Danville Express

Newsfront - January 12, 2007

Keeping informed

Mayor holds first coffee to tell residents what's coming up

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Danville Mayor Mike Shimansky drew a couple of dozen people to his first informal coffee last Friday at Father Nature's on Prospect Avenue. Also in attendance were Town Manager Joe Calabrigo, Police Chief Chris Wenzel and Councilman Mike Doyle.

Shimansky opened the casual discussion by saying that when he was campaigning for re-election in November, folks kept telling him they didn't find out what was happening in town until it was too late.

"We don't do that on purpose," he said with a chuckle. "We're here to talk about what's coming up." He also brought copies of the 2006 Annual Report and maps of downtown Danville to hand out.

First the mayor addressed the impact on Danville of the Dougherty Valley developments, which are being annexed by San Ramon. The new Dougherty Valley High School will open in September, which should alleviate some of the traffic currently caused by students commuting to school in Danville.

"This will be the worst time for traffic in that corridor," Shimansky said.

He reported that at the last Town Council meeting, on Dec. 19, the members discussed a single family residential ordinance, which covers businesses in the home, second stories, porches, accessories, garages and fencing and retaining walls. It was last updated in 1984.

"Danville is built out. We're talking about infill projects," he said.

He also updated the group on the study session in December on the Elworthy Property directly west of San Ramon Valley Boulevard in south Danville. The original development proposal was for 400 homes, he said, and the current proposal is for 84 units and a 12-unit apartment complex.

Residents at the coffee raised issues about speeding on Sycamore Valley Road, the dangers of crossing Front Street, rundown fences, litter, and light signal poles that need repainting. One woman urged that the speed limit on Sycamore Valley be lowered to 35 mph, and that bicyclists be prevented from riding three abreast.

"Motorcycle units have worked there extensively," said Town Manager Calabrigo, to bring the traffic closer to 45 mph than 50 mph as it was before. "They've written twice as many tickets in the last few years."

The road was designed as a main arterial so the speed limit cannot be lowered, he added.

As for the cyclists, he said, "I wish we could legislate common sense."

A discussion was also held about "blinking" crosswalks such as are used in several downtown locations.

"We can only use them at certain spots," explained Calabrigo. The drivers can only see the lights if they are looking directly at them.

He also noted the downtown focus has shifted. At one time the goal was to get traffic through town efficiently. Now it is to make downtown a place to stop and shop. Drivers in a hurry are encouraged to use the freeway.

Shimansky also touted the 81 new parking places added this week to the downtown in the new Front Street parking lot.

Someone else asked about the position of mayor rotating among the council members as opposed to being individually elected.

"We've discussed this. As of right now, I like the way it is," said Shimansky, adding that this is the consensus on the council.

"Larger cities need elected mayors," he said. "Here we don't interfere with day-to-day operations; we give direction."

Shimansky said he was proud to have been on the December inaugural run of the new bus route 135 that goes from Bishop Ranch through Dougherty Valley to the Pleasanton BART, even though it departed shortly after 6 a.m.

"It was 26 degrees," he said. "It's a good thing the bus had a heater."

He recommended route 135 over the 121 bus that travels on and around Danville/San Ramon Valley Boulevard to the BART station in Pleasanton on the south end of the route and Walnut Creek BART on the north.

Shimansky said the next Town Council meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 16, will include a public hearing on a proposal to change the zoning on Fostoria Way from light commercial to residential, to allow townhouses on the vacant 1.76-acre lot east of Costco.

After more than an hour of discussions, the new mayor called his first informal coffee to a close. He urged everyone to stay longer if they wanted and to please come again and spread the word about the monthly coffees. The next one is scheduled for 7:30 a.m., Friday, Feb. 2, at Father Nature's, 172 E. Prospect Ave.


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