City Council Recap
By Robert Haugh
Just as we predicted, the fireworks of last night’s council meeting revolved around two items:
- the approval of a demolition and rebuild of a MacKay home 167 Claremont, and
- the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail closure on Levi’s Stadium event days.
After hours of discussion, including testimony for and against the home demolition and rebuild, the Council approved the project with a 5-1 vote (Patricia Mahan opposed, Debi Davis recused herself on the item, since she lives in the neighborhood). This was a debate between an individual property owner’s rights and the preservation of a neighborhood style. The owner won, but it took him two years to get the approval, after several changes were made.
When the 49ers opened the stadium, they closed the Creek Trail on game days, citing security concerns. But trail proponents say that it’s illegal since public money was used to create the Creek Trail. Also, the environmental impact report studied and approved continued public access to the trail. Last night, the Council looked at four detour routes through the Great America parking lot to allow Creek Trail users access during game days. No one really seems excited about the options.
Bottom line is council wants a permanent Creek Trail solution. They are going to discuss this issue again after making a site visit to the Creek Trail during a major event. That’s unusual.
We ponder why this wasn’t done years ago, and why these options are just now being reviewed.
During the discussion, there was a heated verbal spat that occurred between interim city attorney Brian Doyle and interim city manager Rajeev Batra. Doyle, who is a bicyclist, made a suggestion that may just work. But it was not one of the options that Batra presented. This will be interesting to see unfold.
Also, Police Chief Mike Sellers made a strong plea for the council to listen to him about security issues. He said he wanted to discuss it in closed session, but Mayor Lisa Gillmor vetoed the idea. After questioning, the Chief had to admit that he had no security concerns about the three options that the staff was presenting to council. (He had concerns about Doyle’s route which was only presented that evening). So it’s unclear why he needed a closed session to raise his issues. It’s clear that the majority of the Council doesn’t listen to Sellers. We’ll have to watch this unfold, too.
- In other stadium matters, a contract was approved for financial audit over the next several years. This is different than the Harvey Rose audit, which has been stymied because the 49ers won’t give up documents.
- The city approved a new City agenda management system, which is long overdue. Perhaps meetings and records will be even more transparent when these newer, modern systems are implemented. This is good news since the city’s website has been terrible for a long time.
- During public presentations, Citation Homes suggested that the council consider their El Camino residential development to be “in the pipeline” of projects approved by the council on April 18. The Council decided then to start an El Camino Focus Area Plan, but allowed three pipeline projects to go forward. The only one that can’t move forward is the massive Mariani development project. The council by consensus referred this back to City staff to look into possibly adding this and two other projects to the list.