OAKLEY -- City leaders have decided to install a piece of art in Oakley Plaza that is expected to include the creative touch of local children.

At their meeting Tuesday, council members unanimously agreed that the downtown shopping center should be the place for the as-yet unspecified artwork, which is intended to represent the city's effort to welcome foreign-born residents by including them in the fabric of daily life.

Called You, Me, We=Oakley, the outreach that began in 2011 received $15,000 from two foundations late last year to install a monument downtown conveying its message.

The monument will be at the north end of the open space separating Carpaccio Ristorante from La Costa restaurant.

Although half a dozen other sites also were considered, the committee of city officials and a school principal overseeing the project decided that whatever design the artists come up with would be dwarfed by those surroundings.

In other business, council members decided the city should try selling a parcel of land itself instead of having a development company market the property.

Spare Time Inc., a development company that owns Diamond Hills Sports Club and Spa, had been working with the city since April 2011 to sell one of two additional parcels the city bought in that Neroly Road commercial center.


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Over the last two years, Spare Time and city employees have discussed the site with various businesses, but the lackluster economy coupled with the greater appeal of properties that already have buildings on them have thwarted a sale, according to a city staff report.

With Tuesday's vote, the city now will solicit bids to offload the property itself with the stipulation that prospective buyers present a plan for developing the site and not just an offer. The city wants to avoid the possibility of a company buying the land only to let it remain vacant while waiting for real estate prices to increase so it can resell it.

Council members also discussed cracking down on where and how businesses use A-frame signs. They agreed that these signs should be in front of shops instead of cluttering up medians and other areas that in some cases are hundreds of feet away. Moreover, the council agreed that A-frame signs shouldn't be permanent fixtures but rather a short-term means of advertising a new business, an event or a special deal.

Keeping these signs up indefinitely makes them ineffective because after a while passersby no longer notice them, said Councilwoman Diane Burgis,

Illegal garage sale signs are another irritant the council said it intends to tackle by enforcing the rules with fines.

People continue affixing signs to light poles, which have a coating that comes off when the adhesive is removed, said Councilwoman Carol Rios, adding that poles covered with remnants of tape are unsightly.

"This is where the A frames come in handy," said Vice Mayor Randy Pope, noting that the free-standing signs wouldn't damage public property. Ignorance is no defense, said Mayor Kevin Romick, noting that the city has been telling residents for years not to use poles as their personal bulletin board.

"I don't think the public's that stupid," he said, adding half-jokingly, "I think the time has come for jail time."

Social media offers ample ways for people to advertise garage sales, Romick said. Burgis, a self-described "garage sale specialist," suggested that marquee outside City Hall could be used to publicize the events and that the city let residents know what it's costing to remove their signs.

Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Follow her at Twitter.com/RowenaCoetsee.