COAL TRAIN This may be one of the most important Oakland City Council meetings of the year and policy-wise very interesting. Start with the Oakland Army Base restoration which was built in large part with a $252 million state transportation grant. Recall, there was some fear the city would lose the grant by not completing its obligations before a date mandated by the state. But, the deal was sealed and Oakland Global, otherwise known as influential developer Phil Tagami’s baby, moved forward. Later, the issue of coal and petroleum coke transport to third-world countries increasing global warming rose to the forefront all over the country last year, precipitated by a spate of oil tanker rail explosions on the East Coast. The Port of Oakland tackled the issue in 2014 over Howard Terminal by turning away a prospective tenant over their goal of transporting coal through West Oakland. In June 2014, the Oakland City Council unanimously passed a general resolution against coal transport in Oakland based on health and safety fears. Meanwhile, in the background, Tagami was pushing for coal shipments through Oakland Global’s Bulk Break Terminal, currently under construction. An email between Tagami and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf described his desire to allow coal through the former Army Base. Coal and pet coke would allow the Bulk Break Terminal to be profitable, Tagami reiterated to Schaaf, who responded, the residents of Oakland were clearly against such shipments through the city. The type of coal proposed for transport is bitumen, says a staff report.
Now, here’s the issue: that Monday’s special meeting seeks to flesh out the health and safety aspects of the coal transport proposal may be elemental to the city’s push against the plan. That’s because the former Oakland Army Base agreement may allow Tagami to bring whatever he wants through Oakland, but a clause regarding risk to health and safety of residents could be raised by the City Council to turn away coal in Oakland. According to the city staff report, regulations on coal and pet coke could be applied by the city “based on substantial evidence and after a public hearing that a failure to [adopt the ordinance] would place existing or future occupants or users of the Project, adjacent neighbors, or any portion thereof, or all of them, in a condition substantially dangerous to their health or safety.” Without a doubt, the public comments threshold will be met Monday evening. The issue of historical high asthma rates in West Oakland due to truck and other shipping exhaust is well known and the community has spoken vociferously against it in the past and will again Monday evening. ENTIRE AGENDA HERE
LONG-TERM PENSION STRATEGY San Leandro’s unfunded liabilities were $158 million in 2014. Its city staff says its will report the figure for 2015 later this year, but it’s likely to continue to rise. Like every other city in the Bay Area, San Leandro’s finances took a sharp hit during the last recession. In recent months, San Leandro Mayor Pauline Cutter and the City Council have advocated using the city’s growing revenues toward paying down its unfunded pension liabilities. A proposal Monday night would target $5 million over the next 5 years toward that goal. The Prioritization Unfunded Liabilities Liquidation (PULL) Plan calls for the city to continue paying 100 percent toward its Annual Required Contribution (ARC, direct half of all annual General Fund carryover and land sales toward the account that would become a separate trust. It also asks the council to consider lowering the 20 percent emergency contingency fund to 16.7 percent with the difference used for paying down unfunded liability debt. In the past, the current council has worked to lowered unfunded liabilities by refinancing $24 million of the debt to a lower interest rate of 7.5 percent, paid the full ARC starting last year through 2016, and direct city staff to continue to contribute up to 9 percent of their salary to the debt, said the staff report. ENTIRE AGENDA HERE
RENT REVIEW BOARD Until lately, in most city’s that have rent review boards, the government body is usually one of the most sleepy areas of local government. But with exorbitant rent increases and evictions becoming more prevalent around the East Bay, the spotlight is increasingly on these boards that routinely have very little real power to overturn rent increases. On Tuesday, San Leandro’s Rent Review Board will discuss amendments to its city ordinance. Among the changes: landlords must submit a response to the Community Development Director within 10 days of receiving the tenant’s rent review hearing request; a request by the renter for review does not postpone the effective date of the rent increase; following the second and final continuance hearings, if the board does not find a resolution to the dispute, the rent review board can direct the matter to the City Manager’s office for resolution. The city manager, however, has no authority to require an end to the dispute. ENTIRE AGENDA HERE
HOMELESSNESS A work session Tuesday evening takes Hayward back to the issue of homelessness not only in the city, but the entire county. It’s the first of many discussions for the Hayward City Council, says a staff report. “The issue of homelessness is intrinsically regional in scope, especially in a heavily urbanized region like the Bay Area. As a result, despite this significant ongoing outlay of local municipal resources, any unilateral efforts carried out by only one jurisdiction will have limited impact,” the report says. Over 4,000 people in Alameda County are believed to be homeless at any one time. Hayward’s efforts recently include allocating an average of $250,000 a year to combat homelessness and hunger in the city, says the report. Tuesday’s works session will detail several city and county programs being used to help people get back on their feet. Yet, despite the efforts and money, Hayward’s actions two years ago to ban free food-sharing services in Downtown Hayward looked to some as more an effort to clean up the atrophied downtown than help the poor. Councilmember Francisco Zermeno, at one point, suggested those who are hungry could pick figs from city trees near Southland Mall. He also pushed a plan to plant fruit trees on city streets. The city’s staff disagreed and said fallen fruit on sidewalks was a safety liability.
SCOTT LUNGER The family of fallen Hayward police Sgt. Scott Lunger will receive a Certificate in Memoriam from the City Council Tuesday evening for his service. Lunger was shot and killed July 22 during a traffic stop near Myrtle and Lyon Streets in Hayward. Lunger was a 15-year veteran of the force. Later, Hayward Police Chief Diane Urban will present the council will quarterly progress report on the department including data on gangs in Hayward, intersection collisions and recruitment efforts. ENTIRE AGENDA HERE