The Weekly Roundup
Friday, August 31, 2018 | What’s Doing in Lafayette?
Preservation Lost? City Council to Discuss Park Theater’s Future
The City Council will be discussing Lafayette’s Park Theater and possible next steps at their meeting on Monday, September 10. Everyone is encouraged to come to the meeting and express their opinions, show enthusiasm and share ideas for preserving the Theater. As has been reported, a developer previously interested in purchasing the Park Theater, Madison Park Financial, informed the City on Monday that it has decided not to move forward with the purchase of the theater and instead focus on a smaller scale project at the Lincoln Apartment Complex that it owns in downtown Lafayette.
In an email to the City of Lafayette, Simon Chen, Madison Park’s Chief Financial Officer, said that there were several factors that led the developer to decide against taking advantage of a “density transfer” that could possibly provide a method for saving the historic theater, which was built in 1941. The City proposed the density transfer – essentially trading allowable zoned housing units to be moved from one location to another – as a means to preserve the Park Theater, which has been shuttered for the past 13 years. The scale of any housing development would be a significant issue given the feedback from both the community and City Council, Madison Park noted. The community’s expectations, the developer wrote, would result in the additional density no longer being accretive, and instead present an additional financial hurdle to overcome.
CPUC & PG&E to Address Safety Concerns at Sept. 10 Council Meeting
California Public Utilities Commission members and senior PG&E management officials will be attending a special community meeting on PG&E safety concerns convened by the Lafayette City Council on Monday, September 10, 2018, at 4:00 p.m., in the Community Hall at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd. The regular City Council meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m., following the special community meeting.
Community members have voiced their dissatisfaction with the utility, and in many cases demanded that the City of Lafayette intervene with PG&E on residents’ behalf. This special community meeting will allow residents to make their concerns known directly to PG&E and receive answers to their questions about the utility’s operations. Representing the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will be Naveed Paydar, Local Government Liaison, Executive Division, and Lee Palmer, Deputy Director of the Office of Utility Safety, Security and Enforcement Division. PG&E, who will have senior management and topic experts at the meeting, will address more than 150 safety concerns raised by the community, which have already been forwarded to the utility in preparation for the special meeting. Over the past several years, a number of issues related to PG&E and its provision of service in Lafayette have arisen. Please visit our Website here for more details on some of the issues.
At the special community meeting, the public will have an opportunity to comment and ask questions of PG&E directly. The CPUC will monitor the meeting and answer questions that Lafayette’s City Council might have. Media representatives are invited to attend the special meeting.
Getting Closer: Pilot Project to Test Second Northbound Right-Turn Lane at Moraga Road/Mount Diablo Boulevard
Readers may recall from a prior Roundup edition that in May the Council unanimously approved a pilot project to test whether a second northbound right-turn lane from Moraga Road onto Mount Diablo Blvd. could reduce traffic congestion by up to 10% along Moraga Road at the subject intersection. The project is included in the Downtown Congestion Reduction Plan as a strategy to be tested on an interim basis and then evaluated prior to consideration of a more permanent status. Project evaluation will include traffic congestion impacts, as well as impacts to non-motorized modes such as walking and biking. The pilot project also includes traffic signal technology upgrades at two Downtown intersections: Mount Diablo Blvd./Moraga Road and Mount Diablo Blvd./First Street. Greater detail on the scope of this project can be read in the Council staff report from May 14.
Whereas it was previously intended for this project to start during summer, unfortunately, the project has been delayed due to logistical complications between the signal hardware supplier and vendor. In the interim, City staff are working daily to launch as soon as possible by prepping the intersections incrementally with operable available hardware. In fact, for those who traveled through Downtown on Thursday, you probably saw staff and signal electricians installing the new video detection cameras. Next week, staff anticipates final hardware upgrades to be installed in the controller cabinets, with new striping and pavement markings to follow within a week thereafter.
Transit Bill AB 2923 Approved by the Assembly, Goes to Governor Brown
On August 28, 2018, AB 2923, the transit-oriented development bill that would put BART in charge of land use at transit stations, made it off the Assembly Floor 44-25. Assembly Members Baker and Frazier (and a few others outside the East Bay) spoke in opposition to the bill on the floor. It is now up to Gov. Jerry Brown to sign or veto the bill. You can express your views on AB 2923 to the Governor by contacting him here. You can use these talking points when writing the Governor:
- AB 2923 silences community members and locally elected officials by giving BART the power to exempt themselves from locally developed and adopted building height limitations, densities, and parking requirements.
- AB 2923 is contrary to BART’s stated mission – “Provide safe, reliable, clean transit service for riders.” BART should be focused on its core mission, not land development
- This measure is in search of a problem. In recent years, cities have approved thousands of housing units near BART stations, and BART hasn’t had a development application rejected in a decade.
- Establishes a dangerous precedent. While AB 2923 only pertains to BART, once the Legislature grants one special district land-use authority, every special district in the state will want the same power over their property.
Lafayette City officials have been active in opposing this precedent-setting bill for several weeks now. AB 2923 has been amended in important ways from the original bill, largely due to the tireless efforts of Mayor Tatzin and Vice Mayor Burks. You can read those amendments and much more on our AB 2923 webpage here: http://bit.ly/LafayetteAB2923
Fire Retardant Landscaping: Ways to Safeguard Your Home from Wildfire
Sunhats off to Councilmember Mark Mitchell for catching this article in the East Bay Times about fire-resistant gardening and reminding all of us that one of the best ways to protect our homes (and businesses) from wildfire is to consider smart, fire retardant landscaping and use fire-resistant plants in our gardens.
And what are fire-resistant plants? Well, all plants can catch fire, but there are a host of less-flammable plants and trees that if maintained properly can reduce the chance that a wildfire will spread. Also, keep in mind that defensible space, which is an important way to protect a home, is not just clear-cutting everything in sight. Defensible space is an area where vegetation has been designed to reduce flammability, and where firefighters can defend your home. Another important aspect is to make sure your property doesn’t contain so-called “fire ladders.” These ladders allow a wildfire to move from grasses to shrubs to low hanging limbs to your home. Cut trees tree limbs 6-10 feet from ground level to minimize a potential fire ladder and make sure that shrubs and hanging foliage around your home do not touch the ground.
There are many great resources on fire retardant landscaping and which plants are the most fire-resistant. Probably the best website is Ready for Wildfire, which, in sponsorship with CalFire, provides many useful links, information and a list of the best plants to use. While visiting the site, don’t miss CalFire’s Is Your Home Ready? and download the Ready for Wildfire app. You can find it all here: http://www.readyforwildfire.org/Fire-Safe-Landscaping/
It’s the Garden Club’s First Meeting of the Year
Speaking of landscaping and gardening, the Lafayette Garden Club meets the second Thursday of each month at the Lafayette Veteran's Building at 10am. Its first meeting for this year is Sept. 13, and they welcome guests and anyone interested in becoming a new member. At this meeting, Executive Director Linus Eukel will speak about the John Muir Land Trust and its mission to conserve our open spaces. His presentation will include photos, maps and video. There is no admission charge and light refreshments will be served.
Meet Khoder Baydoun, Associate Engineer
Married with four children, Khoder received his Master’s degree in civil engineering from San Jose State University and came to Lafayette from the Town of Danville. Khoder, who grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, considers himself fortunate to be where he is today, with his “second family” and friends in Lafayette. In his spare time, he enjoys jogging, weight lifting, writing, reading, and landscaping. He also volunteers with at-risk children and seniors in Oakland. Giving back with joy is his way of expressing gratitude for all that he has in his life today. Khoder never loses sight of the importance of helping others and helping to build communities.
New BART Security Funding: $6.8 million FEMA Award
BART’s efforts to improve safety and security for riders are getting a major infusion of funding thanks, in part, to Bay Area members of Congress. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded BART about $6.8 million in a grant to pay for continued police patrols on trains traveling through BART’s busiest stations, interoperable radio communications systems and upgraded security cameras at Powell St., Civic Center and 16th St. stations.
The Transit Security Grant funds will sustain the continued deployment of BART’s Critical Asset Patrol (CAP) for the period of this grant. The CAP Team consists of seven officers and one sergeant who provide a visible presence on trains, especially during peak passenger travel times including special events. Each member is trained as a Terrorism Liaison Officer and collaborates with other law enforcement agencies. BART launched the CAP team in 2011. These funds will also pay for the conversion of analog cameras at 16th St. to modern digital cameras, aligning them with existing digital technology at other downtown stations. BART has more than 4,000 cameras on trains and in stations and is moving to integrate and modernize the entire security system.
BART will also receive funding to install radio equipment to connect its existing underground radio system to the regional radio systems in San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties. The radio connection will provide the ability for local first responders to maintain radio coverage on their own radios in the BART underground and to communicate directly with BART radios.
Lamorinda CERT at the Lafayette Art & Wine Festival: Want to Participate?
Lamorinda CERT (aka Community Emergency Response Team) is still short of meeting its needs to provide assistance at upcoming Lafayette Art & Wine Festival. They have open shifts on Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday. Many have already signed up, but for those who have yet had a chance to help out, please sign up for shifts by clicking here to go to the website and then picking an open spot. There is no training requirement for this event. We will give you position specific instructions as we walk with you to your post.
September 20 is Lafayette Homeowners Council Candidates Night
The Lafayette Homeowners Council (LHC) is sponsoring its yearly Candidates Night on September 20, at 7pm, at the Lafayette Veterans Memorial, 3780 Mt. Diablo Blvd. All residents are welcome! This year, five candidates will be on the November ballot for just two City Council seats. Lafayette School Board have also been asked to attend and introduce themselves and speak for 2-3 minutes regarding their views on schools and education in Lafayette. Find out more here.
City’s American Red Cross Blood Drive a Success!
Thursday's blood drive in Lafayette was a success. Sponsored by the City of Lafayette on behalf of the American Red Cross, the drive registered 28 donors, including 11 first-time donors. 31 units of blood were college and those 31 donations can potentially help save up to 93 lives. Thanks to everyone who helped out and supported these lifesaving blood donations!
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Monday’s Labor Day: Planning Commission Meeting Will Be Held Tuesday
Monday is usually public meeting night in Lafayette. The City’s open meetings are held at the Lafayette Library & Learning Center, 3491 Mount Diablo Boulevard, Lafayette, California 94549. Monday is Labor Day, of course, so next week’s meeting is on Tuesday, Sept. 4:
- The Planning Commission, beginning at 7pm, in the Community Hall. You can find the meeting agenda and staff reports here.
By the way, don’t forget to support your library...shop at Friends Corner Book Shop!
Photo of the Week
The beauty of fire-resistant plants: A California Lilac in bloom. See our story on fire retardant landscaping, above. (Photo: CalFire)
Quote for the Week
I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.
— David Hobson
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! Do you have opinions about Lafayette? Share them at Lafayette Listens! You can subscribe to The Roundup here.