May 7, 2014

Benny Lee Elected First Asian American Vice Mayor of San Leandro

Benny Lee
Councilmember Benny Lee
San Leandro District 4 Councilmember Benny Lee was elected San Leandro's first Asian American Vice Mayor at the May 5, 2014, meeting of the San Leandro City Council.

According to the City Charter, "In the absence of the Mayor, the Vice Mayor shall possess and perform the powers and duties of the Mayor." This typically means representing the City and chairing meetings of the City Council in the Mayor's absence.

When it came time for the agenda item on selection of a Vice Mayor, Councilmember Souza stated, "I'd like to say that I've been disappointed these past three years that there has been no support or recognition for anyone to make a motion and support a Vice Mayor that recognizes and embraces the diversity of this council. I'd like to nominate Benny Lee for Vice Mayor...and this will recognize and embrace the diversity of our council and the city. And I'm going to quote the Mayor from just a couple of minutes ago and say, 'Think this through carefully.'"

After Mayor Stephen Cassidy noted that a current councilmember (Reed, an African American) had served as Vice Mayor and called Souza's reason a false argument, Lee was elected as Vice Mayor by a vote of 4 to 3, with Councilmembers Michael Gregory, Lee, Ursula Reed, and Souza voting for Lee.

In the past 10 years, five of the Vice Mayors have been African American.

In 2012 and 2013, Souza tried to be elected Vice Mayor, but failed on 4-3 votes each time.

During the 2013 Vice Mayor selection, Souza said, "I am very disappointed that I did not have the support of my colleagues for the opportunity to serve as Vice Mayor, but I am also okay with it for I know that in order to win that appointment I would have had to compromise my values and integrity got me elected and some would say that is just politics" when she was not elected as Vice Mayor by her colleagues.

Lee will serve as Vice Mayor until June 2015.

Below is a recent history of San Leandro's Vice Mayors:

  • 2004 - Orval "OB" Badger (District 1)
  • 2005 - Orval "OB" Badger (District 1)
  • 2006 - Surlene Grant (District 2)
  • 2007 - Surlene Grant (District 2)
  • 2008 - Bill Stephens (District 5)
  • 2009 - Joyce Starosciak (District 4)
  • 2010 - Ursula Reed (District 2)
  • 2011 - Michael Gregory (District 1)
  • 2012 - Michael Gregory (District 1)
  • 2013 - Jim Prola (District 6)
  • 2014 - Benny Lee (District 4)
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June 24, 2013

San Leandro Police Lobbied on City Time Using City Resources

On June 18, 2012, the agenda for the San Leandro City Council included an item on whether to prepare an ordinance prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries in San Leandro. The staff report included this statement, “The San Leandro Police Department supports all efforts to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, cooperatives, collectives, cultivation, and grow facilities.”

In addition to the San Leandro Police Department's opposition to medical marijuana as stated in the staff report, the San Leandro Police emailed members of the community who were likely opposed to medical marijuana dispensaries and encouraged them to attend the meeting.

The day before the meeting, San Leandro Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli, using her work email, wrote to San Leandro Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Cathey. Spagnoli wrote, "One of the points will be access to children and the problem we currently have with marijuana use in sl teens. I wanted to give you a heads up on this if you are interested in speaking to this issue since I know sled is working on initiatives and programs to protect children ."

At 9:57am on the day of the meeting, San Leandro Police Officer Kerri Kovach sent a draft of the email to San Leandro Police Lieutenant Jeff Tudor. Tudor responded with “Kerri proof read and thanks” at 11:22am. At 3:12pm, Kovach sent out an email that included the following: “One of the points will be access to children and the problem we currently have with marijuana use in San Leandro teens. The other point is the danger these businesses have on public safety. For example, a few months ago a San Leandro officer was shot at seven times at close range by a drug dealer protecting his marijuana grow.”

Kovach sent that email to more than 40 people.

At 4:12pm on the day of the meeting, San Leandro Police Chief Spagnoli sent an email to Captain Edward Tracey, Captain Stephen Pricco, and Lieutenant Luis Torres that included the question, “Ed- Can you see if anyone is attending to support the ban.”

Claudia McHenry and Cindy Cathey, two of the people emailed by San Leandro Police, attended the meeting and spoke in favor of a ban on marijuana dispensaries.

A motion by Councilmember Jim Prola to take no action until the California Supreme Court issued a decision on whether cities could ban medical marijuana dispensaries failed with only Prola and Councilmember Michael Gregory voting for the motion. A subsequent motion by Councilmember Joyce Starosciak for an ordinance banning dispensaries failed with Starosciak, Councilmember Diana Souza, and Councilmember Pauline Cutter voting for the motion. Finally, the City Council approved a motion 6-1 by Cutter for an ordinance banning dispensaries that would sunset on June 30, 2013. Prola voted against the motion. Although this was a ban on dispensaries, it was more limited than the permanent ban sought by the San Leandro Police.

The San Leandro Municipal Code, in Title 1, Chapter 4, Article 315, states, “No officer or employee of the City shall engage in political activities during such person’s working hours, nor upon City-owned or operated property at any time.”

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May 6, 2013

Former San Leandro Police Captain Pete Ballew Appointed to Personnel Relations Board

At tonight's meeting of the San Leandro City Council, former San Leandro Police Captain Pete Ballew was appointed to the Personnel Relations Board.

Ballew, who retired in 2012 after 28 years, was nominated by San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy. Ballew has lived in San Leandro all his life. In addition to coaching sports at San Leandro High School, he served as President of the San Leandro Kiwanis Club, on the San Leandro Scholarship Foundation Board of Trustees, and the San Leandro Boys and Girls Club Board of Directors. Ballew is also on the adjunct faculty at Chabot College in the Administration of Justice Program and was a consultant for California's Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training

Ballew has expressed interest in running for the District 6 San Leandro City Council seat when current Councilmember Jim Prola is termed out in 2016.

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April 23, 2013

Union Pacific Wants to Take San Leandro on $80K Ride

Union Pacific is offering to release and indemnify the City of San Leandro if it pays $80,000 for cleanup costs of lead contamination at the former Stege Pistol Range in Richmond, California.

In a letter dated March 25, 2013, an attorney for Union Pacific writes, “The total of all sums that UP [Union Pacific] is requesting from all the agencies that used the range is far less than the amount UP will spend. In return for the payment of $80,000, UP will release and indemnify the Agency [San Leandro Police Department] from claims related to the contamination at the Property [Stege Pistol Range]...As UP is offering this settlement amount in an effort to reach a prompt resolution and to avoid incurring attorneys' fees, we ask that you respond with a signed agreement by May 9, 2013.” The letter also included a Public Records Act request related to the pistol range.

Union Pacific's request to pay $80,000 in exchange for indemnity is based on a January 1995 agreement between Southern Pacific Transportation Company and the San Leandro Police Department for use of “the police training facility and pistol range...” However the 1995 agreement is signed only by Janie L. Moeller of Southern Pacific and not by anybody from the San Leandro Police Department or the City of San Leandro.

When San Leandro Bytes contacted the attorney representing Union Pacific, Aaron Hunt, Union Pacific's Director of Corporate Relations and Media provided this statement in response to a request for a copy of the 1995 agreement: “Over many years, law enforcement and other security agencies used the shooting range. Union Pacific has asked the city of San Leandro to pay a small portion of the remediation costs that Union Pacific will incur.”

On April 12, 2013, the City of San Leandro responded to Greenberg Glusker's Public Records Act request for records of San Leandro's use of the Stege Pistol Range. The response stated, “There are no City records responsive to your request.”

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April 14, 2013

San Leandro City Council Looks to Suspend Utility Tax Rebate Progam

At a work session on balancing the budget on April 8, 2013, the San Leandro City Council indicated its desire to suspend San Leandro's utility tax rebate program for two years.

The City of San Leandro charges a tax of 5.7% on telephone services, including cell phone service, and cable television service and 6% on electricity and natural gas. Most nearby cities charge a utility tax and San Leandro's is lower than most. Alameda, Berkeley and Oakland charge 7.5%, Alameda County charges 6.5% and Hayward charges 5.5%.

The City of San Leandro's rebate program, however, appears to be unique, among nearby cities. According to the City of San Leandro web site, the City of San Leandro “rebates 50 percent of all utility tax dollars spent in excess of $25,000.”

In 2012, the City of San Leandro paid rebates totaling $360,440 to six companies:

  • Georgia-Pacific, $135,888
  • Ghirardelli, $61,452
  • Safeway, $58,888
  • Coca Cola, $48,590
  • Kraft, $43,269
  • Otis Spunkmeyer, $12,353

Suspension of the utility tax rebate program is intended to help reduce San Leandro's budget deficit, estimated at $2 million for fiscal year 2013-14 and $4 million in 2014-15.

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April 1, 2013

2013 State of the City Speech

On March 28, 2013, San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy gave his third State of the City speech at the Senior Community Center. During the speech, Cassidy highlighted accomplishments and how they fit into the City Council's goals. These were followed by discussion of three challenges: public safety, infrastructure, mainly the roads, and the budget's structural deficit. The complete video of the speech can be seen below.

The complete text of the speech is shown after the break.

TRANSFORMING SAN LEANDRO INTO A CENTER OF INNOVATION

In my 2011 State of the City Address we focused on challenges and positioning San Leandro for recovery and prosperity. Last year’s Address was geared toward shaping San Leandro’s economic future. Tonight, I’m pleased to talk about that future and the transformation that is occurring in San Leandro.

Innovation is change that results in enhanced performance. With the help of many partners we are transforming San Leandro into a center of innovation.

We are a city that still has challenges but we are also a city that is in the midst of major change - change that bodes well for the future of our community, change that will help our residents and businesses thrive and prosper in the years to come.

Before I discuss these changes, challenges and opportunities, I’d like to express my gratitude to my fellow Council members.

We work well together, jointly developing goals for the City, establishing policies and approving the budget. We represent San Leandro in county, regional, and national public agencies and organizations

I am proud of the spirit of cooperation and unity of purpose among the Council members. We are all focused on doing what is in the best interests of our city.

I would also like to express my gratitude to our partners in public service at the county, regional, state and federal levels of governments.

In 2013, San Leandrans are extremely fortunate to be represented by one of the best groups of elected officials we have ever had. They each possess strong leadership qualities and commitment to the public good.

Without excluding any of our elected representatives, I wish to recognize several of them, starting with our County Supervisor Wilma Chan and Carole Rogers, Dr. William West and the other members of the Eden Township Healthcare District board, for their determination and unrelenting efforts to maintain emergency and acute care services at San Leandro Hospital.

I thank our East Bay Municipal Utility District Director, Frank Mellon, for working with City staff and residents to ensure the planned partial renovation of Chabot Dam is undertaken efficiently and with the least community impacts as possible.

I thank Doug Siden and the other East Bay Parks Directors for the funds under Measure WW which we have used to restore and upgrade the parks and open space at the Marina Shoreline, and for the ongoing work of the East Bay Parks in transforming Oyster Point into San Leandro’s newest park and open space.

I thank our BART Directors Rebecca Saltzman and Robert Raburn, and former BART Director Bob Franklin, for recognizing that the maintenance and renovation of existing BART stations, including San Leandro and Bayfair stations, is just as important to BART riders as expansion of the BART system to new communities. I also thank our BART directors for partnering with the City to improve the neighborhoods and community surrounding our BART stations.

I thank Alameda County Transit Directors Mark Williams and Elsa Ortiz for engaging and listening to San Leandrans in shaping the Bus Rapid Transit or BRT plan which will increase the speed at which bus riders travel from and to the downtowns in San Leandro and Oakland along East 14th and International Boulevards.

I thank our former Mayor and State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, joined now by Senator Loni Hancock and Assemblymember Rob Bonta, for advancing the interests of San Leandrans in Sacramento. I am a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of Mayors nationwide demanding stricter gun regulations. Senators Cobett and Hancok and Assembly member Bonta are also focused on reducing gun violence in Alameda County and statewide. I thank them for their leadership on this issue.

In 2013, due to redistricting, San Leandro became part of the 13th Congressional District, represented by Barbara Lee. We are fortunate to now be represented by one of the most passionate, wise and effective members of Congress.

Even before becoming our representative, last summer, Representative Lee assisted us in our successful application for a $2.1 million grant from the Economic Development Agency, an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, to expand Lit San Leandro, our high speed fiber optic network. Congresswoman Lee is also working to reduce gun violence in Alameda County, and we support her efforts.

The City Council knows that our success depends upon the hard work and talent of the approximately 415 city employees working every day to make San Leandro a special place, from our police officers, to our librarians, recreation and parks and public works staff. Our finance, community development, and human resource personnel work diligently behind the scenes so that services are delivered efficiently and seamlessly.

While it only been a little over a year since he moved to San Leandro, City Manager Chris Zapata has firmly taken charge of our organization, building an outstanding leadership team committed to offering superior service to the community. Much of the successes for our City that I cite tonight in my speech can be attributed to his leadership and that of our Assistant City Manager Lianne Marshall and our Department Directors and Managers.

Please join me in thanking all of our City’s talented and committed public servants. I’d like all city employees in attendance to rise and let’s give them a round of applause.

Our Chamber of Commerce is a key partner in helping us grow local companies and promoting business and community wellness. I thank the companies that partnered with the Chamber of Commerce in co-sponsoring tonight’s event, including OSIsoft, Wells Fargo Bank and Kaiser Permanente.

At this time I’d like all of the members of our business community to stand, be recognized and receive a round of applause.

Our schools have been making great improvements in their infrastructure and coming out of a five year period of repeated cuts to their operating budgets due to the state budget crisis.

San Leandrans know that when our schools succeed, our City succeeds. The City values its great partnership with both the San Leandro and San Lorenzo school districts.

I wish to acknowledge that Cindy Cathey, the Superintendent of the San Leandro Unified School District, who is here tonight. She has led the district for the past 3 ½ years, and been an educator for 36 years. She has dedicated her adult life to the education and development of the children of San Leandro and will be retiring this Summer.

Will Superintendent Cathey, all school board members, teachers, administrators, and members of the boards of the foundations supporting our schools and students please stand. Let’s give all of our school partners a round of applause.

Non-profits and faith based organizations have been challenged with growing need and shrinking resources. San Leandro’s community kindness is truly being tested with many worthy causes. Please support and help me recognize the community contributions of our partners such as Davis Street, Boys and Girls Club, and Building Futures. Will everyone associated with a non-profit or faith-based organization please stand and be recognized.

Our City is fortunate to have true public servants on boards and commissions that give generously of their time and expertise on community issues. These issues are complex, ranging from land use decisions to personnel matters. Will all members of our Board and Commissions please stand and be recognized.

I’d like to thank the residents of San Leandro. Residents that care about our history, residents that care about our services, residents that give of their time and effort to mentor our youth, coach sports teams, lead our boys and girls scout troops, residents that help make San Leandro safer through their participation in neighborhood watch groups and by serving as the eyes and ears of our police department in reporting suspicious activity and criminal conduct.

You are the reason government exists and your active involvement in schools, churches, non-profits, and government to name a few are what makes San Leandro a special place to live, work and play. On behalf of our organization and City Council – I want to thank you for your support.

And I would like to thank my wife Amy Cassidy. Together we are raising two beautiful children. She is the love of my life and my soul mate.

What are the positive changes that are occurring in our community?

Let me speak of this in the context of the City Council’s six goals.

Our first goal is to place the City on a firm foundation for long-term fiscal sustainability.

For the past two years, we have adopted balanced budgets in a time of unprecedented challenges for cities due to the state’s elimination of redevelopment agencies.

Last year, taking advantage of historically low interest rates, we refinanced a debt owed to CalPERS for the pensions of our public safety officers. The refinancing was a straight reduction in the interest rate due on the debt – we did not extend the term of the debt or take on any new debt. The refinancing generated approximately $300,000 in savings in the first year and approximately $147,000 for our general fund over the next 12 years.

Earlier this year, we did the same with other City debt. We reduced the City’s interest payments by $1.8 million over the next 15 years.

We also worked diligently over the past year to bring to an end through reasonable settlements two long-standing, major controversies that had the potential for exposing the City to damages claims each in excess of $20 million.

For the first time in the City’s history, we will be adopting a two-year budget this June, for the fiscal years 2013 to 2015. Moving to a biennial budget is an important step that in achieving long-term fiscal stability. It’s a procedural mechanism that can have significant and positive impact in ensuring we operate in fiscally prudent manner by adopting budgets that are balanced for two years.

In last year’s State of the City address, I noted that while the local economy was recovering and City revenues were increasing, even under the most optimistic projections, the rate at which our revenues were increasing was less than the rate at which the retirement costs for City employees was increasing. To restore our City to long term fiscal stability, as well as to provide retirement security for all City employees, I stated that we needed to make our pension system sustainable.

We have made substantial progress in this area. Our new, three year contract with The San Leandro Police Officers Association provides budget savings to the City in the first two years, with a slight cost increase by the end of the third year.

Importantly, police officers will start paying the employee share of the City’s annual pension obligations to CalPERS at 3 percent of their salary in 2013, increasing by 3 percent each year thereafter until reaching 9 percent of salary in 2015. The contact also calls for police officers to share 50/50 with the city for expected increases in health care costs.

I commend the San Leandro Police Officers Association for working diligently with the City to produce a new agreement that recognizes our shared goals of public safety and fiscal responsibility.

San Leandrans are rightly proud of having one of the finest police departments in California. We deeply appreciate the service and dedication of our police officers to the safety of our City.

Our second goal is sustainable economic development with a focus on San Leandro becoming a leader in the Bay Area innovation economy.

Let me you show you a video City staff produced that highlights our major economic initiative over the past two years, Lit San Leandro, which is partnership between the City and Dr. Patrick Kennedy of OSI Soft to bring the highest speed broadband to San Leandro businesses.

[Video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SnQI7cQ0UY plays]

As I noted earlier, last summer, after months of hard work by City staff, support from Representative Lee and lobbying efforts by myself and the City Council, we succeeded in obtaining a $2.1 million grant from Economic Development Administration for the expansion of Lit San Leandro.

The grant will facilitate the construction of 7.5 miles of new conduit, bringing the Lit San Leandro network to a total of over 18 miles.

Further validation of the importance of Lit San Leandro to City’s economic future was provided by Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski who visited San Leandro in February.

At the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington, D.C. in January, I invited Chairman Genachowski to visit San Leandro and see first hand Lit San Leandro in operation.

During his visit, Chairman Genachoski praised San Leandro for becoming a “gigabit city” stating that we “join a small but important number of communities” that understand the critical importance of high-speed broadband to our economy, and that the public-private partnership of Lit San Leandro can be “a model for the country.”

One of the sites we intend on connecting to Lit San Leandro is the San Leandro Zero Net Energy Training Center, which will have its opening dedication ceremony on May 30, 2013.

The Zero Net Energy Training Center is an example of how the future is being created today in San Leandro.

The 46,000 square feet building will consume only as much energy as it creates over a 12-month period, achieving 17 years before California's requirement that by 2030 all new commercial buildings in the state will be Zero Net Energy efficient.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 595 and the Northern California Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association commissioned the first-of-its-kind facility in the world to train the next generation of electricians for careers in clean energy.

Our planning department worked closely with the architects and contractors during the construction project. I’m proud to report that Byron Benton, the Executive Director of the Center, expressed to me his deep appreciation to the City and our building permitting staff for “jumping through hoops” to assist in moving the project to completion.

Sustainable economic development also includes a commitment to energy conservation, use of recycled materials, and reducing greenhouse emissions and pollution. The City’s recent ban on polystyrene foam containers by restaurants and our participation in the County wide ban on plastic bags at supermarkets and grocery stores are important steps in safeguarding our environment.

Our third goal is providing quality public safety services and working with the community in keeping San Leandro safe.

Our police department in the past year has implemented several new programs aimed at improving its efficiency. Through the greater use of statistics and analysis of crime patterns, Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli is deploying police officers with more precise greater focus on likely areas of crime than ever before.

We recognize that keeping San Leandro safe requires a sustained commitment to community outreach. Through efforts like Coffee with the Cops, the annual Open House, National Night Out, and teen and adult academies, our police are regularly interacting with the community. In doing, the Department is helping educate San Leandrans on crime prevention and public safety, while reinforcing the trust that exists between our police and community.

This trust is vital as keeping San Leandro safe is everyone’s responsibility. We all need to be the eyes and ears of our police reporting. By reporting suspicious activity as it occurs we enable our police to catch criminals and create the reputation among the criminal element in the Bay Area that San Leandro is a city to avoid.

Our fourth goal is maintaining and enhancing the city infrastructure.

We were pleased to open our new Downtown Parking Garage last November. Located on Estudillo Avenue close to East 14th Street, the garage contains 384 parking spaces, a capacity increase of about 50 percent over the facility it replaces.

The garage will play a critical role in enhancing our downtown by offering convenient parking for employees and customers of our downtown businesses. A centralized parking facility also facilitates higher density development in the downtown, consistent with the City’s transit oriented development strategy.

Adding the physical improvement of downtown San Leandro, and after outreach by myself and former Council member Joyce Starosciak with the Bay Area regional director of Cal Trans, the agency spent $1 million repaving the downtown area of East 14th Street, which is under the jurisdiction of Cal Trans.

We continue to work on the largest infrastructure project in our history – the $50 million dollar wastewater treatment plant expansion. This investment allows San Leandro to meet essential needs and ever increasing regulations as part of our role in safeguarding the water quality of the San Francisco Bay.

We linked Lit San Leandro to our main and Manor Branch libraries. Overnight that resulted in San Leandrans enjoying public libraries with the fastest wireless internet connections in California.

Finally, we are reconstructing the group picnic areas and replacing the irrigation system within Marina Park. This is part of a $2.5 million modernization of the park and the adjacent Par Course and Exercise Area which was completed in 2011.

Our fifth goal is supporting programs and activities that enhance the quality of life in San Leandro and promote civic pride.

Last year we created a family swim pass for our pools. The pass was designed to encourage greater use of the pools by establishing a set fee for a family to swim for the summer. Parents could achieve significant savings compared to paying for each visit for each adult and child. Over 50 families purchased a swim pass last year and we hope to triple this number in 2013.

I’m pleased to announce that due to the generous donation of an anonymous donor, Farrelly Pool will be open on the weekends this Summer for recreational swimming.

Our Recreation and Parks Department does a tremendous job in providing a wide range of services to the community. In 2012, tens of thousands of Seniors attended our classes, event and social activities. Our Senior Paratransit provided nearly 17,000 rides for Seniors. The Department’s programs, classes and events for youth have over 40,000 participants each year.

We were pleased to restore the funding for the Martin Luther King Day celebration. I thank Council member Ursula Reed for helping organize a speech contest for our youth as part of the MLK celebration.

Our main library is one of the jewels of San Leadro. It received nearly 700,000 visits in 2012. Our Manor Branch library had another 135,000 visits.

For the 3rd consecutive year, our library received a Big Read grant from the National Endowment of the Arts and Arts Midwest. The funds are used to promote literacy and underwrite an amazing series of performances and lectures.

The books selected by library staff as part of the Big Read program have helped our community learn more about the history and culture of our diverse population.

Only 75 libraries nationwide receive the grant each year. Obtaining this grant for an unprecedented three consecutive years is a testament to outstanding creativity and intelligence of our library staff.

In 2012, the library established an electronic and downloadable book collection.

Finally, the library plays an essential role throughout the year in enhancing the quality of life in San Leandro and celebrating our diversity. The library hosted 329 cultural and educational programs for our community which had a combined attendance of over 27,000 adults and children.

Our Sixth Goal is maintaining and building upon the strong relationship with our schools.

We accomplished much over the past year in supporting our schools. In a win-win for students and City, we are loaning the San Leandro school district $1.2 million to purchase the Girls Inc. building on East 14th Street near San Leandro High School for use as a wellness and counseling center to address the physical and mental health needs of students.

The school district, with the support and assistance of Supervisor Chan, applied for and received a substantial federal grant to create a health clinic. Under the agreement, the City will receive interest payments from the school district at a rate greater than what the City is earning on our reserve funds, but the rate is still very favorable to the school district.

In addition, the City is also providing support this year for a gang prevention counselor as well as maintaining our ongoing commitment to provide police officers, referred to as School Resource Offices, to the district.

We are also delighted to have installed at the beginning of the school year a new traffic signal next to the Fred Korematsu 9th Grade Campus for the safety of students crossing the street.

Now what are our main challenges?

The first challenge is public safety.

Since January, we have experienced a sharp increase in burglaries which has residents and patrol officers on high alert. I’ve spoken to other Mayors in the County about this issue. It is not unique to San Leandro.

After reaching records lows, crime has increased in California over the past two years. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed recently stated, “Residential burglaries and other property claims have been on the rise in San Jose and around the state.” He added, “These increases may be tied to the State’s prison realignment plans which allow qualified inmates to be released early.”

In response to the increase in burglaries, our police have ramped up their efforts in community outreach and proactive enforcement. Police have been walking neighborhoods and setting up information booths at shopping centers to educate the community on safety and crime prevention. Over the last several months, the police department has received an increase in calls from the community reporting suspicious behavior, many of which have resulted in arrests for crimes that occurred in San Leandro neighborhoods.

Chief Spagnoli has shifted staffing to have a single point of contact for Community Outreach/Community Relations, and expanded the department’s social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and via text messaging. In the next few months, Chief Spagnoli will roll out a new initiative designed to engage and educate the community on safety and crime prevention at an even greater level.

The Police Department is also in the process of transitioning from the traditional model of policing based on dividing the city into established beats, or broad districts, for patrol to a more fluid approach. Under the new approach, specific areas of San Leandro receive greater police resources based on statistical models that analyze and predict likely criminal activity down to the day of the week, time of day, and location based on past crimes.

All of these efforts are intended to create a safer city. We are committed to providing exceptional public safety services. Our police are truly committed to enhancing and creating new community partnerships. They recognize the critical importance of staying connected to the community, which enables all of us to live and work in a safe city.

Our second challenge is the condition of our roads.

Each year the city spends approximately $2 million on street sealing and road rehabilitation. The map in the slide shows the work that will occur this year in San Leandro.

Unfortunately, allocating about $2 million a year for our roads is only about one third the amount needed just to maintain our streets in their present condition

The condition of roads in the Bay Area is measured by an index called the pavement condition index or PCI. San Leandro’s PCI is 54, down from a high of 64 in 2004. At a 54 PCI our streets are at risk of accelerated deterioration if action is not undertaken.

We have been on a downward trajectory over the past decade as the City cut funding for road repair due to repeated budget shortfalls.

And just as prevention is less expensive than surgery, steady maintenance is cheaper than complete road reconstruction.

There was a solution. It was called Measure B1 which would have increased the sales tax in Alameda County and provided tens of millions of dollars to San Leandro for road maintenance and repair. The measure needed 2/3 support to pass and lost by one tenth of a percentage last November.

So what do we do now? The only solution I see is placing a local revenue measure on the ballot next year. Over the course of the next year the Council will engage the community in a conversation as to whether we wish to raise the local sales tax or pass a bond measure to address the condition of our roads.

In the meantime, we are undertaking a significant roads project I would like to highlight. City staff over the past few years cobbled together funds from various grants and County sources to undertake a $6.6 million redesign of San Leandro Boulevard near the BART station and rehabilitation of the roadway. The redesign will beautify the boulevard, make it more pedestrian friendly, and better connect the BART station to downtown San Leandro.

Our third significant challenge is our budget, and specifically the city’s structural deficit.

For the past two years, we have had a balanced budget. We had a surplus in 2011 and in 2012 our revenues matched our expenses. We would have had a surplus this fiscal year except for our transfer of $600,000 in one-time only revenues to our reserves funds. This was the first increase our reserves since prior to the Great Recession. As I noted earlier, we also were proactive and generated ongoing savings by refinancing debt owed by the City.

However the City has a structural deficit. Even though our workforce remains at about 415 employees, and employees have not received salary increases for several years, the total compensation our employees receive, and cost to the General Fund, continues to rise due to increasing benefit costs, namely rising healthcare expenses and greater contributions owed to CalPERS for employee pensions.

We are looking at a $2 million deficit for fiscal year 2013-2014 and a $4 million deficit for 2014-2015. This is a prime example of the benefit of biennial budget. It prevents us from wearing rose-colored glasses and failing to address revenue shortfalls beyond the next 12 months.

We are committed to adopting a balanced budget for the next two fiscal years. To do so will require continued sacrifices by our employee groups. Again, I thank our police officers for stepping forward and working with us to craft a contract that produces savings in the next two years.

Rising employee benefit costs are not the only reason for the projected deficit. Our expenditures are also rising is due to the ending of a grant from the Federal Government for the funding of 5 police officer positions. We will continue to keep these police officers. The expense though must now be shouldered by our General Fund, costing us $450,000 next fiscal year and $900,000 in fiscal year 2014-2015.

Another cost that is new to our budget is recognition of the unfunded liability for the healthcare of fire fighters when they retire. The city contracts with the Alameda County Fire Department for fire and emergency medical services. We have done so since the mid 1990’s. Joining the County Fire Department was a way to achieve budget savings without a drop off in service. Each year the County Fire Department provides us a contract for assigning 63 firefighters, plus administrative support and other services.

Until this year, however, the County Fire Department did not account for the cost of providing full, lifetime health care to firefighters, their spouses and any dependents, as part of its contract with the City.

The unfunded liability owed by San Leandro for firefighter retiree healthcare stands today at $18.5 million. We must now account for this cost in our budget and start making payments to reduce the liability or it will grow rapidly. We are looking at spending $1 million annually to address this liability.

Remember, the firefighters are not city employees. We contract with the County Fire Department for services. The city also has an unfunded liability for the retiree health care of city employees. However, this amount has been accounted for in our budget. Moreover, new city employees do not and have not for years, been entitled to full, lifetime medical care paid for by the City. We cap the payments for retiree medical care for city employees.

The contract with the County Fire Department constitutes 25% of our General Fund, and is expanding. We can not staff our police department at current levels and continue to fund our library and recreation departments at current levels if one significant component of the City’s General Fund expands at a greater rate than our revenues are expanding.

We value the work of the County firefighters and greatly respect their professionalism and dedication to the safety and welfare of San Leandrans. But the fiscal reality is we must all do more with less. Just our police officers addressed their pension costs, I ask the County firefighters to work with the County and City in addressing the full costs of the healthcare benefits they receive.

Now, let’s shift to the opportunities for San Leandro.

Before I speak of the excitement that is literally building in San Leandro, I would again like to thank the businesses that are already here. They are the foundation for the future and we share a desire to retain and grow our local business.

New developments are transforming San Leandro into a community that has world class health care and a long awaited revival of our shoreline on beautiful San Francisco Bay. In addition, our BART stations provide a competitive edge to our partners at the BayFair Mall as they remake and renovate this key property.

The Kaiser Hospital project represents the next generation of health care for the region. These services are essential to meet the health and welfare of thousands of San Leandro families. Kaiser Hospital also increases the number of employees in our City by 2,400 positions. These jobs represent not just a number but people who will spend time, money and add their individual talents to our community.

In the next two weeks after many years of planning and community engagement, the City Council will kick off the environmental review process for the Shoreline Development. This long awaited step sets the stage for a long awaited dream of further activating the Marina area. I thank Ed Miller of Cal Coast, the developer for the project, for his persistence and work to create new restaurants and a hotel and conference center that San Leandrans and visitors will patronize and enjoy.

We are excited about the commitment of Macy’s to Bayfair Mall. Anchor tenants are increasingly important to regional malls and Madison and Marquette’s effort to secure a national brand like Macy’s is appreciated. Our hope is that the work to renovate the Macy’s store will be done in time for the holiday shopping season in 2014.

Property values are rising in San Leandro. In 2012-2013, San Leandro had the third highest rate of growth in assessed value in Alameda County.

San Leandro has innovation in its DNA.

Soon after our City was founded, a family-owned business based on Davis Street helped revolutionize agriculture and earth-moving in America. Daniel Best created steam, diesel and gas-powdered tractors that replaced horse power and transformed many industries.

Today, a pioneer of the digital age, Dr. Patrick Kennedy, whose company OSIsoft is located on Davis Street at the same location as the Best family tractor factory, is helping us transform San Leandro into a center for innovation, technology and advanced manufacturing.

Fiber optics networks are the essential infrastructure of the 21st century, and we are providing San Leandro businesses a significant competitive advantage to grow and become industry leaders. For example, one business in San Leandro that regularly must download huge amounts of data as part of its operations recently connected to Lit San Leandro. What took 30 minutes to download, now takes less than 15 seconds.

Investment and development follow infrastructure. In the 18th century it was seaports, in the 19th century it was railroads, in the 20th century it was highways and airports. Today, it is ultra-high speed broadband connectivity.

If you build it they will come, and San Leandro has it all - highways, nearby seaports and airports, rail and public transportation, and now the fastest broadband in the U.S.

The possibilities for San Leandro are unlimited and of world class. World class because of our location, transportation infrastructure, beautiful natural setting and weather. World class because of our educated workforce, dynamic projects, a global corporate presence and shared vision among our political, business and civic leaders in the importance of innovation.

The future is being created today in San Leandro. We are in the beginning stages of transforming San Leandro into a center of innovation. Thank you for coming tonight and thank you for helping make San Leandro such a special and unique place to live, work and play.

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March 18, 2013

San Leandro Police to Pay Their Retirement Contribution in New Contract

The San Leandro City Council unanimously approved a new Memorandum of Understanding with the San Leandro Police Officers Association at its March 18, 2013, meeting. Beginning in 2015, San Leandro Police will pay the entire portion of their retirement contribution, which had been paid in full by the City of San Leandro. The increase in PERS contribution rises gradually from three percent (3%) in April 2013 to six percent (6%) in January 2014, and nine percent (9%) in January 2015. This brings San Leandro into line with other cities in Alameda County, where most public safety employees have paid their entire CalPERS contribution for years.

In order for the City to get that concession, police employees will receive raises of four percent (4%) in 2014 and three percent (3%) in 2015 and a sixth salary step (with a 5% bump in salary). The annual uniform allowance increases from $1,050 in the previous MOU to $1,300 in the new MOU. Police continuously employed by the City of San Leandro for 20 and 25 years will receive four percent (4%) and five percent (5%) of their base pay, an increase of one percent (1%) from the previous MOU. Police employees will also be permitted to sell up to 80 hours of vacation per year.

According to the City Staff report, the new MOU saves $153,924 in 2013 and $102,939 in 2014, but will cost an additional $304,519 in 2015. Over the three-year term of the contract, the additional cost is estimated at $47,655.

The stage for the police MOU (and likely the forthcoming non-public safety contract) was set with the November 2012 approval of five-year contracts with San Leandro Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli and Assistant City Manager Lianne Marshall. Those contracts also gradually increased the employee PERS contribution paid by the employee over the term of the contract. Similarly, when San Leandro City Manager Chris Zapata was hired in 2012, his contract also required that he pay the full amount of the employee retirement contribution.

In 2011, the employee portion of the CalPERS contribution paid by the City of San Leandro totaled $2.47 million.

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February 25, 2013

Councilmember Reed Seeks New Members for Library-Historical Commission and BZA

San Leandro District 2 Councilmember Ursula Reed announced at the February 19, 2013, San Leandro City Council meeting that she is looking to fill vacancies on the Library-Historical Commission and the Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA).

The new BZA member will replace Thomas Makin, who served since June 2009. The new Library-Historical commissioner will replace Gloria Calegari, who was appointed in April 2009.

Each board and commission meets once a month, although they usually meet less. For example, the Board of Zoning Adjustments didn't meet for the last four months of 2012 and the January 2013 meeting was cancelled.

Applicants must be registered to vote and live in San Leandro in District 2 (see the City Council district map to find out which district you live in). The members of the City Council submit nominations which need approval by the entire City Council.

For more information about each of the commissions and boards, download the application at http://www.sanleandro.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=3759

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February 24, 2013

Meyers Nave to Continue as San Leandro's City Attorney

meyersnave2010_logo.gif
Meyers Nave, San Leandro's City Attorney, will continue its role after it received a vote of confidence from the San Leandro City Council at its meeting on February 19, 2013. This appears to come before completion of the City Attorney's performance evaluation, which is on the Council's closed session agenda for Monday, February 25.

The decision comes on the heels of a report analyzing options for legal services by Municipal Resource Group (MRG) that was part of the first performance evaluation of the City Attorney in nearly 10 years. The report compared legal costs in San Leandro to those in Pittsburg, Union City, Alameda, Hayward, Livermore, Pleasanton, and Richmond, which were characterized as “labor comparable cities.”

Costs in San Leandro for general legal services and cost of legal services per capita were generally in the middle or slightly below average compared to the other cities. However, the cost comparisons specifically excluded litigation costs, which have been significant in recent years with legal cases involving Faith Fellowship, lawsuits by female employees of the police department, and the former Lucky site on East 14th Street. Without comparing litigation costs, the MRG report could not and did not include any analysis of whether contract legal services result in higher litigation costs compared to in-house attorney services.

The presentation included a summary of historical legal costs, showing an increase from $877,755 in 2002-2003 to an estimated $1,353,600 in 2012-2013. The presentation listed the City Attorney costs for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 at $1,397,649 and $1,030,841, respectively. In August 2011, the City Attorney costs provided by the City and interim Finance Director Jim O'Leary for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 were $1,645,167 and $1,746,388. These totals did not include any costs for legal settlements.

MRG's presentation went on to compare the advantages and disadvantages of contracting out for city attorney services, as it does now, and an in-house attorney. At the conclusion, members of the City Council were presented with three options:

  1. Continue with Meyers Nave, with a recommendation to negotiate the agreement.
  2. Change to an in-house attorney, as the City did prior to 1986.
  3. Issue a request for proposals for city attorney services

Councilmember Ursula Reed supported option 1, saying, “I am really concerned about changing anything dramatically because of the institutional knowledge that Meyers Nave has with the City.” But when asked about the recommendation to re-negotiate the agreement to a market-based fee for service, Reed responded, “I haven't decided that yet.”

Councilmember Diana Souza said, “I support option 1 – staying with Meyers Nave at this point.” Councilmember Benny Lee stated, “I support option 1 and also I like the idea of re-negotiating the contract.” Councilmembers Pauline Cutter, Jim Prola, and Michael Gregory also supported option 1, but with qualified support, saying that they were “leaning” towards or would be willing to go for option 1.

Only Mayor Stephen Cassidy expressed support for either changing to an in-house attorney or putting the contract out for bid. “I think there's a lot of value in having an in-house counsel. There's obviously an additional expense, but you know, as you look at the example of Hayward, it does not necessarily have to be more expensive... I think it's a mistake, if we are going to open up the contract and change it, not to put it out on the market and see what the marketplace value is for legal services and what the different options are. I think through competition – that's how you get value for your dollar and I think it's a mistake for us not to put this contract out for a bid...”

Absent from the public presentation and discussion was any discussion or disclosure about the role of Mike Oliver, a managing consultant at MRG. Meyers Nave served as San Leandro's City Attorney while Oliver was San Leandro's City Manager from 1992 until he was fired in 1996. Former Alameda County Fire Chief Bill McCammon also works for MRG in addition to his work as Executive Director at the East Bay Regional Communications System Authority.

City Manager Chris Zapata was tasked with refining the contract and come back to the City Council with recommendations at a future meeting.

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February 4, 2013

San Leandro Councilmembers Prola and Lee Make Their Commission Nominations

While San Leandro District 6 Councilmember Jim Prola has re-nominated all of his existing commissioners, newly-elected Councilmember Benny Lee has nominated two new commissioners and re-nominated three existing commissioners. Lee has not yet nominated anyone to fill the vacancy on the Senior Commission.

Lee nominated Kai Leung to the Planning Commission. Leung replaces Tom Dlugosh, who vacated his seat on the Planning Commission when he was appointed in September 2012 to fill out the remainder of former Councilmember Joyce Starosciak's term. According to Leung's application, he is retired and was part of the San Leandro delegation to Yangchun, China, in October 2007.

Lee nominated friendly campaign rival Justin Hutchison (his campaign web site said, “Please cast your second choice vote for Benny Lee.”) to the Recreation and Parks Commission, where he replaces Charles “Chuck” Kane, who was appointed in May 2011. According to his application, Hutchison works for Target in Fremont. Hutchison listed his education and qualifications as an A.A. in Administration of Justice, San Lorenzo Little League Board of Directors from 2008-2011 and Washington Manor Junior League baseball coach since 2004.

Lee re-appointed Amada Robles to the Human Services Commission and Arlene Lum to the Library-Historical Commission where both have served since May 2005. Robles frequently provides Spanish translation at City events and Lum was circulating a petition against marijuana dispensaries at a recent town hall meeting. Lum contributed $100 to Lee's 2012 City Council campaign

Lee also re-appointed Catherine Vierra Houston to the Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA), where she has served since September 2009. Houston is a labor union representative for the United Steelworkers.

In District 6, Jim Prola re-appointed Rene Mendieta to BZA, Carmen Fewless to the Human Services Commission, Carole Rinaldi to the Library-Historical Commission, Esther Collier to the Planning Commission, Robert Fox to the Recreation and Parks Commission, and Bella Comelo to the Senior Commission. Mendieta has served on the BZA since February 2009 and Fewless was appointed to the Human Services Commission in June 2005. Rinaldi has served on the Library-Historical Commission since March 2005 and Collier has been on the Planning Commission since March 2001. Fox was appointed to the Recreation and Parks Commission in February 2009. Comelo has been on the Senior Commission since February 2009. Collier contributed $100 to Prola's 2012 City Council campaign.

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February 3, 2013

Funding for Extra San Leandro Cops to Run Out a Year Early

SL_police_logo.png At a Planning Session of the San Leandro City Council on January 26, 2013, San Leandro Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli announced that the funds from a federal grant for five additional police officers will run out almost a year sooner than expected. The City of San Leandro had already planned on an additional $900,000 to pay for the officers when the grant expired, but now faces a similar additional cost before the grant expires.

The City was awarded the $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program in 2010. The grant was intended to fund five police officers for three years with the City obligated to pay for the additional officers for a minimum of one year.

Chief Spagnoli explained to the City Council, “The grant expires in 2015 which the city is obligated to keep it for one year and pay and fund it. So between 2014 and 2015 is the City's obligation. We are given a set amount for the grant and we will have gone through the funding of the set amount actually in about probably a year prior to that so the City will actually have to carry the grant for either about 18 months to two years rather than the one year....we believe that at the end of this year we would have depleted the majority of the funds. It might take us into January a little bit, but the way the COPS grant works, it funds the bottom step police officers and in all the assignments specific to that grant, we have top step police officers, so that's the difference.”

The original grant application accounts for increasing officer costs with the cost of the positions in the first year at $151,550 per officer ($78,075 in salary plus $73,475 in benefits), second year at $161,399 per officer ($82,782 in salary plus $78,617 in benefits) and the third year at $170,486 per officer ($86,938 in salary plus $83,548 in benefits).

The City Council did not ask for further clarification from Chief Spagnoli.

At a City Council work session two days later, Chief Spagnoli indicated that San Leandro would apply for grants to extend or renew the existing COPs grant for five police officers, hire 10 additional officers for regional collaboration, and hire eight additional school resource officers. City lobbyist Len Simon said that the additional school resource officers were most likely to be funded in the aftermath of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

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January 26, 2013

San Leandro Hires Deborah Acosta as Chief Innovation Officer

Deborah Acosta
Deborah Acosta
The City of San Leandro has hired Deborah Acosta as its Chief Innovation Officer position. Final interviews were held in December 2012 and Acosta will start in February 2013. San Leandro City Manager Chris Zapata would not confirm hiring Acosta, but did state that the City would issue a press release in the upcoming week.

As reported previously, the CIO position is funded jointly by OSIsoft (75% or $139,650) and the City of San Leandro (25% or $46,500). Acosta will report directly to City Manager Chris Zapata and will be “responsible for developing and pursuing new revenue-generating business relationships with targeted firms, identifying and securing additional business opportunities among existing clients, and fostering relationships with both.”

Acosta currently co-chairs TwoPointOakland (2.Oak), which started as Innovate Oakland, a technology collaborative. She was previously an Economic Development Strategist for the City of Oakland and has also worked for World Savings & Loan, Crocker National Bank and Wells Fargo Bank.

In December 2010, Acosta prepared an Executive Summary of the Oakland Fiber Optic Network. According to a slide deck that Acosta developed for the City of Oakland's OaklandWEB Internal Team KickOff dated May 11, 2011, the goals of OaklandWEB included expansion of Oakland's fiber optic network and using it to attract and expand business, which perfectly aligns with Lit San Leandro's goals. In November 2011, Acosta wrote a piece for Oakland Local which noted that most local businesses were part of the 99%. On November 18, 2012, Acosta wrote about Lit San Leandro as an example of innovation and disruption, stating “If Oakland leadership fails to let go of its internal resistance to change, cities like Emeryville and San Leandro will continue to provide the leadership — and jobs...”

Acosta interviewed in October 2011 about Innovate Oakland

According to her bio, she lives in Oakland with her Life Partner Gary Branchaud and she has two grown children. She helped lead the push in Oakland to establish Community Policing and served on the Community Policing Advisory Board. She runs the consulting firm IDOTconnect and tweets as @deborahacosta1.

Two finalists for the position were reported in November 2012, but the position was re-listed later that month. Flyers for the position were posted in October 2012 and November 2012.

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December 10, 2012

Surveillance Systems Used by San Leandro Police

At least three surveillance systems are currently used by the San Leandro Police Department: red light cameras for law enforcement at four intersections, one police car with an automated license plate scanner, and 24 traffic cameras that are capturing video for use by the police. The police department has also expressed interest in testing a video system mounted to individual police officers, and a server to store video for the system was recently approved by the Information Technology Department.

Traffic Cameras

About halfway through 2012, the City of San Leandro implemented the ability to digitally record video from 24 traffic cameras throughout the city. Twelve of the cameras are mounted under a smoked plastic dome and resemble surveillance cameras. Each can be controlled from City Hall and has the ability to point in any direction and to zoom in on areas. Using the zoom capability, it is possible to identify not only cars, but drivers and pedestrians.

Pelco Spectra pan-tilt-zoom camera
Pelco Spectra pan-tilt-zoom camera under San Leandro street light

The cameras are made by Pelco and are in the following locations:

  • E. 14th St / Davis St
  • E. 14th St / San Leandro Blvd
  • E. 14th / Hesperian Blvd
  • Davis St / Polvorosa Overpass
  • Davis St / Orchard Ave
  • Davis St / San Leandro Blvd
  • Marina Blvd / Teagarden St
  • Bancroft Ave / Estudillo Ave
  • Hesperian Blvd / Springlake Dr
  • Hesperian Blvd / Halcyon Dr
  • Washington Ave / Springlake Dr
  • Marina Blvd / Merced St

In addition to the 12 Pelco cameras that can point in any direction, another 12 cameras that are used to detect traffic at stoplights, but cannot move, are being digitally recorded. These cameras are in the following locations:

Traffic Detection Camera
Traffic detection camera at San Leandro intersection
  • NB Hesperian Blvd/Halcyon Dr
  • SB Hesperian Blvd/Halcyon Dr
  • EB Halcyon Dr/Hesperian Blvd
  • WB Fairmont Dr/Hesperian
  • SB Williams St/Westgate Pkwy
  • EB Marina Blvd/San Leandro Blvd
  • EB Driveway/Westgate Pkwy
  • NB Washington Ave/Springlake Dr
  • SB Washington Ave/Springlake Dr
  • WB Springlake Dr/Washington Ave
  • NB Merced St/Reynolds & Brown D/W
  • NB Merced St/Williams St

According to City of San Leandro Senior Transportation Engineer Reh-Lin Chen, the Pelco pan-tilt-zoom cameras were installed to monitor traffic, but until a recent upgrade, only one camera could be recorded at a time. The traffic detection cameras are being recorded, says Chen, to protect the City from liability by providing evidence in the event of a traffic collision. However, Chen was not aware of the video recording ever being used for that purpose.

In the past six months, Chen reported that the San Leandro Police have asked for video recordings 10 to 12 times. The requests are informal, so he could not provide specifics for each of the police requests. The traffic department provides the video recordings on a USB flash drive or on a shared computer folder that can only be accessed by the police and traffic departments.

License Plate Scanner

The automated license plate scanner is mounted on a police patrol car and consists of three cameras connected to a computer. It takes pictures of every license plate visible to the cameras as the car is driven. Along with pictures, the computer records the geographic location where the picture was taken and the time and date of the picture. The license plate number is compared to a database of stolen vehicles, Automated Warrant System, DMV, missing and wanted persons, domestic violence/restraining order, and supervised release file. If there is a match, the system produces a beep to alert the police officer.

The pictures gathered by the system frequently include the surrounding area and sometimes recognizable individuals. After requesting and receiving information about my vehicles stored in the database, I could identify locations where my vehicle was photographed, including a picture that showed my children getting out of the car in the driveway of my house.

Between March 2008 and July 2010, the system generated a database of more than 2 million records. There is no retention policy for the data and the information gathered by the system is being stored indefinitely. More than 4 millions records are likely stored in the database by now and the majority (more than 95%) are of vehicles that are being used by people not suspected of or charged with any crime.

Red Light Cameras

Red light cameras have been installed at intersections in San Leandro since 2006. According to a San Leandro Police Department web page, the cameras were installed to “reduce red light running and cut down on auto-related accidents and fatalities.” However, the cameras were installed at high-traffic intersections rather than dangerous intersections identified in a February 2005 study by Dowling Associates, Inc. entitled "Analysis of High Collision Locations in San Leandro."

Red light camera at Floresta Blvd. and Washington Ave. in San Leandro

Six cameras were originally installed, but that number was reduced to five when the contract was renewed in April 2011. The sixth camera, at the intersection of Washington Ave & Lewelling, was removed because it was generating hundreds less red light citations than the other intersections and therefore, not as profitable as the other red light cameras.

Red light cameras are installed at the following locations:

  • EB Fairmont Drive & E. 14th Street
  • EB and WB Floresta/Halcyon & Washington Avenue
  • NB E. 14th Street & Davis Street
  • EB Marina Boulevard & Teagarden Street

On Monday, December 10, 2012, the San Leandro City Council will hold a work session entitled “Presentation by San Leandro Police Department and Discussion on Public Safety.” The meeting starts at 7pm and will be held at City Council Chambers at 835 E. 14th Street.

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December 2, 2012

San Leandro City Attorney to Get Performance Evaluation After Nine Years

The last time that San Leandro's City Attorney, Meyers Nave, received a performance evaluation, Shelia Young had just been re-elected to a second term as Mayor. Almost 10 years later, the San Leandro City Council is poised to conduct a performance evaluation of Meyers Nave, with the help of Municipal Resource Group (MRG).

MRG will provide an analysis of the City's legal services that will “include an identification of the benefits of in-house City Attorney services and contract legal services.” While San Leandro uses Meyer Nave for its City Attorney, the city attorneys for Alameda, Hayward, and Oakland are employees, with Oakland's City Attorney being an elected position.

Steve Meyers
Steve Meyers
San Leandro's City Attorney was a city employee until 1986, when City Attorney Steve Meyers formed a company to provide legal services to San Leandro under a professional services agreement. Meyers Nave has provided the City Attorney continuously since 1986. Meyers Nave provides similar legal services to the cities of Union City, Dublin, Bell, Cotati, and Livingston. George Eiser, who served as City Attorney for National City for 25 years, where San Leandro City Manager previously served as City Manager, was recently hired by Meyers Nave.

The $10,000 consulting agreement with Municipal Resource Group has the following scope of work:

“Review the existing ""Agreement for City Attorney Legal Services - City of San Leandro", City of San Leandro budget, Meyers Nave data, work load data and other information related to the existing legal services arrangement with the City of San Leandro.

Review the City budget and accounting procedures to determine how the legal services costs are budgeted and recorded. Include an analysis of budgeting and methods of charging enterprise funds.
Review existing City procedures for requesting legal services from the City Attorney, the City Attorneys role, and other matters related to the provision of legal services as a member of the executive team.

Meet with San Leandro City Manager Chris Zapata to discuss the project goals and tasks, and to determine the information and analyses that the City may desire in order to evaluate City Attorney legal services. At the direction of the City Manager, meet with other key City executive team members to assess how City Attorney services are utilized.

Review available comparison data and propose criteria for selection of comparable agencies and common performance benchmarks.

Research and propose comparable jurisdictions. Update the comparison data based on agreed upon comparable jurisdictions and appropriate performance benchmarks.

Research and propose methods to control utilization of legal service requests from City staff.
Propose options, if necessary, to refine the legal services arrangement and agreement with the City of San Leandro, including City-initiated requests for and utilization of legal services, retainer/basic level of services, special services and other legal services practices.

Prepare an analysis of the cost of in-house City Attorney and contract legal services. MRG will prepare a non-confidential version of the analysis appropriate for public discussion and dissemination at a public meeting. The analysis will also include an identification of the benefits of in-house City Attorney services and contract legal services.”

Performance evaluation of the City Attorney is on the December 3, 2012, closed session agenda for the San Leandro City Council and was previously listed on agendas for September 7, 2012, and November 19, 2012.

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November 19, 2012

Two Final Candidates for San Leandro's Chief Innovation Officer

City of San Leandro Chief Innovation Officer flyer

San Leandro Director of Engineering and Transportation Uche Udemezue reported on November 14, 2012, that the candidates for the City's new Chief Innovation Officer have been narrowed down to two. Udemezue noted that the City Manager and Assistant City Manager were not at the San Leandro City Council's Facilities and Transportation Committee meeting because they were in interviews.

The Chief Innovation Officer job classification was approved by the Personnel Relations Board on July 19, 2012. According to a September 4, 2012, staff report, OSIsoft will fund 75% of the position's costs ($139,650) in the first year and the remaining 25% ($46,500) will be funded from City of San Leandro reserves. OSIsoft CEO Patrick Kennedy founded Lit San Leandro, which uses city-owned conduit to run fiber-optic strands in an 11-mile loop around the city and will be expanded by a recent grant.

According to the flyer for the Chief Innovation Officer position, the anticipated appointment date is December 10, 2012.

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October 11, 2012

San Leandro's New Parking Garage Could be $800K Under Budget

Rendering of Estudillo Parking Garage
Rendering of completed parking garage

At the October 10, 2012, meeting of San Leandro's Facilities and Transportation Committee, city staff reported that the new parking garage could be as much as $800,000 under budget. The now-defunct City of San Leandro Redevelopment Agency funded the garage and appropriated $12 million for the project.

According to city staff, “We have a little extra money....The garage came in at a little over, well, like $11.2 million, $11.3 maybe by the time we're all done. So we have some extra money and decided to do some enhancements to the garage – security cameras we're going to install first.” Pay stations that accept credit cards for payment will be installed. “The [parking] enforcement's going to involve a license plate reader, which is a camera that can check your license plate as an officer drives by, compare it to a database, see if you've been paid, see if the space has been paid for, and alert the officer if it hasn't been. Solar panels will also be installed on the roof, but will cover less than half of the roof.

The first floor of the garage is designated for free short-term parking of two hours, the second and third floors are for permit parking and the top floor is for all-day paid parking. The garage will have a total of 380 parking spaces.

Work is expected to be complete by November 7 and the garage should be open a week later.

In addition to the 2,000-square-foot office space created on the first floor for the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce, the garage will include two electric vehicle charging stations.

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September 24, 2012

San Leandro Settles with Faith Fellowship for $2.3 Million

According to a press release issued today, the City of San Leandro has settled its legal battle with Faith Fellowship for $2.3 million.

The press release read, in part:

Under the settlement, the City admits no liability and ICFG dismisses all claims against the City in return for a $2.3 million payment. Further, the City preserves its general plan and zoning provisions while ICFG may continue in its efforts to find a new properly zoned site. The settlement bars ICFG from challenging under the Religious Land Use and Institutional Persons Act (RLUIPA), any denial of the purchase of a site not within the City's current Assembly Use Overlay or Residential Zones.

According to the settlement agreement, the $2.3 million must be paid by September 25, 2012.

The case dates back to 2006, when Faith Fellowship Church purchased a property that was not zoned for assembly use and May 2007, when the City of San Leandro denied the church's application to rezone the property.

In the time since the church filed the lawsuit, the City of San Leandro has changed its zoning code in an attempt to soften the blow if the case had gone to trial and to decrease the likelihood of future lawsuits.

The money for the settlement will come from the City's self-insurance fund and reserve account. In November 2011, the City Council approved a transfer of $1.5 million to the self-insurance fund and a $2 million transfer to the reserve account. As part of the 2012-2013 budget, the City added $600,000 to reserves.

The complete text of the press release is reproduced below:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 25, 2012

CONTACT: Jayne Williams City Attorney
(510) 808-2000

City of San Leandro and International Church of Four Square Gospel Resolve Lawsuit

Settlement Preserves Important Zoning Provisions and Represents Approximately 10% Of Total Damages Sought By ICFG

Mayor Stephen Cassidy announced that the City of San Leandro and International Church of Four Square Gospel (ICFG) have reached a settlement in ICFG's lawsuit against the City for its refusal to allow Faith Fellowship Church to relocate its church campus to a site within the City's high tech industrial core. The City denied the Church's application on the basis that the use of the site for assembly purposes violated the City's zoning code.

Under the settlement, the City admits no liability and ICFG dismisses all claims against the City in return for a $2.3 million payment. Further, the City preserves its general plan and zoning provisions while ICFG may continue in its efforts to find a new properly zoned site. The settlement bars ICFG from challenging under the Religious Land Use and Institutional Persons Act (RLUIPA), any denial of the purchase of a site not within the City's current Assembly Use Overlay or Residential Zones.

"The City respects all of our churches and religious institutions, including Faith Fellowship Church and ICFG, and appreciates the important charitable activities and social work they provide our community," stated Mayor Cassidy. "The settlement with ICPO brings to an end costly and time-consuming litigation while upholding the sections of our zoning code that reserve land for industrial and commercial uses."

"Earlier this year, our City Attorney succeeded in convincing the Court to throw out ICFG's claim for $14 million in damages due to purportedly lost contributions the Church would have received had it been allowed to relocate to the industrial zone," Mayor Cassidy added. "The City had a strong defense on ICFG's RLUIPA claim. However, trials are inherently unpredictable. Had the City lost, the Church's remaining damages plus legal fees could have exceeded $7 million. Settling the case now was the prudent course of action."

The City's special legal counsel and nationally recognized RLUIPA expert, Professor Marci Hamilton stated: "RLUIPA unfairly puts cities between a rock and hard place. This is a very strong case for the city, but in the current economic climate it is very difficult for cities like San Leandro to pursue federal litigation. With the property sold and the General Plan protected, settlement at this stage is sensible."

The $2.3 million settlement payment to ICFG would be made from the City's self-insurance fund and reserve account as the City's insurance policies do not cover zoning code disputes. Sufficient amounts have been budgeted to satisfy the settlement.

Background on the Litigation

In 2006, Faith Fellowship Church purchased a property in the City's industrial area that was not zoned for a religious assembly use. In an effort to expand the opportunities for churches, the City undertook a City-wide zoning study and ultimately adopted a new Assembly Use Overlay District which allowed churches and other assembly uses to locate, with a Conditional Use Permit, on 196 parcels in the City's industrial and commercial zones where they had not previously been allowed. The City applied the same eight objective planning criteria to all commercial and industrial zoned property in the City to identify the 196 sites - the Faith Fellowship Church site did not meet two of the criteria and so was not included in the final list. In May 2007, the City denied Faith Fellowship Church's application for a rezoning of the property. The Church sold the industrial zoned property in 2010 at a loss.

In June 2007, ICFG and Faith Fellowship Church filed suit in federal court in San Francisco against the City alleging that the denial of the rezoning application violated the Religious Land Use and Institutional Persons Act (RLUIPA), Civil Rights Act and First Amendment.

In December 2008, U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton granted the City's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the lawsuit. The Court concluded that the denial of the rezoning application did not violate RLUIPA. The Church appealed to the U. S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.

In April 2011, the Appellate Court reversed Judge Hamilton, holding that a triable issue existed as to whether the City's denial of the rezoning application constituted a substantial burden on the church's exercise of religion in violation of RLUIPA.

Faith Fellowship alleged that it had been damaged by the City's actions in excess of $20 million, which included lost contributions amounting to $14 million. On August 20, 2012, upon a motion by the City, Judge Hamilton dismissed the church's lost contribution claim of $14 million. The Church's remaining damages claim was based on its loss on the sale of the property, carrying costs, and other expenses related to purchase and sale, along with significant attorneys' fees.

The City contended that the church's damages, if at all, were caused by the church's decision to eliminate the contractual provision that would have protected the purchase if the City did not approve the zoning change request. The church's decision to purchase the property outright with full knowledge that the City's zoning regulations precluded religious uses led to any damages it suffered. The City expanded religious uses and applied its neutral, generally applicable laws to the church in denying the application.

The City and ICFG/Faith Fellowship Church, each facing the escalating cost of a lengthy and complex trial, extended appeals, and an unsettled and still evolving RLUIPA law, were ordered by Judge Hamilton to a settlement conference. Under the guidance of U.S. Magistrate Judge Corley the parties successfully resolved the matter, contingent upon City Council approval. Without admitting liability, the City Council approved the payment of $2.3 million to resolve and release all claims by ICFG against the City.

About San Leandro

A diverse community of nearly 85,000 residents, San Leandro maintains a safe, small town feel while offering a wide range of shopping, dining, recreation amenities, miles of shoreline, and easy access to nearby regional parks and nature areas.
Located in the center of the San Francisco Bay Area, San Leandro enjoys close proximity to the Oakland International Airport and Port of Oakland, and is served by two major freeways and two BART stations. Through a public-private partnership known as Lit San Leandro, an eleven-mile fiber optic loop is under construction in the city's large industrial and commercial zone. Lit San Leandro will assist a new set of businesses to leverage San Leandro's assets and become industry leaders in the data revolution. Further information about Lit San Leandro can be found at http://www.litsanleandro.com/
Visit the City's website at www.sanleandro.org for more information on the City's programs and services. To register to automatically receive press releases, meeting agendas or other electronic notifications, go to http://www.sanleandro.org/portal/default.asp.

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September 13, 2012

San Leandro City Council Appoints Tom Dlugosh to Replace Starosciak

At a sparsely-attended special meeting of the San Leandro City Council on Thursday, September 13, 2012, Planning Commissioner Tom Dlugosh was appointed as the new District 4 Councilmember to fill out the remainder of Joyce Starosciak's term.

The meeting began with San Leandro City Clerk drawing names to determine the order in which the four applicants would be interviewed. The order was Charles 'Chuck' Kane, Dana Chohlis, Tom Dlugosh, and John Faria.

The City Council was evenly divided on whether the applicants should be able to remain in the audience and listen to other applicants being interviewed or be sequestered out of earshot of the interviews. Mayor Stephen Cassidy decided to change his position and the applicants who were not being interviewed were moved to the Sister Cities Gallery.

The questions, decided at a previous City Council meeting were:

  1. Why are you interested in serving on the City Council?
  2. In your opinion, what are the two most pressing issues facing the City of San Leandro and how best should the City Council address these issues?
  3. How have you remained current and informed on city issues?
  4. Please summarize your experiences in community activities or issues affecting the City of San Leandro and could you give specific examples of your personal involvement?
  5. Have you even been part of a successful team and if so, what did you contribute to make it successful?
  6. Is there anything else you wish to share with the council that has not been covered in your interview this evening?

When asked about the two most pressing issues facing San Leandro, most of the applicants talked about the budget and business development. The topic of business development is high on the list for city officials with the recent resignation of Community Development Director Luke Sims, who has left to work in Dublin. Public safety was also mentioned by former San Leandro Police officer Kane and Chohlis.

Kane and Dlugosh gave brief answers that closely mirrored the brief answers on their applications. While Chohlis gave longer answers, it was Faria who demonstrated his knowledge by expounding on a number of issues. Faria served for 10 years on the Board of Zoning Adjustments before completing two terms on the City Council and a brief appointment as Mayor after Dave Karp died in office.

Dlugosh has been on the Planning Commission for 18 years and was previously President of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce for a number of years.

During public comments, Chris Crow and David Erlich, who were eliminated from consideration for the appointment at a previous meeting, spoke in general terms about the issues facing the city in the next few months. Gerry Mellen, who served with Kane on the Board of SOS/Meals on Wheels, spoke in favor of appointing Kane to the position. Mellen previously served as the Treasurer for former Mayor Shelia Young, who sat in the front row during the meeting.

After thanking the applicants, the City Council proceeded to the first round vote:

ApplicantGregoryReedSouzaCutterProlaCassidy
Dana Chohlis
Tom DlugoshXXX
John FariaX
Charles KaneXX

With no applicant receiving four votes, Prola offered to change his vote from Faria to Dlugosh. However, Cassidy said that the Council should go with the process that had already been agreed upon and go to a second round of voting. For the second round, Chohlis was eliminated because she didn't receive any votes in the first round. The results of the second round of voting:

ApplicantGregoryReedSouzaCutterProlaCassidy
Tom DlugoshXXXX
John Faria
Charles KaneXX

With four votes to Kane's two votes, a motion was made to appoint Dlugosh to the San Leandro District 4 City Council seat. The motion passed unanimously and Dlugosh was immediately sworn in by San Leandro City Clerk Marian Handa.

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August 31, 2012

Twenty Former San Leandro Employees Get $100K Pensions; Former Mayors and Councilmembers Get Less

Last week, the Bay Area Newspaper Group published a database of public employee pensions as a pension reform proposal by California Governor Jerry Brown was under consideration by the Legislature. The proposed legislation would encourage, but not force city employees to contribute 50% of their pensions by 2018.

Pensions are one of the issues facing San Leandro City Council candidates this year. No candidate has suggested that employees receive a lower pension, but there are differences on whether the City should continue to pay the entire employee portion of the contribution. The current employee contracts were signed in 2010 and expire at the end of 2012.

In District 2, Dan Dillman says he supports moderate pension reform. Morgan Mack-Rose has stated she supports greater employees contributions to their own pensions in order to achieve pension sustainability. Incumbent Ursula Reed hasn't stated any position publicly and abstained from the vote on the current non-public safety employee contracts in December 2010.

In District 4, Darlene Daevu has stated she does not support any change to the existing structure. Chris Crow said he wants a change that is fair. Justin Hutchison has said he doesn't support any change to police pensions contributions, but is willing to consider having the non-public safety employees "pay their own share into the state's retirement fund." Benny Lee hasn't publicly stated his position on employee contributions to their pensions.

In District 6, challenger Hermy Almonte supports employees paying the employee portion of the retirement contribution. Incumbent Jim Prola is very supportive of city employees, but appears to recognize the need for changes in employee contributions to their pensions.

The pension database lists 20 former City of San Leandro employees with pensions of more than $100,000 with the top 10 listed below:

Name2011 Gross PensionPosition
Ian Willis$177,187.53Police Chief
Joseph Kitchen$173,527.12Police Chief
Dale Attarian$173,095.40Police Chief
David Bohne$158,232.08Library Director
Dennis Glover$149,939.52Police Officer
Robert Dekas$146,198.96Police Officer
Thomas Overton$136,233.60Police Officer
Robert Maginnis$126,743.60Police Chief
John Bischoff$120,406.48Police Officer
Louis Spirou$119,821.68Police Officer

However, the Bay Area Newspaper Group's pension database appears to be incomplete. California Pension Reform's “CalPERS 100K Club” lists former City Manager John Jermanis with an annual pension of $225,357, Marcelus DeCoulode, a former police officer, at $147,378.72, and James O'Meara, also a former police officer, at $129,006.48.

According to the database, there are 428 former employees receiving pensions totaling more than $17 million annually. While 20 former employees are receiving pensions of more than $100,000, most receive much less. Twenty former employees, which likely includes some part-time employees, receive annual pensions of less than $6,000. Overall, the average pension is $39,729.17 and the median pension is $32,605.70. This includes part-time employees and employees with just a few years of service.

Former City Councilmembers and Mayors also show up on the list of those receiving pensions from the City of San Leandro. Those combined pensions total more than $95,000 annually.

Name2011 Gross PensionPosition
Ruth Maltester (widow)$14,894.28Mayor and City Councilmember
Tony Santos$13,292.62Mayor and City Councilmember
Shelia Young$11,843.84Mayor and City Councilmember
Laython Landis$5,518.44City Councilmember
Glenda Nardine$4,934.76 City Councilmember
John Faria$2,994Mayor and City Councilmember

Faria is one of the applicants for the District 4 City Council appointment. Former Councilmember Laython Landis now serves on the Oro Loma Sanitary District Board.

The City of San Leandro currently pays the entire portion of the employee contribution to their pensions, at a cost of $3 million annually. Of 13 cities in Alameda County, the only other cities paying 100% of the employee retirement contribution are Livermore (fire and police), Pleasanton (fire and non-management/non-public safety employees) and Berkeley (non-public safety employees) pay the entire employee portion of the pension contribution. However, Pleasanton fire department employees will begin paying their portion of their pension contribution starting in July 2013. The City of San Leandro is scheduled to discuss new employee contracts in closed session at its next meeting on September 4, 2012.

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August 9, 2012

Bal Theatre Permit Pulled from Tonight's San Leandro BZA Agenda

Just hours before a scheduled San Leandro Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA) meeting today, a proposed modification to the Bal Theatre's existing permit was removed from the agenda at the request of the applicant, according to an email sent by Elmer Penaranda, Senior Planner with the City of San Leandro.

Bal Theatre owner Dan Dillman says that he and city staff have not come to an agreement on a few items yet and he didn't want to waste the time of the Board or city staff. Dillman objects to Item IV B of the recommended conditions for approval, which states, in part, “Events or performances shall not utilize overhead curtains, drops, and scenery or stage effects other than lighting and sound.” Dillman wants the provision changed to state that any items on stage, such as scenery and props, shall comply with the Fire Code.

Dillman also objects to Item IV P, which states, “A condition for the annual renewal of the Business License for assembly use may be the inspection and clearance from the City Building and Safety Services Division.” Dillman says that this is unfair and that no other business in the city is subjected to a similar requirement.

Finally, Dillman also expressed objections about the staff report, which he says does not accurately portray the history of the theater, including its use for live musical performances.

The BZA was to have decided whether to approve modifications to the existing permit for the Bal Theatre. Those modifications included allowing up to 260 events/performances a year (no limits on movies), an increase from the 48 (four each month) currently permitted, and increased hours starting at 9am instead of 10am and ending at 1am on Friday and Saturday instead of 12am. According to the proposed changes, the Bal Theatre would also be allowed to serve alcohol by obtaining a license from the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control instead of relying on a non-profit organization or caterer to obtain a license.

Since 2009, Dillman has objected to restrictions on use of the theatre for live performances, despite signing a conditional use permit that prohibited live performances. In 2011, Dillman negotiated a modification to the permit that allowed four live performances a month. However, at a BZA meeting in July 2011 at which the permit was subsequently approved, Dillman and supporter Chris Crow argued against any restrictions on dancing, hours of operation, the frequency of live performances, and the requirement to have changes reviewed by the Community Development Department or BZA. The proposed permit has eased up on most restrictions, but a six-month review is still included.

The proposed permit includes restrictions that the theater cannot be used as a dance hall or for adult cabaret, adult motion pictures, or adult theatre. Those terms are defined in the San Leandro Municipal Code and generally include a reference to “depiction or description of specified sexual activities or specified anatomical areas.”

At this time, there is no information on when modifications to the existing conditional use permit for the Bal Theatre will be discussed by the BZA.

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July 29, 2012

San Leandro City Council Does U-Turn on Marijuana Facilities

After lengthy discussions, two moratoriums, and a proposed ban on marijuana facilities with a sunset clause, the San Leandro City Council decided to reject a proposed ban on marijuana facilities at its meeting on July 16, 2012. An ordinance for regulating marijuana facilities will now go to the Rules Committee, where Councilmembers will work with staff to provide direction in crafting an ordinance. The members of that committee are Mayor Stephen Cassidy and Councilmembers Jim Prola and Diana Souza.

Nine speakers spoke against an ordinance banning marijuana facilities, including District 4 City Council candidate Chris Crow, who argued that a ban would violate the First Amendment rights of patients. District 2 City Council candidate Dan Dillman also spoke against the proposed ordinance. Three speakers spoke in favor of a ban, including Benny Lee, one of Crow's opponents.

Prola spoke at length against a ban on marijuana facilities, as he has done during previous discussions. Souza and Starosciak made it clear that they supported a complete ban, while Councilmember Pauline Cutter said that she would support the alternative to the ordinance banning marijuana facilities. Councilmember Ursula Reed admitted she had been “on the fence” about medical marijuana because she doesn't want to open the door on crime, despite having many friends and relatives who have cancer.

Mayor Stephen Cassidy, who had supported an ordinance banning marijuana dispensaries at previous meetings, joined the new majority opposed to a ban. Cassidy stated, “I'm also concerned, given the actions of the Assistant United States Attorney General for the Northern District of California [Melinda Haag], that the option of adequate nearby access for San Leandrans is at-risk and potentially disappearing. You cannot say that you are in support of medical marijuana but then not allow patients to have the opportunity to purchase it.... I think we have an Assistant [U.S.] Attorney General that is operating as a bully and I don't like bullies and I think San Leandro has to stand up and be accounted for in this process.

The City Council's decision went against City staff's recommendation to “add Municipal Code Chapter 4-33 prohibiting the establishment and operation of Medical Marijuana Cooperatives, Collectives, Dispensaries and Cultivation Facilities in the City of San Leandro.” At the end of the Law Enforcement Analysis section of the staff report, the San Leandro Police indicated its strong and absolute support of the ordinance banning marijuana facilities, stating “The San Leandro Police Department supports all efforts to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, cooperatives, collectives, cultivation, and grow facilities.”

The history of San Leandro's prohibitions of dispensaries dates back to December 2004 when the City Council enacted a moratorium on marijuana dispensaries to prevent one from opening in San Leandro. Subsequent ordinances were passed in January 2005 and January 2006. The moratorium lapsed in December 2006, but was reinstated in October 2010. A staff report in November 2010 recommended that the City Council enact a 22-month moratorium, but the City Council voted for a 10-month moratorium. In September 2011, that moratorium was subsequently extended until September 2012 and cannot be extended because the State of California places time limits on the urgency ordinance used to enact the moratorium.

At the June 18, 2012, City Council meeting, the staff report recommended an ordinance to permanently ban marijuana facilities so that a ban would be in place before the moratorium expired. Prola, however, offered a motion to delay consideration of the ordinance until after the California Supreme Court ruled on two relevant cases. Vice Mayor Michael Gregory seconded the motion, which was defeated 5-2. Councilmember Joyce Starosciak subsequently motioned to direct staff to draft an ordinance banning marijuana facilities, as recommended in the staff report. Souza seconded the motion, which failed 4-3. Councilmember Pauline Cutter also voted in favor of directing staff to draft an ordinance banning marijuana facilities. Cutter then offered what seemed to be a compromise, motioning to direct staff to draft an ordinance that would ban “medical marijuana cooperatives, collectives, dispensaries and cultivation facilities in the City of San Leandro” until June 30, 2013.” That motion passed 6-1, with Prola voting against it. The draft ordinance banning marijuana facilities was on the July 2, 2012, City Council agenda, but was pulled after the California Second District Court of Appeals ruled that a municipality could not impose a complete ban on medical marijuana facilities.

An ordinance to regulate marijuana facilities will be discussed at the August 28, 2012, meeting of the Rules and Communications Committee. The meeting is scheduled to start at 4:30pm, but no location was available as of July 29.

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July 11, 2012

San Leandro City Council to Start Process to Replace Starosciak

The San Leandro City Council will begin the process of appointing a replacement for Councilmember Joyce Starosciak at its July 16 meeting. Starosciak, the Councilmember for District 4, announced that she would move out of San Leandro in July or August, leaving her seat vacant.

The recommendation from staff is to declare its intention to appoint a replacement, direct staff to provide public notice of the vacancy and the application process, and approve the timeline and process for the appointment.

According to the analysis in the staff report, "In order to meet the 60-day timeframe required by the Charter, staff recommends that the Council approve an appointment process and timeline tonight similar to past Council appointment processes, so the application process can commence during the August recess."

The draft application is the same as that used in 2007, which includes current employment information and responsibilities and the following as part of a questionnaire:

  • Please describe your education, training, and/or any special certifications
  • Please explain why you want to be appointed to the City Council
  • Please list any previous City of San Leandro Board Commission, or Committee on which you have served as well as any community organizations to which you belong or have belonged
  • Please provide any additional information you wish which covers your qualifications, interests, or training related to this appointment

Applicants must be a registered voter and resident of District 4 for the 30 days preceding the appointment. During the 2007 appointment process, applicants were also required to submit valid signatures from 20 registered voters. That requirement eliminated one of the 12 applicants in 2007.

The staff report notes that the City Council may "establish criteria beyond the basic qualifications" such as participation on City Council, Board/Commission or committee, diversity, and/or not a candidate for elected office.

If the City Council appoints someone who is running for the seat, it will be a huge advantage for that person in the November 2012 election. Since 1970, only three incumbents have been defeated: Councilmember Al Nahm in 1974, Mayor John Faria in 1994, and Mayor Tony Santos in 2010.

The proposed schedule includes a period to advertise the vacancy from July 23 to July 27, an application period from July 30 to August 17, with public interviews and appointment of the new District 4 Councilmember on September 4 or September 10. The newly appointed Councilmember would serve until January 1, 2013.

The application period overlaps the nomination period for City Council candidates, which starts on July 16 and ends on August 10, 2012. So far, Chris Crow, Darlene Daevu, and Benny Lee have filed paperwork to run for the District 4 seat.

The San Leandro City Council meets on July 16 at 7pm at the Council Chambers located at 835 E. 14th Street.

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June 19, 2012

San Leandro Settles One Shooting Death Lawsuit, Avoids Another

At the June 18, 2012 City Council meeting, San Leandro City Attorney Jayne Williams reported the following settlements in the police shooting death of Gwendolyn Killings on December 29, 2010, and the shooting death of Kwame Nunn on October 9, 2010.

Gwendolyn Killings was shot and killed by San Leandro Police after a high speed chase that ended in a crash at the San Leandro-Oakland border. According to police, Killings was driving a stolen Jaguar. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Officer Ryan Gill shot and killed Killings while defending himself and Officer Anthony Morgan. The Alameda District Attorney investigated the shooting and concluded that there was “overwhelming credible and admissible evidence” that Gill acted in self-dense.

Maurius “TJ” Robinson and Kwame Nunn were shot and killed at Wedges Bar & Grill at the Monarch Bay Golf Club while on the dance floor. According to police, the party organizers misrepresented the event as a birthday party. Two 17-year-old boys from Hayward were later arrested for the for the shooting deaths.

The complete statement read by Williams is below:

In the U.S. District Court matter of Jane Doe, Ericka Whitmeyer, Judy Brown and Imaree Cross v. City of San Leandro: the City has reached a mutually agreeable settlement with all four plaintiffs in the total amount of $50,000, including legal fees.  Each plaintiff will receive approximately $12,500.  This was a wrongful death lawsuit against the City and individual police officers arising from an in-custody death (Gwendolyn Killings) following a felony vehicle theft and high speed pursuit instigated by the decedent on December 29, 2010.  Full releases have been executed and the cases are now dismissed.  (claim $15 mil)
In the Alameda County Superior Court case of Paul and Tricia Nunn v. City of San Leandro and the American Golf Corporation:  the City has been dismissed from the litigation with no payment.  A settlement was reached with the American Golf Corporation and the entire case has now been dismissed.  This was a wrongful death lawsuit arising out of an incident at the Monarch Bay Golf Course Wedges Restaurant in which the decedent was shot by a third party while attending an event at the facility.  (claim $5 mil)
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San Leandro City Council Set to Ban Marijuana Facilities until June 2013

After two failed motions, the San Leandro City Council voted 6-1 to direct staff to draft an ordinance that would prohibit “the establishment and operation of medical marijuana cooperatives collectives dispensaries and cultivation facilities in the City of San Leandro” until June 30, 2013. Councilmember Jim Prola voted against the motion.

The original staff recommendation was to draft an ordinance that didn't have a sunset date.

A presentation by City of San Leandro staff included Senior Planner Kathleen Livermore, Assistant City Attorney Richard Pio Roda, and Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli. Livermore went over the recent history, from the original interim urgency ordinance enacted by the City Council on October 4, 2010, to the first extension on November 15, 2010, and the last extension on September 6, 2011. The history actually dates back to December 2004, when the first interim urgency ordinance was passed, with extensions in January 2005, and January 2006.

Pio Roda addressed the current legal cases that could affect how medical marijuana facilities are dealt with by municipalities in California: City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patient's Health and Wellness Center, City of Lake Forest v. Evergreen Holistic Collective and Pack v. City of Long Beach. Pio Roda also noted AB 2312, the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Control Act, a bill introduced by Tom Ammiano to clarify how cities could regulate medical marijuana facilities.

Chief Spagnoli spoke regarding law enforcement's view on the subject of medical marijuana facilities, claiming that the San Leandro Police Department complies with Proposition 215, which legalized medical marijuana in 1996. Spagnoli said that there were public safety significant issues with sales and distribution of marijuana, citing a shooting on January 18, 2012, a June 16, 2012, home invasion robbery of a medical marijuana user on Castro Street, and several structure fires related to growing operations. Spagnoli cited the California Healthy Kids Survey in which students reported that by 7th grade, 7% had used marijuana, by 9th grade, 20% had used marijuana, and by 11th grade, 29% had used “marijuana in their life time.” Spagnoli stated that “It is clear that marijuana is a gateway drug.”

However, numerous studies, including a 1999 report by the National Academy of Sciences and a 2010 study by the University of New Hampshire concluded that marijuana is not a gateway drug. The New Hampshire study of nearly 1,300 young adults concluded that the biggest predictor for whether someone will use other drugs is race/ethnicity. Employment status and stress were also more important factors than marijuana use.

Five people spoke in favor of banning marijuana facilities, including Deborah Cox and potential District 4 City Council candidate Benny Lee. Those speaking against banning marijuana facilities included a former U.S. Marine suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, San Leandro School Board member Diana Prola, UFCW representative Dan Rush, District 4 City Council candidate Chris Crow and potential District 2 City Council candidate Dan Dillman.

After public comments were finished, Prola asked Pio Roda about Meyers Nave's role in helping Oakland drafting rules for regulating marijuana facilities and Pio Roda admitted that Meyers Nave had “advised” the City of Oakland on how to proceed given the guidance from the Attorney General at the time.

After expounding at length on the benefits of medical marijuana (treating ill people, less crime, safer roads), Prola offered the first motion to delay consideration of any ordinance until after the California Supreme Court rules on two relevant cases. Prola's motion was seconded by Vice Mayor Michael Gregory. Cassidy said that he would like to see an ordinance that would regulate marijuana facilities but that believed that access to medical marijuana was being abused and he would be voting with this in mind. The motion failed 5-2, with only Prola and Gregory voting for the motion.

Councilmember Joyce Starosciak followed with a motion to direct staff to draft an ordinance to ban marijuana facilities right away. That motion failed 3 to 4, with only Starosciak, Councilmember Pauline Cutter, and Councilmember Diana Souza voting in favor of the motion.

After Souza asked questions about whether the City Council could change the ordinance in the future (yes), confirming that not having an ordinance might put the City at risk (yes) and Prola asked whether cities that did have an ordinance had been sued (yes), Cutter offered a motion to delay any action until the last City Council meeting in July (the City Council usually doesn't meet in August). The motion was seconded by Councilmember Ursula Reed, but was subsequently withdrawn and Cutter then motioned for the staff to draft an ordinance that would ban marijuana facilities until June 30, 2013. After that date, the ordinance would expire, unless the City Council took action to extend or modify the ordinance.

The next regular meeting of the San Leandro City Council is scheduled for July 2, 2012.

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June 15, 2012

Michael Gregory Begins Second Term as Vice Mayor

councilgregory125_2.jpg
Councilmember Gregory
At the May 7, 2012, meeting of the San Leandro City Council, District 1 Councilmember Michael Gregory was re-elected to the position of Vice Mayor for a second term.

According to the City Charter, "In the absence of the Mayor, the Vice Mayor shall possess and perform the powers and duties of the Mayor." This typically means representing the City and chairing meetings of the City Council in the Mayor's absence.

Councilmember Jim Prola thanked Gregory for serving as Vice Mayor for the past year and made the motion to nominate him, with Councilmember Pauline Cutter seconding the motion.

Reed offered a substitute motion and nominated Councilmember Diana Souza for the Vice Mayor position. Reed explained her nomination by stating that the role was traditionally offered to each one of the council members. Councilmember Joyce Starosciak seconded the motion, "because I believe that, you know, it's her turn. It's time for her to step up into that role." From 2008 to 2010, each Vice Mayor served a single term, but Vice Mayors from 1998 to 2008 each served at least two terms.

Before the vote on the substitute motion, Gregory expressed surprise at the nomination and said, "I'm delighted and flattered to be considered."

Starosciak, Souza and Reed voted for Souza, but Mayor Stephen Cassidy, Cutter, Prola, and Gregory voted against Souza and the substitute motion failed.

Since the substitute motion for Souza as Vice Mayor failed, the City Council proceeded to vote on the original motion for Gregory as Vice Mayor. Starosciak joined Cassidy, Cutter, Prola, and Gregory in voting for Gregory with Reed and Souza abstaining.

Gregory will serve as Vice Mayor until June 2013.

In 2010, Reed was elected Vice Mayor after a failed motion by Gregory to elect Prola Vice Mayor. In 2011, Gregory was elected Vice Mayor. No councilmembers from Districts 3 or 6 have served as Vice Mayor for more than 14 years. Below is a recent history of San Leandro's Vice Mayors:

  • 1998 - Gordon Galvan (District 1)
  • 1999 - Gordon Galvan (District 1)
  • 2000 - Bob Glaze (District 4)
  • 2001 - Bob Glaze (District 4)
  • 2002 - Bob Glaze (District 4)
  • 2003 - Bob Glaze (District 4)
  • 2004 - Orval "OB" Badger (District 1)
  • 2005 - Orval "OB" Badger (District 1)
  • 2006 - Surlene Grant (District 2)
  • 2007 - Surlene Grant (District 2)
  • 2008 - Bill Stephens (District 5)
  • 2009 - Joyce Starosciak (District 4)
  • 2010 - Ursula Reed (District 2)
  • 2011 - Michael Gregory (District 1)
  • 2012 - Michael Gregory (District 1)
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June 14, 2012

Kevin Leichner to Succeed Dale Reed on San Leandro Planning Commission

Nearly three months after San Leandro Planning Commissioner Dale Reed passed away, the San Leandro City Council will take the first step to appoint his replacement at its June 18, 2012, meeting. According to the agenda for the meeting, Kevin Leichner will likely be nominated to replace Reed. Councilmember Michael Gregory is responsible for nominating a resident of his City Council district to fill the seat.

Leichner is a project manager for Bridge Housing Corporation in San Francisco. He has a BA in Architecture with a minor in City Planning from UC Berkeley, an MS in Urban Planning from Columbia University, and an MBA from Columbia Business School. He has previously worked at the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, Heritage Partners, and the National Park Service. As a fellow at the Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco, Leichner authored a paper entitled "Enhancing New Markets Tax Credit Pipeline Flow: Maintaining a Continuous Deal Flow In Spite of Funding Gaps and Market Volatility."

According to the Boards and Commissions Application submitted on May 29, Leicher lists his qualifications as, “Nearly 15 years of planning and development experience in the areas of affordable housing, economic development, and park facilities. Graduate degrees in urban planning and business from Columbia University and an undergraduate degree in architecture and planning from UC Berkeley. Currently a project manager at BRIDGE Housing Corporation, focusing on new investment, restructuring, and rehabilitation of existing affordable housing portfolio properties.”

Leichner's employer, Bridge Housing Corporation, is one of the project developers for the recently revised San Leandro Crossings project. The project consists of 200 units of affordable housing (or workforce rental units).

The nomination is part of the agenda's consent calendar for the June 18, 2012, meeting and a vote on Leichner's appointment will be take place at a subsequent meeting.

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April 19, 2012

California Challenges San Leandro's Redevelopment Financial Obligations

According to an article published by California Watch today, the California Department of Finance is challenging the legality of obligations in San Leandro's redevelopment budget.

In a letter dated April 11, 2012, the Department of Finance states that $2 million from a loan from the City of San Leandro was prohibited by California Health and Safety Code Section 34171 (d) (2). That section states, "For purposes of this part, "enforceable obligation" does not include any agreements, contracts, or arrangements between the city, county, or city and county that created the redevelopment agency and the former redevelopment agency."

The $4.3 million loan was approved 7-0 on June 21, 2004, when Shelia Young was Mayor of San Leandro. According to the resolution, the City would loan up to $4,372,774 for the Plaza Project Area, which includes most of downtown San Leandro and the Joint Project Area, which includes a large area around E. 14th Street, Marina Boulevard, and San Leandro Boulevard (see map). As of February 2012, the outstanding balance on that loan was $2 million.

The Department of Finance also objected to $8.9 million in cooperative agreements, based on Section 34153 (b) of the Health and Safety Code, which "prohibits a redevelopment agency from entering into a contract with any entity after June 27, 2011." According to the Enforceable Obligation Payment Schedule, the $8.9 million was allocated as follows:

ProjectAmount
Eden Road Construction$1,500,000
Doolittle Drive Streetscape Improvements$4,193,611
MacArthur Boulevard Streetscape Improvements$1,274,134
Hays Street Streetscape Improvements$2,000,000

These cooperative agreements were approved 4-0 at a special meeting of the San Leandro City Council and San Leandro Redevelopment Agency on Monday, January 17, 2011, the day before the regular City Council meeting. Monday was also the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Councilmembers Pauline Cutter, Michael Gregory and Ursula Reed were absent from the special meeting.

In the background material for the meeting, the Staff Report states, "The purpose of the proposed Cooperative Agreement is to contractually bind the Agency to fund and support specified projects outlined in the staff report in order to protect these funds from being taken by the state." It appears that the Department of Finance disagrees that the cooperative agreements are the same as contracts, since no contracts for the actual work had been finalized prior to the June 27, 2011, deadline.

If the Department of Finance prevails on these objections, it means that the City of San Leandro loses $2 million that would have been paid back by the successor to the Redevelopment Agency. Instead, that $2 million goes to the State of California to re-allocate to other agencies. Similarly the $8.9 million would go back to the State and the four projects listed above would not be funded. That could mean more money for schools, which was one of Governor Brown's goals in dismantling California's redevelopment agencies.

City of San Leandro Business Development Manager Cynthia Battenberg issued a memo today that the City will "...take advantage of a clause in AB 1x 26 that allows a Successor Agency to re- enter into an agreement with the City. Staff will be recommending that the City and the Successor Agency re-enter in the legally binding $2m General Fund loan and the portion of the Cooperative Agreement covering Eden Road and Hays Street as the City has already made a significant investment in these projects."

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January 24, 2012

Total Compensation for San Leandro's New City Manager About $303K

This week, the City of San Leandro released the total compensation for newly-appointed City Manager Chris Zapata: $302,522. That total does not include a one-time payment of $16,500 for moving expenses. Former San Leandro City Manager Stephen Hollister's total compensation was listed as $286,976 in 2010, but would have been closer to $295,000 without furlough days.

Salary$223,000
Tech Allowance$750
Management Incentive Pay$12,865
Health Benefits$7,350
PERS (employer rate)$48,503
Social Security$6,820
Medicare$3,234
Total$302,522

Based on 2010 data from other cities, Zapata receives more total compensation than Hayward ($255,935), Pleasanton ($284,989), and Walnut Creek ($294,856), but less than Emeryville ($316,952), Fremont ($333,734) and Livermore ($350,999).

On a per capita basis, Zapata gets $3.56 per resident compared to $1.56 in Fremont, $1.78 in Hayward, $4.05 in Pleasanton, $4.34 in Livermore, $4.59 in Walnut Creek, and $31.44 in Emeryville.

Note that the comparisons are for 2012 compensation for Zapata and 2010 compensation for other City Managers, which have likely increased.

Zapata starts work as San Leandro City Manager on January 30, 2012, and his first City Council meeting will be on Tuesday, February 6, 2012.

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January 17, 2012

New City Manager Contract Differs Slightly from Previous Contract

At tonight's meeting of the San Leandro City Council, the contract for newly appointed City Manager Chris Zapata will be considered and voted upon. The selection of Zapata was approved 6-0 on January 5, 2012.

Zapata's contract is very similar to former City Manager Stephen Hollister's contract, with a few important exceptions.

The contract is in effect until January 2015 (three years), while Hollister's last contract was for one year.

Hollister's salary was listed in his contract as "15% above step five of the salary range of the highest paid City management employee." This meant that he had a salary of $202,694 in 2010, which was reduced to $194,507 by furlough days. Zapata gets a bump in base salary to $223,000.

Zapata will also receive a one-time payment of $16,500 to cover moving expenses, but will to have to reimburse it on a pro-rated basis if he leaves before January 2015.

However, the new contract does not include a $475 monthly automobile allowance that totaled $5,700 annually for Hollister.

A provision of the contract that calls for Zapata to pay his own contribution to the CalPERS pension plan likely sets the stage for negotiations with the City's bargaining groups, whose current agreements expire at the end of the year. The City currently pays the entire employee portion of the CalPERS contribution for all employees. For Hollister, that meant an additional $17,782 in compensation and the number for Zapata would have been closer to $20,000.

The amount of notice required for the City Manager to terminate the agreement has been reduced from 90 days to 45 days.

Details that remain unchanged are the amount of severance pay, which remains at six months of compensation if the City terminates the contract without cause and no compensation if the contract is terminated for cause. Also unchanged are 25 vacation days, 12 sick days, "management incentive pay of 120 hours per calendar year," and City-paid membership in the International City Management Association, League of California Cities, and local civic groups.

Based on the numbers above and estimates for things such as health insurance and the employer contribution to CalPERS, Zapata's total compensation will likely be close to or exceed Hollister's by a few thousand dollars.

Zapata, who currently serves as National City's City Manager is scheduled to start on January 30, 2012.

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January 15, 2012

Fifth Coffee with the Cops Focuses on New Laws

The San Leandro Police Department's Fifth Coffee with the Cops focused on new laws for 2012, including:

  • Booster seats required for children until they are eight years old or until they are four feet nine inches tall
  • Requires that police allow another licensed driver to drive a vehicle away (instead of impounding the vehicle) if the driver of a vehicle at a sobriety checkpoint does not have a valid license
  • Allows a person convicted of reckless driving to apply for a restricted license prior to the end of the one-year suspension
  • Vehicles will be prohibited from crossing double parallel solid white lines, except where permitted.
  • Electric vehicles must now be plugged in for refueling when occupying an EV-designated parking space
  • Local governments can now regulate advertising signs on any motor vehicle parked or left standing upon a public street
  • Courts may revoke a driver's license for 10 years if a person is convicted of three or more DUls

Lt. Jeff Tudor and Detective Josh Brum described a series of strong arm robberies in the area of Estudillo, Bancroft, Joaquin and Juana from December 26, 2011, to January 7, 2012. The suspects are a young African American female and a young African American male, 18 to 25 years old. There is no specific time of day at which these robberies occur, but they appear to be target people of either sex walking alone. The female approaches the victim and claims to have a gun in her purse. One witness confirmed that there was a gun in the purse.

The next Coffee with the Cops is at Creekside Bistro on February 7, 2012. Creekside Bistro is located at 500 Davis Street.

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January 11, 2012

Chris Crow May Be Removed From San Leandro Planning Commission

The agenda for the January 17, 2012, meeting of the San Leandro City Council includes an item for replacing Planning Commissioner Chris Crow. Chris Crow was appointed to the Planning Commission on November 1, 2010, by District 2 Councilmember Ursula Reed, who is up for re-election this year.

Reed said that she appreciates his service and wishes him well. Crow did not respond to questions at the time of this posting, but posted that the first he learned of his potential removal from the Planning Commission was today, a claim denied by Reed.

Appointments to commissions and boards are typically political decisions and appointees tend to be supporters of the Council member who appoints them. The nominations come from individuals members of the City Council but are voted on by the entire City Council. According to paperwork on file with the City of San Leandro, Crow filed to run for the District 2 City Council seat currently held by Reed on September 6, 2011. Former San Leandro School Board member Ken Pon is his campaign treasurer.

Crow isn't the first one to be removed from the Planning Commission. In March 2008, Marcene Nardine was removed from the Planning Commission. Nardine had been appointed by former Mayor Tony Santos, whom she endorsed shortly after finishing third in the June 2006 election. Nardine missed five of 12 Planning Commission meetings since being appointed, including three consecutive meetings.

The City Council Handbook section on Boards and Commissions is silent on reasons for removal of commission members, except for the following:

"If members of a board or commission absent themselves from three consecutive regular meetings of each board or commission, unless by permission of such board or commission expressed in its official minutes, or is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, or ceases to be a qualified elector of the City, their office shall become vacant and shall be so declared by the Council."

Crow works for McDermott Costa Insurance Brokers and graduated from San Leandro High School in 2002. On his application for the Planning Commission, Crow listed his qualifications for the appointment as, "AA, Certified Ins. Counselor, smart, go-getter, care about city, problem solver, hard worker." Crow is on the Board of the San Leandro Education Foundation, active in San Leandro Rotary, and an Assistant Wrestling Coach at San Leandro High School.


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January 5, 2012

San Leandro City Council Appoints Chris Zapata as City Manager

Chris_Zapata_small.jpg
Chris Zapata
According to a press release issued today, the San Leandro City Council voted 6-0 in closed session on January 5, 2012, to appoint Chris Zapata, 52, as San Leandro's new City Manager, effective January 30, 2012. Councilmember Michael Gregory was absent.

Zapata replaces Steve Hollister, who resigned effective June 30, 2011, after a closed session meeting on December 20, 2010. Since then, Lianne Marshall has served as Interim City Manager.

The San Leandro City Council initially sought to recruit and hire a City Manager using an ad-hoc committee consisting of Mayor Stephen Cassidy, Councilmember Diana Souza and Vice Mayor Ursula Reed (later replaced by Gregory). After the process fell apart, the San Leandro City Council voted to hire the recruitment firm Teri Black & Company.

Zapata is likely the first San Leandro City Manager not promoted from within and also the first non-white City Manager.

Zapata currently serves as National City's City Manager, where he was hired in 2004. Prior to that, he served as Deputy City Manager for Glendale, Arizona. Zapata also was the City Manager for the Arizona cities of Superior and Eloy.

In April 2011, Zapata was one of five finalists for a City Manager position in Chandler, Arizona, but lost out to the Interim City Manager. In March 2010, Zapata withdrew his name for consideration for Stockton's City Manager position after it became known that he was being interviewed as a finalist for the position. When Zapata announced that he was hiring National City Councilmember Frank Parra to replace retiring Fire Chief Rod Juniel in early 2010, critics noted that Parra had no firefighting experience and that Zapata was essentially hiring one of his bosses.

Zapata's current salary, according to the National City web site, is $165,000, the same as when he was hired in 2004. His monthly car allowance and housing allowance were increased from $550 to $750 and from $250 to $500, respectively, in 2007, an increase of $5,400 annually. In lieu of salary increases, Zapata received one-time payments totaling $53,000 from 2006 to 2009. Zapata also took voluntary pay cuts of $8,250 in 2006 and $6,346 in 2009 "due to economic conditions."

Compared to San Leandro, National City has about 26,000 less people, with 63% Hispanic or Latino, while San Leandro has 27.4%. Racially, whites account for 42% of National City and 37.6% of San Leandro, Asians account for 18.3% of National City and 29.7% of San Leandro, and African Americans account for 5.2% of National City and 12.3% of San Leandro.

Below is a list of previous San Leandro City Managers:

  • Steve Hollister, 2008 - 2011

  • John Jermanis, 1997 - 2008

  • Michael A. Oliver, 1992 - 1997

  • Richard H. Randall, 1986 - 1992

  • LeRoy E. Riordan, 1976 - 1986

  • Wes McClure, 1948 - 1976

  • Laurence E. Olson, 1945-1948

  • Raymond Billings, 1937-1945

  • F.R. Chilton, 1935-1937

  • Allen E. Pelton, 1932-1935

  • W.A. Richmond, 1928-1932

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December 4, 2011

San Leandro Community Members to be Honored at Monday City Council Meeting

According to a press release issued November 28, 2011, on Monday, December 5, 2011, the San Leandro City Council will present awards to members of the community to recognize their leadership.

The Mayor's Award of Excellence will be presented to Chad Pennebaker, president of the San Leandro Scholarship Foundation for the past six years and a frequent volunteer in San Leandro schools.

The Mayor's Award for Excellence in Business will be presented to J. Patrick Kennedy, the President and founder of OSIsoft, and the force behind Lit San Leandro, a project to create a fiber-optic loop around the City.

In District 1, Deborah Cox will be honored for her work as the President and founder of the San Leandro Education Foundation, President of the Estudillo Homeowners Association, leadership in school groups, including parcel tax and bond campaigns, and her service on the Boards of Leadership San Leandro, PACE, and the California Conservatory Theater.

In District 2, Charles Gilcrest will be honored for his service on the Human Services Commission and Board of Zoning Adjustments. Gilcrest is also President of the Business Association of South San Leandro and the Halcyon Foothill Neighborhood Association. Gilcrest serves as a campaign consultant and ran against Councilmember Ursula Reed in 2008.

In District 3, Lee Thomas will be honored for his service as President of the Floresta Homeowner's Association, on the Human Services Commission and the Board of Zoning Adjustments. Thomas also serves on the Shoreline Development Citizen’s Advisory Committee.

In District 4, Marti Lantz will be honored for her service as President of the Washington Homeowners Association, leadership in school groups, and is a Regional Director with Naval Sea Cadet Corps.

In District 5, Anna and John Tandi will be honored for their service as volunteers with Anna on the Board of Friends of San Leandro Creek and involvement at St. Leander Church and school groups and John as a member of the Buon Tempo Club, the Elks Club, and Moose Club.

In District 6, Carole Rinaldi, will honored for her service on the Library-Historical Commission, President of the Marina Faire Homeowner's Association, and the Shoreline Development Citizen's Advisory Committee. Rinaldi has also coordinated the Leadership San Leandro program for the past 15 years.

The awards began in 1999 when former Mayor Shelia Young presented the Mayor's Award of Excellence to Tom Guarino for restarting the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce. The next year Susan Kleebauer received the Mayor's Award for her role in rebuilding the San Leandro Library.

These awards continued until Tony Santos was elected Mayor in 2006. Previous recipients, provided by Community Relations Representative Kathy Ornelas, are listed below.

2000

  • District 1 – Ann Hague

  • District 2 – Doris Marx

  • District 3 – Joe Savio

  • District 4 – Eleanor Bolesworth

  • District 5 – Marie Lothrop

  • District 6 – Bessie Parafina

  • Mayor's Award of Excellence – Susan Kleebauer


2001
  • District 1 – John Faria

  • District 2 – Lucille Kline

  • District 3 – Robert Kvam

  • District 4 – Madge Basuino

  • District 5 – Frank Cerruti

  • District 6 – Betty Bailey

  • Mayor's Award of Excellence – Dale Reed


2002
  • District 1 – Pat Raposo

  • District 2 – Mary Bystedt

  • District 3 – Barbara Tierney

  • District 4 – Barbara Sidari

  • District 5 – Bob Grazzini

  • District 6 – Ernie Low

  • Mayor's Award of Excellence - City Manager Emeritus Wes McClure

  • Mayor’s Award of Excellence in Business - Larsen Brothers Lumber Company


2003
  • District 1 – Bob Maginnis

  • District 2 – Greg Romani

  • District 3 – Bill Perras

  • District 4 – Evelyn Plate

  • District 5 – Denise Bownds Kaplan

  • District 6 – Esther Holcomb

  • Mayor's Award of Excellence – Martin A. Francis

  • Mayor’s Award of Excellence in Business – SL Chamber of Commerce

2004

  • District 1 – Sara Zoffada

  • District 2 – Harold Kitzmann

  • District 3 – Peter DiGregorio

  • District 4 – Alban Cayere

  • District 5 – Shirley McManus

  • District 6 – Audrey Albers

  • Youth Leadership Award – Amy Fong

  • Mayor's Award of Excellence – Faith Frazier

  • Mayor’s Award of Excellence in Business – Ghirardelli Chocolate


2005
  • District 1 – John Chovanes

  • District 2 – George Hansen and Janice Maldonado

  • District 3 – Verna Corum

  • District 4 – Simone Shuttleworth

  • District 5 – Tim Holmes

  • District 6 – Kent Myers

  • Youth Leadership Award – Karen Wong

  • Mayor's Award of Excellence – Maria and LeVern Cabral

  • Mayor’s Award of Excellence in Business – Deadrich Realty

2006

  • District 1 – Kathe Frates

  • District 2 – The Reverend Sarah Reyes

  • District 3 – Caryl Ann Symons

  • District 4 – V.I.E.U. – Mission Bay

  • District 5 – Patty Silva

  • District 6 – Luster Knight

  • Youth Leadership Award – Norris Mei

  • Mayor's Award of Excellence – Heidi Finberg

  • Mayor’s Award of Excellence in Business – Kraft Foods

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November 10, 2011

Former San Leandro Councilmember Ed Suchman Dies at 99

Edwin_Suchman_small.jpg
Edwin Suchman
According to a press release from the City of San Leandro, former San Leandro Councilmember Ed Suchman died on November 9, 2011, at the age of 99.

After he served in World War II in Europe and retired at the rank of Sergeant, Suchman was a Reserve Officer in the San Leandro Police Department for 13 years.

After leaving the police department, Suchman ran for San Leandro City Council in 1978, losing to Johan Klehs. Two years later, he ran for San Leandro School Board and lost to Lois McDonald. In 1982, he defeated Bud Rames to take the District 3 City Council seat and won re-election in 1986 over Julian Polvorosa. After being termed out in 1990, Suchman ran again in 1998, losing to Glenda Nardine. Suchman also served as the City of San Leandro's representative to the Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District for 17 years.

Suchman remained active in local politics, even after he moved out of town, endorsing Bill McCammon for Assembly in 2006 and Charles Gilcrest for San Leandro City Council in 2008. Suchman also contributed to Tony Santos' mayoral campaign in 2006.

Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, November 15, 1:30 p.m. at Chapel of the Chimes in Hayward.

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October 9, 2011

City of San Leandro Looks to Go Paperless with Apple iPads

ipad2.jpg The San Leandro City Council may soon be reviewing agendas and backup documentation on Apple iPads, if plans discussed at the September 29, 2011, meeting of the Rules and Communications Committee come to fruition.

The iPads are part of a paperless agenda initiative that could reduce printing costs and save staff time, which includes delivery of printed and bound booklets that contain the agenda and backup information to the homes of members of the City Council.

According to information presented by City of San Leandro Information Technology Manager Rayan Fowler, the initial proposal calls for iPads to be purchased for all members of the City Council (7), City Manager's Office (4), department heads (7), and two for technical support staff.

Although the initial proposal called for 3G-enabled iPads, Mayor Stephen Cassidy was skeptical of the need for 3G and especially the added initial and ongoing costs. A 3G-enabled iPad costs $130 more (26%) than a standard 16GB iPad, according to Apple's web site and up to $9,122 in annual costs for unlimited data service, which could be reduced to $6,480 for limited data service. The estimated cost of $880 for each 16GB iPad2 includes 3G, an extra adapter, insurance in case they are dropped and iAnnotate software. That cost could be reduced to $750 each without 3G and to $650 if refurbished iPads were purchased, based on prices from Apple. The total estimated cost for the 20 iPads is $17,600. Additional costs include purchase of additional wireless access points to improve or add wireless access at City buildings, estimated at $4,959.50.

At the Sep. 29 meeting of the Rules and Communications Committee, Councilmember Ursula Reed expressed a desire to have 3G-enabled iPads so that they could be used to access information, anywhere, such as BART or conferences. Reed added, "If you don't have 3G, then it almost defeats the purpose...if I didn't have 3G, it would be pointless because I could just sit in front of a computer at home." Cassidy noted that the City already pays for cell phones for council members and council members could also use their $175 monthly technology allowance. Section 1.3.120 of San Leandro's Administrative Code states that council members "may be reimbursed for expenses incurred for Internet E-Mail Provider service, Fax Machine telephone line service, Cell Phone service (City business only), Electronic Datebook service, and like expenses." Prola wanted to make the switch to a paperless agenda voluntary and said that there was no reason for the council packets to be delivered to council members' homes. Since the City would continue to print a limited number of bound copies of the agenda and backup material, Prola asked that council members have the option of continue to receive the printed version.

Savings from changing to a paperless agenda are estimated at $2,500 annually for printing agenda books and $10,000 annually by eliminating a copier lease, though that wouldn't happen until the lease expires in October 2012.

Advantages of the new system cited by staff include the ability to include color images and larger documents, better utilization of a new electronic agenda system, Legistar, that was recently implemented and using 100,000 less sheets of paper each year. Legistar is a product of Granicus, the company that provides live audio streaming and archiving of City Council meetings.

Six copies of the complete agenda and backup material would continue to be printed for the main and branch libraries, council meeting, and city manager's office.

The City of Hayward want paperless in November 2010, which included purchase of iPads for its council members. Redwood City expects to save $30,000 annually, but restricted use of email and text messages on the devices out of concerns that they could be used to circumvent the California Public Records Act. The City of Lynwood, California, estimates it will save $6,000 annually after switching to iPads in August 2010. Other cities that are moving to iPads include Burbank, Sacramento, and Wildomar in California, Columbia, Missouri, Bluffton, South Carolina, Fredericksburg, Virginia, Coral Springs, Florida, and Williamsburg, Virginia.

Members of the committee did not agree on a recommendation to the City Council and the issue will be discussed at the October meeting of the Rules and Communications Committee.

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October 5, 2011

San Leandro City Council Adopts Partial Polystyrene Ban

At its October 3, 2011, meeting, the San Leandro City Council took the final step in approval of a partial ban on polystyrene food packaging in San Leandro. Although Councilmember Diana Souza had voted against the ban at the September 19, 2011 City Council meeting, saying that "we're moving too fast," Souza changed her mind and supported adoption of the ordinance banning styrene. Councilmember Joyce Starosciak, who abstained from the Sept. 19 vote, also abstained from the Oct. 3 vote.

The ban covers "any establishment that prepares and packages prepared food or beverages within the City for public consumption on or off its premises including supermarkets grocery stores delicatessens restaurants sales outlets shops cafeterias mobile food preparation trucks caterers and roadside stands The ordinance also applies to the City of San Leandro and its facilities including vendors who provide food services in City facilities and at City-sponsored events." It does not apply to retail sales of polystyrene food ware, such as cups and plates, nor does it apply to pre-packaged food brought into San Leandro or pre-packaged food prepared in San Leandro for sale outside of the City.

The ban will take effect November 1, 2012, to give businesses time to use up existing inventory and find suitable alternatives.

According to the staff report, the styrene ban is modeled on Hayward's ordinance. Similar bans are already in place in Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward and Oakland. Like San Leandro, the bans do not apply to retail sales of polystyrene food ware.

At the September 19 meeting, speakers against the ban included Mike and Cheryl Miraglia of Miraglia Catering, a certified green company that doesn't use polystyrene, Dave Johnson of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce, and Tim Holmes of Zocalo Coffeehouse. Johnson called the ordinance bad legislation towards a worthy goal while Holmes supports a ban, but said that the ordinance was not a ban, because it didn't apply to retail sales of polystyrene food ware. Other opponents who contacted the City Council to oppose the ban included the California Restaurant Association and the owners of Porky's Pizza Palace.

Speakers in support of the ban at the September 19 meeting included Miriam Gordon of Clean Water Action, Mario Juarez with the Sierra Club, Christopher Chin with COARE (Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education), and local residents Carrie Spector, Sarah Marxer, Don Franke, Mark and Laura Stout, Walden Smith with 4-H Green Teens, and Jack Pretsky. Eight local residents also contacted the City Council prior to the meeting to indicate their support for the ban.

Councilmember Jim Prola has been outspoken in his support of the ban, stating, "We should have done this yesterday...How much of a neurotoxin should a child have?"

Starosciak's initial comments appeared supportive of the ban: "We all want a healthy community. And so it's really important that we are focused on helping maintain a healthy environment in San Leandro. And this proposed ordinance puts a dent in some of the bad stuff that polystyrene does in our community." Starosciak then listed some things that the City Council has done that she believes have negatively impacted local businesses: the sales tax increase, increased sewer treatment fees, cost-of-living adjustments to business license fees, 911 taxes, paramedic taxes, reduced permit counter hours, restrictions on smoking, parking, and signage, and reduced financial support for the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce. Some of these, like the increased sales tax, business license fees, 911 fees, and paramedic fees, Starosciak supported. Starosciak abstained from the vote on increasing the sewer treatment fees last year.

After Starosciak noted that "I do think it's a good idea to help the environment wherever we can," she also said that the City Council is negatively affecting businesses repeatedly and then abstained during the vote.

Before the vote, Mayor Stephen Cassidy stated that he supports the ban and believes "that this is desirable policy." Cassidy compared the current use of polystyrene to the use of lead by the Romans, which led to poisoning.

At the October 3, 2011, meeting all of the speakers supported the polystyrene ban, including Carrie Spector, who said that she didn't believe that the ban went far enough. Leah Scheibe spoke in favor of the ban and wants San Leandro to become a leader in sustainability by banning plastic bags and adopting more stringent energy efficiency requirements. Mario Juarez of the Sierra Club spoke again as well and local resident Mia Ousley reiterated styrene's damaging health effects.

Souza stated that she voted against ban previously not because she's against it but because she thinks that the City should have worked with businesses and not alienate them. She then voted in favor of the ban, which passed 6 to 0 with Starosciak abstaining.

The next environmental ordinance likely to face San Leandro is a ban on plastic bags, which is being considered by StopWaste.org (the Alameda County Waste Management Authority and Recycling Board operating as one public agency).

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October 3, 2011

US Supreme Court Declines to Hear City of San Leandro's Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on October 3, 2011, that it has declined to hear an appeal of the Faith Fellowship case against the City of San Leandro. The decision represents a blow to the City of San Leandro and Professor Marci Hamilton, who had hoped that the Supreme Court would take on the case and potentially reverse the decision of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This means that the decision of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on February 15, 2011, stands, and the case can proceed to trial.

For the City of San Leandro, this means either a potentially lengthy and costly trial or an expensive settlement. The decision is a boost for Faith Fellowship and the Pacific Justice Institute, which is providing free legal services to Faith Fellowship. In a press release issued on October 3, 2011, Pacific Justice Institute President Brad Dacus said, "We are gratified that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed to stand the favorable decision we won at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. That decision strikes an important balance between both the legitimate goals of city planners and the fundamental rights of religious congregations to exist and be treated fairly in the zoning process."

In May 2011, Faith Fellowship claimed it had lost $3.7 million to date and will likely want at least that amount as part of any judgement or settlement.

The lawsuit came about as a result of the church's desire to relocate to a larger facility in 2006. The church bought a parcel of land, hoping that the City of San Leandro would rezone the property so that it could be used as a church. When the City didn't rezone the property, the church sued under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which requires that municipalities not create a substantial burden on land use by religious entities.

Hamilton, who prepared the appeal to the US Supreme Court, had been hopeful that the Court would want to clarify the issues raised in this case. Hamilton did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Update: In a press release issued October 4, 2011, the City of San Leandro stated, "The Church will have the burden of proving that the City's denial of its application to re-zone the property, subsequent to its purchase, constituted a substantial burden on religious exercise."

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September 30, 2011

San Leandro Passed Over for Grant for More Cops

SL_police_logo.png The U.S. Department of Justice announced on September 29, 2011, that 23 different California police agencies were awarded nearly $72 million to pay for 190 police officers over the next three years. San Leandro, which was awarded a COPS grant in September 2010 for five police officers, was not among the grant recipients this year.

The COPS grants fund police officers for a total of three years and require the grant recipients to fund the positions for a fourth year. For San Leandro, that means budgeting more than $800,000 in 2013-2014.

According to the COPS Scoring Methodology, the COPS Office tried to balance "the need for federal assistance, as measured by economic and fiscal health questions along with crime rates, with an applicant’s current commitment to community policing and their proposed community policing plan." San Leandro's score of 142.31 placed it 138th out of the 217 California police agencies that applied for a grant, according to the applicant rankings.

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September 15, 2011

Take Two of San Leandro's City Manager Search

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Teri Black & Company, the search firm hired by the San Leandro City Council on July 5, 2011, posted the City Manager position on its web site on Thursday, September 15, 2011, nearly six months after the position was originally posted on the City website.

The salary is now listed as DOQE, which stands for Dependent on Qualifications and Experience. The previous brochure also listed no salary but noted that previous city managers have been paid "15% above step five of the salary range of the highest paid City management employee as shown in the City Council adopted Pay Plan" according to their employment agreements. For the previous city manager, that meant 15% more than $14,688 per month, or $202,694 annually.

The previous version of the brochure stated that benefits include "8% City-paid contribution for CALPERS," and "Generous vacation and administrative leave; car allowance provided." The new version of the brochure states, "A portion of the contribution may be employee-paid during the first three years of employment as part of the fiscal stabilization program." and eliminates any mention of a car allowance.

The new brochure adds that "[Relocation] Assistance is available and negotiable and will be dependent on the needs and desires of the candidate selected. Willingness to consider residing in San Leandro will be well received."

Businesses mentioned in the brochure include Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, Coca-Cola, Odwalla, Otis Spunkmeyer, Tri-Net, OSIsoft, and Kaiser.

The application deadline is October 16, 2011, at midnight.

Previous San Leandro City Manager Steve Hollister submitted his resignation, effective June 30, 2011, just after the City Council met in closed session on December 20, 2010. Hollister was hired as Assistant City Manager in 2004 with the help of a search firm. He became Interim City Manager in September 2008 after the retirement of John Jermanis and was appointed City Manager in December 2008. Lianne Marshall was appointed as Interim City Manager on June 6, 2011.

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September 14, 2011

Cops Answer Community's Questions during "Coffee with the Cops"

Tuesday morning, San Leandro Police held the first "Coffee with the Cops" meeting with about two dozen community members and 13 police officers at Main Street Bagel.

The meeting was standing room only as San Leandro Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli started by addressing a question about the legality of using medical marijuana in an apartment building where children were present. Spagnoli and other members of the police department answered questions on medical marijuana, the recovery of a gun at the high school, loud car stereos and the Nex Cycle recycling facility at the Bancroft Avenue Safeway parking lot.

In response to a question additional safety measures being implemented in response to the gun incident at San Leandro High School, Spagnoli first stated that an additional School Resource Officer will be assigned to the high school, where there is currently one. She added, "You could actually use 3 or 4 School Resource Officers just at the high school." "We're going to be revisiting our daytime curfew which is the curfew that says that kids need to be in school, right, based on the education code. We know that when kids are out of school, they can become victims of crime or they can commit crimes or they can just be away from school, which is obviously a concern from a public safety standpoint. So, we're working on making some revisions to that ordinance, have some teeth in it, that parents have responsibility."

The San Leandro City Council unanimously adopted a daytime curfew for children on July 30, 2007. It applies between 8am and 3pm on days when school is in session. A similar curfew was already in place between 10pm and 5am.

When Stephen Carbonaro asked Chief Spagnoli about police staffing levels, she said that the department had 89 officers but that "you could have over 100 police officers and that would be great." She then asked Captain Stephen Pricco for the highest number of officers that the police department previously had and Pricco responded that the maximum number of police historically was 94. [Editor's note: San Leandro had 98 police officers in 2000 and 96 officers in 1997 and 1998.]

Spagnoli noted that the implementation of e911 has resulted in thousands more calls to local dispatchers, leading to installation of an automated phone system for callers to San Leandro's local non-emergency number. Prior to implementation of the e911 system, 911 calls went to the California Highway Patrol's dispatch center in Vallejo.

One resident complained about traffic near Muir Middle School, especially parents and children who crossed the street outside of crosswalks.

Near the end of the meeting, Captain Pete Ballew noted that, "last year, in San Leandro, crime was at the lowest level it's been in 30 years, but if you were burglarized last night, it's not the lowest level in 30 years." Ballew noted that robberies and burglaries are up a little bit this year. Detective Isaac Benabou said that burglaries were up largely because of a person who was burglarizing multiple houses each day.

For those who were not able to ask questions, before time ran out, forms were available to submit questions.

Coffee with the Cops was first announced by Chief Spagnoli at a June 30, 2011, Town Hall Meeting. The next Coffee with the Cops is scheduled for October 11, 2011, from 8 to 9am at Dick's Restaurant, located at 3188 Alvarado Street.

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August 15, 2011

First Coffee With the Cops at Main Street Bagel on September 13

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According to a press release issued today by the San Leandro Police Department, the first Coffee with the Cops will be held on Tuesday, September 13, 2011, at Main Street Bagel.

The monthly program was announced by San Leandro Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli on June 30, 2011, at the Town Hall meeting for Council Districts 3 and 4.

Police personnel, including the chief and officers, will discuss neighborhood crime trends, provide crime prevention tips and answer questions.

Similar "Coffee with the Cops" meetings are also in place in Albany, Antioch, San Ramon, and Napa County.

Coffee with the Cops is scheduled for 8am to 9am at Main Street Bagel, located at 1099 MacArthur Boulevard in San Leandro.

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July 8, 2011

Former San Leandro City Manager Lee Riordan Dies

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Former San Leandro City Manager Lee Riordan
Former San Leandro City Manager LeRoy E. "Lee" Riordan died on July 2, 2011, after a brief illness. Riordan started working in San Leandro's finance department in 1952 after working as an Administrative Analyst for the US Air Force. He was appointed Assistant City Manager in 1956 and served in that position for 20 years before he was appointed City Manager in 1976 when Wes McClure retired. After ten years as City Manager, Riordan retired briefly and then served as the City Manager for Monterey from 1987 until 1991. From 1991 until 1996, Riordan served as the Advisor to the Mayor Association of Monterey County.

Elected officials and city officials who worked with Riordan had nothing but praise for him. John Jermanis, who worked under Riordan, said, "Lee was a great guy; he was highly regarded by his many friends and colleagues and will be missed." Jermanis noted that "he [Riordan] placed an emphasis on disaster training for staff" and also worked with the City Council to establish a reserve fund (later used in 1998 for the Hillside Drive landslides).

Former San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos said of Riordan, "He assisted me in learning about city budgets; I came from the private sector and did not have experience in city budgeting."

Bob Glaze, the former Councilmember for District 4, said, "He was strong but could sit down and help to bring people to consensus. His "can do" attitude was instrumental in the return of the Cherry festival, cherry tree plantings, the cherry symbol of the street signs and the celebration of the city and the people."

Former Mayor Shelia Young said she will "remember him as someone who had a passion for San Leandro and lived it."

Riordan was City Manager when Proposition 13 was passed and when recession drove interest rates to all-time highs. Financing became so prohibitive that a planned multi-story shopping center with underground parking could not be completed, but was salvaged in a public-private deal resulting in the large parking lot and single story buildings known as Washington Plaza Shopping Center.

Projects started while Riordan was City Manager include the Greenhouse Market Place, Parkside apartments, and Marina Square shopping center (formerly Pacific High School). The Marina Inn and the original Tony Lema 18-hole golf course were completed under Riordan's tenure.

After his second retirement, Riordan served as a Range Rider from 1997 until 2003, making "the counsel, experience and support of respected retired City Managers available to active local government Managers and Administrators."

Riordan served as the President of the Municipal Management Association of Northern California in the 1950s and was a member of the Board of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

Mayor Stephen Cassidy adjourned the July 5, 2011, meeting of the City Council in memory of Riordan and flags will be flown at half-staff at City facilities for one week. No information about funeral services was available.

Update: Corrected to eliminate Blue Dolphin as construction began in 1965, prior to Riordan's tenure as City Manager.

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July 6, 2011

City Council Votes to Contribute to Their Own Pensions

On July 5, 2011, the San Leandro City Council voted 5 to 2 for members of the City Council to pay the employee contribution portion of their pension contribution. Councilmembers Joyce Starosciak and Diana Souza voted against the change, arguing that a salary reduction would be more equitable. This means that Councilmembers Starosciak, Souza, Pauline Cutter and Michael Gregory will be receive an estimated $1,306 less each year and Mayor Stephen Cassidy will receive an estimated $2,600 less each year.

Previously, the City of San Leandro paid this for Councilmembers and all employees. For non-public safety employees, that is 8% of their salary and for police, it is 9%.

In 2010, the City of San Leandro paid $2,613 for former Mayor Tony Santos' employee CalPERS contribution, in addition to the employer portion of $4,363. That was the most for any elected official in the Bay Area, For three of the City Councilmembers (Souza, Starosciak, and Gregory) the City of San Leandro paid $1,306 each for the employee CalPERS contribution ($1,210 in 2011) and $2,181 each for the employer CalPERS contribution. The City of San Leandro did not pay any CalPERS contribution for Councilmember Ursula Reed and former Councilmember Bill Stephens because they were covered by their full-time jobs working for school districts. Although Councilmember Jim Prola is eligible to receive the pension benefit, he has voluntarily declined it since taking office.

If the Council decides to pay for their portion of the CalPERS contribution, the City will save $7,120 with the current City Council and up to $10,500 under future City Councils.

While the amount of money is small compared to an annual general fund budget of $71.76 million, the change sets the stage for contract negotiations in 2012.

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San Leandro is one of just three cities in Alameda County that pays the entire portion of non-public safety employees' pension contribution. The other cities are Berkeley and Pleasanton, but Pleasanton excludes management employees.

Similarly, San Leandro pays the entire portion of public safety employees' pension contribution, along with the cities of Livermore and Oakland. Pleasanton pays the full employee contribution for police, but not fire. However, it appears that things will soon change in Oakland, where a draft of the new police contract contains a provision for Oakland Police to pay the full 9% employee portion of their pension contribution.

In 2011-2012, the average San Leandro police pension payment is 42.6 cents for every dollar of salary. That is more than any other city in Alameda County and it is projected to rise to 46.7 cents next year. Berkeley is the next highest, with 36 cents this year and 40 cents next year.

By contrast, the average pension payment for San Leandro's non-police employees is 13.2 cents for every dollar of salary this year, rising to 17.5 cents next year. Oakland, Hayward, Pleasanton, Livermore, Fremont, and Berkeley are projected to pay more than that next year.

If the City of San Leandro employee unions agree to a similar change in their contracts, the City of San Leandro would save an estimated $3 million per year. Changes made to the non-public safety employees contract in 2010 modified the amount new employees would receive at retirement (from 2.5% at 55 years old to 2.0%), but savings from that provision won't be realized until new employees are hired.

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July 4, 2011

Souza Seeks Support for Pot Ordinance at Town Hall Meeting

San Leandro District 3 Councilmember Diana Souza spoke at a recent Town Hall meeting about a proposed ordinance that would have prohibited marijuana collectives and cooperatives. That ordinance failed to pass on May 16, 2011, with Councilmembers Ursula Reed, Pauline Cutter, Jim Prola, and Michael Gregory voting against passing the ordinance.

While Souza did not explicitly encourage members of the audience to pressure their council members to pass an ordinance, it was clear that was her intent. The following is a transcript of her comments regarding the marijuana ordinance:

The thing that I'm going to talk to you about is medical marijuana dispensaries and grow facilities. How many of you know what those are? Great. We're moving along. So the Council directed staff at the end of last year, I believe it was, to put together an ordinance. Well first of all, we put a moratorium on medical marijuana in the City and we then directed staff to say create an ordinance to prohibit dispensaries and grow farms. So staff diligently did the work that we asked them to, When they brought that ordinance back to us, the ordinance was rejected by Council. So now we still have a moratorium and it's going to expire to expire, but we'll probably extend it another year. But we're going to be needing to give staff direction on what we want them to create. They have no direction right now and we haven't given them any. So I just want you as residents to be aware that coming down the road we're going to be giving them direction, so if you want to have a conversation with your council member or if you want to have input on how the council should provide that direction, I encourage you to contact your council members. And again, I don't really want to get into a debate about anything else about the situation right now. But I do want to just encourage - make you aware that's coming up and if you have an opinion, share it with your council members coming up.

The history of San Leandro's prohibitions of dispensaries dates back to December 2004 when the City Council enacted a moratorium on marijuana dispensaries to prevent one from opening in San Leandro. Subsequent ordinances were passed in January 2005 and January 2006.

However, the moratorium on marijuana dispensaries ended as of December 4, 2006, because the State of California places time limits on urgency ordinances like the ones San Leandro enacted to prohibit marijuana dispensaries within the City. According to the City Attorney, marijuana dispensaries cannot be licensed in San Leandro because they possess and distribute a federally-controlled substance. San Leandro Municipal Code Sec. 2.2.420 permits the Finance Director to reject a business license application if there is "reasonable cause to believe...that a proposed business will not comply with any applicable laws..." This seems to give the City of San Leandro the flexibility to ban or license marijuana-related businesses depending on the current climate.

More recently, on October 4, 2010, the City Council approved a 45-day interim urgency ordinance that placed a moratorium on dispensaries and grow facilities. After a work session on November 8, 2010, City staff recommended that the City Council adopt a 22-month moratorium at the November 15, 2010, meeting. That recommendation failed and a shorter 10-month moratorium was approved with only Councilmember Joyce Starosciak opposed (she voted for the longer moratorium).

At a February 28, 2011, work session, the City Council directed staff to prepare an ordinance prohibiting Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and Cultivation. On May 16, 2011, that ordinance was defeated, as noted above.

The current moratorium expires on September 30, 2011. Since the City already has the authority, under its municipal code, to prohibit licensing of marijuana-related businesses, the expiration of the moratorium is unlikely to produce any change in the status of marijuana-related businesses in the City of San Leandro.

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July 3, 2011

District 3 & 4 Town Hall Focuses on Crime and Traffic Projects

Coffee with the COPS Coming This Fall

San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy, Councilmember Diana Souza, and Councilmember Joyce Starosciak held a Town Hall meeting for council districts 3 and 4 on June 30, 2011, at the Marina Community Center.

San Leandro Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli announced a new program for the fall called "Coffee with the COPS," in which officers will come to your neighborhood at your local business or neighborhood association and speak about crime issues in the local area and what residents can do to reduce crime.

After a brief introduction by Mayor Cassidy, Councilmember Starosciak spoke about construction at some San Lorenzo schools, construction of the dog park at Marina Park, and construction of Kaiser Hospital.

During her presentation, Spagnoli first described the capture of a burglar earlier in the day and credited the capture to residents who called it in and a smart officer. Spagnoli started off with programs offered by the San Leandro Police Department, including Neighborhood Watch, Crime Free Business, Crime Free-Multi-housing, and National Night Out.

Spagnoli also described new programs started within the last year: Citizens Police Academy and Teen Police Academy, which give residents the opportunity to learn more about the police and the resources that are available.

On-line reporting, which Spagnoli said "is not a replacement for an officer" is now available at http://sleservices.ci.san-leandro.ca.us/coplogic/start-report.html. Some of the crimes that can be reported include theft, vandalism, fraudulent credit card use, hit & run, and threatening phone calls.

Also in fall, the San Leandro Police will begin publishing an online police activity/arrest log. Spagnoli said that residents will be able to find out what is going on in a specific area when there is police activity - and will also relieve the police dispatchers.

According to Spagnoli, crime overall in San Leandro is up 6% from the same period last year. Spagnoli said that this is not unexpected, since crime last year was at a thirty-year low. She warned that "prison release and parole reform" would have a heavy impact in the Bay Area and San Leandro. The bulk of the increase appeared to be due to murders and rapes, according to the data from her presentation.

San Leandro Officer Tim Degrano spoke about crime statistics for District 3 and 4. DeGrano noted that auto thefts were concentrated at places like Bayfair, Greenhouse Shopping Center and Marina Square, which he described as target-rich environments. Most auto thefts took place during the day. Burglaries occurred evenly during the day and night.

During questions from the audience, Spagnoli noted that the Police Department just moved to an automated answering system for the non-emergency number. Spagnoli said that dispatched handled 65,000 calls last year. With the introduction of e-911 (San Leandro is one of the last communities to begin using this system), an additional 18,000 calls are being routed to the police dispatchers, making the automated system necessary.

Souza asked Spagnoli, "People see fireworks coming from the backyard but they can't see who's doing it - someone in the house can still be arrested, correct?" Spagnoli responded, "We would probably take it [the fireworks] and give them a citation."

Alameda County Fire Chief Sheldon Gilbert noted that the City of San Leandro has re-instituted it participation in the Fire Department's Emergency Preparedness program that had been victim of budget cuts. In this program, the first department helps train communities to be prepared, and map resources and needs in the community.

City of San Leandro Engineers Keith Cooke and Ken Joseph followed with a description of traffic projects in districts 3 and 4, touching on pavement projects and road work associated with the construction of Kaiser Hospital.

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June 30, 2011

Mayor Cassidy Answers Questions from Chinese Residents

San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy answered questions from more than 40 Chinese residents and community members at the Washington Manor library on June 18, 2011. With the help of volunteer translator and San Leandro teacher Wing Mok, Interim Assistant City Manager Jacqui Diaz, and three members of the San Leandro Police Department, Cassidy answered questions about police staffing at the police station, school budget cuts, help for someone trying to buy a nursing home in San Leandro, a student project on enhancing brain power, availability of staff at City Hall, public relations training for City employees, PG&E smart meters, automatic natural gas shutoff valves in the event of an earthquake, and internet access in San Leandro, and keeping the community safe.

In response to a question by San Leandro Library-Historical Commissioner Arlene Lum, San Leandro Police Officer Ted Henderson said that there are two Cantonese speaking officers and two Mandarin speaking officers in the San Leandro Police Department. When those officers are not available, a translation service from AT&T is used.

When asked about City staff being available to help non-English speaking residents, Mayor Cassidy said he would like to have a specific day on which non-English speaking staff or translators could be on-hand to help non-English speaking residents.

Mayor Cassidy and Councilmembers Diana Souza and Joyce Starosicak will hold a Town Hall tonight, Thursday, June 30, at the Marina Community Center at 6:30pm. The Marina Community Center is located at 15301 Wicks Boulevard in San Leandro.

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June 21, 2011

San Leandro Councilmember Reed Suggests Changing Council to Five Members and Limiting to Three Terms

councilreed125.jpg At the end of the San Leandro City Council meeting on Monday, June 21, 2011, Councilmember Ursula Reed suggested that the number of councilmembers in San Leandro be reduced from six to four. Reed also suggested that term limits be changed so that members of the City Council could serve for three terms instead of the current two terms.

Here is the text of Reed's comments:

"Just because, you know, we're all now thinking outside the box, I'd like to recommend to the Rules Committee, to go to the Rules Committee, a recommendation to change the charter. And I know this could be controversial, but I believe that our city, of maybe 85,000 at this point, does not need to have six council members and one mayor. I believe that it should and could function with four council members and one mayor and have a five-count instead of a seven-count [city council]. That would mean 21,000 [residents] per district. The reason I came up with this and the thinking is… I was thinking I was reading a lot about redistricting and thinking about the proposal to decrease our salaries and pay for our own health and all of these different ways we could save money for San Leandro.
"I don't want it to affect the current seated Council. The City voted for us to represent them and so I'm not trying to affect anyone who's currently seated. But I think that in the future we should think about how this could possibly be a good change. And I would like to see - I also believe…there's two things: There's the redesign of the districts. But also…I also believe that two terms is very short for city council members. And it seems to me that when a city council member gets to their second term - the first term you're just learning how to negotiate the council and all the different committees and sit in a meeting and understand everything that's going on. And I think by the second term you get to be really good and then the council member's gone. So I would also advocate for three terms for city council members…It also would decrease the cost of having as many elections as we have."

Reed acknowledged that she misspoke about having fewer elections, but argued that reducing the number of council members would reduce the cost of funding the city council, allow the city to redistrict at the same time as the state, and "would increase the continuity and historical knowledge" of the council.

If Councilmember Reed's recommendation eventually prevails, it wouldn't be the first time that San Leandro had a city council consisting of five members. In fact, that's the way it was from the founding of San Leandro in 1872 until 1949, when a charter amendment changed the size of the city council to seven members.

San Leandro, with a 2010 population of 85,000, has the same size city council as Hayward, with a population nearly twice as large, while Pleasanton, which is slightly smaller than San Leandro, has just five members. When asked about San Leandro's six council members and Mayor, former San Leandro Mayor Shelia Young said that San Leandro needs "6+1 council members." Former Councilmember Bill Stephens said that "the current set up spreads the city into nice enough representation areas and provides for more brain power with seven minds over five." The following table shows the size of city councils in nearby cities:

CityPop. (2010)Council SizeCouncilmembers/resident
Fremont214,089553,522
Oakland390,724948,840
Concord122,067530,645
Hayward144,186724,031
Livermore80,968520,242
Alameda73,812518,453
Union City 73,402518,351
Pleasanton70,285517,571
Walnut Creek64,173516,043
San Leandro84,950714,158
Berkeley112,580914,073
Dublin46,036511,509
Newark42,573510,463

Only three cities (Berkeley, Newark, and Dublin) have council members that represent less residents than San Leandro's council members.  Fewer council members would mean less expenses for the City of San Leandro and would make it easier on the next City Manager, since he/she would only have to deal with five, instead of seven council members.

Based on 2010 data, two less council members would result in between $40,000 and $64,000 in salary savings.

Term Limits

The limit of two terms for San Leandro council members has only been around since 1974, when a charter amendment stopped four-term Mayor Jack Maltester from serving a fifth term. Term limits have been enacted at the state and local level because incumbents are usually re-elected and are difficult to vote out of office. In 2000, for example, 98% of incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives were re-elected.

CityTerm Limits?Number of terms
Union CityYes3
San LeandroYes2
OaklandNo
HaywardNo
FremontYes2
PleasantonYes2
LivermoreYes2

In San Leandro, only three incumbents have been defeated since 1970: Al Nahm in 1974, John Faria in 1994, and Tony Santos in 2010. Incumbents are frequently unopposed when they run for re-election or win by wide margins when there is a challenger.

Former Councilmember Stephens, who proposed eliminating term limits while he was on the City Council, said, "I have seen that experience and stability really helps in policy making and advancing long term objectives. No sooner does an individual get elected and learn a little than it is time to run again. By the second term, they have experience, knowledge and confidence. Then they leave."

The most recent change to the city charter was in 2000 when residents voted to require candidates to receive 50% plus one of the votes cast in order to win an election. Young acknowledges that changing the charter will be "a monumental task and quite expensive."

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May 17, 2011

Balanced Budget for 2011-2012 Presented to San Leandro City Council

San Leandro's first balanced budget in three years, according to City Manager Steve Hollister, was presented at the May 16, 2011, meeting of the San Leandro City Council.

According to the presentation, the budget for fiscal year 2011-2012 (July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012) maintains current levels of service, except for the addition of the operation of the Senior Community Center.

Finance Director Tracy Vesely noted that the revised California state budget still includes a public safety realignment plan and the elimination of redevelopment agencies, but the final outcome remains unknown.

The general fund budget of $71.76 million is an increase of 3% from last year's adopted budget of $69.98 million. A portion of the growth in the budget comes from an annual increase of $852,759 in the City's contribution to the CalPERS pension fund and an increase of $490,000 in employee costs from new contracts that were approved in December 2010. The budget increase is largely supported by an estimated $3.5 million from Measure Z, the quarter-cent sales tax passed in November 2010. The COPS grant for five police officers is the reason that city staff will increase by nearly 5 employees to 409.2 FTEs (full-time equivalents).

Police make up $26.1 million or 36.2% of the total City budget. Fire accounts for $16.2 million or 25.25% of the budget. The next biggest expenditures are $4.7 million for library services, $4.1 million for public works, and $3.8 million for recreation and human services. Debt service is $3 million or 4.15%.

Although the current budget is balanced, projections for the next three years show structural deficits increasing from $125K in 2012-2013 to $1.86 million in 2014-2015. Those projections do not include any salary increases for city workers.

The special fund for the shoreline is expected to end 2011-2012 with a $116K deficit. All other funds are projected to end the year with a positive balance, with the gas tax fund and business improvement district funds showing deficits the following year.

The City isn't planning to spend any general fund money on its roads next year, but will receive money from Alameda County's Measure B funds that will be used for rehabilitation and street sealing. San Leandro's roads currently have a Pavement Condition Index of 58, which is considered "at-risk" and is tied for the worst pavement conditions in Alameda County with Oakland.

Mayor Stephen Cassidy promised not to take his salary of $35,370 until San Leandro's budget was balanced. The San Leandro City Council looks set to make that happen in June, when it votes on whether to approve the budget. Cassidy said last night that even when he starts receiving his salary, he will voluntarily contribute his portion of the 8% CalPERS pension contribution. That sets the stage for future contract negotiations, in which employees will likely be asked to pay their portion of the employee CalPERS pension contribution. San Leandro is one of two cities in Alameda County that pays the entire portion of the employee retirement contribution for non-safety employees and one of four cities that pays the entire portion of the employee retirement contribution for police.

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May 6, 2011

City to Appeal Faith Fellowship Case to US Supreme Court

At a closed session meeting of the San Leandro City Council on May 5, 2011, the City Council voted 5 to 2 to appeal the Faith Fellowship case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Councilmember Pauline Cutter and Mayor Stephen Cassidy voted against appealing the decision.

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied hearing similar cases involving land use and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) in Board of County Commissioners v. Rocky Mountain Christian Church,( Docket No. 10-521, cert. denied 1/10/2011), Lighthouse Institute for Evangelism v. Long Branch, NJ, (Case No. 07-1111), and Greater Bible Way Temple v. City of Jackson, MI, (Case No. 07-1080). Steve Clowney at the PropertyProf Blog speculated that the reason the US Supreme Court is declining to hear these cases is because they may not believe that "land use rules need to be consistent from state to state."

thumb_hamilton_marci.jpg The San Leandro City Council also decided to retain Professor Marci Hamilton to assist with the appeal to the US Supreme Court. Hamilton successfully challenged the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), has written extensively about RLUIPA (see The Circus That is RLUIPA) and believes that RLUIPA is unconstitutional. A video interview of Ms. Hamilton can be found on YouTube. Hamilton represented the Borough of Roosevelt at the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and New Milford at the Second Circuit. Hamilton won both of these cases because the religious institutions had not gone through all of the procedures and appeals before they filed a lawsuit. Hamilton is also assisting the Borough of Litchfield (Connecticut) in an RLUIPA lawsuit, in which the US Department of Justice has sided with Chabad Lubavich of Litchfield County, a conservative Hasidic group.

When asked by San Leandro Bytes why the Supreme Court would hear San Leandro's case, when so many other cases have been denied certiorari, Hamilton replied, "The issues in this case are ripe for Supreme Court review, because they have been percolating for a number of years, there is a split among courts over the issues, and the issues are very important to every city and land use authority." Hamilton also said that she handled other relevant RLUIPA cases, including League of Residential Neighborhood Advocates v. City of Los Angeles, 498 F.3d 1052 (9th Cir. 2007), Grace United Methodist Church v. Cheyenne, 451 F.3d 643 (2006) and Congregation Kol Ami v. Abington Township, 309 F.3d 120 (3rd Cir. 2002). In Volume 2 of the 2009 Albany Government Law Review, Hamilton penned an article entitled, "The Constitutional Limitations of Congress's Power Over Local Land Use: Why the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act is Unconstitutional," in which she concludes, "Section 2(a) of RLUIPA is a repudiation of the Supreme Court's jurisprudence of respectful deference to state and local land use decisions in the absence of discrimination and a takeover of the states' well developed systems of judicial review of local land use decisions."

If the US Supreme Court decides to hear the case, San Leandro will become part of a landmark decision, but that may be a long shot, since the Supreme Court accepts less than 1% of appeals.

The report out of closed session is as follows:

At its closed session meeting on Thursday, May 5, 2011, the San Leandro City Council authorized the City Attorney to file a petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the City in the matter of International Church of Foursquare Gospel v. City of San Leandro.
(vote: 5 ayes- Councilmembers Starosciak, Reed, Prola, Souza and Vice Mayor Gregory. 2 nays: Mayor Cassidy and Councilmember Cutter)
The Council further authorized the retention of Professor Marci Hamilton of Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law to provide specialized legal services in connection with the Petition.
(vote: 5 ayes- Councilmembers Starosciak, Reed, Prola, Souza and Vice Mayor Gregory. 2 nays: Mayor Cassidy and Councilmember Cutter)

In addition, the City also issued background on the case, which can be found after the break:

Source: City of San Leandro

Church of the Foursquare Gospel v. City of San Leandro
FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Case Background:

In June 2007, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (Faith Fellowship Church) filed a lawsuit against the City and individual named City officials contending that the City violated the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and the Church’s constitutional rights by not agreeing to rezone certain industrial land in San Leandro as a relocation site for the Church in a community where it has resided and thrived for several decades.

U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton granted the City’s motion for summary judgment and rejected all of the Church’s claims and found that the City had acted fairly and lawfully in all of its actions. The District Court held that “RLUIPA does not require cities to grant churches preferential rights over other property owners;” and further noted that the City had expanded the areas zoned to allow church uses and found no evidence of religious discrimination on the part of the City.

The Church appealed the District Court decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeal was heard by a three judge panel consisting of Judge Noonan, Judge Paez and Judge Duffy, a District Court judge sitting by assignment from the Southern District of New York. This past February 2011, in a published opinion authored by Judge Duffy, the Court reversed the granting of summary judgment by interpreting RLUIPA broadly and in conflict with other circuit courts addressing similar issues. The appellate court did NOT find that the City had violated RLUIPA but only that the District Court should reexamine whether the City’s denial of the Church’s rezoning request placed a “substantial burden” on the Church under the federal land use law, which provides benefits solely to religious landowners.

On March 15, 2011, the City filed a petition for rehearing which was denied on April 22, 2011. The City has ninety (90) days from that date in which to file a Petition for Certiorari (review) to the United States Supreme Court. After careful consideration, on May 5, 2011, the San Leandro City Council authorized the City Attorney to seek review by the United States Supreme Court on what the City believes to be an incorrect interpretation and application of RLUIPA with respect to San Leandro’s land use policies.

In addition, the City Council authorized the retention and association as co-counsel of Professor Marci Hamilton. Professor Hamilton is a constitutional law scholar and member of the faculty of Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, where she holds the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law and specializes in church/state issues, particularly issues involving religious organizations and individuals in conflict with the law. During the Court’s 1989 Term, Professor Hamilton clerked for United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Professor Hamilton represented the City of Boerne, Texas, in its successful constitutional challenge of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”), which is the statutory predecessor of RLUIPA. She has successfully represented many cities, towns, and neighborhoods in important religious land use litigation. Prof. Hamilton will join the City’s legal team led by Meyers Nave principal and litigation specialist, Deborah Fox.

Case History and Timeline:

June 12, 2007 - Original Complaint filed against City alleging RLUIPA/civil rights violations

June 30, 2007 - ICFG seeks Preliminary Injunction against the City on asserted RLUIPA/civil rights violations

October 2, 2007 - U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton denies requested preliminary injunction

October 26, 2007 - Plaintiff files Amended Complaint alleging RLUIPA, 1st Amendment and civil rights violations

December 12, 2008 - Judge Phyllis Hamilton grants City’s request for Summary Judgment on all claims

July 7, 2009 - ICFG files appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal

February 15, 2011 - Ninth Circuit reverses and remands case to District Court for trial on “substantial burden” issue

March 15, 2011 - City filed a petition for rehearing and rehearing en banc to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal

April 22, 2011 - Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal issued Order and Amended Opinion denying City’s petition for rehearing and rehearing en banc

May 5, 2011 - City Council authorizes filing of a Petition for Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court

July 21, 2011 - Deadline for filing Petition for Certiorari

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May 4, 2011

Few Residents Attend City Manager Selection Town Hall

In a sparsely attended Town Hall to invite public input into the qualities desired in a City Manager, Mayor Stephen Cassidy and Councilmember Diana Souza heard from less than a dozen residents.

Mayor Cassidy explained to the audience that the ad-hoc committee for the selection of the City Manager had narrowed down the "more than 30" candidates to five. Cassidy would not get into specifics about the candidates, but did say that "we do have a diverse group." The ad-hoc committee consists of Cassidy, Souza, and Councilmember Ursula Reed. Reed was not present at the meeting because her speaking schedule at an event had been changed and conflicted with the meeting.

Souza explained that the goal of the process is to have the new City Manager on the job by July 1. She described the City Manager "is like the CFO of a company. They are in charge of everything." Souza later corrected herself, noting that the City Council directs the City Manager.

According to Cassidy, people who have answered the questionnaire said that the most important qualifications for a city manager were "public finance skills, business and economic development skills...live in our community communications skills....focus on the community and participation in the community as well as a long-range perspective."

Craig Williams, the first speaker, said that the city manager should have a "strong backbone" and said that one of the problems facing the city manager is the property tax scam that allows commercial properties to be sold without being re-assessed.

Harold Perez argued that San Leandro residents should be able to vote for the City Manager.

Mia Ousley asked if the City Manager candidates were aware of San Leandro By Design and noted that there was little recourse for citizens if the City Manager failed to perform well except to vote a few Council member out of office every few years.

Audrey Albers, a proponent of preserving boats at the marina, wanted the City Manager to recognize that there is more to San Leandro than business, referring "to the crown jewel of the marina."

Charles Gilcrest, a former member of the Board of Zoning Adjustments and former candidate for City Council, noted that the City Manager comes up for review more frequently than members of the City Council. The new City Manager should have a strategic vision, noting the discrepancy between David Irmer's presentation on downtown development and the transit-oriented development strategy. The City Manager "should be very responsive to you [City Council] and also interested in communicating with the community."

The City Council will meet in closed session on Thursday, May 5 to discuss the hiring of the City Manager. Interviews with City Manager applicants will be held on Saturday, May 7.

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April 12, 2011

San Leandro City Council Discusses Faith Fellowship Case

During a closed session held before Monday night's work session on pensions and unfunded liabilities, the San Leandro City Council discussed the Faith Fellowship Church lawsuit against the City.

There was no announcement from last night's closed session. The most recent action came when the City filed a petition for rehearing after a court gave the go-ahead for lawsuit to proceed.

For a complete summary of the case to date, see https://sanleandrotalk.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/a-primer-on-the-san-leandro-vs-faith-fellowship-church-lawsuit/, where Margarita Lacabe [Ed. note: she's my wife] has a lengthy write-up on the case.

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April 11, 2011

Work Session for San Leandro City Council Tonight on Pensions and Unfunded Liabilities

Tonight, the San Leandro City Council meets for a work session on pensions and unfunded liabilities. Unfunded liabilities for current pensions are estimated to be at least $50 million.

An unfunded liability can be defined as a known future cost that is not covered by expected future revenue.

The City of San Leandro has been tracking pension-related unfunded liabilities since 2002 and is documented in its Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports, which can be found at http://www.sanleandro.org/depts/finance/reports.asp

In June 2002, the City's unfunded liability for public safety personnel was $13 million, which translated to 9.7% of the City's obligation. However, for other personnel, the City was actual over-funded by $4 million or 3.2%.

In 2003, the City joined with a group of other entities to pool its risk for public safety pensions. Since then, the City has reported only the collective unfunded liability for the entire risk pool and not the City's obligation. Based on information in CAFR reports, the City's unfunded liability for public safety pensions has increased from 9.7% to 17.43% as of June 2009. That translates to an unfunded liability of at least $24 million, but likely much more, since the size of the unfunded liability of the entire risk pool has increased from $693 million in 2003 to $1.69 billion in 2009.

Tonight's work session will likely clarify the extent of the City's unfunded liability for public safety pensions.

For non-public safety employees, the City has gone from having over-funded pensions to an unfunded liability of $26 million in 2009.

According to the City's CAFR for 2009-2010, "For fiscal year 2009-10 the City’s annual pension costs of $7,339,843 for PERS [Public Employee Retirement System] was equal to the City’s required and actual contribution." Page 77 of the report notes, "Active plan members [city employees] are required by state statute to contribute 8% for miscellaneous and 9% for safety employees of their annual covered salary. The City makes the contributions required of City employees on their behalf and for their account, which amounted to $2,692,173 for the year ended June 30, 2010."

The work session begins at 6pm in the City Council Chambers at 835 E. 14th Street.

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April 4, 2011

San Leandro Police Officer Re-Appointed to State Commission

sobek.jpg
According to an announcement on April 4, 2011, by California Governor Jerry Brown, San Leandro Police Officer Michael Sobek has been re-appointed to the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). Sobek has served on POST since he was appointed in 2006 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

San Leandro is also represented on POST by Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli, who is a POST Advisory Committee Member, representing the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA).

According to a biography previously on the POST web site, Sobek, of Dublin, "has over twenty years experience in law enforcement, serving with the San Leandro Police Department since 1991 and the Alameda County Sheriff's Department from 1984 to 1991. Additionally, Sobek has served as adjunct faculty at Chabot/Los Positas Community College since 2002. Sobek is an American Independent." Sobek is also President of the San Leandro Police Officers Association.

Sobek was the police officer who found the bodies of the USDA and state inspectors at the Santos Linguisa factory after they had been shot and killed by Stuart Alexander in June 2000.

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March 22, 2011

San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy's 2011 State of the City

The charter of the City of San Leandro states that one of the duties of the Mayor is to "report to the public from time to time on the affairs of the City." On March 21, 2011, Mayor Stephen Cassidy gave his first State of the City Address, fulfilling this Mayoral role. The complete text of the speech follows. The Powerpoint slides are available at http://www.sanleandro.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=8141. The video of the speech is missing the first minute.

Good evening. The duties of Mayor include reporting to the public on the affairs of the City. I am honored to give the State of the City Address for 2011.

President John F. Kennedy stated, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” We are fortunate in San Leandro to have so many people that believe in the value of public service. It’s my privilege to serve as one member of a seven person City Council. Each Councilmember possesses the skills, determination, sound judgment, and experience to take on the challenges facing San Leandro in these tough times. Each Councilmember is not only a leader in our community, but also represents the interests of San Leandro on the board’s of inter- governmental agencies that address a wide range of county and regional issues.

In his State of the Union Address in January, President Obama said that the nation is “poised for progress...the stock market has come roaring back...corporate profits are up...the economy is growing again.” I too believe there are many signs of recovery and progress here in San Leandro, which I will discuss later in my speech. However, we must accurately list our challenges and proactively address them to create a solid foundation for growth and progress in the coming years.

Our first challenge is that far too many San Leandrans are unemployed. The unemployment rate remains over 10%, down only one percent from a year ago. In this category we are no different than nearby cities in the county. Berkeley, Oakland, Hayward, Newark and Union City each have double digit unemployment rates.

Job creation must be one of our top priorities. Our City can play a strong role in helping get San Leandrans back to work by promoting sound and sustainable business development and supporting existing businesses.

This takes me to our second major challenge: the City’s budget deficit. To help put San Leandro on the path to recovery and prosperity, we must first restore our City government to fiscal health.

Sales tax continues to be San Leandro’s largest General Fund revenue source. Retail sales in San Leandro are showing growth, but the growth is slow and we are being very conservative in our projections for next year. Our second largest source of revenue comes from property taxes. While property tax revenues are no longer falling, we also do not expect any increase in property tax revenues next fiscal year.

Despite the stagnant revenue growth, the City Council Finance Committee, City Manager, Assistant City Manager, Finance Director and staff are committed to presenting to the full City Council in May a budget for fiscal year 2011-12 that is truly balanced. The budget will not rely on transfers of one-time only funds to pay for ongoing expenses.

Let me acknowledge that the passage of Measure Z last November by the voters of San Leandro will play a significant role in eliminating the budget deficit next fiscal year. The added revenues from the seven year, 1⁄4 cent sales tax increase, which goes into effect on April 1, have allowed us to save a Fire Department ladder truck and the firefighters that go with it, maintain Police Department staffing, keep two branch libraries open, and avoid deeper service cuts.

While the City will be operating in the black on July 1, 2011, a preliminary five year forecast for the General Fund shows the budget deficit reappearing as soon as July 1, 2012, and increasing every year thereafter. In short, despite the additional revenue from Measure Z, expenditures are projected to grow faster than revenues.

This takes me to our third major challenge: we must address the long-term structural causes for the City’s budget deficit. The margin of error in our City budgeting is razor thin. The Great Recession has taken its toll on City reserves for economic uncertainties. They have dropped by 86% over the past four years and must be rebuilt.

We need to take action now and specifically create ongoing savings in the 2011-12 budget. This will help us balance subsequent budgets without resorting to draconian cuts or further increases in the sales tax. After all, why develop multi-year budget forecasts if we do not use the data in the present to adjust our spending and avoid threats to our solvency in the future?

In particular, to create a sustainable City budget – and by that I mean a budget that reflects the priorities and values of our community, allows us to rebuild our reserves, and keeps us far from any Vallejo-type fiscal meltdown – we must examine the cost of retirement benefits provided to City employees.

Some refer to this as “pension reform.” It’s a term that has no agreed-upon definition. Some use the term when they actually seek to eliminate pensions for public employees. I do not support that. Instead, I prefer the phrase “pension sustainability.” City employees work hard and are working as hard as ever since all departments have lost staff. I respect their right to bargain collectively. They deserve our respect, as well as their pension at the end of their service.

We need to recognize that one of the principle challenges for all local government in the years ahead is how can we provide quality services despite stagnant revenues. Achieving pension sustainability is an important part of meeting this challenge as projected increases in the annual bill the City pays CalPERs for employee pension benefits are a substantial impediment to maintaining our City’s fiscal health. As Kasim Reed, the mayor of Atlanta, has stated, “It is time to begin having the types of mature and honest conversations necessary to deal effectively with the new economic realities we are facing as a nation. We simply cannot keep kicking the can down the road.”

I invite the community to come to a City Council Work Session on Monday, April 11, at 6:30 p.m., where we will have a presentation on the City’s pension and retiree health care liabilities and start discussing solutions to the City’s long-term structural deficit.

I am confident that through dialogue and negotiation, we can preserve vital City programs despite our fiscal challenges. I believe we can do this with the continued help and hard work of all of our City departments, and with the support of our employee groups.
The final challenge I wish to discuss is the Governor’s plan to eliminate all Redevelopment agencies in California. Even though the voters of California overwhelmingly supported Proposition 22 last November to protect the revenues of local government, Governor Brown is looking at taking local tax dollars to reduce the State budget deficit.

The purpose of Redevelopment is to remove blight, bolster business, and create jobs. In San Leandro, Redevelopment has been used responsibly and effectively. Last year, the California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes recognized San Leandro for using Housing Set-Aside funds reasonably, excellent accounting and for making substantial progress in development of affordable housing.

One of the greatest successes was the transformation of a rundown hotel on East 14th Street that was a source of criminal activity into a well-managed apartment complex. The City reduced street crime while expanding housing for working families of low and moderate incomes.

Other recent redevelopment projects include: improvements in the Downtown, revitalization of MacArthur Boulevard, contributing to the cost of building the gymnasium at the Fred T. Korematsu campus at San Leandro High School,
helping construct the new Senior Community Center, supporting the LINKS shuttle service from BART to our industrial areas which reduces congestion and greenhouse emissions, and bringing the Creekside Plaza Class-A office complex and 1,000 quality jobs to town.

I applaud Governor Brown for his efforts to implement long-term fiscal reform for the State, and I mean no disrespect to Senator Corbett or Assemblymember Hayashi. But any short-term benefit to the state budget from eliminating Redevelopment Agencies will be outweighed by the long term negative impact on our cities and the state economy.
Regardless of what occurs in Sacramento, we are committed in San Leandro to making our city a safe, vibrant community that is the best place in the Bay Area to raise a family or run a business.

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First, I am pleased to report that crime fell by 8% last year, and has dropped by nearly one quarter since 2006. The credit goes to the outstanding work by the San Leandro Police Department, and also to the growing involvement of community groups, including:
Neighborhood Watch, Citizens for Safer San Leandro, the Downtown Association Crime Free Business Program, the Crime Free Multi Housing Program, and the Map Your Neighborhood Program

They are all important partners with our Police Department in keeping San Leandro safe. We recognize, however, that residential burglaries remain a concern and the number increased last year. We are determined to make progress in this area in 2011.

We are also pleased to have received funds from the federal COPS program for the next three years. This will allow us to retain two police officers and add three more. Besides allowing us to avoid deeper cuts to our Police patrol staff, the Department has been able to sustain its crime prevention efforts, which are having great results.

Also of note, 9-1-1 cell phone calls now go to our dispatch center here in San Leandro rather than to the Highway Patrol. As a result, the department has seen a 66% increase in the number of 9-1-1 calls the dispatch center is receiving. This means faster response to emergencies in San Leandro, but at the same time, it is adding to the workload of our already strained staff.

I’ll be talking about new businesses coming into town in just a moment, but this is a good time for me to mention that Paramedics Plus is locating its headquarters in San Leandro. This is going to be a real asset to San Leandro. It keeps 375 jobs in town that might have otherwise been lost and is going to save the City about $81,000 per year in emergency response costs.

When we think of Fire Department response, we think of big red trucks, ambulances, maybe even a hazardous materials truck. But this past summer the Fire Department dedicated a new boat for water rescues, very appropriate since we have about 7 miles of waterfront along the San Francisco Bay. Alameda County Fire acquired the boat through a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and it is housed at Station 11 on Catalina Street. Their crews are fully trained and ready to respond to any level of water emergency.

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Something that is equally important to our community is our duty to be responsible stewards of the environment and our natural resources. Many businesses in town are taking steps to reduce dependence on non-renewable energy, reuse products and recycle whenever possible. The City’s Industrial Competitiveness Program provides assistance to businesses for increasing the energy efficiency of their facility and operations.

Seven businesses are enrolled in a “Sustainability Circle” run by True Market Solutions and sponsored by the City. Those businesses are Alameda County Industries, Alco Iron and Metals, Ghirardelli Chocolate, Marina Mechanical, Mi Rancho, OSIsoft and Scandic Springs.

The Sustainability Circle brings together companies from a diverse range of industries to share resources and tips on how to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings and operations.

These companies know that running an energy efficient business is good for the environment and the bottom line.

For instance, Scandic Springs on Montague Avenue installed a new solar roof. Their photovoltaic system, believed to be the largest in San Leandro, provides approximately 85% of Scandic’s total electrical needs.

Mi Rancho, a family-owned tortilla manufacturer on Hester Street, was recently featured in an article in the New York Times as a model of sustainable business practices. With new energy- efficient lighting, plus waste-reduction measures underway, the company expects to save $100,000 a year in energy costs. The improvements will pay for themselves within the first year.

Other San Leandro businesses are equally committed to energy efficiency and sustainability. The Coca Cola Bottling Plant received a 2010 Business Efficiency Award from StopWaste.Org for recycling, composting and preventing waste with reusable supplies.

As a side note, Coca-Cola was one of the manufacturers San Leandro students visited recently in a joint program with the City and the Chamber of Commerce called “Careers in Industrial Technology.” This program is designed to expose students to the many possible careers in manufacturing.

A.G. Ferrari, whose food and wine distribution headquarters are on Catalina Street, also won a StopWaste.Org award for composting 200 tons of waste per year, and better use of reusable products and environmentally preferred packaging. The company slashed its garbage costs by 77%.

Halus Power Systems on Grant Avenue is a new innovator in clean technology. They are taking used wind turbines, refurbishing them and selling them to small users like mobile home parks and farmers, reducing the need for electric power from the grid.

Waste Management’s new projects coming on line at the Davis Street Transfer Station include the collection of landfill methane gas which will be converted into liquid natural gas. They expect to generate up to 4,000 mega-watts of power. This will allow them to removed the transfer station from the grid and sell back unused power. In addition, a new indoor composting facility at the station will handle 48,000 tons of compostable waste per year on site, eliminating 8-10 truck trips out of the facility and off of our city streets.
As part of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, the City obtained a $732,000 Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant. The funds will be used to implement energy efficiency programs, including:
Building Performance Audits and Do-It-Yourself classes for residents, which are part of our City energy efficiency program, and upgrading of many street lights on East 14th Street and in our neighborhoods.

These efforts are in support of the city reaching its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 25% below 2005 levels by 2020.

For the third year in a row, our Water Pollution Control Plant received a California Water Environment Association award for having the best wastewater collection record for a plant of its size in the Bay Area. The association’s judges were particularly impressed by the Plant’s maintenance program, its emergency response capabilities and its safety program.

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Another one of my chief goals as Mayor is to support our business community and bring new businesses and jobs into San Leandro. Our Office of Business Development has the same mission.

We are fortunate to have two of the largest businesses in the East Bay here in San Leandro – Tri-Net and OSIsoft – and I’m happy to report that both businesses are expanding. Tri-Net, a nationwide company that specializes in managing benefits, payroll and human resources, has doubled in size in the past three years.

OSIsoft is a worldwide leader in real-time data infrastructure solutions. It recently received an infusion of $135 million in venture capital funds and is expanding its headquarters here in San Leandro.

Odwalla has come to town. This popular producer of juices and other healthy snacks moved into the Alvarado Business Center in February, bringing 50 jobs.

The Annex, a company that distributes coffee and other products from around the world, is now occupying nearly 221,000 square feet of warehouse space, one of the largest coffee warehouse on the West Coast. They chose San Leandro because of our location on the Highway 880 corridor and our proximity to the Oakland International Airport.

The new Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep California Superstore moved into 1444 Marina Boulevard this past fall. It is good to see this property occupied once again by an auto dealership, and this is evidence that Marina Boulevard Automall has survived the economic downturn and is well positioned to capitalize on an economic recovery.

The District Council 16 International Union for Painters and Allied Trades will be moving into a portion of the old Kellogg’s plant on Williams Street for its apprentice training program. They are bringing 14 jobs to the center, with more anticipated as the economy and enrollment improve. Nearly 200 students will graduate from their program each year.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 595 is moving from Alvarado Street to Catalina Street and building a 46,000 square foot, state-of- the-art facility for its training programs. They employ 30-40 people and train upwards of 500 apprentice and journey level electricians each year.

Construction of the Kaiser Hospital and Medical Center is well underway. This is the largest development project in San Leandro’s history. There are over 150 people working on the site right now, and by December there will be well over 400 jobs there. Once the hospital and medical center are finished, there will be over 2,500 full time, permanent, quality jobs in this facility, and it will be the largest employer in San Leandro. Kaiser reports this will be one of the most technologically advanced health care facilities in California.

My hope is that we keep San Leandro Hospital open and serving the community, and combined with the new Kaiser facility, San Leandro will become a hub of high quality medical care in the East Bay.

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Let me focus on some of the projects the City has underway.

The Estudillo Parking Garage is progressing well. Our appreciation goes to the neighbors and businesses around the project that are putting up with the noise, construction activity and parking challenges. The project is on schedule and on budget. Completion is expected summer 2012. It will add 138 parking spaces in the downtown, which is an important aspect of our business development and retention efforts. Further, the building will be seismically safe – something that the old garage was lacking.

We are confident that our new Branding and Marketing Strategy team will be a driver in retaining current business, and attracting new ones. 23 local business leaders are offering their talent and expertise to help develop a brand and create a marketing strategy for San Leandro.

Progress continues on building a vision for our Shoreline and Marina. The members of the Shoreline Development Citizens Advisory Committee continue to work with Cal-Coast, the master developer of the shoreline, to create a financially sustainable project that offers a wide range of amenities.

With respect to the old Albertsons site downtown, Innisfree Ventures holds the exclusive right to develop this site. We are looking forward to a City Council Work Session on April 25th when we will see conceptual designs for retail development of the site.

Progress is being made concerning the development of the Davis/Hays/ East 14th Street block. Innisfree Ventures is also developing this project in coordination with the City.

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My first week in office, I had the pleasure of speaking to a Government class at San Leandro High about public service and legacy of John F. Kennedy as part of a program by the U.S. Mayor’s Conference to commemorate the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s inaugural address.

I got hit with some pretty tough questions by those students. That demonstrated to me that the youth of San Leandro aren’t complacent about the community they live in. They are concerned and inquisitive. That encourages me. It says that the future of San Leandro is promising. We need to continue to invest in our students because they are our leaders and innovators of tomorrow and it’s through strong schools that we build strong cities.

We continue to partner with our schools to find ways we can bring more opportunities to students and the community – such as creating joint use facilities in the form of the new gyms at Fred T. Korematsu Campus and Washington Manor Middle School.

With new projects on the horizon for San Leandro schools thanks to Measure M, we will study other ways we can collaborate. Measure M will provide funds to renovate Burrell Field, the athletic fields at John Muir Middle School, and the swimming pools at San Leandro High.
And I must make mention of the two signature projects under the previous school district bond, Measure B. These are the Fred T. Korematsu Campus, which opened last August, and the Arts Education Center.

As I mentioned earlier, the City was able to assist in the construction of the gym at the Korematsu campus with Redevelopment funds. Ninth grade students at San Leandro High School now attend 29 new classrooms equipped with SMART board technology, a beautiful library, science labs, a courtyard and mini amphitheater, and a great new gymnasium. The overcrowding of San Leandro High School is no longer an issue for our students and district.
The Arts Education Center will open in April, just in time for the high school Spring musical. In addition to a 550-seat theater, the center includes a sound stage, recording studio, computer labs and classrooms. Students in the school’s Multi-Media Academy, which will be housed in the center, will have the latest technology and equipment.

A sneak preview of the theater will occur on April 20 as a benefit for the San Leandro Education Foundation and their Friends of the Theater program. I encourage all to attend.

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When I spoke to that High School class, it gave me the opportunity to re-read President John F. Kennedy’s moving inaugural address. The one phrase we all remember is “...ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

In my first Coffee with the Mayor session in January, one of our neighbors recommended that we make better use of volunteer services in the City; some of that “what you can do for your country” energy. I want to find more ways we can make use of the talents and skills we have in our community.

However, everyone should know that scores of San Leandrans are already providing valuable service to our City.

Over 450 teens volunteered in calendar year 2010, for a total of 10,950 hours of work. They help both our Library and Recreation and Human Services Departments with a multitude of chores and special events. 303 adults volunteered for us last year, providing more than 23,000 hours of labor. They help at our Library and serve as tutors for Project Literacy. They also provide valuable clerical support in almost every City department.
In the Police Department, our Retired Senior Volunteer Program members help with an incredible number of assignments – all tasks that would require an officer’s or other uniformed personnel’s time that is better spent on more important duties.

The KaBOOM! Toyon Park renovations were an outstanding partnership. It was sponsored by the Bio-tech company AMGEN, organized by our Recreation and Human Services Department, designed in collaboration with community members, and built with sweat-equity contributed by parents, kids, teens, elected officials, City employees, San Leandro Rotary, and others. It was a great day and we now have a great children’s playground at the park.

And it should be noted that these totals do not include the time and support of our Police Explorers. This is a group of 16 dedicated, energetic teens, many of whom who have set their sights on a career in law enforcement, helping with a variety of events and programs. But, even more important, the Police Department has been able to turn around the lives of a number of teens who may have been headed down a risky path and changed their lives for the better. You can’t put a price on that.

And, of course, we can’t forget the dedication of our residents who serve on City Boards and Commissions who help the Council and City administer City programs and address community needs. On behalf of the City Council and staff, I thank our Board Members and Commissioners for all that you do.

All of our volunteers deserve a round of applause.

------

I am saving the best for last – the announcement that our Senior Community Center will officially open for business on Monday, April 4. We are having a grand celebration on Saturday, April 2, and welcome all of you to attend.

We have been able to put a plan in place to bring our senior programs and services to the center of town and found the financial resources to build it, thanks in great part to the partnership for acquisition of the property with San Leandro Hospital and the Eden Township Healthcare District.

The Senior Center also serves as the City’s Emergency Operations Center or EOC in the event of a disaster. The EOC at the Senior Center is fully equipped for our response to the community in times of emergencies. This is an example of foresight by our previous Councils and smart planning by local government – creating a new building to serve a dual purpose.

And, we have a great announcement to make. We just received notice from the United States Green Building Council that the Senior Community Center has received Gold LEED status. In the environmental world, that is an outstanding accomplishment, and recognition of the high level of environmental stewardship we have incorporated into the Center.

------

I have been the Mayor of San Leandro for 2 1⁄2 months now. I am no longer turning my head to see who is behind me when someone says to me “Hello Mayor.”

I continue to be impressed and inspired by how hard our City employees are working. They all give 110% effort to this community. They take pride in the jobs they perform and genuinely care about our city. I believe I can speak for the whole City Council when I say “Thank you” to our City employees for a job well done. And I thank the City staff that worked with me in preparing my State of the City speech.

I also thank the City Council for your continued dedication and fortitude in addressing the pressing issues facing our community.

Finally, I thank the People of San Leandro for allowing me to serve as your Mayor. It is a privilege and honor to do so.

As I said at the outset, we have challenges ahead of us, but we also have many successes to build upon. I firmly believe San Leandro is on the move and laying the foundation for strong growth and prosperity in the years ahead. If we combine fiscal common sense with innovations in government and initiatives to spur business development, San Leandro will be at the forefront of cities in the Bay Area in growth as our state and national economy recovers.

Thank you.

Oh, and Happy Birthday San Leandro. It was 139 years ago today that the City incorporated – March 21, 1872.

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March 7, 2011

San Leandro City Council Creates a Branding and Marketing Working Group

As part of its effort to market itself "as a great place to do business," the San Leandro City Council has created a Branding and Marketing Working Group.

At tonight's meeting the City Council will discuss approval of the members of the group and adding an additional member from each of the African American, Latino, and Asian Business Councils of the San Leandro Chamber.

The working group will work with The Placemaking Group, a marketing communications agency from Oakland. The consulting agreement is not-to-exceed $10,000. According to the staff report, The Placemaking Group will "facilitate a business working group gather surveys of consumers businesses brokers and visitors and to create a Branding and Marketing Strategy."

The proposed members are:

  • City staff - Luke Sims, Cynthia Battenberg, Jeff Kay, and Caryn Wegerbauer
  • San Leandro Chamber - Hank Sullivan, John Johnson, Gaye Quinn, John Gooding, and Gordon Galvan
  • Mayor Cassidy- Jenny Linton and Fred Reicker
  • Vice Mayor Reed - Dan Dillman and Charles Gilcrest
  • Pauline Cutter - Larry Allphin and Tim Holmes
  • Michael Gregory - Robin Beebe and Helen Lee Takaki
  • Jim Prola - Audrey Velasquez and Jeff Starkovich
  • Diana Souza - Debra Lambert and Paul Woycheshin
  • Joyce Starosciak - Susan and Cartier Lee

Sims is the Community Development Director for the City of San Leandro, Battenberg is the Business Development Manager, and Kay is a Business Development Analyst. Wegenbauer is a part-time employee for the City Business Development department, is the Secretary for the San Leandro Downtown Association and has worked with Main Street Property Services, which the City contracted with in March 2009 for Implementation of a 2009-10 Marketing Plan.

Sullivan is the 2011 Chairman of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce and is President of the business consulting firm Strategic Solutions. Quinn is Chair-Elect of the Chamber, Vice Chair of San Leandro by Design, and is with Quorum Real Estate Group. Gooding is Vice Chair of Government Affairs for the Chamber, runs Quadric Group and provides services to Madison Marquette, the owner of Bayfair Center. Galvan was a member of the San Leandro City Council from 1994 until 2001, provides services to Alameda County Industries, and is on the Board of the San Leandro Chamber.

Linton is Executive Vice President at OSIsoft and is on the Board of the San Leandro Chamber. Reicker served on the Library-Historical Commission from 2003 to 2011 and was a marketing executive at Clorox.

Dillman is the owner of the Bal Theatre, which recently succeeded in convincing the city to allow live performances that had been prohibited under its conditional use permit. Gilcrest was on the Board of Zoning Adjustments from 2007 to 2011 and ran for City Council in 2008.

Allphin is the events chair for the San Leandro Downtown Association and owner of Allphin Jewelers. Holmes is the owner of Zocalo Coffeehouse and was the campaign manager for Mayor Cassidy. Holmes also worked as Manager of Mac OS Evangelism for eight years.

Beebe is the owner of Divine Home Care and is on the Board of the San Leandro Chamber.

Velasquez works for the San Leandro Marina Inn and is the Vice President of the San Leandro Downtown Association. Starkovich is a Managing Partner at Cassidy Turley BT Commercial in Oakland.

Lambert is a spokesperson for Kaiser Permanente, which is constructing a new hospital at the former Lucky distribution site adjacent to Interstate 880.

The City Council meets tonight, March 7, 2011, at 7pm at 835 E. 14th Street in San Leandro.

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February 16, 2011

Financial Disclosures of Mayor, Police Chief and New Councilmemnber

The economic disclosures of San Leandro's newest elected and appointed officials were due within 30 days of their election or appointment. 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 Police Chief, 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.

The Assuming Office Statement of Economic Interests of San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy, Councilmember Pauline Cutter, and San Leandro Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli are available by clicking on the following links:

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January 17, 2011

City Moves to Protect Redevelopment Funds from State

The San Leandro City Council voted 4-0 on Monday, January 17, 2011, to try to maintain control of nearly $9 million in redevelopment agency funds. Many of California's 425 redevelopment agencies are taking similar actions to retain control of millions in redevelopment agency funds before the California Legislative Analyst's recommendation to prohibit redevelopment agencies from entering into new contracts can be acted upon. The elimination of redevelopment agencies as proposed by Governor Jerry Brown, would help the state of California balance its budget and force cities and counties to re-evaluate their spending priorities.

Councilmembers Michael Gregory, Pauline Cutter, and Vice Mayor Ursula Reed were not at the meeting.

The text of a proposed letter for Mayor Stephen Cassidy to send to state legislators highlights three projects as "examples of economic development spurred by redevelopment:" the Creekside Plaza Office Complex, the downtown garage, and the Marina Auto Mall.

The City of San Leandro has three redevelopment areas:

1. Plaza Project Area

Includes much of downtown San Leandro as well as Davis Street, from around E. 14th Street to roughly Douglas Street, and the Costco area west of Highway 880. The new downtown garage, San Leandro Crossing, Creekside Plaza are three of the projects in this area. $2 million will go to street and sidewalk improvements on Hays Street between Davis Street and E. 14th.

2. Joint Project Area

Includes E. 14th Street (other than the section in downtown San Leandro); Marina Boulevard plus the area to the south of Marina Boulevard that includes Teagarden Street and Aladdin Avenue; Washington Avenue, from San Leandro Boulevard to Halcyon; and the Lewelling/Hesperian area. The Marina Boulevard Auto Mall, Bayfair BART, and the gymnasium at the Fred T. Korematsu campus are three of the projects in this area.

3. West San Leandro/MacArthur Project Area

Covers most of the industrial area of the city west of Highway 880 (including Westgate) as well as the section of MacArthur Boulevard between the Oakland border and Estudillo Avenue. The MacArthur Boulevard streetscape upgrade and LINKS shuttle are two of the projects in this area. Paving of Eden Road accounts for $1.5 million of the redevelopment funds, $4.19 million will go to street and sidewalk improvements, and $1.27 million will go to street and sidewalk improvements on MacArthur Boulevard between Lewis and Dutton.

redevelopment_map_small.jpg

A map at http://www.sanleandro.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=3790 shows the redevelopment areas, which cover a great deal of the city, including all along E. 14th St. and the downtown area.

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January 11, 2011

San Leandro's First Female Police Chief Sworn In

Spagnoli.jpg Sandra Spagnoli was sworn in as San Leandro's 10th Police Chief at City Hall on Monday, January 10, 2011. City Hall was filled to capacity with Spagnoli's family, San Leandro police officers, Benicia police officers, and police chiefs from Livermore, El Cerrito, Pleasanton, and other cities on hand to witness the ceremony, which included her husband and child pinning on her badge. Spagnoli's husband and sister are also police officers.

After she was sworn in, Spagnoli said:

Today is not only one of the highlights of my career as a police officer, but signifies a highlight for the San Leandro Police Department as we move forward in enhancing our organization and really, the great work that the other chiefs before me have done….I look forward to meeting the law enforcement family in San Leandro. They've been very welcoming to me today. Also, the city staff and the community. I'm really proud and honored to serve and be appointed as the 10th police chief here and lead this department….So as your police chief, I am committed to focusing on public safety strategies to reduce crime and deter crime, continuing to provide excellent service levels that the city prides itself on, with not only integrity, but excellence, collaborate with employees, city departments, and the community, and also support prevention and intervention programs, particularly to those that support our most valuable asset, or one of our most valuable assets in the community, which is our youth. I do look forward to learning about the history of San Leandro and the police department and building a path that meets the future demands of the City of San Leandro and the law enforcement profession. So, in closing, I believe that as a department and as your chief, we will build on existing traditions of excellence within this city and create a great legacy together, enhancing levels of service, safety, and security for all in this great city.

A press release announcing the selection of Spagnoli as Police Chief was issued on November 29, 2010, nearly four months after Ian Willis announced that he would retire at the end of the year. Willis will join the Alameda County Sheriff's Department.

Spagnoli will start with a salary of $176,256, which is which is the highest step of the salary schedule for a police chief.

According to the Human Resources Department for the City of Benicia, Spagnoli had a salary of $163,728, plus benefits, while she was Benicia's police chief. Those benefits included a city vehicle and the City of Benicia paying the contributions towards her retirement.

Below is the video of Spagnoli's swearing in and her speech afterwards:

Spagnoli was hired after a search by Avery Associates, the same firm that conducted the search for San Leandro's Finance Director, and now former Police Chief Willis.

According to the flyer, San Leandro's next police chief will have a base salary "up to $176,256" and:

  • A 9% City-paid contribution for CalPERS (3.0% @ 50 Plan) except in the initial first three years of employment. Credit is given for prior CalPERS service;
  • A minimum of 15 days of vacation for the first five years of employment, increasing to a maximum of 25 days per year, sick leave accrues at a rate of 12 days per year;
  • Twelve fixed and three floating holidays in 2010;
  • One-hundred and twenty hours of administrative leave paid per year on a pro-rata basis;
  • Maximum City contribution of $1460 per month in 2010 for family coverage in a cafeteria benefits plan which provides a choice of CalPERS medical options, MetLife Dental PPO with buy-up options, and voluntary medical and dependent care flexible spending accounts;
  • Life/AD&D and long-term disability insurance with an option to purchase increased coverage;
  • Voluntary deferred compensation (457 Plan), vision care, and short-term disability insurance are also available;

Here is a list of the nine previous San Leandro police chiefs:

  • Joseph F. Peralta
  • Artel J. Lamoureaux
  • Thomas J. Rogers
  • Kenneth Swanson
  • Donald F. Becker
  • Robert J.P. Maginnis
  • Joseph Kitchen
  • Dale Attarian
  • Ian Willis

Peralta, a direct descendant of Don Luis Peralta, was the longest serving top police official, serving as town marshall from 1912 until 1928 and police chief from 1928 to 1945.

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January 10, 2011

Mayor Stephen Cassidy's First "Coffee with the Mayor"

On January 7, 2011, San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy held his first "Coffee with the Mayor" at San Leandro City Hall. Cassidy answered questions ranging from the recycling center at the Safeway store on Bancroft, outsourcing of police services, BART parking, the opening of the senior center, and the city manager's salary.

A summary of the meeting is available from San Leandro Patch. The complete video is available below:

Cassidy plans to hold future "Coffee with the Mayor" meetings in the evening and on weekends to allow a variety of residents to attend. Questions can also be asked and answered online at San Leandro Assist.

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January 2, 2011

City Council Committee Assignments on San Leandro City Council's First 2011 Agenda

Mayor Stephen Cassidy will preside at his first San Leandro City Council meeting on January 3, 2010. The agenda is light and starts with Police Chief Commendations to Malcolm Mason and Dino Rinetti, who helped detain a man suspected of assaulting an 8-year-old girl at Walmart on December 10, 2010.

The City's 53rd mayor and its seventh directly elected mayor also decides which City Councilmembers are assigned to each of the 11 committees. For 2011, Cassidy assigned Council members to four or five committees each. Cassidy has six committees, but of those six committees, the Joint Oakland/San Leandro City Council Committee hasn't met since at least 2007 and the Disaster Council has met just once since 2007.

Finance is considered the most important of the committees and Cassidy, District 1 City Councilmember Michael Gregory and District 3 City Councilmember Diana Souza are assigned to that committee. When asked about his committee assignments, Cassidy said that the Mayor is required to be on the Disaster Council. By tradition, the Mayor has always been on the San Leandro and San Lorenzo School District Liaison Committees and the Joint Oakland/San Leandro City Council Committee. The table below summarizes the City Council committee assignments:

CassidyCutterGregoryProlaReedSouzaStarosciak
Airport CommitteeXXX
Business and Housing Development CommitteeXXX
City and San Leandro Unified School District Liaison CommitteeXXX
City and San Lorenzo Unified School District Liaison CommitteeXXX
Civic and Cultural CommitteeXXX
Disaster CouncilXXX
Facilities and Transportation CommitteeXXX
Finance CommitteeXXX
Joint Oakland/San Leandro City Council CommitteeXXX
Rules and Communications CommitteeXXX
Shoreline-Marina CommitteeXXX

Coming up soon will be the appointments to commissions and boards. Newly-elected District 5 Councilmember Pauline Cutter, Gregory, Souza and Mayor Cassidy will have the opportunity to appoint members to the City's eight boards and commissions. These are:

  • Board of Zoning Adjustments
  • Human Services Commission
  • Library-Historical Commission
  • Personnel Relations Board
  • Planning Commission
  • Recreation and Parks Commission
  • Rent Review Board
  • Senior Commission

Typically, each member of the City Council nominates one person for each commission or board, which then requires approval of entire City Council. However, the Mayor appoints three members each to the Human Services and Senior Commissions and all five members of the Personnel Relations Board. Appointments are for four-year terms, except for the Rent Review Board, which has two-year terms. For more information about the boards and commissions and an application, go to http://www.sanleandro.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=3759

The City Council meets at 7pm in the City Council Chambers at 835 E. 14th Street on Monday, January 13, 2010. The complete agenda is available at http://www.sanleandro.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=7608

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December 30, 2010

Mayor Tony Santos' Second Farewell Address

After making his farewell address at the December 6, 2010, meeting of the San Leandro City Council, outgoing Mayor Tony Santos made a second, longer farewell address at the December 20 City Council meeting.

Santos was first elected as the District 6 representative on the San Leandro City Council in 1984 when he defeated Janet Mohr. In 1988, he ran unopposed for re-election. In 2000, he defeated Diana Rodriguez, Mark Tichy, and Allan Lindsay-O'Neill to take the District 6 City Council seat once again. Santos was re-elected in 2004, defeating Mark Tichy and Wafaa Aborashed. Before the end of his second term, he ran for Mayor and eventually defeated Orval "OB" Badger in a run-off election. In San Leandro's first use of ranked choice voting (RCV or instant runoff) in 2010, Santos lost his bid for re-election to former San Leandro School Board Trustee Stephen Cassidy.

Here is the video of Santos' address:

Mayor Santos' term officially ends at midnight, December 31, 2010. He has served 14 years on the San Leandro City Council and four years as Mayor.

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December 23, 2010

San Leandro Councilmember Bill Stephens' Farewell Address

San Leandro Councilmember Bill Stephens made two farewell addresses at his last meeting on the San Leandro City Council on December 20, 2010. Stephens served on the City Council from 2002 to 2010 and served on the San Leandro School Board from 1994 to 1998. Stephens previously served as a US Marines Corps officer, director of business services for Peralta Community College District, assistant director for business services for the Eden Area Regional Occupational Program, and was the chief business officer for Newark Unified School District. He currently serves as the Assistant Superintendent of Business for Fremont Unified School District.

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December 21, 2010

Speeches from Newly Elected Mayor and Councilmembers

San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy and Councilmembers Pauline Cutter, Michael Gregory, and Diana Souza were given the opportunity to give speeches after they were sworn in at the December 20, 2010, meeting of the San Leandro City Council.

Cassidy defeated incumbent Mayor Tony Santos in San Leandro's first election using ranked choice voting. Cutter defeated Corina Lopez and Gregory defeated David Anderson. Souza was unopposed for re-election.

If you want to hear what your Mayor and City Councilmembers have to say, see below:

Mayor Stephen Cassidy:

District 5 Councilmember Pauline Cutter:

District 1 Councilmember Michael Gregory:

District 3 Councilmember Diana Souza:

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Resignation of San Leandro City Manager Announced

The resignation of San Leandro City Manager Stephen Hollister was announced by outgoing Mayor Tony Santos at the December 20, 2010, meeting of the San Leandro City Council. Mayor Santos stated that he had received the letter of resignation that afternoon during a closed session meeting in which the single agenda item was the performance review of the City Manager. The resignation was accepted unanimously by the City Council.

The text of the letter was read aloud by Mayor Santos at the meeting:

I am submitting my resignation from the position of City Manager, effective upon the June 30, 2011 expiration of my contract. In the interim, I will be working with you on a transition plan. I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve San Leandro. I particularly appreciate the efforts and support of department heads and city employees. They are a dedicated and talented group. Sincerely, Stephen Hollister.

Hollister was appointed City Manager in December 2008, after John Jermanis announced his retirement in September 2008.

Updated 12/21/10 2:41pm: Added copy of resignation letter.

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December 18, 2010

New Employee Contracts on Agenda for City Council on Dec. 20

Employee contracts are on the agenda for the San Leandro City Council's last meeting of the year on December 20, 2010. The two-year contracts with the San Leandro City Employees Association and the San Leandro Management Organization would reduce the number of furlough days from 12 to six, an increase of 2.3% or $490,000 from this year's contracts (SLCEA; SLMO).

The two-year contract with the San Leandro Police Officer's Association approved in September 2010 also has six furlough days and an estimated savings of $332,700 over the two-year contract. If the proposed contracts are approved, the City Council will have to wait for two years to take on pension reform or do much about employee expenses, which constitute the majority of the City's budget.

In all other respects, the proposed employee contracts are the same as the existing contracts, including the City paying 100% of the employee and employer contributions for employee pensions. With the $852,000 increase in the City's CalPERS contribution next year and $166,350 annual savings from the police contract, the City's expenses will increase by $1.18 million next year. The quarter cent sales tax passed in November (Measure Z) won't take effect until April 2011, so these additional expenses could eat up nearly 40% of the estimated $3 million in revenue generated by Measure Z next year. Measure Z is estimated to generate up to $4 million of revenue annually, but it will only be collected for nine months in 2011.

At the November 16, 2010, meeting of the Finance Committee, Finance Director Tracy Vesely informed the committee that despite the passage of Measure Z, reductions were still possible.

Although the existing employee contracts weren't approved until February this year, City employees and the City Council appear to be pushing for approval of the contracts before Mayor-elect Stephen Cassidy and Councilmember-elect Pauline Cutter take office. If the contracts are approved, it would be the first time that the employee contracts have been approved prior to their expiration in at least 10 years. Previous contracts were approved retroactively in April 2002, February 2005, May 2006, and most recently, January 2009.

A reception will be held for outgoing Councilmember Bill Stephens and Mayor Tony Santos at 6pm at City Hall at 835 E. 14th Street. The City Council meeting starts at 7pm and will conclude with the installation of newly elected Mayor Cassidy, Councilmember Cutter, and re-elected Councilmembers Diana Souza and Michael Gregory.

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December 15, 2010

City Down to One Last Police Lawsuit

On December 4, 2010, San Leandro City Manager Stephen Hollister told the Daily Review that two more police lawsuits had been settled while the City won a third case. Normally, lawsuit settlements are reported during City Council meetings, as a report of what happened in closed session. San Leandro Bytes contacted City Attorney Jayne Williams for additional information about the lawsuits, which is summarized in the following table:

NameDispositionDate
Kamilah JacksonSettled for $25,000January 19, 2010
Amanda KerrSettled for $35,000January 19, 2010
Taiwo Pena-HornungSettled for $50,000January 19, 2010
Christina TiletileSettled for $295,000January 19, 2010
Ann O’CallaghanSettled for $240,000July 1, 2010
Cathy PickardSettled for $30,000 with the buy back of 2 years of PERS timeJuly 1, 2010
Deborah TrujilloSummary judgment for CityAugust 1, 2010

Four of the settlements were announced at the January 19, 2010, meeting of the City Council. Information about the three other cases has not been announced at a City Council meeting, but is expected at the December 20, 2010, meeting, according to San Leandro City Clerk Marian Handa.

As part of the settlements, the City agreed:

  • that a diversity budget will be created that would permit SLPD officers to go to a Women in Law Enforcement conference or other comparable diversity course(s) for two years with a re-evaluation after two years regarding this budget.
  • that each SLPD sergeant promotional board will have at least one outside person. that it will work with the POA to reevaluate the current 100% weighted interview criteria for advancement to sergeant.
  • that it will make an active recruiting effort to bring diversity to the SLPD consistent with national norms, budget permitting.
  • that Advanced Officer Trainings will be given to all sworn employees of the SLPD to address diversity, gender and race issues in a professional law enforcement setting.
  • that SLPD's report writing manual for officers will be updated.

The settlements cost a total of $675,000.

One lawsuit by former San Leandro Police Officer DeWayne Stancill, who was named as a defendant in the above cases, remains. Stancill's suit claims that he was a victim of racial discrimination.

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November 29, 2010

Sandra R. Spagnoli Selected as New San Leandro Police Chief

Sanda_Spagnoli.jpg San Leandro City Manager announced today that Benicia Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli has been selected as San Leandro's new police chief. Spagnoli replaces Ian Willis, who will retire at the end of this year. She served four years as Benicia's police chief and served with the San Carlos Police Department for the previous 16 years.

Spagnoli's appointment comes after the City of San Leandro settled four lawsuits from female police department employees for $405,000 and three lawsuits remain pending. Willis and his predecessor, Dale Attarian, had been promoted from within the police department and both announced their retirements after serving less than two years as police chief.

Spagnoli becomes San Leandro's 10th police chief and its first female police chief.

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October 4, 2010

San Leandro Receives Grant to Fund Five Cops for Three Years

SL_police_logo.png On September 30, 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that the City of San Leandro would receive an estimated grant of $2,417,175 to fund five police officers for three years. The recipients are required to fund the positions for a fourth year. The grant was made under the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), which "advances the practice of community policing" by "making grants to police departments around the United States."

In 2009, the City of San Leandro was unsuccessful in its application for a COPS grant to fund six police officer positions. Oakland and Hayward were among nearby cities receiving a portion of the nearly $1 billion in COPS grants.

According to the City's COPS grant application, the City plans to fund the fourth year of these police officer positions from general funds and by raising a "bond/tax issue." The application lists the cost of the positions in the first year at $151,550 per officer ($78,075 in salary plus $73,475 in benefits), second year at $161,399 per officer ($82,782 in salary plus $78,617 in benefits) and the third year at $170,486 per officer ($86,938 in salary plus $83,548 in benefits).

This year, 27 COPS grants were awarded to California jurisdictions out of the 200 jurisdictions that applied. According to the US Department of Justice website, "The COPS Office employed a very similar methodology as in fiscal year 2009 and determined that fiscal health factors would account for 50% of the total score and reported crime and planned community policing activities would also account for 50% of the final score. In this manner, the COPS Office evenly valued the importance of fiscal distress against reported crime and community policing strategies."

The City of San Leandro's score ranked 24th among the 200 applicants from California according to the applicant rankings. Each of the 23 jurisdictions with a higher score received a COPS grant. Three lower scoring jurisdictions also received COPS grants, including two tribal applicants. All tribal applicants received COPS grants regardless of their score.

In a press release about the COPS grant, the City of San Leandro noted that although the COPS grant would fund five new police positions, the City will eliminate seven police officers if Measure Z fails to pass. Measure Z is a 0.25% increase in the sales tax that will appear on the November 2, 2010 ballot.

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June 7, 2010

City Council to Vote on 2010-2011 Budget at Tonight's Meeting

The San Leandro City Council will vote tonight on whether to approve the budget for 2010-2011 at its City Council meeting on June 7, 2010. The total budget of $125.2 million for the City of San Leandro includes the $69 million General Fund, plus the Redevelopment Agency, and Public Financing Authority.

A public hearing will be held to "take public testimony regarding the City Manager's Proposed Budget" prior to input from the City Council and the vote on whether to adopt the budget.

According to the staff report, "The Proposed Budget for the General Fund revenues are projected to be $66.5 million," and expenditures are "now projected to be $69 million in 2010-2011." One-time funds from reserves and a $0.5 million transfer from the City's self-insurance fund are being used to close the $2.5 million difference between expenditures and revenues.

The City Council has used reserves to balance the City's budget for the previous three years as the deteriorating economy has cut into sales and property taxes, which provide the bulk of the City's revenue. City Manager Steve Hollister and the City Council have agreed to maintain at least a $5 million emergency fund, which is technically part of the reserve, but with the intent to only use that money for emergencies such as earthquakes.

The City Council will also vote on whether to approve the budgets for the City of San Leandro Redevelopment Agency ($15.2 million) and the City of San Leandro Public Financing Authority ($2.47 million). Each of these agencies has separate budgets that are not intermingled with the General Fund, but are still controlled by the City Council.

The Redevelopment Agency is funded by a portion of the property tax growth in San Leandro's three redevelopment areas: Plaza, West San Leandro/MacArthur Boulevard, and Alameda County-City of San Leandro. According to the Staff Report, Revenue for the Redevelopment Agency declined by 3% last year and is expected to be flat next year. As part of California's efforts to balance the state budget, the Redevelopment Agency has had to give the state $4.2 million this year and will give the state $900,000 next year. The Redevelopment Agency purchased the former Albertson's site at 1550 E. 14th Street, funded construction of the new Senior Community Center on E. 14th Street, and provided a loan to Bridge Housing for the now-stalled San Leandro Crossings Project.

The Public Financing Authority receives revenue from lease payments from the General Fund, which are listed as "Use of money and property" in the Staff Report. Projects undertaken by the Public Financing Authority include seismic retrofitting of City Hall, three fire stations and the Police Department building, and expansion of the Main Library and acquiring two replacement fire stations.

In other actions, the City Council will vote on calling for bids for repair of walkways at city parks, street repairs of Bancroft Avenue between 138th and 148th Avenue, and replacing the existing 2-story parking garage between Estudillo and Callan with a 4 or 5-story garage with 395 to 475 parking spaces.

The agenda for tonight's meeting can be downloaded from http://www.sanleandro.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=6419. The meeting is scheduled to start at 7pm and will be held in the City Council Chambers at 835 E. 14th Street.

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May 3, 2010

Ursula Reed is new Vice Mayor

After a motion by Councilmember Michael Gregory to elect Councilmember Jim Prola as Vice Mayor failed, Councilmember Ursula Reed was unanimously elected San Leandro's Vice Mayor at the San Leandro City Council meeting on May 3, 2010. Councilmembers Joyce Starosciak, Diana Souza, Bill Stephens, and Reed voted against Gregory's motion, which failed 4 to 3. Stephens then nominated Reed for Vice Mayor and Reed received a unanimous vote.

The Vice Mayor, according to the City Charter, "shall possess and perform the powers and duties of the Mayor." This typically means representing the City when the Mayor cannot and chairing meetings of the City Council in the Mayor's absence.

Until recently, Vice Mayors had served for at least two terms. That ended with the selection of Stephens, who served one year as Vice Mayor. Below is a recent history of San Leandro's Vice Mayors:

  • 2000 - Bob Glaze (District 4)
  • 2001- Bob Glaze (District 4)
  • 2002 - Bob Glaze (District 4)
  • 2003- Bob Glaze (District 4)
  • 2004 - Orval "OB" Badger (District 1)
  • 2005 - Orval "OB" Badger (District 1)
  • 2006 - Surlene Grant (District 2)
  • 2007 - Surlene Grant (District 2)
  • 2008 - Bill Stephens (District 5)
  • 2009 - Joyce Starosciak (District 4)


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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 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 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 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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March 21, 2010

City Council Budget Workshop Monday Night

The San Leandro City Council will meet on Monday, March 22, 2010, for a workshop and presentation of the preliminary general fund budget for 2010-2011. The City Council will attempt to address an expected $7 million deficit.

A preliminary budget was presented to the Finance Committee on March 2, 2010. The proposed budget calls for reducing personnel by 64 full-time equivalents (FTEs) from the previous year, though most of the reductions are through attrition. This is in addition to the monthly furlough day that reduces salaries by 4.6% for everyone but the police and fire departments.

Optimistic financial projections by Interim Finance Director Perry Carter have meant that the budget has had to be revised regularly to address decreased revenues from sales tax and property tax. While the adjustment process is normal throughout any year, the changes this year, and in recent years, have been consistently and dramatically downward.

Proposed reductions to Recreation Programs include closing Farrelly and the Boys and Girls Club pools, elimination of adult sports progams, cutting the hours of the Family Aquatics Center by 25%, and elimination of all community events, including the Cherry Festival and tree lighting.

Proposed library reductions include closing the San Leandro History Museum and Art Gallery, reduced hours at the Main and Manor libraries, 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 $950,000 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 all long-range planning and land use and development policy analysis will be suspended.

The Police Department will lose five 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 complete list of proposed cuts can be seen in the finance committee presentation.

The City Council workshop starts at 7pm on Monday, March 22, 2010, in the City Council Chamber at 835 E. 14th Street and not in the South Offices Conference Room where workshops usually take place.

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February 10, 2010

San Leandro BART-Pedestrian Community Meeting Feb. 23, 2010

Downtown San Leandro BART Alternative 1

The City of San Leandro is holding a meeting to gather community input on a new plan for pedestrian and bicycle access to the downtown San Leandro BART station. The goal is to better integrate the BART station into the City's Transit-Oriented Development Strategy.

The process is funded by a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. According to a flier from the City, the meeting "will emphasize design ideas needed to make pedestrian and bicycle access between the Downtown BART station and downtown San Leandro safer and more pedestrian friendly."

The design options the City is seeking input on are available from the City of San Leandro website.

The meeting will be held on February 23, 2010, from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the San Leandro Library, located at 300 Estudillo Avenue in downtown San Leandro.

For more information, contact Phil Millenbah at 510-577-3327.

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January 20, 2010

City of San Leandro Pays Out $405,000 to Settle Four Lawsuits

During the San Leandro City Council meeting on January 19, 2010, San Leandro Assistant City Attorney Richard Pio Roda announced that four lawsuits had been settled for a total for $405,000. The lawsuits were filed by Christina Tiletile, Taiwo Pena-Hornung, Kamilah Jackson, all former San Leandro police officers, and Amanda Kerr, a former records clerk.

The lawsuits, originally filed in August 2009, alleged that the plaintiffs faced discrimination and harassment because they were women. San Leandro police officer DeWayne Stancill was specifically named as a defendant in the lawsuits as well. Stancill is also the biological father of Dwayne M. Stancill, who was accused in the murder of San Leandro High School student Greg Ballard, Jr. in 2007.

The statement read by the Assistant City Attorney included the following:

"As part of the settlement, the parties agree that the City and Kamilah Jackson, Amanda Kerr, Taiwo Pena-Hornung and Christina Tiletile settle the lawsuits brought against the City of San Leandro, J. DeWayne Stancill and other named defendants. The parties emphasize there were unfortunate misunderstandings that may have led to ill-considered allegations that they now regret, and for which they apologize."

Three other lawsuits filed by San Leandro police officers Ann O'Callaghan, Cathy Pickard, and Deborah Trujillo have not yet been settled. In addition, San Leandro police officer DeWayne Stancill, who was accused of calling one of the women "babe" or "baby" and making comments about the womens' breasts, has filed a lawsuit against the City of San Leandro. The cases were previously discussed at the City Council's December 7, 2009, meeting.

The complete report from closed session follows:

Assistant City Attorney Richard Pio Roda reported that in the closed session held earlier this evening, the City Council, by a vote of 5-0 (Councilmember Souza and Mayor Santos absent) disposed by settlement agreement the following claims:

Christina Tiletile v. City of San Leandro, et al., sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation claims, in the amount of $295,000

Taiwo Pena-Hornung v. City of San Leandro, et al., sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation claims, in the amount of $50,000

Kamilah Jackson v. City of San Leandro, et al., sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation claims, in the amount of $25,000

Amanda Kerr v. City of San Leandro, et al., sexual harassment, gender discrimination, retaliation, Bane Act and false imprisonment claims, in the amount of $35,000

As part of the settlement, the parties agree that the City and Kamilah Jackson, Amanda Kerr, Taiwo Pena-Hornung and Christina Tiletile settle the lawsuits brought against the City of San Leandro, J. DeWayne Stancill and other named defendants. The parties emphasize there were unfortunate misunderstandings that may have led to ill-considered allegations that they now regret, and for which they apologize.

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City Council Approves Ranked Choice Voting - Election is Nov. 2, 2010

The San Leandro City Council approved ranked choice voting (also known as instant runoff voting) 5 - 2 at its meeting on January 19, 2010. This means that the election for San Leandro City Council will be held in November 2010 and not in June, as in the past two elections.

Fourteen people spoke in favor of ranked choice voting before the City Council voted, including representatives from Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, Black Women Organized for Political Action, and New America Foundation. Nobody spoke against it.

Vice Mayor Starosciak and Councilmember Bill Stephens voted against ranked choice voting, with Stephens stating that the additional cost was too much given "a budget that's hemorrhaging." Councilmember Diana Souza said she supported the "theory of IRV [instant runoff voting]," spent the next two minutes giving arguments against ranked choice voting, and then voted to support it.

The City Council voted unanimously to accept the recommendations of the Recreation and Parks Commission to use the $3.7 million in Measure WW funds on ten projects that were chosen during two community meetings:

  • Toyon Park Play Equipment
  • Marina Park - Group Picnic Areas
  • Par Course Improvements
  • Marina Park Irrigation Improvements
  • Marina Dog Park (cheaper option)
  • San Leandro Ball Park Locker/Restroom Refurbishment
  • Stenzel Park Drainage Project
  • Bleachers at the Pacific Sports Complex
  • Resurface Skate Park with concrete
  • Resurface park pathways

During the City Council discussion, Souza made arguments against going forward with the recommendations of the Recreation and Parks Commission for more than three minutes, but voted to approve them.

With a November election, City Manager Steve Hollister stated that any proposed revenue increase would be on the same ballot as the City Council election. As pointed out by Stephen Cassidy during his comments, the City Council must now come up with a plan to balance the City's budget without a revenue increase in June.

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January 17, 2010

City Council Decides Ranked Choice Voting and Measure WW Funds on Tuesday

The San Leandro City Council will decide at its meeting on January 19, 2010, whether to join Oakland and Berkeley by adopting ranked choice voting (also known as instant runoff voting). The other big agenda item is whether to accept the recommendations put forward by the Recreation and Parks Commission for the use of nearly $4 million in Measure WW funds.

Ranked choice voting enables candidates to be elected by majority vote without holding costly runoff elections (see here for an explanation). Runoff elections have cost the City of San Leandro nearly $200,000 since 2005. Although it will cost more initially ($52,000 more this year, according to a staff report), ranked choice voting will become cheaper than the current runoff system by 2014 and continue to save money into the future.

On the question of whether ranked choice voting does not confirm to the City's charter, the City Attorney said that, "it is possible that under a rank choice voting system the number of votes that the winning candidate receives may be less than a majority of the number of actual voters who participated in the election. Such a result is consistent with and does not conflict with the City Charter because under a rank choice voting system the winning candidate who receives a majority of "votes cast" for that office in a particular round (1, 2, or 3) will have received fifty percent (50%) plus one of the continuing ballots that contained the votes cast for that office."

After California Secretary of State Debra Bowen approved Alameda County's system in December 2009, Oakland adopted ranked choice voting on January 5, and Berkeley is likely to adopt it as well in late January or early February 2010. According to an article in the Berkeley Daily Planet, the Berkeley City Manager has sent a letter to the San Leandro City Council "indicating that Berkeley is prepared is move forward with IRV in November 2010."

The City Council will also decide how to spend nearly $4 million it received as its share from the Measure WW East Bay Parks bond passed in November 2008. Mayor Tony Santos established an ad-hoc committee chaired by Vice Mayor Joyce Starosciak with Michael Gregory and Diana Souza. After meeting three times and with no public input, the ad-hoc committee recommended that most of the funds be used for a competitive lap pool at Washington Manor Aquatic Center. When it became clear that the recommendations didn't have the support of a majority of the City Council, the Recreation and Parks Commission was tasked with coming up with recommendation. After two community meetings, the recommendations from the public were brought forward to and accepted by the Commission. Those recommendations are:

  • Toyon Park Play Equipment

  • Marina Park - Group Picnic Areas

  • Par Course Improvements

  • Marina Park Irrigation Improvements

  • Marina Dog Park (cheaper option)

  • San Leandro Ball Park Locker/Restroom Refurbishment

  • Stenzel Park Drainage Project

  • Bleachers at the Pacific Sports Complex

  • Resurface Skate Park with concrete

  • Resurface park pathways

The City Council meeting will be held at 7pm on January 19, 2010, at 835 E. 14th Street in San Leandro. For the complete agenda, click here.

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December 25, 2009

Part-Time Rapper is Newest Rent Review Board Member

Sara Mestas At the December 21, 2009, meeting of the San Leandro City Council, Sara Mestas was unanimously appointed to the Rent Review Board. When she became aware in September 2009 that the City of San Leandro had cut the crossing guards from its budget, Mestas volunteered as a crossing guard, spoke at a City Council meeting, and organized a press conference at Corvallis Elementary School.

According to the City of San Leandro web site, the Rent Review Board provides a "forum for the hearing of rent disputes between landlords and tenants and to provide recommendations to the City Council regarding the settlement of those disputes." It is scheduled to meet on the fourth Tuesday of each month, but the last time it met was in September 2008.

Mestas had considered running for Mayor in 2010 before she was appointed to the Rent Review Board. Although she hadn't been registered to vote in recent elections, Mestas recently endorsed Mayor Tony Santos and Councilmembers Michael Gregory and Jim Prola, stating, "I endorse Tony Santos for Mayor, 2010-2012, also council persons Prola and Gregory." Santos and Gregory are running for re-election in 2010 while Prola is expected to run for re-election in 2012. Regarding the city's current fiscal situation, Mestas suggested that "the best thing that can be done is to cut spending," and also noted that "there are some council members and city employees who are spending money like they just won the lotto, some who would rather have a fancy hotel instead of affordable housing or a hospital." She also supports ranked choice voting and city ownership of an ethanol and hydrogen fueling station.

A mortgage company employee and aspiring rapper using the stage name Mo Wiley, Mestas was interviewed in November 2009 on Sacramento & Co., about her new album and her activism to get funding restored for school crossing guards.

More biographical details are available from http://www.luckmedia.com/mowiley/biography.html.

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December 9, 2009

City Mailer Details City's Financial Plight

A letter from the City of San Leandro arrived in resident's mailboxes earlier this month detailing the financial plight of the City. The letter, signed by San Leandro Police Chief Ian Willis and Alameda County Fire Chief Sheldon Gilbert, states, "The City has been forced to cut six police officers, even though our police force is already below the number of officers needed for a city of San Leandro's size. The City is also facing the potential elimination ,of a fire ladder truck and nine firefighters, which would result in longer fire and medical emergency response times and greater loss of life and property." The letter was followed by a glossy mailer with essentially the same information.

The letter includes six questions and answers about San Leandro's services needs and a survey on residents' priorities.

On November 16, 2009, the San Leandro City Council voted to pay political consulting firm Lew Edwards Group $61,000 to educate San Leandro voters about the City's need for money. It is not clear whether this mailing is part of Lew Edwards' work.

See below for the full text of the letter.

November 30, 2009

Dear Friend:

As one of our community's leaders, we are writing to update you about San Leandro's urgent financial, public safety and vital services needs.

Sacramento politicians have recently taken $7 million from San Leandro to resolve their own budget mess, and with a new $20 billion deficit, are threatening to take more. Combined with the economic downturn, this already has resulted in a $14 million decline in City revenues, jeopardizing our community's local services, including public safety.

The City has been forced to cut six police officers, even though our police force is already below the number of officers needed for a city of San Leandro's size. The City is also facing the potential elimination ,of a fire ladder truck and nine firefighters, which would result in longer fire and medical emergency response times and greater loss of life and property. Unfortunately. the City does not have adequate funds to support local services needs.

To address these issues, the City recently commissioned a community survey to hear directly from residents about their needs. This survey found that San Leandrans want to protect local City services. In fact, 66% of voters would support a potential revenue measure to maintain important services like police, fire, 9-1-1 emergency response, library programs and street and pothole repairs.

We need temporary emergency funding to protect and maintain essential services, including:

  • Neighborhood patrol officers

  • Fire and emergency medical response times

  • Investigation and gang suppression police officers

  • Library programs for children, adults and families

  • Street and pothole repairs

  • Fire prevention services

  • School police officers and crossing guards

We are working to get as many community perspectives on these issues as possible and want to hear what your priorities are for San Leandro. Please help us by providing your input on the enclosed Community Survey and returning it today.

We will continue to keep you informed and have enclosed a "Frequently Asked Questions" sheet for your information. Please contact the City Manager's Office at 577-3353 with any further questions.


Police Chief Ian Willis           Alameda County Fire Chief Sheldon Gilbert


Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About San Leandro's Essential Services Needs

Q: What is the issue?
A: Sacramento politicians have already taken $7 million from San Leandro to solve their own budget mess, and with a new $20 billion deficit, are threatening to take more. This, combined with the faltering economy, has resulted in a $14 Million decline in City revenues, jeopardizing our community's local services, including public safety. Existing local funds are insufficient to address the City's needs.

Q: Have public safety services been affected?
A: Yes. The City has been forced to cut six police officers, even though our police force is already below the number of officers needed for a city of San Leandro's size. The City is also facing the potential elimination of a fire ladder truck and nine firefighters. Less police officers patrolling our neighborhoods and fewer firefighters will result in longer 9-1-1 emergency response times, putting our safety at risk.

Q: Are there other important needs in San Leandro?
A: We need to invest in our City's critical infrastructure and services, including our streets, libraries, and parks to keep our community strong. We must continue to support our kids by ensuring the City is a good partner to schools by offering programs and activities to keep our children focused on learning and out of trouble.

Q: How can these needs be addressed?
A: We want to get more input from the community on their priorities and will develop a plan to address these needs in the most fiscally responsible way possible. At this time, no reliable sources of revenue exist to fill the existing funding gap and maintain service levels, including police and fire protection, 9-1-1 emergency response, library hours and programs, and city street repairs. The City continues to explore all opportunities to attract new businesses and revenue generators to San Leandro. A potential San Leandro revenue measure, which may be considered at the end of this process, would generate temporary emergency funding that would be locally controlled for local services and could not be taken away by the State.

Q: How would temporary emergency funding affect San Leandro's local community services?
A: Additional funds would maintain essential services, including:

  • Neighborhood patrol officers

  • Fire"and emergency medical response times

  • Investigation and gang suppression police officers

  • Library programs for children, adults and families

  • Street and pothole repairs

  • Fire prevention services

  • School police officers and crossing guards

Q: How can I find out more information?
A: We want to hear from you-please help us develop a plan that works for San Leandro by filling out our Community Survey form. If you would like to find out more about these issues, please call the City Manager's Office at 577-3353.



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December 8, 2009

City Council Delays Decision on Voting Until January 2010

At its meeting on December 7, 2009, the San Leandro City Council voted to delay any decisions on whether to use instant runoff (or ranked choice voting) until it meets again in January 2010. This will allow staff to see how the City of Oakland proceeds when it meets to consider instant runoff in early January.

Councilmember Jim Prola offered a motion to table discussion on ranked choice voting (RCV) until January 2010 and to direct staff to find ways to reduce the first time costs associated with RCV. Vice Mayor Joyce Starosciak offered a substitute motion to go with the staff recommendation, which would mean that RCV would not be implemented for the 2010 elections. Starosciak's motion was defeated 4-3, with Councilmembers Prola, Michael Gregory, Ursula Reed, and Mayor Tony Santos voting against it. Prola's motion prevailed, with only Starosciak and Councilmember Diana Souza voting against it.

In other actions, the City Council appointed former City Councilmember and former Mayoral candidate Orval "OB" Badger to the Personnel Relations Board. Badger fills the position vacated by Bill Jardin, who died earlier this year. Badger was appointed to the San Leandro City Council in 2001 to replace Gordon Galvan and was unopposed when he ran for re-election in 2002. In 2006, he ran for Mayor and was defeated by Santos.

The City Council also voted to tighten restrictions on smoking in public places, work places, recreational areas and athletic facilities in the city. This was partly in response to the 2009 State of Tobacco Control report issued by the American Lung Association of California in January 2009, which awarded the City of San Leandro a "F" for its efforts to discourage smoking.

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December 6, 2009

Recreation and Parks Commission to Recommend Community Selections for Measure WW Projects

At its meeting on December 2, 2009, the San Leandro Recreation and Parks Commission accepted the selections of the community for how Measure WW funds should be spent. The selections from the community were the result of community meetings held on November 7 and 10, 2009.

The selections are:

  • Toyon Park Play Equipment
  • Marina Park - Group Picnic Areas
  • Par Course Improvements
  • Marina Park Irrigation Improvements
  • Marina Dog Park (cheaper option)
  • San Leandro Ball Park Locker/Restroom Refurbishment
  • Stenzel Park Drainage Project
  • Bleachers at the Pacific Sports Complex
  • Resurface Skate Park with concrete
  • Resurface park pathways

These projects will be recommended to the San Leandro City Council meeting at a meeting in January 2010. The selections from the community meetings were based on safety, reducing maintenance costs, providing play equipment where there wasn't any, and projects that have widespread impact or are used by many people.

In May 2009, the Measure WW Ad-Hoc Committee, led by Vice Mayor Joyce Starosciak, recommended that $2.4 million be used to build a competitive lap pool at the Washington Manor Aquatic Family Center, $1 million for group picnic area renovations at the San Leandro Marina, and $250,000 for improving other San Leandro park areas.

Measure WW was a $500 million East Bay Regional Park District bond measure passed in November 2008. The $3.7 million allocated for San Leandro is to assist "with financing the acquisition and improvement of local park and recreation facilities."

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December 4, 2009

Election Looks Set for June 2010

According to the agenda for the December 7, 2009, meeting of the San Leandro City Council, the City Council and Mayoral election looks likely for June 2010 and not November. While the City has been considering ranked choice voting (also known as instant runoff voting or IRV), the date of the next election has been up in the air. IRV would allow for a single election in November but without IRV, the City Council must allow for a runoff election to decide races in which no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote.

The staff recommendation, which is usually, though not always, adopted by the City Council, is to proceed with the June 2010 election and not to pursue ranked choice voting for the November 2010 election.

However, the staff report notes that, "Delaying the decision until January 2010 will have impacts both on staff workloads and on the candidates and their campaigns. However, the Council can continue the matter to its January 19, 2010 meeting and still meet legal time lines."

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December 2, 2009

Recreation and Parks Commission to Discuss Measure WW Funds Tonight

On Wednesday, December 2, 2009, the Recreation and Parks Commission will review input from two community workshops held last month on how to allocate $3.7 million in funds from Measure WW. Measure WW was a $500 million East Bay Regional Park District bond measure passed in November 2008.

The workshops, held on November 7 and November 10, 2009, gave the public an opportunity to provide input into the allocation of Measure WW funds from a list of more than 40 projects. These projects ranged from reconstruction of tennis courts and replacement of bleachers to a competition pool at Washington Manor.

In May 2009, an ad-hoc committee of the City Council, led by Vice-Mayor Joyce Starosciak, recommended that $2.4 million be used to help build a competitive lap pool at the Washington Manor Aquatic Family Center, $988,000 for rebuilding the group picnic areas at the San Leandro Marina, and $250,000 for improving other San Leandro park areas. The Recreation and Parks Commission was tasked with seeking community input when it became clear that the City Council did not support the ad-hoc committee's recommendations.

The meeting will be held at 7pm in the South Offices conference room, located south of City Hall and located behind the California Conservatory Theatre at 999 E. 14th Street.

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November 10, 2009

Last Meeting on Measure WW Funds Tonight

The San Leandro Recreation and Parks Commission will hold the second of two public meetings tonight to seek community input on how best to spend $3.7 million in Measure WW funds. Measure WW was a $500 million East Bay Regional Park District bond measure passed in November 2008. The $3.7 million allocated for San Leandro is to assist "with financing the acquisition and improvement of local park and recreation facilities."

The workshop will be held tonight (Tuesday, November 10) from 7-10 p.m. at the San Leandro Main Library, 300 Estudillo Avenue in San Leandro,

For more information, Carolyn Knudtson at the San Leandro Recreation and Human Services Department at 510-577-3466.

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October 3, 2009

San Leandro Zoning Board Gets New Member and Elects Gilcrest as Chair

After the recent appointment of Catherine Vierra Houston as the District 4 representative on the San Leandro Board of Zoning Adustments (BZA), the BZA elected Charles Gilcrest as the new Chair at its October 1, 2009, meeting. Gilcrest ran unsuccessfully for the San Leandro District 2 City Council seat in November 2008 and is the campaign manager for Tony Santos' re-election campaign. Darryl Shields, who has been on the BZA since March 2007, was elected as Vice Chair.

The election of Chair and Vice-Chair is normally done in July, but was delayed until last night's meeting.

Houston replaced Frank Sidari, who has served on the BZA since June 1986. Houston is a representative of United Steelworkers Local 1304 in San Leandro. With much of organized labor throwing its support behind Santos' re-election, insiders have suggested that Councilmember Joyce Starosciak's selection of Houston was an attempt to garner some labor support. Starosciak was endorsed by the Alameda County Central Labor Council in 2004 and 2008 while Santos received the group's endorsement in 2006 and in previous City Council elections.

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September 24, 2009

City Hires Lianne Marshall as Assistant City Manager

The City of San Leandro has hired Lianne Marshall as Assistant City Manager to replace Interim Assistant City Manager Jacqui Diaz. Marshall served as Assistant City Manager for the City of Martinez, California, since March 2007.

Marshall will start on October 1, 2009, with an annual salary of slightly more than $176,000.

Diaz was Assistant to the City Manager when she was appointed Interim Assistant City Manager in September 2008 following Stephen Hollister's appointment to Interim City Manager. Diaz serves on the Board of the San Leandro Educational Foundation, is the Fine Arts Chair of Bishop O'Dowd High School, and on the School Board at Church of the Assumption.

See http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_13413012 for more details about Marshall.

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September 14, 2009

Community Meeting on San Leandro BART and Pedestrians

On Monday September 21, 2009, the City of San Leandro will hold a community meeting to gather information on how to better integrate pedestrians and bicycles with the San Leandro BART station and the City's Transit-Oriented Development Strategy. Here is the text of the flyer sent out by the City:

We Need Your Ideas On Improved Pedestrian and Bike Access along San Leandro Blvd.

Please Join Us!

Monday, September 21, 2009 6:30-8:30 San Leandro Main Library-Karp Room 300 Estudillo Avenue, San Leandro

San Leandro-BART Pedestrian Study Community Meeting To Be Held September 21st

The City of San Leandro will host the first of several meetings to gather community input on the creation of a new plan for the San Leandro Boulevard-BART station area relative to pedestrian and bicycle safety and access.

The City has received a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to study how the San Leandro Downtown BART station can be better integrated into the plans of the City's newly adopted Transit Oriented Development strategy. The goal of the study is to provide a transportation environment that contributes to increased ridership by emphasizing accessibility, safety, and a high quality environment for pedestrians, bicycles, public transit and automobiles. Other transportation options, such as utilizing LINKS, a free shuttle linking San Leandro BART and the West San Leandro business community, carpooling, and "kiss and ride" will be encouraged. Development within the station area will ensure that it is multi-modally connected to downtown and enhance opportunities for regional connections. This transportation environment will significantly reduce vehicle miles traveled by residents.

The first community meeting will emphasize design ideas needed to make pedestrian and bicycle access between the Downtown BART station and downtown San Leandro safer and more pedestrian friendly. We welcome your participation in this meeting

For more information please call Philip Millenbah, Senior Planner at 510/577-3327.

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September 13, 2009

City Council Work Session Tonight, Sept. 14, 2009

The San Leandro City Council will hold a work session on Monday, September 14, 2009, to discuss the process for the capital improvement program and Measure WW, park capital improvement program projects and park development fund fees.

Measure WW
was a $500 million bond measure passed by the East Bay Regional Park District in November 2008. Under Measure WW, San Leandro is allocated $3.7 million to assist "with financing the acquisition and improvement of local park and recreation facilities."

An ad-hoc committee for Measure WW consisting of Councilmembers Joyce Starosciak, Diana Souza, and Michael Gregory met on January 29, 2009, February 9, 2009, and April 6, 2009. Unlike standing committees, ad-hoc committees are permitted to meet without posting advance notice of the meetings and without public participation. The first information from the ad-hoc committee came out in May 2009.

On May 18, 2009, the committee recommended that $2.4 million be used to help build a competitive lap pool at the Washington Manor Aquatic Family Center, nearly $1 million for renovations at the San Leandro Marina, and $250,000 for improving other San Leandro park areas.

Another issue for the City Council is the condition of streets through San Leandro, which the Metropolitan Transportation Commission(MTC) gave a pavement condition index of 60 in January 2009, bordering on "at-risk." The condition of the pavement has steadily declined from 2004 to 2007. According to the MTC, San Leandro's streets are "worn to the point where rehabilitation may be needed to prevent rapid deterioration."

Click here for a complete list of Measure WW-eligible projects.

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September 8, 2009

Ian Willis Sworn in as San Leandro Police Chief

Interim San Leandro Police Chief Ian Willis was sworn in as San Leandro Police Chief at the September 8, 2009, meeting of the San Leandro City Council. Willis' family and friends, former Police Chief Dale Attarian, and about a dozen San Leandro police officers were on hand to witness the ceremony, which included his wife pinning on his badge.

Willis was appointed Police Chief on August 6, 2009, while the City Council was in its August recess and this was the first meeting of the City Council since the appointment.

Willis is San Leandro's ninth police chief since 1928, when San Leandro's top law enforcement official was given that title. Prior to 1928, the top position was town marshall.

Here is a list of the eight previous San Leandro police chiefs:

  • Joseph F. Peralta
  • Artel J. Lamoureaux
  • Thomas J. Rogers
  • Kenneth Swanson
  • Donald F. Becker
  • Robert J.P. Maginnis
  • Joseph Kitchen
  • Dale Attarian

Peralta, a direct descendant of Don Luis Peralta, was the longest serving top police official, serving as town marshall from 1912 until 1928 and police chief from 1928 to 1945.

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August 7, 2009

Ian Willis Appointed San Leandro Police Chief

i_willis_small.jpg According to a press release issued August 7, 2009, Interim San Leandro Police Chief Ian Willis was appointed San Leandro Police Chief on August 6, 2009. Willis had served as Interim Police Chief since former Police Chief Dale Attarian retired in December 2008.

One of the reasons cited by Attarian when he retired was "the important goal that the City’s Chief live in town" and he had been unable to sell the house where he lived. Willis also does not live in San Leandro.

Willis has served for 25 years in the San Leandro Police Department in various capacities and was selected after a nation-wide search narrowed the field of candidates to five finalists.

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July 28, 2009

Housing Element Draft Available for Review and Comment

According to a notice sent out by the City of San Leandro, an administrative draft of the San Leandro Housing Element is available for review and comment on the city's web site.

The Housing Element "addresses affordable housing and other housing issues. The update helps the City meet the state requirement to revise the housing element every five to seven years and will serve as a blueprint for accommodating San Leandro's housing needs through 2014."

Comments on the draft Housing Element can be emailed to Phil Millenbah, faxed to (510) 577-6007, by TDD at (510) 577-3343 or sent by snail mail to Mr. Millenbah's attention at 835 E. 14th St., San Leandro, CA, 94577. Comments will be accepted until August 15, 2009.

The full text of the notification is after the break:

Dear Neighbor:

We are writing to let you know that an Administrative Draft of the San Leandro Housing Element has been completed and may be reviewed on the City of San Leandro's website at http://www.ci.san-leandro.ca.us/CDHousElement2008_09.asp

During July and August 2009, this Administrative Draft will be evaluated by the State of California Department of Housing and Community Development. At the end of August, the State will issue·a formal comment letter indicating what changes (if any) will be required to receive State certification. The City will make appropriate revisions and produce a Planning Commission Draft in September 2009. At that time, a second public review and comment period will be provided and public hearings will be held.

Comments on this Administrative Draft are welcome and will be accepted through August 15, 2009. You may provide comments via email to pmillenbah@ci.san-Ieandro.ca.us, by phone to 510-517-:3321, by fax to 510-577-6007, by TDD to 510-577-3343, or by surface mail to:

Phil Millenbah
San Leandro Planning Department
835 East 14th Street
San Leandro, CA 94577
You will receive additional notification this Fall when the Planning Commission Draft is released for public review and hearings.

Sincerely

Phil Millenbah
Senior Planner

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July 27, 2009

Former City Employees Retire on More Than $100,000 A Year

Recent articles in the San Leandro Times and the Daily Review have drawn attention to the salaries and perks enjoyed by City of San Leandro employees.

According to a June 2009 San Leandro Times article, 110 city employees made more than $100,000 during the prior fiscal year, up from 78 reported in 2007.

As noted in these articles, these salaries and perks are not unusual for government employees throughout the state.

Government pensions have recently received a lot of attention, largely due to information published by the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility at its California Pension Reform web site. The web site provides the retirement amount for government retirees receiving more than $100,000 annually through the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS).

According to the California Pension Reform web site, the following former City of San Leandro employees receive more than $100,000 annually:

NameMonthlyAnnually
JOSEPH KITCHEN13,824.22165,890.64
DENNIS GLOVER11,851.32142,215.84
JAMES O'MEARA 10,539.57126,474.84
ROBERT MAGINNIS10,018.45120,221.40
JOHN BISCHOFF9,517.42 114,209.04
ROBERT ROCKETT9,505.66114,067.92
DANIEL MARCHETTI9,172.36110,068.32
WILLIAM RUGG8,735.47104,825.64
RENEE SOLOMON8,542.68102,512.16
RANDALL STOUT8,430.50101,166.00
DAN LUNSFORD 8,387.10100,645.20

San Leandro isn't unusual in the number of former employees getting more than $100,000 in retirement. It's also not unusual in that most of the former employees worked for the police department. The City of Alameda has 34 people listed, Berkeley has 37, and Hayward has 35.

Since the information at the California Pension Reform web site doesn't include recent retirees such as former City Manager John Jermanis and former Police Chief Dale Attarian, San Leandro Bytes made a request for more recent information from CalPERS. This is the current list (as of July 23, 2009):

NameMonthlyYearly
John Jermanis, Jr.$18,054.96$216,659.52
Dale S. Attarian$14,302.57$171,630.84
Joseph W. Kitchen$14,100.70 $169,208.40
Leroy E. Riordan$11,233.93 $134,807.16
Marcelus A. Decoulode$10,940.94 $131,291.28
Barbara F. Randall$9,560.60 $114,727.20
Daniel T. Marchetti$9,355.74 $112,268.88
William R. Rugg $8,910.06$106,920.72
Louis Spirou, Jr. $8,863.14$106,357.68
Randall R. Stout$8,598.86$103,186.32
James J. Johnston$8,595.75 $103,149.00

Many government employees are eligible for retirement at age 50 and receive three percent of their salary for each year of service. In addition, employees can manipulate the system to increase their pensions. For example, the former Fire Chief of Orinda and Moraga was making $186,000 before he retired, but receives an annual pension of $241,000 because he was permitted to sell unused vacation and holidays.

Unlike many retirement plans, CalPERS guarantees its pensions. This means that when CalPERS loses money on its investments, it requires local governments to pay more money into the system. As local governments struggle to survive with less revenues, increasing retirement costs may push some into fiscal ruin.

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June 1, 2009

San Leandro City Council Adopts $134.6 Million Budget

On a vote of 4 to 2, the San Leandro City Council adopted a $134.6 million budget for 2009-2010 on June 1, 2009. Councilmembers Joyce Starosciak and Diana Souza voted against adoption of the budget. Ursula Reed was absent. The budget includes $78.2 million in the General Fund, $15.1 million for the Redevelopment Agency, $12.8 million for water pollution control, environmental services, shoreline fund, and storm water fund, and $28.5 million for other activities.

Starosciak criticized the Finance Committee (Jim Prola, Tony Santos, and Michael Gregory) for saving services (the branch libraries and Farrelly Pool) instead of communicating the City's "desperate situation." Starosciak also objected to the use of "$250,000 insurance reserves to save" these services. The budget transfers a total of $1.4 million from the Self Insurance Fund, but Starosciak didn't object to the other $1.15 million transferred from that fund. Starosciak's comments are reprinted after the break.

The vote against the budget by Starosciak and Souza came as a surprise to Mayor Santos and the other members of the City Council. Santos noted that the budget had been discussed during the preceding eight months and these issues had been referred to the Finance Committee as appropriate.

Starosciak's vote and her comments are viewed by some insiders as the opening salvo in a possible run to unseat Santos as Mayor of San Leandro. Former School Board member Stephen Cassidy and former Mayor Shelia Young have also been mentioned as possible Mayoral candidates. When asked about whether they planned to run, Young and Cassidy said that they hadn't decided and Starosciak hadn't responded at the time of this article.

In other actions, the City Council nominated Thomas Makin as the District 2 member of the Board of Zoning Adjustments Makin served on the Recreation and Parks Commission for six years and will replace Melody Marr. Makin is the Deputy Director of Operations for the Housing Authority of Alameda County. Marr is the CEO of the Alameda Chamber of Commerce.

Lee Thomas was nominated as the District 3 member of the Human Services Commission. Thomas also serves on the Shoreline-Marina Committee and replaces Robert Vergara, who had served for a year and a half.

Lawrence Smith was nominated as the District 3 member of the Library-Historical Commission. Smith replaces Renee Souza, who was appointed in March 2007.

The complete text of Starosciak's comments from the June 1, 2009, San Leandro City Council meeting:

I’d like to thank the City Manager and Staff for their very hard work on the budget this year. The City Manager and Finance Director informed the Council early on that cuts in staffing would be required to balance our budget for the coming year. The communication with the City Employees has been excellent. The City Manager’s goal of a 5% reduction in public safety and a 15% reduction in all other departments was a well-chosen, measured and equitable strategy. It balanced our priorities, with a need to trim in all departments.

I also want to thank the Department Heads for their special efforts this year to maintain a hiring freeze, and in general to keep budgets tight which led to $300,000 in savings for our reserves this next fiscal year.

As hard as the Staff has worked this year, I am voting “No” on the recommendation from the Finance Committee for the 2009-10 budget. This budget started out equitable and realistic, it has become political and unrealistic.

The 15% reductions in all departments but public safety was agreed to be equitable and the Council was fully supportive. However, the community did not fully understand this and so when their local services were announced to be cut, they challenged the Council to return their favorite service.

Instead of communicating our desperate situation, the Finance Committee looked for ways to save the services that had the loudest clamoring.

The suspension of the Mulford Marina Branch and the South Branch libraries generated a great deal of fervor. Rightfully so, as many people enjoy all of our branch libraries. However, to keep them open, even at reduced hours, we are required to change our 15% strategy of reductions to a 10% policy for Libraries only and utilize almost a quarter of a million dollars of our insurance reserves.

This has become a political decision and it is inequitable to all other departments.

It was only 3 years ago that the Manor Branch library suspended its service for over 18 months to be rebuilt. During that time all of District 4 had to utilize other locations for library services. Then, as now, the suspension of the branch library service was for a better future in San Leandro. We knew that, and survived without our local library and felt fortunate to have long hours of operation at alternative locations in San Leandro. This year, we should have better communicated to our constituents that the suspension of the branch libraries means longer hours of operations and maintenance of the alternative locations. In the future, under this proposed budget, we are destined for drastic reductions in library and other operations.

Then, the suspension of Farrelly pool services brought out a literal flood of protests. Farrelly is well used by the neighboring families and it is right that they work to keep their pool open.

Still, in 2005, the Washington Manor Pool was closed for over a year and a half, which meant a season and a half of swimming was completely suspended. And even beyond that, when it reopened, Washington Manor was without its diving depth pool. To this day, all parents on the west side of town must take their children across town for advanced swimming lessons and teenagers can no longer walk and must be driven across town to enjoy swimming at their level. District 4 has not complained because they knew in 2005 that eventually they would be given all of the services that have been enjoyed by the rest of the City in both shallow and diving depth pools.

Washington Manor suffered a year and a half of concurrent library and swimming services suspended. To this day, we still don’t have a diving depth pool. Yet we knew it was for a better San Leandro future.

That is the same as we are asking our citizens today. The suspension of the Mulford/Marina branch and South branch services and the suspension of Farrelly pool services are for the betterment of the City’s future. By suspending those services, we are maintaining services for long hours in other parts of town. And with this inconvenience, our plan is to have enough revenue to re-open those facilities in future years. We should be communicating that message, not giving in to the clamoring.

There were also community protests over the Community Assistance Grants and the Children’s History Museum program – one which has been recommended for funding, and one which has not.

This shows how political the budget has become.

Our budget has also become unrealistic because of the growing number of optimistic projections that have received our quiet consent. We are budgeting based upon a number of assumptions that have us collectively crossing our fingers and hoping for the best. Some of the assumptions are:

  • 6 police officers will be fully funded by the Federal Recovery Act

  • Business license fees, property taxes and sales tax revenue will increase in a year of continued recession

  • The State will not carry out their plan to borrow $1.8M to balance California’s budget


These are not conservative projections, but have been defined as optimistic projections. When these assumptions fail, it will mean an additional shortfall of Millions of dollars further diving into our emergency reserves.

For all of these reasons, I am not in favor of using our $250,000 insurance reserves to save any programs this year.

However, in a spirit of consensus, at our last meeting Councilmember Souza, in an effort to balance community needs, suggested, and I supported, a Finance Committee consideration of using the insurance savings that supported the branch libraries to help fund the Farrelly pool services.

Instead, the Finance Committee took a different tact, proposing to double the pool entrance fees and potentially reduce hours at all our other pools. This means we plan to serve the same number of swimmers at twice the cost at up to half the hours. This does not make sense to me.

So I plan to make a motion for the Finance Committee to reconsider redistributing the $250k insurance reserves between library and recreation services to:

1. Provide some hours of operation at Farrelly without raising prices or reducing hours at the San Leandro Family Aquatics Center.
2. Maintain the Children’s History Museum program with a school fee to recover 50% of the costs.

And also the Council should communicate to the Community Assistance Grant applicants that funding this year will be whole, but in future years their General Fund support will likely be devoted to core services like Public Safety.

A balanced budget in this economy requires a firm stand and an effort to communicate our dire situation to our citizens. Although it feels difficult, this budget has been relatively easy due to the use of 3 million dollars in reserves. Next year, with no remaining reserve, it will be much, much worse, and we must start communicating that message. I plan to work with the community to do all we can to weather the coming 2010-11 budget storm.

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May 27, 2009

The San Leandro City Manager's Contract

In last week's San Leandro Times, San Leandro City Manager Stephen Hollister refuted a claim that the City of San Leandro is paying a consulting fee to former City Manager John Jermanis. San Leandro Bytes recently confirmed that there is no contract with Jermanis by filing a California Public Records Act request with the City of San Leandro.

Hollister became Interim City Manager when Jermanis retired in September 2008. In December 2008, Hollister was named City Manager, but the employment agreement is dated January 20, 2009. The agreement states that "City agrees to pay Employee a salary 15% above step five of the salary range of the highest paid City management employee..." According to the "City of San Leandro SLMO Salary Schedule," that is $14,688 per month for the Assistant City Manager and Police Chief. Fifteen percent above that is $16,891 per month, or $202,694 per year. [Editor's Note: On May 20, 2009, the Daily Review reported Hollister's salary as $200,738.98.] The City Manager's salary does not include other benefits, such as an automobile allowance, insurance and retirement benefits.

An electronic copy of the City Manager Employment Agreement can be found online. The entire text of the agreement and the City Manager's goals are included below.

EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT

THIS AGREEMENT is between the CITY OF SAN LEANDRO ("City") and STEPHEN L. HOLLISTER and is dated for convenience this 20TH day of January 2009.

Recitals

City desires to employ Stephen L. Hollister as City Manager of the City of San Leandro.

Stephen L. Hollister desires to serve as City Manager of the City of San Leandro.

The City Council as the appointing authority and Stephen L. Hollister desire to agree in writing to the terms and conditions of Stephen L. Hollister's employment as City Manager.

AGREEMENT

1. DUTIES
(a) City agrees to employ Stephen L Hollister Employee as City Manager of the City of San Leandro to perform the functions and duties specified in the charter, ordinances, and resolutions of City. Employee shall also perform other legally permissible and proper duties and functions as the City Council may from time to time assign.

(b) Employee shall perform his duties to the best of his ability in accordance with the highest possible and ethical standards of the profession and shall comply with all general rules and regulations established by the City.

(c) Employee shall not engage in any activity that is or may become a conflict of interest, prohibited contract, or which may create an incompatibility of office as defined under California law. Prior to performing any services under this Agreement and annually thereafter, the Employee must complete disclosure forms required by law.

2 TERM

(a) The term of this Agreement shall commence on December 15, 2008 and terminate on June 30, 2010. This agreement may be terminated in accordance with the provisions set forth in Paragraph 3 or terminated by the event of the death or permanent disability of Employee.

(b) Employee agrees to remain in the exclusive employ of the City during the term of the Agreement.

(c) City agrees to give the Employee at least 180 days notice if it does not intend to renew or extend this agreement upon its expiration.

3 RESIGNATION AND TERMINATION

(a) Employee may resign at any time with or without cause and agrees to give City at least ninety (90) days advance written notice of the effective date of his resignation. Upon notice of resignation, or sooner, Employee, in consultation with the City Council will develop a "transition plan" and Employee will, if requested, assist the City Council in the recruitment and hiring process for the position of City Manager on a permanent or interim basis.

(b) Subject to the provisions of the Charter, City may at any time terminate Employee upon thirty (30) days advance written notice.

(c) The parties recognize and affirm that: 1) Employee is an at will employee whose employment may be terminated by the City without cause, and 2) there is no express or implied promise made to Employee for any form of continued employment. This Agreement is the sole and exclusive basis for an employment relationship between Employee and City.

4 SEVERANCE PAY

If Employee is terminated by the City Council while still willing and able to perform the duties of City Manager, City agrees to pay Employee a cash payment equal to six (6) months salary and benefits. At the option of the Employee, the cash payment may be paid in (1) a lump sum upon date of termination; or (2) a lump sum on January 1 of the calendar year following termination. Such payment will release City from any further obligations under this Agreement. Provided however, if Employee is terminated for cause, including but not limited to conviction of any criminal offense then City shall have no obligation to continue the employment of Employee in any capacity.

SALARY

For the term of this Agreement City agrees to pay Employee a salary 15% above step five of the salary range of the highest paid City management employee as shown in the City Council adopted Pay Plan (hereafter referred to as the "Baseline Salary"). Employee's compensation shall be adjusted whenever the Baseline Salary is adjusted so that Employee's salary shall not be less than 15% above the Baseline Salary at any time during the term of the Agreement.

AUTOMOBILE

Employee's duties require that he shall have the use of an automobile at all times during his employment with City. At the option of Employee, City shall either provide Employee with an automobile or reimburse Employee $475.00 per month for the expense of owning maintaining and insuring a personal automobile.

7 OTHER SUPPLEMENTAL BENEFITS

The City shall provide the Employee the same benefits as provided to management employees and as they may be amended from time to time. All actions taken by the City relating to benefits for management employees shall be considered actions granting the same benefits to Employee. As used herein and without limitation of the foregoing benefits for Employee include but are not limited to twenty-five (25) days of annual vacation leave, twelve (12) days of annual sick leave, management incentive pay of 120 hours per calendar year paid equally at each pay period, holidays, retirement benefits and payments, health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance and management development allowance.

8 PERFORMANCE EVALUATION

The City Council shall evaluate Employee's performance at least annually. In addition, every year, the City Council and Employee will set goals and objectives for the ensuing year (Exhibit A hereof).

OTHER TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT

The City Council by resolution shall fix any other terms and conditions of employment as it may determine from time to time relating to the performance of Employee, provided such terms and conditions are not inconsistent with provisions of this Agreement or law.

10 NOTICES

Any notices required by this Agreement shall be in writing and either given in person or by first-class mail with postage prepaid and addressed as follows:

TO CITY: City Council
c/o Mayor Anthony B Santos
City of San Leandro
835 East 14th Street
San Leandro CA 94577

TO EMPLOYEE: Stephen L Hollister
City Manager
City of San Leandro
835 East 14th Street
San Leandro CA 94577

11 ARBITRATION

Any controversy or claim arising out of or pertaining to this Agreement or breach thereof, shall be settled by arbitration in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association, and judgment upon the award rendered by the arbitrator(s) may be enforced as provided by California law.

12 ENTIRE AGREEMENT

This Agreement is the final expression of the complete agreement of the parties with respect to the matters specified herein and supersedes all prior oral or written understandings. Except as prescribed herein, this Agreement cannot be modified except by written mutual agreement signed by the parties.

13 ASSIGNMENT

This Agreement is not assignable by either City or Employee.

14 SEVERABILITY

In the event that any provision of this Agreement is finally held or determined to be illegal or void by a court having jurisdiction over the parties, the remainder of the Agreement shall remain in full force and effect unless the parts found to be void are wholly inseparable from the remaining portion of the Agreement.

15 COUNTERPARTS

This Agreement shall be executed simultaneously in three counterparts, which shall be identified by number, and each of which shall be deemed an original, but all of which together shall constitute one and the same instrument.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, The City has caused this Agreement to be signed and executed on its behalf by its Mayor and duly attested by the City Clerk. It has also been executed by the Employee.

Stephen L. Hollister, Employee

Anthony B. Santos, Mayor
City of San Leandro

ATTEST:
City Clerk, Marian Handa

APPROVED AS TO FORM:
City Attorney, Jayne W. Williams


EXHIBIT A
CITY COUNCIL PRIORITIES - CITY MANAGER GOALS FOR FISCAL YEAR 2008-09

The following City Manager goals reflect City Council's Fiscal Year 2008-09 goals as modified by changing circumstances including the fiscal crisis and personnel changes and a review of the Interim City Manager's goals and objectives These goals will be updated and modified for Fiscal Year 2009-10.

- Adoption of a balanced budget plan and FY2009-2010 budget
- Advocacy of City projects for Federal stimulus funding
- Approval of Kaiser/ICI Development Agreement and approval of San Leandro Crossings TOD Project
- Work with Stakeholders on revenue enhancement measures
- Council review and prioritization of CIP process, including criteria for use of park development funds (i.e. WW, TOD, park fees)
- Recruitment of permanent Police Chief and Assistant City Manager
- Approval of SLUSD Ninth Grade Academy/Gymnasium Agreement and analyze with the District(s) City School growth impacts
- Continue Downtown development and beautification
- Succession planning
- Continued development of Shoreline Master Plan

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May 4, 2009

Starosciak Selected as New Vice-Mayor

Councilmember Joyce Starosicak San Leandro Councilmember Joyce Starosciak was unanimously selected as Vice Mayor by the San Leandro City Council at is meeting on Monday, May 4, 2009. Starosciak replaces Councilmember Bill Stephens, who was selected last year over Starosciak in a 4-3 vote. In the past ten years, the position of Vice Mayor has been held by the same person for at least two years.

The position of Vice Mayor is largely ceremonial. The Vice Mayor represents the City and chairs City Council meetings when the Mayor is absent. According to Section 310 of the City Charter, "In the absence of the Mayor, the Vice Mayor shall possess and perform the powers and duties of the Mayor."

In other actions, the City Council passed an ordinance requiring Bay-friendly landscaping for City projects valued at more than $100,000 or larger than 2,500 square feet. The ordinance would result in landscaping that generates less waste, uses less energy and water, and costs less to maintain.

The City Council also approved a "golden handshake" package that would give some employees an addition two years of service credit as an incentive to retire early. Such incentives are frequently used to encourage employees with higher salaries to retire so that can be replaced with less expensive employees or as a way to avoid laying off other employees. Six of the Councilmembers voted yes for the package and Stephens abstained.

For a listing of recent Vice Mayors, see below.

Vice Mayors of the Recent Past:

  • 1998 - Gordon Galvan (District 1)

  • 1999 - Gordon Galvan (District 1)

  • 2000 - Bob Glaze (District 4)

  • 2001- Bob Glaze (District 4)

  • 2002 - Bob Glaze (District 4)

  • 2003- Bob Glaze (District 4)

  • 2004 - Orval "OB" Badger (District 1)

  • 2005 - Orval "OB" Badger (District 1)

  • 2006 - Surlene Grant (District 2)

  • 2007 - Surlene Grant (District 2)

  • 2008 - Bill Stephens (District 5)
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April 7, 2009

Council Gives Green Light to San Leandro Crossings and $500K to Davis Street

A capacity crowd filled the City Council Chambers on April 6, 2009, as the San Leandro City Council approved financing for the San Leandro Crossings (now Cannery Court) project by a vote of 4 to 3. The City Council unanimously approved a resolution committing $500,000 to help the Davis Street Family Resource Center purchase its property at 3801 Teagarden Street. A 10% rate hike for Alameda County Industries was approved with Councilmember Bill Stephens abstaining.

After honoring long-time commissioner Frank Sidari and installing new commissioners, Mayor Tony Santos shuffled the agenda to address the items that the crowd was interested in: San Leandro Crossings and Davis Street. After a presentation by Tom Liao, Bridge Housing's Lydia Tan advocated against a project labor agreement for the affordable housing project while labor advocate Barry Luboviski of the Alameda County Building Trades Council and other argued in support of an agreement. While the entire Council express support for the affordable housing project, Councilmember Joyce Starosciak argued to approve the financing agreement without requiring a project labor agreement that might delay the project. The financing agreement was approved by a vote of four to three, with Councilmembers Jim Prola, Ursula Reed and Santos, who supported a project labor agreement, voting against.

For Davis Street, the first time the request for financial assistance was on the City Council's agenda, it was narrowly defeated in a four to three vote. After a subsequent meeting of the finance committee, the measure passed unanimously after a motion to modify the agreement by Councilmember Souza was rejected.

A request by ACI to increase it rates by 10% was passed with six votes and an abstention by Councilmember Bill Stephens.

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April 2, 2009

Annual City Financial Disclosures

Members of the City Council are required to file a Statement of Economic Interest (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.

Mayor Tony Santos was the only Councilmember to report gifts for 2008, including A's tickets from Kent Myers and the Alameda County Mayor's Conference and Raiders tickets from Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele. Councilmember Jim Prola reported rental property income and Councilmember Joyce Starosciak reported income from her computer business, Starotech.

The following disclosures are for the San Leandro City Council for 2008 or assuming office:

The following financial disclosures are for members of the City staff:

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March 10, 2009

Invitation to City Meeting on Local Housing Issues

The City of San Leandro recently sent out this letter to community members:

March 6, 2009

Dear San Leandro Resident or Interested Party:

The City of San Leandro invites you and your neighbors to attend a community meeting on local housing issues. The meeting will be held at City Hall's South Offices Conference Room (835 E. 14th Street) from 6:30-8:30 PM on Wednesday March 18, 2009.

The purpose of this community meeting will be to discuss proposed policies for meeting San Leandro's affordable housing needs during the next five years. We are seeking your input on these policies as part of a year-long process to update the San Leandro Housing Element, the state-mandated plan addressing affordable housing and housing conservation in the city.

An introductory meeting op.this topic was held in June 2008. Since last summer, staff has collected and analyzed data, met with community members and housing providers, and held work sessions with the City Council and Planning Commission on housing issues. Through this process, new policies and priorities have been identified. The March 18 workshop provides an opportunity for residents to weigh in on these policies before formal Planning Commission and City Council hearings take place later this Spring.

The current San Leandro Housing Element was adopted in 2003. The Plan guides City decisions on new housing construction and rehabilitation, affordable housing development, first-time homebuyer programs, housing for seniors and others with special needs, and fair housing practices. State law requires that an updated Housing Element be adopted by the City Council and submitted to the State Office of Housing and Community Development by June 30, 2009. State certification is an important prerequisite for affordable, housing funds, grants, and other programs that benefit San Leandro residents.

Please visit http://www.ci.san-leandro.ca.us/CDPlanHousElement.asp for more information. We look forward to seeing you on March 18.

Sincerely,

Phil Millenbah
Senior Planner

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February 24, 2009

2009 State of the City Speech

On February 23, 2009, San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos delivered his annual State of the City. Santos described how the economic downturn has affected San Leandro, with a 19% drop in automobile sales, a decrease in sales tax revenues, a decline in the growth of property taxes, and a $10 to $12 million budget deficit, unless changes are made.

Some of those changes have been discussed in the City's Finance Committee, including library closures, elimination of some cultural events, and hiring freezes.

Santos noted some bright spots, including construction of the Senior Center on E. 14th Street, the ninth grade campus across the street, General Foundry expanding its operations in San Leandro, construction of a third office building at Creekside Plaza, Kenworth Trucks moving to a San Leandro location, and the Kaiser Permanente facility near Interstate 880 and Marina Boulevard.

After noting the importance of the upcoming 2010 census, the Mayor closed with a welcome to the newest Councilmember, Ursula Reed, and acknowledgment of former Councilmember Surlene Grant's 10 years on the City Council.

The complete text of the Mayor's speech follows:

Mayor Anthony B. Santos
State of the City Address 2009
San Leandro – Getting Leaner and Greener

Welcome. Thank you for permitting me once again to address the state of San Leandro – what our past year has been and what is in store for 2009.

The fact that San Leandro is getting leaner and greener has a variety of connotations. We are getting leaner because much of the community is giving renewed commitments to healthier lifestyles and improved fitness. But as an organization, the City of San Leandro is getting leaner due to cuts we are making as a result of the recession.

We are getting greener thanks to the industries in San Leandro that are focusing on renewable energies and more energy-efficient technologies, while at the same time the City of San Leandro is working hard to reduce San Leandro’s carbon footprint.

Let me get the bad news out of the way first – the City of San Leandro is suffering in the recession, just as all of you are in your businesses and homes. This is the worst decline in City revenues any of us can remember. And of course, without revenues we can’t provide services. We will be seeing at least a $7.5 million deficit by the end of this fiscal year.

In previous years, we saw a 6%-8% growth in property taxes – this year we’re lucky if we’re seeing 1% to 1.5%. Our sales tax revenues are down $3.3 million since last year. Car sales alone are down 19% from this time last year, which I believe is a good deal less than the industry standard. But the forecast for 2009 is grim. In fact, predictions are that 2009 revenues from sales tax and real property tax may be the lowest San Leandro has ever seen.

Our revenues are truly a moving target. Every time we get a projection we think we can count on, it gets worse with the next report. We have been doing a good job in controlling our expenses. But be that as it may, unless significant reductions or revenue increases are made to our budget, we will be facing a $10 to $12 million deficit in July when our new Fiscal Year begins.

Of course, we’re not alone in this condition – nearly every city in America is experiencing significant drops in revenues; some worse that others.

Fortunately, as I reported to you last year, San Leandro’s past City Councils have had the foresight to insist that we maintain a multi-million dollar reserve for economic uncertainty. That allowed us to balance our budget last year with some modest cuts in services and programs. This fiscal year, which ends on June 30, will also see us drawing on those reserves to keep us in the black. However, those reserves are just like your savings account at home. Once it’s gone it’s gone, and we won’t have that money to fall back on again until the savings can be built up once more.

The City Council is taking a hard look at our use of reserves this year and may very well come to the decision that we can’t reduce those reserves any further. Our goal has always been to keep at least 20% of the General Fund budget in reserves – which is about $16 million – but we haven’t been able to hold that line and will likely be dipping into the reserves to end this year with a balanced budget.

It is looking more and more likely that we will be headed to 15% cuts throughout most of the organization. If and when that happens, everyone including you as our customers will see marked changes in the way the City does business. Positions may be eliminated, programs will be reduced or ended, and services will definitely be fewer and slower.

What we need to do is find a balance of services and programs that we can sustain in good years and bad so we get away from the rollercoaster budgeting effect. What is our essential level of service in all departments that we can always maintain?

You all have heard me say that one of my goals as Mayor has been to bring our Police Department staffing to 100 sworn officers. Sadly, we won’t see that happening this year and likely not next year either.

I still think it is a priority and it will remain my goal as long as I am Mayor, but the Police Department, like all of our other services, has to make cuts to help us balance the budget. Those cuts could very well include vacant police officer positions.

We may be able to get Federal help to pay for one officer position. There is the hope that the “Citizens Option for Public Safety” Program, better known as the Federal COPS program, will be authorized again in next year’s federal budget. That might give us funding for one officer, but that comes with strings attached with promises from the city to continue to pay those costs in future years.

But remember, we can’t have a City with just police and fire services and only skeletal libraries or parks – no one would want to live here. We have to balance our services to meet all of our community’s needs, recognizing of course that public safety is vital.

I know the press is following our budget dilemma closely. So, I’m sure you’ll be hearing how and where we need to make cuts when they come. There will be public meetings on the budget from now until June, and we certainly welcome your input as we go through this challenging process.

In early February, I had the opportunity to testify before a joint Subcommittee of the State Assembly regarding local government finance. I was able to share with them the plight of local government in this downward economy. One point I made to the Subcommittee was the urgent need to reform tax codes to allow local governments the ability to create new revenues.

One area we need to explore locally is building a closer relationship between our school districts and the City in the area of taxation. Our school districts are having budget problems just as we are. We need to collaborate on ways of improving our revenues to maintain our schools and our City services.

There is money in the President’s stimulus package to help districts through these difficult economic times. However, it probably will not be enough to offset the current financial situation of our schools. As with local governments, schools must look beyond the State for funding. We need to work together to see if we can create revenue sources from right here in San Leandro.

One idea that is floating around is the concept of building new administrative offices for the San Leandro Unified School District in the downtown area. The District is badly in need of new administrative offices, and they could certainly use the school space at Madison Elementary School for classrooms. The District moving downtown could improve the downtown and bring more shoppers and diners to the area.

Further, we know that there are many “at risk” youngsters in our community. Dr. Dennis Byas, San Lorenzo Schools Superintendent, recently paid a visit to Juvenile Hall and ran into some of his Arroyo High School students. He told me this made a very real impression on him.

I am working on developing an “at risk” kids program here in San Leandro. I am hopeful of putting together a program which will help the most troubled youngsters here in our community – those who are part of gangs and who have either been suspended or expelled from the school system. I am working with both school districts in setting up a plan which will assist these youngsters and bring them back into the mainstream of society. And, I have asked Senator Boxer for help in securing federal funding for the program.

Let us change tracks and talk about some of the healthier aspects of San Leandro.

The very successful Downtown Farmer’s Market this past summer demonstrated just how much we’re all welcoming fresh fruits and vegetables and baked goods into our homes. The Market will be back beginning on May 6, with the promise of entertainment, cooking demonstrations, and wine tasting once again, plus we will be bringing in Green events to the Market to help people learn things like composting and reducing waste. And, of course, Bayfair Center hosts a farmer’s market every Saturday, year round.

The Recreation and Human Services Guide for Spring activities asks us to “Come out and play!” and that doesn’t just mean for the kids. That means all of us – we need to get a little more play in our lives.

Just before he advanced the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, John F. Kennedy, in a speech to the National Football Foundation in 1961 said, and I quote, “We are under-exercised as a nation. We look, instead of play. We ride, instead of walk. Our existence deprives us of the minimum of physical activity essential for healthy living.”

Little did President Kennedy know that the generation of boys and girls at that time would be our mothers and fathers of today. Whether or not they learned from his efforts to get us out and moving is hard to say. What we do know is that obesity is a growing epidemic in our nation, but one that we can easily turn around with a bit more exercise and better choices in our diets.

When you have a moment, check out www.50millionpounds.com This is a dynamic program aimed at getting the nation to lose weight, get active and get healthier.

Besides the activities and events the City offers for all of us to get out and move and play or hike or dance or swim, we’re partnering with the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority (ACTIA) to bring a pilot program to Roosevelt Elementary and Bancroft Middle Schools to educate students and their parents about “Safe Routes to Schools.”

We need to change the paradigm of parents or grandparents driving one or two children to school each day. Students need to become comfortable in walking or riding their bicycles to school, whether it be chaperoned or with friends. We need to break up the traffic congestion around our schools in the mornings and afternoons, which is not only creating traffic safety issues, but is also adding a considerable amount of vehicle exhaust to our carbon footprint. If the program is successful, we hope to see it brought to every school in San Leandro.

ACTIA is also launching an effort to get federal transportation funding for the 2010 Campaign for Active Transportation, which promises to bring improved trails, better pedestrian and bicycle access to public transit, urban greenways, and Safe Routes for Seniors. I, for one, am excited to see this coming.

On another track, City staff is working with folks from BART, Alameda County, Union Pacific, and all of our neighboring communities, to see if there is a way a trail, or an “East Bay Greenway”, can be created beneath or next to the BART tracks from Oakland all the way down to Fremont. Think of it – a landscaped, well-paved, well lighted path from one end of the county to the other, just for bicycling and walking. What a concept! Communities on the east side of the hills have done it with the old Iron Horse Trail; we could too.

One of the City’s largest efforts towards reducing vehicle miles traveled is the Transit Oriented Development Plan for the downtown. I recognize that the Bridge housing project has created some controversy.

Granted, some people feel that the T.O.D., and particularly the Bridge project, is too much housing too soon for a community of our size. I respect their opinions, but honestly I think this is just the direction in which San Leandro needs to move to meet our housing goals and reduce our carbon footprint. And, to a great extent, the State legislature is leading us toward the TOD development with passage of Assembly Bill 32 and Senate Bill 375.

AB 32 has said that California communities must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and beyond. The City’s objective is to reduce GHG by 25% by 2020.

SB 375 says that our land-use decisions have to be consistent with regional planning needs for housing and greenhouse gas emission reductions – in other words, reduced vehicle miles traveled.

We already know that the Association of Bay Area Governments, in its Housing Needs assessment, identifies San Leandro as needing to provide 1,630 more housing units by 2014, and nearly 600 of those should be for low- to very low-income families. The Bridge project will only get us to about 25% of this housing goal for at-market and affordable units. And to add to that projection, we’ve heard that California is expected to grow by another 20 million people by 2050.

People want to live in clean, safe, well planned communities, and San Leandro is certainly one of those communities. Some current residents bristle at the thought of our population growing. But I ask, if they chose to live in San Leandro, why can’t someone else choose and have the opportunity to live here too.

I think we need to put the concept of low- to very-low income households in perspective.
A waiter or waitress has an average salary of $18,500. Their affordable housing cost should be about $460 a month.
A retail sales person typically has an annual salary of $27,500, and their housing cost should be about $695 a month.
A middle school teacher makes about $63,000 a year, and should be spending about $1,575 a month in rent.

Now, I ask you, where can people find rents at these prices? Some exist, but not nearly enough to allow these important members of our community to be able to live in San Leandro. There just is not enough supply to meet the demand. That is why we need to champion housing projects that mix market-rate and affordable homes, and we need to do so near transportation and jobs so that vehicle trips can be reduced.

Let’s talk Green!

We got some exciting news recently. San Leandro has been invited to join the East Bay Green Corridor Partnership. This means economic development opportunities, partnerships with other cities in the East Bay, research and development opportunities in environmental technologies, jobs, and further opportunities to foster healthier cities.

The City was very proud to host the Alameda County and Cities Climate Forum in January. Elected officials and staff from every city in Alameda County and the County Board of Supervisors participated in a day-long discussion about a coordinated countywide response toward reducing the carbon footprint throughout our region.

One of the largest projects the City is starting soon is the building of a Co-Generation System at our water treatment plant. As you can imagine, everything that gets washed down or flushed through our sanitary sewer systems generates a good deal of methane gas as it is processed. With the new Co-Generation System, we’re going to be able to capture that gas, use it to power our generators, and treat the wastewater.

The new system will also accept waste grease from commercial waste haulers to enhance the process and increase the methane gas production. It is going to save energy, improve performance of our treatment systems, and generate revenue. We anticipate saving about $360,000 in power costs and eliminating more than a million pounds of CO2 emissions each year. Plus, we will be able to send any unused power back to the grid.

The water treatment plant is also recycling 97 million gallons of water a year. This is great, and we are trying to find even more efficiencies in our community.

We have had discussions with Waste Management about developing a waste-to-energy facility at the Davis Street Transfer Station. That would benefit all of Alameda County.

And we have some other impressive businesses in San Leandro that are making some remarkable strides in energy conservation and environmental protection, as well.

OSIsoft, for instance, recently won a technical innovation award for its advancements in environmental sustainability and energy management. They are developing cutting-edge technology in this field, and we are proud to have them here in San Leandro.

Clēaire on Wicks Boulevard won the Breathe California 2008 award for its development of diesel emissions control devices, virtually eliminating soot emissions from diesel motors. Clēaire is a subsidiary of Cummins West, which is also on Wicks. The City is contracting with Clēaire to retrofit our own fleet. You might want to think about it for your business fleet.

Energy Recovery, Inc. on Doolittle Drive has become a global leader in the development of ultra-high-efficiency energy recovery products and technology for desalination. They have numerous contracts around the world to help companies and nations affordably turn sea water into potable water. This technology is going to be more and more in demand, so it is good news that E.R.I. has plans to expand and move into a larger location here in San Leandro soon.

Very impressive for a small town like San Leandro.

I know in these tight times it is hard to commit to being totally green. Not all of us can go out and buy a hybrid, install solar panels on our homes, or use wind-generated energy to power our businesses. But we can all make small changes in our daily lives to be greener.

The next time a light bulb burns out, replace it with a compact florescent or LED globe. Use a tote bag instead of paper or plastic at the grocery store – my wife does. Turn your water heater down to 140° or lower. At work, copy on both sides of the paper instead of one. There are lots of simple things we can all do that save money and save energy.

Let me touch on some other business news. As President Obama said to a group of CEOs meeting at the White House recently, “Business, not government, is the engine of growth in this country,” and that holds true for San Leandro as well.

Bay Area Kenworth, the leading medium and heavy duty truck dealership in Northern California, is moving to San Leandro. They will be occupying the property at 1755 Adams where Valley Power used to be. I understand they will be open in a matter of weeks. That is new jobs coming to town.

And Creekside Office Plaza has given us the terrific news that they are poised to begin construction on their third and final office building – the parcel that is next to Davis Street. We are being told the primary tenant looks to be a service provider for disabled individuals. They were particularly drawn to this site because of its quality as a Class A office park, and because it is so close to BART. Construction could begin as soon as April 1, bringing more new jobs to San Leandro.

General Foundry is moving into a new building in Bayside Business Park. They had been operating very successfully on Merced Street near the old Albertson’s distribution site. That property was sold for the retail project next to Kaiser, so they are moving to Bayside Business Park and expanding their operations. We are very happy General Foundry is staying here and keeping jobs in San Leandro.

There is great hope all through our country that the new $789 billion economic stimulus package the President signed will bring jobs and needed improvements to our nation, our state and our city. On behalf of San Leandro, I was able to submit a list of 22 different infrastructure projects through the US Conference of Mayors totaling $78 million that are “shovel ready” and ready to create jobs for our community – projects like building a new Mulford-Marina branch library, or turning Eden Road into a true street, and about $9 million in badly needed street repairs. Our list could conceivably bring as many as 1,800 jobs to San Leandro as soon as the funding is released and projects get underway.

There are still questions to be answered about how projects will be chosen and whether or not the funding will come directly to our local governments or be funneled through the State. However, we are ready to get underway with any of these projects as soon as Washington gives us the green funding light.

Separate from the stimulus projects, the City is asking Senators Feinstein and Boxer and Congressman Stark to carry three very important projects forward for funding in the 2010-2011 federal budget. Those are continued work on East 14th Street improvements in the south area, expansion and renovation of our Police building, and construction of the “Marina Spine” which is the Bay Trail link from Marina Boulevard to Fairway Drive. If these are approved at our asking amount, we stand to get over $7 million.

And speaking of City projects, the fine weather we have had this winter has really been an advantage to the Senior Community Center project. The undergrounding work is done and the foundation has been poured. I believe we’re still on-schedule for the Center to be completed in spring 2010.

What with this project, and construction right across the street of San Leandro High School’s 9th Grade Academy and Gymnasium, which the City is helping to fund, by the way, with Redevelopment funds, there is a considerable amount of congestion and distractions occurring on East 14th Street for the next several months. On behalf of the City and the crews working out there, thank you for your patience and cautious motoring in that area. It can be challenging during the day.

We are making steady progress on a vision for the future of our shoreline and marina. The firm of Cal Coast Developers has been brought on board to work with our community and the City Council to create a development plan that will provide us with the highest and best use of this valuable property, while at the same time creating a self-sustaining development that will stop being a drain on the City’s General Fund.

The Shoreline Development Citizens Advisory Committee has been meeting regularly since December. The C.A.C. is made up of City board members and commissioners, residents, business owners, and representatives from various stakeholder groups, including boat owners, environmentalists, housing advocates, and others. We are finding these folks have a very positive vision of San Leandro and its future, and they are very committed to bringing us a quality project.

We hope to announce Town Hall meetings in late April, and we anticipate a report will come to us in the fall with recommendations as to how the Shoreline-Marina can be developed into facilities and amenities that all of our community can enjoy.

Right now, our plan is to do a modified dredging of the marina channel which will keep the boat launch ramp open to small craft. The Army Corps of Engineers will be able to do this for us hopefully sometime this year. We will still have to pay for the disposal of the dried materials at some point, but we are exploring our options.

The Plans for Kaiser Permanente to build their new medical center here in San Leandro remain on track. You can see the old distribution site has already been demolished. The last projection we have heard puts the opening sometime in 2013. I am told this will be a $1 billion project – the largest in San Leandro’s history. We are expecting that the Environmental Impact Report will be released this spring, with Planning Commission and City Council review of the design and plan development in late spring and summer.

The retail element, however, is not moving forward quite as quickly – a victim of the economic downturn, I’m sure. But it remains an important part of this project and I know Kaiser and our City staff are continuing to be optimistic on its progress.

When the Shoreline-Marina development is completed, Kaiser medical center is built and the Transit Oriented Development projects are completed, San Leandro is going to have a considerably different look to it than any of us can imagine. We need to get ready for change, because it is coming.

The Downtown Lighting and Pedestrian Improvement Project is nearly done. Our goal continues to be to make the downtown more pedestrian friendly and encourage more patrons to come to the restaurants and businesses. I think we are making great progress, if it is only one step at a time.

I don’t have any breaking news to report on the former Albertson’s site downtown. The City is still in litigation with the property owners, although there are some negotiations occurring with attempts to get a tenant on the site, at least as an interim use. Unfortunately, the economy has put the skids on those plans too. I promise you, as soon as we have news suitable for printing, we will make it public.

The San Leandro Cherry Festival is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year. People really like the Festival being Downtown. We have planned the 100th Anniversary festival for Saturday, June 6th, including resurrecting some of the old Festival traditions, like a vintage fashion show, vintage cars, and of course lots of cherries to enjoy. Put it on your calendar; it will be a great San Leandro event.

I also need to alert you that the US Census is coming again. Yes, it has been nearly 10 years since we all did Census 2000. This year we are forming a “Complete Count Committee” to make every effort to count absolutely every person who lives in San Leandro. And, I am now a member of the US Conference of Mayors Census Task Force, representing smaller cities like ours across the country.

We had a better than average reporting rate in 2000, but we can do even better this time around. What we need to do is make contact with those hard-to-reach members of our community and help them understand how important it is that they participate in Census 2010. By hard-to-reach, I mean non-English speaking people, new immigrants to the US, seniors, and even the homeless.

Every person counted means that we have better representation in Sacramento and Washington, DC, and better opportunities to receive state and federal funding. Every person not counted could lead us to losing $2,200 in yearly federal funds. If you or someone you know has a communication network with a special segment of our population in San Leandro, I want to hear from you and find out how we can be sure these individuals and families are counted on April 1, 2010.

I will definitely focus more on Census 2010 in my address next March. I’ve heard, by the way, that the US Census Bureau is already recruiting temporary part-time census takers for the 2010 Census. The pay is good, the hours are flexible, and the work is close to home.

As I close, I want to welcome our newest member of the City Council, Councilmember Ursula Reed. We were sorry to lose Surlene Grant in District 2, but she served her District and all of San Leandro well in her 10 years on the Council. I have every confidence that Councilmember Reed will do the same.

On January 20th, we all witnessed a historic event when Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of these United States. President Obama’s inaugural speech spoke of courage, determination, progress, and a renewed hope in America. I hope all of us can be part of this change, creating an exciting and dynamic future for San Leandro starting today.

Thank you to all of my colleagues on the City Council for their hard work in making San Leandro a great place to live, work and play. I am thankful for the many hours the Council spends in making certain we remain a great city.

Thank you to all of the hard working men and women of the City of San Leandro for the remarkable and dedicated job you do for this community.

Thank you for your considerate attention.

Here’s to a healthy and prosperous 2009.

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January 4, 2009

City Council Seeks Applicants for Boards and Commissions

San Leandro Councilmembers Ursula Reed, Joyce Starosciak, and Jim Prola are looking for residents willing to serve on the nine boards and commissions that provide guidance to the City Council.

Those boards and commissions include the Board of Zoning Adjustments, Human Services Commission, Planning Commission, Library-Historical Commission, Recreation and Parks Commission, Personnel Relations Board, Senior Commission, and Youth Advisory Commission.

The Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Adjustments and Youth Advisory Commission are scheduled to meet twice a month and all other commissions meet once a month or less frequently.

Applicants must be registered to vote and live in San Leandro in Districts 2, 4, or 6 (see the City Council district map at http://www.ci.san-leandro.ca.us/CouncilWeb2007.html to find out which district you live in). The members of the City Council submit nominations which are approved by the entire City council.

For more information about each of the commissions and boards, download the application at http://www.ci.san-leandro.ca.us/pdf/commission.pdf.

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December 15, 2008

Hollister Appointed City Manager; City Settles Police Officer Lawsuit

San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos announced that Interim City Manager Stephen Hollister was appointed City Manager effective immediately at the December 15, 2008, meeting of the San Leandro City Council. The City Council also voted to settle a lawsuit by the San Leandro Police Officers Association that demanded compensation for getting into and out of their uniforms.

Hollister was appointed Interim City Manager in September 2008 when John Jermanis retired after 12 years as San Leandro's City Manager. The City Council did not consider outside candidates, although it is common for cities to hire a firm to conduct a search for a new city manager. The City Council also extended Hollister's contract to June 30, 2010. A copy of Hollister's contract will not be available until next month.

The police settlement means that a total of 20 minutes will be built in to police officers' shifts for getting into and out of their uniforms (donning and doffing). The San Leandro Police Officers Association had originally asked for a total of 30 minutes for donning and doffing. The settlement also extends the current police contract to 2010 and is estimated to cost $200,000. For more details, see the staff report.

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December 1, 2008

City Council Votes for Partial Dredging and Banning Alcohol in Parks

The San Leandro City Council voted to ban alcohol in parks and open spaces and to partially dredge the San Leandro Marina Harbor at its December 1, 2008, meeting.

The Shoreline-Marina Committee of the City Council considered three options for the future of the boat harbor at the Marina: Option 1: do nothing; Option 2: a complete dredging; and Option 3: a partial dredging. The Shoreline-Marina Committee recommended Option 3, which was approved by the City Council. According to the staff report, Option 3 was as follows:

This would entail closing the Harbor or converting it to a small boat facility, while parts of the rest of the marina would be improved to meet the overall recreational objective. Under this option, 85,000 cubic yards of material will have to be dredged from the federal channel and disposed of in the next two years. The cost of dredging will be fully covered by the COE [U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] with the available allocation, but the City would have to cover the dredge disposal cost of about $2,000,000, partially from the available harbor area dredging allocation of slightly more than $1,000,000. Maintenance dredging and material removal (about 50,000 cubic yards) would have to be undertaken in about five years at a cost of about $2,200,000 to $3,500,000. A four-year cycle maintenance dredge will ensure a continued use of the Marina for small boats and crafts.

The use of alcohol at city parks was discussed at four meetings of the Recreation and Parks Commission and on November 4, 2008, the Facilities and Transportation Committee recommended that alcohol be banned at parks and open spaces. The ordinance has an exception for City-sponsored events that have prior approval of the City Council. These events would likely include the Sausage & Suds Festival and the Cherry Festival.

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October 1, 2008

Videos of San Leandro Crossings Presentation

On September 22, 2008, the San Leandro City Council held a work session where the San Leandro Crossings partners presented information about the transit-oriented development project.

A copy of the presentation is available from the City of San Leandro web site.

Videos of the presentation have also been posted to YouTube.

First, Kathleen Livermore's summary:

Livermore's summary was followed by a presentation by Westlake, Bridge Housing, Thomas Cox Architects, and David Baker Partners:


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July 22, 2008

Council Delays Action on Revenue-Generating Measures

On Monday, July 21, 2008, the San Leandro City Council made no decision whether to proceed with three possible ballot measures to generate revenue for the City. The City Council recently approved a budget for the 2008-2009 fiscal year with a $4.4 million structural deficit and an ad-hoc committee was formed to look at ways to increase revenue for the City.

The possible measures recommended by the ad-hoc committee include an update to the utility users tax, originally adopted in 1972, which taxes telephone, electrical, gas, and cable television. The tax generates about $4 million each year and unless changes are made, the City may lose out on $3 million each year.

Another possible measure to protect existing revenue is to change the 911 fee to a tax without changing the $2.5 million in revenue it provides each year. The legality of the 911 fee has been challenged in other cities and there is a chance that if the challenges are successful, the City could lose this as a source of income. However, in order to change the fee to a tax, it would require the approval of 2/3 of voters.

The third measure to generate revenue under consideration is a parcel tax to support police services. According to the staff report, the tax would be linked to the Police Department Strategic Plan and staff recommends a sunset clause that would end the tax after four years. The parcel tax would generate an estimated $2.6 million annually. A parcel tax would also require the approval of 2/3 of voters.

Recent parcel taxes put forth by the City of San Leandro and the San Leandro Unified School District (SLUSD) have both failed. In November 2004, Measure DD, a police and fire parcel tax, failed with just 50.5% of the vote (66.67% was required to pass). That parcel tax would have assessed $78 for single-family residences, $46.80 per multi-family unit and $16 per thousand square feet for industrial and commercial properties and had a sunset clause of five and a half years.

In April 2006, Measure A, a parcel tax for San Leandro schools failed with 61.04% in favor (66.67% needed to pass). The tax would have assessed one-and-two tenths cents ($0.012) per square foot per parcel for a period of six years.

The meeting coincided with Mayor Tony Santos' 53rd wedding anniversary and the City Council approved a resolution to increase the Mayor's car allowance from $250 to $375 each month. The allowance had been set at $375 per month in 1997 and was decreased in January 2007 to $250 per month. City Councilmembers may receive up to $125 for travel reimbursement each month.

The City Council revised its contract with City Manager John Jermanis to extend his employment through September 5, 2008. Assistant City Manager Steve Hollister received a contract to be Interim City Manager from September 6, 2008, to June 30, 2009.

The three potential ballot measures will be revisited on July 28, 2008.

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July 12, 2008

City of San Leandro Website Unavailable Again

Surfers trying to reach the City of San Leandro web site on Saturday, July 12, 2008, were greeted with a login prompt:

City of San Leandro web site unavailable

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May 12, 2008

San Leandro Mayor and Staff Featured on Pix Page of San Francisco Chronicle

Breathe California Awards, April 18, 2008
San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos, interim Planning Manager Kathleen Livermore, and Community Development Director Luke Sims, were featured on the Pix page in the Sunday May 11, 208, edition of the San Francisco Chronicle. They picture was taken at the Breathe California Annual Clean Air Awards, where the city received an award for the Downtown Transit-Oriented Development Strategy.

San Leandro received an honorable mention "For adopting a Transit Oriented Development strategy that promotes development in the transit-rich downtown area to reduce driving and encourage the use of alternative transportation."

Cleaire Advanced Emission Controls, based in San Leandro, received an award "For devising and manufacturing the Longview and Horizon emission devices which can reduce particulate matter by at least 85 percent in diesel buses and trucks."

The picture was taken at the Breathe California Annual Clean Air Awards Luncheon, held April 18, 2008, in San Francisco.

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May 6, 2008

Councilmember Bill Stephens Elected Vice Mayor of San Leandro

San Leandro District 5 Councilmember Bill Stephens At the May 5, 2008, meeting of the San Leandro City Council, Bill Stephens was elected Vice Mayor. Current Vice Mayor Surlene Grant nominated Stephens and Councilmember Michael Gregory seconded the nomination. Gregory noted that Stephens had been considered for the position previously and withdrew because of his work commitments. Councilmember Diana Souza then offered a substitute motion nominating Councilmember Joyce Starosciak that was seconded by Jim Prola.

Starosciak advocated to be elected Vice Mayor, noting that the title would add credibility to San Leandro's presence on the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency, to which she is assigned. She also noted that she would have the energy and time to devote to the position.

Mayor Tony Santos noted that Districts 5 and 6 had not had a Vice Mayor in many years and he believes that the position should rotate among the City Council districts. A review of recent vice mayors shows that Councilmembers from Districts 3, 5, and 6 have not been Vice Mayor for more than 10 years. During that time, District 4 Councilmember Bob Glaze served as Vice Mayor for four straight years and District 1 Councilmembers Gordon Galvan and Orval "OB" Badger served for two years each.

In a 1992 staff report from former San Leandro City Clerk to former San Leandro City Manager Mike Oliver, Calvert wrote, "As you will recall, in 1989, the City Council discussed the matter of the designation of the vice mayor and concurred that the position of vice mayor should not be just one of rotation, but was a privilege given to the vice mayor, and that the new policy would be that the vice mayor will be elected by the City Council."

Councilmember Jim Prola expressed his support for Starosciak, noting that she has the time and that the Vice Mayor should be female because we have a male Mayor.

Grant noted that this is an election year and Starosciak may have an advantage if she was elected Vice Mayor. She also stated that the position of Vice Mayor has been held by members of the same sex previously and discounted the need to have it filled by a member of the opposite sex of the Mayor.

Councilmember Stephens joked that he was "not going to get a sex change operation," but noted that he did have a demanding schedule. Stephens said that he would be "honored to perform the duties of Vice Mayor."

The City Council vote on electing Starosciak as Vice Mayor was defeated with Souza, Starosciak, and Prola voting for Starosciak and the other four members voting no. The subsequent vote on electing Stephens as Vice Mayor was unanimous, making Stephens San Leandro's new Vice Mayor.

According to Section 310 of the City Charter, "In the absence of the Mayor, the Vice Mayor shall possess and perform the powers and duties of the Mayor."

For a listing of recent Vice Mayors, see below.

Vice Mayors of the Recent Past:

  • 1998 - Gordon Galvan (District 1)

  • 1999 - Gordon Galvan (District 1)

  • 2000 - Bob Glaze (District 4)

  • 2001- Bob Glaze (District 4)

  • 2002 - Bob Glaze (District 4)

  • 2003- Bob Glaze (District 4)

  • 2004 - Orval "OB" Badger (District 1)

  • 2005 - Orval "OB" Badger (District 1)

  • 2006 - Surlene Grant (District 2)

  • 2007 - Surlene Grant (District 2)

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May 4, 2008

Hillary Van Austen and Adan Alonzo to Join Peronnel Relations Commission

Adan Alonzo and Hillary Van Austen will likely be appointed as at-large members to the Personnel Relations Board at the May 5, 2008, San Leandro City Council meeting. They will replace Michael Munoz and Anna Brannan.

Brannan left the Personnel Relations Board when she was appointed to replace Marcene Nardine at the Planning Commission on March 3, 2008. The City Council issued a resolution commending Munoz for his years of service on the Personnel Relations Board at its April 7, 2008, meeting. Munoz was first appointed in March 1993.

Van Austen is president of the Broadmoor Neighborhood Association and works for the East Bay Regional Parks District. She also works with her husband at Van Austen Creative, a design, illustration, and multimedia communication company.

Alonzo is active at Madison Elementary and sought the appointment to the District 6 City Council seat in February 2007. He was a vocal opponent of a possible bridge over San Leandro Creek between San Leandro and Oakland's Sobrante Park neighborhood. Alonzo works for Waste Management at its Fremont transfer station facility.

Update: Alonza and Van Austen were appointed unanimously on May 5, 2008.

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April 16, 2008

Financial Disclosure for Newest Planning Commissioner

The newest San Leandro Planning Commissioner, Anna Brannan, was appointed on March 17, 2008, to replace Marcene Nardine, who was removed on March 3, 2008. Brannan works as an attorney in Danville and previously served on the Personnel Relations Board. She has lived in San Leandro since 1977 and is married to Robert Brannan, who serves on the Recreations and Parks Commission and was previously President of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce.

According to her Statement of Economic Interests, she is the principal of her own San Leandro law firm and has an interest in Network Professionals, a local computer services business with her husband. She also works for the law firm of Gagen, McCoy, McMahon, Koss, Markowitz & Raines in Danville and receives contractor fees from Lloyd A. Wise Leasing.

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April 10, 2008

Update on Financial Disclosures

On April 8, 2008, San Leandro Bytes reported on the Statements of Economic Interests filed by members of the San Leandro Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA). Today, the City Clerk received the annual Statement of Economic Interests from BZA member Melody Marr. which was due on April 1. Planning Commissioner Heidi Finberg has yet to file any Statement of Economic Interests since she was appointed in April 2007.

Marr has been on the BZA since August 1996 and is the CEO of the Alameda Chamber of Commerce.

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April 8, 2008

Annual Financial Disclosures for Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Adjustments

In California, members of the Planning Commission are required to complete a Statement of Economic Interests (Fair Political Practices Commission Form 700), to disclose financial interests that could lead to a conflict-of-interest. In San Leandro, the Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA) is also required to complete Form 700. Members are required to complete the disclosures annually and within 30 days of assuming office.

These disclosures are public documents and any member of the public can inspect and obtain copies ($0.10 each) of these disclosures. San Leandro Bytes obtains copies from the San Leandro City Clerk, scans them, and publishes them here to increase local government transparency and to save you from a trip to City Hall.

Below are the disclosures for 2007 for current members of the San Leandro Planning Commission and San Leandro Board of Zoning Adjustments:

Board of Zoning Adjustments

Planning Commission

BZA Member Marr has not yet filed her Statement of Economic Interests for 2007. The Statement is due by April 1 every year. Marr is the CEO of the Alameda Chamber of Commerce. Planning Commissioner Finberg has not filed a Statement of Economic Interests since she was appointed in April 2007. Finberg is the former CEO of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce. Planning Commissioner Brannan was appointed in March 2008 and has not yet filed a Statement of Economic Interests.

Previous filings can be found here and here.

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Annual Financial Disclosures for City Council, City Manager, Police Chief, and Others

Members of the San Leandro City Council and others are requird to complete Statements of Economic Interests (California Form 700) upon being elected, each year thereafter, 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.

City Council:

Surlene Grant, District 2
Michael Gregory, District 1
Jim Prola, District 6
Tony Santos, Mayor
Diana Souza, District 3
Joyce Starosciak, District 4
Bill Stephens, District 5

City Staff:

City Manager John Jermanis
City Attorney Jayne Williams
Police Chief Dale Attarian

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March 7, 2008

Marcene Nardine Removed from Planning Commission

At the March 3, 2008, meeting of the San Leandro City Council, Marcene Nardine was removed from the Planning Commission. Nardine was appointed as the At-Large member of the Planning Commission on March 5, 2007, and replaced Susan Kleebauer.

Nardine will be replaced by Anna Brannan, who has served on the Personnel Relations Board since March 2007. Brannan is the wife of Robert Brannan, former President of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce and member of the Recreation and Parks Commission since May 2005.

In June 2006, Nardine campaigned for Mayor and came in third behind Tony Santos and OB Badger. Nardine endorsed Santos' Mayoral campaign shortly after losing the election. Nardine is the daughter of former San Leandro City Councilmember and School Board Trustee Glenda Nardine.

Although no reason was given in the agenda for removing Nardine, it may have something to do with missing five of the 12 Planning Commission meetings since she became a member of the Planning Commission.

Update: Coverage by the Daily Review confirms that Nardine was removed for missing too many meetings. In her defense, Nardine said, "If I would have known about the attendance policy, trust me, I would have been there."

The City Council Handbook section on Boards and Commissions reads:

ATTENDANCE POLICY
1. The City Council requires that members of boards and commissions abide by the following policy:
2. Members of boards or commissions shall be required to attend not less than 75% of all regular meetings held;
3. Failure by a member to attend three consecutive regular meetings of a board or commission will be cause for Council declaring the member’s position vacant;
4. Attendance records will be reviewed by the City Council in June of each year based on the previous 12-month period (June 1 through May 31), except for appointments effective July 1st or thereafter.

Of the five out of 12 Planning Commission meetings that Nardine missed since she was appointed, three were consecutive meetings: June 28, July 12, and July 26, 2007. However, the Council did not declare her position vacant, as called for in the policy.

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February 10, 2008

City Council to Focus on Housing on Monday, February 11, 2008

Overview of Affordable Housing and Housing Element Update is the topic for the San Leandro City Council work session on Monday, February 11, 2008. The meeting will start at 7pm and will be held at the Helen Lawrence South Offices Conference Room at 999 E. 14th Street.

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January 26, 2008

San Leandro Cop Reappointed to California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.

Michael SobekSan Leandro Police Officer Michael Sobek was re-appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). POST sets "minimum selection and training standards for California law enforcement." Sobek's appointment requires confirmation by the California Senate.

According to the POST web site, Sobek, 45, of Dublin, "has over twenty years experience in law enforcement, serving with the San Leandro Police Department since 1991 and the Alameda County Sheriff's Department from 1984 to 1991. Additionally, Sobek has served as adjunct faculty at Chabot/Los Positas Community College since 2002. Sobek is an American Independent."

Sobek was the police officer who found the bodies of the USDA and state inspectors at the Santos Linguisa factory after they had been shot and killed by Stuart Alexander in June 2000.

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Finance Director Jesse Baloca Quietly Leaves Post

Jesse BalocaSan Leandro's Finance Director, Jesse Baloca, has quietly left his position without a send-off or acknowledgment from the City. The only evidence of his departure is the lack of a name for the Finance Director on the list of City Hall contacts on the City web site.

Baloca, 38, was hired as the City's Finance Director in May 2004 after working as Interim Finance Director in Sammamish, Washington, Interim Assistant Finance Director in Bellevue, Washington, and Administrative Services Director in Saratoga, California. Prior to Baloca, Assistant City Manager Ed Schilling had served as the acting Finance Director since October 2003, replacing Mike White.

When he was hired, San Leandro City Manager John Jermanis was quoted in the Daily Review as stating, "We are very happy to have him as part of our management team. Overall, he fits the San Leandro mold of quality employees through his academic and work experience."

Update: According to City Manager John Jermanis, Baloca resigned his position effective October 31, 2007. Perry Carter, the former Finance Director for the City of Hayward, has been hired part-time as the Interim Finance Director. On November 13, 2007, the City Clerk received Baloca's final Statement of Economic Interests (California Form 700).

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January 25, 2008

San Leandro Featured in New York Times Article

Uche Udemezue, San Leandro's Engineering & Transportation Director, is quoted extensively in an article about building costs in the January 26, 2008, edition of the New York Times.

From the article:

In San Leandro, a city of 78,000 in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mr. Udemezue said the city could not afford to delay work on the parking garage and retiree center.
“We can’t wait,” he said, “because we don’t know if the prices are going to come down or go up.”
In the grading guide known as the Pavement Condition Index, zero is not far from a dirt strip and 100 is a fresh new roadway. When Mr. Udemezue began working for San Leandro 16 years ago, the average road ranking in the city was nearly 70. Now it is closer to 60, despite what Mr. Udemezue said were the city’s efforts to keep up maintenance.
Years ago, there was more money in the city’s general revenue stream that could be diverted to help with basic maintenance, which Mr. Udemezue said required about $5 million a year.
That general revenue now goes to other needs, like public safety, and the roads go wanting, with flat revenue from gas taxes and other declines leaving about $1.2 million to maintain roads each year. The $13 million retiree center and the $8 million parking garage have been affected, too, with the city dropping plans to build commercial space beneath the garage and reducing the space for social programs in the center.
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January 16, 2008

Presentation on Crime Posted on City Web Site

Council Report, Crime Trends, Staffing and Future TrendsSan Leandro Police Chief Dale Attarian's report entitled, "Council Report, Crime Trends, Staffing and Future Trends," which was presented at the City Council Work Session on Monday, January 14, 2008, has been posted to the city's web site.

The report received by Councilmembers at the Monday meeting included a few additional pages which reported crime information for each of the six City Council districts.

Copies of the report were handed out to leaders of homeowners associations at a meeting held by Mayor Tony Santos at the San Leandro Library on Tuesday, January 15, 2008.

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January 14, 2008

San Leandro Crime Statistics for 2007

The statistics on crime in San Leandro in 2007 are out and, as San Leandro Police Chief Dale Attarian has previously stated, crime is down overall in San Leandro. Despite statistics that show an overall decrease in crime and San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos assuring residents that "It's just fear" in response to concerns about public safety, heightened concern about crime is reflected in discussions at recent City Council meetings, a Town Hall held by Councilmembers Diana Souza and Joyce Starosciak, and a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, January 15, 2008, with the leaders of homeowner associations.

By the numbers, crime in San Leandro is down, from 5,115 crimes in 2006 to 4,848 in 2007. Those numbers include rapes, murders, robberies, aggravated assaults, simple assaults, burglaries, larcenies, auto thefts, and arson.

As reported previously, there were no murders in 2007 compared to four in 2006. Rapes declined 59% from 29 in 2006 to 12 in 2007. Aggravated assault declined 18% from 302 in 2006 to 248 in 2007. Larceny declined 11% from 2,176 in 2006 to 1,933 in 2007.

Arsons increased 33% from 12 in 2006 to 16 in 2007. Burglaries increased 3% and auto thefts increased one percent.

In 2006, Las Vegas was listed as the metropolitan area with the highest auto theft rate by the National Insurance Crime Bureau with a rate of 1,310 vehicles stolen for every 100,000 residents. In 2006, San Leandro had a rate of more than 1,580 vehicles stolen for every 100,000 residents.

According to Chief Attarian, some vehicles are now stolen just to remove the catalytic converters, from which the platinum catalyst is recovered for its value. Last year, four vehicles stolen from San Leandro were recovered at one Oakland address and all were missing their catalytic converters. The owner of Converters West, a San Leandro auto parts dealer, was recently arrested for buying stolen catalytic converters.

But the numbers don't tell the whole story. Crime in one area of the city could increase while crime in another area is flat or dropping. Unfortunately, that data isn't available yet, but San Leandro Bytes is working on it and will publish it once it becomes available.

At last night's City Council work session, the Councilmembers received a report entitled, "Council Report, Crime Trends, Staffing and Future Trends" by Chief Attarian. Included at the end of the report were specific crime statistics for each City Council District. That data is reproduced in the graph below. Chief Attarian noted that the total number of crimes when separated by district (4761) doesn't match the 2007 number of 4848 because of problems with identifying the proper district for each crime. Click here for the data used to create the graph.

San Leandro Crime Statistics for 2007 by District

Chief Attarian noted that the high number of larcenies (thefts) in District 2 is because the area includes Bayfair Center and the commercial corridor along E. 14th Street.

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City Council Work Session on Crime, Monday, January 14, 2008

The City Council will be discussing police services, a strategic plan for the police and crime statistics at its work session meeting on Monday, January 14, 2008.

The meeting starts at 7pm and is held in the Helen Lawrence South Offices Conference Room, located south of City Hall and the Police Department at 999 E. 14th Street.

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January 2, 2008

San Leandro Ends 2007 With No Murders

According to San Leandro Police Chief Dale Attarian, there were no murders reported in the City of San Leandro during all of 2007. The most recent year prior to 2007 in which there were no murders in San Leandro was 1984, according to Chief Attarian.

This appears to at least partially corroborate Chief Attarian's previous claim that "San Leandro has seen the lowest crime rate in the past five years." The City of Oakland also recorded fewer murders in 2007 than in 2006.

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The Complete Presentation of the Revenue Measure Feasibility Study

Revenue_Measure_Feasibility_Study.jpgOn December 18, 2007, San Leandro Bytes reported on the results of a Revenue Measure Feasibility Study conducted by Godbe Research for the City of San Leandro. The results of that study were presented at the December 17, 2007, City Council meeting and the presentation is now available online.

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December 30, 2007

Former Mayor Jack Maltester's Testimony Before the US Commission on Civil Rights

On May 6, 1967, San Leandro Mayor Jack Maltester testified at a hearing of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which was investigating housing discrimination.

The complete text of Maltester's testimony follows.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. The next witness is the Hon. John D. Maltester. Whereupon, the Hon. John D. Maltester was sworn by the Chairman and testified as follows: )

TESTIMONY OF THE HON. JOHN D. MALTESTER, MAYOR OF SAN LEANDRO, CALIFORNIA

MR. GLICKSTEIN. Would you please state your full name and address for the record.

MAYOR MALTESTER. It's Jack D. Maltester, 715 Woodland Avenue, San Leandro.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. What is your occupation?

MAYOR MALTESTER. Half owner in a printing business and mayor of the city of San Leandro.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. How long have you been mayor?

MAYOR MALTESTER. Since 1958.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. Are you also a member of the city council ?

MAYOR MALTESTER. Yes.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. What is the population of San Leandro?

MAYOR MALTESTER. The last official population was 69,000, close to 70,000, and anticipated at this time probably closer to 75,000.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. You think it's about 75,000?

MAYOR MALTESTER. Yes.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. How many Negroes live in San Leandro?

MAYOR MALTESTER. I cannot tell you to the exact amount. I get two different reports. I would guess it's between 20 and 25, 26.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. Twenty or 25 persons or families?

MAYOR MALTESTER. Persons.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. Are Negroes employed in the industries in San Leandro.

MAYOR MALTESTER. Yes.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. Do you have any idea how many?

MAYOR MALTESTER. No, I haven't. We haven't asked for that type of a survey, although lean tell by the plants when the shifts go off duty that there are quite a few Negroes employed in our industries.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. We have some statistics, Mr. Mayor, a study we did that indicates that the companies in San Leandro employing 100 or more persons that report to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and that report to the office of Federal Contract Compliance, provide approximately 13,500 persons, of whom about 572 are Negroes, about 5 percent or so. Does that sound as though it might be right?

MAYOR MALTESTER. That might be right. I presume that some plants according to the type of work may employ more than others. I wouldn't question that.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. And those are companies of 100 employees or more. Companies with less than 100 employees are not included in those statistics. Are Negroes employed in stores and small businesses in San Leandro?

MAYOR MALTESTER. Yes, they are.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. How would you account for the fact that just across the border of San Leandro in Oakland there are large numbers of Negro families, and yet there are just 20 to 25 Negroes in your city?

MAYOR MALTESTER. Well, basically the question in the past has been one of prejudice. San Leandro grew from a farming community to a bedroom community for people who mainly worked in San Francisco. I guess prior to World War II there were about 20,000 people in the community.
Industry started to come in. Half of our present land area is zoned industrial. I don't think there is any question but what there was prejudice involved.
Although some of the families, Negro people who live in San Leandro, have lived there for many years. We have a very heavy Portuguese, Mexican American, Spanish people living in our community. At the present time the families that are moving in are moving in different areas of the town.
As you just heard Mr. Lucot state that the one property on the Hills at some $75,000 or $80,000. We have other families that moved into the Marina Fair and different areas which, from a personal standpoint is good for everybody, and in other words we don't get any ghetto, or where it's white or dark or anything else. It is spread throughout the community. One other thing that has, I'm sure, kept an awful lot of minority races out has been the cost of property.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. The cost of property?

MAYOR MALTESTER. The cost of property in San Leandro. I do not have facts to back this up. I get this statement from real estate people and appraisers, that the same property on one side of Durant Avenue, which is our dividing line with Oakland is worth $1,000 to $1,500 more than this property is in Oakland. The reason for that, I don't know. One has been that we have had a reduce in tax rate, and we have increased our services to the people. Beyond that I can't say, I'm just guessing.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. Do you think that the fact that two cities so close to each other, and one of them has such a large Negro population and the other has such a small one, might lead to friction of some sort?

MAYOR MALTESTER. I'm certain it will some day unless something is done. As I say, it is--I feel something is being done now, but it is being done slowly.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. Is the city concerned that racial disturbances in Oakland might affect San Leandro?

MAYOR MALTESTER. I might say as the mayor I'm concerned, yes.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. What actions or plans do you have to deal with the problem?

MAYOR MALTESTER. Well, we haven't any plans to deal with the problem. You must understand that in our community, although the mayor is directly elected by the people, we are a little different than some of the Eastern cities.
We do not have the authority as mayor, I technically do not have any more authority than any city councilman, so it is just a problem as to what you can do. We hope that we are getting, I think, more and more people in our community that realize the problem and are willing to recognize that it is there and help do something about it, but it's an awfully slow process.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. Do you have problems in your community with white racists groups?

MAYOR MALTESTER. No. In fact, the only time I knew one existed was a series of articles in a local newspaper.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. But the groups themselves you don't consider terribly significant or a force in molding opinion in the community?

MAYOR MALTESTER. No, I've checked this out with our own police department and they feel that it does not pose any problem at all in the community.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. There has been some testimony about the meeting that you held with business and religious leaders to discuss problems of racial integration in San Leandro. Have there been many such meetings ?

MAYOR MALTESTER. Well, no. That was probably the largest where we've brought industry into the picture and the banks.
I have attended three or four meetings with various clergy groups and I would think that the clergy has been the most interested in the problem in the community, and probably not only the most interested but probably the most knowledgeable as to what does exist.
There have just been unofficial meetings over a cup of coffee talking about the problems as they would see one or the others that would come up.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. But in December you had a meeting which included a larger number of individuals?

MAYOR MALTESTER. That is correct. I was asked if I could get together some of the industrial people to join some of the clergy and the banks. We thought it would be a good thing to sit down and talk to them and just see what they felt.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. Has that meeting been followed up with additional similar meetings?

MAYOR MALTESTER. No, it hasn't been. It was left on the basis that see how things are going for a while and then we would get together again unofficially. When you try to get a group together like that, sometimes it takes a little time to get them together. Everybody is busy, but we undoubtedly will have other discussion. That is, if I have my way about it and they show up.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. How long have you lived in San Leandro?

MAYOR MALTESTER. I was born in San Leandro.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. On the basis of your knowledge in general, and on the basis of your experience as mayor what factors in the local real estate market do you think have kept Negroes from buying homes in San Leandro?

MAYOR MALTESTER. I don't think it is the real estate people nor the lending institutions. I think it's the people themselves. I'm quite sure that any real estate man would sell any home in San Leandro to a Negro if the seller of that home gave them the go-ahead.
There is still the fear that if one home is sold to a Negro, the whole block will be sold to Negroes and then the next block. This is a fear, I think--and I am not a historian--which grew up over many, many years which ultimately, I guess it did happen in the West Oakland area. And this, I think is the basis of fear.
I really don't--oh, there may be one or two real estate people, maybe one or two lending institutions, but I think the basic problem is with the people themselves, not only in our community but in any other community,

MR. GLICKSTEIN. But you have had some large tract developments in San Leandro where the homes were sold new by the developer.

MAYOR MALTESTER. Right.

MR. GLICKSTEIN, Not by individual sellers. Yet, those developments have turned out to be predominantly or, exclusively white. Isn't that correct?

MAYOR MALTESTER. It is correct, and yet probably the largest and latest development and the last one from the land standpoint that is available now has three Negro families living in it, and the development is only five or six years old and all of the three--and one I know was sold through the developer of the tract.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. One was sold through the developer of the tract?

MAYOR MALTESTER. Definitely to the Negro.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. That is the Marina

MAYOR MALTESTER. Marina Fair.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. That is a new area that is being developed?

MAYOR MALTESTER, Right.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. How do you account for the older tracts that were developed that were not integrated?

MAYOR. MALTESTER. This, again, I cannot account for except for the fact that I think it goes back to the people themselves. I've talked to apartment house owners that the rest of their tenants have threatened to move out if they rent one apartment to a Negro family. So then who do you blame, the people or the apartment house owner?

MR. GLICKSTEIN. When Negroes have moved into San Leandro how have they been received by their neighbors?

MAYOR MALTESTER.. Normally very fine. We've had one bad incident that you have undoubtedly picked up on us. This happened to be on the most expensive one we were talking about, but it had nothing to do with racial problems, just outright hoodlums, but outside of that they are well accepted.
In fact, I would think exceptionally so. The reports that I get from this Marina Fair area is that the people in the area are happy with these families. They have gone in and fixed up their homes better than they were before and joined the Home Owners Association, become active in the area. This is what I think is tending, as I say, to break down this barrier that is built up, but I don't think it will be broken down politically. It's got to be through people.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. And I gather from what has been said that you as mayor have been exercising some leadership in the direction of breaking these barriers down?

MAYOR MALTESTER. I try as much as possible, in fact maybe a little more than I am supposed to, but it has to be persuasion and on a friendly basis. Yes.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. One of the witnesses said you had proposed to the city council that a human rights commission be set up and you were unsuccessful in getting that through.

MAYOR MALTESTER. I went beyond the human relations commission. I also tacked the word responsibilities in there because this had been proposed right after President Kennedy addressed the United States Congress of Mayors in Honolulu and asked for this type of support throughout the country because I think every city has areas where the property is getting run down, and this is not always Negroes' areas. In fact, most of the time it isn't.
So we wanted not only the human relations commission aspect, we wanted some responsibilities put into it. Unfortunately, the city council decided on a five to two vote that it was not necessary, that we didn't have any problems, and I don't blame the city council because, believe me, when that proposal was put out in the press --before I made the proposal I had six votes, and when the people got through with the telephone calls I wound up with one besides my own.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. Informally, then, your fellow councilmen agreed with your position, but when they had to indicate publicly what their position was they voted differently.

MAYOR MALTESTER. That is correct.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. How many persons does your city employ?

MAYOR MALTESTER. Approximately 365.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. How many are Negroes?

MAYOR MALTESTER. One.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. And he is a--

MAYOR MALTESTER. Police officer. We did have two. We had a young lady that was a police assistant, but she decided she would rather work for the telephone company.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. Does the city require its employees to be residents?

MAYOR MALTESTER. Yes and no. The rule is, the civil service rule is that all employees must be residents. The civil service board has the right to suspend that rule for all examinations. In checking our records we find it has suspended for all operations except three, they're always putting the rule to one side.
Those three operations that they have not suspended the rule for was a garbage collector, a maintenance man and the parks people, and in checking back and asking the Civil Service Commission why these three were not also allowed to not have to live in the community it is a fact that they class them in three emergency categories. I don't know, this is the answer that I got.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. Those three categories have to live in the community?

MAYOR MALTESTER. Right, and the others have to--the examinations are open. In fact, the young Negro police officer we had lived in Berkeley. Now he lives in San Leandro with his family.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. He now lives in San Leandro?

MAYOR MAL TESTER. Right.

MR. GLICKSTEIN, Did he have any difficulty in finding a place to live?

MAYOR MALTESTER. I haven't talked to him. He hasn't said anything to me.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. But he did move into the city?

MAYOR MALTESTER. Yes.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. Does the city recruit employees outside the city?

MAYOR MALTESTER. Yes. This is what I was talking about on the recruitment. These are the only three that are supposed to live in the city, The rest of the recruitment comes from all over.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. And actually you make affirmative efforts to go outside of the city? You advertise outside the city?

MAYOR MALTESTER. Yes. It's advertised in all the journals, a notice is sent to the department of employment. We give it a broad advertising effect.

MR. GLICKSTEIN. Thank you. I have no further questions, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIRMAN HANNAH. Mrs. Freeman?

COMMISSIONER FREEMAN. Mayor Maltester, does your city attempt to recruit industry, large industry, to come in? Have you ever in the past attempted this?

MAYOR MALTESTER. The city as such hasn't. The Chamber of Commerce is always, of course, working to bring new industry into San Leandro, and this is where our growth assessed valuation wise has come from, new industry over the past years.

COMMISSIONER FREEMAN. Do the majority of the persons who are employed by the industries that have come in in the past few years reside in San Leandro?

MAYOR MALTESTER. I wouldn't know. I would have to say as a guess, no. It's a pretty educated guess.

COMMISSIONER FREEMAN. Would a significant number of those that are white reside in San Leandro?

MAYOR MALTESTER. No. Again, I don't have any figures, but in my opinion no, because we have an awful lot of people that live in San Lorenzo, Hayward, Castro Valley.

I have had people tell me that even working for the city they can't live there because they can't afford it in their own city and they moved to Castro Valley.

COMMISSIONER FREEMAN. And these houses range in price from $18,000 up. Is that right?

MAYOR MALTESTER. Yes.

COMMISSIONER FREEMAN. Let me pose to you a hypothetical question that if a government agency or a government contractor indicated an interest in shelter for its employees and said to you as mayor, the leading official of the city, that, "We cannot come here because there is not a free and open housing market" what would then be your responsibility as the mayor?

MAYOR MALTESTER. Well, I would certainly want to sit down with the contractor or whoever he was and find out what the facts would be, and then sit down with our city council, so I would say that--

COMMISSIONER FREEMAN. Do you think it would make any change with respect to the--and this of course is an estimate-would the council then care enough about having a white-only ghetto to change it?

MAYOR MALTESTER. I would say that as individuals they would, and then when it got out into the newspapers I don't know where they would stand when the heat went on.

COMMISSIONER FREEMAN. I'm sorry, I didn't hear you.

MAYOR MALTESTER. I say that I am sure that as individuals the city council would be interested. I think that our city councilmen still are interested, but I would say that when the people themselves started to protest-

COMMISSIONER FREEMAN. These people, then, are so racist that they would still keep the industry out?

MAYOR MALTESTER. In my opinion if this were the issue, yes,

COMMISSIONER FREEMAN. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN HANNAH. Mr. Mayor, there are seven councilmen you say?

MAYOR MALTESTER. Six and the mayor.

CHAIRMAN HANNAH. Are you elected as mayor or as a councilman and then the councilmen elect the mayor?

MAYOR MALTESTER. I'm elected as mayor.

CHAIRMAN HANNAH. You are elected at large?

MAYOR MALTESTER. At large. Following through, we have the six councilmen who represent six districts. They have to live in the district, but they are also elected at large.

CHAIRMAN HANNAH. In your testimony this morning you've indicated that your views with reference to the presence of Negroes in your community is at variance with the views of most of the people that live in the community. When you have run for re-election has this been a handicap to you?

MAYOR MALTESTER. I couldn't say that because in the last election I didn't have any opposition, which was last year.

CHAIRMAN HANNAH. Mr. Taylor?

MR. TAYLOR. No questions.

CHAIRMAN HANNAH. Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor. We appreciate your enlightenment, and we hope that you may be able to prevail upon some of your colleagues. Having watched this development in the areas of civil rights all over the country it is as certain as anything can be that a city like San Leandro is going to move in the direction of an orderly acceptance of desirable Negroes and members of other minority groups or face, as you suspect, unhappiness and this myth that has been built up that when good citizens who happen to be black, or Mexicans or something else, move into communities, nothing really happens. There are fine people of all races and colors and religions, and somehow or other we have to get our citizens to recognize that what is important is the individual.
It is basically an educational process and if you and other enlightened leaders can follow along with the attitude that you have expressed here this morning Maybe you can make progress, although it gets discouraging at times.

MAYOR MALTESTER. I hope so. I would like to thank the Commission and would like to make, one statement, if I may, because I have read where the Commission has been criticized, and I would like to say that I think the most important thing that this Commission is doing is to allow the light of day to be put on some of these problems around the country, and I just hope that your job is accomplished along with the rest of us.

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December 11, 2007

Judge Decides San Leandro Police Should Get Paid for Time Spent Dressing

In a ruling issued Friday, December 7, 2007, U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel decided in favor of San Leandro Police in a lawsuit asking for 30 minutes of paid time for getting into and out of their uniforms.

In the lawsuit filed by Greg Lemmon, president of the San Leandro Police Officers Association, San Leandro police estimated that they needed 25 to 35 minutes each day to get in and out of their uniforms and gear.

Patel noted that the decision conflicts with rulings by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer against the Richmond Police and a federal judge against police in San Diego and would probably have to be taken up by an appeals court.

San Francisco Chronicle coverage

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December 4, 2007

City Council Approves Updated List of Groups that can Receive Community Empowerment Funds

On Monday night, December 3, 2007, the San Leandro City Council approved a list of community empowerment fund recipients. Under Mayor Shelia Young, there was also a Mayor's Community Fund, which came from a separate City account that was funded by donations and fundraisers, including an annual golf tournament. Community empowerment funds come from the city's general fund and can be used by members of the City Council to support community projects. Each councilmember will have $2,500 each year at their discretion while the Mayor will have $5,000 each year at his discretion, for a total of $20,000 per year.

Councilmember Diana Souza ensured that the Washington Manor Swim Team was added to the list prior to its approval by the City Council.

The complete list of groups follows:

Alta Mira Club of San Leandro
American Cancer Society "Relay For Life" - San Leandro Annual Event
Arts Council of San Leandro
Boy Scouts of America - San Leandro Education and Training Center
Building Futures With Women And Children San Leandro
Calico Center of San Leandro
Community Resources for Independent Living
Davis Street Family Resource Center
Deaf Counseling Advocacy Referral Agency (DCARA), San Leandro
Floresta Baseball League
Friends of San Leandro Creek
George Mark Childrens House
Girls Inc
Homeowner and Neighborhood Associations within San Leandro which are registered with the City of San Leandro (limited to public benefit projects or programs)
Lavender Seniors of the East Bay, San Leandro
Leadership San Leandro
Monarch Bay Junior Golf
San Leandro Adult Day Care Center
San Leandro Art Association
San Leandro Boys and Girls Club
San Leandro Buccaneers
San Leandro Chamber of Commerce
San Leandro Crusaders
San Leandro Historical Society
San Leandro Kiwanis Club
San Leandro Lions Club
San Leandro Little League
San Leandro Players
San Leandro Police Explorer Program
San Leandro Police Officers Association
San Leandro Public Library Foundation
San Leandro Rotary Club
San Leandro Scholarship Foundation
San Leandro Swim Team
San Leandro Unified School District Schools and the Student Teacher and Parent Clubs affiliated with those schools
San Lorenzo Unified School District Schools and the Student Teacher and Parent Clubs affiliated with those schools
Senior Services Foundation - San Leandro Friendly Visiting Program
Spinnaker Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program
Stepping Stones Growth Center, San Leandro
Washington Manor Junior Baseball League
Washington Manor Swim Team

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November 5, 2007

City Unveils Public Safety Monument

On Saturday, November 3, 2007, the City of San Leandro unveiled a Public Safety Monument in honor of public safety officers' sacrifice and service. The $83,500 monument by Monument Arts, Inc. was approved at the February 20, 2007, City Council meeting.

Speakers included California State Senator and former San Leandro Mayor Ellen Corbett, California State Assemblymember Mary Hayashi, Alameda County Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker, Mayor Tony Santos, Alameda County Fire Chief Sheldon Gilbert and San Leandro Police Chief Dale Attarian. All of the current City Council except Bill Stephens and many former City Council members attended the ceremony. Former Police Chief Joe Kitchen and former Fire Chief Bill McCammon were also on-hand.

The names of three police officers and one firefighter who died or were killed on-duty were engraved on the monument and all speakers expressed hope that no more names would be added to the monument.

The monument includes the engraved words:

To Serve

We serve the public for the good of the community, to uplift the fallen, to protect the defenseless, to comfort those in need, and to ensure the safety of all. We are the police and firefighters of San Leandro.

The tools of our trade are much more than the metal, plastic, and rubber from which they are made. These tools become an extension of the hearts and hands of the professionals who use them.

Touch them and you touch us.

The program for the event included the following information about the men memorialized on the monument:

Officer Frederick R. Haller
Dates of Service: July 25, 1955 to April 20, 1961
Officer Haller was on routine patrol when he was shot and killed in his patrol car by an unknown assailant.

Firefighter Lyle K. Gruggel
Dates of Service: January 1, 1958 to April 8, 1966
Firefighter Gruggel became ill while performing his firefighting duties. He was rushed to the hospital where he died three hours later of a heart attack.

Officer Donald F. Spingola
Dates of Service: August 1, 1969 to October 1, 1969
Reserve Officer Spingola was accidentally killed after being struck by a ricochet bullet that had been fired by another officer at an escaping burglary suspect.

Officer Nels Daniel Niemi
Dates of Service: February 4, 2002 to July 25, 2005
Officer Niemi was shot and killed while investigating a disturbance complaint.

Proposed monument to San Leandro's Public Safety organizations
A drawing of the proposed monument.

Photo of portion of actual public safety monument
A photo of a portion of the actual monument.

The monument is located on the east wall of the San Leandro Police Department building just north of the entrance.

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October 24, 2007

The Mayor's Trip to China

On October 16, 2007, San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos headed a delegation of local business leaders on a 10-day trip to Yangchun, China. In June 2007, the City of San Leandro established a "friendship city" relationship with the Chinese city of more than one million people.

The delegation includes District 5 Councilmember Bill Stephens and Assistant City Manager Steve Hollister. Members of the business community included Ken Pon, Charles Gilcrest, Benny Lee, president of the Asian Community Cultural Association, Arlene Lum, president of the city's Asian Business Council, and San Leandro Chamber of Commerce CEO Diana Gentry and President Robert Brannan.

The itinerary included dinners hosted by Yangchun government officials, Yangjiang government, Zhongshan government, Zhuhai government, and a dinner at a Portuguese restaurant in Macau. Other activities included tours of Macau, Zhuhai, and Hong Kong and visits to Yangchun's development area and tourist attractions, the China Import & Export Fair in Guangzhou, and the Macau Investment & Trade Fair. Councilmember Stephens and Assistant City Manager Hollister opted out of visiting Macau and Hong Kong.

According to San Leandro City Clerk Marian Handa, no City funds are being used to pay for the trip. Former San Leandro Mayor Shelia Young visited Israel in May 2004 and according to her financial disclosure form, $3,500 for the trip was a gift from the American Jewish Congress.

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October 14, 2007

How Much do Elected City Officials in Alameda County Get Paid?

The San Leandro City Council approved monthly salaries of $1,260 for Councilmembers and $2,520 for the Mayor at its December 18, 2006, meeting. For San Leandro, as with most cities in Alameda County, being a Councilmember or a Mayor is considered a part-time position, with the city manager and city staff tasked with running things day-to-day. That difference is reflected in the monthly salary of $15,741 for Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and $5,742 for Councilmembers in Oakland, which are substantially higher than for cities with a city manager.

San Leandro Bytes requested similar information from 11 Alameda County cities and received responses from nine cities. Monthly Councilmember salaries ranged from $100 in Alameda to $2,116.40 in Hayward. Mayors were paid $200 each month in Alameda and $3,386.93 in Hayward.

The monthly stipends for the Mayor and Coucilmembers in Alameda were established in the City Charter, which was last modified in the 1930s. The Alameda City Council has recently established a subcommittee to review the City Charter.

Councilmembers and Mayors also receive other forms of compensation, such as health insurance. All cities that responded provide health insurance for their elected officials. In San Leandro, health insurance provided by the City ranges from $421 to $1,077 per month. Livermore provides the most generous health insurance, with the City covering up to $1,428 per month.

As one might expect of the largest city in Alameda County, Oakland provides the Mayor with a generous monthly car allowance of $750 and Councilmembers with $550. Union City provides the Mayor with a $400 monthly car allowance and the San Leandro Mayor gets a $250 car allowance. Councilmembers in Union City get a $100 monthly car allowance while San Leandro Councilmembers get $125 each month. Alameda, Dublin, Fremont, Livermore, and Pleasanton do not provide car allowances for Mayors or Councilmembers.

In Alameda, Livermore, Oakland, and San Leandro, elected officials receive cell phones paid for by the city. Only the Mayor in Dublin gets a phone while Fremont and Union City don't provide any phones to elected officials.

San Leandro provides the most generous funds for travel and training with $6,964 for the Mayor and $5,232 for each Councilmember. Hayward provides $6,047 for the Mayor and $3,289 for each Councilmember. Livermore provides a total of $500 for training and $20,700 for travel for the City Council and Mayor.

In addition to compensation received from the city, Councilmembers and Mayors also receive compensation for intergovernmental agency meetings. For example, Mayor Tony Santos receives $234 for each meeting of the East Bay Dischargers Authority. Councilmember Joyce Starosciak receives $125 for each meeting of the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency and Councilmember receives $50 for each meeting of the Alameda County Housing Authority.

The cities of Berkeley and Newark did not respond for this article. Information was not requested from Albany, Emeryville, or Piedmont. Some cities may provide life insurance and retirement benefits, but San Leandro Bytes did not request information about them.

For comparison, an article in the July 31, 2007, San Mateo Daily Journal, reports that Brisbane, East Palo Alto and San Carlos pay Councilmembers $300 each month while San Mateo and Redwood City pay $750 per month. Rancho Mirage, with a population of 16,700, pays Councilmembers $2,500 per month. Palm Desert Councilmembers are paid $3,500 per month.

See below for a table summarizing City Council/Mayor compensation in Alameda County.

CityPopulation[1]Mayor stipendCouncil stipendHealth InsuranceCar allowanceCity cell phone
Alameda75254$200$100$1,258/monthNoneYes
Dublin43630$856.06$758.06up to $1,021/monthNoneMayor only
Fremont211662$2,211$1,407up to $450/monthNoneNo
Hayward147845$3,386.93$2,116.40$544.77 to $1416/month$144 for MayorOptional
Livermore82845$1,000$750up to $1428/monthNoneYes
Oakland415492$15,741$5,742$470 to $1223/month$750 Mayor; $550 CouncilYes
Pleasanton68755$600$500$1,182.45/monthNoneOptional
San Leandro81466$2,520$1,260$421 to $1077/month$250 Mayor; $125 CouncilYes
Union City72297$2,211$1,474$500 to $841/month$410 Mayor; $100 CouncilNo

1. Demographic Research Unit of the California Department of Finance, STATE ADDS ALMOST 470,000 IN 2006; 2007 POPULATION NEARS 37.7 MILLION, http://www.dof.ca.gov/HTML/DEMOGRAP/ReportsPapers/Estimates/E1/documents/e-1press.pdf, May 10, 2007
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September 30, 2007

LINKS 2007 Rider Survey

LINKS logoIn response to Councilmember Diana Souza's questions at the June 18, 2007, City Council meeting, San Leandro LINKS Executive Director Gordon Galvan and Valerie Brock presented the results of the 2007 ridership survey at the September 17, 2007, City Council meeting. Galvan noted that December 2007 would mark the sixth year of the LINKS shuttle, which provides free transportation to and from BART and west San Leandro businesses during the morning and afternoon commutes. Galvan noted that LINKS provides service for less money per passenger than any other Bay Area transit agency (based on 2005-2006 fiscal year data).

In fiscal year 2005-2006, the total program cost for LINKS was $374,884 and 173,509 passengers used the service. That comes to a cost of $2.16 per passenger, and according to a table that compares these numbers to agencies like BART and AC Transit, LINKS is the most cost-effective.

According to the survey, two-thirds (67%) of LINKS passengers work for businesses in the business improvement district. The LINKS shuttle is funded by taxes paid by businesses in the business improvement district and by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

Galvan previously served on the San Leandro City Council from 1994 to 2001.

The table and executive summary of the survey are included below.

San Leandro LINKS 2007 Shuttle Rider Survey Executive Summary
  • The population surveyed is different from last year. In 2007, both morning and afternoon riders were surveyed. In 2006, only morning riders were surveyed.
  • Two-thirds of shuttle riders work for employers in the BID and another 11 % work locally, presumably for small employers in West San Leandro.
  • 78% of riders use the shuttle to commute to work.
  • 52% of shuttle riders live in San Leandro or Oakland.
  • 84% ride the shuttle every day.
  • Six out of ten ride the shuttle in the morning and the afternoon.
  • Most ride BART or AC Transit before using LINKS; 12% walk from home.
  • If LINKS were unavailable, most would switch to AC Transit, but 11 % would start driving alone.
  • 84% say that losing LINKS would present a financial hardship for them.
  • For the fifth consecutive year, riders are well-satisfied with the service; 87% rated the LINKS shuttle good or excellent.
  • Driver courtesy is the strongest element of the service; the schedule is the weakest element.
  • The fact that the shuttle is free is most important to riders, followed by the schedule and frequency.
  • The best way to improve the LINKS service is to run the shuttle more frequently.
  • BART riders live throughout the Bay Area, but are concentrated in the East Bay.
  • One-third of BAR T riders live within 3 miles of their station of origin. They are most likely to take the bus to get to the BART station.
  • Most BART riders have been using the shuttle for an average of one and a half years.

LINKS - A Comparison of Transit Agencies in the Bay Area - Fiscal Year 2005-06

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September 17, 2007

City Council Finalizes TOD, Nominates New Commissioners, Passes on Iraq Resolution

The September 17, 2007, meeting of the San Leandro City Council began by honoring Pat Loomes on her retirement after 30 years as Executive Director of Girls, Inc. and Bancroft P.E. teacher Jim Sorensen for his remarkable track and field accomplishments. Loomes noted that Girls, Inc. would not exist without assistance from the City of San Leandro, such as when former San Leandro Mayor Jack Maltester rented a house to Girls, Inc. in 1958 for $1 a month, including utilities.

Gordon Galvan and Valerie Brock presented information from a survey conducted of LINKS users.

During public comments, Craig Williams, Rev Kathy Huff, Brenda Salgado and others encouraged the City Council to pass a resolution seeking a diplomatic solution to the war in Iraq. Similar resolutions have been passed by City Councils in Alameda, Emeryville, and, of course, Berkeley.

San Leandro High School track coach Dave Ellington was one of two coaches that encouraged the City Council to work together with the school district to make invest in Burrell Field and make it a state-of-the-art facility.

The City Council unanimously approved ordinances implementing the Downtown Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Strategy and approved a resolution supporting efforts by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi to obtain permanent resident status for Jacqueline Coats, whose husband died helping to save two boys from drowning. The Daily Review article is here.

Debra Vandiver was nominated to replace Kimberly Wilson as the District 3 representative to the Recreation and Parks Commission. Wilson had been appointed less than six months ago. Wilson also served on the San Leandro School Board until November 2004 when she was removed from office. Vandiver was appointed to the Human Services Commission six months ago.

Kati Knox was nominated to replace Vandiver as the District 3 representative on the Human Services Commission. Knox is the owner of KMJ Associates, which operates the Rose Gate and Mori Manor assisted living facilities. Knox is a former member of The Sentinels and contributed $250 to Marcene Nardine's mayoral campaign in 2006. Rose Gate and Mori Manor contributed $250 to Mayor Tony Santos' campaign in April 2007.

During Councilmember comments, Vice Mayor Surlene Grant, Councilmember Joyce Starosciak, and Councilmember Bill Stephens noted that Burrell Field was the responsibility of the School District. Councilmember Jim Prola tried and failed to get consensus to refer an Iraq resolution to committee.

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September 6, 2007

City Council Approves Downtown Transit-Oriented Development Strategy

At the September 4, 2007, meeting of the San Leandro City Council, the Downtown Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Strategy was unanimously approved. Despite a recommendation by the Planning Commission to omit the former Albertsons property at 1550 E. 14th St., the property was included as one of the "opportunity sites."

Click here for Daily Review coverage.

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September 3, 2007

City Council Set to Approve Changes to Implement TOD

Back from its August break, the San Leandro City Council will vote on whether to implement zoning and code changes to enact the Downtown Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Strategy at its next meeting on September 4, 2007.

The City Council will vote on the certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report, adopting the downtown TOD Strategy, zoning changes, and special review criteria for specific properties within the TOD Strategy area.

The City Council meets at 7pm in the City Council Chambers at 835 E. 14th Street.

Click here for coverage in the Daily Review.

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August 21, 2007

Public Hearing on Downtown Transit-Oriented Development August 23, 2007

On Thursday, August 23, 2007, the San Leandro Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on whether to "make a recommendation to the City Council on certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), adoption of the Downtown Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Strategy and related changes to the San Leandro Zoning Code and Zoning Maps that will introduce new land use regulations and design guidelines that will affect new development in the Downtown Area and will introduce Special Review Overlay Criteria for the development of certain properties within the ½ mile radius of the intersectIon of East 14th and Davis Streets."

The full text of the public notice is available below:

NOTICE OF COMPLETION/AVAILABILITY
OF FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT (FEIR) FOR DOWNTOWN SAN LEANDRO
TRANSIT-ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT (TOD) STRATEGY

NAME OF PROJECT: Downtown San Leandro Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Strategy (SCH#2006052102)

LOCATION OF PROJECT: The Downtown San Leandro Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Strategy Area is the ½ mile radius around the intersection of East 14th and Davis Streets, representing 502 acres. The Study Area is located in the northern portion of the city and encompasses the downtown core, the downtown BART station area, and the Creekside and Best Manor neighborhoods. The TOD Strategy Area is roughly bounded by East 14th and Georgia Way to the north, Castro Street to the south, Bancroft Avenue to the east, and Orchard Avenue and Davis Street to the west.

DESCRIPTION OF PROJECT: The City of San Leandro was awarded a $450,000 pilot planning grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and a $51,750 grant from Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority (ACTIA) to study the potential for transit-oriented development (TOD) in the greater downtown area. The study area, hereby referred to as TOD Strategy Area is the ½ mile radius around the intersection of East 14th and Davis Streets, representing 502 acres. This grant recognizes the TOD opportunities offered by both enhanced AC Transit bus service and the existing BART station in the downtown area. The proposed Downtown San Leandro Transit-Oriented Development Strategy (TOD Strategy) establishes a land use framework, a comprehensive circulation system, design and development guidelines, and a series of implementation actions that will guide new development in TOD Strategy Area San Leandro for the next 25 years. The Strategy establishes the policies that developers and the City's Planning and Community Development staff will follow for new projects in the TOD Strategy area, informing them of required or allowable uses, building heights and various elements of building design. Therefore, the TOD Strategy does not represent an actual project involving physical development or improvements. Rather, it proposes regulatory changes to encourage future development within the Strategy Area.

The TOD Strategy Area is substantially developed; however, the Strategy identifies 39 opportunity sites, representing approximately 88 acres, where development could occur over the next 25 or so years (to 2030). An adjustment of an additional 15 percent was used to establish potential maximum development in the Strategy Area of 3,411 residential units, 718,240 square feet of office development and 120,870 square feet of retail development by 2030. Fifteen percent of this development activity is expected to occur by 2015 and 90 percent of development is expected to occur by 2030. The City's existing General Plan, with a horizon year of 2015, anticipated 590 residential units, 781,200 square feet of office development, and 195,300 square feet of retail development. The TOD Strategy "Project" is therefore the amount of potential development for the TOD Strategy Area above and beyond what was envisioned in the General Plan and examined in the General Plan EIR; namely construction of 2,841 residential units.

REPORT AVAILABILITY: This is to certify that a Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the project listed above has been prepared by the City of San Leandro, Community Development Department. The report may be found on the City of San Leandro website at: http://www.ci.san-leandro.ca.us/CDTODOview.asp and at the San Leandro Main Library. The Final EIR, Draft EIR, the Public Draft TOD Strategy and other material related to the Downtown TOD Strategy is available for public review on the City website, at the City's Community Development Department at 835 E. 14th Street or at the Main Library. Copies of the FEIR and DEIR may be obtained at the Community Development Department for the cost of reproduction.

PUBLIC REVIEW: The 45-day public review period for the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) started on June 5 and concluded on July 19, 2007.

PUBLIC HEARING: A public hearing will be held at the Planning Commission's August 23, 2007 meeting. The Planning Commission will make a recommendation to the City Council on certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), adoption of the Downtown Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Strategy and related changes to the San Leandro Zoning Code and Zoning Maps that will introduce new land use regulations and design guidelines that will affect new development in the Downtown Area and will introduce Special Review Overlay Criteria for the development of certain properties within the ½ mile radius of the intersectIon of East 14th and Davis Streets.

A public hearing will be held at the September 4, 2007 City Council meeting. The City Council will consider certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), adoption of the Downtown Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Strategy and related changes to the San Leandro Zoning Code and Zoning Maps that will introduce new land use regulations and design guidelines that will affect new development in the Downtown Area and will introduce Special Review Overlay Criteria for the development of certain properties within the ½ mile radius of the intersection of East 14th and Davis Streets.

The hearings will be held at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers located at 835 E. 14th Street, San Leandro. Anyone challenging the item noted above may be limited to addressing only those issues raised in the notice, or in written correspondence delivered to the City prior to the close of the comment period.

MORE INFORMATION: For more information on the Final EIR, Draft EIR or on the public hearing process, please contact the following planning staff at the City of San Leandro Community Development Department: Kathleen Livermore at (510) 577-3350 or by e-mail at klivermore@ci.san-leandro.ca.us.

Date: August 17,2007

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August 13, 2007

Meetings to Finalize the Downtown Transit-Oriented Development Strategy

Notices were sent out recently for public hearings on the Downtown Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Strategy before the Planning Commission on August 23, 2007, and before the San Leandro City Council on September 4, 2007. The Planning Commission will decide whether to recommend certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report, adoption of the Downtown TOD Strategy and zoning and land use regulation changes to implement the TOD. The City Council will then vote on whether to accept the Planning Commission's recommendations.

The Planning Commission meeting will be held at 7:00pm on August 24, 2007, in the City Council Chambers at 835 E. 14th Street. The City Council meeting will be held at 7:00pm on September 4, 2007, in the City Council Chambers at 835 E. 14th Street.

The complete text of the notice of public hearings is included below:


NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARINGS

NOTICE is hereby given that PUBLIC HEARlNGS will be held before the PLANNING COMMISSION and CITY COUNCIL of the City of San Leandro in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, 835 East 14th Street, San Leandro, California, on Thursday, August 23, 2007 for the Planning Commission and Tuesday, September 4, 2007 for the City Council at 7:00 p.m. as follows:

MATTER OF CERTIFICATION OF THE PROPOSED FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT (FEIR) AND ADOPTION OF THE DOWNTOWN TRANSIT-ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT (TOD) STRATEGY. MATTER OF PROPOSED ORDINANCE TO REZONE CERTAIN PROPERTIES WITHIN THE DOWNTOWN TRANSIT-ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT STUDY AREA GENERALLY WITHIN A 1/2 MILE RADIUS OF THE INTERSECTION OF EAST 14TH AND DAVIS STREETS FROM RS, RD, RM-1800, RM-2500, RM-3000,CN, CC, CD, NA-1, NA-2, P, PHD, IL, IP AND PS TO PROPOSED NEW DOWNTOWN AREA (DA) DISTRICTS: DA-1, DA-2, DA-3, DA-4, DA-5 AND DA-6. ALSO TO REZONE CERTAIN PROPERTIES WITHIN THE ½ MILE RADIUS TO S-OVERLAY, INCLUDING DA-1 (S), DA-4 (S), DA-5 (S), DA-6 (S), PS (S) AND OS (S); MATTER OF PROPOSED ORDINANCE TO AMEND THE CITY OF SAN LEANDRO ZONING CODE: ARTICLE 6: COMMERCIAL AND PROFESSIONAL DISTRICTS; ARTICLE 16: DEVELOPMENT REGULATIONS; ARTICLE 17: OFF-STREET PARKING AND LOADING REGULATIONS; ARTICLE 25: SITE PLAN APPROVAL.

The Planning Commission will make a recommendation to the City Council on certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), adoption of the Downtown Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Strategy and related changes to the San Leandro Zoning Code and Zoning Maps that will introduce new land use regulations and design guidelines that will affect new development in the Downtown Area and will introduce Special Review Overlay Criteria for the development of certain properties within the ½ mile radius of the intersection of East 14th and Davis Streets.

The City Council will consider certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), adoption of the Downtown Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Strategy and related changes to the San Leandro Zoning Code and Zoning Maps that will introduce new land use regulations and design guidelines that will affect new development in the Downtown Area and will introduce Special Review Overlay Criteria for the development of certain properties within the ½ mile radius of the intersection of East 14th and Davis Streets.

Specifically, the changes to the Zoning Code affect the Zoning Maps to create new "Downtown Area" zoning districts and other map changes that will adjust the zoning district boundary affecting the Residential Single-Family (RS), Residential Duplex (RD), Residential Multi-Family (RM), Commercial Neighborhood (CN), Commercial Community (CC), Commercial Downtown (CD), North Area-1 (NA-1), North Area-2 (NA-2), Professional Office (P), Professional High Density Office (PHD), Industrial Limited (IL) and Industrial General (IG) zoning districts within the Downtown TOD Development Strategy study area. Other map changes include establishment of a Special Review Overlay District on certain properties within the study area.

Environmental Status: A Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) was circulated for a 45-day public review period from June 5 to July 19, 2007 under the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act. A Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), which responds to comments received on the EIR, was prepared. Copies of the DEIR and FEIR are available at Community Development Department in City Hall for public review.

Any interested party or agent may appear and be heard. Anyone instituting a legal challenge to the Public Hearing items noted above may be limited to addressing only those issues raised at the Public Hearings described in this Notice, or in written correspondence delivered to the City of San Leandro, Community Development Department, 835 East 14th Street, San Leandro, CA 94577, at or prior to the Public Hearing.

For further information, contact Kathleen Livermore, Interim Planning Manager at (510) 577-3350, between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

KATHLEEN LIVERMORE
Interim Planning Manager

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Financial Disclosures from City Council and Staff for 2006

Members of the City Council are required to file a Statement of Economic Interest (Form 700) upon election or appointment, annually, 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.

The following disclosures are for the San Leandro City Council for 2006 or assuming office:

The following financial disclosures are for members of the City staff:

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August 10, 2007

Annual Economic Interests Disclosures for Planning Commission and BZA

Members of the Planning Commission are required by the state to complete a Statement of Economic Interests (Fair Political Practices Commission Form 700), to disclose financial interests that could lead to a conflict-of-interest. In San Leandro, the Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA) is also required to complete Form 700. Members are required to complete the disclosures annually and within 30 days of assuming office.

These disclosures are public documents and any member of the public can inspect and obtain copies ($0.10 each) of these disclosures. However, obtaining these documents usually involves making a trip to City Hall.

Below are the disclosures for 2006 for current members of the San Leandro Planning Commission and San Leandro Board of Zoning Adjustments:

Board of Zoning Adjustments

Former BZA Members

Planning Commission

Former Planning Commissioners

For last year's disclosures, click here.

Update: The City Clerk received Marcene Nardine's Assuming Office Statement on August 17, 2007.

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July 31, 2007

City Council Approves Living Wage

At a special meeting on Monday, July 30, 2007, the San Leandro City Council unanimously approved a living wage ordinance. Councilmember Diana Souza removed the living wage ordinance from the consent calendar and expressed disappointment that the final language of the ordinance had not gone through the Finance Committee. She also expressed concern about section 11b of the ordinance because some companies may not be familiar with or use seniority within their organization.

Three speakers spoke in favor of the living wage ordinance, including Sharon Cornu, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Alameda County Central Labor Council. Robert Brannan, President of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce and Martin Babinec, President and CEO of TriNet, spoke against the living wage ordinance.

In the end, the living wage ordinance passed unanimously. A truancy ordinance also passed unanimously as part of the consent calendar.

The City Council approved a total of $4 million in loans to Estabrook Senior Housing to buy the property at the intersection of E. 14 Street and Estabrook Street. The property is slated for development as a 51-unit affordable senior housing project.

Participation in the East Bay Regional Communications System (EBRCS) was approved. The EBRCS would establish a regional interoperable radio communications system throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Finally, the Marina Committee is now the Shoreline-Marina Committee.

No City Council meetings are scheduled for August.

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July 30, 2007

Joint BZA/Planning Meeting August 9 on Changes to Implement the TOD

In a letter sent July 27, 2007, Interim Planning Manager Kathleen Livermore announced a joint meeting of the Board of Zoning Adjustments and Planning Commission on August 9, 2007. The subject of the meeting will be proposed changes to the Zoning Code and General Plan to implement the Downtown San Leandro Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Strategy.

The meeting is scheduled for 7pm and will take place in the Sister Cities Gallery at City Hall at 835 E. 14th Street in San Leandro. The Sister Cities Gallery is to your left as you enter City Hall from E. 14th Street.

The complete text of the letter from the city is below:

Dear Interested Parties:

On August 9, 2007, the Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Adjustments will hold a Joint Work Session to discuss proposed Zoning Code and General Plan Amendments to implement the Downtown San Leandro Transit-Oriented Development Strategy.

BACKGROUND

In 2005, the City of San Leandro received a $450,000 pilot planning grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to assist local governments in developing land use plans and policies for areas immediately surrounding bus, ferry, and train stations. The City of San Leandro also received a supplemental planning grant of $51,750 from the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority (ACTIA) for the City's matching requirement. The product of both grants is a Downtown Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Strategy ("Strategy") to foster transit-oriented development and to revitalize downtown San Leandro.

Over a fifteen month period, the City Council-appointed Downtown San Leandro Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Strategy Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) met to guide the planning process and to assist in the development of the Downtown San Leandro TOD Strategy.

Comprehensive land use policies have been developed along with a detailed land use map that reflect the benefits of enhanced bus service through downtown and improved connectivity to the BART system. Selected opportunity sites have been studied to provide more specific guidance for future development.

The purpose of the work session is to receive input from the Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Adjustments on proposed Zoning Code and General Plan Amendments that would implement the Downtown TOD Strategy.

The Public Review Draft Strategy is available for review at City Hall or in the San Leandro Main Library. A Draft Environmental Impact Report had a 45-day review period from June 5 to July 19, 2007. The Planning Commission public hearing on the DEIR was held on July 12, 2007. A Final Environmental Impact Report, which responds to comments on the Draft EIR, is now being prepared. The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing to make a recommendatIon to the City Council on the Final Environmental Impact Report(FEIR), the TOD Strategy and the implementing Zoning Code and General Plan Amendments on August 23, 2007. To hear the discussion regarding the Zoning Code and General Plan Amendments to implement the Downtown Transit-Oriented Development Strategy, we encourage you to attend the joint Planning Commission/Board of Zoning Adjustments Work Session at 7:00 p.m., on August 9, 2007, in the Sister Cities Gallery in City Hall, at 835 East 14th Street, San Leandro.

For further information concerning the Strategy, please visit our website at http://www.ci.sanleandro.ca.us/CDTODOview.asp. For specific questions, please contact Kathleen Livermore, Interim Planning Manager at (510) 577-3350 between the hours or 8:30 AM and 5:00 PM or via email at klivermore@ci.san-leandro.ca.us. For general questions, please contact Nina Hinton, Administrative Assistant at (510) 577- 3415 or email at nhinton@ci.san-leandro.ca.us.

Sincerely,

Kathleen Livermore, Interim Planning Manager
Community Development Department

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July 27, 2007

City Council to Vote on Truancy and Living Wage Ordinances in Special Meeting Monday

At a special meeting on Monday, July 30, 2007, the City Council will vote on adopting ordinances for truancy and a living wage.

The San Leandro Chamber of Commerce is asking for changes to sections of the Living Wage Ordinance that require worker retention, require time off for part time workers, and exemptions that aren't clear about gratuities being included when calculating compensation.

The City Council will also vote on issuing a total of $4 million in loans for an affordable senior housing project at the intersection of E. 14th Street and Estabrook Street.

Immediately following the City Council meeting, there will be a work session discussing the San Leandro Marina.

The meeting will be held at the City Council Chambers at 835 E. 14th Street beginning at 7:00pm.

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July 17, 2007

Living Wage Passes Unanimously

The City Council unanimously passed a living wage ordinance at its Monday, July 16, 2007, meeting. A minor change was made in section 9 of the ordinance from "Every City contract, lease, license..." to Every City contract, lease, license agreement..."

Living wage ordinances are already in effect in Hayward, Oakland, and Richmond. In September 2005, Superior Court Judge Steven Brick upheld Hayward's 1999 living wage law against Cintas Corp.

Click here for the City's press release or here for Daily Review coverage.

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July 13, 2007

Two Wal-Marts, In-N-Out Burger, Living Wage Ordinance, Senior Center and More

At the monthly San Leandro Chamber of Commerce luncheon, City Manager John Jermanis stated that San Leandro will be getting a second Wal-Mart store. The owners of the property at 15555 Hesperian Blvd, which was recently vacated by Target, have leased the site to Wal-Mart and building permits are expected soon. Since the property is currently zoned for "big-box retail," Wal-Mart doesn't need any approvals by the Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA), the Planning Commission, or the City Council. In-N-Out Burger received a conditional use permit in March 2006 for a drive-up facility at 15559 Hesperian Blvd, at the corner of Lewelling and Hesperian and will be opening in the near future.

Jermanis also addressed the recent articles about Grocery Outlet and Faith Fellowship Church and said that the City hopes to work with each to find a suitable location for them.

The City Council has decided it wants a conference center, another hotel, and more restaurants at the Marina. Restaurants have expressed interest previously, but only if there is an existing restaurant shell - the restaurants didn't want to pay for the construction of a new building. Now the City will be reconsidering its refusal to construct a building shell.

A living wage ordinance will come before the City Council at its July 16, 2007, meeting. Mayor Santos has been a longtime advocate of a living wage ordinance and the issue has received greater attention since he began his term as Mayor.

The City now owns the property on which a Senior Center will be built. Construction is expected to begin this year on a parking lot that will be used jointly with San Leandro Hospital and on construction of a traffic light at the intersection of E. 14th Street and 138th Avenue.

Jermanis noted that the City Council recently extended his contract for another year. Jermanis has been City Manager for 10 years and has been on the City staff for 36 years.

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July 9, 2007

City Council Unanimously Denies Grocery Outlet Appeal

At a public hearing on July 9, 2007, the City Council unanimously denied an appeal by Grocery Outlet and Norcal AI, LLC, of the city's classification of Grocery Outlet as a supermarket and not a neighborhood grocery store. More than 50 people attended the meeting and more than 20 people spoke during public comments with about half supporting Grocery Outlet and half opposing it.

The first speaker noted that Grocery Outlet describes itself as a supermarket on its own web site: "Grocery Outlet is the shopping experience you expect from supermarkets..." and "We compete with conventional and discount supermarkets, supercenters, club stores, Dollar and 99 Cent Only! stores, closeout retailers..." Other commenters opposed to the store noted that the store didn't fit in to the City's Downtown Transit-Oriented Development Strategy. Those in support of the store appreciated the bargains offered by the "extreme-value retailer."

City Councilmembers reported receiving overwhelming email opposed to Grocery Outlet.

Eric Nelson, entitlement director of Red Mountain Retail Group, made his case for Grocery Outlet as a tenant, claiming that most of the shoppers that would go to the store would come from within two miles.

Eric Nelson
Eric Nelson of Red Mountain Retail Group

Click here for Daily Review coverage.

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July 5, 2007

Grocery Outlet and Red Mountain Hold Neighborhood Picnic for Community Support July 7, 2007

In a message sent to a local mailing list on Juy 5, 2007, and post card invitations sent to local residents, Red Mountain entitlement director Eric Nelson announced a neighborhood picnic at the former Albertson's site at 1550 E. 14th Street (at the intersection with Juana Avenue).

The announcement stated that a "BBQ Will benefit the San Leandro Boy Scouts of America and San Leandro Boys & Girls Club" and will feature prizes, giveaways, and an "appearance by drag racer Chuck Moore and his blown alcohol-fueled Corvette."

Although the email message didn't mention Grocery Outlet or Red Mountain Retail Group, the post card's return address was Red Mountain and the event was listed as being sponsored by Grocery Outlet.

The event is scheduled just two days before a public hearing of Grocery Outlet's appeal before the San Leandro City Council scheduled for 8pm on July 9, 2007. In addition to the free prizes and giveaways, attendees can expect to have plenty of propaganda supporting Grocery Outlet's attempt to open a store at the former Albertson's site.

The event is scheduled for 10am to 3pm.

The Daily Review's blog has more on the postcards sent to some local residents.

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June 24, 2007

Grocery Outlet Appeals Again

The City Council is scheduled to hear Grocery Outlet's appeal of the previous decisions of the Zoning Enforcement Official and Board of Zoning Adjustments to classify it as a supermarket and not a neighborhood grocery store.

Grocery Outlet has a pending application to open a store at the former Albertsons location at 1550 E. 14th Street. The current classification as a supermarket means that it needs a Conditional Use Permit. Since the site was identified as an opportunity site as part of the Downtown Transit-Oriented Development Strategy, a Conditional Use Permit cannot be issued until a current moratorium expires on November 6, 2007, or when the Downtown TOD Strategy is finalized.

The official notice from the City of San Leandro follows.

Official City of San Leandro Courtesy Notice of
a Public Hearing During a
Special Meeting Before the City Council

Project Address: 1550 E. 14th Street
(Corner of Juana and Dolores Avenues,
Council District 1 - see area map on back)

Meeting Date/Time: Monday. July 9, 2007
8:00 P.M.

Meeting Place: City Council Chambers of City Hall
835 E, 14th Street, San Leandro, CA

Project Description: The applicants (Grocery Outlet, Inc. and Norcal AI, LLC) are requesting an Appeal of the Board of Zoning Adjustments upholding the administrative decision of the Zoning Enforcement Official with regard to the determination that the proposed Grocery Outlet is a supermarket, not a neighborhood grocery store. The applicants are proposing that their application for a Grocery Outlet at 1550 E. 14th Street is a neighborhood grocery store and a permitted use in the CD Commercial Downtown District. The Planning Manager and then the Zoning Enforcement Official have both determined that the proposed Grocery Outlet would be considered a supermarket, which requires a Conditional Use Permit in the Commercial Downtown (CD) District. A Conditional Use Permit, identified as an Opportunity Site in the Downtown Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Strategy, would be subject to the existing moratorium related to discretionary action on any opportunity site. The moratorium extends until November 6, 2007, or finalization of the Downtown TOD Strategy, whichever comes first. The Board of Zoning Adjustments upheld the Zoning Enforcement Official's determination at their June 7, 2007 meeting. Assessor's Parcel Number 77-540-9; Grocery Outlet, Inc. and Norcal AI, LLC (applicants and property owner); CD Commercial Downtown District.

For further information, contact Kathleen Livermore, Planner III, City of San Leandro, Community Development Department at 577-3350

Environmental Review: This project (PLN2007-00029) is categorically exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) per CEQA Guidelines, Article 19, Section 15301 Existing Facilities.

City Contact/Information: Kathleen Livermore, Interim Planning Manager (510) 577-3350
klivermore@ci.san-leandro.ca.us

Any interested party or agent may appear and be heard. Anyone instituting a legal challenge to the Public Hearing item noted above may be limited to addressing only those issues raised at the Public Hearing described in this Notice, or in written correspondence delivered to the City of San Leandro, Community Development Department, 835 East 14th Street, San Leandro, CA, 94577 at or prior to the Public Hearing.

Si quiere una traducción de este mensaje al español, por favor contáctese con Sally Barros al 510-577-3458.

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June 23, 2007

Senior Housing Project Gets BZA Approval

The Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA) granted a parking exception and site plan review for a senior affordable housing project at its June 21, 2007, meeting. By a vote of four to zero, with Melody Marr abstaining, the BZA gave the go-ahead to the 51-unit project at 2121 East 14th Street, at the intersection with Estabrook Street.

According to analysis of previous BZA decisions, during the past three years, the BZA has approved all eight parking exceptions that have been presented to it. The only vote cast against a parking exception was by BZA member Amanda Goldt in May 2006 for the Cleaire Advance Emission Controls facility at 1950 Burroughs/14333 Wicks Blvd.

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June 20, 2007

Council Adopts Balanced Budget

The City Council unanimously adopted its 2007-2008 budget at its June 18, 2007, meeting. The budget included a surplus of nearly $1 million, which will be used to replenish a 20% reserve that has been used in previous years to dampen budget cuts. The budget represents the first structurally balanced budget in four years.

Changes include the addition of 27 full-time equivalents (FTEs) to the city's current 481. This includes an increase of three sworn and three non-sworn police personnel, additional personnel for the After School Education & Safety Program (ASES) and Washington Aquatic Center, one person for the library, an additional housing specialist, 1.5 FTEs in Public Works and two more general government employees.

As previously reported, the budget includes the revived Cherry Festival, holiday lighting, and Sunday hours at the library.

Revenues to the general fund were estimated at $78.4 million, a 2.1 % increase over last year's budget. Sales taxes generate the greatest revenues (32%) , followed by property taxes (21%), and utility users taxes (14%).

Expenditures were estimated at $77.5 million, a 4.5% increase over last year's budget. The greatest expenditures are for police (33%) and fire (22%). Community development and general government account for 9% each and the library, public works, and recreation and human services account for 7% each.

Traffic improvements planned for this year include the replacement of traffic lights and the pedestrian island at the intersection of Estabrook Street and Washington Avenue. This intersection was listed as the third most dangerous intersection in a 2005 study entitled "Analysis of High Collision Locations in San Leandro."

The intersection of San Leandro Boulevard, Broadmoor Boulevard, and Park Street will have a semi-round-about installed to help reduce driver confusion.

Lighted crosswalks are planned at both libraries.

Councilmember Diana Souza objected to approving the budget for the Redevelopment Agency because she had not been provided with an accounting of where the agency spends its money. She also opposed the increase of $100,000 in funding for the LINKS shuttle, stating, "I oppose increasing the LINKS redevelopment funding with the BID [Business Improvement District] in place." Souza was the sole councilmember opposing approval of the Redevelopment Agency budget.

During public comments, Benny Lee, President of the Heron Bay Homeowners Association and a Parks and Recreation Commissioner, Steven Leung, Chair of the Asian Business Council of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce, Hendy Huang, and Arlene Lum, a Library-Historical Commissioner, all encouraged the City Council to support the establishment of a friendship city relationship with Yangchun, in Guangdong Province, China. Lee noted that Asians constitute about 26% of San Leandro's population and Lum pointed out the increasing numbers of Asian businesses, with 614 added between 2001 and 2007. San Leandro currently has sister city relationships with Ribeirao Preto, Brazil, Ponta Delgada in the Azores Islands, and Naga City, Republic of the Philippines.

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June 10, 2007

Transit-Oriented Development Strategy Draft Environmental Impact Report Available

According to a notice from the City of San Leandro, the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Downtown San Leandro Transit-Oriented Development Strategy is available for review at the Main Library and directly from the city's website.

The report is a sizable download at 32 MB and 566 pages (338 pages without the appendices). Comments are due by July 19, 2007, and a Planning Commission hearing on the draft EIR is tentatively scheduled for July 12, 2007.

NOTICE OF COMPLETION/AVAILABILITY
OF DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT (DEIR) FOR
DOWNTOWN SAN LEANDRO TRANSIT-ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT (TOD) STRATEGY

NAME OF PROJECT: Downtown San Leandro Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Strategy (SCH#2006052102)

LOCATION OF PROJECT: The Downtown San Leandro Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Strategy Area is the ½ mile radius around the intersection of East 14th and Davis Streets, representing 502 acres. The Study Area is located in the northern portion of the city and encompasses the downtown core, the downtown BART station area, and the Creekside and Best Manor neighborhoods. The TOD Strategy Area is roughly bounded by East 14th and Georgia Way to the north, Castro Street to the south, Bancroft Avenue to the east, and Orchard Avenue and Davis Street to the west.

DESCRIPTION OF PROJECT: The City of San Leandro was awarded a $450,000 pilot planning grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and a $51,750 grant from Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority (ACTlA) to study the potential for transit-oriented development (TOD) in the greater downtown area. The study area, hereby referred to as TOD Strategy Area is the ½ mile radius around the intersection of East 14th and Davis Streets, representing 502 acres. This grant recognizes the TOD opportunities offered by both enhanced AC Transit bus service and the existing BART station in the downtown area, The proposed Downtown San Leandro Transit-Oriented Development Strategy (TOD Strategy) establishes a land use framework, a comprehensive circulation system, design and development guidelines, and a series of implementation actions that will guide new development in TOD Strategy Area San Leandro [sic] for the next 25 years, The Strategy establishes the policies that developers and the City's Planning and Community Development staff will follow for new projects in the TOD Strategy area, informing them of required or allowable uses, building heights and various elements of building design. Therefore, the TOD Strategy does not represent an actual project involving physical development or improvements. Rather, it proposes regulatory changes to encourage future development within the Strategy Area.

The TOD Strategy Area is substantially developed; however, the Strategy identifies 39 opportunity sites, representing approximately 88 acres, where development could occur over the next 25 or so years (to 2030). An adjustment of an additional 15 percent was used to establish potential maximum development in the Strategy Area of 3,431 residential units, 718,240 square feet of office development and 120,870 square feet of retail development by 2030. Fifteen percent of this development activity is expected to occur by 2015 and 90 percent of development is expected to occur by 2030. The City's existing General Plan, with a horizon year of 2015, anticipated 590 residential units, 781,200 square feet of office development, and 195,300 square feet of retail development. The TOD Strategy "Project" is therefore the amount of potential development for the TOD Strategy Area above and beyond what was envisioned in the General Plan and examined in the General Plan EIR; namely construction of 2,841 residential units.

REPORT AVAILABILITY: This is to certify that a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the project listed above has been prepared by the City of San Leandro, Community Development Department. Please find attached a CD-ROM of the DEIR. The report may also be found on the City of San Leandro website at: http://www.ci.san-leandro.ca.us/CDTODOview.asp and at the San Leandro Main Library. The draft EIR, the Public Draft TOD Strategy and other material related to the Downtown TOO Strategy is available for public review on the city website, at the City's Community Development Department at 835 14th Street or at the Main library. Copies of the DElR may be obtained at the Community Development Department for the cost of reproduction.

PUBLIC REVIEW: The 45-day public review period for the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) is June 5 to July 19, 2007. Comments related to the DEIR should be directed to Kathleen Livermore, Interim Planning Manager, 835 E. 14th Street, San Leandro, CA 94577 (fax (510) 577-6007). All written comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. on July 19, 2007. Oral and written testimony may also be given at the Planning Commission meeting, which is tentatively scheduled for July 12 2007 at 7:00 p.m, in the City Council Chambers.

PUBLIC HEARING: A Planning Commission public hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the downtown Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Strategy is tentatively scheduled for July 12, 2007. The hearing will be held at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers located at 835 E. 14th Street, San Leandro, Anyone challenging the item noted above may be limited to addressing only those issues raised in the notice, or in written correspondence delivered to the City prior to the close of the comment period.

MORE INFORMATION: For more information Draft EIR [sic] or on the public hearing process, please contact the following planning staff at the City of San Leandro Community Development Department: Kathleen Livermore at (510) 577-3350 or by e-mail at klivermore@ci.san-leandro.ca.us.

Date: June 5, 2007

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June 8, 2007

BZA Denies Grocery Outlet Appeal

At its June 7, 2007, meeting the Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA) denied Grocery Outlet's appeal of the city's decision to to classify Grocery Outlet as a supermarket instead of a neighborhood supermarket. The decision was unanimous (6-0) with BZA member Melody Marr absent.

Daily Review coverage.

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June 7, 2007

City Settles Taser Death Lawsuit for $395,000

At the June 4, 2007, meeting of the San Leandro City Council, City Attorney Jayne Williams announced that the City agreed to settle a $10 million federal civil rights lawsuit for the death of Maravilla Perez Jr.

On October 20, 2005, police were called to an apartment at 540 Callan Ave. where Perez was allegedly violating a restraining order at his ex-girlfriend's apartment. Perez fled on foot, was caught, and Officer Tim Degrano applied a chokehold and used his Taser on Perez. After he was released from a restraining device at the jail, Perez struggled with police and Officer Mike Nemeth and Sgt. Bob McManus both used their Tasers and Perez became unconscious.

Perez was taken to Eden Medical Center, where he later died. According to an autopsy, Perez suffered a fractured neck and 21 Taser applications.

In the settlement, the City of San Leandro does not admit any wrongdoing in the case.

San Francisco Chronicle and Daily Review coverage.

Additional coverage about problems with Tasers in Wired.

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June 6, 2007

History Walk Marks Historic San Leandro Sites

At a dedication at Casa Peralta on June 2, 2007, Library-Historical Commissioner Frederick A. Reicker, Mayor Tony Santos, and City Manager John Jermanis dedicated the recently completed History Walk (West Estudillo Pedestrian Improvement Project and San Leandro History Walk). The History Walk includes a designated path and street improvements from the San Leandro BART Station to downtown San Leandro via West Estudillo Avenue. The History Walk also includes signs at 12 historic sites around the downtown area and four other signs that discuss the Ohlone people, Spanish ranchos, agriculture, industry, transportation, and Cherry Festivals.

Mayor Tony Santos Finishes His Remarks
Mayor Tony Santos completes his remarks at the dedication.

Guests at the dedication included Councilmembers Diana Souza, Joyce Starosciak, Michael Gregory and Jim Prola, former Mayor Shelia Young, former City Councilmember Bill Jardin, State Senator Ellen Corbett, San Leandro Chamber CEO Diana Gentry, City Commissioners Charlie Gilcrest, Dale Reed, Donna Reed, Shirley McManus, AC Transit Directors Elsa Ortiz and Rocky Fernandez, Jo Cazenave from Representative Pete Stark's office, and San Leandro School Board Trustees Linda Perry, Stephen Cassidy and Mike Katz-Lacabe.

Guests were entertained by the St. Felicitas School Children's Choir performing San Leandro is Where the Heart is (San Leandro's Centennial Song) and Consider Yourself from the musical Oliver.

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May 29, 2007

Grocery Outlet Tries Again for Former Downtown Albertson's Site

Grocery Outlet and Norcal AI LLC are appealing the decision by the planning manager and a zoning enforcement official to classify Grocery Outlet as a supermarket and not a neighborhood grocery store.

That determination is important because a supermarket requires a conditional use permit and the City Council imposed a moratorium on conditional use permits at 39 "opportunity" sites in the Downtown Transit-Oriented Development Strategy study area. The former Albertson's site (1550 E. 14th Street) was identified as one of those "opportunity" sites. The moratorium expires in July 2007.

At the August 22, 2006, meeting of the Citizen Advisory Committee for the TOD, it was said that "A Grocery Outlet did not seem to have the right aura for a downtown trying to attract higher end retail." When the Grocery Outlet was mentioned at a TOD Community Meeting on September 30, 2006, the crowd responded with a boisterous "No."

Kathleen Livermore, Senior Planner and TOD Project Manager for the City of San Leandro is the contact person for the proposed project. She can be reached at (510) 577-3350 or klivermore@ci.san-leandro.ca.us.

The appeal will be heard at the Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA) meeting at 7pm on June 7, 2007. BZA meetings are held at the City Council Chambers at 835 E. 14th Street.

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March 27, 2007

Fate of the Marina

The City Council discussed the future of boating at the Marina at a special work session held Monday, March 26, 2007. At the meeting, Assistant City Manager Steve Hollister summarized the history of the Marina, information about other marinas in Benicia, Martinez, Emeryville, Tiburon, Richmond and Vallejo, harbor revenues and expenses, and the next steps for the Marina. Click here for the presentation.

The harbor was last dredged in 2001 at a cost of $3 million. In 2006, the estimated cost for dredging was $5.7 million. The cost includes dredging a length of two miles between the harbor and deeper water and disposal of the dredge spoils. Total harbor debt from dredging in 1997 and 2001, along with CalBoat loans is currently $6.8 million.

The City can no longer guarantee that boats can safely navigate to and from the harbor and there are no immediate plans to dredge the harbor to change that. The occupancy rate for the 450 berths is 54% (252) and less than 20% (50) of those are San Leandro residents.

The presentation concluded with the recommended next steps:

  • Develop a transition plan to phase out harbor operations
  • Complete Environmental Assessment
  • Continue efforts to obtain Federal dredging funds, including partial funding
  • Explore other options for harbor development
  • Develop a RFQ and secure a master developer to work with the community to develop a Shoreline Master Plan

Councilmember Michael Gregory noted that federal funding for dredging seemed unlikely based on responses from legislators during a recent trip by the City Council to Washington, DC.

Councilmember Surlene Grant's self-described "radical thought" for the meeting was the concept of having residential houseboats at the Marina. Grant also expressed concerns about the "Master Developer" for the Marina having an exclusive right to negotiate, noting that the City had been burned before.

Councilmember Jim Prola asked whether the City had asked the Port of Oakland for financial support or whether Senator Ellen Corbett and Assemblymember Mary Hayashi had been contacted. Hollister and City Manager John Jermanis responded that the City had not directly asked the Port of Oakland for money and that Hayashi and Corbett had not been contacted. However, Jermanis stated that there was unlikely to be any money available from the state for dredging.

Jermanis noted that the Alameda County Fire Department maintains a rescue boat at the Marina and another boat on a trailer at the Williams Street fire station.

Mayor Tony Santos noted that one element common to the other Marinas was residential housing, which has not been present in discussions of the Marina's future.

Seven people, most of whom supported maintaining harbor operations at the Marina, spoke during the public comment period.

Councilmember Diana Souza suggested that a town hall be held to gather more community input and Santos concurred. Santos said that two town halls would be held: one at the San Leandro Library and the other at Garfield Elementary.

There will be a meeting about the Marina on Wednesday, March 28, 2007, from 6pm to 7:30pm at the Spinnaker Yacht Club. The flyer for the meeting states, "If we want to keep the Marina and have the Channel dredged, it looks like we will have to fight for it." Spinnaker Yacht Club is located at 75 Pescadero Point Drive in San Leandro.

Daily Review coverage

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March 13, 2007

For Sunshine Week, City Council Financial Disclosures

The American Society of Newspaper Editors has declared Sunshine Week for the week of March 11 to 17, 2007. Sunshine Week celebrates open government records made possible by the Freedom of Information Act and the California Public Records Act. Californians Aware is offering free online panel discussions and a Public Records Act training session for law enforcement agencies.

In honor of Sunshine Week, here are the Statements of Economic Interests (California Form 700) that all City Councilmembers are required to file upon being elected, each year thereafter, 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.

City Council:

Surlene Grant
Michael Gregory
Tony Santos
Diana Souza
Joyce Starosciak
Bill Stephens

Recent City Councilmembers:

Orval 'OB' Badger
Glenda Nardine
Shelia Young

City Staff:

City Manager John Jermanis
City Attorney Jayne Williams
Police Chief Dale Attarian

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February 27, 2007

Mayor's State of the City Address

At a February 26, 2007, special meeting of the City Council, Mayor Tony Santos gave his first State of the City address, accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation. Santos tied San Leandro's past to its future using information from the books A Garden Grows in Eden by Harry Shaffer and San Leandro, a history, by Reginald Stuart. Santos said that these books are worth a trip to the library and also recommended Not a Genuine Black Man, by Brian Copeland.

Santos then launched into a history of San Leandro that even longtime resident Councilmember Joyce Starosciak said that she learned new things about San Leandro. The Mayor pointed out that the Pelton Center was the first shopping center in San Leandro and the second shopping center in Northern California. In the 1930s and 1940s, the Works Progress Administration built 40 miles of gutters, curbs and sidewalks in San Leandro. Santos pointed out that former Mayor Jack Maltester still lived in the house where he was born.

As he progressed through San Leandro's history, Santos listed well-known businesses such as TriNet, Otis Spunkmeyer, Betts Spring Company, Peterson Tractor, North Face, and OSIsoft, that were located in San Leandro. Santos stated that San Leandro needs big box stores and pointed out that while there were 2100 businesses generating sales tax revenue in the city, the 100 largest businesses generate 71% of the sales tax revenue.

Santos gave kudos to Madison Marquette for revitalizing Bayfair Center with a $91 million investment in renovations and to Macy's, the oldest Bayfair tenant, about to celebrate its 50th anniversary. As part of the City's effort to revitalize downtown, the City is contracting with Main Street Property Services to create and implement a downtown retail strategy.

The Mayor noted that he is reading a book on eco-cities and encouraged people to get out of their cars and take public transportation, carpool, bicycle or walk at least one day a week.

While mentioning the redevelopment project areas throughout the city, Santos thanked the Estudillo Estates Homeowner Association for its support of the MacArthur Boulevard redevelopment and noted that the group was paying to place a neighborhood monument on MacArthur Boulevard.

Calling the Marina “one of our biggest challenges,” Santos noted that the first boat launch was built in 1959 for $1.5 million and now the Marina needs $8 million to repair the existing infrastructure and $5.9 million to dredge the channel and harbor. Santos said that only 256 of the 455 berths are currently being used.

The Mayor said that he and other members of the City Council will include the Marina when they travel to Washington DC to lobby on behalf of the city, but that the main goal would be to obtain the $12 million was needed to build the Senior Center on E.14th Street near San Leandro Hospital.

Santos concluded his address with his top three goals:

1.Increase police officer staffing to 100
2.Work with the San Leandro Unified School District to implement Measure B
3.Work with the City Council to restore recreation opportunities

During Councilmember comments, Councilmembers congratulated the Mayor on his presentation and expressed support for his goals.

Daily Review also covered the speech.

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February 25, 2007

Mayor to Present "State of the City" Address on Monday, February 26, 2007

At a special City Council meeting scheduled for 7pm on Monday, February 26, 2007, Mayor Tony Santos will give the annual "State of the City" address at City Hall in the City Council Chambers.

Mayor Santos will also be the featured speaker at the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce's "State of the City" luncheon on Thursday, March 1, 2007. The luncheon will be held from 11:15am to 1:15pm in the Karp Room of the San Leandro Library, located at 300 Estudillo Avenue.

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February 21, 2007

City Council Approves New Ordinances for Commercial and Over-sized Vehicles

Despite concerns voiced by members of the public and Councilmembers Diana Souza and Joyce Starosciak, the City Council unanimously approved two new ordinances regulating the parking of commercial and over-sized vehicles on the street and private property at its February 20, 2007, meeting.

Souza initially said that she "thinks we need to spend more time looking at these ordinances" and called for approval of the ordinances to be considered at a future meeting to give the public more time to learn about and comment on them. Starosciak expressed concern that the impact of the ordinances may be wider than originally expected. Mayor Tony Santos stressed that the ordinances were the results of years of complaints by residents and were not a recent development. Councilmember Bill Stephens agreed and when Vice Mayor Surlene Grant suggested that the implementation of the ordinances be delayed, Stephens objected. Grant also noted that it was the first she had heard of privacy concerns when a person speaking during the public comment period expressed those concerns.

In the end, the City Council unanimously approved the new ordinances, although newly appointed Councilmember Jim Prola found himself outside with a group of residents concerned about the new ordinances after the meeting ended.

The City Council approved a monument to the police and fire personnel who serve the City of San Leandro that will be placed on the wall of the Police Department facing the street. After sending a Request for Qualifications to 200 artists and firms, the vendor selected was Monument Arts, Inc. of Sandy, Utah. The cost of the monument is $83,500. Monument Arts agreed to sub-contract with Suzanne Jacobs-Pershing, Chair of the San Leandro Arts Council, Bay Signs, Inc. of San Leandro for the installation and electrical work, and Guerrero Mortuary for engraving. Grant asked if the monument would be protected by plexiglass and Community Relations Representative Kathy Ornelas said that it would be protected by an anti-graffiti covering. Here is the proposed monument as presented at the meeting:

Proposaed monument to San Leandro's Public Safety organizations

At the beginning of the meeting, the City Council approved new nominations to city commissions and boards and new appointees were sworn in by City Clerk Marian Handa.

During public comments, three of the applicants for the District 6 City Council seat, Esther Collier, Adan Alonzo, and Wafaa Aborashed, congratulated Jim Prola on his appointment. Doug Percival from the Bay-O-Vista neighborhood complained about a six-foot-high fence built by his neighbor that ruined the view of the San Francisco Bay from his home on Harbor View Drive. He noted that there was no law regarding fences and blocked views and asked the City Council to impose a moratorium on fences until this issue had been addressed. Lou Filipovich read portions of letters from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters and the California Attorney General regarding San Leandro's status as a Charter City and complained that San Leandro "can do what you want." Aborashed complained about the appointment process for the District 6 City Council seat and was disappointed with the questions that were asked. She also expressed concern that the "commissioners seem to be recycled" and asked that more be done to have the commissioners represent the diversity of the city.

During City Council comments, Gregory pointed out an article that appeared in the February 17, 2007, edition of the Daily Review about Matt Jessee, a former San Leandro High School student that now owns a painting company in Oakland. The article focused on a volunteer painting project that Jessee's company completed for Claremont School in Oakland. Gregory called up Jessee about doing something for our schools locally and Jessee said that the schools should submit an application to his company.

Prola thanked his supporters and his wife Diana and said that he had a lot to learn. He also expressed a desire to listen to the concerns of District 6 residents.

Santos noted that he completed an interview for City Limits with Police Chief Dale Attarian and Fire Chief Sheldon Gilbert that will air soon. The meeting was adjourned in memory of Tim Holcomb and Robert Taylor.

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February 15, 2007

Financial disclosures from City Commissioners

Certain public officials are required to complete a Statement of Economic Interests (Fair Political Practices Commission Form 700), to disclose financial interests that could lead to a conflict-of-interest. Mayors, City Councilmembers, city attorneys, city managers, and planning commissioners are among the people who must file these disclosures on an annual basis.

These disclosures are public documents and any member of the public can inspect and obtain copies of these disclosures. However, obtaining these documents usually involves making a trip to City Hall.

Below are these disclosures for the current members of the San Leandro Planning Commission and San Leandro Board of Zoning Adjustments:

Board of Zoning Adjustments

Planning Commission

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February 13, 2007

City Council Appoints Jim Prola to District 6 Council Seat

Jim ProlaAt a special meeting held on Tuesday, February 13, 2007, the San Leandro City Council voted to appoint Jim Prola to the District 6 City Council seat vacated when Tony Santos was elected Mayor in November 2006.

With Councilmember Bill Stephens absent, Mayor Santos started the meeting by noting that the questions to be asked of the candidates were developed by Vice Mayor Surlene Grant and Santos and the City Council were seeing them for the first time. Each candidates would be given 30 minutes to answer the eight questions. Public comments were limited to 30 minutes total and each speaker was limited to about a minute of speaking on behalf of a candidate.

Six people spoke on behalf of Jim Prola, including Andy Kopp of the San Leandro Community Action Network, Robin Torello of the Alameda County Democratic Party, and Obray Van Buren of the Central Labor Council of Alameda County. Recreation and Parks Commissioner Barbara Sidari, Joe Collier, and former Councilmember Howard Kerr spoke on behalf of Esther Collier. James McGee spoke on behalf of Adan Alonzo. Human Services Commissioner Amada Robles and Paul Elizondo spoke on behalf of Carmen Fewless, who also serves as a Human Resources Commissioner. Dr. Paul Dancy, chairman of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce's African-American Business Council, spoke on behalf of Estelle Clemons. John Manuel and Tom Silva also spoke, but not on behalf of individual candidates.

Most of the candidates moved through the eight questions quickly and well within the 30-minute time limit. Candidates largely agreed that the main issues facing District 6 are related to the airport, traffic, and the Marina. Observers noted that Clemons appeared to perform better than the other candidates during the interviews.

After the interviews, the first vote was taken and the results are shown in the following table:







GregoryGrantSouzaStarosciakSantosTOTAL
AlonzoX1
ClemonsX1
Collier0
DavisX1
FewlessX1
ProlaX1

Based on the results, Collier was eliminated from further consideration for the Council seat.

A second vote had the following results:






GregoryGrantSouzaStarosciakSantosTOTAL
Alonzo0
ClemonsX1
DavisX1
FewlessX1
ProlaXX2

Based on the results, Alonzo was eliminated from further consideration for the Council seat.

After arguments were made by Councilmembers in support of those they had voted for, Mayor Santos expressed dissatisfaction with all of the candidates' answers to the top issues facing District 6. At first, he said that nobody mentioned the transfer station, but other Councilmembers and the audience noted that Clemons had brought up the transfer station in her answer. Santos went on to note some issues facing District 6, including what is to be done to Doolittle Drive and the pollution that has resulted in elevated asthma rates. Santos expressed concern about appointing a former city employee, a reference to Ray Davis, who previously served in the City of San Leandro Transportation Department. Noting that Alonzo may not have adequately expressed the magnitude of his accomplishments while answering the interview questions, Santos stated that Alonza knocked on 4,000 doors in his effort to mobilize residents against a plan to construct a bridge in the Sobrante Park/Brookside area.

Councilmember Souza asked Santos to explain why he had concerns about a former employee being appointed, but Santos said that it was a personal matter.

After Santos asked if the Council was ready to vote, the consensus was no and Vice Mayor Grant said that more discussion was needed. Grant noted that "on the average, everyone [the candidates] were good." Grant said that she stood for inclusion and she didn't want to go back to the past. She said that some people with SLCAN had said that they wanted someone of color on the City Council but backed Prola instead. When Grant said that she would give up her vote for Clemons, some in the audience shouted "No!"

Then former Republican candidate for State Senator Lou Filipovich asked if he could raise a point of order and Mayor Santos politely but steadfastly declined.

Starosciak said that she was in a "difficult position" and that "any one [of the candidates] would be good." Souza supported Grant and said that people lobbying for diversity supported Prola instead. Souza also wondered aloud which of the candidates would win in an election. Santos noted that he supported Larry Taft, one of the first black candidates for office in San Leandro.

The results of the third vote by the City Council:





GregoryGrantSouzaStarosciakSantosTOTAL
ClemonsX1
Davis0
FewlessXX2
ProlaXX2

Based on the results, Davis and Clemons were eliminated from further consideration for the Council seat.

After a ten-minute break, a fourth vote was taken:



GregoryGrantSouzaStarosciakSantosTOTAL
FewlessXX2
ProlaXXX3

After the fourth vote, Mayor Santos said that he would switch his vote to Prola and on a motion by Mayor Santos and seconded by Starosciak, the City Council unanimously appointed Jim Prola to the District 6 City Council seat. Prola was sworn in by City Clerk Marian Handa and the meeting was adjourned.

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February 6, 2007

Council Narrows Down Candidates for District 6

At the February 5, 2007, meeting of the San Leandro City Council, the field of candidates was narrowed from twelve down to six candidates: Adan Alonzo, Estelle Clemons, Esther Collier, Ray Davis, Carmen Fewless, and Jim Prola.

One of the candidates, Luster Knight, was disqualified because he had failed to obtain 20 valid nominating signatures,

Nine people spoke in favor of Prola, including Margaret Hanlon-Gradie, the Political Director for the Alameda County Labor Council and Barry Luboviski with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Alameda County.

Mark Tichy stated that he deserved the appointment since he was second in the last election for the District 6 City Council seat and had been running for City Council for ten years. Tichy said he was "here to claim this seat as is my right."

Dr. Paul Dancy, chairman of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce's African-American Business Council, said that while he didn't have any candidate to present to the council, he intended to interview all five final candidates and make a recommendation to the City Council.

Mayor Tony Santos noted that he had received a petition signed by 25 members of the Asian American community requesting that either Hermy Almonte or Bo Panoringan be appointed to the vacant District 6 seat.

The City Council voted as follows:

GrantGregorySantosSouzaStarosciakStephensTOTAL
AborashedX1
Almonte
AlonzoXXX3
ClemonsXXXX4
CollierXXXX4
DavisXXX3
FewlessXXXX4
Morris
Panoringan
ProlaXXXXX5
Tichy

Originally, the City Council had decided to narrow the field down to five candidates. However, since there was a tie between Alonzo and Davis, the City Council decided to interview six candidates instead of five.

During public comments, Tom Saunders , Shirley Rocha, Merv Rocha, and a group of residents from Mulford Gardens complained about people parking on sidewalks and property nuisances such as people living in garages and vehicle storage. Randall Pierce asked why the Police Department isn't permitted to tell people whether they live in a high-crime area. Harold Perez complained about the paving on Marina Boulevard, asked for left turn land onto Eden from Davis Street, and thanked Starosciak for her review of the Fire Department contract.

The City Council voted unanimously to strengthen prohibitions on parking of commercial vehicles such as trailers and large trucks on public streets and on private property. The amendments to the San Leandro Municipal Code were in response to complaints from residents about properties with large vehicles such as school buses and ambulances and large tractors being parked on the street or in driveways.

In another unanimous vote, the City Council voted to establish a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 25% below what they were in 2005.

Finally, before Mayor Santos, Vice Mayor Grant and Councilmembers Starosciak and Gregory travel to Washington DC, the City Council voted unanimously to focus their lobbying on obtaining funding for the senior center, improvements on E. 14th Street, and a re-design of the Davis Street-Interstate 880 interchange. Other items under consideration were dredging at the Marina, a competitive swimming pool, and improvements to the Bay Trail.

In closing City Council comments, Stephens asked for the Rules Committee to consider some election changes, noting that it was likely that the date of the California primary would likely be changed, San Leandro's recent history of long elections, and the need to look at the long-term stability of officials, citing another city where there were no term limits. Stephens made the following suggestions:

1. move City Council elections to November
2. implement instant run-off or change elections so that a simple majority is enough to win an election
3. eliminate term limits (Stephens noted that he used to be in favor of term limits but has changed his mind)
4. any member that declares their intent to run for another office should resign their current office so that their replacement can be elected by the voters and avoid having the City Council appoint a replacement.

Stephens' suggestions were referred to the Rules Committee by consent of the Council.

Stephens also said that he would be unable attend the February 13, 2007, meeting when the District 6 City Council candidates would be interviewed. He said he would listen to the interviews in order to be prepared to vote on February 20. However, Mayor Santos informed him that the voting would take place at the February 13th meeting after the interviews were completed since there would still be a quorum. However, four votes would still be required to appoint the new District 6 Councilmember and if there was a deadlock, voting would take place again at the February 20 meeting.

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January 23, 2007

Transit-Oriented Development Strategy Meeting Tonight at 6:30pm

The ninth meeting of the Downtown Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Citizen Advisory Committee will take place at 6:30pm on January 23, 2007, at the Sister Cities Gallery at San Leandro City Hall.

The committee is in the process of assisting in the development of a strategy for developing land use plans and policies for areas immediately surrounding bus, ferry and train stations.

Click here for an agenda.

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January 12, 2007

San Leandro Police Department Fails to Obey Public Records Law

According to a newly issued report entitled "Audit Report 2007: Public Access to Law Enforcement Information" by Californians Aware, the San Leandro Police Department failed to respond to a written request as required by the California Public Records Act (CPRA).

Californians Aware is a non-profit organization devoted to protecting open government laws and First Amendment rights. In December 2006, Californians Aware conducted a state-wide audit of how well California’s law enforcement agencies comply with the CPRA. The CPRA was enacted in 1968 to ensure public access to information on how state and local governments conduct business.

According to Richard P. McKee, president of Californians Aware, the requests were for "information expressly identified by law as available to the public (e.g., the police chief’s employment contract and Form 700; the officers’ salary schedule; the most recent death in custody report; and the name, occupation, birth date, and sex of all persons arrested for robbery, burglary, or sexual assault during a two-week period, along with the date, time, and location of the arrest)."

Homeowners associations have frequently requested information about crime in their areas from the San Leandro Police Department, with limited success.

Police departments in Fremont, Santa Clara, Pleasanton, and St. Helena also failed to respond to written requests. Police departments in Oakland, San Jose, Los Gatos, American Canyon, Berkeley, Redwood City and San Mateo wouldn't accept written requests at all. The Sacramento County Sheriffs Office asked for the Social Security number of the requestor, which is against the law, while the San Mateo Police Department asked for $50 to lookup each arrest and crime record. The law only permits charges for photocopies.

Other links:
Californians Aware press release
Op-ed by Californians Aware president Richard McKee
Daily Review coverage

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January 9, 2007

Coffee with the Mayor Begins on Thursday

Newly elected San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos will begin his "Coffee with the Mayor" open door meetings beginning on Thursday, January 11, 2006, from 10am to noon.

Following up on one of his campaign promises, anybody who wants to discuss issues or concerns related to the City can meet with Santos in the Sister Cities Gallery at the San Leandro City Hall.

Santos plans to hold these sessions on the second Thursday of every month with the next "Coffee with the Mayor" scheduled for February 8, 2006.

The Sister Cities Gallery is located on the first floor of City Hall at 835 E. 14th Street, to the left, if you're looking at the City Council Chambers.

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January 8, 2007

Souza Promises More Communication to District 3 Constituents

In an article in the January 8, 2006, edition of the Daily Review, some District 3 residents complain that former City Councilmember Glenda Nardine was unresponsive. Bonaire Civic League President Virginia Boepple is quoted as saying, "We could place phone calls to her and they were never returned, so we looked to someone else for information. ... We just never had any contact with her." In her defense, Nardine writes, "To state that I wasn't that visible is truly an insult." Joan Maramonte, president of the Floresta Homeowners Association, also disagreed and said that Nardine "always gave me an answer." Diana Souza, who replaces Nardine in the District 3 City Council seat, made communication one of her campaign platforms.

Nardine was subject to term limits after serving two terms on the City Council, ran for County Supervisor in the June primary and came in fourth behind winner Alice Lai-Bitker, former San Leandro Mayor Shelia Young and Jim Price.

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January 5, 2007

Official Response of Alameda County Fire Chief to Councilmember Joyce Starosciak

On December 12, 2006, Alameda County Fire Chief William McCammon sent his official response to concerns raised by San Leandro Councilmember Joyce Starosciak at the November 20, 2006, City Council meeting.

At the meeting, Starosciak raised concerns about the terms and the costs of the City's contract with the Alameda County Fire Department.

The official letter and attachment are belatedly published here with the permission of William McCammon.

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January 2, 2007

City Council Approves Committee Assignments; Finishes in 18 Minutes

The San Leandro City Council began the year with what may have been its shortest meeting ever: 18 minutes. The January 2, 2007, meeting was presided over by new Mayor Tony Santos and included new Councilmembers Michael Gregory and Diana Souza.

During public comments, Joe Collier, a former Planning Commissioner, invited Councilmember Diana Souza to attend a meeting of his homeowners association.

The consent calendar consisted largely of administrative tasks related to establishing speed limits, approving amendments to the bylaws of San Leandro's Parking Authority, Public Financing Authority, and Redevelopment Agency.

The main order of business was to approve the assignments to internal committees and intergovernmental agencies. Mayor Santos and Vice Mayor Surlene Grant were appointed to an ad-hoc committee to develop interview questions for the District 6 City Council applicants. The full committee assignments are listed below.

Vice Mayor Grant asked that the meeting be adjourned in memory of Carter Gilmore, who was a member of the Oakland City Council and was active in the NAACP. Mayor Santos noted that he had served with Gilmore during his first term on the City Council.

Councilmember Joyce Starosciak said she felt that there were more houses displaying holiday lights and specifically noted Chapel Ct. and Elko Ct.

Mayor Santos adjourned the meeting in the memory of former President Gerald Ford, Rosetta Rosinga, and Carter Gilmore.

Internal Committees:

Airport Committee
Mayor Santos
Councilmember Starosciak
Councilmember, District 6

Business and Housing Development Committee (formerly Business
Development Committee)

Vice Mayor Grant
Councilmember Souza
Councilmember Stephens

City and San Leandro Unified School District Liaison Committee
Mayor Santos
Vice Mayor Grant
Councilmember Gregory

City and San Lorenzo Unified School District Liaison Committee
Councilmember Souza
Councilmember Starosciak
Councilmember, District 6

Disaster Council
Mayor Santos
Vice Mayor Grant

Facilities and Transportation Committee (formerly Facilities Committee)
Mayor Santos
Councilmember Gregory
Councilmember Souza

Finance Committee
Vice Mayor Grant January 2007 to January 2009
Councilmember Starosciak January 2006 to January 2008
Councilmember Stephens January 2007 to January 2008

Human Relations Committee
Mayor Santos
Councilmember Gregory
Councilmember Souza

Joint Oakland/San Leandro City Council Committee
Mayor Santos
Vice Mayor Grant
Councilmember, District 6

Marina Committee (formerly Marina Ad Hoc Committee)
Mayor Santos
Councilmember Starosciak
Councilmember, District 6

Rules and Communications Committee
Mayor Santos
Councilmember Gregory
Councilmember Starosciak

Intergovermental Agencies:

Alameda County Congestion Management Agency (appointment of one Representative and one Alternate; term of office is indefinite)
Representative: Councilmember Starosciak
Alternate: Vice Mayor Grant

Alameda County Fire Commission – Representative Trustees (appointment of two Representatives; staggered, four-year terms of office)
Representative: Councilmember Souza
January 2, 2007 to June 30, 2009
Representative: Councilmember Gregory
January 2, 2007 to June 30, 2011

Alameda County Housing Authority, Board of Commissioners (appointment of one Representative; four-year term of office – January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2010)
Representative: Vice Mayor Grant

Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District, Board of Directors
(appointment of one Trustee; two-year term of office – January 2, 2006 to January
1, 2008)
Trustee: Glenda Nardine

Alameda County Waste Management Authority (appointment of one Representative and one Alternate; term of office is indefinite)
Representative: Vice Mayor Grant
Alternate: Councilmember Santos

Associated Community Action Program (ACAP), Governing Board
(appointment of one Representative and one Alternate; term of office is indefinite)
Representative: Councilmember Souza
Alternate: Councilmember Gregory

Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), General Assembly and Regional Planning Commission (appointment of one Representative and one Alternate; both are two-year terms of office expiring on June 30, 2008)
Representative: Vice Mayor Grant
Alternate: Councilmember Gregory

East Bay Dischargers Authority (EBDA) (appointment of one Representative and one Alternate; term of office is indefinite)
Representative: Mayor Santos
Alternate: Councilmember, District 6

League of California Cities, East Bay Division, Board of Directors (appointment of one Representative and one Alternate; term of office is indefinite)
Representative: Councilmember Starosciak
Alternate: Councilmember Stephens

Oakland Airport-Community Noise Management Forum (appointment of one Representative and one Alternate; two-year terms of office – January 17, 2006 to July 31, 2007)
Representative: Mayor Santos
Alternate: Councilmember, District 6
Community Representative: Will Fernandez
October 2, 2005 to July 31, 2007

San Leandro Collaborative Executive Committee (appointment of two Representatives; term of office is indefinite)
Representative: Mayor Santos
Representative: Councilmember Starosciak

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December 28, 2006

Choosing the Next Member of the City Council

The next member of the San Leandro City Council will be appointed by the City Council because District 6 City Councilmember Tony Santos was elected Mayor before he completed his four-year term of office.

At recent City Council meetings, the procedures and timelines were decided and have been posted at the city's web site.

Applications for residents of District 6 will be made available beginning on January 2, 2006. The application form and 20 signatures from residents of District 6 must be submitted by January 27, 2006.

The field of applicants will be narrowed, if needed, at the February 5, 2006, City Council meeting and interviews of the candidates will be conducted at a February 13, 2006, meeting and the City Councilmember will be chosen at this meeting or the February 20, 2006, meeting.

Possible candidates being mentioned include former City Councilmembers, a former and a current member of the San Leandro School Board, current commissioners, and a local campaign consulant and political staffer.

The last City Councilmembers appointed were Orval 'OB' Badger in 2001 (to replace Gordon Galvan), Surlene Grant in 1998 (to replace Shelia Young), and Paul Nahm in 1993 (to replace John Faria).

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December 19, 2006

New Council Sworn In and ACI Rate Increase Approved

Councilmembers Surlene Grant and Glenda Nardine missed the last San Leandro City Council meeting of 2006 held on December 18. The City Council Chambers were filled to capacity with friends and family of the newly elected Mayor and City Councilmembers who were sworn in tonight.

During public comments, Wafaa Aborashed said that she provided a copy of the report "Paying with our Health, The Real Cost of Freight Transport in California" to all the members of the City Council. The report was prepared by the Pacific Institute and released in November 2006. Aborashed asked that the subject of pollution caused by freight transport be placed on a future agenda.

Richard Sequeira asked that the minutes from the December 4, 2006, City Council meeting include the full text of the speeches and comments from people who had spoken against the Site Plan Review and Height Exception for the "Monster House" at 2888 Darius Way. Sequeira was one of the neighbors who spoke out against the house at the December 4 meeting, which was unanimously approved by the City Council.

The City Council unanimously approved a rate increase for Alameda County Industries of 2% on July 1, 2007, and another 2% increase on July 1, 2008. The increase was requested in March 1, 2006, and Public Works Director Mike Bakaldin had presented information about the rate increase at the November 6, 2006, City Council meeting. According to that presentation, the rate increase would fund the collection of recyclable materials (paper, cans, glass and plastic) for single family homes to every week instead of every other week. In addition, ACI would begin pickup of recyclable and food wastes from commercial users.

The City Council also unanimously approved the subdivision of the 13-acre parcel for 15555 Hesperian Boulevard into three parcels. The site is the former location of Target and has been rumored to be a future location of a Wal-Mart or Sam's Club. In-N-Out has applied for a conditional use permit for a drive-through fast food restaurant at this location as well.

When it came time to approve ordinances establishing monthly salaries of $1,260 per month ($15,120 per year) for City Council members and $2,520 per month ($30,240 per year) for the Mayor, Councilmember Bill Stephens was the sole vote against the ordinances. Stephens noted that there was currently a $900,000 budget deficit and that any salary increases should wait until the city has a balanced budget.

Since District 6 City Councilmember Tony Santos was elected Mayor, the City Council will appoint someone to fill out the remainder of his term. Candidates will be required to obtain 20 nominating signatures from registered voters in District 6 and applications will be available beginning on January 2, 2007. Santos expressed concern that some potential candidates were already gathering signatures, but City Clerk Marian Handa said that the nominating signatures would be required to be on forms that are not yet available and Mayor Shelia Young assured Santos that it was not a concern.

During closing remarks, Stephens and Councilmember Joyce Starosciak thanked Councilmember OB Badger and Mayor Young for their years of service. Badger remarked that it had "been a pleasure to serve on this council" and thanked all those with whom he had served. Mayor Young thanked her husband and called the position of Mayor the "best job in the universe."

The City Council meeting concluded with the swearing-in of its newly-elected members, which is what brought most of the crowd to the meeting. District 1 City Councilmember Michael Gregory was sworn in first by former San Leandro City Councilmember, former San Leandro Mayor and newly-elected California State Senator Ellen Corbett. Gregory said that his priorities were 1) education, 2) education, 3) education 4) housing and transportation, 5) balancing the budget and dealing with the Marina, 6) public safety, and 7) seniors and youth.

District 3 City Councilmember Diana Souza was sworn in by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Yolanda Northridge. Souza reiterated her three campaign goals of keeping seniors engaged, communication and increasing recreational opportunities.

District 5 City Councilmember Bill Stephens was sworn in by California Senator Corbett. Stephens kept his comments brief, stating that he was "humbled by the opportunity to serve all of you."

Mayor Tony Santos was sworn in by California Senator Corbett and promised to add more police officers, look at additional branch libraries, focus on education, address the dredging issue for the Marina, and keep working on "quieting our skies from airport noise." He also promised to hold "Coffee with the Mayor" with the first one scheduled for January 11, 2007, from 10am to 12.

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December 17, 2006

Response to Councilmember Starosciak's Fire Department Report

In response to San Leandro Councilmember Joyce Starosciak's report on the Alameda County Fire Department at the November 20, 2006, meeting of the San Leandro City Council, Brian McKenna, President of the Alameda County Firefighters Association, wrote an op-ed in the December 15 edition of the Daily Review.

In his op-ed, McKenna argues, "Our services have resulted in a yearly cost savings to the city of San Leandro of over $1.1 million beginning in 1995 and the savings continue to increase annually." He goes on to compare the annual cost increase to the San Leandro Police Department over the last 11 years, which "has had an average annual budget increase of over 9.19 percent and was forced to eliminate positions." In February 2005, the Alameda County Firefighters Association contributed $2,500 to Starosciak's City Council campaign.

In a December 13, 2006, letter to the editor of the Daily Review, San Leandro resident Paul G. Vargas, applauded Starosciak, stating, "Thank goodness for Councilwoman Starociak's efforts to expose the wanton waste and mismanagement of the Alameda County Fire Department." Vargas ran for the District 3 City Council seat in 2002 and lost to Glenda Nardine.

This was covered in a December 11, 2006, Daily Review article and in a December 14, 2006, San Leandro Times article.

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November 21, 2006

The Best Kept Secret in San Leandro

Councilmember Joyce Starosciak presented the report below at the November 20, 2006, meeting of the San Leandro City Council:

Mayor Young and members of the City Council,

You have been aware of the concerns I’ve expressed about the negative financial situation due to our contract with the Alameda County Fire Department. In the Finance Committee and in session with the entire Council I have asked questions and given opinions that express my frustration with our existing contract terms and yearly budget increases. Earlier this month I spent time with the management of the Alameda County Fire Department to better understand our mutual responsibilities. The conclusion of that meeting clarified my frustration. The Alameda County Fire Department has become a public agency operating as a private monopoly with no accountability. Cost increases are unchecked and will continue to grow out of control to the detriment of the City of San Leandro.

It is time for us to do something. Until I spent the time researching this, I did not see the extent of this problem. It is likely you are not aware of all of the contract terms that put San Leandro in an egregious financial position. Here are some of the facts.

In the last 6 years, our fire contract has increased $5 M [million] dollars, going from $10 M in 2000 to $15M this year. That is almost $1M increase per year and a 50% increase over 6 years.

Each year the City Council is approached with an increase, but we are given no choice but to approve it.

Last fiscal year 05-06, in order to balance our budget, the Police department cut 8 police officers to save over $1 M . In the same year the County Fire Department asked for an $800k increase to their contract. The City Council pushed back resulting in authorization of a $600k increase. But by the end of the year, the actual overtime budget was predicted to come in at $200k over budget, which is why this fiscal year 06-07 they received more than $900k as an increase to their contract.

No matter what budget number is approved, the Alameda County Fire Department can invoice and will receive more money.

Over the last 5 years, the Year End actuals have exceeded the budget amount on average of $162k per year. The way our contract is written, we have to pay and then we have to go on to approve an increase to the contract for the next year.

For each of these overages, while the City is informed, there is no process to review and no process to refuse or reduce payments to overages of the contract. These amounts are regularly in excess of our City Manager’s signing authority, yet the Council never reviews nor approves these contract changes.

As a regular process, the County Fire Department invoices in advance for services. For example, we pay in February for services rendered in March. This creates an ongoing $1M in negative cash flow to the City Reserves.

The bargaining teams between the Firefighters and the County receive no input from any of the member agencies. San Leandro, Dublin, and Lawrence Berkeley Labs do not have a seat at the table and their Governing Bodies have no input or say in the final contract negotiations.

The most recent contract with the Firefighters was a 7 year Memorandum of Understanding with raises guaranteed each year. In the years that our own City Employees sacrificed their raises to help keep the Budget balanced, the Firefighters were not given the opportunity to help us with that sacrifice. The County held them bound to their contract.

This year we will pay $12.4M in salaries and benefits. And we will pay $1.5 M in overtime which is 10% of the total contract.

While our salary calculation is based upon the number field staff we employ, our overtime calculation is based upon the total overtime of the county. We pay about $24,000 per employee just in overtime.

In the last 3 years, the City of San Leandro has sacrificed our Planning Fire Inspector services to offset some of the increased costs. In fact, we are paying more money now for less front line staff than we have ever had.

In the last two years the Alameda County Fire Department has added a full time Public Information officer and a full time Emergency Services Manager. The County Fire Department has required us to increase our payment for these overhead services while back here in the City we still do not have our full time fire inspector and are struggling to find money to put more cops on the street.

This past year, we paid the County Fire Department over $90,000 for truck maintenance, a cost that used to be handled in-house with our own vehicle maintenance crew.

The County Fire Department intends to build and operate a Maintenance Facility using a lease/purchase program to pay for the capital improvements. They cannot guarantee that they won’t pass the capital costs on to us through their maintenance charge-out rates.

Our fire trucks and engine equipment have been sacrificed year after year to pay for the County overhead increases. We have equipment well past its useful life and the capital program reserves have been diverted to pay the additional operation expenses.

There is no expiration date for our contract. These terms will continue forever unless we, the San Leandro City Council, do something about it. The management of the County Fire Department has already told me to expect a $400 - $600k increase to their contract for next year. Half of this year’s Measure I Business License Fee revenue has already been absorbed by the County Fire Department $1M Contract increase. The rest of Measure I will be gone within two years, completely absorbed by the Alameda County Fire Department.

This is the Best Kept Secret in San Leandro. The Alameda County Fire Department is a publicly funded monopoly with no accountability. The costs for this program are growing unchecked and the impact to San Leandro’s structural deficit is detrimental.

I have spoken with Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker about our respective roles in overseeing the County Fire Department Budget. She cannot make any decisions regarding the expansion of the Alameda County Fire Department because their budget is not part of the General Fund. It is a separate entity with their income and expenses independently managed. So if the County Supervisors and the City of San Leandro have no controls, then who does? There is no elected or appointed agency willing or able to provide control to this budget. The County Fire Department has become a privately managed monopoly off of public funds. And San Leandro has suffered long enough.

We receive services from the highest quality fire department in the area, there is no doubt about that. For our dollars, it had better be that good. However, it has come time to be much more vigilant in how we spend our money. This sounds odd, coming from me, since I’ve been pushing to spend more money for Cops and the Cherry Festival as quality-of-life issues ever since the day I was elected. However, this is very different. The Alameda County Fire Department is an agency that acts like a Contractor when budgeting time comes and they need more money. Then they act like a City Department when their costs come in higher and they need more money. They cannot and should not have it both ways.

Either they are part of our family and they celebrate with us and sacrifice with us. Or they are a contractor and will be treated as outsiders.

San Leandro has always been proud to be called a full-service City. Our employees go above and beyond the usual service expectations to make San Leandro the great City that it is. Our Firefighters have always been part of our family. They are heroes and they deserve the best equipment, training and support our City can give. All of our employees deserve the best resources we can give. None of them should be a pawn in the game of monopoly. We need to focus our resources to give them ALL the best. We need to bring the Fire Department back to the City of San Leandro.

Mayor Young, I would like to ask you to follow-up on my discussions during our Finance Committee meetings to research this further. I would like you to create a committee of the Council to quickly review this matter and consider bringing the Fire Department back into the City Family. At a minimum we should review the contract for this year’s budget cycle to create terms that are much more favorable to the City of San Leandro. I have a list of 7 items for a committee to consider in that regard.

1) Our contract with this vendor should be reviewed for renewal every 5 years.
2) Our contract increases should be capped at a limit not to exceed CPI [consumer price index] or other inflation factor.
3) The maintenance of our Fire Equipment should be brought back in house.
4) Invoicing for services should be after services are rendered by the contractor.
5) The City Council should have line item veto power of budget items we feel are not required for basic fire services.
6) Our City Manager should have a seat at the bargaining table.
7) There should be Formal Council approval when invoicing exceeds the annual contract amount by more than the City Manager’s signing authority.

These terms would create a much more favorable condition for the City of San Leandro. However, these terms treat the Fire Department as a Vendor. I want to have them back as part of our Family. A committee can better discuss all of our options.

The Firefighters that serve San Leandro deserve to be part of a family, the San Leandro Family. I ask for the City Council to help find ways to bring it back.

Thank you for your consideration.

Councilmember Joyce Starosciak
November 20, 2006

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November 20, 2006

City Council Unanimously Adopts Homeless Plan

At its November 20, 2006, meeting, the San Leandro San Leandro City Council unanimously adopted the EveryOne Home, Alameda Countywide Homeless and Special Needs Housing Plan. The county-wide plans seeks to end homelessness in 15 years. The stated goals of the plan are:

  • Prevent homelessness and other housing crises

  • Increase housing for homeless, mentally ill, and HIV/AIDS

  • Provide support services to support independence

  • Measure success and report outcomes

  • Develop long-term leadership and community support

Councilmember Glenda Nardine asked about monitoring and staffing and staff responded that monitoring was part of the plan, but there wouldn't be any extra staff necessary. Councilmember Tony Santos expressed concern about reports that companies in Silicon Valley were laying off employees without paying their fair share for the extra burdens for the employees and support services. Councilmember Surlene Grant asked about funding and staffing, expressing skepticism that the plan would not require extra staff or funding, but was assured that they would not be needed. Grant also asked how the County would staff and fund the program and Alameda County Housing Director Linda Gardner responded that staff would consist of a combination of consultants and county staff. Councilmember Bill Stephens noted that the program was ambitious and long-term and express concern that the program be able to adapt over time. Councilmember OB Badger asked whether the City could exit the program if it wasn't working. Gardner responded that the program was flexible and that cities were free to withdraw from the program.

Speaking out in favor of the plan were Mike Katz, Elaine de Coligny, the Executive Director of Building Futures with Women and Children, Father Rob Droste of All Saints Episcopal Church, Tom Breckenridge, an officer with the Interfaith Homelessness Network, and Peggy Combs, also of Building Futures with Women and Children.

Mayor Shelia Young said that she thought that Alameda County may be the only county in California or the country that is working together on homelessness and that San Leandro has a "chance to show the rest of the county that we can do our part" in solving homelessness.

In a presentation by Matt Todd, a Senior Transportation Engineer at the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency, reported on the progress on a sound wall along Interstate 580 that has been in the works for neary 20 years. The wall would extend from 141st Avenue to Marlowe Avenue in Oakland. The estimated cost is $5.5 million. The wall would be 12-feet tall and up to 15- to 16-feet tall in places and 8,090 feet long.

Project studies for the wall are expected to be completed in May 2007, project design should be complete by September 2007, and construction should start in December 2007 and be completed by Summer 2009.

Todd noted that CYRO Paraglas Soundstop would be used on freeway bridges to reduce the weight of the sound wall and prevent extra costs from reinforcing the freeway supports. Although it's four times as expensive as masonry, using it on the freeway bridges would actually reduce total costs. A CalTrans engineer noted that sound walls are only considered in areas where they will reduce sound by 5 decibels.

Councilmember Grant noted that this was the first time in all of the meetings she's attended that she had heard of the Paraglas Soundstop material being used. Councilmember Joyce Starosciak expressed concern about whether the wall would block any residents' views. Todd noted that some people along Benedict Drive didnt want the wall to block their view and that is why there is no wall planned for the east side of I-580 in that area. Grant also asked about whether property owners had changed and whether CalTrans had been in contact with them. Todd responded that there will be more meetings and workshops for affected residents. Badger also asked about the problem of reflected noise into the Bay-O-Vista area but was assured that the problem was minimal.

Fred Reicker of the Bay-O-Vista Improvement Association expressed concern that the wall will aggravate sound since it will only be on the west side of I-580 in some areas. Reicker cited a CalTrans study in which an unopposed wall resulted in a small but measurable increase in sound. Reicker asked to meet with the City on an expedited basis and to consider the use of a new material. Former City Council member Linda Perry thanked the Mayor for the update and wanted to know when was the last time that sound readings were made and the process for community notification and input.

In closing comments, Starosciak reported about her research into the City's contract with the Alameda County Fire Department, which she described as a "public agency acting as a private monopoly." She said that the contract terms put the City in an egregious financial situation and noted that the contract has increased by $5 million or 50% in the last six years. Over the last six years, the contract has exceeded the budgeted amount by $162,000, which the contract requires the City to pay. She said that neither the City nor the County Supervisors have any oversight of the Alameda County Fire Department and there is no process to reduce or refuse the contract amounts. According to her estimates, the Alameda County Fire Department contract will absorb all of the funds provided by Measure I (the business license tax) in two years.

Councilmember Stephens said that he shared Starosciak's concerns about the City's contract with the Alameda County Fire Department. Stephens also said that the City should contact the two school boards and consider a truancy ordinance like the one introduced in Fremont to improve the Average Daily Attendance (ADA).

Mayor Young noted that the Alameda County Mayors Conference would be hosted at the Aquatics Center on December 13, 2006. Young also appointed Stephens and Starosciak to an ad-hoc committee to investigate and report on the City's contract with the Alameda County Fire Department.

The meeting was adjourned in the memory of Edward Jack Graves and Gladys Mary Tucknot.

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November 6, 2006

Council Votes to Extend Downtown Moratorium and ACI Asks for Rate Increase for More Pickups

The San Leandro City Council voted unanimously in its November 6, 2006, meeting to extend the moratorium on downtown development for another year or until the Transit-Oriented Development Strategy is completed, which is expected in July 2007. Council-member Bill Stephens was not present.

The moratorium affects 39 sites ranging in size from .2 to 11.6 acres and totaling 125 parcels and 73 acres. The moratorium does not change zoning or existing uses and does not preclude the issuance of building permits or business licenses. Applications for planning entitlements will be allowed to proceed, but the application will not allowed to become final.

Community Development Director Hanson Hom noted that the Executive Director of Building Futures with Women and Children sent a letter in support of the moratorium and other letters expressed opposition to the moratorium.

Priscilla Coluga of the Woodcreek Homeowners Association expressed support for the moratorium while Robert Fox asked the council to delay its vote until after the new City Council was seated.

Council-member Joyce Starosciak asked if the vote could be delayed. Hom replied that it could but City Attorney Jayne Williams quickly corrected him and stated that California code does not permit an additional 45-day extension.

During public comments, Harold Perez complained about the condition of streets in San Leandro and said that money should be spent on streets instead of being wasted on the Cherry Festival and the holiday lighting and banners.

In a presentation entitled "Special Rate Review for Alameda County Industries" Public Works Director Mike Bakaldin reported that Alameda County Industries (ACI) requested a special rate review on March 1, 2006. ACI has a contract with San Leandro through 2010 and serves about 60% of San Leandro's population. ACI proposes to increase collection of recyclable materials (paper, cans, glass and plastic) for single family homes to every week instead of every other week. In addition, ACI would begin pickup of recyclable and food wastes from commercial users. To pay for the increased service, ACI proposes a 2% rate increase in July 2007 and another 2% rate increase in July 2008, in addition to the normal annual rate adjustment.

Council-member OB Badger asked if the changes were need to meet the City's requirements for diverting waste from landfills and City Manager John Jermanis replied that it was, noting that nearby cities have gone to weekly service. Mayor Shelia Young asked if ACI had perfected a compost facility as she knew that Alameda County has been trying to find a suitable facility location.

Alexis Strauss, the director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Water Division for the Pacific Southwest region, presented the City of San Leandro with its second-place award for "outstanding and innovative achievements in wastewater treatment and pollution prevention." Click here for the US EPA press release. In March 2006, the City of San Leandro received a Water Quality Excellence Award from the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Vice Mayor Surlene Grant made a plea for people to support Proposition 1C, noting that it would help programs such as one which recently lost funding that helps foster children after they are too old for the foster care program.

Mayor Young reported that a new map was presented at each monthly meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission over the past year. The most recent meeting produced a map showing the condition of street in the nine Bay-Area counties. Currently, San Leandro is shown in green, indicating that the streets are in good condition.

The meeting was adjourned in the memory of Wayne Glaze, the brother of former Council-member Bob Glaze, Alvin Mertz, Floyd Dade, Jr., a member of the 761st tank battalion in World War II known as the Black Panthers, and Margarita Tapia, the mother of John Tapia, who works in the City's Information Services Department.

Click here for Daily Review coverage.

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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.

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September 20, 2006

Find out about medians going up on E. 14th Street from San Leandro Blvd. to 150th Avenue

From the City of San Leandro web site:

A neighborhood meeting concerning median improvements for the southern portion of East 14th Street will be held on Wednesday, September 20, at 6:30 p.m. at the San Leandro Public Library, located at 300 Estudillo Avenue. Area residents, property owners, businesses and community groups are invited to attend. The medians are being developed to reduce the likelihood of vehicle collisions and to provide a safe refuge for pedestrians crossing East 14th Street. To learn more, contact Nick Thom at (510) 577-3431.

The median will run from San Leandro Boulevard to 150th Avenue and will include raised concrete with landscaping and trees.

More information, including presentations and renderings of what the improvments might look like, is also available from the City of San Leandro East 14th Street South Area Development Strategy web site.

Photo rendering of intersection of 143 Avenue and E. 14th Street

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September 7, 2006

City Finance Committee Gives Go-Ahead to Cherry Festival and Sunday Library Hours

In its September 5, 2006, meeting the Finance Committee voted two to one to approve bringing back the Cherry Festival, bringing back Sunday library hours (4 hours), adding a school resource officer, restoring full funding to community groups, and putting up holiday lights. Mayor Shelia Young and Council Member Joyce Starosciak voted to approve the items totaling an estimated $400,000 while Council Memebr Bill Stephens voted against approval.

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Council Approves Hays Street Project WIth Conditions; Decision on Monster House Delayed

All members of the City Council were present for the first meeting after the August recess on September 5, 2006. Mayor Shelia Young started the meeting by changing the order of the public hearings. The two public hearings were to discuss a development at 1537 Hays Street and construction of a 10,679 square-foot house at 2888 Darius Way.

The Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA) approved PLN2005-00063, a Major View Preservation/Site Plan Review and Height Exception on July 20, 2006, by a vote of five to 2. The exception was for a planned house at property owned by M. Luong at 2888 Darius Way. The proposed house would have seven bedrooms, seven and a half bathrooms plus a carriage house with a bedroom and bathroom. Wayland Lew has appealed the decision of the BZA and it was on the agenda for the meeting. However, the applicant (Luong) and appellant (Lew) asked for the City Council to delay hearing the appeal until October 16, 2006.

The second item began with a presentation by city staff about a plan by David Langon of Langon Homes to construct six single-family homes at 1537 Hays Street, where currently there is one house. The presentation noted that the project was actually for fewer houses (6) than is permitted by its current zoning (8). As a result of objections by neighbors residing at the Garden Terrace condominiums adjacent to the property, the the developer agreed to increase the setback from the property from 10 to 12.5 feet, install trellises to screen the view of a portion of the backyards of the houses, install frosted glass on the bedroom windows, install an arbor at the entrance to the development, and reimburse Garden Terrace for cleaning of the north wall and windows after construction is completed. The staff recommended that the project be approved.

David Langon, the developer, said that he was "surprised by the opposition" and that he "had many meetings with" residents of the Garden Terrace Condominiums. He told the City Council that he was trying to get the house certified as "green" and would recycle and re-use as much of the existing home as possible.

During public comments on the public hearing for the Hays Street project, numerous residents of Garden Terrace Condominiums spoke out against the proposed development. Virginia Eldridge claimed that city codes were violated because the sunlight and view of the Garden Terrace owners was not being respected and because the city did not work closely with the neighboring residents. Kathy Goodall asked for the setback to increased to 15 feet, a review of the landscape design, and an extension so that these concerns can be addressed. Lester Williams was visibly upset as he complained that it was wrong that he had to come to the City Council to defend his property. Garden Terrace Condominium Association President Melinda Jackson echoed the concerns of the other residents.

Bob and Kathy Sosa, residents of a house on Juana Avenue, expressed concern that the entire block might end up as multi-residential housing, stating that "this project will not be the end of it." Toni Mobley, a member of the San Leandro Downtown Transit-Oriented Development Strategy Citizen Advisory Committee, asked the City Council whether any of the units would be designated as affordable housing and expressed compassion for those residents facing a loss of sunlight because of the new development.

In his rebuttal to the opponents of the project, Langon noted that the opponents were living in higher density housing and that the project is a "compromise from what could be built there."

Vice Mayor Surlene Grant requested that construction be prohibited on Saturday and Sunday, that rodent control is adequate during construction, and that the requirement for frosted glass be part of a CCNR or deed restriction to ensure that residents cannot replace the windows with non-frosted glass.

Council Member Glenda Nardine expressed concern about the loss of sunlight and said that she wanted a homeowner association to be a condition for the project.

Council Member Joyce Starosciak also asked about whether the project included affordable housing and Hansom Hom, the Community Development Director for San Leandro, responded that the property was subject to inclusionary zoning and affordable housing units were not required. However, the development would be subject to an inclusionary housing fee that would go into a fund to assist affordable housing projects. Starosciak was concerned about how maintenance of the arbor and other common areas would be enforced. When city staff pointed out that the owners would be responsible for enforcing their maintenance of the property, Starosciak called for a homeowners association or some other method of enforcement that did not rely upon the city to enforce maintenance and upkeep of the common areas of the development.

Council Member OB Badger subsequently motioned to approve the project subject to restrictions that prohibited construction on Sunday, and after a brief discussion, limited construction to between the hours of 10am and 4pm on Saturday. Other restrictions included the maintenance of the common areas by a homeowner association or equivalent, further review of landscaping plans, and the use of only frosted glass on bedroom windows. After unanimous approval of the motion, Mayor Young thanked developer Dave Langon for attempting to build housing that is certified "green."

During the open public comments, Ray Diaz expressed dismay that howeowners that rent their houses are required to have a city business license and that he could be subject to paying the business license retroactively for up to three years.

Former San Leandro Mayor John Faria expressed dismay at the recent article in the Daily Review, which caused him to call City Manager John Jermanis and City Council Members Tony Santos and OB Badger. He asked why the Jane McCrea, the city's Public Information Officer, wasn't aware of the work that was done in the 1980s about the potential for flooding caused by a failure of the earthen dam at Lake Chabot. He recalled that they knew that a failure of the dam would result in four feet of water at City Hall within 30 minutes and 15 feet of water at Bancroft within 15 minutes.

Harold Perez thanked City Council member Santos for helping to get rid of some junk cars on his street and then moved on to complain about the pit bulls at his neighbor's house. He also complained that Anthony Batarse, Jr. [President and Chief Executive Officer of Lloyd A. Wise Inc.] had claimed that his family needed to move into some houses he owned and then turned around and sold the houses.

Lester Williams took the opportunity to again oppose the Hays Street development and said that the owners of condos adversely impacted by the project should be compensated.

City Manager Jermanis responded that blanket notifications were sent out about the business license requirement, but indicated that there could be some flexibility in whether business license fees would be collected retroactively. He also noted that the business licensee fee for homeowners that rented their home was $42 per year. He also stated that the City should do more to get out the word about its emergency plan and information about the potential for flooding caused by the failure of the Lake Chabot Dam. He said that the city has talked to EBMUD, which has assured the City that the earthen dam is in little danger of collapse during an earthquake. As he has done in the past, Jermanis encouraged Mr. Diaz to continue contacting the police and animal control about his neighbor's pit bulls and noted that every time the police respond, the dogs appear to be back in the owner's yard.

Council members Starosciak and Nardine and Mayor Young reported that they attended the California Association of Sanitation Agencies conference held in Monterey August 9-12, 2006.

Council member Nardine also reported that she attended the August transit-oriented development meeting at Bayfair, but provided no details of the meeting. She also stated that businesses seem to be disappearing in the Alvarado and Teagarden area and would like the Business Development Committee to report back to the Council on this.

After Nardine mentioned a fallen fence on Alvarado, Starosciak also noted a fallen fence on Lewelling. City staff reported that they were aware of it and were working on it.

Santos said that Charles Lott had written a letter to the editor of the Daily Review asking about the 580 sound wall project. Young said that she knew about it and said that after some funding issues and delays, the project was going forward and construction would start in 2007.

Young also reported that she signed a proclamation for the anniversary of the 219th anniversary of the signing of the US Constitution. The meeting was adjourned in the memory of numerous people who had recently passed away.

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July 25, 2006

San Leandro Has Highest Costs for Installing Solar Panels

The Contra Costa Times reports that costs for installing typical solar panels is highest in San Leandro, according to a survey by the San Francisco Bay chapter of the Sierra Club. San Leandro topped the list with permit fees and inspection costs of $1,100 compared to lows of $3 in Mill Valley and $65 in Walnut Creek. The Sierra Club survey of 48 municipalities found that the average cost was $445.

A similar survey one year ago that found similar variations in other municipalities led to 14 cities lowering their fees.

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July 11, 2006

City Council Adopts Reimbursement Policy, Goes After Spartina

San Leandro Vice Mayor Surlene once again presided over the City Council on July 10, 2006, as Mayor Shelia Young was reported to be on city business and did not attend the meeting.

During the public comment period, Don Enriquez, who stated that he was raised in San Leandro and was here during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, lamented the frequent use of foul language and suggested that it was linked to violence. He asked the City Council to take actions to prohibit the use of foul language, especially in public, where it may be heard by children.

Republican nominee for State Senate Lou Filipovich turned the tables on the City Council when he said that he would "not make any statements" and instead gave the City Council the opportunity to ask questions of him. When his offer was greeted with silence, Filipovich repeated his offer and eventually gave up, stating, "let the record show" that none of the City Council took him up on his offer.

Harold Perez asked the City Council to refrain from planting a certain type of tree because one near his house was raising the sidewalk and had forced a neighbor to spend $6,000 in sewer repairs. Perez again complained about his neighbors with the pit bulls, noting that his drug-dealing neighbor was leaving the lights on all night long.

Vice Mayor Grant and Council Member Glenda Nardine both had questions about the approval of a contract with Neighborhood Solutions and it was removed from the consent calendar.

On a vote of 6 to 0, the City Council approved the remainder of the consent calendar, which included minutes of the June 5, 2006, meeting, the August recess for the City Council, the city's participation in the Alameda County Climate Protection Project, membership in the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, and two resolutions approving non-competitive procurement of chemicals and aerial treatment of spartina.

Charles Gilcrest asked the City Council to open up bidding on the contract awarded to Neighborhood Solution to organizations like the Davis Street Family Resource Center. In response to a question from Vice Mayor Grant, City Finance Director Jesse Baloca observed that $25,000 is the informal threshold for putting city contracts out to bid and $50,000 is the formal threshold. City Manager John Jermanis noted that there are exceptions to the threshold as in the case where a qualified company has successfully fulfilled similar contacts in the past. Council Member Bill Stephens stated that the California Contract Code has a threshold of $65,000. Council Member Tony Santos also expressed support for putting the contract out to bid so local organizations such as Davis Street could bid. Jermanis said that he would get a statement of qualifications from Davis Street and similar organizations, but it was too late for this year.

The resolution approving the $92,000 contract with Neighborhood Solutions was subsequently approved on a vote of 6 to 0.

The last item was a resolution establishing a policy regarding the reimbursement of expenses for city council members, members of boards and commissions, and city employees. As summarized by Assistant City Attorney Stephanie Stuart, this policy was required by AB 1234 the "Local Government Sunshine Bill," which went into effect on January 1, 2006. It requires greater transparency in local government and covers ethics, expenditure reporting, and formal training requirements. Jermanis noted that Meyers Nave, the law firm of the City Attorney and Assistant City Attorney is certified to provide the AB1234 training. Council Member Joyce Starosciak noted that she attended training at the League of California Cities conference in January while Council Member Nardine said that all members of the Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District Board, except her, had already received training. Council Member Santos stated that he was interested in the policies for conflict of interest and and gift and travel restrictions, because "we are not following" the code of ethics. Vice Mayor Grant agreed with Santos' sentiments.

During City Council Comments, Council Member OB Badger asked that the meeting be adjourned in the memory of Yvonne Miranda, who recently passed away from cancer. Council Member Nardine spoke at length about fireworks issues, suggesting that the city provide more information about how much enforcement costs the city each 4th of July. Jermanis said that despite the 115 fireworks-related calls, the police and fire chiefs said that it was better than last year and credited proactive notifications about the city's zero-tolerance policy for fireworks.

Vice Mayor Grant wanted the city to consider specific regulations that would prohibit the parking of cars on the street that were there for the sole purpose of being sold. She asked that the minutes be published in a more timely manner, but acknowledged that the staff was already working very hard. Grant mentioned that she attended an event at the Chinese Art Gallery and reported that an elderly calligrapher will create a piece of art for the city.

The meeting was adjourned in the memory of Patty Price, Hayward City Council Member Matt Jimenez, who died on July 3, 2006, and Yvonne Miranda.

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June 30, 2006

A "Sweatshop Free" San Leandro

The following is the text of a letter I sent to all San Leandro city council members in support of a "Sweatfree Ordinance" for San Leandro. You can call them and e-mail them to show your support as well. Their contact information is available at http://www.ci.san-leandro.ca.us/slcitycouncil.html. For more information on the issue visit http://www.globalexchange.org/campaigns/sweatshops/


Dear City Council Members:

Last Tuesday night, Berkeley became the third city in the United States (after San Francisco and LA) to allocate funding for a Sweatfree Ordinance that would prohibit the city government from purchasing any and all goods produced in sweatshops. The Berkeley City Council approved $25,000 for initial funding and vowed to revisit the issue again in December during the mid-year budget review.

Earlier this year, Council member Tony Santos committed himself to introduce an ordinance that would provide a living wage to all city employees and employees of large companies doing business with the city. Legislation that would prohibit the San Leandro city government from purchasing goods produced in sweatshops would not only compliment the living wage ordinance, but assure that it was meaningful. It would also assure that the city government is not unwittingly exploiting workers, in particular immigrant workers, by buying products from companies that do not adhere to fair labor practices.

I urge you to consider introducing and passing an ordinance similar to the one passed by the city of Berkeley and to allocate sufficient funding to support it.

Sincerely,

Margarita Lacabe

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