Wednesday, April 8, 2020

4.7.20 Meeting Summary

Last night for the second time, the Council met amid the COVID-19 crisis, and all of met remotely over Zoom.  For the first time using video conferencing with Zoom and all of us being remote, I think it worked pretty well.  There were two significant items the Council took action on:

1.  We authorized the spend of approximately $70K to improve pedestrian safety near our schools. These funds will cover improved striping and interactive stop signs near Mt. Diablo Elementary, interactive stop signs in one intersection downtown, and making the intersection outside of Diablo View Middle an all ways pedestrian scramble. The pedestrian scramble was specifically requested by Principal Bannister when I met with her on this issue back in April of 2019.

The catalyst for making some of these changes was a vehicle/pedestrian incident back in March 2019.  When we got report of this incident, I quickly asked my fellow councilmembers what we could or should do in response.  I sought to have this item be discussed as an agenda item so we could take public comment, solicit feedback, and take action if necessary.  I made appointments with each of the two school principals and discussed what ideas they had regarding improved student safety.  I continued this discussion for the following year, each time seeking input from our school principals as the matter came back for discussion before Council.

There will be further investigation around the possibility of having interactive 'prepare to stop' signs in both directions outside the middle school as well. These could greatly assist in preparing drivers to stop when the light is about to turn red.  It will take time to investigate if this is technologically feasible and we would expect to hear back in a couple of months.  The other improvement items above will move forward and hopefully be complete before the beginning of the upcoming school year.

Separate but related to the above, - I made an argument in favor of funding the elementary school crossing guard at the corner of Mt. Zion.  This year, the Parent Faculty Club (PFC) donated funds sufficient to cover the cost of this crossing guard.  In discussion with both the current and past PFC presidents, this was of great value to the young students and parents.  I would like to see the crossing guard continue, and made the point that the City, rather than parent donations, should be responsible for funding this service.  Ultimately pedestrian safety on our public streets is the responsibility of the city and it is more appropriate that this cost be borne by the city.  I'm hopeful that my fellow councilmembers will feel similarly when this item is part of a larger budget discussion.

2.  The other item the Council took action on was to authorize the sending of a letter regarding a scoping discussion of the proposed reclamation plan amendment for the CEMEX quarry.  Contra Costa County is the ultimate decision maker here, but we may have some influence as Clayton is most impacted by the operations of the quarry.  This topic of this particular comment period was rather limited - it's designed to focus only on what the scope of the review the County should engage in with regard to the proposed reclamation plan amendment.  

Even with that narrow focus, I thought it important to give voice to many residents' concerns who live in the area - that relocating the ingress/egress points closer to their homes is detrimental to Clayton residents, that the proposed change in reclamation is not good for the city in that it leaves a gaping pit to be filled in with water over 50 years, and that more action needs to be taken in regard to mitigating dust that is generated by quarry operations.

Council agreed and there will be some minor modifications in that spirit before it is sent within the next week- it won't come back to Council to review since the deadline for the filing period is prior to our next meeting but the letter will be submitted within the comment period.