October 3, 2006

City Council Votes for Development Moratorium and to Fund the Cherry Festival and Sunday Library Hours

With Council Member Glenda Nardine absent, the San Leandro City Council unanimously approved a 45-day moratorium on development at 39 downtown "opportunity" sites at its October 2, 2006, meeting.

The moratorium can be extended for up to two years and the Council is tentatively scheduled to review a possible extension of the moratorium at its November 6, 2006, meeting. The moratorim could be extended until July 2007, when the work of the Downtown Transit-Oriented Development Strategy is expected to be completed. The 39 sites include the Red Mountain property on E. 14th Street where an Albertsons supermarket was previously located. Grocery Outlet currently has an incomplete application on file for use of the former Albertsons site. The moratorium will not affect existing businesses or building permits that have already been approved.

The City Council also approved a $390,500 amendment to the 2006-2007 budget to fund the Cherry Festival ($90K), restore Sunday library hours ($63K), hire a police officer for the schools ($160K), put up holiday lighting and signs ($36K), and restore full funding to community groups ($41.5K). Council Member Bill Stephens made a passionate argument against the budget amendment, noting that there is still a $4.5 million shortfall for capitol improvements, no money has been put in reserve for the past three years, and the budget is still not balanced. Council Member Surlene Grant said she felt the Council was "robbing Peter to pay Paul." Council Member Joyce Starosciak noted that her runoff election cost as much as the Cherry Festival and Sunday library hours combined. She described the budget amendment as having "minimal costs and huge benefits to our community." Council Member Santos express support for the amendment and reported that the San Leandro Police Officers Association says that, based on its size, San Leandro should have 100 police officers. Stephens said that as an Assistant Superintendent for Business with the Fremont Unified School District, he understands that police officers for the schools are important but suggested that the School District should be paying for them since the School District's budget is in better shape. Council Member OB Badger said that while he would like to have the Cherry Festival, he was concerned about the lack of funding for the pavement management program. When it came time to vote, only Stephens voted against the budget amendment.

Kathleen Livermore, Senior Planner and TOD Project Manager for the City of San Leandro, summarized the results of the September 30, 2006, TOD meeting, noting that 98 people attended. Initial results showed that participants favored a creek-side civic park/plaza that could close down Hays Street, improved lighting, mixed-use, smaller scale office, retail, and residential development.

City Council Member-Elect Michael Gregory was present at the City Council meeting and spoke in favor of the moratorium, noting that he had visited two other cities to look at their developments. Toni Mobley, a member of the TOD Citizen Advisory Committee, also spoke in favor of the moratorium.

Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at October 3, 2006 10:32 PM | TrackBack
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