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!