A No Vote for Accepting County Property

I will be voting no to accept the county property on O’Hara Avenue south of Main St on the City Council agenda for this Tuesday. The county is offering the property to the City. In exchange, the City will pay half the cost of demolition of the building currently on the site, a $200,000.00 price tag for the City residents. In addition, my understanding the City will need to provide clean-up for the site, and maintain it, which will be an additional cost to Oakley citizens.

            The Friends of the Oakley Library will have three years to raise funds to build an expanded library at the location. (Please remember Oakley does have a library.) My understanding is the only way to create an expanded library is if the voters approve a tax revenue package for the construction. In the process, Oakley property taxes will continue to climb.

            I oppose any property tax increase, especially for a library, at least during this post-pandemic period. Oakley property taxes are amazingly high. In my opinion, the property taxes paid by property owners in Emerson Ranch, Delaney Park, and Summer Lake are oppressive. We recently increased taxes with the passage of the Measure X sales tax and increased impact fees for fire protection. At this juncture, Oakley needs to say, “no more out of our pockets for increased taxes for any reason.”

            I have yet to hear the need for an expanded library other than, “it would be so nice to have a larger library in Oakley.” The argument is not solid enough to support tax increases, and I have offered the solution of building the library downtown where the parking lot is to be constructed. A structure there would have more viable means of financing than increased taxes, at least in my mind.

            Now would be the time to notify council members of your thoughts concerning the situation.

 George Fuller, MPA, MA
     City Councilmember, City of Oakley

The Courage and Self-Sacrifice of the Men and Women of the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD)

The courage of the men and women of the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD).  On September 15, 2021, the ECCFPD Directors met in a special session meeting. During that meeting, the Directors voted to approve the annexation of ECCFPD into the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (CCCFPD). While virtually watching the session, I understood how this was a courageous and self-sacrificing act of the members of the ECCFPD.

            The only guarantee the members of the ECCFPD received during the annexation was that all employees of ECCFPD would be re-employed in the CCCFPD. However, all salaries must are subject to negotiation with the staff of CCCFPD. The executive team of ECCFPD will not be guaranteed an executive position with CCCFPD. Despite the lack of guarantees, the Directors, with the support of members of the ECCFPD, believed it was in the best interests of the protection and safety of the community to allow the annexation to take place. In doing so, the Directors were voting to disband their positions.

            The men and women of ECCFPD, in my perspective, are to be commended for their courageous and selfless acts.

George Fuller, MPA, MA
     City Councilmember, City of Oakley 

Councilmanic Districts for the City of Oakley

Communities of Interest (COI): As many know, the City of Oakley is forming councilmanic voting districts. The election of future council members is to be in designated districts within the community. A part of the process is to ask Oakley residents to submit information of what they believe is a community within Oakley. What particular neighborhoods are a group of homogenous people?

            Explaining the concept of COI is rather lengthy, and I am concerned that I would not do the topic justice if I tried. Information is on the City of Oakley website ci.oakley.ca.us. Please take the time to locate the item and complete a COI feedback form.

George Fuller, MPA,MA
    Councilmember, City of Oakley 

Public Forum for Oakley’s New City Manager Search

A community forum is scheduled for Oakley’s City Council meeting at 6:30 p.m., September 14, 2021. The purpose is to listen to public comments on the characteristics residents would like to see in their new City Manager. All who are able, please do attend and provide your input. Written comments will also be graciously received. Hope to see you there.

George Fuller, MPA, MA
   Councilmember, City of Oakley 

Oakley City Council districts to be discussed Tuesday night, 8/31

Voting Districts special Oakley City Council meeting this Tuesday, Aug 31. Oakley is moving to voter districts. Tuesday night, 8/31, a special City Council meeting will be held to discuss councilmanic districts with the demographer putting the districts together. She is looking for feedback from the community. The council has called for five districts to be discussed, or four districts and an at-large mayor. Please read the staff report for the item. It is descriptive and well put together but difficult to explain in this short post. The public may attend the meeting – either in person or by phone. The instructions are on the first page of the agenda post.

George Fuller, MPA, MA
   City Councilmember, City of Oakley, CA   

Is the Oakley downtown parking lot for commuters or affordable apartments?

Is the Oakley downtown parking lot for commuters or affordable apartments? Oakley residents have heard much of the three hundred car parking lot downtown. Ostensibly, it is for train riders for the yet to have final approval of an Amtrak train stop. However, the new Oakley General Plan has the area designated for residential high – a destination for affordable and residential units. In other words, affordable housing apartment units. Those apartment units will require parking space.

It appears that City Staff is providing the parking for the developer under the guise of commuter parking, a big break for the developer. City Staff is already planning to provide parking for the mercantile building being constructed across from City Hall. The recent passage of SB10 will allow for the units. The “RR stop” will be commuter designated. Therefore multiple units of apartments may be built near the stop. A large percentage of those units must be affordable. It is sad City Staff has not been more forthcoming regarding the issue.

Yes, I will be looking for a new City Manager who is more transparent. A copy of the proposed General Plan Map is attached. The areas in pink are Residential High zones. The map is from the proposed Oakley General Plan, pages 2-11. The proposed plan is on the Oakley City website.

https://fullerforoakley.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/downtown-apts-gp-08-27.pdf

George Fuller, MPA, MA

City Councilmember, City of Oakley

Lean and Mean leaves City of Oakley parents in a lurch

Lean and Mean leaves City of Oakley’s parents in a lurch. The City staff is reviewing ARPA money allocated to the City, the sum of which is over ten million dollars. A portion of that money is targeted for childcare so parents, especially mothers, can return to work. Yes, as predicted, childcare has become a severe challenge for parents of Oakley. Children are being sent home from schools due to COCID-19 exposure, with the stipulation the child should not return to school for a period. Parents are scrambling to find childcare for the child while continuing their employment.

            Oakley City staff was to have recommendations for childcare prepared for August 10th. City Manager Joshua McMurray notified the council that the proposal required more time to prepare. When it became apparent that childcare was becoming an urgent matter in the City, I requested a special meeting to discuss the allocation. Mayor Higgins responded City staff would not have completed their work until September 14th.

            Our City staff is professional but far too thin. The consequence is a lurch when a response needs to be immediate. There are not enough staff to complete the work. I will be looking for a new City manager who can build a prudent and wise workforce with enough personnel to fulfill the City’s most urgent needs.

Below is a URL that contains germane emails:

George Fuller, MPA, MA
   Councilmember, City of Oakley

Need for Oakley City Council special meeting – August 24, 2021

Need for Childcare Oakley City Council meeting – August 24, 2021. Joshua McMurray reminded me there is not a City Council meeting scheduled for August 24, 2021. On December 8, 2020, I did request one on that date. My colleagues indicated they did not want a second meeting in August. Bryan Montgomery schools were out at that time, so it was a Summer break for council members. City Councilmember Anissa Willams said she had three kids at home and did not want to take time away from them for a Council meeting. All five council members agreed that the council could meet in a special session during the summer if there were a need.

The time for such a special city council meeting is urgent in my mind. We need to get childcare support to the community. People are pleading for help. Oakley does have ARPA money (close to ten million dollars) for community childcare support. City Manager Joshua McMurray was to have a proposal to use the money prepared for the August 10th meeting. He put the item off until Sept 10. My thoughts are that it is too long for the community to wait, and the council needs to provide immediately. Yes, incidentally, all Oakley schools are in session.

A URL to December 8, 2021, meeting discussion is:

https://youtu.be/VXYUHRxt2DA

George Fuller, MPA, MA
    City Councilmember, City of Oakley 

Childcare for the City of Oakley

The childcare industry collapsed during the pandemic. As the nation, and our community, move into post-pandemic, the resounding theme of returning to work is the need for adequate childcare for people with children. The concern is will parents find satisfactory childcare services, on a 24/7 basis, to allow them to return to the work environment and have people they can trust care for their child while there are gone? If not, their return to the workplace would be slow for an indefinite period.

            The city manager informed me that the next Oakley City Council meeting (8/24) would discuss the COVID-19 relief funds. Childcare support for Oakley residents should be part of the discussion. I am positive my colleagues would appreciate your feedback regarding the issue.

            Below URL to an article from the New York Times, which explains the situation further.

George Fuller, MPA, MA
    City Councilmember, City of Oakley, CA