James Mishra, on-base housing at Ames was deemed nonessential and shuttered as of Tuesday.

Since the shutdown began, many of the 15 total interns have struggled to find alternative housing, relying on acquaintances and supervisors for help, Mishra said. Those difficulties are exacerbated by the region’s lack of affordable housing and high cost of living.

But Mishra isn’t frustrated with NASA — he’s putting the blame on Congress. “It’s entirely their fault,” he said.

Local politicians have lost patience with the federal government as well. “It is truly unfortunate that partisan bickering in Washington, D.C., has resulted in the first government shutdown in 17 years,” Horsley said.

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