By Tim Hunt
Council members wish busy holidays to senior staffUploaded: Jan 4, 2022
Just before Christmas, Pleasanton City Council members had lots of their mind after 4 hours of their Dec. 21 meeting.
The last item at Pleasanton City Council meetings is “matters initiated by council,” set aside so members can put forth items they want to see on future council agendas.
Vice Mayor Julie Testa brought forward three items, one of particular interest to her, the so-called Neighborhood Voices statewide initiative. With support from Mayor Karla Brown and Councilwoman Valerie Arkin, it set for an agenda and Brown wanted it on the Jan. 4 agenda, at tonight’s meeting.
That insistence meant that city staffers, most notably interim City Manager Brian Dolan and his assistant, Becky Hopkins, likely had to work between Christmas and New Years given the city’s holiday schedule. It should be noted that the council now is starting to recruit to replace long-time City Manager Nelson Fialho who retired Nov. 30, it may well figure in the type of leader they can recruit.
The Jan 4 meeting falls on a regularly scheduled date and is significant because the city needs to take public input on maps for its district elections in November and there are deadlines to submit those to Alameda County.
The staff recommendation is to take no action on the initiative and study the wide-ranging measure—it seems to contradict state law in several places as well as including an incredible shopping list of non-housing issues from mandatory safety zones, environmental justice element, transportation element, conservation element to a prohibition on local ordinances that prevent solar installations. Just how that latter measure will fit with Alameda County’s study of industrial solar facilities is an open question.
It’s significant that the League of California cities currently has taken no position on the initiative and recommended further study—just as the city staff has done. Cities generally demand local control.
Testa, who is active statewide with the group pushing this initiative, has been strongly opposed to a few measures passed by the Legislature to try and encourage more housing and more dense housing. She’s adamant about local control. Stay tuned tonight to see what the council decides to do.
Testa also brought forth two other items, while Mayor Brown wanted more info on one that concerned a potential housing development that could be reserved for moderate and below moderate income housing and targeted at local veterans as well as public employees. Councilwoman Kathy Narum updated the issue saying she had met with the proponent.
Councilwoman Arkin weighed in on redistricting asking where the city was on the county lines as well as the assembly, state senate and congressional districts. Her timing was off by at least one meeting: the county lines had been set dividing Pleasanton into districts currently represented by Nate Miley and David Haubert. Currently Miley’s sprawling district includes all of Pleasanton.
The other three districts had been submitted by the state non-partisan commission and were in a three-day comment period. Hopkins said she would submit a comment letter signed by Mayor Brown on Dec. 22 that would continue to insist the Tri-Valley be kept together and particularly the city remain in one district.
The final request came from Narum who wanted to know the status of the update on the 1995 council operations and procedures. She was assured it was in progress and was joined by the mayor on a sub-committee to help move that along.
All in all, lots of activity after 11 p.m. Christmas week.