10/18/2011 Council Summary

Sorry for the delay, it’s been a busy couple of weeks.

We started off with a closed session regarding the Downtown, not much I can say.  We then had two special orders of the day, commemorating Breast Cancer Awareness Month and National Arts and Humanities Month.  Then it was off to the races.

The consent calendar had two pulls – the Tasman-Fair Oaks Pedestrian and Bicycle Circulation Plan contract rejection (1F) and the second reading of an ordinance for a taxicab franchise (1J).  The consent calendar was approved 6-0.  I pulled 1F because it involved property within 500′ of my home, and it was approved 5-0 with myself abstaining.  And a member of the public pulled the taxicab item out of concerns about the number of taxicab franchises already approved.  She went on to discuss problems near the Caltrain Station because of the number of taxis waiting for fares and taking up parking spaces.

This provoked an extended discussion about taxicab franchises, since we’ve never really denied a franchise, and we’ve now had a number of them get approved in recent months.  So we were concerned about when “enough is enough”.  The issues regarding Caltrain also involved some discussion.  I asked DPS if they thought they had the tools needed to properly enforce issues there, but I was informed that the Caltrain Station is actually overseen by the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department (because SamTrans runs Caltrain) – meaning that there’s basically no enforcement.  So much for that.

Anyway, we approved the second reading on a 6-0 vote, since failing to pass the second reading of an already approved franchise would really be unfair to the applicant.

We then had a public comment regarding the gun shop zoning issue from a few weeks ago, and it got a bit heated, because the speaker referred to comments of mine that were reported in the press, and I felt badly misquoted by the member of the public.  Ah well.

We then moved on to item 2, an application to do a general plan study for rezoning property on Iris to very high density residential.  There is an existing apartment complex there, and the owner wants to add density to the property.  And the study was approved on a 6-0 vote.  I liked it because it’s housing infill in an area already zoned residential, probably compatible with the surrounding land.  More often than not, increases in housing density have been done recently by converting other uses – commercial, industrial, whatever.  And those kinds of rezoning hurt our revenue, which is already beat up.  So doing residential infill in a residential area is always best, to me.

Item 3 involved approving the cleanup of the property for the Morse Avenue Neighborhood Park (called “Seven Seas Park”).  And with only a little discussion, we approved it on a 6-0  vote.

Items 4 and 5 were two taxicab franchises, and we dealt with them together.  And we approved the franchises on a 6-0 vote.  We then sponsored a study issue to look at our taxicab franchise practices, since we clearly have some question about limiting what’s allowed.

Item 6 was a bit contentious.  VTA has rearranged the way cities are grouped for the purposes of representation on the VTA Board, and we’re now in a group with Santa Clara and Milpitas.  Due to population, our group gets two members and one alternate on the board, and as a new grouping, we need to decide how representatives are picked.  So the three cities are negotiating, and we needed to give Mayor Hamilton direction on what negotiating position to take.  This is complicated by the fact that Santa Clara has already moved to support a simple rotation scheme, and Milpitas has said “we don’t care, as long as we’re one of the first two on the Board”.  So we voted 4-2 to approve having Mayor Hamilton advocate for a percentage-based rotation scheme, which weights the three cities’ time on the Board based on their population.  I opposed this, because I think it’s a waste of time.  Santa Clara has already said they don’t support it.  And faced with one decision that gives Milpitas a board seat 20% of the time and one that gives them a seat 33% of the time, their choice is pretty obvious.  So I thought we were sending Mayor Hamilton on a fool’s errand.  And I would have preferred to just let her go in unfettered and try to strike the best deal she could.  But I was in the minority, and the majority felt that at least trying for “the fair thing” was the right approach.

And that was pretty much it.  We breezed through the final stuff and were done.

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