by Bill Speir, LWVDV Observer
As with most Contra Costa Cities, the election has dominated local events in the City of Lafayette for the past several weeks. There have been some developments in the past week, however.
- New City Councilmembers. The election results are in. Three Council seats were on the ballot November 3, 2020. Carl Anduri, Cam Burks and Gina Dawson were elected to new four-year terms.
- Current Councilmember Cam Burks was re-elected.
- Former Mayor and Councilmember Carl Anduri was elected after an eight-year hiatus off the Council.
- Gina Dawson will be a new voice on the Council.
- Cap on Restaurant Delivery Fees. In an effort to support local restaurants, on November 9, 2020 the City Council adopted a temporary 15% cap on third party delivery fees that could be charged to local restaurants. The ordinance will expire when pandemic restrictions are lifted. It had been reported by local restaurants that some companies had increased their delivery charges to the restaurant to as much as 30% of the restaurant’s bill to the customer. The urgency ordinance will affect app-based vendors such as Grub Hub, Door Dash and Uber Eats.
- City to Sue PG&E to Stop Tree Removal. The City of Lafayette and PG&E entered into a Tree Removal Agreement on January 23, 2017. The Agreement states that PG&E and the City disagree regarding the extent of the City’s authority to regulate the utility’s removal of trees for safety and maintenance purposes. However, PG&E agreed to “provide all information required by the City’s Tree Protection Regulations” before removing trees. On November 10, 2020, PG&E informed the City that it would begin removing trees on East Bay Regional Park District property, along the Lafayette Moraga Regional Trail, beginning as early as November 16. The City believes that PG&E has failed to provide the information required by the Agreement, and on November 12, 2020, following a closed session at a special meeting, decided to sue PG&E to stop the tree removal.
by Bill Speir, LWVDV Observer
The City Council considered budget issues on September 30, with an emphasis on the impact of COVID 19 on City finances.
- Sales tax revenues were down 12% for the year.
- Restaurants and retail are the largest sales tax generators in Lafayette, and those businesses were hit hard by closures caused by COVID 19.
- The second quarter of 2020 is expected to be the most impacted by the pandemic. The third quarter of 2020 should be better, but still down from historic levels.
- The projection for FY 20-21 estimates a 4.3% decline in sale tax receipts from pre-pandemic amounts, and after that, the hope is that sales to local businesses will rebound, as will sales tax revenues to the City.
Although many City residents redirected their retail shopping to on-line vendors, the City of Lafayette does not directly receive its share of those sales tax payments. Sales taxes collected by on-line vendors are paid to the County and distributed to the cities based on the share of traditional storefront retail sales in a particular community as compared to sales in the County as a whole. This formula results in less money being paid to Lafayette than the City’s share of sales taxes paid by residents.
- Revenue for the year was strong even though sales tax revenues were down.
- Costs were cut in Spring 2020 in response to the potential impact of COVID 19. The City implemented a hiring freeze, and City employees agreed to defer a 1.25% cost of living adjustment that would have taken effect July 1, 2020.
- The Council voted 4-1 (Council member Burks dissenting) to lift the hiring freeze and restore the cost of living adjustment, while keeping all other budget cuts in place.
Housing Accountability Act compels City of Lafayette to approve controversial affordable housing project
The Lafayette City Council has been busy.
In response to residents’ calls to address racism the City Council created a Task Force to Effect Change and Action in the Area of Racial Equality. The three city council members leading this task force, Susan Candell, Cam Burks, and Teresa Gerringer, invite wide participation.
Lafayette is poised to update its city plan - this will shape the next 20 years. See the General Plan Update Intro Video for an overview, and then go to City of Lafayette CA General Plan to learn more and weigh in!
Monday, August 24, 2020, after another long meeting, the Lafayette City Council voted 4 to 1 to approve the building of the 315-unit apartment building. Vice-Mayor Candell dissented.
Lafayette is looking to fill three of the five city council seats in November ballot. Four candidates are running: Cam Burks (incumbent), Carl Anduri, Gina Dawson, and Farschad Farzan are on the ballot. Mayor Mike Anderson and Councilmember Steve Bliss are not running. To read about these candidates, see Voter’s Edge.
by Carol Murota
Lafayette’s housing remains an issue: Lafayette continues its very expensive and protracted housing battle over the Terraces of Lafayette. The Planning Commission held two meetings, hearing from residents in support of and in opposition to the project. After 7 hours, a majority of the Commissioners reluctantly agreed to approve the project, being unable to find legal cause to deny the developer’s permit.
City Councilmember Cam Burks appealed their recommendation. In response, the full City Council will hold a public meeting on August 10, 2020. If you wish to attend the Zoom call, please confirm the start time and details on the LoveLafayette website.
Local Politics: The Lafayette city mayor announced his resignation. Mayor Anderson’s term expires in November, 2020.