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Back on the #local beat tonight, live-tweeting the #livermore City Council meeting. Major items include Livermore's vaping ordinance and development agreements for #downtownlivermore hotel, housing, retail, black box theater and science and society center. Follow along here.
Citizens forum starting now
Leader of Central Park group is "dismayed" at the "tone" of the last few meetings, lamenting the use of public meetings to make personal attacks. Specifically asks for people to lay off Joan Seppala. Makes a specific plea for Mayor to ensure at "fair" hearing.
Another Central Park leader who says she is "only speaking for herself" is commenting on others' criticism of her political spending and claims about her "special interests." She says she has no financial interests in the issues she funds, which she is no listing exhaustively.
*now listing
Regular speaker on homeless issues has brought a guest to the podium. He states that those involved in solving homelessness in Livermore are not listening to each other. Making request to use council chambers for shelter after new chambers opens.
Listing current expenditures on homeless-related issues and asking "where will be" at the end of the spending. Says resources alone won't end homelessness, and that "astute political will" is required.
Current speaker wants Livermore's 150th birthday to be celebrated. Asking for future city council item. Mayor says a party is planned for later this year.
Cannabis education business rep now up talking about dangers of black market weed delivery businesses in Livermore. She is advocating for a local storefront to discourage "illicit" use of black market deliveries.
Another rep of the cannabis collective offers information on how to differentiate legal and illegal cannabis businesses.
Next speaker announces new monthly meetup group welcoming new residents to Livermore and connecting them to local resources. (Disclosure: I'm involved in this effort). First speakers at the meetup will be Mayor Marchand and Schools Superintendent Kelly Bower.
Next speaker is complaining about "aggressive" signature gatherers collecting sigs to overturn the Livermore anti-vaping ordinance. She's thanking the council for their strong stance against vaping.
Next speaker also criticizing Juul and "big tobacco" for targeting kids, citing recent congressional testimony.
Another speaker supporting the anti-vaping ordinance and inviting Council and others to a rally tomorrow. Says press will be there.
Leader of Livermore Shakespeare commenting on planned black box theater. Says Shakes has always planned to collaborate with the LVPAC/Bankhead staff on programming for the new theater. (LVPAC was not selected by the Council to be the City's partner in the new theater.)
Next speaker is criticizing the mayor for calling out people by name. Says it’s improper. She appears to want the mayor to talk about people’s actions without naming them.
Unify Livermore leader asks for additional transparency.
Meeting regular Karl Wente says he supports civility, but for him "this is personal." Calls out "Joan (Seppala) and Jean (King)" for what he calls lies. Criticizing coverage of the issue in The Independent (owned by Ms. Seppala) as misleading.
Citizens forum over.
Mayor addressing complaint about calling people out by name. Says he guards his integrity closely, and he called those people out by name because they were paying signature gatherers to lie about him, saying he was "taking bribes." Says he will "continue to defend his integrity."
Mayor also talking about criticism of him not participating in steering committee and outreach process. Explains that there was concern that his participation possibly "tainting" the process, so CMs Carling and Woerner were appointed. Mayor joining would have violated Brown Act.
CM Woerner asking a question of the city attorney about his legal and ethical responsibility, which is at least in part designed to elevate the city attorney's credibility compared with the Central Park group's attorney who made an appearance last week.
Consent calendar is up, including second readings of the DAs.
Leader of Central Park group is back and threatening to referend the agreements. Again claiming the council is subverting the rights of the people.
Current speaker extolling the virtues of Joan Seppala in list form.
Central Park leader (who continues to claim she represents only herself) opposing adoption of the DAs. Seems to be criticizing the complexity of the "online tool" used to gather feedback, and then claiming it demonstrates that most people wanted a west side hotel.
Same speaker says she "investigated" the claim that a signature gatherer told people the mayor was "on the take" and got the signature gatherer fired. She apologized.
Next speaker says people want the chance to vote. Says he's disappointed with the council's decision, and he calls their comments "disgusting."
Sorry, got caught up in a side conversation. Back now.
Recent speakers have cautioned that DAs should have an "out clause" in case the initiative passes.
Current speaker wants DAs to move forward to support downtown businesses and wineries. Says the hotel was promised years ago, and it's time to deliver. Thanks council for their "guts."
Next speaker wants vote to show council what whole community really wants, not just people in this room. Cautions council on next steps.
A "long time resident" who gave input at the public workshop recalls the majority of people at her workshop liked a westside hotel, and doesn't understand why the council didn't choose that and more open space.
Livermore Shakes and Innovation Tri-Valley leadership both urge moving forward with the development agreements.
Unify CEO emphasizing the compromises that have already been made, and says it feels like the "goal posts are moving." Notes the time lost to fights over the hotel.
Central Park plan supporter states support for central park
New participant thanks community organizers on both sides, and notes his support for petitions. Says he started petition to unban kickball at his school as a child, but no one paid him for signatures. He wants council to move forward, doesn't understand continued fighting.
Current speaker criticizing "longtime resident, tax payer, homeowner" narrative. Cites large parks in central downtown areas in SF, says they are possible because they are surrounded by dense buildings. Encourages people to move beyond their "wants" for downtown.
Downtown director says we have a large park close to downtown, it's called Sycamore Grove. Notes Sycamore is actually larger than NYC Central Park.
Consent calendar over
CM Coomber says doesn't see many of the current audience at budget meetings. He doesn't want new assessments fo downtown businesses, and he doesn't want new taxes for residents.
Says no hotel developer wanted to build a westside hotel. Says he wanted a hotel on the west side, but developers didn't want to build it, and the majority of council didn't want it.
VM Carling asks for additional clarification if DAs are legal. Answer from city attorney is yes. Carling asks if any action taken tonight nullifies people's ability vote on the initiative. Answer: no.
VM Carling reminds audience that Council's job was not to "pick a plan" but to pick elements of a plan - housing, hotel, etc. Says he hasn't heard from a single person outside this room who wants the hotel moved to the west side. People want the plan to move forward.
VM Carling notes that he was elected to improve an existing (Lennar) concept by adding open space and reducing housing. Both have been done, and yet the fight continues.
CM Munro noting that many in this room bought their homes for under $100k and are still paying property taxes at that rate. She's arguing that people of her generation "owe a debt" to the next generation.
Mayor pointing out that the top priorities of people in the public outreach were parking and maintaining the character of downtown. He's asking where were the public hearings on the "drawings" in the Central Park plan.
Hotel DA passes unanimously
Ok, I needed a break, but jumping back in to a discussion of homeless services programs and related expenditures. We are halfway through the item, so my coverage will be incomplete.
Discussing just over $1 million of spending on programs, most if not all of which is grant funds from the County. (sorry, I missed the breakdown of funding sources)
Public Hearing open
Homeless resident and regular speaker animatedly asking how we will measure results from this spending.
Speaker from the Vineyard Fellowship site talking about the future project to serve local homeless and hungry residents.
Current speaker says this is what community character is really about, not building height or where shadows go. He supports the program, and also encourages the repeal or modification of ordinance banning sleeping in cars.
Speaker from org Monthly Miracles thanking Council and encouraging them to move forward with the funding. Monthly Miracles places bins with businesses to collect money and goods for the local population.
Unanimous passage of funding
Next item: Council needs to take action on petition to place the downtown development on the ballot. Council can adopt the ordinance, send it to a vote, or request a 9212 report, which requests info on the impacts of the proposed ordinance.
From city attorney: 9219 report evaluates fiscal impacts, consistency with other policies, uses of vacant parcels of land, and a whole bunch of other things. Council can also request additional information be added to the report.
CM Woerner wants to add a review of the whole area of Stockmen's Park and the additional park space between the housing.
VM Carling wants to know what a parking structure next to the Bankhead would cost.
CM Munro wants to know what the impact of changing the housing count and type would do to the City's financial obligation since the land was purchased with affordable housing dollars.
CM Munro also notes that the 9212 report will cost $100k that could be used for other things. Mayor points out that this information is critical, so it's not an option to skip it.
Additionally, the city clerk stated that the cost of the special election is $800,000.
Discussion now centering on more qualitative elements of the report and how capture them.
VM Carling moves to request the 9212 report, CM Coomber seconds. August 12th meeting is cancelled. August 26th is next meeting where this will come back. Council votes unanimously.
Meeting adjourned
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