Thursday, November 9, 2023

My 11.7.23 Meeting Summary

On Tuesday the Council discussed several significant items:

- The Oakhurst Geological Hazard Abatement District (GHAD) Board met first and discussed the activities around a potential future assessment increase.  The activities of the GHAD are dictated by what is called the Plan of Control document.  We have determined that the current Plan of Control indicates a level of activity that is unsustainable based on the level of revenues collected each year.  As a result, the Board previously gave direction for staff to pursue an additional levy of households within the GHAD.  Part of that process will be to update the Plan of Control to adjust the scope of activities.  At our meeting we gave direction to staff to divert some of the funds that would be used for informational outreach to update the Plan of Control document.

What the proposed updated document would do is provide a level of activity if the new assessment were to receive approval by the voters in the District, and also have an automatic adjustment of reduced activity if the assessment is not approved.  In all likelihood, without an increase in assessments, the GHAD activities will be reduced dramatically - likely only collecting money in order to pay for the process of collecting money and filing an annual report.

-The Council then reconvened and discussed increasing the scope of work for the Downtown Pedestrian Improvements Project that is adding raised crosswalks with visual signal lights.  An additional intersection at the crossing of Center and Morris St. was added to this project by using previously unencumbered Measure J funds.  Measure J funds are intended for various local projects relating to roads and transportation.

- The Council then discussed whether to continue the use of hybrid meetings allowing members of the public to participate beyond only viewing, and to add comments remotely.  Allowing remote participation is discretionary, and several cities in CA including several in Contra Costa County have eliminated this option as a result of targeted incidents where people would call in remotely and proceed to hurl racist invectives at everyone.  

If any remote participation is allowed, the Council is generally not allowed to restrict that participation based on the content of what people are saying.  Because of the high prevalence of these incidents happening in nearby cities, I felt that on balance the value of remote participation was outweighed by allowing others to have a platform to engage in that type of behavior.  Ultimately the Council decided to preserve the ability for people to comment remotely on a vote of 3-2, with myself and Vice Mayor Diaz voting no.

- The Council then discussed the City Sponsored Special Events Policy.  This was tabled at our last meeting and I asked that it be brought forward for reconsideration.  The revised policy eliminated language that was aspirational or operational - policy documents should be both clear and concise.  Anything superfluous to to the goal of the policy should not be included.  The updated draft recognized this and streamlined the language to make it more clear.

At our last meeting, there was some discussion related to why the ad hoc sub-committee, consisting of myself and Councilmember Trupiano, were writing policy language at all.  I note that when the ad hoc committee to address parking at Regency Gate was formed, I did the exact same thing - I wrote the policy document and the ad hoc committee presented the draft to the full Council for adoption.  At the time, there was zero objections to this - if the committee was able to reduce the burden on staff it was welcomed.  Here it seems the objection by Councilmembers Cloven and Tillman to the Committee writing the policy was more about who was on the committee rather than what was actually being advanced.

The Council approved the City Sponsored Special Events Policy that identifies which events are City sponsored, the available budget, and creates a subcommittee to provide oversight of all City Sponsored Special events on a vote of 3-2, with myself, Vice Mayor Diaz, and Councilmember Trupiano voting yes.  Councilmembers Cloven and Tillman voted no.