San Ramon City Council members reviewed four potential maps to be used in future district elections at their regular meeting Tuesday night and gave city contracted demographers guidance for additional options -- which will be reviewed for final deliberation next month.
After hearing public input and reviewing the available options, the council unofficially selected "Plan Red" as the preferred option for future review.
“I look at the comments we've received and with (Plan) Red ... I look at the data you’ve provided us and it solves most of the problems (we’ve) spoke of and for the most part it creates more compact districts,” Councilman Scott Perkins said. “One thing is I would like to see District 1 more on the west side of 680 ... But fundamentally most of red works pretty well just the way it is.”
“I think you got it the first time and that's my personal opinion,” Councilman Dave Hudson added.
All four maps presented to the council -- named Plan Blue, Plan Purple, Plan Red and Plan Green -- are similar in size and shape, and are divided into four distinct geographic districts that are designed with the intent of creating districts that contain “communities of interest.”
Plan Red was selected as a favorable option among council members, in part because it was viewed as the most compact and simple of the options viewed.
In Plan Red, the western half of the city is divided into northern and southern sections that follow Interstate 680 and are roughly divided by a border that follows Montevideo Drive -- although not exactly. In the north District 1 contains Bishop Ranch (including City Center), as well as Bollinger Canyon Elementary, Montevideo Elementary and Iron Horse Middle schools.
In the south, District 2 is home to California High School, Forest Home Farms Historic Park and the San Ramon Golf Club.
Much like their western counterparts, District 3 and 4 divide East San Ramon into northern and southern quadrants. With District 3 containing Dougherty Valley High School, Golden View Elementary and the Canyon Lakes Golf Course, while District 4 is home to the Bridges Golf Course, Quail Ranch Elementary and Windemere Ranch Middle schools.
Breaking down the districts by ethnic backgrounds, Plan Red contains two districts that are comprised of “minority majority” populations. Located in East San Ramon and containing the Dougherty Valley region, District 3 and District 4 each have populations where over 50% of total residents are of various Asian descent.
Like every other option, Plan Red is also designed so sitting council members will not face off against one another in the upcoming 2020 election.
“In terms of process, we can think this through and circle back next time we get together. We don't have to have a final map,” Mayor Bill Clarkson reminded those in attendance.
The council will further deliberate maps -- and is encouraging public comment on the process -- at a future meeting currently scheduled for May 14. At that meeting the council is expected to make its final decision in selecting a map.
Residents can view each map and learn more about the city’s transition to district based elections from its previous system of at-large voting, on the city’s website.
In other business
* In a hot-button issue to many communities throughout the country, and particularly in the neighboring town of Danville, the San Ramon City Council reviewed its ordinances related to the installation of small cell wireless facilities within city limits, and unanimously approved an ordinance that will help the city fall in line with Federal Communications Commission regulations.
The ordinance will allow the city to set a council policy governing the installation of cell facilities, rather than have their installation regulated by the city’s traditional hearing process process -- which would not be possible due to new FCC regulations greatly shortening the amount of time a facility can be reviewed.
With the policy itself set to be established at a future council meeting reviewing the issue.
“By passing the ordinance tonight we are actually fighting for out city because we are putting the guardrails around which will allow us to create a policy, and you can all have input,” Councilwoman Sabina Zafar told those in attendance Tuesday night. “If we don’t pass this ordinance, we are not going to be able to set the stage to create that policy.”
During the meeting’s public comment session, several members of the community expressed their concerns over cell facilities being placed in residential areas and near schools, due to perceived health risks associated with the radio frequencies emitted from the facilities.
Council members were sympathetic to these concerns, but noted that, according to FCC regulations, a city can not consider potential health risks when regulating the placement of these facilities.
“What we are technically attempting to do tonight, is arm ourselves for whatever battle lies ahead,” Councilman Phil O’Loane said at the meeting. “You have to actually line yourselves up rather than frankly, going in blind like Danville did and they basically said ‘OK well sue me.’ that's not the most effective strategy to go in front of a judge with in my view.”
Danville is currently in litigation with Verizon Wireless, over the town’s denial of a small cell wireless facility in a residential neighborhood.
* During a special presentation, the council recognized the 11th graduating class of the San Ramon Government 101 course, and gave the graduates certificates of merit for their accomplishments.
San Ramon Government 101 is a class built to enhance participants' level of understanding of local government and departmental functions and to encourage participation in the city's various committees and commissions.
This year’s graduating class includes: Ben Azcueta, Eugene Bucciarelli, Barbara Evans, Sheetal Gampawar, Stephanie Hitchcock, Michael Kitchens, Jean Kuznik, Sreenivasa Makineni, Jenna McCoy, Uday Oak, Nancy L. Powers, Scott Roberts, Tom Rockwell, Cliff Sanburn Jr., Jay Sisodiya, Janis Stevens, Elizabeth Strydom, Nan Vasan, Roger Waller, Susan Waller, Andrea Wood and Paul Yamshon.
* Recognizing the creative talent of their city’s younger residents, the council honored the 14th Annual San Ramon Valley Street Smarts “Be Reel” Video Contest winners, and viewed each of the top finalists videos.
Every year, the "Be Reel!" contest encourages middle school-aged filmmakers to create a public safety announcement on a specific traffic safety related theme. This year, 124 students created 55 minute-long movie clips based off of the theme of “Let’s Ride!”
While all participating students have been recognized, this year’s overall winner was a team from Pine Valley Middle School consisting of Tyler Raymond, Joseph Sena and Charlie Turner. The trio won for their film “Bike Safety Explained.”
* A routine review conducted by city staff every year, the council unanimously approved establishing and/or changing fees and charges for various municipal services for the 2019-20 fiscal year.
Effective July 1, city officials have updated the fees levied for various services such as its business licensing fee, affordable housing fee, picnic rental fee, field rental fee and special event lifeguard fee, to name a few.
* During a special meeting held prior to the start of the council’s regular one, council members gathered to review its fiscal year 2019-20 budget workshop.