Wednesday, August 21, 2019

8.20.19 Meeting Summary

There were four significant items discussed at last night’s meeting:
  1. Downtown planter box repair and replacement project
    The Council awarded a low bid contract to repair and replace 12 planter boxes on Main St., including removing six trees that have outgrown and damaged the planter boxes and adjacent sidewalks.

    Despite widespread appreciation for the many trees on Main St., the council heard compelling reasons for why this project should move forward. The root systems of some of the trees were not conducive to the planter boxes and were damaging them and the adjacent sidewalks and streets. This damage resulted in risks to public safety. Each of the 12 planter boxes on Main St. (this does not include Center St.) will be repaired or replaced, with the goal of having them look consistent. 6 Chinese Pistache trees will be removed and replaced with Crepe Myrtles.  This work should conclude by the end of the year.
  2. Structure of minutes
    I requested that the minutes capture a summary of Council discussions in an effort to increase transparency. The rest of the Council did not support this and felt that the video recordings combined with the minutes that only capture Council votes was sufficient. I also suggested making the minutes text searchable for ease of finding information and the city is currently implementing that functionality.
  3. Traffic and pedestrian safety
    We received an update on various efforts around town including installing new barricades at the intersection of Mitchell Canyon Rd. and Four Oaks Ln., the same location where a pedestrian/vehicle collision occurred. In addition, the police have committed to being a more visible presence when possible around both the middle and elementary schools during drop off and pickup times.

    I’d also like to recognize that the PFC at Mt. Diablo Elementary funded an additional crossing guard which should aid in traffic safety.

    The city is continuing to look at grant funding to facilitate various efforts including pedestrian traffic beacons, flashing stop signs similar to the ones at Pine Hollow and Pennsylvania Blvd., as well as improving pedestrian crossing in front of the middle school.
  4. Land use subcommittee
    A sub committee of two Planning Commissioners and two Councilmembers was formed to provide both city staff and developers more comprehensive and timely feedback on potential developments and land use policies. Myself and Mayor Catalano will represent the Council, and the Chair and Vice Chair of the Planning Commission will represent the Planning Commission.

    I was concerned about the risk to the city in communicating in a way not appropriate, as well as the potential of setting certain expectations at these initial meetings that may not ultimately come to fruition. In addition, given the direction the rest of the Council decided to go with minutes and the lack of video at these meetings, it will be a challenge for the public to stay abreast of the actions of this committee. It seems like this role is more appropriately performed by the Planning Commission, however there is potential value in having some conversations up front to provide feedback early on.

    I was concerned whether it should be a goal of the city to expedite development projects, as was the stated purpose of this subcommittee. As long as we comply with the law, I’m comfortable with the city having a rigorous land use approval process to ensure projects conform with applicable requirements