Wednesday, July 19, 2023

My 7.18.23 Meeting Summary

Last night the Council met and discussed several significant items.  As we only had one meeting this month, and we will only have one meeting next month, this agenda was quite full and the meeting went till about midnight.

- There was a public hearing where the Council adopted the annual levy of real property tax assessments at the Diablo Estates Assessment District.  This is an annual process whereby the city administers certain functions for the group of homes similar to an HOA manager and the assessments cover those costs.  The City is allowed to raise the assessment each year by CPI, however this year due to the activities of the district the assessment was held flat.

- There was a public hearing where the Council adopted the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan Mitigation Fee Audit and nexus study and to update the related mitigation fees.  This study supports the calculation of developer impact fees associated with development in the region and their environmental impact to the area.

- We approved the new franchise agreement with Republic Services for solid waste collection.  Due to changes in state law, the cost for service has significantly risen and the new agreement incorporates the new state compliance requirements.  Fees for service will rise a little south of 20%, though the actual dollar increase will be between $6 and $10 per month, depending on the size of the garbage container residents use.  Most other provisions of our service agreement remain unchanged - residents will still be able to use multiple recycle and organic bins at no cost, there will still be the same number of "spring clean up" type events for recycling, garbage, and organics, and we are still able to have large items (appliances, furniture, mattresses) taken by Republic Services at no cost.

The new law requires quite a bit of change around how organic materials are collected.  The state has seen fit to dictate what color everyone's bin needs to be, at least the lid portion.  As a result, over time the bin lids of residents will incorporate the new required color scheme whenever bins are replaced through attrition.  In addition, the state is now requiring that haulers (like Republic Services) examine what people are placing in their bin and document their findings, including noting when the non conforming materials are placed in certain bins.  The state requires their be provision for fines as an enforcement mechanism should this cross contamination occur too frequently.  There are also new rules for documentation and tracking, as well as forcing cities to purchase a certain level of recycled materials over time.

- We approved a funding agreement with CCTA in order to upgrade traffic signals at four locations along Clayton Rd: Washington Blvd, St. Bonaventure, El Camino, and Mitchell Canyon Rd.  CCTA is funding a regional effort to update to Smart Signals and was looking for a matching commitment of 11.47%, which amounts to approximately $56K from the City.  This amount was included in the most recent budget that was adopted.

The Smart Signals do a number of things some of which include safety enhancements.  By using a combination of cameras and radar, the signals are able to detect vehicle at a greater distance, and dynamically adjust timing of lights.  For example, if a light turns yellow and the signal detects a vehicle approaching at a certain speed, the length of yellow light could be extended to allow the vehicle to more safely cross the intersection.  In addition, the technology used is more cost effective than the physical cabling that is currently used beneath the streets for the same purpose.

Another aspect of the Smart Signals is that they allow CCTA or potentially another agency to remotely control the signals in order to smooth traffic flow during certain events.  It is unclear who has access to take control, who has access to the video, who has access to the data logs, and under what circumstances these things can be used.  All of these are intended to be defined in an Operating Agreement, but that has not yet been drafted.  I thought it was odd to ask for funding before the operating agreement which defines what we are signing up for was complete.

A concern I voiced that I have stated in the past, is that through traffic to and from east county on Clayton Rd. is an issue during commute hours.  To the extent greater traffic is routed through Clayton Rd. it has an impact on Clayton residents.  To the extent less traffic is routed through Clayton Rd. that has a benefit on Clayton residents.  If CCTA or another agency is allowed to make this route more appealing to drivers by utilizing signal control, that would not be in the interest of the City.

As a compromise, CCTA agreed to delay requiring any payment until June 2024.  This should give sufficient time to review the Operating Agreement after it is finalized and determine if we want to exercise the termination clause in the funding agreement.

- The Council also gave direction that staff may pursue opportunities for cell tower leases in the City as a source of additional revenue and increased service coverage for our residents.

- The Council renewed its service agreement for on-call tree service with Waraner Brothers Tree Service.

- We approved the acquisition and implementation of Granicus Agenda Management software which should add efficiency and streamline processes, while making access and usability easier for users.

-The GHAD Board met after the regular Council meeting and directed staff to pursue an additional levy of GHAD households in order to fund the scope of work that is in the controlling document.  The GHAD Plan of Control document describes what activities the GHAD should be doing, and how frequently.  Because the GHAD is severely underfunded, it does not have the ability to perform even a small portion of the work described in the Plan of Control.  I wrote about the challenges that the GHAD faces back in April:

This is a multi step process, including updating the Plan of Control, engaging in outreach with GHAD households, and ultimately preparing an analysis of what the GHAD should be doing and how much it takes to do that work.  The small amount of budget in the GHAD that was slated to be used for monitoring will be repurposed towards this effort.