Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 17, 2015

Fully packed

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

The rest of the agenda items on tonight’s City Council meeting include a consent item to approve a contract with Urban Planning Partners to start the Specific Plan process for the Main Street Neighborhood.  While the money is largely coming in the form of a grant from MTC to help fund this process, it’s unclear as to why we’re going through this process now since the Main Street Neighborhood has always been earmarked as the single family home development portion of Alameda Point.   Given the fact that this is probably going to be the easiest parcel to sell — I mean the whole point of the whole entitlement stuff was to make the land more desirable for developers to not have to go through the entitlement process — this neighborhood really could have just been sold off into blocks, but hey, it’s technically “free money” so I guess let the consultants do their job.

Also on consent is a joint use agreement with the School District for maintenance of the swim centers on AUSD property.   Should be an easy one to just say yes to, but then again Trish Spencer voted against the AUSD/City of Alameda deal that made the renovations of the pools possible, so… One interesting tidbit is that the AUSD and the City of Alameda will need to renegotiate a new use agreement after the renovations are complete.  Given that AUSD current portion of the use agreement is to pay for capital repairs and improvements and the City of Alameda pays for ongoing maintenance something will definitely have to be figured out because, ostensibly, the capital repairs and improvements should decrease dramatically which would almost negate AUSD’s expenses.

City Staff has managed to squeeze on this agenda Tony Daysog’s referral to go over the process for the whole Citywide Transportation something or the other, consultants and contracts appear to be involved and after reviewing the current state of existing documents so look to a consulting contract probably in the $500,000 range when this comes back, again.

Also squeezed on the agenda is something without a staff report but just:

Recommendation to Approve Joining and Participating in the United States Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Mayors Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets. (City Manager)

Which I wrote about here.  As I mentioned it’s easy to endorse the overall sentiment of “yeah, we should make it safe for pedestrians and bikes” but taking actual action is much more difficult.  Of course the planning of City Staff and the ground work from previous administrations have put a lot of wheels into motion for safer streets for pedestrians and bikes, like the Shoreline Cycletrack and the plans for the Clement Complete Street, but there are other areas that need attention like Stargell between Main and 5th Street which has no bike lane, but a whole section of “weedy lot” which was to be reserved for two more lanes but would be perfect for a protected cycle track as well.   And of course the Beltline trail on RAMP between Main and Webster is starting the design process as well.  So there are plenty of opportunities to support existing (Shoreline) and support future (Clement, RAMP Beltline, Stargell) pedestrian and bike safety projects.

Then the Council Referrals, the first puzzling one comes from Tony Daysog who wants to expand Mayoral powers to create a standing Finance Commission.  Not only that, he wants to make it a CHARTER amendment which means that it would need to go to the voters for adoption.   It doesn’t appear that this proposed charter commission has any special duties that couldn’t be duplicated by an ad hoc group or even an ordinance created commission or board.  It is not quite clear why it was important for this to be in the City Charter.  At this point, it’s hard enough to get people to come to City Council meetings to comment on budget related issues, I’m not sure how creating an extra board to have to talk to about budget issues will actually do much for the process.

And finally, also a Council Referral, this one belongs to Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft and moved forward what she suggested during the crazy City Council process meeting which was to have all Council initiated agenda items come first through the Referral process so that there is some understanding about the purpose of the agenda item prior to placing it on the agenda.  Of course all the City Councilmembers have been taking advantage of the Council Referral process, some more liberally than others coughjimoddiecough.  Given how much work the City Staff has been tasked to do by this particular Council in less than two months of being seated, I think it’s time to abide by the spirit and the letter of the Council Referral ordinance.  The whole point was to not waste time on Council members saying from the dais “we need to have an agenda item on x, y, and z” without an understanding as to what is the purpose of the agenda item.  I think, at this point, because of the sheer amount of work to be done and already tasked to City Staff, this referral comes at the right time to remind all City Council members, including the Mayor, that this is the best process for an already overextended City Staff.

Wow, this was supposed to be a short meeting, but I think this is going to be another late night.

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4 Comments

  1. I like the idea of a Specific Plan with design guidelines and form based development codes. Having them in place makes it easier for a future developer to understand what the City’s vision is before they spend millions on plans that won’t get approved. A Specific Plan was done for Site A — and it brought us a great development team with a great plan. Hopefully, it will do the same for the Main Street site.

    And it’s nice that we have a grant to pay for it!

    Comment by Karen Bey — February 17, 2015 @ 6:32 am

  2. I understand–and share–Councilmember Daysog’s longstanding concerns about the long-term stability of city finances, and the ad hoc budget and benefits task force’s deadlock recently may indicate why he wants a permanent commission. But he certainly is not taking an incremental approach with his proposal, and I hope he is amenable to other, shorter-term and potentially less unwieldy solutions.

    With smooth functioning, minimal conflicts, and outcomes no longer a certainty, at least there are *more* good reasons to attend or watch City Council meetings these days: that should–in theory, at least–be good for civic involvement in our affairs.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — February 17, 2015 @ 7:08 am

  3. but taking actual action is much more difficult.

    Thank gosh

    Comment by jack — February 17, 2015 @ 7:42 pm

  4. Taking responsible civic action requires change….and somehow, change is the hardest thing to accommodate with, shall I call it, “civic grace”….and yet I believe it is possible, and set my sights on the process and achievements.

    Comment by Gabrielle Dolphin — February 18, 2015 @ 9:56 am


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