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Editorial: New coalition unites four Tri-Valley cities

 

The Pleasanton City Council voted unanimously last week to endorse a new Tri-Valley coalition that binds it even more closely with neighboring Danville, Dublin, Livermore and San Ramon.

The new Legislative Framework, as the coalition is called, will guide the response to pending and possible legislation with 10 guiding principles dealing with planning and policy documents. It also identifies goals and strategies that guide advocacy efforts on behalf of Pleasanton’s and the Tri-Valley’s interest in these areas.

The document, as explained to the council June 19 by Becky Hopkins, assistant to City Manager Nelson Fialho, covers a wide range of concerns and interests in the Tri-Valley as the five cities seek to maintain and improve the quality of life of residents, enable continued opportunities for public and private investment within the region and collaborate on battling state legislation that increasingly is aimed at stripping cities of their local control.

The council’s action followed a meeting of the Alameda County Mayors’ Conference where Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said that when it comes to affordable housing, local control hasn’t worked.

“It appears many of our legislators have the same opinion,” Pleasanton Mayor Jerry Thorne told the council. “Local control is being attacked from so many different directions, it’s hard to keep up.”

The Legislative Framework will give Pleasanton watchdog tools to identify and alert the city about possible and pending issues at both the state and federal levels. The “watchdogs” — Fialho, Hopkins and Finance Director Tina Olson — will then determine the benefit or impact and inform others in the coalition. They will be aided by Jordan & Associates, a federal lobbying firm in Washington, D.C. that arranges meetings with government agencies for the five Tri-Valley mayors on their annual trip to the capital.

Historically, the practice has been to advocate at the federal level for funding of local projects by meeting with federal legislators and seeking direct funding through federal “earmarks.” The elimination of those earmarks by the Obama administration as a funding mechanism has severely limited the region’ s legislative advocacy efforts.

The new reality is that federal funding is now primarily distributed through grant programs, with cities and regional governments competing. That means Tri-Valley communities must be more strategically focused, a goal of the new Legislative Framework.

The coalition has already identified a $150 million federal Emergency Aid Block Grant available later this year to regional/multi-cities with a population of more than 330,000. Together, the five Tri-Valley cities qualify and will apply for the grant after July 1.

The coalition also will look for effective options to address unfunded pension liabilities, make sure Pleasanton takes advantage of the new e-commerce rules on sales tax allocations and support efforts to secure funding for the final phase of State Route 84 and an expanded recycled water project.

The coalition will collaborate with regional partners on legislative issues of common interest. These partners are the Pleasanton school district, Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (WHEELS), Zone 7, East Bay Regional Park District and Alameda County organizations, such as StopWaste.

The coalition also will alert voters to ballot measures in November, including several that would give the state more control over local housing and land use issues.

At the same meeting, the council agreed to join the Alameda County arm of the Coalition to End Homelessness, a national program that organizes homeless people and front-line service providers to create permanent solutions to homelessness, while working to protect the human rights of those forced to remain on the streets.

We appreciate the council’s use of strategic partnerships and collaboration to protect the interests of the residents here and in the region.

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