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San Ramon council supports more Dougherty Valley annexation

Voluntary campaign spending limit, electricity aggregation study, DSRSD water supply among other topics

The San Ramon City Council has voted in favor of pushing another portion of unincorporated Dougherty Valley toward annexation into the city's jurisdiction.

The council gave initial support Tuesday to prezoning nearly 44 acres of land in central Dougherty Valley that falls just below Ivy Springs Road and Quail Run Elementary School -- a move that city staff said would help facilitate the property's transition into San Ramon's city boundaries.

The proposal calls for 37.24 acres to be prezoned as planned development, an area that is the future site of 308 single-family homes previously approved by Contra Costa County officials. The remaining 6.73 acres would consist of open space and a water-quality pond.

"Once the area has been annexed and all of the homes have been built, it's estimated that the property tax revenue to the city will increase by about $128,500 per fiscal year," city associate planner Ryan Driscoll said during his presentation Tuesday night at City Hall.

Four councilmen voted in favor of conducting the first reading of the ordinance and resolution for the prezoning and annexation plan Tuesday night, with Councilman Harry Sachs absent. The proposal is set to return to the council for final approval June 28.

If approved in two weeks, city staff would then file an application with the Contra Costa Local Agency Formation Commission to initiate annexation proceedings for the area pursuant to the Dougherty Valley Settlement Agreement. It would be the 17th portion of the Dougherty Valley annexed from the county into the city.

In other business

* The City Council established a voluntary campaign spending limit and the maximum word count for candidate statements related to the Nov. 8 city elections, in which two council seats and the mayor's post will be up for grabs.

The four councilmen, as part of their consent agenda approval, set the voluntary spending limit at $41,685 per candidate, which works out to $1.25 per registered city voter.

San Ramon officials have established such limits in the past to prevent the appearance of improper influence by campaign contributors, preserve and foster an orderly political forum, place realistic limits on the prices spent during council races and decrease campaign costs, according to city officials.

Then during regular meeting action items, the council set 300 words as the length limit for council candidate statements at a flat rate of $766 per statement.

San Ramon had allowed candidates to use up to 300 words in the past, but county election officials changed the way that the statement space is allocated to reduce printing costs and fit four statements per page at 250 words each -- and a cost of $383 each.

The council opted Tuesday to stick with the 300-word limit at $766 per statement. Candidates are responsible for the cost of their statements as they are an optional cost.

* The four councilmen voted to participate in -- and contribute up to $20,000 toward -- the Contra Costa County Technical Study analyzing Community Choice Energy Program options.

The program is a form of community choice aggregation, which aggregates consumer electricity demand within an area for the purpose of procuring electricity and selling it to customers, according to assistant city manager Eric Figueroa.

Earlier this year, the council authorized the release of PG&E electrical load data for the purpose of a community choice aggregation technical study, but at that time, the council did not support cost-sharing until there was better information about the participating jurisdictions and actual costs.

The city has recently received a supplemental request for participation. The study will be funded with or without the city taking part, but if the city of San Ramon chooses not to participate, it would not have input on the review of the study or on the ultimate program option recommended by the study, city officials said.

The study will be completed by the end of 2016, and a program decision will be made in the beginning of 2017, city officials said. There is a potential for cost recovery should the city decide to enter into a program stemming from the study.

"I think this is the right time to get in," Councilman Dave Hudson said. "I think it is the right price, I think it is recoverable. We all know each one of these people with each one of these cities. I have no problem aligning with them."

"Do I want to see this study? Yes," Councilman Phil O'Loane said. "Do I think it's worth $20,000 to do this study at this point, to participate in this and have a seat at the table? Yes."

"We're not going to march into this without getting sufficient feedback from the public and take that into consideration in making a final decision," Mayor Bill Clarkson added.

* Dan McIntyre, of the Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD), and Carol Mahoney from the Zone 7 Water Agency presented water supply gave an update on the drought and its impact on the water supply of DSRSD, which provides water service to the Dougherty Valley part of San Ramon.

The state water board has directed water suppliers to come up with a water conservation plan for the next three years, assuming that they would be dry years.

In April, Zone 7 predicted it could meet the area's demand with its current supply, assuming that 2016 and 2017 would consist of dry weather and 2018 would consist of more normal precipitation. Zone 7 sells potable water wholesale to Tri-Valley water providers, including DSRSD.

Next week, the DSRSD board will consider going to Stage 1 voluntary water 10% conservation following a 12% mandatory conservation level they are currently at this year and a 25% mandatory conservation level which was in effect the year before. With the 10% voluntary water conservation plan, irrigation restrictions will be lifted.

Requirements that existed in the drought and will continue to exist include the prohibition of spraying off sidewalks and driveways with water hoses.

The DSRSD has also adopted a policy to diversify its water supply. The core principle of the diversification policy is to arrange so that no more than 40% of the water supply in the DSRSD water supply area comes from any one source.

"An objective of that is to have a more resilient water supply," McIntyre said in his presentation. Currently, about two-thirds of the water supply comes from seven different sources, and DSRSD hopes to change the allocation of the portfolio, he added.

* The councilmen also spoke about hosting future of town hall meetings, with City Manager Greg Rogers explaining that residents have asked the city to hold town hall meetings, with one specific topic of interest being the Faria neighborhood.

"I've always been in favor of communication, particularly when citizens have concern on a particular issue and they want to have a forum where they can ask questions and hopefully have the experts available to answer questions," Vice Mayor Scott Perkins said.

"I rarely see that not doing them is in our interest. I tend to believe that doing town hall meetings is in the interest of the citizens," he added.

Hudson said that he agreed with Perkins, but he cautioned that the city could not conduct a town hall meeting on one subject without holding more town hall meetings on other subjects.

Clarkson said he thought that if there is going to be a town hall meeting, the council should be present in order to assist in answering questions. The council discussed the fact each town hall meeting would benefit from having some sort of presentation or subject to add structure to the conversation.

* Interim city attorney Bob Saxe gave a presentation introducing the newly edited Municipal Code sections relating to public nuisances and violations. Saxe said the proposed updates served as a clean-up project where the existing nuisance ordinance was restructured and modified.

"Anything that is listed as a nuisance in this (revised) ordinance could have been pursued as a nuisance in the prior ordinance," Saxe said.

The councilmen endorsed the first reading of the ordinance and set their final adoption vote for June 28.

Editor's note: Amanda Morris is a freelance contributor for DanvilleSanRamon.com.

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