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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Still on the fence

Uploaded: Sep 12, 2013
My butt hurts from sitting on the fence. I emailed the candidates to ask why they were running, why they thought they should be elected, and where they stand on important issues. I was hoping to find reasons in their answers to endorse two of the four candidates, but the only clear decision I made is whom to oppose.

There are pros and cons for each of the candidates and each will have his or her group of supporters. For those against the HOV ramps, Harry Sachs and Thomas von Thury have stated their opposition to the ramps. For voters looking for a more moderate approach, Rene Matsumato wants to learn more about the HOV ramps before making a decision one way or the other.

Dave Hudson is not only for the HOV ramps, he knows the history of the plans and why they are necessary. Dave's strengths are his knowledge of local transportation and environmental issues and his participation in regional agencies that impact San Ramon now and in the future.

When I asked Dave why voters should reelect him, he said, "Do not underestimate the value of my seat on two regional executive boards of directors, BAAQMD & ABAG (Bay Area Air Quality Management District and Association of Bay Area Governments). We are capable of being first in line or close to it for many grants." Dave is lobbying now for a pilot program on bicycle sharing. "You don't get into these battles unless you are at the table. No one else on this council even knows this $6 million project exists."

Candidate Thomas von Thury is at the opposite end of the knowledge/experience spectrum. His reasons for running for City Council are "Because I do not like the over-development (AKA High-Density) that has been occurring and will continue to occur and none of the other candidates oppose it to the same extent that I do. In particular, the new City Center will transform San Ramon. That massive project will require a new on-off ramp for 680 to accommodate the thousands of additional vehicles. The only place for that to be built is at Norris Canyon where an over-pass already exists. My property value and quality of life will be directly affected along with everyone else's."

Hudson is concerned about an inexperienced person getting elected and messing things up. He didn't name anyone in particular, but he told me, "Anyone who gets elected is capable with their vote of messing up approved projects. We just ended a three year lawsuit over CEQA thresholds that should have been automatic. Nothing is over until it is over."

Mr. von Thury apparently isn't aware that the HOV ramps on Norris Canyon were planned more than 10 years ago, which is long before the current City Center design was approved in 2008. Construction of HOV ramps won't be started until 2018 if they stay on schedule. Construction of the City Center was supposed to begin in 2010 and completed by now. So there is no direct relationship between the City Center and the HOV ramps on Norris Canyon.

In 2011 Alex Mehran, Sr. invested half of the $11M required to improve the Bollinger Canyon interchange. The City has already widened Bollinger Canyon Road and may add another lane to handle the expected increase in traffic.

Mr. von Thury includes a link to a blog on the Bishop Ranch website in his blue flyer. I read the blog and thought it sounded great! Most San Ramon residents have been waiting impatiently for the City Center to be built. Mr. von Thury says he isn't against the City Center. He just wants it reduced in size by 50%.

Dave Hudson has an entirely different perspective on live/work developments such as the City Center. "California changed drastically in 2008 with SB375 and the climate action plan," Hudson wrote. The City Center is a project that makes it easier for San Ramon to comply with SB375 while increasing sales tax revenues to avoid more cuts to services.

Mr. von Thury wants to cut the budget even more. "I am certain that there is 2% fat in our city budget and I will look for it and excise it." The City Council held six Budget workshops from December 2012 to May 2013, before voting to adopt the 2013-14 Fiscal Year Budget on May 14, 2013. These were public meetings and the minutes and videos are available on the City's website. All of the retail planned for the City Center would bring in millions of dollars in revenue from sales taxes that now flow out to Pleasanton and Walnut Creek.

While Mr. von Thury is certain about the things he doesn't know, Rene Matsumoto wants to learn more about the things she doesn't know. This is an intelligent, reasonable approach to decision making, but it may make her seem indecisive.

I would like to see a woman on the City Council again. Rene is smart, responsive, and willing to learn. While I think she would be a quick learner, she might have a steep learning curve.

Rene has been endorsed by Mayor Bill Clarkson and Council Members Phil O'Loane and Scott Perkins. Clarkson and Perkins also endorsed Harry Sachs. So Dave Hudson seems to be odd man out with the other Councilmembers.

The Contra Costa Times endorsed Dave Hudson and Harry Sachs. I agree with the Times that Sachs and Hudson are the most prepared to be on the Council. Dave was first elected to the City Council in 1997, which was the year I moved to San Ramon.

I was suspicious of Harry's positions on the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan and the Norris Canyon HOV ramps, but then looked at some of my earlier blogs defending the HOV ramps. Harry answered my interview with Alex Mehran on December 3, 2011.

"City staff has been briefing various committees about these, on an annual basis, since 2004. While on Economic Development this was presented to our group and my initial reaction was 'bad idea'. The traffic congestion is notorious and I am not a believer in HOV ramps."

Harry is endorsed by supporters on both sides of San Ramon's political divide. Mary Lou Oliver and Jim Gibbon are both on Harry's Endorsements' list. Anyone who can accomplish that shouldn't run for San Ramon City Council. He should run for President.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Bill Wagner, a resident of San Ramon,
on Sep 13, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Roz, You claim to be on the fence, but you agree with The Times' endorsement of Sachs and Hudson. So, I guess your butt isn't so sore now that you are off the fence? I say it is time that Hudson goes and runs for State Senate or County Supervisor again, because he is throwing San Ramon under the bus (literally) with his support of the Norris HOV Ramps.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Sep 14, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


You are right. This blog sounds like I'm endorsing Harry and Dave, but I didn't intend to. I agree with the CC Times that Dave and Harry are the most knowledgeable and experienced, but I don't agree that that's the best reason to endorse them.

I also agree that Dave Hudson should move onward and upward, but in some capacity where his knowledge, experience, and connections can be assets to San Ramon.

After reading this over again it sounds like I'm dismissing Rene Matsumoto, and I did not intend to do that either. I even emailed Rene last night that I plan to write another blog about her because she sent me a lot of answers to my questions that I haven't used yet.

The piece turned out to be a compare and contrast between Thomas von Thury and Dave Hudson. Von Thury has little chance of winning (I hope), but he will probably help Dave Hudson get reelected and here's why.

Von Thury is running on a "my way or the highway" platform and we all know you don't want the highway. So you will vote for the candidates who say "No" to the HOV ramps on the highway.

Dave is for the HOV ramps. Rene says she needs to study them more. If von Thury wasn't running, Dave's opposition would be Harry and Rene. Harry will win anyway because everyone is wild about Harry, but Rene will lose the anti-Hudson vote to von Thury while Dave will keep the pro-Hudson vote. So von Thury will probably hurt Rene's election chances more than Dave's.

Jim Gibbon, the Jolly Green Giant, isn't there to help your neighborhood get rid of the HOV ramps. He wants to get rid of the HOV ramps so MTC will put BART on the 680 the way it is on the 580.

The HOV ramps will have no negative impact on your neighborhood or property values. BART on the 680 would, especially if a station is put on the Norris Canyon Overpass. Then your neighborhood would be on the "wrong side of the tracks," and my property values would shoot way up.

But BART on the 680 is a terrible idea for San Ramon and could not happen if the HOV ramps are put in. You do not want to fight these because you could get something a lot worse.


Posted by Will Vote, a resident of San Ramon,
on Sep 17, 2013 at 5:14 pm

I'm seeing Hudson / Livingstone signs around town. While I can understand reuse, in this case I think this may confuse the casual voter who hasn't kept up with who exactly is running. Hudson should pay for some new signs. Or better yet, forego them completely.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Sep 18, 2013 at 10:45 am

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


I haven't seen those yet. Those might be old signs that voters kept when the two of them ran as a slate. I just put up a Bill Clarkson for Mayor sign I had in my garage even though Bill is running unopposed and there might not even be an election for Mayor this year.


Posted by Old friend, a resident of San Ramon,
on Sep 24, 2013 at 7:32 pm

Roz, Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't you write not long ago that Perkins did not vote for for O'loane to remain on the planning commission? and now they are together supporting Matsumoto? Even the CC times came to the conclusion that Hudson and Sachs are the only two qualified and deserving of council seats. Politicians will stop at nothing to get what they want. What is it that Clarkson and Perkins want? A new gang of three maybe?

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Sep 25, 2013 at 1:41 am

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Old Friend,

Councilman Perkins and Councilman O'Loane each endorsed Rene Matsumoto. As far as I know their endorsements are as individuals and not as part of a group.


Posted by Twin Creeks Voter, a resident of San Ramon,
on Sep 25, 2013 at 10:05 am

Old Friend, Why do you feel that the CC Times has any special authority to tell us how to vote? Dave Hudson does not have the best interests of San Ramon, and particularly, Twin Creeks residents in his agenda. Hudson is on CCTA and other regional boards and is pushing for those regional initiatives. HOV Ramps at any location in San Ramon are a complete waste of money and provide no benefit to the residents of San Ramon. Hudson needs to be taken down from his high horse. We have had it with his condescending jibberish! Vote for Matsumoto and Sachs who will place San Ramon residents first and foremost over regional, county, state and other outside agencies.

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