San Leandro City Council Preview
835 East 14th Street
Monday, Mar. 17, 2014, 7 p.m.
Twitter Hashtag: #slmtg


Councilmember Benny Lee with members
of the city’s Chinese American community
at a flag-raising at the San Leandro Marina.

FOREIGN FLAGS OVER CITY HALL San Leandro’s flag flap, as it could be termed, returns to the City Council Monday. Rewind back to late September of last year to when a seemingly mundane act of flying the Chinese national flag over City Hall Oct. 1 in honor of the country’s national day turned into a near international incident. That may be overstating the reaction, but the flag quickly became a lightning rod for the city’s growing Chinese American community to push back over concerns their culture was being marginalized. Opponents of the flag-raising questioned why a foreign banner would fly over City Hall, especially one belonging to an economic rival to the U.S. with a reputation for human rights abuses. A group urging for a free Tibet also jointed the fray. Later, Mayor Stephen Cassidy used powers laid out in the City Charter to reverse the council’s approval to fly the Chinese flag. An ad hoc committee charged with creating a city policy for flying foreign flags over City Hall will present their findings Monday night. Currently, there is no specific policy (Item 12A).

WHAT IT MEANS This controversy is not about any city policy, or lackthereof. This is about San Leandro’s rapidly-changing demographics and a low-level powder keg waiting to pop. Asian Americans now make up the largest demographic in the city, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Furthermore, some Chinese American groups in the city have disliked Cassidy for some time. The same groups opposed his candidacy four years ago and vehemently opposed his support for a commercial wind turbine near the Heron Bay housing development, which is home to a large number of Chinese American homeowners. Cassidy’s reversal of the council’s approval for raising the flag only exacerbated tensions and came across as a slap in the face in the minds of some Chinese Americans in San Leandro. Cassidy is up for re-election this fall and while a city policy may be approved, it will likely do nothing but re-energize opposition against him.

BE AWARE A staff report will lay out possible city support for reforming Proposition 13 sometime in the next few years. Other cities, like Oakland, are contemplating similar resolutions hoping to place a referendum before voters that could rebalance the tax burden from homeowners and landlords over the decades since Prop. 13 was passed in 1978 and having commercial property owners pay more (Item 8F)…. The council will nominate Janet Plankenhorn as the District 5 representative to the city’s Senior Commission (Item 8D)… Chief Innovation Officer Deborah Acosta Building presents a update on San Leandro’s Tech and Innovation Ecosystem plan (Item 3A).

Mayor Cassidy declares April 1 as Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service (Item 2A).

Mar. 3, the San Leandro City Council unanimously approved placing a countywide transportation measure on the November ballot. San Leandro is one of 14 county jurisdictions needed to approve the measure. A joint use agreement between the city and the school district to operate the Pacific Sports Complex was also unanimously approved two weeks ago. >>> READ THE MINUTES >>> SEE IT FOR YOURSELF