San Ramon council OKs new digital marquee sign

Skate park, Iron Horse overcrossings, criticism of assessment increase process among other topics

The San Ramon City Council unanimously authorized appropriating up to $55,000 Tuesday for a digital marquee sign to be installed in the coming months outside the new City Hall to spotlight city events and other news.

The nearly 15-foot-tall sign with LED screens will promote community events and programs, as well as general city announcements -- including employment opportunities -- and emergency notices, according to Nicole Blazin, city parks and community services analyst.

"The marquee sign proposed features include a design that is intended to bridge the new City Hall architecture with the arches that are throughout Central Park," Blazin told the council Tuesday night at the San Ramon Community Center. "It will contain two full-color LED signs, viewable (by) east- and westbound pedestrian and vehicular traffic."

San Francisco-based Ad Art Sign Company, which submitted the lowest of three bids, was awarded the contract for design, fabrication and installation of the sign near the new City Hall at 7000 Bollinger Canyon Road, Central Park and the Community Center.

The decision came following 10 minutes of staff presentation and council discussion in which few questions were raised and no citizen comments were made. The only real deliberation regarding the marquee sign focused on the permanent wording to be featured.

Following brief consideration of verbiage such as "City of San Ramon" and "San Ramon City Center," city officials supported "San Ramon Civic Center" for the top of the sign. Councilman Dave Hudson said he urged the all-encompassing Civic Center title because the sign will serve more than just City Hall.

The $55,000 in maximum funding will be allocated from the city's public, educational and government (PEG) fund.

"PEG funds are basically really controlled at this point," Councilman Harry Sachs said. "So this is a really good use of something like that, which otherwise just sits there when we have capabilities of returning this money."

Blazin said the sign installation is estimated to occur in the next 10 to 12 weeks, with no Bollinger Canyon Road closures expected. The sign's life expectancy is 80,000 to 100,000 operating hours, or 10 to 12 years, she added.

In other business

* The council approved additional funding allocations for the Central Park skate park renovations and the design and community outreach phase of the Iron Horse Regional Trail overcrossings project.

With the added $73,000 for the skate park renovations, the updated contract for design and construction is worth $366,150. The agreement with California Skateparks, Inc. also includes about $25,000 for concrete wall modification and $8,400 for material testing and inspections.

The skate park work is completed, so the council also approved a notice of completion for the project. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the renewed skate park will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday.

With the increase of about $5,500 to the contract for the Iron Horse overcrossings, the contract total now sits at $206,267 with Biggs Cardosa Associates. Still in the design phase, the project would bring overhead bridges for bicyclists and pedestrians at the trail's intersections with Bollinger Canyon and Crow Canyon roads.

* Patrick Tuohy, chair of the city's Arts Advisory Committee, presented the committee's annual report to the council.

Among the items Tuohy discussed was the committee's planned use of social media to market local artists and increase awareness of local art and arts programs. With no one to "do the work," Tuohy said that the committee will treat the social media campaign as a "do-it-yourself" effort to assist the artists and programs in doing their own advertising.

The committee also plans to work with the San Ramon Teen Council to create an anti-bullying video, he said.

* The council appointed 17 Teen Council members, plus two alternates, for the 2016-17 term.

In all, the city received 74 applications, ultimately interviewing 47 applicants for the 19 spots, according to city staff.

The positions are held for one year and begin in August. The primary duty of the Teen Council is to serve as a conduit between the city's Parks and Community Services Commission and the city's teen population.

* Two seats on the Arts Advisory Committee were filled by incumbent applicants Elizabeth Brathwaite and Lan Liu. Both positions carry a two-year term, due to expire in March 2018. The appointments were passed unanimously by the council.

* Frank Bianco's appointment to the Library Advisory Committee was also endorsed by the council. His two-year term began with the committee's April 13 meeting.

* San Ramon resident Susie Ferris-Inderkum raised concerns about the legality of how the council has handled increases and collections of assessments for the Landscaping and Lighting Assessment Districts.

Ferris-Inderkum claimed that assessments in Zone 5 -- Summerwood Loop -- increased from $152 to $155 during the fiscal year of 2007-08, without a ballot vote or public hearing.

"I've asked for an audit of those reports back to 1996," she said to the council Tuesday. "I'd like to know where that audit report is ... If you made a mistake, way back then, you broke the law."

The city has put in motion plans to increase the assessments from $155 to $160 during the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Because Ferris-Inderkum spoke during public comment on non-agenda items, the council was unable to respond directly to her requests. The council did, however, as part of its consent agenda vote unanimously to schedule a public hearing regarding the intended assessment increase for its June 28 meeting.

Editor's note: Kalama Hines is a freelance writer for

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