12/13/2011 Council Preview

Probably a long night, certainly for us council folks.  This is the last meeting of the year, so we have a lot to get done before the long break (just shy of a month!).

We start the evening with another closed session, this one being the annual performance review for the City Manager (we did the City Attorney last week).  Then comes an interesting event – a public study session to discuss the upcoming selection of mayor and vice mayor.  This is something we started last year in response to concerns about private campaigning for the positions.  This is an opportunity for councilmembers who are interested in one of the two positions to state their case in public.  Note that it’s non-binding – someone can be elected without expressing an interest on Tuesday, and someone can express an interest on Tuesday but not have or accept a nomination on January 10th.  Then we go to open session.

The consent calendar is a healthy one, not too surprising.  There are a number of budget modifications to reflect grants that we’ve received or that we’re applying for.  The most interesting one is a $820k federal grant for the Safe Routes to School initiative, which would go to crosswalks, curb cuts, and other pedestrian safety installations near schools.  We’re also proposing to award a $1.5 million contract for streetscape improvements in the downtown area (including 700 tons of new concrete!).  Then we go to general business.

Item 2 is an appeal of a planning decision regarding a proposed development on the old Chevrolet site on El Camino.  Staff and the Planning Commission are both recommending against it because it doesn’t meet certain general plan and El Camino Real Precise Plan criteria, but the applicant is appealing due to the unique circumstances of the site.  There should be some interesting discussions on this one.

Item 3 is our budgetary year end financial report, again a very interesting item.  Our fiscal year ended June 30th, and this summarizes how we finished the year, once all of the bills and revenues were finalized.  It’s a great news, bad news situation, with revenue significantly higher than anticipated (mostly due to sales tax), but with the structural deficit still a problem.  The net result – an annual shortfall of $750,000, significantly less than budgeted.  But there’s the added difficulty that we have to set aside $3.7 million as the anticipated extortion payment to the state to keep our redevelopment agency going, quite a big chunk of change.

Item 4 is the first half of the CalPERS amendment that we’ve been trying to resolve for the past two meetings.  In short, we agreed to accept concessions from the Public Safety Officers Association earlier in the year, which includes going to a “two-tier” pension program, with new officers increasing their retirement age from 50 to 55.  We have to modify our agreement with CalPERS to make that happen, and that’s what this item is.

And then items 5 and 6 are the second readings of two ordinances that we approved at our last meeting, the first being the single-use carryout bag ordinance, the second being amendments related to our housing sub-element.  They’re not on consent because there were “no” votes on the items at our last meeting (we only place second readings on consent when the first readings pass unanimously, the theory being that someone voting “no” the first time would otherwise pull the item to vote “no” the second time).

That’s it for the general meeting, but we’re not done just yet.

We then adjourn to the Redevelopment Agency, in which we have one item, our mid-term review on the progress of the five-year implementation plan for the central core.

That’s it for the RDA meeting, but we’re not done just yet.

We then adjourn to the Onizuka Local Redevelopment Authority, in which we again have one item, but it’s a doozie.  We’re looking at amending our plan for Onizuka, in effect to finalize what we think may be our real and final plan for that property.  It involves a homeless housing agreement and possibly directing the City Manager to commit to a plan to use the rest of the property for an expansion of Foothill-De Anza Community College.  This is the vote where we decide, possibly for real and for the future, exactly how we’ll use this property.  So it’s kind of a big deal.

And that’s it.  I think this one is going to take a while.


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