Wednesday, March 3, 2021

3.2.21 Meeting Summary

 Last night there were a few significant items discussed.

  • We had a mid year budget review.  There were several unbudgeted items of a one time nature that were either incurred or planned to be incurred by the end of the fiscal year June 30, 2021.  As such, we appropriated a sufficient amount of dollars from the unrestricted general fund reserves to cover these items.  They included estimates for additional janitorial services in connection with COVID-19, election services, a portion to fund the purchase of an additional police vehicle, and if schools were to re-open projected costs for additional crossing guard services.  The largest amount was to complete the prior City Manager contractual obligation.  The remaining surplus from the prior fiscal year was transferred to the Rainy Day fund.  At the end of the day, overall balance of that fund after the appropriations and transfers increased approximately $141K bringing the total to approximately $508K.

  • We discussed sending a letter to our State legislative representatives regarding SB9 which is currently being considered in Sacramento.  The letter would take an "oppose unless amended" position.  SB9's main goal is to eliminate single family zoning throughout California.  It does this in a number of ways, primarily by allowing lot splits with only ministerial approval which is no review.  This means that any single family lot could be converted to contain multiple units.  Each of those units could then develop an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), and a Junior ADU, resulting in each single family lot being allowed to have 6 units. 

    The letter that was drafted took an "oppose unless amended" position.  The amendments sought however did not affect the main goal of the legislation - to end single family zoning. The draft was okay with all single family parcels to be split, ending single family zoning in CA, but wanted to restrict additional ADUs.  I did not feel this went far enough and signaled that we are okay with ending single family zoning.  I voted no.  The Council ultimately voted 4-1 to send this letter with only myself being opposed.

  • We set the time for a special meeting to conduct a goal setting session.  It will be at 4pm on Monday March 22.  The city has hired a facilitator to assist with discussion.  The meeting will be open to the public via zoom.

In my public comments, I also commented about the state of our schools and distance learning.  Statement is below:

I’ve looked through the last couple school board meetings and I have to say, if anything is on that agenda that isn’t related to opening schools as fast as possible, then you are doing it wrong

This has been a failure from top to bottom and those in leadership positions have forgotten their primary duty – to educate kids.  From the state level where teachers have just recently been able to get vaccinated – why they weren’t on the list from the first place is mind boggling, to the school district who is unable to do the right thing and stand up for our students, to the union who is capitalizing on a national travesty to further their own ends.

 Recently there was a survey asking MDUSD families what their preference was to return.  The District is trying to take the results of this survey, about 50/50 between returning hybrid and full distance learning, to mean something.  But this survey was a sham.  Sure it asked a question, but the choices were abysmal.  The only options offered were either full distance learning, or two days per week, two hours per day, in the afternoons only for “support” rather than actual instruction.  That was an insult to working parents and to tout those results as somehow indicative of parents desire to maintain fulltime distance learning is disingenuous.  The District should be ashamed.

I’ve looked at the demands put out by MDEA, the local teacher’s union and I find it strange that they are more restrictive than anywhere else.  They demand that the case rate be measured not by county, but by city.  And that to have kids back in the classroom, that rate be no greater than 7 per 100,000, rather than the 25 per 100,000 put out by state health officials.  Clayton has about 11K people, which means to meet that requirement our case rate would need to be ZERO. Not sure which medical school the teacher’s unions went to, but presume that they are in a better position to determine medical safety than the CDC or state and local health officials is absurd.

The more things open up, it is a given that the chance of people getting sick increases.  No risk can be mitigated to zero though.  And while that potential risk increases, we know that the actual negative impact distance learning is having on our students’ education, socialization, and mental health is real and is happening right now.

If this is your school board, send a message loud and often that their actions are unacceptable.  They work for us.  Fire them.  Recall them.  Don’t ever vote for them again. 

If this is your union, send a message loud and often that their actions are unacceptable.  Remember you don’t have to pay the dues and you don’t have to be a member of an organization engaging in activities you do not support.  In 2018, the United States Supreme Court held in Janus that compelling public sector employees like teachers to be a member of a union they do not wish to belong to, or to pay dues or agency fees against your will, is unconstitutional.   The district has raised the alarm that 1,000 out of 29,000 students have left the district.  If this is the course of action being pursued by MDEA, I would hope to see an even greater exodus from MDEA’s ranks as well.

Kids belong in school.

There have been a number of communications regarding the Clayton Community Church proposal near the elementary school.  I requested that staff assemble a few bullet points to clarify the process and what the public should expect to see as the project moves through the pipeline, as well as where they can get involved.

Councilmember Diaz requested a future discussion item about the status of outdoor cannabis cultivation.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Upcoming Council Meeting 3.2.21

 There are a few significant items on the agenda for the next meeting:

  • A mid year budget review for FY21.  We are on a fiscal year that ends June 30 and as such the end of December is the mid point in the fiscal year.  This meeting we evaluate results to date and can make any adjustments as needed.  We'll address some one time spending needs from our Rainy Day Fund to cover costs associated with an employment contract for the former City Manager, and discuss the transfer of remaining funds to the Rainy Day Fund.
  • Discuss a draft letter in regards to SB 9 which purports to eliminate single family zoning state wide.  The current draft takes an "Oppose Unless Amended" position.
  • Set a date for our annual goal setting session which is targeted to be 3/22/21.

If you have any thoughts or questions, please let me know.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

2.16.21 Meeting Summary

There were two significant items on on the agenda last night.

  • We started the process of recognizing various cultural heritage events including some events that may be of importance but not necessarily cultural heritage.  The plan going forward will be to identify these items and bring back to Council for concurrence, and then recognize each at their appropriate time.
  • I had requested that public comment on non-agenda items be moved up from item 6 to item 3 in the standing agenda.  Often times there is 40 minutes or more before we get to public comment and my hope was that we could increase public participation by making the public comment period earlier and at a more set time.  When we are back to in person meetings especially, I know it can be difficult for some, especially those with young kids, to be able to dedicate the time to wait just to raise an issue at Council.  This was done in hopes of making public participation easier and more accessible.  I made a motion that was rejected on a vote of 3-2 with just myself and Councilmember Diaz voting yes.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Upcoming City Council Meeting 2.16.21

 There are two significant items on the agenda for the upcoming meeting:

  • A discussion regarding recognition of a series of various cultural heritage months.
  • A discussion about the order of the agenda.  This is from a request that I made previously.  Currently public comment on non-agenda items comes after consent calendar, presentations, council and staff reports.  At times these items could take a substantial amount of time and for those who come to meetings and want to raise an issue, it can be a challenge to wait an hour or more only to make a comment for 3 minutes.  By moving the public comment on non-agenda items earlier in the agenda, it would allow greater participation from community members to raise issues that have not yet been agendized.

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

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

2.2.21 Meeting Summary

 Last night the Council took a few significant actions:

  • We appointed Ed Miller to the Planning Commission.  There was a vacancy due to Peter Cloven being elected.  Mr. Miller will complete the remainder of the term through June 2021 (5 months) and then be eligible to reapply.  Congratulations and welcome Commissioner Miller.
  • We received and approved the city's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2020.  It's a lengthy document that goes into detail around all of the activities and financial position of the city.  While it may not be entirely riveting, as an accountant I find it interesting and worth a read if you have time.  The document will be posted on the city's website as soon as it is finalized.  In summary, for 2020, the city increased its unrestricted fund balance by a moderate but healthy amount of approximately $290K (this excludes certain unrealized gains on investments).  We will be doing a planning session in the next few weeks to determine best use of these one time funds.
  • We approved an 18 unit sub division towards the end of Mitchell Canyon on a currently undeveloped lot.  The builder had worked with nearby neighbors and collaborated on modifying plans to address various concerns.  The presentation was thorough, and the review by city staff and Planning Commission helped bring forward a project that will be a good fit for the surrounding area.  Below is a aerial rendering:

Friday, January 29, 2021

Upcoming City Council Meeting 2.2.21

 There are a few significant items for the next upcoming meeting.

  • We will be starting the meeting early at 6pm to interview candidates for an open spot on the Planning Commission.
  • We will be holding a hearing to consider the Diablo meadows development which consists of eighteen residential units near the end of Mitchell Canyon Rd
  • We will receive, review, and approve the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2020
If you have any questions or thoughts on these items, please let me know.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

1.19.21 Meeting Summary

At tonight's meeting there was one significant item on the agenda and that was what actions to take regarding pedestrian and traffic safety at Kelok Way.  There were a number of items discussed as I wrote about last week.  In addition, Police Chief Warren also mentioned two additional suggestions to consider including a Mosquito unit which acts a sonic repellant broadcasting a high pitched noise at a frequency only younger folks could hear.  The other item was a motion activated light that would illuminate the area if movement was detected.

One thing that did appear to be having an impact is making the entire area red zone no parking.  As a result of this, police have been able to issue 40+ citations the month or so since the curb was painted.  Police have to prioritize their activity so they aren't able to respond to calls right away all the time.  Hopefully over time making the area no parking will have the effect of reducing traffic to the end of Kelok Way. 

There was an ad hoc Public Safety Subcommittee meeting held to discuss this matter as well, but that was a few months ago and it appeared that not all interested parties were able to participate.  As such, the Council sent the matter back to the Public Safety Subcommittee to discuss with residents further and report back on recommendations.  When that is scheduled it will be communicated out so that all who are interested in participating will be able to do so.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Upcoming Council Meeting 1.19.21

 There is one significant item on the agenda the next meeting and that is to discuss traffic and pedestrian safety around Kelok Way.  Recently there was a vehicle vs. pedestrian accident and there have long been concerns from residents in the area regarding vehicle speeds and inappropriate conduct at the top of Kelok Way that impact quality of life and overall safety.

The staff report discusses 11potential items for discussion:
  1. A fence to lower the the draw to the area as a view spot
  2. Continue with the red painted curb to dissuade parking at the location in question
  3. Install physical barricades to prevent vehicles from gathering in the location in question
  4. Install speed bumps along Keller Ridge and Kelok Way to discourage excessive speed
  5. Install speed limit radar feedback signs
  6. Install flashing stop signs where stop signs already exist
  7. A permit parking program on Kelok Way
  8. A gate on Keller Ridge Dr to restrict access
  9. An ordinance prohibiting loitering
  10. Radar speed cameras similar to red light cameras to issue citations
  11. Surveillance and/or license plate readers
Staff was neutral on items 1-6, and would not recommend options 7-11.  Each may be discussed at the next council meeting.

If you have questions or thoughts on any of the above, please let me know.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

1.5.21 Meeting Summary

Last night there were two significant actions taken.  The first was whether to send a letter I had drafted regarding RHNA overestimation.  Based on evidence documented by the Embarcadero Group and Freddie Mac, it appears that there were significant deficiencies in the methodology used to determine the housing allocation figures across the state.  The result is that the allocation to the Bay Area is likely significantly greater than is supportable.  This letter is to express concern regarding the housing figure, and to ask that HCD reconsider the number of housing units allocated in light of the new evidence.

This is part of a larger effort by many local cities and regional bodies who are taking similar action.  The hope is to contribute to that effort and lend our support as a city.

After discussion, there were some minor wordsmithing updates made and a change to specifically direct the letter to HCD, while copying other agencies including ABAG and the Contra Costa County Mayors' Conference.  We unanimously agreed to send this letter.

The second item we took action on what Councilmember Cloven's request to get more information on new housing legislation.  Staff offered two possible courses of action - Either staff could spend time assembling information, or we could engage an outside consultant to provide such services.  Councilmember Cloven clarified his request with more specificity and asked to table the matter based on the refined request.