News

Palo Alto commissioners bristle at council's push to exert more control over advisory bodies

Proposed rules on removing commissioners, discouraging media responses denounced as 'draconian' and 'dictatorial'

On Oct. 26, the Palo Alto City Council is set to vote on a proposed handbook of rules for city commissions and boards. Embarcadero Media file photo.

A new push by the Palo Alto City Council to strengthen its control over the city's system of boards and commission is facing backlash from some of the volunteers who serve on these advisory bodies and who argued Monday the rules will chill free speech and deter residents from applying.

The council was scheduled to approve on Monday night a proposed handbook for boards and commissions, which includes guidelines that discourage commissioners from talking to the media and require every board to submit a work plan for council approval. The new handbook also specifies that the council can remove any commissioner at any time and for any reason.

While the council delayed adoption of the new handbook until next Monday, Oct. 26, some current and past commissioners argued that it should scrap some of the rules altogether. Architect Randy Popp, a past chair of the Architectural Review Board, told the council Monday that some of the changes, if adopted, would "drastically adjust my perspective regarding the value of serving on a board" and deter him from urging other professionals from participating in the process.

Popp called the rule granting the council the authority to remove a member for any reason "dictatorial and unmanageable."

"To be removed without cause could be permanently damaging to an individual's professional reputation," Popp said. "Media and other coverage of removal could have lasting negative impact, even if the reason is a political and professional disagreement."

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Palo Alto Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

Michael Alcheck, a member of the Planning and Transportation Commission, similarly requested that the council reconsider the rule. As the commission's staunchest advocate for growth, Alcheck has frequently faced criticism from residents. He has also been subject to conflict-of-interest accusations for failing to disclose his efforts to convert two carports to garages while participating in the commission's revision of policies that govern these conversions (the Office of the City Attorney had indicated that his actions did not constitute a conflict).

Alcheck told the council that there may be many valid reasons to remove a commissioner from an advisory board and said that there needs to be a clear process for doing so. He also argued, however, that allowing removal of a commissioner without cause, notice or hearing is "very concerning." The rule, he noted, will allow the council to remove commissioners for political reasons.

"Planning commissioners are appointed by the City Council instead of elected by the residents so that their recommendations can be made independent of their popularity," Alcheck said. "Over the past decade, our political bodies have become subject to great polarization and partisanship and we must not ignore the real threat that commissioners can be removed solely in an effort to stifle diverse perspectives in our community."

Others pushed back against the city's effort to discourage media communications and encourage commissioners to direct inquiries from reporters to the city's chief communications officer.

Patricia Regehr, who serves on the Human Relations Commission, also criticized the council's proposals to restrict commissioners' power to speak freely to the press and to grant itself the power to remove any volunteer without cause.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

"I think that's a horrible way to manage someone," she said.

Regehr also suggested the new rule on speaking to the media infringes on the First Amendment rights of volunteers. Her former commission colleague, Steven Lee, shared the view and requested in a letter that the council remove the "draconian and Trumpian policies" that restrict a commissioner's rights to speak freely.

"You can dress this up any way you want, and while I'm sure no one on staff or council will admit this publicly, but I know and the public knows that this proposal is nothing less than an attempt to silence minority voices, minority opinions, expert opinions and progressive views that staff and council disagrees with," wrote Lee, who is running for a council seat.

The council also heard from three members of the Parks and Recreation Commission, all of whom spoke out against a new proposal to reduce the number of commission seats from seven to five. Chair Jeff Greenfield and Commissioners David Moss and Keith Reckdahl all suggested that cutting seats on the commission would reduce its capability to conduct public outreach and make it more difficult to manage a large workload.

The commission, Moss said, has a very broad scope that includes, among other areas, Foothills Park access, Cubberley Community Center uses and the reopening of recreation facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also has 10 different liaison positions that monitor everything from the school district and climate change issues, to community gardens, aquatics and golf.

Reducing membership, Moss said, "will probably double our load."

The proposal to revise commission rules followed a nearly yearlong review of commission operations. Vice Mayor Tom DuBois and Councilwoman Alison Cormack surveyed past and current commissioners earlier this year and proposed the new rules to address what they perceive to be shortcomings in the current system.

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Palo Alto commissioners bristle at council's push to exert more control over advisory bodies

Proposed rules on removing commissioners, discouraging media responses denounced as 'draconian' and 'dictatorial'

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Oct 20, 2020, 9:51 am

A new push by the Palo Alto City Council to strengthen its control over the city's system of boards and commission is facing backlash from some of the volunteers who serve on these advisory bodies and who argued Monday the rules will chill free speech and deter residents from applying.

The council was scheduled to approve on Monday night a proposed handbook for boards and commissions, which includes guidelines that discourage commissioners from talking to the media and require every board to submit a work plan for council approval. The new handbook also specifies that the council can remove any commissioner at any time and for any reason.

While the council delayed adoption of the new handbook until next Monday, Oct. 26, some current and past commissioners argued that it should scrap some of the rules altogether. Architect Randy Popp, a past chair of the Architectural Review Board, told the council Monday that some of the changes, if adopted, would "drastically adjust my perspective regarding the value of serving on a board" and deter him from urging other professionals from participating in the process.

Popp called the rule granting the council the authority to remove a member for any reason "dictatorial and unmanageable."

"To be removed without cause could be permanently damaging to an individual's professional reputation," Popp said. "Media and other coverage of removal could have lasting negative impact, even if the reason is a political and professional disagreement."

Michael Alcheck, a member of the Planning and Transportation Commission, similarly requested that the council reconsider the rule. As the commission's staunchest advocate for growth, Alcheck has frequently faced criticism from residents. He has also been subject to conflict-of-interest accusations for failing to disclose his efforts to convert two carports to garages while participating in the commission's revision of policies that govern these conversions (the Office of the City Attorney had indicated that his actions did not constitute a conflict).

Alcheck told the council that there may be many valid reasons to remove a commissioner from an advisory board and said that there needs to be a clear process for doing so. He also argued, however, that allowing removal of a commissioner without cause, notice or hearing is "very concerning." The rule, he noted, will allow the council to remove commissioners for political reasons.

"Planning commissioners are appointed by the City Council instead of elected by the residents so that their recommendations can be made independent of their popularity," Alcheck said. "Over the past decade, our political bodies have become subject to great polarization and partisanship and we must not ignore the real threat that commissioners can be removed solely in an effort to stifle diverse perspectives in our community."

Others pushed back against the city's effort to discourage media communications and encourage commissioners to direct inquiries from reporters to the city's chief communications officer.

Patricia Regehr, who serves on the Human Relations Commission, also criticized the council's proposals to restrict commissioners' power to speak freely to the press and to grant itself the power to remove any volunteer without cause.

"I think that's a horrible way to manage someone," she said.

Regehr also suggested the new rule on speaking to the media infringes on the First Amendment rights of volunteers. Her former commission colleague, Steven Lee, shared the view and requested in a letter that the council remove the "draconian and Trumpian policies" that restrict a commissioner's rights to speak freely.

"You can dress this up any way you want, and while I'm sure no one on staff or council will admit this publicly, but I know and the public knows that this proposal is nothing less than an attempt to silence minority voices, minority opinions, expert opinions and progressive views that staff and council disagrees with," wrote Lee, who is running for a council seat.

The council also heard from three members of the Parks and Recreation Commission, all of whom spoke out against a new proposal to reduce the number of commission seats from seven to five. Chair Jeff Greenfield and Commissioners David Moss and Keith Reckdahl all suggested that cutting seats on the commission would reduce its capability to conduct public outreach and make it more difficult to manage a large workload.

The commission, Moss said, has a very broad scope that includes, among other areas, Foothills Park access, Cubberley Community Center uses and the reopening of recreation facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also has 10 different liaison positions that monitor everything from the school district and climate change issues, to community gardens, aquatics and golf.

Reducing membership, Moss said, "will probably double our load."

The proposal to revise commission rules followed a nearly yearlong review of commission operations. Vice Mayor Tom DuBois and Councilwoman Alison Cormack surveyed past and current commissioners earlier this year and proposed the new rules to address what they perceive to be shortcomings in the current system.

Comments

Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Oct 20, 2020 at 10:53 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Oct 20, 2020 at 10:53 am
28 people like this

There is no reason that a citizen should be required to surrender their right to voice their opinions as an individual on any matter as a condition of public service.


What Will They Do Next
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 20, 2020 at 11:29 am
What Will They Do Next, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 20, 2020 at 11:29 am
56 people like this

While I agree that council is attempting a power grab here, Alcheck deserves every criticism he gets from residents. He doesn't work well with others on the commission, always tries to drive the narrative and blathers on and on every chance he gets. And then there's the conflict of interest.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 20, 2020 at 1:12 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Oct 20, 2020 at 1:12 pm
3 people like this

Corporations use a top down management practice. People who work for corporations learn to navigate within the corporate structure. And since most are on the stock exchange there is a central point for dissemination of information through that office. If you are not in agreement with what the corporation is doing you chose another corporation to work for.

It appears here that "the city" is using a bottoms-up management structure. Various commissions are working their issues with the expectation that their decisions will be accepted and implemented in the city government. Due to limited funds not all practices can be implemented.

People volunteer for participation on commissions for various reasons. Some are building their resumes for further political advancement. Some are contributing their time to help the city. Problem arises when some of a political bent are attempting to exercise agendas relative to their state party goals and change the city in conformance with those goals. The whole of the city may not be in agreement with those actions.

In the past we have had a once a year public meeting where the goals for the next year are presented and discussed. And the funding for the city is discussed to make sure that everyone understands that any change in public services are relative to available funds. If all of the commissions are publicly discussing their objectives for the year and the public gets to chime in then everyone is on the same page. And objectives need to be limited by the available funding.

That is called good planning within the overall city budget. That is what the public expects of people who volunteer their time- resolve issues, move programs ahead, and let the city management do the heavy lifting. That is what they are paid to do.


mjh
Registered user
College Terrace
on Oct 20, 2020 at 2:08 pm
mjh, College Terrace
Registered user
on Oct 20, 2020 at 2:08 pm
17 people like this

Perhaps when the proposed handbook comes before council to be discussed there will be modifications.

Meanwhile the question should be for those members of the public who are unfamiliar or do not pay close attention, what personal agenda, conflict of interest and/or behaviour prompted the council to realise the absence of any protocol to address such rare instances? Especially if such a person refuses to resign and/or in a position to be represented by one of the most expensive and powerful legal firms and threaten costly litigation because the payoff would be worth the expense? All of which would be behind closed doors and unknown to most members of the public.

I suspect the proposed protocols are less to "control" appointees in the normal course of business but rather a way for the council to remedy the most egregious circumstance should such a rare and unfortunate situation arise in future.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Oct 20, 2020 at 2:12 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Oct 20, 2020 at 2:12 pm
11 people like this

"I suspect the proposed protocols are less to "control" appointees in the normal course of business but rather a way for the council to remedy the most egregious circumstance should such a rare and unfortunate situation arise in future."

It is a horrible management practice to establish protocols that apply to everyone to deal with a one-off situation/individual.

Deal with the aberrant individual and inspire everyone else with trust and confidence.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 20, 2020 at 3:36 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Oct 20, 2020 at 3:36 pm
1 person likes this

I watched the PACC meeting last night where they were talking about the fiscal crises for the city which will result in loss of public services and job losses.
Then someone at the end is talking about law suits.

WOW - people connect the dots here. The overall budget provides the boundaries of what actions take place in this city. Any one proposing any action should be able to apply a cost of that action - both plus and minus.
So what is the cost of a law suit? What public service does that eliminate?

If we are already in a negative position then anyone acting to push us into a further negative position is treading water. What is the point of it all?
I think a lot of people are now going to be on top of the finances for this city. and where it is going to.


mjh
Registered user
College Terrace
on Oct 20, 2020 at 4:00 pm
mjh, College Terrace
Registered user
on Oct 20, 2020 at 4:00 pm
5 people like this

@Resident 1-Adobe Meadows

"What public service does that eliminate?"

Personal financial gain does not need to involve eliminating any public services.


mjh
Registered user
College Terrace
on Oct 20, 2020 at 4:12 pm
mjh, College Terrace
Registered user
on Oct 20, 2020 at 4:12 pm
7 people like this

@ Peter Carpenter

"Deal with the aberrant individual and inspire everyone else with trust and confidence."

Apparently, without standard guidelines being adopted that fairly apply to everyone, there is no legal way for council to enforce appropriate conduct on someone. An especially difficult situation if that person still has three to four years of their term still to go and who refuses to resign.


Good to set boundaries for commissioner and ways to remove them for acting out.
Registered user
Downtown North
on Oct 20, 2020 at 5:01 pm
Good to set boundaries for commissioner and ways to remove them for acting out. , Downtown North
Registered user
on Oct 20, 2020 at 5:01 pm
12 people like this

This is a good start to try to set expectations for out of control commission members.

It is clear that some unelected commission members decide that their goals and ideas are more important than any others and they join these commissions to flog their ideas, at times rudely shoving them down the throats of others and demanding that their issues be dealt with.

This has been more of an issue lately as the basic tenor of public service has become more adversarial and people join these commissions, not as a way to help their community but, as a way to disseminate and force their ideas on others.

Nothing in the handbook says these people cannot talk to the press. They are merely reminded that they should either make it clear they are speaking as an individual or make sure that a representative of the commission speak to the press. This is reasonable so that a clear message is conveyed.

People in this town seem to be a little overwrought about everyone's "rights" and they forget that we need to work together to represent the community of people who live here. Sometimes what you want is not what the city's population wants and the elected city council members are the ones to decide that the best. Not unelected, adversarial commission members.


HerbF
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Oct 20, 2020 at 5:01 pm
HerbF, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Oct 20, 2020 at 5:01 pm
7 people like this

Something is wrong with the city council. Lot of important issues they should be dealing with, not wasting time on how to muzzle volunteers who are donating their time to the city. Commissioners are involved in what's going on and we should be able to hear their opinions.

Drop it and work on the what affects the city and its citizens.


ALB
Registered user
College Terrace
on Oct 20, 2020 at 10:19 pm
ALB, College Terrace
Registered user
on Oct 20, 2020 at 10:19 pm
12 people like this

In my opinion the handbook must not prevent a commissioner's right to speak as an individual. Yes, regarding quasi judicial issues then the commissioner must not speak his or her opinion on behalf of the commission. One commissioner has triggered this handbook. His behavior is outrageous. He is a bully and takes all of the oxygen out of the chambers when he speaks. He abused his power regarding the city code when he was building a spec house and his own domicile to include garages when that was contrary to zoning law. He verbally lashed out at a ninety year old citizen at a Planning and Transportation meeting because he found her choice of language, the word cabal, to be abhorrent. Twenty five members of the public stood up and told Alchek to stop shouting. The chair, Ed Lauing, cautioned the offending commissioner and told him to cease. I witnessed this meeting. Please look at the ENTIRE minutes for the meeting to see that this account is true. He also thinks that the FPPC found his 'garagegate' to not be In violation. In fact the complaint was never submitted to the FFPC because constituents feel that the city council and city attorney must act and remove commissioner Alchek based on his recored. Many in Palo Alto ask why is it that they have not done so by now. In my opinion it is the duty of the city council and the city attorney to act swiftly and remove this commissioner.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 21, 2020 at 7:03 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Oct 21, 2020 at 7:03 am
1 person likes this

WE obviously have multiple issues here.
1. Friends of FHP and Friends of CHS - note that is the city of SF the mayor and a top level employee are in trouble for the "Friends of___ " tactic for what is construed as favoritism in the awarding of contracts. Someone in FHP was suggesting a bus service. We appear to have an excess of busses which are the wrong size. Friends of CHS are looking for the building of homes. Big Bucks here.
2. How many Commissions are there and what is their purpose? Who assigns their goals for the year based on the available budget? At what point does the suggested resolution to any problem get passed up to the City Manager and PACC members for their review?
3. How do "problems" first get assigned to a commission for review? Is there a road map of the whole process end to end?
4. Noting that there are acolytes of Mr. Weiner - SF supervisor who is busy destructing R-1 neighborhoods - my opinion - to what degree are we using commissions to circle that wagon? One city in this county is suing because of the interference to their running a city.
5. Commissioners using the newspapers to politicize their issues. My understanding is that commissioners make recommendations and pass those upwards for review. And the city manager and PACC members make a decision.

Since I have spent my working life in major corporations my training and expectations are align with processes and procedures that are clearly
evident to all employees. However it appears that this city government has a different approach which is a bit undefined.

Hopefully the handbook provides a road map to effectively communicating issues and resolutions within the resources available to the city. The finance people have to provide budgets for all of the city activities so other decisions are in play here.

As to commissioners who are commandeering the process to their own financial or political advantage will have to let the city legal department get involved.


Mark Michael
Registered user
Community Center
on Oct 21, 2020 at 9:38 am
Mark Michael, Community Center
Registered user
on Oct 21, 2020 at 9:38 am
4 people like this

As a former commissioner (IBRC and PTC), I would suggest that Council table its consideration of the proposed handbook and, instead, request each board and commission to make recommendations about best practices and how such body may best perform its duties and responsibilities.
The relationship between Council and boards and commissions is dysfunctional. However, the primary cause for this resides not with a few untrained or rogue commissioners, but with the hubris and inappropriate process at the council level.
Whereas boards and commissions are chartered to submit recommendations and provide advice to Council, how often are such recommendations adopted or advice relied upon?
The community clearly understands that any and all important policies, discussions or actions begin and end with the Council. This is not necessarily a terrible fact; however, it begs the question of the value of serving on a board or commission; or, if one is a resident, bothering to engage in a preliminary and largely meaningless exercise of attending a lower level meeting.
When was the last time the planning & transportation commission was relied upon by Council for a recommendation on a transportation matter? Rail grade separation? Neighborhood parking permits? Parking infrastructure? Or even land use? Comprehensive Plan? Frye's/Ventura? Affordable housing? Ground floor retail? Precise plan for downtown or Cal. Ave.?
IBRC worked for almost 2 years and submitted its report to Council with clear recommendations, some of which were adopted, and others are still pending. I would give Council a grade of C+ or B-.
During my term on PTC, it is difficult to recall any recommendations or advice that was sought or utilized by Council. Major land use and transportation matters were initiated and concluded at Council level, during a period in which several council members had lengthy prior stints as planning commissioners (that might have led to micromanagement). I would give Council's performance during this period a lower grade. Not much progress has been made on the perennial top priorities of residents: housing, traffic, parking and managing growth.
Meanwhile 2020 has brought us crises, including: Covid-19 pandemic, economic recession, racial injustice and continued ravages from climate change. Perhaps it is timely to improve the functioning of boards and commissions, starting with Council reforming its practices, processes, and receptivity to recommendations from boards & commissions. This may attract talented and dedicated residents to serve on such bodies and partner effectively elected officials and staff to achieve results on key priorities.


See Alckeck Video
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 21, 2020 at 9:51 am
See Alckeck Video, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 21, 2020 at 9:51 am
12 people like this

The Commission meeting video that ALB references in comments above may be accessed via the you tube url below.

You will see Commissioner Alchek’s outrageous response to a woman addressing the Commission, making him a poster child for removal (this is not a single incident). His reprehensible treatment of other Commissioners, especially women, continues.

Go to time stamp 1:45:28 of the video:

Web Link


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Oct 21, 2020 at 10:49 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Oct 21, 2020 at 10:49 am
5 people like this

Do not let the tiny tip of the tail wag the dog.

A commissioner who behaves well outside established norms will be both ineffective and self defeating.

Ignore the aberrant individual and inspire everyone else with trust and confidence.

Peter Carpenter
Former Palo Alto Planning Commissioner
15+ years as a Director of Menlo Park Fire Protection District


Me 2
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 21, 2020 at 11:37 am
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 21, 2020 at 11:37 am
1 person likes this

These are unelected positions. What is the role of these commissions anyway? To advise? To gather input from residents?

Maybe we should just blow up the entire system. Lots of energy wasted on who recommended what and whining about the council not taking up their recommendations.

If they want to make policy, they should run for city council.


Pat Markevitch
Registered user
Downtown North
on Oct 21, 2020 at 2:30 pm
Pat Markevitch, Downtown North
Registered user
on Oct 21, 2020 at 2:30 pm
7 people like this

Me 2: What is the role of these commissions anyway? To advise? To gather input from residents?

The answer is both. I served on 2 commissions (10 years on Parks & Rec & 3 on IBRC). We are tasked with taking on the review of projects and ideas that will eventually come before Council. The Commissions do a lot of the up front leg work thereby saving Council a lot of time. We will discuss and review these projects and ideas and vote on a recommendation that then moves forward to Council for a final discussion and vote. It is of course the Council's purview to either go with a Commission's recommendation or vote another way.

When you serve on a Commission or Board, you learn a lot about how the city works and how to work not only with Council, but with the citizens who will come to you with their concerns. This is why when you look at a candidates body of work, many of them come up through the ranks of commissions and boards. Not every commissioner wants to run for office but it is a great training ground for a Council member. I will take that experience into account when choosing who to vote for.


Name hidden
Downtown North

Registered user
on Oct 21, 2020 at 4:54 pm
Name hidden, Downtown North

Registered user
on Oct 21, 2020 at 4:54 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 21, 2020 at 4:58 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Oct 21, 2020 at 4:58 pm
3 people like this

Thanks Pat - great information. Question to you and other commissions - the city in total has a budget for running the whole city and funding projects -some in process - from the previous year. Is it possible that some projects are too expensive and after consideration the available budget is assigned to other projects which cost less?

Given the number of commissions which appear to operate in separate bubbles people may not know what other commissions are doing and the cost of their projects.

Would it be helpful if every three months there is a meeting of all commissions where they can report what they are working on and what the anticipated cost would be. Possibly then some of the projects can be combined for a joint project and reduce the overall cost.


Fred Balin
Registered user
College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2020 at 5:49 pm
Fred Balin, College Terrace
Registered user
on Oct 24, 2020 at 5:49 pm
9 people like this

In February of 2015 a member of the Architectural Review Board resigned after video showed her removing a clay pot from a neighbor’s porch.

In July of 2017 Planning Commissioner Michael Alcheck, without filing an application or receiving a permit, [portion removed] converted a carport to a garage on his residential property and also as part of an investment group on an adjacent property. He did not resign.

(See Chapter 4, pages 39-49 at Web Link )

Councilmembers: decide on your process, move him off, or explain why this behavior is acceptable from someone responsible as a commissioner for applying your zoning code laws to project applications.


Pat Markevitch
Registered user
Downtown North
on Oct 25, 2020 at 8:52 am
Pat Markevitch, Downtown North
Registered user
on Oct 25, 2020 at 8:52 am
2 people like this

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, those are very good questions. The budgets aren't set by the commissions (above their pay grade). I'm no longer on a commission but will forward your every 3 month idea to staff. Thanks.


Pat Markevitch
Registered user
Downtown North
on Nov 2, 2020 at 12:09 pm
Pat Markevitch, Downtown North
Registered user
on Nov 2, 2020 at 12:09 pm
2 people like this

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows: I asked a staffer your questions and here are his answers:

Is it possible that some projects are too expensive and after consideration the available budget is assigned to other projects which cost less?
Each year the City prepares its Capital Budget, which shows the five year plan for capital projects (only the first year is funded, the other four years are for planning purposes). During the capital budget planning process, there are engineer estimates for the costs of each project. If the cost estimate for a project is too expensive for a given year, the project may be deferred for a future year or it may be reduced in scope, and funds may be used for other priority projects with costs that fit the budget.

Given the number of commissions which appear to operate in separate bubbles people may not know what other commissions are doing and the cost of their projects.
The City's Administrative Services Department reviews all the capital project requests each year. Staff would look for options for combining projects where it makes sense. An example is that we have a capital project to repave paved park bike paths. We regularly coordinate our funding for repaving bike paths with larger Public Works street repaving projects, which typically allows us to get more down for less cost.

Hope this answers your questions.

Pat


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 2, 2020 at 12:42 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Nov 2, 2020 at 12:42 pm
4 people like this

Interesting. It's obvious the commissions considering the Casti expansion aren't talking to the RR commissions who want to close Churchill since both will be funneling more traffic onto Embarcadero.

Neither seems to be talking to those responsible for sending out the resident survey on the RR crossings in a timely fashion or to the folks who failed to create a survey form that works when a resident posted that survey on NextDoor, saying it was the LAST DAY to opine on the RR crossings. Numerous residents including myself complained that the survey didn't work or record votes!

Your tax dollars at work, including the $5,000,000 "communucations" staff.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 4, 2020 at 10:16 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Nov 4, 2020 at 10:16 am
2 people like this

Pat - thank you. Hope everyone out there understands that the city at the top level has to manage the whole city in total. Just because someone wants something it all has to be evaluated and prioritized against the other projects in process.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.