Wednesday, January 16, 2019

1.15.19 Meeting Summary

As mentioned previously, there were a few key issues discussed at the meeting last night. A quick summary:
  • The annual Trails and Landscape report was approved, as well as three members of the TLC being reappointed. 
  • Frank Gavidia was appointed to the open Planning Commissioner seat. 
  • We set a date for the annual goal setting special meeting for January 29th. 
  • Councilmember Diaz gave an update on his work with the County regarding Parolee Housing. We plan to have a presentation at a future council meeting either late February or early March, at which time we will also discuss this matter as an agenda item. 
  • Matters I previously asked to be on the agenda will be included on the February 5th council meeting – a report out on current and historical city objectives, and the use of Round Up in Clayton (more on these in a future post) 
  • 2nd reading of an ordinance requiring inclusionary housing on non-owner occupied developments of 10 units or more was adopted by a vote of 4-1. I was opposed. 
  • A sub-committee was formed to work with city staff and provide more specific direction so that they may craft a proposal that would then come back to the full Council in a future meeting for public discussion and potential action taken by the Council. 

A few more detailed thoughts:

Inclusionary Housing:

Previously there was discussion about whether not including non-owner occupied units would actually encourage that type of development vs. owner occupied development. I think in simplified terms this may be true but there are also larger factors that enter into that calculus. Whether a developer will opt for owner occupied units vs. non-owner occupied units has a lot more to do with cash flows and whether a developer has the capital to retain the property and is seeking an income stream, or if they need the capital from the eventual sales, than whether or not and at what level inclusionary housing is required. To perform this analysis a number of assumptions would need to be made and without that information I think it would be premature to conclude one way or the other.

But what isn’t based on assumptions, is that by placing inclusionary housing requirements on non-owner occupied units, the Council is encouraging developers to take advantage of the CA density bonus law, allowing developers to obtain variances on things like parking, building height, and overall density. Since these units would count towards meeting the requirements for the density bonus, this requirement incents a developer to build more units because they would be able to with the density bonus.

The Council voted to adopt this ordinance at the second reading last night with a vote of 4-1. I was opposed.

Permit Parking:
Ultimately the Council decided to form an sub-committee to work with city staff to provide more specific direction that they could use to draft a plan of action. At that point, the plan would come back before the Council as an agenda item where specifics could be discussed by the public as well as action taken by the Council. My thoughts below:

There was a larger than usual turnout last night, with the majority of comments made regarding this item. I believe that since the agenda packet included as a potential approach a construction of a barrier, this drove a significant amount of interest.

I have no interest in a fence.

The Regency drive access is not a formalized access point to the State Park and trails. There is no parking provided by the state, there are no restrooms, no trash cans, and no disabled access. The terminus of Regency Dr. leading down to the trail is quite steep, and not intended for ingress. The Mt. Diablo state park site does not list it as an entrance either. The state park does provide parking at the Mitchell Canyon Visitor center where they can accommodate hundreds of cars.

Some will say that if existing laws are being violated, like litter, blocking driveways, excessive noise, etc. then that is an enforcement problem. My response is two fold:
  1. The city does not have the resources to station a permanent officer to ensure that these rules are being followed. Officers patrol and respond to calls. The magnitude of the problem is larger than this type of patrol and spot check can address 
  2. This isn’t simply about the current rules regarding litter and blocking driveways. Nor does this seem like an issue of consideration or better signage. No amount of consideration mitigates bumper to bumper parking which is currently allowed. Having the entire street occupied from parked cars nearly all the time impacts quality of life. The status quo is not set in stone. There is a system in place to change rules as needed to address new fact patterns as they arise. Certainly there are many things that are perfectly legal but would greatly impact quality of life if they occurred with great regularity. 
I ask myself, would I enjoy cars from all over the area but outside of Clayton taking up every single available parking space on my entire street every day there is decent weather? I wouldn’t. Imagine never being able to have a gathering at your house because every single parking spot is taken. Or hundreds of people walking in front of your house all day, and all the incident impacts of that. It would be intolerable. This is an instance of diffused benefits and concentrated costs.

CVC 22507 explicitly states that local authorities may create a program that preferential parking system for residents. Other localities have turned to this option when demand surge for parking impacts quality of life or congestion. And that’s the situation we have now. Residents in these areas are unable to have guests to their house because there is no parking. Parents can’t have birthday parties for their kids because there is nowhere to park. Increased traffic and congestion also present a safety hazard as well.

The biggest concern is pushing the congestion to other areas of the city. Any approach would need to address this, however if this becomes a concentrated issue in other areas like it is now at Regency, I am open to applying any type of solution to those areas as well if there is resident support.

A repeated theme in addressing the issue was to work with print and social media to shift people away from Regency. This is unlikely to be successful because of the nature of the internet. Some groups will modify behavior (for example - Save Mt. Diablo relocated an upcoming scheduled hike as a result, and committed to no longer launching from the Regency Gate). But given many of these sites have user driven content, unless access is restricted, Regency will be the continued recommendation for free parking at the state park. This isn’t only one online site making this recommendation, there are more than 20 that were found with a cursory search.

In hearing people’s concerns, I described the outline of what I thought could be a potential approach: Below are the contours of what I was thinking we could implement on a trial basis:
  • Designate certain impacted streets and potential substitution streets as permit only parking during certain hours, suggest 8am – 5pm, perhaps only weekends and holidays. Have a certain number of guest passes per residence as well. 
  • Leave alone the area at the end of the street that is not in front of anyone’s property. There is room to park approximately 20-25 cars there without permit at the end of the street, as well as 20 or more additional spaces on Regency near the old Seminary. 
  • For all other areas in front of or adjacent to people’s residences, require permits. 
  • Make permits a periodic renewal. Have nominal fees to cover increased administrative burden 
This attempts to alleviate the congestion and quality of life issues for the residents, continues to provide a more limited amount of free non-permit parking so all the residents of Clayton can still utilize this access point if they choose. The targeted area will need to be looked at to make sure the desired goals are being met.

I will be working with Councilmember Wolfe on the sub-committee to get information back to staff. Please comment or reach out with any input, suggestions, or concerns. Part of the process will be to work with relevant stakeholders to work toward an approach that is amiable for all.