Friday, December 21, 2018

Get Updates via Email

Whenever I post updates I will do so here on my blog, on my Facebook page, and occasionally on NextDoor.  However, if those methods aren't your preferred way of getting information, I have set up an email feed as well. 

On the left side of the page, there is a place to subscribe. I plan to do an update after each meeting, and occasionally in between if there is information to share. Signing up for email updates will send an email whenever I post, but no more than once per day.

Please sign up!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

12.18.18 Meeting Summary - and a couple questions

Last night was the first meeting after the swearing in. After each meeting I plan to write a synopsis, ask for feedback, and at times pose questions looking for insight. There are a few questions that I’d like feedback on at the bottom. Here are the highlights:
  • As mentioned in a previous update, Transwestern terminated its exclusive sales listing agreement for the city owned property downtown. The date of the termination letter was the date of the election. Campaigning on the idea that Clayton should not be for sale, I consider this a win. It could be entirely coincidental but regardless this is a good thing. 
  • The Planning Commission voted to extend the approvals for the Creekside Terrace development project that is envisioned for downtown where the old buildings on Oak St. are located. These building are also scheduled to be demolished soon due to them being dilapidated and presenting an attractive nuisance.
  • The Council voted in the first reading to adopt a motion to include non-owner occupied new development projects of 10 units or greater to be included in the city’s inclusionary housing requirement. 
  • I asked about the timing of when parolee housing would come back on the agenda as Mr. Diaz requested. It will NOT be at the next meeting on Jan 15. Mr. Diaz is meeting with representatives of the County to get more information and will request a future date after that has happened. I also want to introduce this as an item for discussion. I deferred to Mr. Diaz to do his diligence and was assured that this would happen soon. 
  • I asked for two things to be included on future agenda items. The first was a discussion on the use of Roundup by the city and potential alternatives. The second was to ask for a semi-annual report from staff regarding the status of all existing goals directed by the Council, including what has been done, what is planned to be done, and an outline of how each goal is expected to be achieved and when. Also to create a process to review and eliminate existing items with no activity for a certain period of time. Given there are 25+ items on the list of things the Council has directed Staff to work on, some 5 and 10 or more years old, this will ensure that the current Council is in agreement with what past Councils have directed. 

Should we include non-owner occupied developments in the inclusionary housing requirements?

I recognize that we are required to provide for a certain number of inclusionary housing units and we have a choice on how to do so. If it is a choice between funneling those units towards development for sale vs. development for rent, I'd prefer development for sale as there is greater stability and investment in the community with for sale units. However given that not including non-owner occupied developments in the inclusionary housing requirement would effectively make these rental developments more profitable than if they were included, I’m not positive.

So what are people’s thoughts on whether inclusionary housing requirements should be applied to non-owner occupied developments? Ms. Catalano and Ms. Pierce both were of the opinion that if non-owner occupied developments were not included in inclusionary housing requirements, that would encourage development of rental units over owner occupied units. I think this position has merit.

I think it’s a question of objectives. We are required to provide for additional housing units as per our RHNA requirement (more exposition on that in a separate post). Since we are required to provide for more housing (though not necessarily to build it ourselves), should it be owner occupied, or non-owner occupied?

There is also the question of the magnitude of the inclusionary housing requirement. The current ordinance as drafted sets it at 10%, the same level as is set for owner occupied developments. Increasing this figure could have downstream impacts on the economic viability of future projects. We do have room to change the ordinance to increase the requirement to a higher figure, like 15%. Much more than that and we invite burdensome state inquiry.


Saturday, December 15, 2018

December 18 Council meeting - Downtown Updates and the Importance of Prioritization

After several Council meetings with light agendas, the Dec 18 meeting next week will have a bit more content. Here are two key items:
  1. Transwestern has terminated their exclusive listing agreement to sell certain downtown properties. These include the 1.67 acre open downtown lot.
  2. There is a proposed ordinance to include new development for rental housing units in the inclusionary housing rules just as development for for-sale residential housing are currently subject to. Currently, an for-sale residential housing development consisting of 10 or greater units is required to provide at least 10% of the units as affordable housing. This has been a goal established by the Council since January 2018.
In the interest of transparency, I am going to be requesting a semi-annual report from staff regarding the status of all existing goals directed by the Council, including what has been done, what is planned to be done, and an outline of how each goal is expected to be achieved and when.  As discussed previously, my request will be to place this on the agenda to be discussed with the rest of the Council.

Annually the Council conducts a special meeting during which it reviews a list of prior goals, deletes some, keeps most as items for a brighter future, and adds new ones agreeable to the entire City Council.  Currently there are over 25 items on this listing.  And to be fair, many of the items on the list lay dormant due to budget and time constraints - there hasn't been activity in some time.  But when on the list there are many items five and ten years old, I think we need to question the process and its effectiveness.

Many of these goals would take significant time and resources to accomplish.  And given the city is resource constrained in dollars and staff time, some of them are unrealistic.  It is when there are constraints that prioritization becomes all the more important.  To make sure that city staff's time and energy, and your tax dollars are being used effectively, we should ensure that prioritization of goals aligns with the interests of the residents.  The first step in doing that is assessing where we are.

All goals should be SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. I'm sure many of us have utilized this type of structure in a professional capacity.  The benefits of creating goals in this fashion apply in local government as well.  Creating SMART goals helps us measure our success, focus our efforts, and prioritize what is really important.

And while the city discusses goal creation in during Council meetings, there doesn't seem to be a report out on how well the city has done in achieving these goals.  For example, here are the last 4 years of goals established during Council meetings:

2018 Goals
  • Presentation at a Council meeting by Republic Services concerning the low rate of curbside recycling by Clayton residents and businesses, and recommendations for programs to improve local recycling efforts 
  • Request All Out Sports League to provide report on comparative rental rates, facility usage, and program participation at the Clayton Community Gym 
  • Preparation of an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADUs) Ordinance 
  • Preparation and adoption of a new Lease Agreement between the City and the Clayton Historical Society for the historical home and improved grounds on City property 
  • Discussion and policy direction regarding recent state law (AB1505) and Below Market Rate housing 
  • Report and discussion of state laws and current Municipal Code provisions on manufactured housing and accommodation of "tiny houses" 
2017 Goals
  • Research Solar Panels on City Facilities or in open space 
  • Research costs for an all-weather mini-track on Field Four (4) located at Clayton Community Park adjacent to the Clayton Community Gym as possible joint project with the School District 
  • Monitor/periodically report on the City's CalPERS unfunded pension liabilities 
  • Research and report on the structural stability and security of the Keller Ranch House 
2016 Goals
  • Expense to light the existing pedestrian tunnel under Clayton Road day and night 
  • Secure and stabilize the Grove Park benches before the first Concert in the The Grove 
  • Obtain estimates to expand permanently the stage area to better accommodate the Thursday and Saturday Concerts in the Grove Park 
2015 Goals
  • Research cost-benefit of solar power systems for City facilities, starting with the Clayton Community Library 
  • Communicate with commercial/business owners to report self-haul or backhauling of recyclable materials (tonnage) to City for credit in community calculation of diversion from landfills 
  • Evaluate cost to place public trash cans at select trailhead locations in the City to encourage proper disposal of litter 
  • Commence preparation of local ballot measure procedures for voter consideration in November 2015 of Citywide Landscape Maintenance District funding. Examine/prepare next phase of District upgrades/improvements 
  • Consider option for a stand-alone coffee cart in courtyard of Clayton Community Library 
  • Examine lighting options for existing pedestrian tunnel under Clayton Road 
  • Explore a solar energy option to power more frequent operation of the Clayton Fountain 
  • Longer MOU/MOA contract terms
Did all of these things happen?  I see that researching solar at the library was a goal in 2015, and again a goal in 2017.  I know that the presentation by Republic Services in 2018 occurred, among many of the other items that were accomplished.  But currently there isn't a formal report out regarding the status of any of these goals.

If the Council collectively approves this effort to create a progress report, then we will be able to gain much more insight into the priorities and focus of the city.

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Power of the Agenda

Because the Council can’t take action on anything that isn’t on the agenda (public notice requirements, etc.) it’s important to understand how things are placed on the agenda, and how action can stem from that. Any member of the Council can request for an item to be placed on the agenda either during a regular council meeting (typically in the “Council Items” section of the meeting) or requested to be placed on the agenda outside of Council meetings.

These requests are gathered and sequenced into the regular Council meeting agendas based on a number of factors, including available staff time, and other items already slated to be on the agenda. That is only the first step however.  This first step only prompts the Council to have a discussion.  City staff will not take action on these items unless directed by the Council collectively – and this is done during the Council meetings. So an item on the agenda can be discussed between Council Members and only if a majority agrees to direct staff to take certain action, will City staff take action.

This is why it’s so important to have a Council who are responsive to the residents. Without initiation by Council Members, issues can simply be excluded from the agenda and therefore no action can be taken.

One thing that we know will be on a future agenda is a continued discussion of parolee housing. Council Member Diaz requested this at a previous meeting to be discussed sometime after the new year.  I'll be discussing this in greater detail in a future post - stay tuned.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Planning Commission Opening

As a result of Mr. Wolfe getting elected to the Council, the role of Planning Commissioner that he previously held is vacant.

The Planning Commission (PC) is comprised of 5 members appointed by the City Council, normally for two-year terms. The PC advises the City Council on land use matters, including General Plan and Zoning Ordinance amendments. The PC also makes decisions on project development, Site Plan Reviews, Use Permits, Subdivisions, and Variances.

If you are interested in applying to be a Planning Commissioner, see more information here.

Two more terms for current Planning Commissioners are scheduled to expire in June of 2019.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Council Meeting 12.4.18

Last night there were quite a bit of people at the Council meeting - most likely due to the great presentations of the Do the Right Thing Award. There was also a swearing in ceremony and a cake too. As usual, all the Councilmembers were able to make a brief statement. Below is mine:
First and foremost, I want to thank my wife and family. Nothing I’ve accomplished would be possible without their support, and that’s more than just this election.

I also want to thank Mr. Shuey. Even though we were opponents in this election, I appreciate his many years of public service and for all he has done for the benefit of Clayton. 
The results of this election showed that there has been an unmet desire for transparency that I hope to address, in part with regular updates on various social media platforms. With all the tools at our disposal today, there is no reason not to meet people where they are and interact how they want to interact.
By campaigning on a few key issues (the idea that Clayton should not be for sale, that we shouldn't have high density housing in our downtown, and that the downtown lot should be preserved for our festivals and events) voters were presented with a clear choice in this election. I look forward to working with the rest of the Council to bring these ideas to fruition.
A consistent theme from other comments was in regard to  divisiveness, and how the Council needs to work together.  I certainly agree that the Council should work together - the first thing that should be done is abandon the idea that disagreement is divisive.  Candor is of greater value than consensus.  In the marketplace of ideas better outcomes can be achieved by testing the merits of ideas rather than practicing conflict avoidance.

In the coming months and years, I will be seeking input from everyone in conjunction with pursuing the ideas that I campaigned on.  Transparency will permeate everything.  Stay tuned here to find out more - the real work is just beginning.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Final Unofficial Election Results - Nov 30

The final unofficial election results were posted last night. I was out and about most of the day and evening so I didn't get a chance to update the page. For the sake of completeness, here is the final tally:

An additional 83 ballots yielding 120 votes were counted since the last update on Wednesday Nov 28.
The swearing in will be at 7pm at the Library during the regularly scheduled Council meeting. As I mentioned in my previous post, open communication and transparency will be a big focus during my tenure. As such, I plan to update regularly so if you are interested, feel free to follow the page and the updates will come directly to your feed.

As always, I'm open to any questions and will be publishing some additional ways to contact after I settle in.

I'm excited!

Friday, November 30, 2018

A Few Odds and Ends

I have received notes of congratulations from other various local elected officials which was unexpected and thoughtful.

The Clayton Pioneer also reached out for comment on the election for print in their Dec 7 issue. I replied with the following:
"I am humbled that the residents of Clayton chose me to represent them on the Council. I am grateful that my message of transparency resonated with voters - the results of this election showed that there has been an unmet desire for openness that I hope to address.

By campaigning on the idea that Clayton should not be for sale, that we shouldn't have high density housing in our downtown, and that the downtown lot should be preserved for our festivals and events, voters we're presented with a clear choice. I look forward to working with the rest of the Council to bring these ideas to fruition in the years to come."
I will continue throughout my tenure to update regularly on Council activity and the people's business on this site as well as my Facebook page.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Wednesday 11/28/18 Update

As of today (11/28), Contra Costa County released updated vote figures as follows:

Wan: 2,842
Wolfe: 2,795
Shuey: 2,683
Buddell: 1,869

There were an addition 443 ballots counted this update. Current results represent a 75.43% turnout. Based on historical trends, this is a little north of the historical turnout rates.

While the final deadline for certification of results is Dec 6, the County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to meet on the afternoon of Tuesday Dec 4 to certify the election results.  That evening at 7 pm on Dec 4, the Clayton City Council will meet to swear in the new members and reconstitute the Council (select Mayor, Vice Mayor).  

What I learned from the last Council meeting is that the agenda for the December 4 meeting will be light, however if anyone wishes to view the swearing in ceremony that meeting is when it will happen.

Based on the results above, it appears that myself and Mr. Wolfe have each earned one of the two spots available for election.  As I wrote earlier, I want to thank everyone who supported my campaign and candidacy.  I look forward to working with Mr. Wolfe and the rest of the Council.  It will be my privilege to represent my neighbors on the Council.

I want to thank Brian Buddell for running a spirited and energetic campaign.  We had an opportunity to coordinate some of our campaign efforts and I appreciated the time, energy, ideas, and enthusiasm he committed to his campaign.  I also want to thank Mr. Shuey.  Even though we were opponents in this election, I appreciate his many years of public service and wanted to thank him for all he has done for the benefit of Clayton.

I recognize this was a very close election so to any who did not vote for me - I hope I can earn your support in the years to come.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Friday 11/16 Update - Not final yet, but getting better

As of today (11/16), Contra Costa County released updated vote figures as follows:

Wan: 2,648
Wolfe: 2,608
Shuey: 2,519
Buddell: 1,738

There were an addition 1,428 ballots counted this update.  Based on historical trends, this is in line with the historical turnout figures, but there are still uncounted ballots.  The next scheduled update of results is on Wednesday, 11/21.

Looking good so far.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Friday 11/9 Update - Still Too Close to Call

As of last Friday (11/9), Contra Costa County released updated vote figures as follows:

Wan: 1,942
Wolfe: 1,959
Shuey: 1,922
Buddell: 1,258

There were an addition 579 ballots counted this update.  Based on historical trends, there could be quite a few ballots left to be counted.

Still too soon to call. The next scheduled release of updated figures will be on Friday, (11/16) at 5pm.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Results Not Yet Final

So, a bit of an update - interesting day today. There are likely a significant number of ballots still uncounted. Some of this is factual, and some of this is supposition so I will try to separate those out.

What we know - There are uncounted ballots of the following flavors: Ballots turned in outside of Clayton. People could drop their ballots at any collection box in the County. Those are not yet included. Ballots that are designated "late-early" - those absentee ballots that were submitted to the polling place. Those are not yet included. Any ballot postmarked on Tuesday - those have until Friday to arrive to be counted. 

Supposition - Mail in ballots that were received Monday or later are likely not included as well. Candidates received a message from the county election office talking about what was and what wasn't included. It wasn't super clear, but my interpretation of the message was that those ballots received after Saturday were not included. More supposition - Average turnout for mid term elections, excluding 2018, and going back to 1998, is approximately 68%. The results as of last night show turnout around 45%. My expectation would be that turnout would be more consistent with the historical run rates. 

I've also been in contact with Staff at the city who have confirmed the factual information above and that the results are not yet final. 

Given all that, currently 3597 ballots have been counted, with 8017 registered voters. If the turnout % is consistent with prior years, then there may be over 1,000 ballots not yet counted (this is heavy supposition). The secretary of state has 30 days to certify the results and make them final. We'll see how it goes. Here is a summary of the Clayton historical data. All have been pulled from here:

Monday, November 5, 2018

Remember to Vote on Nov 6!

Reminder that tomorrow, November 6 is election day.  Don't forget you can vote for two!  Also, we will be having an election night gathering at Ed's starting around 6pm.  No matter who you support, please join in celebrating our great community.  In case you are undecided, I assembled some critical facts related to this election here:

My candidate statement at the last Council meeting:

Friday, November 2, 2018

Just 4 more days and the last sign update

With the election just four days away, I hope everyone has had a chance to read all the facts and make an informed choice.  That's been the push for my whole campaign - a fact based presentation of evidence and clearly stating my positions so voters can decide.  As a reminder, I published a summary of the facts of this election here:

As of last week, I gave out the last of my signs that I ordered.  I even pulled one from my yard to give to another supporter.  Well worth it!  Here is how it all ended up:

Thank you to everyone who agreed to display a sign in your yard!  And since the campaign is nearly over, I'd thought I'd share one more thing that I found interesting (I'm a bit of a data nerd):

Here is a display of website traffic over the last month.  You can really see the growth when the ballots were received.  This is great because people were seeking out information.

Hope to see everyone at Ed's on Tuesday night starting around 6pm.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Clayton Get Together

Myself and Brian want to thank you for your support for our bid for the two open Clayton City Council seats. 

Please join us at Ed’s Mudville Bar and Grill on Election Night (November 6th) from 6:00 until the results of the election are announced (or we get tired and decide that we’ve celebrated enough on a work/school night). Please show your unity for Clayton and the Small Town values we all hold dear, no matter who wins the election, by wearing your San Francisco Bay Area sport team shirts/sweatshirts, etc. Join us to celebrate, have an appetizer, dinner, or just a beer, (at your expense, no big budget political campaign here!) to spread our Clayton community spirit. Thank you!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Mystery High Density Mandates

When the subject of high density housing comes up, Mr. Shuey will often resort to deflecting responsibility to the State.  He'll say things like, 'every city has to designate certain parts of the city as high density'.  The problem with this statement is that it's false.  Much like the other false statements or misleading statements that Mr. Shuey has made, this one seems to be a popular refrain in order to deflect criticism.  The people of Clayton are opposed to high density housing in downtown, so when Mr. Shuey takes action that would allow it, he deceptively tries to pass the buck to the State, claiming there are mandates for high density.

It seems like he was able to convince the Clayton Pioneer of this same falsehood.  In their most recent editorial, they claimed that "state law requires every city to provide zoning for high density and affordable housing".  This is only partially true.  It is correct that every city must provide zoning that would accommodate all levels of income.  But it is wrong to say that state law requires every city to provide zoning for high density housing.  That is a false statement.  

It's easy to see that Mr. Shuey is simply wrong on this matter.  We can look at example cities in CA that do not have high density zoning.  I did a cursory search and note that the City of Belvedere and the City of Trinidad do not have zoning for high density housing.  I won't speculate on why Mr. Shuey feels the need to mislead people about what the State actually mandates, but it's clear what he is saying is false.

Some cities, including Clayton, have chosen to zone for higher densities in order to meet their affordable housing requirement, but this is not the only way to do so and when Shuey or the Pioneer make this claim they are being disingenuous.  Clayton is in a different situation - we have a surplus in housing units at all levels of income.  As a result, there is no requirement for additional high density, and as the under utilization in the Southbrook project demonstrates, we don't even need to utilize high density where it is already zoned.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

East Bay Times Endorses Selling our Downtown Lot

Here is their endorsement of Shuey and Wolfe.

The editorial does reinforce what I’ve been saying throughout the campaign about this particular issue. I do not want to sell the downtown lot to outside developers. Shuey and Wolfe however do. So if people want to sell the lot to develop memory care centers to places like Fulcrum, then they should support Shuey and Wolfe, as the Times editorial apparently does.

While there are many issues present this election, like poor handling of parolee housing, terrible communication and transparency from the Council, making false statements about the requirements for high density housing, restricting free speech and laughing about it, the 30% absentee rate of Shuey, the virtual 100% unanimous voting record of the council, the Council wanting to choose its own successors, and the lack of experience of Mr. Wolfe, the editorial does make clear the choice – sell the downtown lot to outside developers, or preserve the feel of our downtown and the ability to use it for our festivals and events. I have written in detail about all of these here.

And while the editorial did get the contrast right, it is unfortunate that they rested their endorsement on so many unfounded assumptions. I’ll list them out:

Unfounded Assumption #1: The city has about $2M tied up in the parcel. This is unsupported. The city purchased the lot for about $1.1M. To get to the $2M figure, the editorial has to rely on information provided by the City itself. Given the lot hasn’t sold to anyone in the many years it’s been for sale, it’s a stretch to say that $2M is tied up. A market price is what a willing seller and a willing buyer are able to agree on – and as there are no willing buyers, the most supportable value of the land is what the city is the cost the city is carrying it at – the original purchase price. This is the value the land is currently held at on the audited financial records of the city.

Unfounded Assumption #2: The city could use the proceeds from a sale to pay down unfunded pension liability. This is true, however misleading. There has never been any discussion about using the proceeds of sale to pay down the pension liability. It’s rather silly to suggest this is how the funds would be used. It’s silly because in previous years when the city had budget surpluses, they proposed to use those funds to buy equipment or other one time expenditures like vehicles. It’s silly because the city currently has $4.5M in surplus and there is no suggestion to exhaust those amounts to cover the unfunded pension liability. The pension liability is like many other debts – built up over time, and paid down over time.

Unfounded Assumption #3: there is a cost to doing nothing with the land. This is also misleading. Using this rationale, there is a cost to ALL city owned property. While there may be an opportunity cost, there is no cash cost other than the ongoing assessments associated with the parcel. The city owns the Grove Park. There is value there as well, but there is no suggestion to sell that property. The city owns many parks, trail space, and other land. We don’t try to sell those because we recognize there is value to these open spaces. The same is true for the open downtown lot.

Unfounded Assumption #4: the community should at least consider options. Because the interview with the times was merely 1 hour shared between all four candidates, some of the nuance may have been lost on the editorial staff. For instance, when the community sought retail uses there but there were no takers for years - that was considering options. When Shuey voted to negotiate to sell the downtown lot to Fulcrum to build a memory care facility, the community considered that option and shouted down that terrible choice. When the church wanted to build a large structure there, the community again spoke out and rejected that option. To say that the community hasn’t considered options is false. The community can consider options ad infinitum but one option that has united people is that they want the downtown lot open for our festivals and events. So do I. 

Monday, October 29, 2018

One Peril of Selling our City

I’ve talked before about how Clayton shouldn’t be for sale, and what our downtown is worth. But an additional point that needs to be emphasized is that once properties are zoned a certain way, high density, for parolees, or otherwise, the Planning Commission and the City have little to no ability to reject proposals that conform to and are consistent with the applicable zoning. The idea that the Council has put forward - that the PC will be able to pursue avenues to reject otherwise conforming plans is not reasonable. Rejecting otherwise conforming proposals is one way to lose lawsuits.

The best ways to stop undesired projects are two fold. The first is to buy the land. That way if the city doesn't want a particular project  they have quite a bit of power to control the use. The second way is to change the zoning (in compliance with the law) in such a way as to discourage undesired projects and encourage desired projects.

It should be clear how this is relevant to our present situation. The city already owns the downtown lot. The city can control what goes there easily as long as they retain ownership. That's why it's important they do not sell it. Because once the property is sold, then the city loses control and the new owner would be able to develop on it anything that conforms with the applicable zoning. This point was also made by the City at one of the previous Council meetings when they published this document:

If the city sells the land it owns, it will relinquish control of how the land is used as long as the use is consistent with the zoning. This leads into the second method.

The second method is relevant to is the existing three parcels near the post office. We can see how this is playing out - the city doesn't own it and there are plans on the table for three separate three story senior rental complexes. And with the density bonus law, there can be variances granted for things like height, setbacks, and parking. But since the city doesn't own it, the city cannot control what the land is used for as long as it is consistent with the zoning. And because the city has rezoned those parcels multiple times over the last several years, each time taking action that would lead to higher densities, it’s no surprise that the owner is seeking to develop the property with as high a density that is possible.

Rezoning to a different use is a different avenue to make sure that whatever goes there conforms to what the rest of the city needs and wants. And since we are currently in a housing unit surplus situation, it's a viable opportunity to do so whereas before it that option wasn't available.

And as an aside, this is the same reason that the notice requirement for parolee housing that Ms. Pierce touted is so toothless. Ms. Pierce repeatedly made the point that nearby residents would be notified so they could complain. But so what if there are notices - if the proposal were to conform to the requirements, there would be nothing the PC or Council could do about it. If we don't like the results of the rules, we need to change the rules. Rejecting plans that conform with the rules as stated is an invitation to losing a lawsuit. That's why the rules should be changed to prevent that from happening.

Friday, October 26, 2018

The Vocal Minority

Previously I wrote about the opportunity to be heard, the opportunity to engage in dialogue, and open communication. That when substantive comments and questions go repeatedly unaddressed and unanswered, it creates a sense of being ignored. It’s the same thing when you label groups that have different views as a “vocal minority”. It minimizes what they have to say as if it’s not important, treating minority views as if they don’t matter. That is why communication is such a key part of my campaign. Direct questions should receive direct answers. Period.

Instead, if someone disagrees, they often get ignored.  If enough people gather together to voice opposition, they are ignored collectively.  If even more get together and voice stronger opposition, then they can be labeled as the "vocal minority" and continue to be ignored.

After this election we are going to see if those who have been vocal in opposition to Council actions are actually in a minority.  Let's prove them wrong.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Lets Gather All the Facts

A common tactic when faced with opposition is to attempt to discredit information provided somehow, cast doubt on what is said, or simply deny the truth of various statements.  Often opposition will say that information that is critical to their position is being presented in a misleading or divisive way.  As such, I’ve been accused of making misleading statements, being divisive, or all manner of unflattering things. If as a political candidate, calling out areas of disagreement is unacceptably divisive, then that's unfortunate. I have never disparaged any other candidate - what I have done is call attention to areas of disagreement, criticized decisions made that I oppose, and highlight matters of public record.

I understand people may disagree. If a person is okay with selling the downtown lot, if they are okay with high density housing in downtown, if they are okay with dissenting voices being minimized and labeled as a "vocal minority", if they are okay with an insufficient parolee housing ordinance, restricting speech, 30% absenteeism, unanimous voting virtually all the time, then the status quo is probably what they are going to support.

I will continue to speak clearly and plainly about areas of disagreement, and call out ways I think we can do better. Here are some of the key facts related to this election on Nov 6:
These are things I disagree with and are matters of public record.  In contrast, here are my key issues:

Monday, October 22, 2018

Today is the Last Day to Register to Vote

If you have not yet registered to vote for the November 6 election, the last day to do so is October 22. You can check your registration status here:

To register to vote, you can do so online here:

Make your voice count and register. And vote for me and Brian Buddell for Clayton City Council. 😃

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Selling Our City Through Exclusive Negotiation Agreements

I hear a lot from folks who say something to the effect of - 'The Council has always had Clayton's best interests in mind'.  To question that, is to question someone's motivations which I wouldn't presume to do.  What I can do, is look at the decisions made, the factual record, and evaluate for myself if I agree with them.  After doing that, I'm left with the question, are the actions taken by the Council consistent with the best interests of Clayton?

I talked previously about how Fulcrum was a wake up call - about how the Council has been trying to sell the downtown lot for years.  So much so that at various points renewing new exclusive negotiation agreements to sell the land and develop senior care facilities in our downtown were simply items on the Consent Calendar - deemed non-controversial so the Council could focus on items that may require more serious public debate.  Here was the first time the Council approved unanimously to enter into an ENA to develop a senior care facility:

After a short time, they amended the ENA via the consent calendar:

After the terms needed to be adjusted through more than just amendment, the Council approved a new ENA, again through the consent calendar.

After the developer eventually decided to not move forward, the Council again entered into another ENA this time with Fulcrum:
Now of course Fulcrum has backed out, but it is only a matter of time before the Council again tries to sell the downtown lot.  Now Mr. Wolfe has already stated that the City purchased the land in order to sell it, so if he is elected it would be no surprise if he continued on the same path that Mr. Shuey and the rest of the existing Council has been on for years.

Now, is agreeing multiple times with multiple developers to an Exclusive Negotiation Agreement to sell the land and develop a 3 story senior care facility in the heart of our downtown in the best interests of Clayton?  I don't think so.  We would gain the meager tax revenue that it would generate, and in return pay with the character of our downtown.

Friday, October 19, 2018

"Responsible Growth" - Another Avoidance Tactic

Anyone can say "responsible growth", but what does that mean?  Mr. Wolfe certainly says it quite a bit, but the only thing I can glean from it is that he wants to sell the downtown lot and would like to develop our downtown.

Instead of the empty rhetoric, here is some actual data - this is going to get a little more detailed, but I've tried to stick to the salient points.

The City is required to assemble its Housing Element that is divided into 8 sections.  The current period Housing Element spans 2015 - 2023.  As part of the Housing Element, Clayton is assigned a  Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), essentially the number of units realistically available for housing over a certain time period.  For the time period 2014-2022, Clayton's share of the RHNA was 141 units at varying levels of income:

Based on the current housing inventory, Clayton actually has a surplus of 137 housing units available:

When we look at the three parcels downtown near the post office, those are 119-021-013, 119-021-055, and 119-021-063.  The number of realistic units these properties represent is 15, 16, and 18, or a total of 49.  The open downtown lot is 118-560-010 with a realistic unit capacity of 17.  Combining the three parcels near the post office and the downtown open lot, that represents a total of 66 units.  Without these units in our Housing Element, we would still have an RHNA surplus of 71.

Given this surplus, why would the Council push to sell off the downtown parcel and continually rezone the three parcels near the post office?

Saying "responsible growth" is easy without specifics.  Without specifics however, it is only platitudes.  Given Clayton is nearly 98% built out, there are few development opportunities left.  Simply saying "responsible growth" is not enough.  For example, there are two parcels on the west side of Mitchell Canyon near the quarry.  There is one parcel on Marsh Creek north of Regency near the Water District Pump Station.  There is a larger open lot near Lydia Lane Park.  Other than those, there are the properties downtown.

There is also interaction with the State's no net loss law which complicates any actual reduction in housing available, but because we have a surplus there are ways to proceed.  For example, what was stated by the Planning Director regarding the Southbrook development:

Given the significance of downtown development to the community, I think it's critically important to understand where each candidate stands.  We know Mr. Shuey is in favor of three story high density memory care facilities since he voted to exclusively negotiate with Fulcrum, an outside developer, to put one in the center of downtown.  What we don't know is Mr. Wolfe's idea for that lot other than he wants to sell it and develop downtown.  Apparently riling up folks in town to oppose a terrible plan that would cost us the character of our city is the way that Mr. Wolfe wants to bring people together - bringing people together in opposition of the Council's efforts.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Little Things

While dropping off my youngers at school earlier this week, I talked to a parent whom I hadn't previously spoken with. They wanted to share that their spouse registered to vote for the first time - motivated by the current campaign here in Clayton.

It was very humbling. I didn't know what to say - I am so very grateful they shared that with me.

No matter the results of the election, that is a win. No matter who you support, make your voice count, register and vote.

October 16 City Council Meeting

For the third meeting in a row there were to public hearings or action items on the agenda. The one item of note was that although Councilmember Diaz was absent, he did communicate that he wants to put the parolee housing issue back on the agenda for discussion, focusing on buffer distances and private vs. public parks.  Though he wants to wait until 2019, after the election.

This is incremental progress.  We know that Councilmembers Catalano and Pierce have stated they are not interested in making further changes, and Mr. Wolfe has stated he believes the current ordinance is the best we can do.  Councilmember Shuey also believes the current ordinance is the most that is defensible.  This means that even if Diaz is able to raise the issue at a future meeting, the chance of anything changing is incredibly slim, unless myself and Brian are able to join the Council after this election.

All four candidates were present and given 3 minutes to make a candidate statement.  Below is the transcript of my statement:
I am an active CPA in private industry, the treasurer of my small HOA, and I’ve been a Clayton resident for over 9 years. My family moved to Clayton to raise our kids. We came for the great schools, safe neighborhoods, and small town feel and charm. Back then we had a two year old and a newborn. Today we are proud parents of an 11, 9, and 5 year old all attending the great schools in Clayton.

And while I don't have experience as a member of local government, I do have quite a bit of experience auditing local government. What I bring to the table is experienced decision making throughout my career. I started as a governmental auditor working for a private CPA firm. My focus was on local governments like Contra Costa County, Pleasanton, Napa County, Stockton, Modesto, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, among others. Throughout my career I’ve been a Senior Manager of Accounting, Assistant Controller, and Controller at various entities from software to healthcare to insurance – always managing large dispersed teams responsible for executing enterprise vision in highly regulated environments.

You may think, that if Clayton is already wonderful, why do you want to change things? That’s the thing, I don’t want to change things. I want to preserve all the wonderful qualities of Clayton that brought me, and so many other young families here. When things are going well, I think most people are content to let them continue, as am I. It’s when things aren’t going well that folks like me need to step up and speak out. And that time is now - many of the great qualities of the city have been at risk in recent years.

Past accomplishments do not excuse current problematic actions. With a general disinterest in engaging with those who disagree and labeling them as a “vocal minority”, Mr. Shuey and Mr. Wolfe do not represent what Clayton wants.

Mr. Shuey – with his 30% frequent absentee rate this term, and consistent unanimous voting record, doesn’t represent the diverse views of the residents of Clayton. His longstanding support of selling the city, including the open downtown lot where all of our events and festivals are held, to put in a memory care facility, is not what the residents of Clayton want.

Mr. Wolfe will tout his experience on the planning commission, but in just over two years that Commission has cancelled over 65% of their meetings. The mere 17 meetings that Mr. Wolfe did attend does not indicate the executive leadership that is expected of a Council position. Mr. Wolfe also wants to develop downtown and sell the city owned property. This is not what the residents of Clayton want.

So what do I want to do that is different than the current direction the Council is going? A few key things:
  • Clayton should not be for sale. If elected I would re-evaluate whether we should relinquish control of city owned land by selling our assets. 
  • Clayton should protect all of its residents. If elected I would pursue updating the parolee housing ordinance that recently passed that left out significant portions of the city. 
  • Clayton should not have high density 3 story housing in its downtown. If elected I would begin the process of updating the downtown specific plan to meet the changing needs of Clayton residents today. 
  • Clayton should not restrict free speech. If elected I would amend the unconstitutional sign ordinance that has now been abandoned to ensure compliance with our constitutional rights. 
If you agree with these efforts, then voting for myself and Brian Buddell is the best way to see these things come to fruition. This is what it looks like when candidates speak clearly and plainly about what they want.

We can do a lot better and it’s time for a change.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Reminder - Meet and Greet this Sunday 10/21

Let's have a chat! Myself and Brian Buddell will be down at Skipolini's this Sunday 10/21 from 1-3:30. See event here:

Hope to see you there!

Monday, October 15, 2018

What is our Downtown Worth?

This is what is at stake in the November 6 election:

For less than $25,000/year, the Council wanted to sell the downtown lot to an outside developer in order to put in a memory care facility.  Not including the one time sale proceeds, the City's share of future property tax revenue from the most recent effort to sell off the downtown lot, plus defraying the current cost of maintaining the land would yield less than $25K/year.   That is less than the Council receives in aggregate compensation.

That doesn't take into account the intangible benefits that accrue to the character of the city, and all the other events and activities held in that area that would be crowded out.  Plus, with the fee revenue from events that utilize the property, the $25K/year benefit is actually substantially less.  But even at the higher value, that is approximately $5.50/parcel.  And for that, the Council was willing to sacrifice the character of our downtown.

Here is Mr. Napper describing the ongoing carrying cost of the open lot during the 11/7/17 Council meeting:

And from a later document presented at a different Council meeting, a document from the city that describes the future projected tax revenue:

The Council was NOT required to enter into the ENA to sell the land - that was a choice they made.  They will say that they were engaging in the process, that they agreed to enter into this agreement so people could speak for or against.  But that shouldn't be the case.  The residents of Clayton shouldn't have to engage in a fire drill to shout down the latest bad idea from the Council.

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Experience of Councilmember Shuey

Mr. Shuey certainly has a lot of experience being a member of the City Council for four terms and now vying for a fifth.  Mr. Shuey likes to tout his participation in the development of the Grove and Concerts in the Park, and balanced budgets.  But what he doesn't emphasize is all the missteps the Council has made in more recent years.  In the past, the Council surely has done a number of things to make Clayton a great place to live.  But past accomplishments don't excuse poor choices or decisions in the present.  I discuss that in more detail here.

Agreeing to negotiate to sell our downtown lot, trying to sell the other city owned properties, rezoning properties to allow high density housing to come in, and voting in favor of restricting people's speech, etc. are all part of his experience.  And let's not forget his 30% absenteeism rate over his latest term.  It's easy to vote to support concerts in the park and community events.  But when we look at critical decision making that would change the character of our city, the experience that Mr. Shuey represents is that of selling our city to outside developers, misjudging risk to the city, and rezoning to allow high density rental units in our downtown.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Ballots Have Been Mailed

Contra Costa County mailed ballots on October 8.  As of this post, some of you reading may have already received them.  Historically, approximately 2/3 of Clayton voters return their ballots by mail, and that figure is increasing.  This makes it all the more important to make as much information available as possible so everyone can make an informed choice.

If you have not yet registered to vote for the November 6 election, the last day to do so is October 22.  You can check your registration status here:

To register to vote, you can do so online here:

Remember, you can vote for two candidates.  This year there are two of the five seats up for election. That means that when everyone gets their ballot, there will be instructions that say "Vote for Two" or something to that effect.  Both myself and Brian Buddell are the only candidates advocating ideas that will preserve the character of our city.  Now is the time where you can exercise your voice and your vote and I hope that I have earned your support.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The (lack of) Experience of Mr. Wolfe

Mr. Wolfe joined the Planning Commission in August of 2016.  And while the Planning Commission has scheduled meetings twice a month, during Mr. Wolfe's tenure the Planning Commission actually canceled over  65% of their meetings.  Of the meetings that were actually held, Mr. Wolfe attended a total of up to 17 of them (two meeting minutes are not available as of this posting date so I am including those in the 17 figure).  During that time he was faced with fairly mundane matters like home additions, kitchen remodels, and fence height limitations which are important overall for the city, but not necessarily the experience in decision making that is needed at the City Council level.

When a matter of larger significance came before the Planning Commission, that of restricting people's speech with the unconstitutional sign ordinance that the Council suggested, Mr. Wolfe voted unanimously with the rest of the Planning Commission 5-0 to adopt it.  There was no showing of understanding of the issue that Mr. Wolfe was voting on.   Of course we now know that this sign ordinance was not defensible as the City Manager has declared it will no longer be enforced.

A mere 17 meetings over 2 years does not lend itself to experience in executive decision making - a primary role of the City Council.  He will state repeatedly that he was a Creative Director for a major corporation - but with that there are also no details on how that experience is relevant to the position he seeks.

Also important to consider is that Mr. Wolfe is trying to take the same path that many Councilmembers before him took.  Appointed by the City Council to the Planning Commission, then later taking a seat alongside those who appointed them.  This is the path that Mayor Haydon took.  Also Councilmember Catalano, and Councilmember Diaz.  That's not experience, that is more of the same where the Council picks their successors.

My experience however, is laid out here:

I was a governmental auditor focusing on cities, counties, and transit authorities.  I’ve been in senior management at various large enterprises for nearly 20 years charged with executing strategic direction.  I write clearly about the positions I take on many key issues.  In my professional capacity I act as a subject matter expert charged with ensuring my company follows the proper accounting, financial reporting, and regulatory rules in a highly regulated environment.  That we do the right thing even when it's difficult.  It takes clear communication, and a willingness to stand up for your convictions – actual leadership.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Is it a Proposal?

Mr. Shuey and Mr. Wolfe will push back against anyone calling the three story, three separate building rental complex a proposal.  They will attempt to minimize the potential impact of this project, insisting that the City hasn't received anything, and that it's all just an idea, like putting a Walmart in your house.   And because that is absurd, then of course this three story, three separate building rental complex would also be absurd, right?

What do you call plans being submitted to the city, being hosted on the city's website, being described as a Project in Process and that the status is Under Review, and where feedback is provided by City Staff regarding ways to update the proposal?  It may not technically be a proposal based on some esoteric definition of that word, but it certainly looks like quite a bit of activity between the developer and the city.

Here's a bit of history behind the historical rezoning of these properties - thereby allowing the type of development that is now being proposed.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Let's Talk About Experience

Experience is important when evaluating job candidates.  And to be sure, running for City Council is like an extended job interview.

My resume is available for anyone to review on Linkedin.  I have no interest in obfuscating with broad generalities about what I've accomplished in my career.  And while I don't have experience as a member of local government, I do have quite a bit of experience auditing local government.  What I bring to the table is experienced decision making throughout my career.  I started as a governmental auditor working for a private CPA firm.  My focus was on local governments: cities, counties, transit authorities, etc.  Some of my clients were Contra Costa County, Pleasanton, Contra Costa County Employee Retirement Association, Napa County, Sonora, Tuolumne County, Sacramento County, Stockton, Modesto, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, among others.

After getting licensed as a CPA, I moved on to private industry, managing the accounting groups at various companies in fields like software, Fortune 10 healthcare, and insurance.  As a senior manager of large distributed teams across the country, I've had extensive experience executing on a vision, getting desired results in a highly regulated environment, and staying within a budget.  I've been responsible for training, hiring, firing, implementing new systems, leading audits, preparing RFPs, writing policy, and providing strategic direction for the enterprise.

Leading large groups, managing with a focus on empirical data, and a passion for preserving the great things about Clayton - this is the experience I will bring to the Council.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

October 2 City Council Meeting

At last night's Council meeting, there were no public hearings and no action items.  As a result, attendance was light.  Again I was able to give a brief candidate statement where I discussed the importance of transparency and open communication. Here is the transcript of my comments:
I am an active CPA in private industry, the treasurer of my small HOA, and I’ve been a Clayton resident for over 9 years. My family moved to Clayton to raise our kids. We came for the great schools, safe neighborhoods, and small town feel and charm.

I think it's incredibly important that people have the opportunity to participate in their government, the opportunity to be heard, and the commitment from leadership that they will respond as appropriate. For too long that opportunity hasn’t been available here. Yes anyone can come to these Council meetings and speak for 3 minutes. But there is no requirement to actually engage in dialogue at these meetings. There is talking, but no communication. That's because the Council is under no obligation to respond to questions, to pleas, or anything for that matter.

For example, at a previous Council meeting, I prepared a list of questions. I posed them during my 3 minutes. I presented a copy for each Councilmember in written format so you could respond during your turn. But the Council declined the opportunity to address the questions, or even acknowledge them - they sat untouched for the duration of the meeting.

When substantive comments and questions go repeatedly unaddressed and unanswered, it creates a sense of being ignored. It’s the same thing when you label groups that have different views as a “vocal minority”. It minimizes what they have to say as if it’s not important, treating minority views as if they don’t matter. That is why communication is such a key part of my campaign. Direct questions should receive direct answers. Period.

With today’s technology, those who are charged with governance should meet the people where they are, and provide as many means for communication as possible. Sure there are Council meetings. There are other on the record public gatherings, like the debate earlier this week. But there are also a large group of Clayton residents that participate in other ways. Like on NextDoor. Why doesn't the Council participate there, or when they do, they avoid direct questions? Why is Councilmember Pierce proud that she only ever posted there 2 or 3 times? I can set up an online forum in a day and make it public so anyone can ask questions. A subreddit? How about a twitter account? Something public that has extremely low barriers to entry and is available to all would go a long way towards ensuring that folks have that opportunity to participate.

And it doesn't have to be just one thing. I don't know what form this all could take - but these ideas here are all super low cost and easy to implement. I do know that an opportunity for dialogue should exist and right now it's lacking.

There will always be those who do not have a desire to participate, which is their choice and their right. But these types of things are easy and they would provide greater opportunity for the people to engage.

So while I want to preserve all of the wonderful things about this city, there are some areas where more of the same is no longer okay. More of the same is when the Council no longer listens to the people it represents. No, I am here to speak truth to power. At some point the Council lost its way and I’m running for City Council to correct that.  
There was also a section on non-agenda items.  In that section I addressed the inconsistency and inability to reconcile the statement made recently with the video evidence that contradicts the current statements made:
Can you elaborate on when the Council plans to address the sign ordinance that is no longer being enforced? From the latest Mercury News article that highlighted the problematic ordinance, it indicated it wouldn’t be taken up until after November. Why is that? I see there is nothing on the agenda today as far as action items go – can it be added to the next meeting?

I also note that in the article, and on NextDoor, Councilmember Pierce and Councilmember Catalano insist when they were voting to limit people’s speech, they thought they were only voting to limit the size of individual large signs, not the aggregate signage on a property. I can’t reconcile that with the evidentiary record that clearly demonstrates understanding and direction that the restriction was to apply to aggregate signage, not individual signage as you now state. Can you reconcile that discrepancy?
The Council declined to respond to the discrepancy between their assertions and the factual record.

Regarding open public dialogue, the Council asserted that they are available, that people can reach out via their city email addresses, or talk to them one on one.  The problem with that is that it's not public.  For some reason they are unwilling to engage in public discourse.  Part of the value of public discourse is to allow more people to engage in easier ways, plus we would start getting the wisdom of crowds which could lead to better decision making.  The Council made it clear they were uninterested in public communication and discourse.

Brian Buddell talked about how the other candidates were unwilling to take actual positions and how their statements were often void of any substance.  He challenged them to address this shortcoming about specific issues that matter to Clayton residents, like downtown development, high density housing, and parolee housing.

In Brian Buddell's section for non-agenda items, he made it clear that with the weak parolee housing ordinance that the Council voted unanimously in favor of coming into effect, that regardless of whether an actual parolee home enters the city, disclosure requirements would negatively impact the property values in the targeted areas.

After hearing my request to add the sign ordinance to future agendas, after being reminded by Brian Buddell that Councilmember Diaz voted in favor of the parolee housing ordinance with the understanding that it would be taken up again, the Council was silent.  The Council then declined to request anything to be put on future agendas, essentially ignoring everything that was being asked for, and what they had stated the Council would do.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

More Signs!

This weekend I received an additional order of yard signs.  Please let me know if you would like a sign, or if you know someone that lives in a great location for a sign, please let them know they can sign up!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Neutrality as an Avoidance Tactic

At various times when asked questions, members of the City Council or Planning Commission will often fall back on the excuse that they must remain neutral, or that they cannot comment on issues that they may have to vote on, else they would be forced to recuse themselves.

And while there may be situations of genuine conflicts of interest, like if the Clayton Historical Society is putting a matter before the City Council and Julie Pierce is both a Councilmember and a Board member, then it makes sense to recuse one self. And certainly if a member of the Council is taking money from people that are coming before them, they'd be prohibited from voting. Specifically, if you accept more than $250 from someone putting forth an application within the last 12 months per Gov Code 84308(c):
No officer of an agency shall make, participate in making, or in any way attempt to use his or her official position to influence the decision in a proceeding involving a license, permit, or other entitlement for use pending before the agency if the officer has willfully or knowingly received a contribution in an amount of more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) within the preceding 12 months from a party or his or her agent, or from any participant, or his or her agent if the officer knows or has reason to know that the participant has a financial interest in the decision, as that term is described with respect to public officials in Article 1 (commencing with Section 87100) of Chapter 7.
Unless the Council is taking money from the groups subject to the decision making process, they are under no obligation whatsoever to recuse themselves.  We know this is true because elected officials state their positions all the time.  If Diane Feinstein believes a certain thing, she's free to state her position, campaign on it, etc.  The same is true for Mitt Romney, Mark Desaulnier, etc.  Office holders can express their support or their objection to virtually any issue if they so choose.  This was from June 7, 2018:

So when Councilmember Shuey says that he can't form an opinion on selling our downtown to Fulcrum to put in a memory care facility, that's not true.  It's a transparent attempt to dodge having to take a position.  There is no prohibition on stating an opinion.  Watch - I'm opposed to any developer that wants to put a memory care facility in our downtown and if elected and the matter comes before me, I will be opposed.  Simple.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Watch the Council Laugh as it Restricts Free Speech

Previously I discussed the importance of the 1st amendment.  In response to mine and many others' criticisms, the City Manager has announced that the city will no longer enforce the sign ordinance until such time it can be revisited by the Council.

The Mercury News also covered this story here:

But more than just the text of the story, it's important to understand the attitude and approach of the Council.  Mr. Shuey and Mr. Wolfe tout their experience as one of their qualifications.  Both Mr. Shuey and Mr. Wolfe voted in favor of this free speech restriction:

As they laugh, this isn't the experience I want on the Council.

Friday, September 28, 2018

There Is No Diversity of Thought at the Current City Council

I've discussed earlier the high rate of absenteeism by Councilmember Shuey and how by his being absent so frequently it impacts his ability to represent the people.  But even when he is present, it makes little difference. This is because there is no diversity of thought within the Council. Beyond simple matters like approving the previous meeting’s minutes, there are much more impactful votes. Votes on things like:
  • parolee housing
  • rezoning downtown parcels to high density, 
  • votes to sell off city land to outside developers, 
  • votes to work with outside developers to build memory care centers
  • And votes to restrict people’s speech.
And here is where the lack of diversity of thought becomes apparent. Except one vote from Councilmember Diaz*, the Council has voted unanimously. Not just sometimes either - for nearly 400 different votes, 100% of the time since January 2014 the votes have been unanimous.

Given the contentious nature of some of the issues and the disagreement among the residents of Clayton, you would expect that disagreement reflected on at least some of these issues at the Council. But that's not the case. The Council has voted unanimously, all the time.

In a town with as diverse views as we have here, those differing views are not being represented when there is no diversity of thought at the current Council.

The actions and motivations of the council should be transparent and not hidden behind some non-existent requirement to be neutral. As an independent voice on the Council, I would represent the view that:
  • The safety of our residents should be the primary duty of the city. 
  • That we shouldn’t restrict people’s ability to speak. 
  • That we shouldn’t have high density housing in our downtown. 
  • That we shouldn’t sell off our city to outside developers ensuring we lose control over how the land is used.
We can do better, and it's time for a change.

*At the Aug, 21 meeting, Jim Diaz voted "no" while the four other Councilmembers including Mr. Shuey voted "yes" to the more recent parolee housing ordinance.  Initially at the July 17 council meeting, Councilmember Diaz voted yes with a unanimous Council to a buffer of 500' from sensitive areas for parolee housing.  After hearing universal complaint throughout public comment at both the July 17 , and Aug 21 meeting, Councilmember Diaz indicated he wasn't ready to vote on the 2nd reading of the parolee housing ordinance.  When the other four Councilmembers increased the buffer to 1000' and pushed for a vote anyways, Councilmember Diaz voted no, switching from his previous yes vote.