LAFAYETTE -- With its small surplus of $16,000, the proposed Lafayette 2014-15 city budget was unanimously approved this week by the city council.
The budget, discussed at length by the council two weeks earlier, was one of several matters touched on at Monday's wide-ranging meeting, where the Terraces apartment project, downtown traffic and police response to threats directed at Acalanes High School also received attention.
The new budget -- balanced using some general fund money -- also determines fees for city services and includes the Five-Year Capital Improvement Program for 2015 through 2019.
The council devoted considerable time Monday night to a discussion focusing on traffic congestion downtown. Transportation Planner Leah Greenblat said the city Circulation Commission's efforts to develop a "scope and problem statement" for a study of the downtown core's traffic issues introduced new ideas while maintaining the position that grant funding would be needed to conduct a study.
The concept of replacing traffic signals with roundabouts generated a number of comments, most of them centered on the practicality of that approach and whether or not roundabouts would solve congestion efficiently without creating hazards for pedestrians and motorists.
In October 2012, the council discussed putting a roundabout at Mt. Diablo Boulevard and Golden Gate Way, an idea ultimately rejected.
Other options, including a park-and-ride service, a possible bypass route, improvements to expand usage of the Lamorinda School Bus Program and even the notion of restricting traffic into the city, were also discussed.
Mayor Don Tatzin asked staff to revise the proposal, incorporating issues discussed and placing it in front of the Circulation Commission before bringing it back to the council.
Before the council's discussion of the location of a dog park proposed for the Terraces Project, Councilwoman Traci Reilly recused herself, citing advice from the city attorney. She had signed a petition related to the park before running for city office.
Following detailed explanations of, and consideration of, parking and the park's other amenities, several speakers criticized what they said was a lack of notice given to citizens and organizations about Terraces-related hearings. Ultimately, the council advised that greater effort be made to give public notice of future Parks and Recreation Commission meetings, and the item was continued for future meetings. City Manager Steve Falk suggested planning and development for the dog park could take up to seven years to complete, but agreeing to the park's new location would retain valuable land for residents of the city and provide citizens the "dog park of their dreams."
Drill came in handy
In other business, Police Chief Eric Christensen said training sessions the police department had conducted at Acalanes High School last November helped make the response to a June 6 threat to the school "a seamless operation."
Preparations encouraged by the city council and staff, he said, were integral to the complete cooperation of school personnel, parents, supporting police departments, firefighters, and the FBI, all of whom were involved. Comparing the assistance from the community to asking a neighbor for a cup of sugar and receiving a pound of sugar, he praised the council and school district for investing in response-to-threat exercises and planning.
"Are we spending our money wisely?" he asked. "On Friday, we learned that some checks that we had written were well spent. We got a lot of bang for that buck."
The school was on lockdown for three hours after a threat posted on social media came to the attention of Principal Aida Glimme.