Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Upcoming Council Meeting 1.5.21

The agenda for the next meeting in January is being published a bit early due to the upcoming holidays.  There are two significant items on the agenda for the next Council meeting on 1.5.21:

  • A request I made previously to discuss sending a letter regarding RHNA overestimation.  It is obvious that there are flaws in the RHNA allocation in the latest cycle and this letter will express the City's position on the methodology employed.  This will be a part of a larger effort being pushed by groups of local elected officials in an effort to reexamine the RHNA figures that were handed down by California HCD and ABAG.
  • Consider hiring consultant to educate staff and Council on new housing related legislation.

If you have  thoughts or questions on any of these items please let me know.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

12.15.20 Meeting Summary

Tonight the Council took action on several items:
  • We were going to consider executing a consulting contract with Climatec to assess areas throughout the city where there may be opportunity for various energy conservation improvements.  Our intent was to piggyback off of the contract negotiations being conducted by the City of Concord.  By doing this, we leverage the legwork done by our neighboring city while engaging with vendors to do similar work at the same rates.  The City of Concord had some delays in their contract negotiation so we tabled this matter until such time that Concord finalizes their agreement with Climatec.
  • We agreed to submit a grant application for $250K to go towards park infrastructure.
  • We gave direction to staff to submit plans under a different park grant previously approved to replace certain playground equipment and play surfaces at the Community Park that is in need of infrastructure improvements.
  • We awarded a consulting agreement to MIG to facilitate community engagement in regard to the open city owned downtown lot.  The firm will be doing a multi channel approach to community engagement in order to form a recommendation on what should be done with the space.
  • We approved the 2021 Council Committee assignments chosen by the Mayor.  I raised a concern that the committee assignments should be made up of Councilmembers, and only in the event that there is no Councilmember willing or able to serve on a given committee should the selection then be advanced to the public.  These committees are ways that elected representatives who are accountable to the people engage in external functions representing the city.  Mayor Wolfe disagreed and proceeded with his selection of former Councilmember Haydon.  The vote was 4-1 with myself voting no.

Public comment was lively at tonight's meeting. Several people commented about the mayoral selection at the previous meeting. Councilmember Diaz read into the record nearly 30 letters from residents who requested it. Their comments reflected substantial dissatisfaction with the  mayoral selection from the prior Council meeting.

In my Council report, I made the following statement:

There has been quite a bit of discussion recently about the mayoral vote that occurred at the last meeting. I want to thank the people who have called and written to show their support for myself, and a respect for the process that the Council has adhered to over the last several decades. Apparently this view was not held by a majority on this Council. In explaining his decision, Mr. Cloven stated that he would not reward any person who supported the campaign of his opponents.

Well, I supported Frank Gavidia. His views and my own aligned on many issues that impact the people of Clayton. Frank fell short of earning a place on this Council. Even still, I applaud his willingness to step up and try to represent those who were concerned about the direction this Council has been going in recent years. And because I supported Frank, Mr. Cloven would not support me, and in turn, all the other nearly three thousand people that supported Frank.

Even though members of this Council have stated they want to heal the divide in this community, I suspect these actions will serve to only galvanize this divide and that is unfortunate.

There has been rumblings about re-doing the mayoral selection. While I appreciate the support, I think it best for this community that we move past this. My fellow Councilmembers have made their choice, and notwithstanding the abandonment of protocol, Mr. Wolfe is serving as our Mayor. Regardless, I will continue to do what I have done since joining this Council in representing the interests of our community, seeking and welcoming input from everyone, and clearly communicating the actions of our city.

I also requested two items be added to future agendas:
  1. To discuss changing our municipal code to require any residential development greater than 10 units to require architectural drawings and renderings at multiple street level angles from various distances, and aerial renderings within context of the surrounding area.

  2. To discuss changing the order of the agenda such that public comment be taken earlier before the consent calendar in order to make engaging in discussion by the public more accessible.  Currently public comment comes after the consent calendar and council reports and recognitions.  Often times these can take an hour or more, and often occur at irregular intervals and people interested in making comments may get discouraged having to wait before they are invited to speak.

Friday, December 11, 2020

RHNA Double Counting and Overestimation of California's Future Housing Needs

At the 12.1.20 Council meeting, I made two requests for future items.  The first was to send a letter calling out the errors of the latest RHNA statewide allocation.  The second was to consider reducing the zoning density around downtown.  Both were not included in the next meeting agenda on 12.15.20 but I thought it important to elaborate on why I think these are important matters that should be considered.

California HCD determines the number of housing units that will need to be planned for in future years, and distributes these to regional bodies throughout the state.  The regional body that is responsible for allocating these units to cities in the Bay Area is the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).   Normally, after the units are divvied up by ABAG to the local cities, there is an appeal process.  The appeal process however does not address the fundamental problems with the latest allocation.  This is because upon appeal, ABAG can shift units from one municipality to another, but the total number of units region wide would be unchanged.

Based on the latest information however, it appears that the total number was arrived at based on faulty methodology.  Below is the letter that I drafted:

In southern California, they are slightly ahead of us so many of their local governments have already raised this complaint.  Here is a letter signed by 32 cities in Orange County raising the same concerns.  It is time for us as northern California cities to join their efforts in raising these concerns in hopes that the total housing figure could be reexamined.  I hope to get support from the Council to send this on behalf of the city.

The letter references certain attachments.  Report on double countingFreddie Mac report on total CA housing need.

Reducing Zoning Density Around Downtown

At the 12.1.20 Council meeting, I made two requests for future items.  The first was to send a letter calling out the errors of the latest RHNA statewide allocation.  The second was to consider reducing the zoning density around downtown.  Both were not included in the next meeting agenda on 12.15.20 but I thought it important to elaborate on why I think these are important matters that should be considered.

Given community interest in reducing traffic, preserving neighborhood character, and reducing environmental impacts, it's important to note that the zoning that underlies the Olivia project is the same in nearby properties.  I suggested that we as a Council look at these properties and consider whether the zoning is consistent with what our community expects.

Here is what I was considering in making my request to discuss this item:

As we can see, under the current zoning, nearby parcels to the Olivia could be developed to approximately 69 additional units.  I am requesting that we as a Council consider this and whether this is consistent with what our community wants.  State law requires that any reduction of density be done contemporaneously with an increase in units zoned elsewhere such that there is no net loss in overall housing units.  We would need to answer the first question - is this something we want to pursue - then we'd get to the second one of where we'd shift the units.

It's important that this be discussed soon because if a developer were to submit a complete application for these properties, the zoning at the time of applying is locked in even if it is changed at a future date.  Delays in considering this request could result in the option to reduce zoning density being taken away.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Upcoming Council Meeting 12.15.20

 There are several significant items on the agenda for the upcoming 12.15.20 meeting:

  • Consider executing contract with Climatec.  This would be a consulting agreement for Climatec to do an assessment of where the city could save money by implementing various energy conservation improvements.  The agreement calls for two phases - the first would be a review and assessment.  There is no cost to the first phase.  If there are areas of improvement identified in phase 1, then phase 2 may commence upon authorization from Council to do the identified projects.  Phase 2 work would be a cost plus 5% basis.  Only projects that would meet the marginal ROI necessary would be approved.
  • Apply for a park improvement grant.  There is no matching requirement for this and the expected award is approximately $250K.
  • Discuss potential projects to use funds from the a similar parks grant that we were awarded from an application discussed at the 9.15.20 meeting.  This grant does have a matching fund requirement, however we would use staff time to satisfy the match.
  • Award contract to consultant who responded to RFP for community engagement with regard to the downtown lot.  At the 10.20.20 meeting, the Council agreed to engage with a consultant to facilitate community engagement in order to come up with ideas on what can be done.  RFP responses have come back and staff is recommending we select one of the vendors.
  • Approve the Mayoral appointment to various committees for 2021
If you have any thoughts or questions on any of the above items, please let me know.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

12.1.20 Meeting Summary

Tonight was the last Council meeting for outgoing Councilmembers Catalano and Pierce.  There were a number of positive comments, reflections on service, giving of gifts, and well wishes. 

On the agenda was only one significant item and that was the annual reorganization of the Council to select a new Mayor and Vice Mayor.  Newly elected Councilmembers Cloven and Tillman joined with Councilmember Wolfe in nominating and voting for Councilmember Wolfe to become the next Mayor and Councilmember Cloven to be the next Vice Mayor.  The votes were 3-2 with myself, and Councilmember Diaz voting no.

For future agenda items I requested two things:

  1. For the Council to consider sending a letter regarding erroneous RHNA allocation region wide.
  2. For the Council to consider downzoning certain parcels near downtown on Old Marsh Creek Road.