Alameda City Council: The agenda
The City Council is getting set to take its customary August recess – but not before holding a special meeting tonight to discuss a dizzying array of business. We’ve already talked about Councilman Frank Matarrese’s request to explore the formation of a nonprofit, local development corporation to manage the redevelopment of Alameda Point and consideration of a plan to build a new campus for VF Outdoor, which owns The North Face and other clothing and gear businesses. But wait … there’s more, including a new budget for next year (more on that Wednesday).
Ballot bits: Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant and City Clerk Lara Weisiger want the council to put a few items on the November ballot. They want voters to consider eliminating compulsory arbitration for financial disputes with Alameda’s firefighters union, a move they say will restore local control in making those decisions.The firefighters, who are not allowed to strike, used the right to arbitrate once, in 1990. The arbitration rule does not extend to the city’s other employee unions.
Also on the list are changes to Alameda’s city charter that would:
*Delay the effective date of any ordinance that requires spending money until the funds to cover it are identified; protect the city manager’s right to propose, and the council’s right to pass, a budget – and prohibit a ballot initiative or referendum from conflicting with it.
Alameda’s firefighters put an initiative on the ballot that would require the city to maintain a certain level of fire department staffing.
*Authorize the City Clerk to reject legal advertising bids. Now, the City Council has that right.
*Reconstitute the Public Utilities Board as a six-member body, with the City Manager sitting as a nonvoting member. The board now has five members including the City Manager, who votes. The ballot measure would also require contracts authorized by the board to be in writing.
*Repeal a section of the City Charter that lays out the city’s business hours.
Tuesday’s meeting marks the last opportunity the council would have to vote on the freshly offered ballot measures before their August recess.
Docu-drama: Councilwoman Marie Gilmore wants her dais-mates to discuss and/or take action on what she’s saying is City Attorney Teresa Highsmith’s policy of not releasing legal opinions to council members in advance of meetings on written request, which Gilmore says is a violation of the city charter. Gilmore said at the council’s July 20 meeting that she had asked Highsmith for a copy of her opinion on the city’s legal exposure following SunCal’s insistence that their exclusive agreement to negotiate a development deal for Alameda Point should be extended. But she said Highsmith would only allow Gilmore to read the opinion in Highsmith’s office.
Drawbridge controversy: City officials are getting set to write the U.S. Department of Transportation to ask them to deny Alameda County’s request to slash staffing hours at the city’s three drawbridges. They said Coast Guard policy prohibits them from reducing the hours they operate the draws in order to cut costs, which is the county’s stated reason for wanting the policy change. If approved, they would be allowed to reduce staffing at the Park Street, High Street and Fruitvale bridges from 24 hours a day to seven and a half hours a day, with operators on call to work with four hours’ notice.
It’s a miracle: The council is being asked to consider an agreement with the Alameda East Bay Miracle League to move toward development of 5.5 acres of former Navy land into a special, rubberized ball field for developmentally disabled kids and a common area for a long hoped-for Estuary Park. (The city would renovate soccer fields that are already there.) The city would give the league $50,000 for design development drawings for the field, and would work with them toward a long-term lease for the property, with an anticipated opening day in April 2012.
Trailer terms: The council is set to change its newly adopted ordinance banning recreational vehicles, trailers and boats from parking on city streets. They’re codifying an existing effort by the Alameda Police Department that allows residents to park those types of vehicles on the street for 24 hours in order to prepare them for trips. Residents can call the police department for up to two temporary parking permits for the vehicles per month.
Citation contract: City officials are looking to contract out traffic and parking ticket processing to the City of Inglewood, which has provided the service to other municipalities for two decades. They’re saying that contracting out the services would be cheaper than revamping the city’s existing ticket processing services. City staff will still provide in-person customer service for ticket holders. The cost of the contract with Inglewood is $75,000, or about $3 per ticket.
Cars-housing balance: The council will consider shuffling the cars off the city parking lot that sits at 2216 Lincoln Avenue in order to build an affordable housing development there. If approved, the city will work to build as many as 19 housing units for very low- and low-income developmentally disabled residents on the site, which is just under half an acre.
Real estate management policy: The council will be looking at a new policy to guide use of the city’s real estate, including land it manages under state Tidelands leases. Under the policy, the city manager would be the ultimate arbiter of the policy, which offers a matrix of different uses for the city’s land and management strategies, and the land transactions to take place under it.