April 30, 2010

City Council to Decide on Vice-Mayor, City Manager Contract Extension, and Fees on Monday

The San Leandro City Council will decide who will be the next Vice Mayor at its meeting on May 3, 2010. Although the City Charter simply states, "In the absence of the Mayor, the Vice Mayor shall possess and perform the powers and duties of the Mayor," the discussion about who should be Vice Mayor, and why, has been quite robust in recent years.

When San Leandro Bytes asked former San Leandro Shelia Young about the position, she responded, "The Charter describes the duties of the Vice Mayor to be able to perform the tasks of Mayor in the absence of the Mayor. It is a major responsibility and shouldn't be taken lightly, nor should it be a popularity contest. I have always felt whoever is appointed should be able to fill in for the mayor at the drop of a hat!"

Two years ago, current Vice Mayor Joyce Starosciak lost out to Bill Stephens in a 4-3 vote, with Councilmembers Jim Prola, Diana Souza, and Starosciak voting against. Mayor Santos said that the position should rotate among the City Council districts while former Councilmember Surlene Grant noted that Starosciak was up for election and the title of Vice Mayor might give Starosciak an advantage. One year later, Starosciak received a unanimous vote for Vice Mayor.

A one-year contract extension for San Leandro City Manager Steve Hollister is part of the consent calendar, which is usually approved unanimously. Hollister was appointed City Manager in December 2008, after serving for nearly four months as Interim City Manager and four years as Assistant City Manager.

The staff report, which includes the contract, states that the City Council made the decision on April 19, 2010, to reappoint Stephen Hollister "as City Manager effective July 1, 2010."

Also on the consent calendar: the City Council will likely approve a $100 fee for each tree that residents request for the sidewalks in the front of their houses. Previously, residents have received this service for free and at other times have been charged $50.

The San Leandro City Council meeting starts at 7pm on May 3, 2010, in the City Council Chambers at 835 E. 14th Street in San Leandro. The complete agenda is available at http://www.sanleandro.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=6262.

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April 29, 2010

San Leandro's Population Tops 83,000

San Leandro's population was estimated at 83,183 as of January 1, 2010, according to a press release issued on April 29, 2010, by the Demographic Research Unit of the California Department of Finance. This is a 0.8% increase from San Leandro's population estimate of 82,531 in January 2009.

San Leandro's growth was less than Alameda County's overall growth rate of 1.1% (1,574,857) and California's growth rate of 1% (38,648,090). The fastest growing city in Alameda County was Dublin with a 1.8% growth rate and the slowest growing cities were Albany and Newark at 0.7%.

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April 27, 2010

City Bicycle Rides on Sunday, May 2

bike_sl_event_2010.jpg

The City of San Leandro and the San Leandro Downtown Association are sponsoring two bicycle rides on Sunday, May 2, 2010, to celebrate healthy and fun transportation.

Bicycle rides start at 11am near The Englander. The family bicycle ride will be relatively flat, last five miles, and includes a tour of the Dunsmuir House Grounds. A more challenging ride will also be available that takes a 13-mile loop around Lake Chabot.

After the rides, food, BBQ, and live music by Delta Wires, Stereo Freakout and Glimpse Trio will be available on Parrott Street between E. 14th Street and Washington Avenue.

For more information, see www.bikesl.org or call 510.357.1370.

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April 22, 2010

Les Miserables at San Leandro High School This Week and Weekend

les_miserables_logo.jpg San Leandro High School's spring musical of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables opened Wednesday, April 21, 2010, and continues with shows each day until Sunday, April 25..

The musical features student and professional musicians as part of a live orchestra. Previous productions have included West Side Story, Little Shop of Horrors and Grease.

Performances are scheduled for April 22, 23, and 24 at 7pm, Saturday, April 24 at 1pm, and Sunday, April 25 at 2pm. Tickets are $7 tonight, $10 Friday and Saturday night, and $8 for the Saturday and Sunday matinees.

San Leandro High School is located at 2200 Bancroft Avenue in San Leandro. For tickets or more information contact Jeni Engler at jeniengler@sbcglobal.net.

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April 20, 2010

San Leandro Crossings Project Delayed

At the April 19, 2010, meeting of the San Leandro City Council, San Leandro City Manager Steve Hollister announced that the San Leandro Crossings project is delayed until at least this summer. The project has the been the subject of City Council closed sessions on March 1, April 5, April 12, and April 19.

Hollister read the following statement:

Tonight the Council will not be taking action on this item this evening. It will be removed from the agenda and brought back sometime in the summer. The project will be delayed due to uncertainties in the housing and financial markets at this time. The City has been working diligently with all parties, Westlake, Bridge Housing, and Housing and Community Development, or HCD, and will continue to do so. We are hopeful that we can proceed with the project in such a manner that will satisfy HCD requirements and the needs of the developers and the City. Some of the factors that have resulted in this delay are: Currently, HCD has strict deadlines for expenditure of grant funds, and commencement and completion of construction; HCD staff, including the executive staff, was unable to commit to providing an extension for the construction at this time; Westlake was unwilling to execute the HCD documents without the extension; Bridge Housing was unable to continue without assurance from the Housing and Community Development Department that the Housing and Community Development document would be executed in time to meet the requirements of their lenders and the tax credit deadline.
Bridge and Westlake both have indicated that they are both committed to work together to address their concerns and to bring this project back for the Council's consideration.
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April 19, 2010

San Leandro City Council Approves Ranked Choice Voting Ordinance

With Councilmember Michael Gregory present, there was little doubt that the ranked choice voting (RCV, also known as instant runoff voting) ordinance would gain approval at tonight's San Leandro City Council meeting. The surprise came from Councilmember Bill Stephens, who voted to approve the ordinance, stating, "The reason I was against ranked choice voting was because of the financial impact. Now I am going to change my vote strictly because it would cost us more money not to go forward….so I will be voting yes." The final vote was five to two.

Vice Mayor Joyce Starosciak and Councilmember Diana Souza both voted to oppose the RCV ordinance, despite the potential additional cost of between $290,000 and $340,000.

Alameda County Democratic Party Chair Robin Torello reminded the City Council that the Alameda County Democratic had "voted to encourage all of you to support this" and also noted the low turnout in the 2004 February runoff election. Mayoral candidate Stephen Cassidy referred to an earlier presentation that justified spending money for upgrades on the wastewater treatment plant now for long-term cost savings. Cassidy said, "Here's your chance to upgrade the way San Leandro conducts its elections." Blair Bobier, the Deputy Director of the Political Reform Program at New America Foundation, agreed with the points made by Torello and Cassidy and informed the City Council that a challenge to RCV in San Francisco had been dismissed by a federal judge on Friday, April 16, 2010.

Just before the end of the meeting, Councilmember Jim Prola reported, "I never got an email, and I get a lot of them every week, or a phone call, from anybody in San Leandro that was opposed to IRV." This seemed to be directed at Souza, who cited opposition to RCV by residents as the reason she changed her mind at the April 5, 2010, meeting.

With the passage of the RCV ordinance, San Leandro will now conduct voter education and outreach with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters to explain to voters how RCV works. The election will be held on November 2, 2010.

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Third Time a Charm for Ranked Choice Voting?

The San Leandro City Council, which approved a memorandum of understanding to share ranked choice voting (RCV) costs with Alameda County and the cities of Oakland and Berkeley in January, will attempt for a third time to approve an RCV ordinance at its April 19, 2010, meeting.

The item is on the agenda as Action Item 10-B: Matter of Reconsideration of an Ordinance Providing for the Conduct of the General Municipal Election Using Ranked Choice Voting (RCV).

The history so far:

January 19, 2010: City Council votes 5-2 to approve cost sharing memorandum. Councilmembers Joyce Starosciak and Bill Stephens vote no, citing the additional short-term costs of RCV.

March 15, 2010: With only four members of the City Council present, Starosciak pulls the RCV ordinance from the consent calendar so the City Council can vote on it at the next meeting.

April 5, 2010: With RCV supporter Councilmember Michael Gregory absent, Councilmember Diana Souza changes her position and votes against approving an RCV ordinance, resulting in a 3-3 tie. The day after the meeting, Mayor Tony Santos files a notice of suspension under section 305(h) of the City Charter, allowing him to set aside the vote and take it up and the next regular meeting, which is April 19, 2010.

If the City Council fails to approve the ordinance, the memorandum of understanding has a termination clause that allows San Leandro to withdraw with 120 days notice. However, San Leandro would be responsible for paying setup costs already incurred by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, estimated at $90,000 as of April 7, 2010.

In addition, San Leandro would still have to pay an estimated $50,000 for the November election and between $200,000 and $250,000 for a possible stand-alone run-off election in February 2011. Since San Leandro has to pay for the November election anyway, the additional cost to not implement RCV is estimated at between $290,000 and $340,000.

The San Leandro City Council will meet at 7pm on Monday, April 19, 2010, in the City Council Chamber at 835 E. 14th Street.

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April 18, 2010

Donor Saves 2010 Farrelly Pool Swim Season

At Monday night's meeting, the San Leandro City Council will present a resolution accepting a $35,000 donation to operate Farrelly Pool for the 2010 summer swim season. Until that donation, Farrelly had been on the list of facilities and programs to be cut as part of the City's budget reductions.

In 2009, the Farrelly Pool swim season was saved, though reduced, when residents organized and spoke out at City Council meetings. Chief among those credited with saving the pool was Brian Murrell, whose daughter Lucinda was among those who spoke in support of saving the pool. Murrell also organized supporters and researched the history of the pool.

Despite efforts to increase attendance, which included family nights with free entertainment, revenue was not enough to keep the pool off of the budget chopping block for 2010.

However, in March this year, a possible donor indirectly contacted Councilmember Michael Gregory about Farrelly Pool. The donor wanted to know what it would take to keep Farrelly Pool open. Recreation and Human Services staff came up with a number to cover the City's estimated loss for operating the pool on a reduced Monday to Thursday schedule: $35,000.

Soon thereafter, Gregory contacted Murrell, who put together a presentation to help convince the possible donor to fund the swim season at Farrelly. The presentation and information about Farrelly can also be seen at the website Murrell created at http://farrelly.merl.us/.

Farrelly presentation

It was important that the donor make a decision quickly, because the Summer Activity Guide deadline was quickly approaching. If Farrelly Pool was not listed in the Summer Activity Guide, people would not be able to sign up for lessons or know that the pool was open, and the estimate to cover the City's cost would be far too little.

In the end, the donor was convinced and has made a $35,000 donation to keep Farrelly Pool open for the 2010 summer swim season. As he did last year, Murrell is trying to get the word out and get people to sign up for the swim classes and attend the recreational swims Monday to Thursday from 6:30pm to 8pm. Murrell is also looking for a ping pong table and more musicians to provide entertainment on family nights. Information on swim lessons can be found in the Summer Activity Guide.

The San Leandro City Council will meet at 7pm on Monday, April 19, 2010, in the City Council Chamber at 835 E. 14th Street.

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April 17, 2010

Save San Leandro Hospital Billboard Goes Up

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Opponents of the closure of San Leandro Hospital recently gained a prominent visual aid to their campaign with a new billboard located nearly across the street from San Leandro Hospital.

The California Nurses Association-funded billboard states, "Don't Let Alameda County and Sutter Close San Leandro Hospital. Tell the Board to Save San Leandro Hospital." CNA Labor Representative Mike Brannan announced that the billboard would go up at the March 22 vigil to save San Leandro Hospital.

The CNA is aware that the billboard should have listed the web site as www.savesanleandrohospital.com and is working on fixing it.

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April 15, 2010

Alice in Wonderland at Bancroft Opens Thursday

Alice_Wonderland_logo.jpg The Bancroft Musical Theatre production of Alice in Wonderland opens Thursday, April 15, 2010, at Bancroft Middle School.

The musical features performances by 50 middle school students in the Disney Broadway production of the classic story. Previous productions have included Peter Pan and Beauty and the Beast.

Performances are scheduled for April 15, 16, and 17 at 7:30pm and Sunday April 18 at 3pm. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors.

Bancroft Middle School is located at 1150 Bancroft Avenue in San Leandro.

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April 12, 2010

San Leandro City Budget Subject of Two Meetings This Week

The City of San Leandro's budget will be the subject of two meetings on Monday at a City Council work session (agenda) and on Tuesday at an "informational" meeting (agenda).

The City Council work session is the second this year and will be held at 7pm on Monday, April 12, 2010, at City Hall. According to the City web site, the informational meeting is "for the community to hear about the City’s budget situation, how the recession has impacted City programs and services, and what cuts will need to be made to the upcoming Fiscal Year budget that begins in July." The informational meeting will be held at 7pm on Tuesday, April 13, 2010, at the San Leandro Public Library.

Proposed budget cuts at a City Council work session March 22, 2010, called for reducing personnel by 53 full-time equivalents (FTEs) from the previous year, mostly through attrition. This is in addition to the monthly furlough day that reduces salaries by 4.6% for all departments, except fire and police.

Some of the reductions to Recreation Programs include reducing hours at the Boys and Girls Club pools, elimination of adult sports programs, cutting the hours of the Family Aquatics Center by 25%, and elimination of all community events, including the Cherry Festival and tree lighting. Farrelly Pool had previously been slated for closure until an anonymous donor funded a scaled-down seven-week Monday to Thursday program consisting mainly of swim lessons and evening recreational swims.

Proposed library reductions include closing the San Leandro History Museum and Art Gallery, reduced hours at the Main and Manor libraries (closing an hour earlier, for example), keeping the Mulford-Marina and South Branch Libraries open with temporary foundation funding, and elimination of library community programs, cultural programs, and book clubs.

The proposed half-year elimination of a ladder truck and elimination of a deputy fire marshal with the Alameda County Fire Department are expected to save $990,000 from last year. Reserve funds will be used to pay for the ladder truck for the first half of the year with the hope that passage of a sales tax in November will fund the remainder of the year.

In Community Development, the recently enacted Climate Action Plan will be suspended, the permit center hours will be reduced to 50% of business hours, and nearly all long-range planning and land use and development policy analysis will be suspended.

The Police Department will lose four uniformed officers, including a motorcycle officer dedicated to traffic enforcement and the school resource officer allocated to city middle schools. No funding for school crossing guards is in the proposed budget.

The City Council work session starts at 7pm on Monday, April 12, 2010, in the City Council Chamber at 835 E. 14th Street and not in the South Offices Conference Room where work sessions usually take place. The informational meeting will be held in the San Leandro Public Library at 300 Estudillo Avenue.

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April 11, 2010

Democrats Endorse Wilma Chan for County Supervisor

The Alameda County Democrats endorsed Wilma Chan for the District 3 Alameda County Supervisor seat after interviewing candidates on April 10, 2010. The endorsements from the Democrats and Labor should make fundraising for Chan easier and will make it much harder for opponents Beverly Johnson and Harold Lowe.

In the District 2 Alameda County Supervisor race, Nadia Lockyer received the endorsement over Liz Figueroa, Kevin Dowling, and Mark Green.

Endorsements don't become official until the Democratic Central Committee votes to approve them.

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April 9, 2010

Library Book Sale on Saturday, April 10

The Spring Friends of the San Leandro Library book sale will be held Saturday, April 10, 2010, at the San Leandro Library. More than 10,000 books will be offered for sale, including DVDs and VHS tapes. Categories of books include biographies, childrens, reference, science, science fiction, literature, sociology, history, humor, travel, and many others.

The sale starts at 9am for members of the Friends of the San Leandro Library and at 11am for the public. Friends of the San Leandro Library memberships can be purchased at the door and cost $10 for individuals and $15 for families.

The Friends of the San Leandro Library helps to fund programs and materials at the library such as the Summer Reading Program and carnival for kids, the Adult Summer Reading Program, reference books, and scholarships. For more information, call 510.577.3986.

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April 7, 2010

Davis Street Secures Loan to Buy its Building

The Davis Street Family Resource Center recently received a loan that will enable it "to complete the purchase of the building and immediately reduce agency overhead costs," said Executive Director Rose Padilla Johnson. The loan from the Northern California Community Loan Fund bridges the gap between the $1.7 million Davis Street has already raised and the $2.5 million cost of the building.

Davis Street has been raising money to buy the building for more than a year after a 2008 independent assessment on Davis Street's long-term sustainability recommended a capital campaign to purchase the building. Contributions to the campaign so far have included $500,000 each from the City of San Leandro and the Eden Township Healthcare District, and $100,000 from the Alameda County Behavioral Health Services Agency using Measure A funds, with the remainder from private foundations and local, corporate, and individual donations.

Davis Street is continuing its capital campaign to reach its goal of $3.5 million, which will help pay back the loan and fund capital improvements at the facility.

The Davis Street Family Resource Center serves low income families and individuals in San Leandro and the Eden area by providing family support services, medical and dental care, food, clothing, employment training, transportation, and children's services. For information on the capital campaign, visit https://www.davisstreet.org/Lists/CapitalCampaign/NewForm.aspx. Davis Street is located at 3081 Teagarden Street in San Leandro.

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April 6, 2010

City Council and City Staff Annual Financial Disclosures

The annual economic disclosures of San Leandro's elected and appointed officials and city staff were due April 1, 2010. These disclosures are required under the provisions of the Political Reform Act of 1974 (Gov. Code sections 81000-91014), which requires public officials to disclose their private economic interests and not to participate in decisions in which they have a financial interest.

Those subject to the reporting requirement must file the Statement of Economic Interests (Form 700) upon election or appointment, annually by April 1, and upon leaving office. Certain city staff, including the City Manager, City Attorney, Police Chief and police captains are also required to file these documents. These are public documents on file at the City Clerk's office at City Hall and are available to anyone who requests them for $0.10 per page.

Since Surlene Grant termed out of office in 2007, Mayor Tony Santos has been the only Councilmember to report gifts on his disclosure forms. In 2009, Santos reported the following: A's tickets from the Alameda Mayor's Conference, Giants tickets from former San Leandro Councilmember and now lobbyist Gordon Galvan, hotel and food worth $279 from the Portuguese Embassy, and tickets to Vocolot from Temple Beth Sholom. Councilmember Jim Prola reported income from a rental property in Hayward and Councilmember Joyce Starosciak reported income from her computer business, Starotech. According to the statement, Starotech's clients include the Boy Scouts and Marina Mechanical, the CEO of which, Jim Hussey, has contributed to her campaigns.

The complete disclosures are for the San Leandro City Council for 2009 are available by clicking on the following links:

None of the City officials had anything to report except for City Attorney Jayne Williams, who reported income and stock from Meyers Nave, her law firm. The complete disclosures are available by clicking on the links below:

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April 5, 2010

Council Deadlocks on Ranked Choice Voting Ordinance

The San Leandro City Council failed to pass a ranked choice voting (RCV, also known as instant runoff) ordinance when Councilmember Diana Souza switched her vote at the April 5, 2010, City Council meeting. If the vote stands, San Leandro may end up paying the additional costs of RCV while holding a traditional election and runoff in November 2010. The RCV ordinance is the last step needed to use RCV for the November election. At the January 19, 2010, City Council meeting, Souza had voted with the majority to approve the RCV cost sharing memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Alameda County and the cities of Oakland and Berkeley and to move the election to November. Souza joined Councilmember Bill Stephens and Joyce Starosciak in voting against the ordinance.

After first asking whether there was a presentation on the ranked choice voting ordinance, Souza said, "I'd like to know….I've talked to a lot of people since my vote and I've had more people ask me why did I vote that way rather than thank you for voting that way, so I want to understand the ramifications of what's being presented to us right now."

City Clerk Marian Handa explained that the City Council had already taken action to change the date of the election and signed an MOU for cost sharing with Alameda County and the cities of Oakland and Alameda.

Councilmember Ursula Reed asked why the item had been continued from the March 15 meeting, when she was in Washington, DC. Starosciak explained that she felt that the entire council should have "an opportunity to share the discussion so I made the motion to continue..."

After the vote, Mayor Tony Santos declared that he would "set aside" the vote by exercising a provision of the city charter that permits the Mayor to essentially ignore the vote and to vote again on the same item at the next meeting.

Section 305(h) of the City Charter, which covers the powers and duties of the Mayor, states that the Mayor shall "possess the authority to suspend implementation of any action taken by the Council by filing with the City Clerk, within three days after such Council action, a notice of suspension thereof. Such suspension shall constitute a motion for reconsideration of the action taken, to be voted upon by the Council at its next regular meeting;"

The next regular meeting of the San Leandro City Council is April 19, 2010.

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City Council Takes on Ranked Choice Voting Ordinance Tonight

The San Leandro City Council will vote on an ordinance to implement ranked choice voting (RCV, also known as instant runoff) at its meeting tonight, Monday, April 5, 2010. The item was continued from the March 15, 2010, meeting, when it was pulled from the consent calendar by Councilmember Joyce Starosciak. At that meeting, three of the City Council members were absent, including supporters whose votes would be needed to approve the ordinance. A previous vote on RCV passed with Starosciak and Councilmember Bill Stephens voting no.

Other items on the agenda include an update on the draft Fiscal Impact Assessment for the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center and an update to the City's Housing Element.

The San Leandro City Council meets in the City Council Chambers at 835 E. 14th Street at 7pm on Monday, April 5, 2010.

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