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Council wades through heavy agenda

MARTINEZ, Calif. – The Martinez City Council worked its way through an agenda heavy with important items Wednesday, Jan. 18. Included on the agenda was a presentation about energy alternatives for the city, a public hearing on the Pine Meadow Golf Course land, and the adoption of new garbage collection rates, among other items.

After congratulating the newest Community Emergency Response Team graduates, council heard from Jason Crapo of the Contra Costa County Department of Conservation and Development. Crapo and County Consultant Seth Brouge gave a basic outline about the possibility of Martinez and other cities in the county switching from PG&E services to the Community Choice Energy (CCE) program. CCE refers to a process authorized by the State that allows cities and counties to become default electricity providers for customers within their communities.

County Consultant Seth Brouge also reviewed the highlights of the technical study. Both Crapo and Brouge said the county would be taking public comments through Jan. 1, and that representatives of CCE would return to the council in March or April to hear the council’s thoughts. In the meantime, they said a public workshop would be held at the Veterans Memorial Building, 400 Hartz Ave., Danville, at 6 p.m. Jan. 26.

Exploration of the CCE program has been in the works since October 2015 after the County Board of Supervisors authorized staff to conduct outreach and explore the formation of a CCE partnership. The full draft study is available at www.cccounty.us/cce.

Council then heard a presentation about potential fee increases at Hidden Lakes Soccer Field. Council voted unanimously to increase the hourly usage fees from $16.50 per hour to $45 per hour for resident youth groups, and $65 an hour for resident adult groups. Non-residents are subject to an additional $10 fee. The new rates fall more in line with area fields with similar amenities.

Council then moved on to a public hearing on an appeal regarding the vesting tentative map for the land formerly known as Pine Meadow Golf Course. The argument centered over whether the land was truly open space, or whether it could be opened up to residential development by property owners Christine Coward Dean and DeNova Homes.

After hearing testimony from Dean about her near 10 year search for information on how the land was designated as open space back in the 1970s, council heard from DeNova Homes’ Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Dana Tsubota. Tsubota presented to council a history of the property and its zoning, uncovering that the property designation had actually been subject to a vote about 40 years ago in which residents voted against Measure O, which would have compensated the Coward Dean family for the land and officially designated it for a park or other open space/recreational use. In addition, Tsubota provided testimony from former City staff and others involved in the history of the property who voluntarily testified against Pine Meadows’ designation as open space. Holes in the City records were also brought to light, and the credibility of the land use map was challenged.

Council voted 5-4 to amend the land use to R-1-7500, opening it to potential development.

Council then adopted a resolution to amend agreements between the City and waste disposal company Allied Waste/Republic Services. Effective March 1, residential, commercial and industrial waste collection rates will be raised by 9 percent.

Chief of Police Manjit Sappal then discussed a possible recommendation to direct City staff to draft a contract for services with the City of Pleasant Hill and the Contra Costa County Division of Health, Housing and Homeless Services, to provide homeless outreach in Martinez and Pleasant Hill.

This was followed by a unanimous decision to proclaim the existence of a local emergency due to damages left by recent storms. If approved by County and State authorities, the proclamation could provide the city with up to $400,000 to go towards cleanup.

The meeting adjourned just before 2 a.m.

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