WALNUT CREEK -- The City Council has yet to adopt a work plan for the next two years, and it's unclear exactly when they will.
Council members continue to struggle with how to shape such a plan, saying they have not clarified their own policy goals. The City Council was supposed to hash out the plan at its meeting Tuesday and then adopt a final version on Aug. 7. But city leaders on Tuesday didn't even go through the proposed 19-item list, which includes initiatives such as instituting a plastic bag ban ordinance and extending the downtown trolley service.
Instead, council members once again went around and around about how they are unsure whether the proposed list reflects their own policy objectives. Creating such clear policy goals is something they have talked about at the last three meetings, but have yet to formally define.
To get the bus moving, Councilwomen Kristina Lawson and Cindy Silva have volunteered to form a subcommittee to crystallize the group's policies, present those to the rest of their colleagues and then have those used to create their two-year work plan. This subcommittee's meetings will not be open to the public.
The committee will provide "a proposal for moving forward," Lawson said. "We are just in this kind of spinning our wheels phase right now. The staff has taken us as far as they can."
Mayor Pro Tem Kish Rajan said he fears every council member will want to weigh in and end up rehashing what
In the meantime, there is no clear plan of initiatives the city staff should be focused on, other than non-discretionary work. And the community remains unclear about what the council's focuses will be for the next two years.
Items proposed in the work plan include planning a centennial celebration, emergency preparedness, a plastic bag ban ordinance, updating the public art master plan, a secondhand smoking ordinance, an update of the wireless communications law, a downtown branding plan, revitalizing the Shadelands Business Park, an Upper North Main specific plan, implementing a bike plan, expanding free-ride "trolley" service and implementing a parking management plan.
Non-discretionary items on the list from last year include the expansion of Broadway Plaza and the BART Transit Village, both developer driven.
But the council and public had a bigger problem Tuesday night with things that did not appear in the draft work plan. Ruth Carver, a parent in the Mt. Diablo school district who led a petition drive to unify all city schools in one district a few years ago, renewed her rally cry Tuesday. Residents have already petitioned and now elected leaders should push for boundary realignment, she said.
"It would entail minimal resources for a maximum gain," she said.
Also concerned are library advocates, who fear cuts to the 56 hours a week the two city libraries are open once the savings, from the now expired Measure Q parcel tax, runs out in 2014. The county funds libraries to be open 35 hours a week, so Walnut Creek spends around $1 million a year for the additional hours.
While some council members indicated that funding the library will be grouped with any other funding decisions the city makes, Silva said this decision can't wait for 18 months.
If the city wants to do another parcel tax to fund the library hours or a sales tax as the Blue Ribbon Task Force suggested, deciding whether or not to get an initiative on the ballot has to happen way before the money runs out in 2014, she said.
Contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617. Follow her at Twitter.com/enardi10.