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Danville council extends permit for farmers market

Annual police report, new DPD personnel also presented during meeting

The Danville Town Council approved a permit extension Tuesday for the Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association to continue operating the Saturday farmers market in the Railroad Avenue municipal parking lot.

The council members took into consideration several key permit provisions during their extension discussion, including percentage of non-agricultural vendors allowed, effects of the statewide drought and impact on downtown parking.

"When we had people participate in a study, we found out that demands are high on municipal lots, and our town should revisit parking needs during the time of the farmers market," Jill Bergman, town economic development manager, said during her presentation at the Town Meeting Hall.

Town officials recommended no permit adjustments to improve parking conditions, but they will continue to assess how the market affects parking and whether configuration changes could be made in the future, according to Bergman.

As part of its renewal request, the association asked for a temporary increase in the number of non-agricultural vendors allowed at the weekly market. The council's opted to leave the existing standards unchanged -- a maximum of 25% of non-agricultural booths in summer months and up to 35% during the winter.

"I know the association is requesting to have more non-agricultural vendors, and I think it's great that we are sticking with this rule" Councilman Newell Arnerich said. "In regards to parking, it is pure safety to have more parking available; we always end up with one-lane traffic during the farmers market."

The council voted unanimously to extend the association's encroachment permit and right-of-entry agreement through March 2017, with options for one-year extensions through 2019 also available.

In other business

* Police chief Steve Simpkins presented his department's annual report.

"In 2015, we experienced another rise in property crime, a 10% from 2014." Simpkins told the council. "In 2014, property crime increased to 444, and 2015 ended with 491 property crimes."

Simpkins explained how the police department plans to address the rising property crime numbers.

"To combat this increase, we have employed a variety of techniques, which includes reallocating personnel, extensive community outreach and increasing the use of our volunteers for ongoing programs and high-visibility patrols," the police chief said.

In 2015, the police department saw car crashes drop to 282, a 7% decrease from 304 in 2014.

"We have a lot to be proud of. 2015 is the best year we ever had in traffic collisions. It is the lowest we have had in past years," Simpkins said.

He ended his annual report by discussion outreach efforts that took place last year.

"In 2015, we had a new youth police academy and a modified open house," Simpkins said. "During the open house, attendees were given a chance to experience what it is like to be a law enforcement officer through role-playing scenarios."

Simpkins smiled pridefully while praising the achievements of the police department.

"I can't describe how proud I am of everyone who works in the police department. They really contribute to making our lives better in our town, and I am very proud to be part of it," Simpkins said.

Vice Mayor Renee Morgan added to the discussion by praising police for solving multiple crimes in a timely manner earlier Tuesday.

"I wanted to give you guys a big congratulations in solving two crimes today in a matter of less than 12 hours," she said. "I couldn't be more proud of living in a town like that and to have you guys represent our town in this department."

* Simpkins also introduced new police personnel to the council members.

"It's always great to come here and talk to the council about the police department," he said. "It is my pleasure to introduce new personnel -- Chris Thomas and Ron Hoekwater."

Officer Thomas started his career with the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office in 2014 and began working with the Danville Police Department in January.

"We have a lot of faith in him, and we solidified the deal once he finished his police training," Simpkins said.

Thomas is the son of Eric Thomas, co-anchor of the ABC7 morning news, who attended his son's introduction Tuesday night.

Hoekwater, a sergeant who also started in Danville in January, was hired by the county sheriff's office in 1997. He served in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and is the father of five children.

"We are glad to have Ron, and both of our new officers will be working on the same shift," Simpkins said.

Danville contracts with the sheriff's office for police services.

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