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Clayton City Council Meeting – June 5, 2018 – Comments

Council Meeting Minutes – June 5, 2018

These comments were made during the City Council meeting agenda for the assisted living / memory care facility proposal in Downtown Clayton:

Mayor Keith Haydon:
“At the current time it’s still at the concept stage, and that’s what we share with you. That’s NOT the plan… at least we don’t THINK that’s the plan that will ultimately be proposed.

“I want to encourage all of you to keep you eye out for any information about a final plan being submitted. And that’s where you really need to give input… to look at exactly what is being requested for our downtown area that you feel fits into Clayton’s future. So that’s the time to really provide that input”.

Concerned Clayton Resident #1:
“I’m glad Councilman Shuey spoke about the respect part, because I didn’t get much when I was talking to Mr. Reyes at their information meeting… in addition to these cabinets were not allowed to be opened and chairs brought out for some of the elderly people… no chairs! no chairs! is what the people were told.”

(regarding the poll) ”As of 2 hours ago it’s got 87% against any type of development of a big box store down there or building. This isn’t about old people. It’s about the right fit for Clayton. And it is definitely not the right fit for Clayton.”

“We’ve gotten 1,500 on the petition in little over a week. The thing looks like a strip mall if you want my opinion. And I think the council and the people of Clayton should be concerned that having such a building there is kind of a danger to the residents as well, because during festivals and car shows, etc. downtown… even if we’re going to be able to have those kind of things in that end of town… I was here and Del Beccaro was a little agitated, because he didn’t like my idea of him putting a Ferris wheel on Main St. down by the park, and I’m sure some of the other stuff is not going to fit on Main St. where he had it located on his schematic.”
You’re going to hear from a lot of people, but eventually if the right thing isn’t done, we’re going to take this to a real petition, and we’re going to be putting it on a ballot. So, if we need to call a special election or if this needs to go on the November ballot we will do that. There’s to many good memories left in that lot to look at some building that goes all the way down to Kinder Care parking lot is going to break my heart driving down the street and not being able to see the scenery or the mountain or the downtown especially. It’s not about old people, it’s about al of Clayton.”

Concerned Clayton Resident #2:
“I think you guys… right now… we don’t trust you. I have incredible concerns about a city manager who cannot answer a question about cameras and is paid $300,000 a year… that’s outrageous for this little town. Along with Mindy Gentry, that’s almost half a million of our tax dollars being spent on these salaries. These are the folks that are bringing us these projects. We don’t trust you. That’s why Mr. Gamble talks about bringing this to the ballot. We don’t want to go down that route”.

“We don’t trust you. While you may say you haven’t made up your minds, the interests are there (sitting on the council), so WE don’t trust you. If you want us to trust you, you’ve got to give us reason to trust you. Make sure this guy (Gary Napper, City Manager) can answer questions about the city for what he gets paid.”

Concerned Clayton Resident #3:
“I’m Jon Challoner a resident of Clayton. My wife Meridy and I moved to Clayton in the 70’s, raised our children here and their children. I am a member of the Clayton Business and Community Association and was a member of the CBPA, back in the 70’s. We have been enjoying our life here, albeit, not in a perfect world, but darn close to it. My wife Meridy and I were involved in establishing the Clayton round-up at the horseman’s club up on Mt. Diablo and later down at the 7-up bottling plant. (I still have my recipe ‘Cowboy Beans for 300.’ I also was on the committee for our first golf tournament “The Clayton Classic” and have the original hat and umbrella we gave as door prizes. It took a lot of work to get both projects off the ground. With my political resources pretty much tapped out by my position as the senior vice president of the Seeno Companies, I never became immersed here, as it was my ‘chill out time’/private refuge at home. However, I continued to serve the county working with Warren Rupp as a member on the CC Sheriff’s Posse executive board while raising substantial sums of money for charities throughout the county.”

“The City finds itself in a conflict over a project that is in the concept phase and at this point in time, has not been formally submitted to the City for consideration. However, it has brought to the surface an underlying fact of life here in Clayton that needs to be addressed, sooner rather than later – if it is the desire of the constituency, for example, to leave the downtown as it is (a great place for festivals, music and food for about 10 days per year) or our city council that shares the goal of maintaining our cities desirability factor but also having an important responsibility to discharge its fiduciary obligations to its constituency (having to produce an economic benefit to offset the costs generated by a combination of the cost to maintain and as well as the value of our revenue producing assets. To the board of directors (city council), who have obligations to all the stakeholders (residents), it becomes imperative to undertake a fact-finding process to quantify just what makes up the universe of information necessary to make a prudent decision for the city as a whole. Once known, if a majority of the stakeholders wish to assume all costs of doing nothing, the city can adjust the tax base to accommodate their wishes. However, if through the planning process, there is a more prudent path to consider that not only takes into consideration the preferred desired use as a ‘public amenity’ and at the same time having ability to off-set the costs of doing so, it becomes an alternative path for consideration. An outline on how to structure the planning process cannot be approached in a haphazard fashion. The first thing that needs to be addressed is the financial cost to carry to the city by doing nothing. Once that has been established, you have a base to consider the impact of doing nothing or considering an alternative use. In that vein, I would suggest that stage two be a committee chaired by the city manager to include citizen input as well as financial, legal, real estate marketing and other expertise as needed. The time has come for everyone to take a deep breath and step back. Hopefully, we all have the same goals for our city – first and foremost, maintaining the ambience of our small town atmosphere while being good stewards of our city’s assets and finances.”

Concerned Clayton Resident #4:
“When I last spoke before this council back on May 16th of last year, you were discussing a zoning variance that was later approved, and one of the fine concerns that was brought up was this possible project downtown. At that time Vice Mayor Shuey… with a smirk dismissed those concerns as hyperbole and unwarranted concerns… yes, that Smirk (Shuey is smirking). Turns out, that wasn’t hyperbole and certainly wasn’t an unwarranted concern. What this shows is not a problem just with that project, but a problem with the council communicating information. Because Fulcrum development has widely publicized that they are in an exclusive purchasing agreement with the city for that land, which apparently was entered into on or about November of last year. Not 6 months after that hyperbole of unwarranted concern was dismissed by this council. What I submit to this council is your job as council members it to serve its people. We don’t serve you. We shouldn’t have to keep an ear out or an eye out for a development that affects this entire community. It is YOUR job to put that out in front of us. This isn’t a matter of putting up a stop sign. This is changing the entire character of this city. And that is something that should be broadcast far and wide, long before you enter into an exclusive purchasing agreement with some real estate developer who has gilded intentions poised under helping seniors but is really only looking for a profit. The distrust that was mentioned earlier is a big problem, and it was created by this council… it’s been created by the City Manager… through the smoke screen and information that’s been thrown out, And again, let’s assume that’s all true… isn’t that a problem in and of itself??? If there’s confusion, who’s fault is it? Is it their fault (the people’s)? No, it’s your fault. Your job is not to not just vote on things. Your job is to keep us apprised of what is going on in this city. How it affects our lives. How it affects our families. And how it affects this city. It’s not our job to find it out.”

Concerned Clayton Resident #5:
“There is a huge divide… and you’ve heard words like “distrust”… and it really comes down to lack of communication between what we’re hearing and what we’re hearing in sessions with the developer. You mentioned, Mr. Haydon, that none of you in fact were present at those meetings as it was simply so we could hear directly from the developer. And so contrary to your comments about 10-12 months for the planning to be approved, we realized that evening that they (developers) were in fact telling us that they hoped to break ground in quarter 1 of 2019. Something doesn’t jive with the calendar on that. So, where is their making this sound like this development is a fait accompli? So they are just going to decide … and you even said ‘whether they decide they are going to move forward’… I would hope it’s not THEIR decision as to whether this moves forward. And that as we the community will be letting you know how we feel about it since we’re the shareholders of this property, that you will then be taking that voice and deciding what is best for our community with citizen’s input. So the disconnect is something that I think we need to start addressing here. It’s where we’re hearing something on the website from Fulcrum and finding out this is happening… is underway… that this has been agreed… and hearing from you (the council) we’re still in the concept stage. So clearly, there is some communication problem that has a huge disconnect.“
“You can’t put a price on children jumping hay bale to hay bale while the October fest goes on, and the atmosphere, and all the very many things we enjoy around Clayton, which basically be done away with if something of that magnitude… 70,000 sq. ft. 3 story structure is placed in this spot. So, even though realtors are telling us ’you can put a carousel right here, next to the daycare parking spot, but… I’m sorry… you’re trying to force-feed this and squish it in an area… it’s going to spoil forever the downtown we’ve all know and loved. So, I urge you to really consider communicating proactively to your constituents since we’re the ones that need to provide input.”

Concerned Clayton Resident #6:
“City Council… you’re members of this community. As residents of Clayton you know how important downtown is to us, Main St. in particular. It’s very important to our way of life. It’s what makes our town special. It’s the reason many of us live here. It’s why we choose the longer commute. It’s why we buy homes here. Part of the panic you are seeing in social media and in this room is because many of us cannot believe a project like this would even be considered for the Main St. location. Despite being early in the process, for many of us the project is still to close to fruition for comfort. I think this is why people are panicking and questioning the motivation for pushing to develop this parcel. I think we can remedy that by being a little bit more open in our communication and separating discussions around this parcel of land from the development that’s being proposed. If we can come together as a community and have discussions about why we have to develop this area outside of waiting for the development group to submit their proposal, then I think people would be able to separate questioning the motivation of why the city council isn’t facilitating these discussions. So, I’m requesting formally that we set up some sort of dialogue… some sort of interactive Q&A session… within the next 30 days to start addressing these questions. I realize that the city council is not able to speak about the proposed Fulcrum development, but I think there are many other questions and problems that we can solve outside that if we can come together and have a discussion, and I think this community really wants that. We really want to have that dialogue with you. It’s great to have the opportunity to stand up here to speak our minds and have you hear us, but I think we need to go a step further and actually hear what you have to say about our questions.”

Concerned Clayton Resident #7:
“I think it’s important that we should have good communication. I feel that we have not gotten all the facts. I also want to say that I’ve been a resident for 33 years here in Clayton, and it’s been beautiful, it’s been a wonderful life for me for the last 33 years. I came from West Los Angeles with my husband, so you can imagine the difference that I’ve experienced seeing cows actually walking around the hills. I couldn’t believe it. I would stare for a long time at that. So, I’m really pleased to be part of Clayton, and I’m also going to compliment the city council. For the 33 years, you have made some really good decisions. Now the idea of that gas station, that was a bummer, ok. But the other ones… the concerts in the grove, the Endeavor Hall, di Martino winery, our city hall… these were exceptional ideas. This is an exceptional town. Very different from Los Angeles for me. And I’m just so honored to be here. Now, as far as what I heard from the developer when I came to that meeting… Now, I spoke to Mr. Reyes, and I introduced myself. I said, I’m a registered nurse, and are you going to have registered nurses on staff. And he said, ‘no no, this is only a care home… we’re not going to have any medical care staff whatsoever.’ And I had heard there’s going to be nursing staff, so that was different. And then I said, ‘you a lot of people are against this project in the community.’ And he said to me, ‘I really don’t care if you and this other lady are against this project, because there will be another person that’s for the project.’ So, he really wasn’t open in listening to what I had to say. I was a little shocked. He seemed like a friendly enough guy. But was shocked that he was not interested in what I had to say. I thought this was going to be an interaction. I thought this was going to be something that I could come away with some information. I didn’t feel that way with that program with this developer. I just want to say I’m against this project. I’m for communicating with the public. But I’m against this project because that home care is going to be enormous. It’s 91 beds. And that means that it’s much bigger than any care home that is usual in the state of California. Most are 6 to 15 beds according to a website I was on. And this is going to take up so much land… 70,000 sq. ft. From Oak St. almost all the way to Marsh Creek Rd. That’s almost 70-80% of main St. We only have 2 streets! We have Main St. and we have Center St. I don’t hate my city council. You guys are listening to me. I’m grateful that you’re listening to me. You’ve done such terrific stuff in the past. Please don’t make a mistake on this one. Please don’t. I know you’re not ready. We’re in the concept phase, I understand that. Ok. But let’s have some give and take. Please let us in in these decisions too. We live here. We love it. We want to love you too.”

Concerned Clayton Resident #8:
“I’m a little nervous. I’m not big on public speaking, so it takes a lot for me to get up in front of all these people. I feel very strongly opposed to this project. I agree with all the other people who have spoken opposing it before me. There’s been a lot of lack of communication, and it doesn’t inspire trust and confidence in your city council when you’re not invited to speak before something like this happens. Why not enter that dialogue earlier and invite us to hear what we want, hear what our needs are, here what our concerns are, and then start maybe looking for a developer? It seems like things flip-flopped. And it was backwards. And, I came to that meeting with the developers, and it seemed like they were a marketing session, and they were trying to work the crowd, and they had smiles on their faces when they first came up to me, but as soon as they found out you weren’t supporting that project, it seemed I felt a hostile reaction, an aggressive reaction, and intimidation. And I didn’t appreciate that because, like I said, it takes a lot for me to come up here and speak. And I was tying to have a face-to-face and try to have a reasonable dialogue. And he actually accused me of not liking old people… wanting to ship them off somewhere. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve had a father who died of cancer, a father-in-law who died of brain cancer, a beloved aunt with dementia. Not everybody is going to end up in a facility like this or wants to. Some of us are going to be in our homes with our families. And we may wind up there. But they made it sound like this is the only solution, and if you weren’t for it then you’re against old people. I didn’t appreciate that. And glad to see there are so many people here. And I hope more people come forward and I hope you’re open to listening.”

Concerned Clayton Resident #9:
I think the footprint for this project is just to excessive for downtown Clayton.  It’ll take up half of downtown.  I’m not sure if that’s the vision we have for downtown Clayton.  Last time I was here talking to the city council many years ago, I think Ms. Pierce was here… what was that… 40 years ago???  I objected to this project you guys put up over there on that side street.  It was foreclosed on, had a couple owners, never had full occupancy.   So downtown Clayton an atypical place figuring out what to put.  But I think the footprint is just to excessive.  The developer himself, the project designer… they don’t have really any experience with this type of project.  If they’ve misled you, just go to their website and look what they’ve built before.  They’re building huge projects on a lot bigger area than we have here.  Our quest basically is to build some sort of retail dream out Clayton downtown here.  And I think that’s kind of misguided, because are we going to attract 10,000 people a day?  On weekends, 25,000 people a day?  Is that what the citizens want?  Big retail, strip mall, outlet?  I think not.  And so far we’ve paid for it, and past ad-ons and stuff like that.  I don’t think Clayton Station has panned out all that well for us.  Of course, we pay a lot in extra services to make that thing run.  You get some revenue from it, that’s true.  But I’m afraid if we just go full retail downtown we’ll have the same problem.  And our net will be not what we think it is.

City Manager Gary Napper:
(In response to question asking when negotiation agreement with developer expire) “On a November 2017 city council meeting, they (Fulcrum) submitted a pre-application, which triggered this process.  Our community development department reviewed that preliminary application.  We sent them a letter dated May 9th.  The agreement says that from that date the developer has 90 days in which they can file a final application or full application.  And so that gives us to about August 9th.  That’s in the developer’s hands and they are considering it right now.  They’re hearing all the comments that I’m forwarding as you folks send them to me.  And they probably finding them on as well… I don’t know.  They are at the stage on determining whether or not they wish to proceed.  I know… I have heard what your reactions have been to the developer meetings.  I’ve also heard THEIR reaction.  They weren’t very happy.  They could have been discouraged, and they reconsider, and I know that you would like that.  And that’s fine.  And that’s the process that was described and referred to in the exclusive negotiation. “

“Regarding the zoning… right now it’s a retail commercial zoning as was indicated.  In order for them to put residential on the ground floor, they would require and need to have a general plan amendment as well as a Town Center-specific amendment.  I think in this process we discovered things, and you folks have as well, that… for #1… the plan that was developed many years ago, thinking that Clayton might be a 2nd Danville, doesn’t appear like it’s going to happen, because the retail marketing and commerce has changed.  It’s no longer a bricks and mortar… much of online shopping is occurring.  So, that may be something that will be revisited.  I need to reinforce that what it says in the exclusive negotiation agreement, and council member Catalano indicated it, that the developer could file an application.  They would pay for all the staff time to review and critique that.  They may actually, coming out of that staff critique, get a staff recommendation to the planning commission for denial…NOT to approve the general plan amendment or the specific plan amendment.   If they still decide to go to the planning commission to try to overturn that… they can do that.  No one needs to appeal the planning commission decisions, because it automatically has to go to the legislative body of the city… municipality, which is the city council.  Why?  Because changing the general plan or the town center specific plan is an adjudicatory as well as a legislative act.  And those acts can only be done by the city council.  So that’s the process… the exclusive negotiation agreement.  From the developer’s standpoint, they didn’t want to go through the process here for consideration without knowing A.) What the price would be.  From their standpoint they don’t want to go through the process, and then reach a stage and suddenly the city decides to switch the price tag on them.  You can understand that, hopefully from their standpoint.  The other (B.), they didn’t want to go through a process, and have the city starting to talk with someone else about bringing in a competitor.  They wanted to know, entering in the process, at their own risk, that they would have the opportunity to be treated in good faith.  That good faith may impact, as I indicated, a recommendation from staff not to approve the general plan amendment.  Well, we don’t know enough about the project, even at the staff level.  The council knows even less, because it’s been articulated here, because they have to be kept as a buffer.  Our city attorney can respond to that if they want more information on that… that’s called due process.  When the city council, in defense of the city council, entered into the exclusive negotiation agreement, they didn’t know what the size of the building was going to be.  The developer… as they were talking to the council as you might recall… the developer said, ‘Well, it might be 2 or it could be 3 stories’.  I understand the size you’re (audience) talking about and we were surprised as well as others at the staff level… that they were coming in with that… it’s been called a “big box”.  That “big box” as it has been architecturally designed by their architect, as well the massing of that building, is not in harmony with the council and town center plan .  But they have to consider all those factors whether they’re going to adjust, whether they wish to continue and take the risk.  It will be several hundreds of thousands of dollars if they actually decide to file a formal application, which would then be subject to California Environmental Quality Act, which is the environmental review, address other impacts that you folks have suggested regarding that.  And as I’ve indicated, they may get a recommendation for denial.  That’s the process that was initiated.  And so, as I indicated before, the council really can’t talk about the project, because they don’t know enough about the project.  They’ve not been privy to the limited information that we even have community development staff level.”

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