Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Upcoming Council Meeting 10.1.19

At the upcoming Council meeting there are only Consent Calendar items - no scheduled Public Hearings or Action Items.

The Council will be swearing in Officer Rich Enea as our newest police sergeant. There will also be recognition of outgoing Police Sergeant Daryl England in appreciation and recognition of his service to the people of Clayton.

There will also be presentations recognizing the city's Do the Right Thing program.

That same evening, we will have closed session prior to the public meeting to discuss selection of interview candidates for the open City Manager position. The following Friday, October 4, we will be interviewing candidates for this position.

If you have any thoughts or questions on any of these items, please comment or contact me and I'll do my best to respond or find out more and report back.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Update on Housing Related Legislative Items - Four Things Bad for Clayton

Now that the legislative session is over and bills have gone to the governor, for him to sign or reject, I think it’s worthwhile to look back at the CASA Compact that we discussed earlier this year to see how we ended up. It had 10 elements that collectively the City Council says they were opposed to because it took a one size fits all approach, and in many ways usurped local control.  Well now the legislature has passed four bills that are sitting with the governor (AB1482, SB330, AB1487, and SB5), and they are all bad for Clayton.

  1. The first two elements of the CASA Compact were rent control and just cause eviction – that is now sitting with the governor with AB1482. AB1482 - Another bill by State Assembly Member Chiu implementing Bay Area wide rent control, making rent increases of more than 5% + CPI illegal. It was amended recently to incorporate rules that prohibit eviction without certain limited allowed reasons. Rent control is a decades old failed policy that nearly every economist agrees on. As Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman wrote, “The analysis of rent control is among the best-understood issues in all of economics, and -- among economists, anyway -- one of the least controversial. In 1992 a poll of the American Economic Association found 93 percent of its members agreeing that ''a ceiling on rents reduces the quality and quantity of housing.''

    The voters of CA soundly rejected the idea of expanding rent control as recently as 2018. Proposition 10 in 2018 would have repealed limits on rent control, allowing cities to enact policies similar to what Chiu is proposing with AB1482. Voters rejected this statewide by over 20 points and now the legislature passed what the voters rejected and AB1482 is now sitting with the governor.
  2. Element six was dubbed “good government”, and took shape in SB330. It prevents cities from denying building projects under most circumstances, limits number of meetings, and caps and freezes fees.This bill also attempts to fast track project approvals by limiting the number of hearings allowable even if the nature or scope of a project changes over the years. This includes any public hearing, workshop, or similar meeting conducted by the city or county with respect to the housing development project. For example, any meeting of the newly formed Land Use Subcommittee. It was approved by the legislature and is now sitting with the governor.
  3. Element ten was a new regional housing enterprise to put a whole host of taxes on the ballot, the one where even the ABAG lobbyist that was here said no one was in favor of. It’s now in front of the governor with AB1487.

    Ultimately, we heard that ABAG's support of AB1487 was conditioned on three specific changes to the bill. One of those conditions was that ABAG control the money of course. ABAG conditioned their support position on them being the lead agency in raising and distributing funds.

    In the latest updated AB1487 language, Chapter 3, Section 64650 (b)(1) states that the allocation of regional housing revenues must first be approved by the Executive Board (ABAG), then by the Authority Board (MTC). However, if MTC takes an action that differs from ABAG, then ABAG must approve what MTC chose.

    All this talk about needing to have a seat at the table didn’t amount to much – the conditions upon which ABAG rested their support didn’t come to pass, and the bill moved forward anyways. I’d much rather stand for principle and say no, then compromise core values and get kicked in the teeth anyways. And even though the senate ultimately passed the measure, I’m glad Senator Glazer actually stood for principle, local control, rather than just lip service while conspiring with those that would see local control torn down. This is what MTC and ABAG did when they supported this bill, and what Assembly member Grayson did when he voted in favor of this bill. AB1487 was approved by the legislature and is now sitting with the governor.
  4. One of the wish list items from the CASA Compact was a return of redevelopment. This took the form of SB5. Previous redevelopment activity was ripe with problems. Inefficient spending, for the benefit of developers, siphoning state funds that crowded out education and ultimately didn’t produce the intended results. Jerry Brown was right to kill these programs back in 2011 that allowed cities to play fast and loose with taxpayer money, claiming to build affordable housing, while enriching developers, and diverting property tax dollars that should rightfully be going to our schools. Unfortunately, SB5 is was approved by the legislature and is now sitting with the governor.
If you have thoughts on any of these bills that are with the governor, I encourage you to reach out to his office and make your opinion known.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

9.17.19 Meeting Summary

Last night there were a few significant items discussed:
  1. There was a presentation by Contra Costa County Fire Protection District regarding their efforts and things that homeowners can do to reduce the risk of fire.  In addition to home maintenance and creating defensible spaces, the strong recommendation was for people to sign up for the Community Warning System at  This is useful in receiving information in the case of emergency, especially for folks who no longer have a landline.  Additional information about what residents can do can be found at
  2. There was a presentation by Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) regarding a newly proposed Transportation Expenditure Plan (TEP) that calls for additional sales taxes.  CCTA is asking for all local governments to approve the plan, after which the County will need to approve it.  At that point, it would be placed on the ballot in March 2020.  Sales tax increases requires voter approval with a 2/3 majority supporting.  Because the benefit to the residents of Clayton was indirect, and some of the most impactful things that would hep Clayton residents may never come to pass, I did not feel the increase in taxes was justified.  The Council ultimately voted to support the increase in sales taxes to fund the TEP.  The vote was 4-1 with myself opposed.
  3. There was a request by Clayton Valley Charter High School asking the City of Clayton to support the renewal of the school's charter.  The current term of the charter ends in 2020.  There was discussion around the across the board academic success of the students of the school, and what a great asset to the community the school provides.  Ultimately I was glad to vote in favor of supporting the charter renewal.  The rest of the Council was also supportive of the charter in the community and the vote was unanimous.
  4. We also had closed session to discussion the City Manager Selection of Interview Candidates.  I am not at liberty to discuss what occurs during closed session.  I can say that the process continues to move forward.

Additional thoughts below:

Regarding the TEP:

In 2016, Measure X was a similar transportation sales tax proposal that did not ultimately pass.  The residents of Clayton voted in favor 53%.  This is down from the previous transportation tax Measure J in 2004 which the voters of Clayton were in favor 70%.  Much of the funding for these measures benefit regional projects.  Transportation is often a regional issue.  But over time as taxes have continued to increase, it becomes more important for the use of those taxes to benefit our residents.

Some of the biggest transportation related problems faced by Clayton residents is commuting on Ygnacio Valley Rd. and Treat Blvd.  Other cities like Walnut Creek purposely throttle traffic at certain intersections like at Oak Grove.  The traffic lights there are designed to restrict the flow of traffic, ultimately creating bottlenecks for Clayton residents, among others.  And while the TEP does talk about local roads and traffic light synchronization, there is no way to force cities like Walnut Creek to stop throttling our residents.

With nebulous direct benefits, and previous rejection of similar sales tax increases by Clayton residents, I could not support increasing the tax burden on our citizens.

Regarding Clayton Valley Charter High School:

I understand there have been concerns about financial matters and the Executive Director of the school spoke at length around changes they have made to increase transparency, strengthen internal controls, and restructure the oversight of the school all in an effort to ensure that the financial mismanagement and abuse that occurred previously could not happen again.

In addition to the regular independent financial audits that regularly take place, the school took it upon themselves to conduct detailed forensic audits to help guide them in making additional changes.  All recommendations of the independent forensic audit, as well as the examinations conducted by the district have been implemented, or are in the process of being implemented.

I did have a chance to review the detailed audit documents, findings, recommendations, and responses to those recommendations.  I found them to be thorough, and the actions being taken by the school to be in the right direction.  The school has made great strides and I look forward to seeing it continue to be a valuable asset to the community.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Upcoming City Council Meeting 9.17.19

A few significant items are on the agenda for the 9.17 meeting:

  • A discussion around the Contra Costa Transportation Authority Transportation Expenditure Plan (TEP).  This plan contemplates a 1/2 percent sales tax for 35 years to fund various transportation projects around the County.  Details of the plan can be found here.    It appears to be similar to previous taxes like Measure C and Measure J.  For illustrative purposes, the plan at that link contains this diagram:

  • A discussion around the upcoming Clayton Valley Charter High School renewal of their charter and whether the city should offer its support
  • A discussion whether to designate voting delegates to the League of California Cities meeting being held in Long Beach.

I'm really interested in peoples' thoughts around the TEP.  For the TEP to be placed on the March 2020 ballot, it needs to get approval from the County Board of Supervisors and City Councils, representing in aggregate a majority of the cities in Contra Costa County, as well as a majority of the population residing in the incorporated areas of the county.

If you have any thoughts or questions on any of these items, please comment or contact me and I'll do my best to respond or find out more and report back.