Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 4, 2017

And the referrals keep rolling in

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

…from every side.

Sometimes I wonder how this City gets anything done. I really have to commend City Staff for putting up with every single little issue that a singular City Council members decides that they want to put forward as part of the Referral process for addressing.  I wonder if there’s a tally of how many Council Referrals have actually been put forward and how many staff hours have been expended addressing every issue.  Considering that this City Council sometimes can’t get through all the normal agenda items, I’m not sure why we’re adding more work load on to staff when we can’t even complete the issues that have been outstanding for a long time.

Anyway despite having sat through a Council Referral priority setting workshop, City Council members are still throwing Council Referrals at the wall like it’s going out of style.  From the staff report on the Council Referral priority setting:

City Council prioritized 13 outstanding referrals at its priority setting workshop.  It also directed staff to move forward on the top four priority referrals.  Therefore, there are nine referrals that have been prioritized but not yet scoped or scheduled since it is dependent on when the high priority referrals can be resolved to Council satisfaction.  In addition, at its February 21 meeting, the Council approved two more referrals (these referrals are noted on the attached table as “unranked”) and two additional referrals are scheduled for review at the time this staff report was written.

Staff is asking that the City Council approval a new Council Referral form which would categorize the Referral into the identified objectives and criteria outlined during the priority setting workshop.  Also, staff threw this in fro good measure which is very appropriate:

If Council referrals are to be meaningful, there must be a recognition that existing referrals should be addressed before new referrals are added to the list.  Therefore, staff is proposing that as part of consideration of a new referral, the Council should prioritize the new referral at the time it is approved or during the regular referral updates.

I don’t mind the occasional Council Referral on a topic that may not be addressed during the usual business of the City Council, but asking for an update on an issue under negotiation by the City Council and City Staff already, or requesting a workshop on an existing DDA these are things that will be brought as a matter of regular business at some point and doesn’t require a Referral.

We’ll see how open the City Council is to reforming this process.  All members have used the system to varying degrees of efficacy, much like some members didn’t want to reform the Call for Review process because they didn’t want to release a bit of their power of the process, I imagine there will be push back to this as well.



  1. Sorry for being lazy, but a link to the report reference would be very helpful, thanks!

    Comment by notadave — April 4, 2017 @ 11:55 am

  2. Linked above!

    Comment by Lauren Do — April 4, 2017 @ 2:48 pm

  3. Huh. In pro football, each team has a set number of requests it can make for instant review of a call for each game. Perhaps this is the direction the city should take: allow each Council Member a certain number of referrals each year, like 4 or 5. If they have another one over their max, they can pull one of their earlier requests if the staff hasn’t started working on it yet.

    Comment by abronto4900 — April 4, 2017 @ 10:40 pm

  4. (On the related topic of length of Council meetings that we discuss here at times), there are usually staff presentations that kick off each agenda item during the course of the meetings. Frequently, and although they are usually professional and well put together, the staff presentation is a summary of what is already in the staff report that is available online (and presumably provided to council members in some sort of binder 12 days or whatever ahead of the meeting). There might be some agenda items where we can assume that everyone interested in the item has read the report in advance of the meeting and Council is prepared to ask questions about either the report or the action item/proposal right off the bat without the introductory presentation (or a more condensed presentation), and then jump into debate and motions after public comment.

    On the other hand…..

    Comment by MP — April 5, 2017 @ 9:31 am

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