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May 28, 2013

A regular meeting of the City of San Ramon Geologic Hazard Abatement District No. 1990-01 was held on May 28, 2013 at 6:45 p.m. in the City Council Chamber at City Hall, 2222 Camino Ramon, Board Chair Clarkson presiding.
PRESENT:  Board Members Hudson, Livingstone, Perkins, O’Loane, and Chair Clarkson.
STAFF PRESENT:  City Manager Greg Rogers, Interim City Attorney Bob Saxe, District Engineer Robin Bartlett, and District Clerk Patricia Edwards.

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Chair Clarkson led those present in the pledge of allegiance.

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Donna Stofer, resident, voiced her objection to higher taxes and relieving Shapell Industries from future responsibility and liability for the property which they would like to transfer to taxpayers.  She stated that the Geologic Hazard Abatement District (GHAD) Board is requesting that taxpayers assume higher tax liability and ownership of the undeveloped open space surrounding the community.  She stated that the tax dollars would be better spent to complete the investigation which she began in 2008 and educate Gale Ranch owners about the situation within the community and determine what mitigation steps need to be taken immediately to better prepare homeowners for the predicted damage to property when landslides hit and soil fails.  She stated that the homes are highly vulnerable because of short cuts taken by the developer due to greed, indifference, errors, or ineptitude.  Before accepting more liability for landslides or soil instability in the surrounding property, tax payers should have information regarding landslide potential and soil instability in the community.  She added that homeowners deserve site specific preparation and disclosure and information on the foundation selection and application.  She noted that property values have been severely and negatively impacted.  She stated that 170 homeowners are in a class action law suit.  She requested that the Board schedule another meeting to discuss how to properly handle the issue and disclose the information to homeowners.  Chair Clarkson assured Ms. Stofer that staff would respond to her concerns.

Mary Ann DiGeronimo, resident, discussed a fire that occurred on the GHAD property behind her home.  She stated that Shapell used to disc the property weekly.  Now the weeds are cut and the debris is left in the stormdrain.  She expressed concern that this creates a fire hazard.  She reported that there are also cracks in the stormdrain.  A dangerous situation exists for homeowners because the GHAD property is not properly maintained.  She wants to see some results for her tax dollars.

George Pavana, resident, asked the Board how they can justify the fee increase.  He noted that there is a problem with hill erosion in his neighborhood and a slide which blocks the creek.  He reported that his repeated inquiries have not resulted in a solution because no one will take responsibility.  He asked the Board to find an alternate method to finance the GHAD.  He asked for greater transparency for how the money is spent.  He reported another problem which is the water which collects on the road in front of his home.  He asked the Board to help homeowners deal with these problems.  Mbr. Livingstone asked Mr. Pavana the name of the City employee with whom he spoke.  Mr. Pavana replied that he spoke with Robin Bartlett.  Mbr. Livingstone stated that he would make sure that Mr. Pavana received an answer from staff.

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(#5.1) Minutes of the April 23, 2013 meeting.

Vice Chair Hudson’s motion to approve the April 23, 2013 meeting minutes was seconded by Mbr. Perkins and passed 5-0.

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(#6.1) Public Hearing:  Geologic Hazard Abatement District No. 1990-01 (GHAD) - Adopt Resolution GHAD No. 2013-002 – Confirming and Levying Assessments for Geologic Hazard Abatement District No. 1990-01 for Fiscal Year 2013/14.

District Engineer Robin Bartlett provided the report.  On April 23, 2013, the GHAD Board accepted the Fiscal Year 2013/14 Engineer’s Report and Updated Reserve Fund Study and adopted Resolution GHAD No. 2013-001, a resolution of intent to order assessments for Fiscal Year 2013/14 for Geologic Hazard Abatement District No. 1990-01 and set a public hearing for May 28, 2013. The proposed new rates for FY 2013/14 are $135.58 per residential unit and $0.0434 per square foot of non-residential building space.  A total of 7,752 public hearing notices were mailed on May 7, 2013 to all residents within the GHAD.  Four responses were received.  Two property owners opposed the assessment increase.  Two property owners requested additional information and expressed no opinion regarding the assessment.

Mr. Bartlett discussed the GHAD and the need to accrue a reserve in order to fund the potential for large and numerous landslides and deal with unusual weather events.  A reserve is also needed to endow GHAD activities in perpetuity.  Current analysis indicates that the reserve is accumulating at a good rate but there is an extremely low return on investments.  There is a need to undertake a more detail reserve fund analysis to review the performance of the GHAD, the performance of the investments, and gather additional information to be considered when the remaining open space is acquired.

Chair Clarkson opened the public hearing.

Jeff Lange, resident, stated that the public hearing notice was not very educational.  He stated that he is tired of being taxed and that the increase is frivolous.  He suggested that the Board cut spending and cut back employee pensions.  There are higher priorities than landslides.  He requested that the Board deal with the funding they have and reprioritize.   

Chair Clarkson closed the public hearing.

Mbr. Perkins requested that Mr. Bartlett explained the purpose of the GHAD.  Mr. Bartlett responded that the GHAD is a separate entity from the City and was formed in 1990.  The purpose of the GHAD is to mitigate and abate geologic hazards.  The primary hazard in San Ramon is landslides.  Mbr. Perkins noted that the City Council sits as the GHAD Board as a matter of convenience and that the Council could appoint a GHAD Board.  Mr. Bartlett stated he was not sure about the appointing mechanism once the GHAD is formed but the Council sits as the GHAD Board as a convenience to property owners.  People living near the open space have a GHAD assessment which is comparable to an insurance premium.  Mr. Bartlett stated that the GHAD undertakes routine maintenance, erosion control, maintaining infrastructure such as V-ditches and fire breaks.  Mbr. Perkins asked if the grass left in the V-ditch is a proper maintenance technique.  Mr. Bartlett responded that fire breaks are mowed to comply with the Fire District’s requirements and that V-ditch cleaning is a separate operation.  Mbr. Perkins asked if fire breaks are maintained according to Fire District standards.  Mr. Bartlett responded that the Fire District inspects the V-ditches and notifies the GHAD of any deficiencies.  Mbr. O’Loane asked when the ditches would be cleared.  Mr. Bartlett stated that V-ditches are leaned prior to winter.  Mbr. O’Loane stated that he has paid into the GHAD since 2000 and regards the assessment as a necessary insurance fee for locations where the land is inherently unstable and a logical way to finance the problem.  He supports the Resolution.  Vice Chair Hudson stated that the regulatory agencies put the GHAD in place as part of the initial permitting process for the area.  He requested staff provide information to Mr. Pavana.

Mbr. Perkins’ motion to adopt Resolution GHAD 2013-002 was seconded by Mbr. Livingstone and passed 5-0.

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(#7.1) Geologic Hazard Abatement District No. 1990-01 (GHAD) – Resolution GHAD No. 2013-003 – Adopting the Fiscal Year 2013/14 GHAD Budget.

Mbr. Perkins’ motion to adopt Resolution GHAD 2013-003 was seconded by Vice Chair Hudson and passed 5-0.

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At 7:19 p.m., there being no further business, Board Chair Clarkson adjourned the meeting.


Bill Clarkson, Board Chair
Patricia Edwards, District Clerk

Approved at the June 25, 2013 GHAD meeting 3-0-2-0; Hudson and O'Loane absent.

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