Wednesday, October 18, 2023

My 10.17.23 Meeting Summary

Last night the Council discussed several significant items:

- We discussed the draft Clayton Local Roadway Safety Plan.  This plan is necessary in order to seek certain federal funds for traffic and pedestrian safety improvements.  There was detailed discussion around the history of traffic related incidents and injuries, mapped out in an overlay across the city over the last 5 years.

Our City Engineer is seeking feedback from residents regarding any area of concern as it relates to traffic.  This could be areas where visibility is impacted, where any potential dangerous condition exists, etc.  This information will be collected and assembled in order to guide future potential projects.  If you have thoughts or idea that should be incorporated into the final version, please let me know or contact our City Engineer directly at

- We approved acquiring the Granicus 311 reporting application.  This is a SaaS cloud offering that creates a portal where residents can report maintenance related incidents.  Incidents are tracked and routed to appropriate City staff.  Folks will have the ability to add images, messages, etc. to assist in determining the location and severity of any incident.  By allowing residents to report incidents from their phone in a convenient manner, we hope to get a better handle on actual service demand, as well as provide a more timely response.

- We discussed adding an all way stop sign at the intersection of N. El Camino Dr at Southbrook Dr.  Currently that intersection is controlled only by a 2 way stop sign in the East/West bound directions.  While on a quantitative basis the fact pattern did not support the addition of a stop signs, based on the topography and lack of sidewalks in the neighborhood where residents are often walking in the street, the Council thought it prudent to add the stop signs to mitigate the risk of serious injury in that area.

- We discussed the City Sponsored Special Events Policy.  At our 9.19.23 meeting, we formed an ad hoc committee, consisting of myself and Councilmember Trupiano, to draft revisions to the policy as originally presented.  After meeting with Councilmember Trupiano, her and I addressed several areas within the policy draft.  Originally there was quite a bit of non-policy language included - things like why events are special, historical background on volunteerism, identification of a lack of historical processes, etc.  While these things may be true, they are not necessary to writing good public policy.  

Policy documents should be both clear and concise.  So much so that anything unnecessary to the goal of the policy should not be included.  The ad hoc committee kept that in mind when drafting the revision.  An additional stated goal of staff and the Council was to reduce the burden on staff time as it relates to Special Events.  It contemplated appropriating a small portion of the budget to support these activities, and forming a standing Special Events Committee that would provide oversight to all City Sponsored Special Events within that allotted budget.  This would reduce the need for staff time as the Committee would handle much of the logistics of events, either directly or with third parties.

There was disagreement on whether the Committee was needed.  While this year the Concerts in the Grove Committee functioned expertly in doing exactly what is being contemplated here - creating operational manuals, organizing events, engaging in fundraising and working with sponsors, etc. with very limited staff involvement, Staff felt they should be on point for making these policy decisions and that having an oversight committee was not a productive use of time.  

We did generally agree that going forward the Concerts, 4th of July Parade, Classic Car Shows, and a one time 60th Anniversary Event would be City Sponsored Events.  The policy discussion was tabled to a later date so it could be given additional consideration.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Upcoming Meeting 10.17.23

At our next meeting we will be discussing a few significant items:

- We will discuss a local roadway safety plan.  It is required that the City have such a plan in order to apply in the future for safety related federal grants.

- We will discuss a service agreement with Granicus for their 311 service.  This service allows residents to report various non-emergency hazards to city staff and the maintenance team.

- We will discuss the addition of stop signs at the intersection of N. El Camino Dr and Southbrook Dr.  Currently this intersection is a two way stop sign.

- We will discuss the City Sponsored Special Events Policy and the identification of City sponsored events.

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

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

My 10.3.23 Meeting Summary

Last night the Council discussed a couple significant items:

- We received a presentation by the East Bay Regional Parks District and our Ward 6 representative, John Mercurio.  I met John at one of the prior Mayor's Conferences and he had indicated some work the District was doing at the Clayton border near the Clayton Community Park.  At that time, I asked if he would be willing to come to the city and do a presentation and he graciously agreed.

The District has land all across the East Bay.  The area that they are targeting to develop into open space and trails is adjacent to the Community Park and would also have trails that connect to the Black Diamond Trail.  The timing is undetermined, but perhaps in the 2-3 year time horizon.  I asked what help the District needs from the City and he indicated that the District would be working with staff on logistics and bringing this park to fruition.

- We appointed myself and Councilmember Trupiano to an ad hoc committee to work with staff in drafting and providing feedback on a Special Event Fee Policy.  This is related to the previous ad hoc committee setup to work through the City Sponsored Special Event Policy.  Because there will likely be edits and feedback, I thought it would be more efficient to set up the ad hoc committee from the onset, rather than have staff work to draft a policy, only to have it sent back for more extensive updates.  In setting up the committee first, it saves staff time, and allows this policy to be brought forward more quickly as it would not need to be agendized on multiple Council meetings.  Both Councilmembers Cloven and Tillman expressed concern over this - ranging from wanting to be involved and not liking previous policy decisions the Council has made, to the idea that this is different that what is traditionally done.  Unfortunately what is traditionally done also traditionally takes longer so we went with my idea which was supported unanimously.

- We then discussed the reclassification of the Maintenance Supervisor position to a Maintenance Superintendent, and a request to appropriate $400K of reserves to perform median and right of way trimming, and irrigation from the valve forward, for a duration of one year.

Earlier in the year I had discussions with our City Manager regarding the level of service for citywide maintenance.  There was an early proposal we discussed to increase spend in this area citing the need for additional resources.  At the time I balked at the idea as our City Manager had only been on board for a short amount of time and I did not think there was sufficient information to make that assessment.  I suggested that we utilize Ron Bernal, who served as our Interim City Manager immediately prior, and had a long career as a Public Works Director among other things.  I thought Ron could do an excellent job, and the City Manager brought Ron on board to do this work.  Ron came back to Council last night to present his findings.

I'm glad that the City was able to take the time necessary to do an actual robust assessment.  The details can be found on page 31 of the agenda packet.  The results of the assessment found that our maintenance team has approximately 18,500 hours of work that needs to be performed.  I say approximately because some things that should fall within the purview of the Maintenance team are not done at all and therefore were not included in the current state assessment.  Between 6 FTEs in the Maintenance department, subtracting a certain amount of time for vacation/sick leave, holidays, etc., the City has available approximately 9,000 hours of labor.  The difference is backfilled by contract labor, though based on rising costs of labor and other budget challenges, the backfill represents approximately 4,000 additional hours.  That leaves a shortfall between what should be happening, and the available hours of approximately 5,500 hours.

A shortfall of 5,500 hours means that activity that should be happening isn't.  Many times that can be cumulative - for example, putting off trimming in some areas can make it more difficult in the future.  Other times it can pose increase safety risks - for example delaying road striping, or sidewalk repairs, etc.  Other times deferring work may not have a material immediate impact, but it could contribute to an overall less aesthetically pleasing environment.

Since I've joined the Council I've asked for a schedule of work from various areas, including things like the GHAD which we received earlier this year after four years of requests, and now we have a summary of Maintenance work in the city.  I'm disappointed it took this long, but I am glad that we now have some actionable information.  What is more important is what we do with the information going forward.

I noted that the staff report that asked for a $400K appropriation from reserves seemed to take a piecemeal approach to resolving this issue, and only on a one year basis.  It called for outsourcing for a single year a portion of the maintenance work that focused on trimming and certain irrigation work but not mainline breaks, but it also made mention of the need to hire an additional FTE and create an on call agreement to handle stand by demand.  Those latter items were not though, included in the proposal.  

The proposal was characterized as a proof of concept (POC), but it wasn't clear what it was trying to prove.  If the question was, can we get more work done if we pay more, we don't need a POC to do that, of course the answer is yes.  But what happens at the end of that year?  We'd be in the same place we are now with no clear direction on how to move forward sustainably.  I opposed the piecemeal approach in general.  I conveyed that it would be much more palatable to look holistically at areas where we know there are shortfalls so that we can make informed choices about prioritization and the level of service that our community wants and is willing to pay for.

The proposal also did not recognize any other path forward.  I would expect any presentation that asks for significant dollars to include alternatives - what does a smaller ask look like?  What would be the impact if we did not choose to take this path?  Because while the worklist detailed hours spent and the deficit in hours available, it did not make mention of what has been built up over time as deferred maintenance, what currently wasn't being performed, or consider a prioritization of activities to determine what we choose to perform.  It also did not present an alternative scenario where if we did not move forward with this outsourcing approach, what action would the City then need to take to reduce service levels and what that would look like.  Understanding the answers to these questions is key in evaluating what actions to take going forward.

Ultimately the Council took no action on appropriating $400K as was recommended.  Instead, we gave direction to staff to come back with a holistic look at our current service delivery levels and what it takes to maintain that, and what the backlog of deferred activity is.  From there, it will be a prioritization and phasing exercise, and ultimately how and what we are willing to pay for it.

Another question we should address, is what level of service the community is comfortable with?  Given your perspective, in terms of maintenance, should the City be doing more, much more, less, much less, or about the same?  And if your answer is the same, more, or much more, how much are you willing to pay for it?  I'm interested to hear your thoughts so please share or send me a note.

Monday, October 2, 2023

Upcoming Meeting 10.3.23

At our next meeting we will be discussing a few significant items:

- We will receive a presentation from the East Bay Regional Parks District

- We will discuss the reclassification of certain maintenance positions and the use of reserves in the amount of $400K for one time spend for outsourced landscaping and maintenance.

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

I also posted a summary of the townhall I held last week.  That can be found here: