City Hall Confidential
Holiday shoppers on Park and Webster streets are enjoying a month’s worth of entertainment, courtesy of the City of Alameda. According to budget documents obtained by City Hall Confidential, the city is providing over $8,000 to hire street performers for Park Street’s holiday promotion, money that is on top of the $80,000 annual marketing budget the shopping association already receives.
According to Alameda’s outgoing economic development director, Leslie Little, that promotion and a similar one on Webster Street was a city-led project aimed at aiding Alameda’s small businesses in a time of economic turmoil. The holiday-themed event, which features weekend performances by acts such as local jazz guitarist Terrence Brewer, magician Steve Nelson, and the Fabulous Flugelhorns, was scaled down from an original idea that apparently included shutting down Central Avenue in front of the Alameda Theatre for two full weeks.
Council members speaking on background said that they were surprised to hear that the promotion was not a paid for by the funding the city provides to the districts for marketing. But Little described the program as an experiment in driving people to Alameda’s shopping districts. Little suggested that the program will provide a much-needed lift for the city’s small business community and shore up both main street districts.
Alameda’s business districts are also offering free Saturday parking between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, courtesy of a 2006 council resolution that authorizes the city to forego Saturday collection of the fees (estimated in 2006, before meter rates were increased, to be about $5,000) at all meters in the Park Street and West Alameda business districts during the holidays.
Last week, the city’s Sunshine Task Force finalized a recommendation for a campaign finance reform ordinance for the City of Alameda and voted to sunset itself after having completed its council mandated duties. (Full disclosure: I sat as the vice chair of the task force.)
The campaign finance reform ordinance recommends setting limits on campaign contributions ($500), sets up a voluntary campaign expenditure program with the goal of encouraging candidates to reduce the amount of money they spend on local races, and prohibits individuals who are in negotiations with the city from contributing to campaigns.
The Sunshine Task Force recommended changes to the document, which was initially brought to the City Council last June, including fixes to issues that would have made the document extremely vulnerable to legal challenges.
After holding nine meetings and a public workshop, the task force has sent both the campaign finance reform ordinance and a previously completed sunshine ordinance to the City Council. Both ordinances are scheduled to go to the City Council on January 4, 2011 for discussion and direction to staff.