BRENTWOOD -- Civic leaders developing a city planning document released a first set of tentative policy standards last week that address noise, public safety, community services, facilities, infrastructure, conservation and open space in Brentwood.
Consultants hired by the city to create the general plan update, along with a committee of city leaders, said that the evolving document is not a dramatic change from the past version. The general plan is the guiding vision for the city's future, including services, growth and standards. The last comprehensive update was in 1993.
The most contentious element of the draft plan at the meeting was police services. Some committee members argued for a target police staffing ratio stated in the plan as a goal, while others thought that it isn't necessary.
"I want it staffed at the maximum level fiscally possible," said committee member Carissa Pillow said.
Committee member and Brentwood City Councilman Steve Barr noted that the general plan is a tool and increased staffing would need to be planned for within the document.
On the other hand, committee member Eileen Hofstadt said that all city services need to be balanced. Committee member Bill Hill noted that the city's crime statistics have been consistent and that it is misguided to set a staffing number with no facts or statistics to support it.
"It is just setting yourself up for failure," he said.
Ben Ritchie of De Novo Planning Group suggested that a solution could be to establish police performance standards that may include crime clearance rates, staffing ratios and police benchmark report improvements. Ritchie added that a performance metric could gauge the annual benchmark report of crime rates and trends that is reported to the City Council.
"A lot of these policy sets do set the bar high," committee member Kathy Griffin said.
The committee also called for stronger language in the fire protection services section of the plan. One policy action item stated "explore the possibility of establishing a formal fire study program to review opportunities to improve fire protection services within Brentwood."
Barr and other members asked for the inclusion of a "trigger" to begin a formal review of fire safety.
"There should be triggers to do something different, if things don't happen," he said. "I don't think the city leadership will just sit still. I think there should be a path for the city leadership to take."
The draft goals and policies presented will go before the committee again as final general plan elements in the future. The next general plan working group meeting will be Aug. 1.
"This was a well-crafted document," Pillow said. "You did really incorporate our thoughts."
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