Showing posts from January, 2018

An Important San Leandro City Council Meeting On Monday, Feb. 5th, 7 pm

This message was posted on NextDoor by San Leandro resident Aaron Bukofzer:

"This coming Monday, February 5th, the San Leandro City Council will be holding a meeting at which they will be discussing a process for updating and improving the Zoning Code. Many of us from the community believe that we now have an opportunity to close some of the loopholes created by the prior Zoning Code amendments in 2016. We want to make sure that future development is of an appropriate scale that complies with the intent of the 2016 amendments that were enacted with substantial public input. To that end, we've met with with members of the City Council in recent weeks. Also, on Jan 8th, we attended the City Council meeting and raised three issues during the public comments section. Evan Adams spoke about ambiguities in the General Plan that could be interpreted as saying that all P-zoned properties should be consider "Downtown mixed use". Evan pointed out the absurdity of this int…

San Leandro Should Authorize Its Dispensaries To Sell Adult/Recreational Cannabis

On the topic of San Leandro finances, the City is counting on taxes from cannabis dispensaries to help it fill its brand new annual deficit. The City is projecting $1 million in 2018-19 from its new dispensaries.  This would be helpful - but would not close the City's fiscal hole as the deficit may be as large as $7 million over the next two years. Moreover, as I have been working in the cannabis industry since last Fall, I have a specialized knowledge of many of the issues facing cannabis businesses.  I shared this information recently with the City Finance Director and City Council. In short, I stated the City should exercise extreme caution in its cannabis tax revenue projections. I gave two reasons:  1) Although the City has authorized 3 dispensary licenses.  Only two operators - Davis Street Wellness Center and Blum San Leandro - appear likely to be opening in 2018. I have no idea if and when the first city licensee, Harborside San Leandro, will open. 2) The legalization of …

San Leandro City Budget Turns From Black To Red

Despite a booming local economy, a $5 million general fund surplus when I left office, and overseeing the Yes on Measure HH campaign that resulted in a $10 million boast in sales tax revenue in fiscal year 2015-16, the City of San Leandro is now running multi-million dollar deficits with no end in sight. 

How could this occur? Exploding employee pension costs is the prime reason. Employee salary and benefit costs jumped $7 million from fiscal year 2016-17 to the current fiscal year.
Mayor Cutter and City Council needed to continue to make progress on employee pension costs in labor negotiations and didn’t. These photos are from San Leandro Finance Director David Baum’s presentation at the city planning retreat on January 20, 2018.  Here is a link to presentation powerpoint.

Here is an article on the San Leandro budget deficit from the San Leandro Times:

City Budget Forecast:  In the Red
San Leandro Times, February 1, 2018

The City of San Leandro’s unfunded pension costs have doubled in the …

Statement Concerning San Leandro City Manager

Here is my statement on the sexual harassment and abuse of power allegations made against San Leandro City Manager Chris Zapata:

It saddens me to say the following as I know and worked closely with City Manager Chris Zapata for three years:  The Mayor and City Council must place him on administrative leave.  I say this not because Rose Johnson, the longstanding director of the Davis Street Family Resource Center, has alleged that the City Manager sought to use his power over City resources to pressure her into a sexual relationship.  I do not claim to know if this allegation is truthful.   
What I do know is that last week the City Manager issued a 23-page, single-spaced memorandum severely criticizing Rose Johnson and those he blames for the allegations made against him.
The appropriate action for the City Manager would have been to issue a short statement denying the allegations and pledging full cooperation with the City’s internal investigation.  Instead, the City Manager issued a ra…

The Future of Our City: City Council Planning Session

This Saturday, January 20th, the San Leandro City Council is holding its annual planning session at the San Leandro Senior Community Center, located at 13909 East 14th Street, from 8:30 a.m. until approximately 2:00 p.m. The meeting will include opportunities for public comments and questions.

Why is this meeting important? For two reasons: (1) the City Finance Director provides a multi-year forecast on the city budget and (2) the City Council sets goals and priorities for our local government for the coming year and beyond. If we want to influence what issues our local elected officials should address, Saturday is the time to speak up.

In addition, the budget update is extremely important. Neighboring cities have reported that despite rising revenues they expect to run deficits in the coming years due to continuing increases in pension and retiree health care costs.

San Leandro has been running a budget surplus the past several years. That all may be about to change (or already…

What is the core measure of leadership by a Mayor & City Council?

Timely resolving significant community problems is my answer. Last night the San Leandro City Council had the opportunity to address a significant community concern pertaining to a zoning matter that affects not only the Estudillo Estates neighborhood but also the Broadmoor, the Manor and South San Leandro. Instead of taking clear and decisive action, the City Council deferred to staff to develop a proposed course of action without any set timeline or a defined process. One Council member voiced concern that taking any other action would be "micro managing staff." Accordingly, I sent the following message to the Mayor and City Council today: Dear Mayor and City’s council - Timely addressing significant community concerns is not micro managing staff. Rather it is the essence of leadership. You are given political power to solve problems and lead our community. That requires decisiveness. That requires setting priorities for staff and even disagreeing with staff on some oc…

Need for Independent Appraisal in Sale of City-owned Properties

I sent the following message to the Mayor and City Council today concerning the need for independent appraisal prior to the sale of any City owned properties, including property along the San Leandro shoreline for the proposed Cal Coast development:
I see the City Council has several properties under discussion for transfer/sale in closed session agenda today.
3.A. Closed session pursuant to California Government Code section 54956.8: CONFERENCE WITH REAL PROPERTY NEGOTIATORS Property: Alameda County APN 075 0209 001 00 Agency negotiator: Cynthia Battenberg, Community Development Director Negotiating parties: Wells Fargo Bank Under negotiation: Price and Terms of Payment City of San Leandro
3.B. CONFERENCE WITH REAL PROPERTY NEGOTIATORS Properties: Alameda County APNs 079A 0475 009 04, 079A 0590 001 07, 079A 0590 001 05, 079A 0590 003 00, 079A 0590 002 00, 079A 0590 004 00, 080G 0900 004 01 Agency negotiator: Cynthia Battenberg, Community Development Director Negotiating Parties: Cal-…