The Planning Board and Transportation Commission joint meeting lasted about four hours, which was not surprising in the slightest since there were a lot of big issues on the agenda. I’m going to go through some of the more interesting things in another post but thought I would pick on Mayor Trish Spencer again. Only because she makes it so easy to do so.
Now, I don’t begrudge any new elected official from coming to meetings and sitting there to learn about all the nuances that they missed from not paying attention before they were elected. But it’s when those elected officials feel the need to add in their two cents, even as an “individual citizen” that’s when things get a little murky. As Kate Q. pointed out in the comments section, the lines get blurred when an advisory group to a sitting elected body is told by someone on that elected body what their opinions are as a “private citizen.” You can spin the whole “private citizen” any which way you want but the fact is that that private citizen who also has the word “Mayor” tacked in front of her name has a lot more pull than someone who doesn’t.
Wow, when I read the contemporaneous Twitter commentary about Monday’s Planning Board meeting, I thought they were amusing but I didn’t expect what actually happened.
Here’s the thing. I can cut people some slack for not knowing various things about City Government when they haven’t been paying attention closely when they have been occupied by other things. But what I do have an issue with is not knowing the details of something but then going up and giving your opinion about an issue — ostensibly as a “private citizen” — and revealing that you have no idea what the hell has been happening in this City before you took office.
If you are concerned about traffic and/or transportation at all if there is one meeting that you should go to it’s the joint Planning Board and Transportation Commission meeting on Wednesday night. That meeting is positively jam packed with key transportation issues moving forward. Including Tony Daysog’s super incredible uber packed Transportation extravaganza plan. That will cost, approximately, between $250K – $400K to implement. The number is higher the more times it has to be vetted by the Boards and Commissions. And it will take around 12 – 18 months to actual happen.
The city did stick this slide into its presentation:
As you can guess, the agenda item about the Council Referral process did not go smoothly and honestly, I found the discussion hilarious and entertaining from a spectator point of view. As a reminder, Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft placed — as a Council Referral — a suggestion that the City Council start abiding by the Council Referral process that was approved and adopted in 2007. Essentially what the ordinance says is that all members of the City Council need to go through the Council Referral process if they would like to place something on the City Council agenda. Yes, even the Mayor would need to.
The point is to treat all members of the City Council as equals (one voice, one vote) — even though the Mayor technically runs the meetings and gets to do things like pick assignments to regional boards — they are still pretty much “equals” in terms of their weight on the City Council.
It’s official, John Russo is moving on and it looks like although he is moving on down to Southern California he’s also getting a much more plush gig than Alameda. From a press release by the City of Riverside:
Russo will take over the job from Interim City Manager Lee C. McDougal, who has served since former City Manager Scott Barber retired Dec. 28. Russo will be introduced to the Riverside community at a City Council meeting Tuesday (2/24) at 1 p.m. in the council chambers, 3900 Main Street. He expects to conclude his responsibilities in Alameda and join Riverside May 4.
I found a cached version of the search documents for the Riverside City Manager job. Here’s “The Opportunity”
The award winning City of Riverside, California (population 303,871) isrecruiting nationally for a City Manager with a highly successful career and a demonstrated record of inclusive and transparent leadership inguiding an organization. Working with the Mayor and a 7-member City Council, the City Manager oversees a capable staff of approximately 2,497 with a 2014/15 operating budget of approximately $915 million.The ideal candidate will have excellent leadership, communication,and decision making skills, and be a person of superior integrity and unquestionable ethics. The ideal candidate will be a highly skilled public administrator eager to contribute his or her creative and insightful leadership to help shape the future of this unique community with an outstanding quality of life.
Going from a city of 75,000 to 303,000! That’s quite the leap. And now he has seven City Council members (plus one Mayor) to keep happy as opposed to only five. As an aside Riverside has a “ward” system where the individual City Council members are elected by their ward and the Mayor is elected citywide.
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.
The City Council’s agenda next Tuesday has some interesting items on agenda. The first is an agenda item based on one of Frank Matarrese’s referrals. The staff, based on direction from the City Council via this referral put together a resolution that enumerated what Frank Mattarrese had asked for which included a resolution that, essentially, was well, here’s now City Staff put it in their Staff Report:
Attached to this report is a draft Resolution “Supporting a Conveyance of the Surplus Federal Property on McKay Avenue for Park and Open Space Purposes.” This draft Resolution, which was prepared with the help of EBRPD staff through its direct discussions with Mayor Spencer, will be sent to the General Services Administration, assuming that Council approves this action tonight.
Last year New York City lowered the speed limit in the city to 25 mph. Recently Mayor Bill DeBlasio credited that effort, along with the larger “Vision Zero” campaign, for the lowest number of pedestrian fatalities since 1910 which is huge considering it was 1910 and the vehicles produced back them probably topped out at like 25 mph anyway.
San Francisco is now considering one upping (or one lowering) New York City and lowering the speed limit to 20 mph in some areas. From The SF Examiner:
The report stated that in 2011, there were 3,111 collisions in The City that resulted in injury. Of those, 844 were between vehicles and pedestrians and 630 were between vehicles and bicyclists, or 27 and 21 percent of total collisions with injuries, respectively.
Of the 28 fatal collisions that occurred in 2011, 17 were between vehicles and pedestrians and four were between vehicles and bicyclists.
A study of 20 mph zones in the London metropolitan area saw a 40 percent decrease in collisions, the budget analyst report said. The report found that “the combination of reducing speed limits in the City through advocating for a change in State law, enhancing speed limit enforcement and installation of traffic calming measures would be most effective at reducing vehicle speed and collisions.”
I’d been sitting on this information for a while simply because there hasn’t been a good time to write about it, plus it was about collecting independent confirmation from various sources before I felt comfortable posting about it. Plus, I ended up forgetting about it for a while, so there’s that. Anyway, here’s the hot gossip. So at the December 16 swearing in of the new Council in addition to the weirdo double swearing in there was a bit of drama between Trish Spencer and the City Clerk.
Apparently, and I have three independent sources that verified this information, Trish Spencer was not pleased that her name plate read Trish Spencer. But, naturally given her lawn signs and other collateral during the campaign, you can understand how the error was made to have a name plate printed up that read Trish Spencer:
So remember the whole hullabaloo that was made when former Mayor Marie Gilmore and other City Council candidates said they did not feel comfortable taking a position on the yet-to-be-submitted Harbor Bay Club project because it would put the individual City Council members in a bad position if the project ever did wind its way to the City Council.
Both Frank Matarrese and Trish Spencer both felt comfortable taking definitive positions on the issue and later Frank Matarrese — even though he was going to recuse himself anyway — said to a reporter:
In an interview afterward, Matarrese, a former councilmember for eight years, contended that Gilmore, Chen, and Oddie were just making up an excuse to avoid answering a tough question. “Does that mean if I’m Barbara Lee — and I’m against the war — does that mean if a war-funding bill comes up that I can’t vote on it?” Matarrese said. “I thought we were legislators, not judges.”