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Alameda City Council roundup

Submitted by on 1, April 22, 2010 – 4:55 am5 Comments

SunCal wasn’t the only item of note on Tuesday’s City Council agenda. Here’s how a couple of other pieces of city business shook out during the council’s four-and-a-half hour meeting series:

Sunshine. Members of the council-created Sunshine Task Force came to the council to ask for a few more months to put together a sunshine ordinance aimed at making city government more open and accessible to the public. The task force will now have until September to create the ordinance. Separately, the council decided to have staff assemble ordinances to regulate lobbyists and institute campaign finance reform. The council debated for nearly an hour – more time than the task force spent together in its entire first meeting – about whether it should address the council’s open government priorities or take input from members of the public about what they’d like to see done. City Attorney Teresa Highsmith repeatedly told council members that it is her job, and not the job of the task force, to write the city’s laws.

RV parking. The council started the process for addressing some of the blowback caused by is recent enactment of an ordinance prohibiting RV, boat and trailer parking on city streets. The effort follows a complaint by an RV owner who told council members at an earlier meeting that the new law is a problem for him because he uses his RV as his vehicle. Police said they have gotten just a handful of complaints since the new rules went into effect in February, and that they have towed or ticketed fewer than two dozen vehicles. They also said they have been granting one-day permits to RV, boat and trailer users who take their vehicles out of storage overnight for next-day use. Separately, the council directed staff to amend a city ordinance that prohibits people from parking in the first 20 feet of their driveways. The decision came after Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant was ticketed for parking her vehicle too close to the end of her driveway.

Design review. The council took some preliminary steps toward simplifying the city’s design review process Tuesday night when it took its first crack at some proposed changes. The new rules would create stronger public notice of proposed design changes, and would eliminate staff design review of some smaller projects, including in-kind replacement of existing features, solar panels and certain rear yard additions of 200 square feet or less. Additions to the front or side of a home, changes to parking lots that are visible from the street and replacement of a window, door or porch that is not consistent with the original or existing home design would require review. City staff is also generating handouts intended to make the process easier to understand. (One helpful hint: Do Not Use City Staff to Design Your Project for You.) The changes were proposed following a slew of complaints about inadequate notice on construction and renovation projects and inconsistent answers on how to proceed on said projects from planning staff, and to help the city save money on staff time expended on the process. Any person would still have the right to appeal a design review determination. The council will vote on the changes at a later date.


  • What was interesting about the design review discussion was that a process about simplifying the design review process ended up being a discussion on limiting what people can do with their homes. It seemed as if the council discussion took the role of Home Owners Association board meeting, rather than City Government with a suggestion, which may actually move forward, that homeowners be provided with photos of their houses from 40 years ago and told that their project must look like the photo when it’s completed (it was a discussion of windows).

    The design review rules that will be returning to council will actually have gone off-track from the stated goals of the original process, that being streamlining them, and actually reflect a more constrictive program that is more onerous on homeowners.

  • alameda says:

    Huh? Would there have been an amendment if it was Joe Six Pack who was ticketed instead of the Interim City Manager?

    Inquiring mind wants to know.

    • Hey Alameda,

      In all fairness, one of the changes being considered for the RV parking ordinance is coming after one person came to the council to complain that they got ticketed for essentially parking their vehicle in the street. And another person came to council this past meeting to complain about a neighbor parking their 30-foot RV in their driveway, which he said blocks his view from his office, which prompted a suggestion from Mayor Johnson that this issue also be explored.

  • eron says:

    This is a very stupid rule i swear. On the major street where i live, the parked cars in the lot were switched up and a neighbor who is a homeowner permanently put his rv away somewhere. but for what real reason? my real issue with this is ive seen 4 trailers/rvs visible parked on the street and in a driveway. FOUR TRAILERS/RVS VISIBLE FROM THE STREET. the rvs on drive way and the trailers on street. and i pass by them and see them in violation of the rule EVERY DAY. and i will be finding more, ITS NOT ONLY THEM. why does my neighbor have to follow this silly code and they dont? now i have to pass a huge monstrosity each time i go to the garage. and cant see the garage from my rear balcony if someone tried to enter it which has happened in the past. the trailer was fine where it was FOR THE PAST 8 YEARS PRIOR TO THIS GARBAGE LAW. alameda is a bear of a city to live in. property values are high enough as it is.

  • eron says:

    I even asked my neighbor who owns that trailer why its parked in the spot where my family van used to be before it was evicted from where its been for 7 years. guess what he said in response. oh im fixing it. that is such a crock. like anyones gonna buy that piece of scrap metal off you

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