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.