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  San Ramon Observer

September 6, 2003 11:30 PM




Observer adds page for 2003 local election results and page for candidate's press releases.  Also Business Incubator is looking for more good startups. 

In The Press page - Times story on City Worker Union

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Small Earthquake Hits Berkeley



A small shaker rumbled under San Ramon at 6:39 PM on September 4, 2003.  According to the US Geologic Survey website, the quake was centered near Berkeley.  The quake is estimated at 3.9 magnituned.



City Employee Union



City employees met in July and August to discuss how to deal with what many felt was the opressive management style of new City Manager, Gail Waiters. Many senior staff took early retirement or sought other jobs, rather than continue working for the City after Herb Moniz was fired, and then again after Waiters was hired.


Those who had not retired or resigned, were left to deal with very tense and untenable working conditions.  One individual whose mother was seriously ill, was told by Waiters that she could not take time off to visit her mother until after the City budget was resolved.  The Observer also received a report that Waiters yelled at the new Police Chief about missing a meeting about which she had not been informed.  Waiter's has been accused of having a closed-door policy, being difficult to see and speak to, and being condescending and critical. 


City employees also complained about meddling by some City Councilmembers.  Two of the incumbants responsible for firing former City Manager, Herb Moniz, are not running for reelection.  Staff may reconsider the need to form a Union, after Councilmembers Donna Dickey and Nancy Tatarka are replaced in November. Ironcially Dickey, Tatarka, and Cambra ran with support from Unions.  The Union would get their money's worth, if over 100 City staff members form a new affiliate in San Ramon.



Volunteers Needed for Odor Study Panel



The Central Contra Costa Sanitary District is looking for 10 good noses.  Central San will be holding a post-construction odor study for the District's San Ramon Pump Station.  One component of the ordor study requires the participation of 10 people on an odor panel. 


The odor panel will be conducted in San Ramon on Saturday, September 27, 2003 or October 4, 2003 from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. The date will be selected based on the date that has the greatest number of people available to participte. If you are intersted in participating, contact Jackie Zayac at (925) 229-7168 or  by September 11, 2003, to see if you qualify and to select a date.


Recently neighbors complained about the stench coming from the station. Zayac says that the station has been equiped with odor control equipment and should not be smelling.  If anyone smells an odor at the San Ramon Pump Station, please call (925) 229-7214.  There is a live person on this telephone line 24/7. The odor complaint must be called into the District immediately so that they can investigate it.  If it is not called in when there is an odor, the District cannot investigate the cause of the odor.



Dougherty Valley Overview Report



The City Council held a Study Session on Wednesday, September 3, 2003 for an overview of what's happening in Dougherty Valley.  The buildout of DV has been faster than originally planned.  The City is concerned about pending traffic problems and existing overcrowding of California High School and Coyote Creek Elementary.  A new Elementary School, Hidden Hills, is under construction in Dougherty Valley and will be ready for occupancy by the next school year.  However, the new High School will not be ready until 2007, unless building plans can be moved up.


The Dougherty Valley Agreement, signed in 1994, requires the City to provide the same level of services to Dougherty Valley as to the original portions of San Ramon.  This means a Community Center and Central Park equivalent, with a Senior Center, Library, Police Substation, and one additional facility not in San Ramon, a full-scale Community College. Some Councilmembers fear that construction of this could create major traffic tieups.  The City plans to go after Measure C funds to alleviate any potential traffic problems from the rapid growth of Dougherty Valley.



Special Parks Commission Meeting



The Parks Commission will meet on September 10, 2003 at 6 pm at the San Ramon Senior Center for a Tour of Dougherty Valley. Seating is limited at the special meeting.  Call 973-3205 for more information.  



Council Meeting Recap



The August 26, 2003 City Council meeting got off to a late start. The closed session to consider claims arising from the Sunny Glen flooding last year, and another consideration to initiate litigation, ran half-an-hour long.  The meeting began at 7:30 pm with the pledge of allegiance led by Boy Scout Troup 841. 


Appointments were made to the Economic Development Advisory Committee and Senor Citizens Advisory Committee.  Wells Fargo Bank was honored for contributing $2500 to the San Ramon Library.  Head Librarian, Joyce Gunn, said the donation would be put to good use.


Several speakers in Public Comment were unhappy that the Cal High swim center was going to be closed on Sundays during the fall and winter. The once-a-week shutdown was a cost cutting measure, but it did not go over well with diehard swimmers. One even volunteered to be a lifeguard or pay a Sunday supplement, to keep the pool open on Sundays.


Roz Rogoff complained about the odor from the Larwin Pump Station on Mangos Drive. Rogoff said the Sanitary District has an agreement with the City to prevent odor. Public Works Director, Joye Fukuda, said that Central San wants to be notified whenever there is odor present.  The Council directed Fukuda to keep a nose on this.


Most of the Consent Calendar passed with only a few questions.  A large crowd from Country View waited until the Council passed Item 8.4, Authorizing the Mayor to execute an agreement with their HOA for Slope Repair and a reimbursement not to exceed $10,000.  Nobody spoke on the subject, but after the vote about half the audience left.


Item 8.13, to extend the mowing contracts with Pacheco Bros. and White Oak Landscape, was moved from the Consent Calendar to a new agenda item.  The issue concerned whether bringing the mowing in-house would save money over contracting it out.  Public Works Director, Joye Fukuda, did not have a finished report, and said the numbers would be available by the Council’s first meeting in October. 


Vice Mayor Jerry Cambra said he already had numbers, and passed around a chart with figures he said he got from a previous meeting with Fukuda.  Cambra wanted to bring the large area mowing in-house, but keep the contractors for the small areas.  His figures showed this would save the most money. 


The contracts with the two landscaping companies expire on September 1, 2003 and needed to be extended.  The item on the agenda was to extend the contracts for three months. Cambra wanted to extend the contracts by only one month. However, at least one contract said they would not accept a month-to-month contract.  Cambra then suggested giving them a two-month contract or giving both contracts to the other vendor.  Councilmember Dickey thought that it wasn’t worth renegotiating a one or two-month contract with one or both vendors, when the three-month extension would be up only a month-and-a-half after Fukuda’s report in October.  The Council voted 3-2 (Cambra and Tatarka dissenting) to extend the mowing contracts for three months.


Director of Parks and Recreation, Jeff Eorio, gave a presentation on the swim center planned for the new Dougherty Valley High School. The High School is supposed to be finished by 2007.  The School District is considering a swim center similar to the one at Cal High, if the City is willing to invest $2,000,000 in a partnership.  If the City does not invest in the swim center, the School District will only build a 25-meter pool, which the City could use seasonally in the summer when the school isn’t in session. 


Vice Mayor Cambra challenged the need for another swim facility.  The requests for swim lessons and pool use were manually kept, which lead double or triple counts.  Cambra calculated that only 300-400 requests were received, and not the originally estimated 1400. 


Speaking in Public Comment, Michelle Cowles said that some people who criticized this council for spending too much money now wanted to spend $2,000,000 on a pool that isn’t needed.  The council agreed that this isn’t the time to invest $2,000,000, and unanimously directed staff to get more information from the School District about their plans before making any commitments.


Officer Gwen Brady gave a presentation on Character Counts, the new program the Police Dept. will be conducting in San Ramon schools this year.  Brady stressed that positive values and roll models will influence the behavior of children from pre-school through high school.


The Council voted to support the League of California Cities’ resolution on their Bylaws, but rejected the League’s opposition to Senate Bill 2535 the “California Wild Heritage Act of 2002.”  The City Council voted at their April 22, 2003 meeting to support Senate Bill 2535.


Representatives from the Contra Costa Transit Authority (CCTA) gave a presentation on the I-680 Auxiliary Lanes Improvement Project. This project is already funded, and will not cost the City anything.  Entry lanes will continue to the next exit, so that vehicles going from one entrance to the next exit will not have to merge into traffic.  Sound absorbing shrubbery along 680 opposite Talavera, will be improved.


The City Attorney gave a report on his analysis of the Bishop Ranch Annexation and Development Agreement, which was negotiated in 1987 between the City and Sunset Development. This Agreement limits the amount that can be charged for a business license, and caps the Transit Occupancy Tax (TOT) at 10%. 


The City Council voted unanimously on May 28, 2002 to extend the Agreement from an expiration date of 2005 to 2010 with two more 5-year extensions to 2020.  Vice-Mayor Cambra said the wording on the Ordinance was confusing, and it wasn’t clear that the whole agreement was being extended.  Click here for a PDF of the Staff Report, Ordinance,and Amendment from the May 28, 2002 Council meeting.


Councilmember Tatarka picked apart the Agreement page by page and questioned the actions of the 1987 City Council with “What were they thinking?”   Rosalind Rogoff, speaking in public comment, wanted to know why Mrs. Tatarka didn’t ask Diane Schinnerer that question earlier in the evening, since Schinnerer was on that 1987 Council and attended the current meeting just a few hours earlier.  Rogoff also wanted to know how this item got on the Agenda without going through the Policy Committee, and without notifying Sunset Development.  Melody Lundgren, also speaking in Public Comment, supported Tatarka’s concern. Lundgren reiterated that she isn’t against Bishop Ranch, but for the residents.


The next City Council meeting isn’t scheduled until September 23, 2003.



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