What's Doing in Lafayette?The City Manager’s office in Lafayette gives residents and businesses three ways to stay informed about goings on in town:
The Almost Daily Briefing
The City prepares the Almost Daily Briefing, an aggregation of links to news articles from local and regional newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs, and other internet sources, almost every day (hence its name). It does not include original content. About 200 news junkies and local government wonks currently receive the ADB. You can read the most recent Almost Daily Briefing under the News section here, and you can subscribe to receive the Almost Daily Briefing here.
The Lafayette Vistas Newsletter
In an effort to keep people informed, the City has published and sent the Lafayette Vistas newsletter to every home in the City four times a year for more than twenty years. The most recent Vistas as well as a complete archive of every Vistas newsletter since 1998 is available for your review here.The Weekly Roundup
The City publishes a summary of local news and events on Fridays, and has done so since 2006. The news blast typically contains original content and this is where you can get the skinny and the lowdown on the City, its residents, and its habitués. With more than 700 subscribers, the Weekly Roundup is very popular. You can find the current and past Weekly Roundups on this page, and you can subscribe to receive future Weekly Roundups here.
The Weekly Roundup
May 27, 2016 | What’s Doing in Lafayette?
Our old friend Aristotle is supposed to have said, “While everything changes, everything remains the same as well.” Not sure exactly what that means, but imagine a river: the water drops and molecules are constantly moving through, never staying in one place; the banks shrink and expand with the seasonal flows; the river freezes in the winter and then warms in the spring; it’s always changing but then again, it’s always the same river, right? Everything changes, but everything remains the same. So, too, with downtown Lafayette. Stores and restaurants seemingly come and go, but that stretch of Mt. Diablo Boulevard still fits like that comfortable old college sweatshirt that you got back in the ‘80’s. The Lafayette Pet Shoppe is gone, but incoming is an OrangeTheory fitness center. The old Handlebar Toys space now contains the Sideboard Restaurant. Hollywood Video will soon be a boutique version of BevMo. The Art Room will soon be The Coffee Shop. And this week we received an application to convert the Pendleton Store in La Fiesta Square into Blue Mercury, a high end cosmetics retailer.
Fire Station 16
ConFire Chief Jeff Carman was in town this week with his architect to meet with local residents and talk about Station 16 – the old firehouse on Los Arabis Drive in western Lafayette that was shuttered years ago due to mold and budget problems. The budget is better now, but the District has concluded that the existing station cannot be rehabilitated. It’s too small, doesn’t meet ADA, and the foundation is too far gone. To fix it would cost almost as much and take at least as long as building a brand new station that is ADA compliant and 40% larger. And so the District has a new station floorplan, and the purpose for the meeting was to hear from people who live on the street regarding what architectural style they would prefer for the new station. Several examples were displayed, and most of the people seemed to like the drawing that looked a woodsy / contemporary Tahoe cabin. Next, the architects will work something up for the Design Review Commission. All in all, it will be about two years before the new fire station is open and operating.
Governor Brown’s Multi-Family Housing Express Redux
Last week, here, we introduced Gov. Jerry Brown’s sweeping statewide legislation that would allow new multi-family housing project applications to get quicker approvals along with staff’s recommendation to conditionally support the measure. The City Council, at its meeting on Monday night, saw things differently, and here’s the strongly worded letter Lafayette sent to legislators this week:
Dear Honorable Chairs Nazarian and Roth:
The City of Lafayette opposes Governor Brown’s trailer bill that seeks to pre-empt local discretionary land use approvals of specified housing developments by having all such approvals be considered “ministerial” actions because it would eliminate opportunities for public review, eliminate any environmental review, and restrict design review.
We recognize that the amount of housing compared to the population in California helped cause recent rapid price increases and housing shortages in parts of California. Our city is one of those affected and in the past year we have heard requests for us to adopt rent control from some of the city’s long-term residents who face being forced to move from our community due to the amount rent increases they face. While we were able to discuss the problem with property owners that resulted in a rollback of some proposed rent increases and avoidance of others, the underlying issue remains.
Furthermore, given the size of the state’s population, no single city can solve the problem. Coordinated action is needed and that action needs made in consultation with citizens and the local governments that make land use decisions.
Therefore, while we share the Governor’s apparent goal of increasing housing supply, we believe the approach to modify how housing projects are considered as represented in the trailer bill to the budget is flawed and should be rejected.
We believe that such fundamental policy changes should not be rushed through as a budget proposal, but merit extensive review by the appropriate policy committees in a deliberative fashion. The unintended consequences of acting in a short period cannot be adequately foreseen but could be detrimental to California communities.
Eliminating opportunities for public review of major development projects goes against the principles of local democracy and public engagement. While it may be frustrating for some developers to hear concerns about traffic, parking, and other development impacts, those affected by such projects have a right to be heard. Not having such outlets will increase public distrust in government. Furthermore, the CEQA and other analyses conducted for a General Plan review is not at a sufficiently granular level to understand how to mitigate the impacts of a specific project.
Avoiding or restricting design review is also short-sighted. Community acceptance can be improved through good design that enables a new structure to match a community’s character. However, the legislation as drafted offers little hope that effective design review will occur.
Our experience in Lafayette is that, in almost every case, good multi-family projects are made better after careful public and design review. In addition, we have found opportunities to increase the amount of affordable housing in these projects through this review process, even though the range of tools offered us by the state to do so is limited.
And so, for these and other reasons, the City of Lafayette respectfully states our opposition to this measure as presented and encourages the Governor and legislature to convene and manage a more comprehensive deliberative process to discuss housing issues and solutions including those related to affordable housing. We would be delighted to participate in such a process.
Mark Mitchell, Mayor
Get Ready to Vote!
It easier than ever to vote at this upcoming June 7th Presidential Primary Election. The County Elections Office and City Clerks have teamed up to provide convenient “CoCo Vote-N-Go” drop off locations prior to and on Election Day. The secure, red steel drop-off boxes are in the lobby of Lafayette city hall at 3675 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Suite 210 from 8am to 5pm Monday thru Friday. Contra Costa voters can drop their ballot at Lafayette city hall, regardless of where they live.
The Community Resilience Challenge is Here
The Community Resilience Challenge, now through June 7th, is an annual campaign that inspires thousands of people and groups to take action to save water, grow food, conserve energy, reduce waste pollution and build community. The Challenge honors people-powered, low-cost, high-impact solutions that create healthier, localized and more resilient food systems, economies and communities. Are you interested in living more sustainably but aren’t sure where to start? Do you simply wish to lower your energy costs or water bill? Perhaps you have already made sustainable changes in your life and are eager to do more. Sustainable Contra Costa can offer you suggestions and they are also excited to hear your creative ideas! Click here and “Register an Action”. Simply fill out the form and select from menu of over 40 potential actions, from installing a greywater system to replacing a lawn to going completely reusable for 30 days. Participants receive: one free yard of EcoMulch, 10% off your purchase at Mt. Diablo Nursery & Garden, and one free bag of compost from Mt. Diablo Recycling
This Week at the Library
To see what’s happening at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center this week, click here. Support your Library - Shop at Friends Corner Book Shop, corner of 1st St. & Golden Gate Way!
Quote for the Week
If you're not reaching out to help anyone, then you're not building a legacy.
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This weekly summary is prepared by City Manager Steven Falk for the Lafayette City Council, staff, and the Lafayette community. Do you have thoughts about this week’s Summary or a contribution for next week’s message? Forward it to him now!