Breakfast with the Mayor at Travis Credit Union

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Past Event Tags: Breakfast with the Mayor and Kevin Romick.

Eric Maldonado, Helen Raoufian, Bonni Bergstrom, and Nasly Beltrago of Travis Credit Union welcomed Oakley mayor Kevin Romick to their Slatten Ranch location on November 4th, 2013. Also in attendance were Larry Jones of Larry Jones Garage Doors, Jake Barritt of DMR Reporting, Doug Scheer of Scheer Security, Dr. Margaret Stahler of Madrona Naturopathic Healthcare, Roger Strauss of SDG Architects, and Oakley Chamber president Sallie Goetsch of WP Fangirl. The weekend’s transition away from Daylight Saving Time meant there was plenty of sunlight even at 7 a.m.

About Credit Unions

For those who are not familiar with credit unions, they are non-profit membership organizations. Some are restricted to residents of a certain area or employees of a certain company. There is a cooperative of credit unions that share ATMs: if you belong to a credit union, check here to find all the ATMs you can use without paying a fee. Visit the Don’t Tax My Credit Union website for more information about a proposed tax increase on credit unions and how it would affect members.

What It Means to Be Mayor

Travis has branches in many cities, some of which, like Brentwood, elect their mayors directly. Oakley’s mayorship rotates every year, with the previous year’s vice mayor becoming mayor. The city council chooses the mayor and vice mayor from its members. (There are 5 city council seats in Oakley.) Although the rotation makes it difficult for any mayor to see long-term projects through from start to finish, it also reduces the possible damage that a bad mayor can do, and the requirement to serve as a councilmember before becoming vice mayor, and as vice mayor before becoming mayor, guarantees that the mayor will be familiar with the workings of the city government.

Plastic Bag Bans

Oakley recently tabled a proposed plastic bag ban, but many other cities in East Contra Costa County have adopted them, as have Alameda County cities and San Francisco. Although everyone agrees that plastic bags contribute to a litter problem (and are particularly easily blown around in Oakley’s perpetual winds), not everyone agrees that banning them at the point of sale is the best way to deal with the issue–particularly if fast food restaurants are exempt from the ban. Reporting requirements in some of the bans are onerous for businesses that don’t have a point of sale and never provided bags. Grocery chains and plastic bag manufacturers both benefit from these bans; whether they actually reduce litter and benefit the environment seems a bit harder to establish. And as long as the disposal companies want your garbage in plastic bags, plastic will still go into landfills.

Apartment Smoking Ban

The Oakley City Council is working to create an ordinance about smoking in multi-unit apartment buildings that is both fair and comprehensive. Right now they are collecting input from several sources.

Oakley Plaza

Chamber member and long-time Oakley business Hook, Line, and Sinker is closing, which their friends and supporters think is a shame. There was some speculation that Ace Hardware, the new owner of the building in which Hook, Line, and Sinker is located, is itself a direct competitor, since many Ace Hardware stores sell both fishing and hunting equipment. It seems fairly certain that Ace will raise the rent for any remaining or new tenants in the building, at least once they have finished their renovations. Hook, Line, and Sinker owners Gene and Michelle Buchholz cite their relations with the City of Oakley as the primary reason for closing. It’s also possible they want to devote more attention to their daughter’s restaurant, Oakley Chamber member Providence Bar & Eatery.

Newcomer (and Oakley Chamber member) Carpaccio does a very slow lunch business during the week, according to Mayor Romick, but makes up for it evenings and weekends.

La Costa has doubled its business since expanding its restaurant and starting to accept credit and debit cards.

Republic of Cake is busy making renovations to its new location next to Carpaccio, and hopes to open in time for Thanksgiving.

DG Market has not yet decided whether to demolish the old CentrOmart building and start over, or renovate the existing building. The Halloween Outlet was very successful in that location, but will leave by the end of November. The new store will be similar to CentrOmart in terms of the goods it carries and similar to Carpaccio and La Costa in its architecture.

The City Council is auditing the Oakley Plaza and Main Street construction projects to find out why they took so long and how to prevent similar delays with future projects.

Low-Income Housing

In compliance with ABAG (the Association of Bay Area Governments), Oakley has to zone for 600 units of low-income housing. Cities that don’t comply with this requirement can’t get their general plan approved; without a general plan, it’s not possible to do any kind of development at all. Nor is it possible to specify that the housing be senior housing or have other restrictions on it. In addition, One Bay Area has a goal to put 80% all housing within walking distance of public transport. This is a reasonable goal in cities; in rural areas like Oakley, not so much. Some cities, like Pleasant Hill, are actually building apartments on top of BART stations. Oakland and San Francisco will probably have to use eminent domain to meet their low-income housing requirements, replacing older shopping areas with apartment blocks.

Despite the fact that police calls to Carol Lane are more frequent than in some other parts of Oakley, Oakley’s overall crime rate has remained flat since the construction of The Oaks, and lower than that of Brentwood.

And Speaking of Transit

The Fourth Bore of the Caldecott Tunnel is scheduled to open on November 18th. This will be a relief to anyone who has to commute via that route, though it will make the most difference to those driving opposite to commute traffic. Highway 4 widening between Somersville and Loveridge should be finished by December 2013; new lanes are already opening up. Ribbon-cutting ceremonies are planned for both locations, but details are not yet available from the Contra Costa Transportation Authority.

There isn’t much parking available in the neighborhoods where the new e-BART stops are going in, so CCTA is planning several new park-and-ride locations.

One advantage of reclaiming Oakley’s Main Street from CalTrans is the ability to control signage and traffic signals. It took the City of Oakley 5 years to get a traffic light at the corner of O’Hara and Main Streets, and another 5 years to get the signal at Live Oak and Main installed. Signage for the 160 exit from Highway 4 remains a challenge.

Groundbreaking for the connection between 160 and eastbound Highway 4 (the Bypass) is scheduled for the first quarter of 2014.

Other Development

Construction of PG&E’s Oakley Generating Station has been delayed yet again.

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