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June 11, 2012

A special meeting of the City Council of the City of San Ramon was held June 11, 2012 at 5:37 p.m. in the City Council Chamber at City Hall, 2222 Camino Ramon, Vice Mayor Rowley presiding.  
PRESENT:  Councilmembers Hudson, Livingstone, O’Loane, Mayor Clarkson.
ABSENT:  Councilmember Perkins.
STAFF PRESENT:  City Clerk Patricia Edwards.

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Mayor Clarkson led those present in the pledge of allegiance.   

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The City Clerk noted that there were several requests to address the Council under public comment.  These comments were not germane to the Commission interviews.  Mayor Clarkson discussed several options from the dais.  In consideration of the interview schedule, he asked if the Council would agree to hear public comment at 7:00 p.m. after the interviews and voting.  A motion was made by Vice Mayor Livingstone and seconded by Cm. Hudson to address public comment after the interviews.  The residents were amenable to this option and agreed to return at 7:00 p.m.

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At 5:39 p.m., the Council interviewed applicants for the Parks and Community Services Commission.  Four positions are available for terms through June 2016.  Applications were received from Kathy Berner, Will Doerlich, David Ernest, Carol Lopez, John Mills, and Jeffrey Wirjo by the March 11, 2012 closing date.  Ms. Lopez was interviewed by phone.

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At 6:27 p.m., Mayor Clarkson requested a short recess.  The Council reconvened at 6:37 p.m.  All Council members were present except for Cm. Perkins.

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The Council conducted the interview of John Mills.

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The City Clerk distributed ballots.  The Council voted and the City Clerk tabulated the ballots.  Mayor Clarkson announced the results.  The Council selected Will Doerlich, David Ernest, Carol Lopez, and John Mills to serve on the Parks and Community Services Commission for terms through June 2016.  

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Nader Eshahipour, resident, stated that he has worked as a Cal Trans transportation engineer for 25 years.  He said that the Sycamore trees have been part of the City’s character for many years.  If safety is the primary concern, he asked the Council to enforce the speed limit.  The Council should consider constructing a right hand side barrier rather than cutting down the trees.

Todd Erickson, resident, stated that the City did a dismal job of outreach efforts for this project.  He stated that signs were posted two months after the Council’s decision to cut down the trees.  No information on the project was provided in the winter City Newsletter.  The spring Newsletter, which was mailed after the Council voted, had a very small item on page two. He stated that the City website is virtually useless as a reliable communication channel to the public unless the City has previously conducted an extensive communication outreach to educate the public that the City website is where the City provides its news.  He questioned why the HOAs and neighboring residents were not contacted by mail months ago and invited to a public discussion on this subject.  He suggested that staff did not contact residents because they knew the project was a hot issue and wanted to sneak the item past residents.  He criticized the Council for not being concerned about engaging residents in the discussion.  In one week, he collected 616 signatures on a petition to stop the project.  The residents want the trees saved, the 35 mph speed limit enforced, and a concrete barrier built to protect pedestrians and bicyclists on the south side walkway.  He requested that the project be suspended, the water turned on, and the constituency engaged in a formal town hall meeting.

James West, resident, thanked the Council for their efforts to improve the safety of pedestrians along Bollinger Canyon Road.  He asked the Council to reconsider its decision to remove the trees.  Widening the lanes will do little to reduce the likelihood of vehicles hitting the fence and encroaching into the pedestrian path as wider traffic lanes are often connected with faster travel speeds.  If the speeds increase, a future speed survey may require the City to post a higher speed limit.  Faster speeds will increase the likelihood of cars jumping the curb.  As he bicycles on the bike path along Dougherty Road, he sees evidence where vehicles have run off the road and hit no parking signs and damaged the tops of stormwater inlets on the swales.  He requested that the Council stop the road widening project and install a rigid barrier to protect pedestrians and bicyclists from errant vehicles.  This would save the pedestrians and the trees.

Susan Erickson, resident, read a letter from John Leonard who is against cutting down the trees.  Widening the roadway by itself will not prevent vehicles from striking the fence.  Public safety can best be provided by a continuous, decorative, concrete wall.  He urged the Council to explore an alternative to widen the roadway by taking 18 inches from the median.  A wall could then be built on the right hand side of the roadway between the right hand lane and the sidewalk.  This would prevent the trees from being removed and eliminate the retrofit of the golf course bridge support façade.  He suggested that the median lawn be replaced with low lying ground cover vegetation.  If the lane widths are illegal, he questioned why the west bound lanes will remain at the same illegal width.

Craig Taylor, resident, left the meeting prior to public comment.

Bill Meine, resident, stated his concern that the barriers will not solve the problem.  He suggested that a more practical option would be to provide another road to Dougherty Valley which would decrease the amount of traffic on Bollinger.  This could be done by putting a right-of-way from Alcosta to Dougherty Road through the PG&E and County right-of-way.  He asked how the lane width can be increased without eliminating the two left hand turn lanes on the bottom and at the top of the hill.

Justin DiGrazia, resident and president of the Copper Ridge Board, stated that he is also working with the Canyon View Circle Board.  He stated that his problem with the plan is whether it is about safety or a social experiment to widen the lanes and see what happens.  He stated that Hexagon Transportation has recommended that a barrier be installed.  If the roadway speed cannot be decreased, drivers will be more conscientious about a concrete barrier than a chain link fence.  He is not opposed to widening the road, if needed, after the barrier has been tried.  He requested that the Council hold a true town hall meeting to enable the HOAs to participate.

Rajiv Tibrewala, resident, stated that he chose to live in San Ramon because of the beauty of the streets.  The Bollinger Canyon trees bring beauty to San Ramon and improves property values.   He asked the Council to reconsider the project and preserve the road’s beauty.  He noted that replacement trees will take 20-30 years to grow.

At 7:16 p.m., there being no further business, Mayor Clarkson adjourned the meeting.


Bill Clarkson, Mayor
Patricia Edwards, City Clerk

Approved as presented at the June 26, 2012 City Council meeting 4-0-0-1; Perkins absent.

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