By Roz Rogoff
Bringing back the Open Space CommitteeUploaded: Aug 7, 2011
The 2010 General Plan included the formation of an Open Space Committee. After the plan was approved by voters in 2002, the City Council created a new Open Space Advisory Committee reporting to the Parks and Community Services Commission.
In 2003 Carol Rowley and Scott Perkins were elected to the City Council and Jim Livingstone was appointed to fill Jerry Cambra's seat in early 2004. This new Council voted to merge the Open Space Advisory Committee with the Environmental Affairs Advisory Committee to form the Open Space and Conservation Advisory Committee (OSCAC).
The Council felt it wasn't necessary to have two committees doing similar things and believed that the members of the Conservation Advisory Committee would take over the mission of the OSCAC.
Instead the Open Space members took over the committee and started pushing the Parks Commission to start a fund to buy land contiguous to San Ramon to keep a buffer of open space around the Urban Growth Boundaries.
In 2004 OSCAC member Jim Blickenstaff asked the City Council to set aside a percent of the increase in the Transit Occupancy Tax proposed in Measure U to purchase open space. The City Council turned down that request, and the voters in San Ramon turned down Measure U.
In April of 2005 the City Council proposed changing the Bylaws of the OSCAC. I don't remember the details of what was changed, but the Committee members opposed these changes so the OSCAC was essentially disbanded and reorganized with members of the Parks and Recreation Commission. Eventually the Committee was deemed unnecessary and discontinued.
Now that Measure W passed overwhelmingly the City Council will consider reactivating the OSCAC as a Task Force composed of members of the Planning Commission and Parks Commission with one Council Member representing the Geologic Hazard Abatement District (GHAD). The Council will vote on new Bylaws at their August 9, 2011 meeting.
The new OSCAC members, according the draft of the new Bylaws in the Staff Report for this Tuesday's City Council meeting, will consist of Chair, past Chair, and Vice-Chair of the Parks and Community Services Commission, and Chair, past Chair, and Vice-Chair of the Planning Commission.
So six of the members would be Carol Lopez as past President of the Parks and Community Services Commission, David Ernest as present Chair, Dominique Yancey as Vice-Chair, Donna Kerger as Chair of the Planning Commission, Harry Sachs as past Chair, and Dennis Viers as Vice Chair.
Yancey told me that Lopez will be Chair of new Task Force. Lopez says it makes sense to combine members from Parks and Community Services, since they are responsible for parks and open space, and Planning Commissioners since they understand land use requirements.
Lopez explained to me that it will be a Task Force and not a Committee because it will be disbanded after completing its tasks, while a committee goes on forever.
In addition to members from the Planning and Parks Commissions, one member will represent the GHAD. Since the GHAD is made up of the City Council, that would mean one member of the City Council would be on this new Task Force.
The GHAD member must also be a member of the Policy Committee. The Policy Committee is made up of Carol Rowley and Dave Hudson, so one of those two would be on this new Task Force.
Rowley supports adding a Member at Large from the community, which is one of the elements of the draft Bylaws that will be voted on Tuesday night.
The Draft describes the Citizen At Large member as "a San Ramon resident not currently serving on a City Commission or Committee who demonstrates and interest in open space and preservation, while balancing the goals and policies of the General Plan. This person must be willing to dedicate time and effort and work collaboratively and be solution oriented."
The Staff Report describes the Open Space Task Force as "charged with implementing an Open Space Preservation Action Plan and identifying funding sources and priority areas for open space acquisition and preservation."
Jim Gibbon, who has been very active in supporting Measure W, opposing moving of the Urban Growth Boundaries, and maintaining ridgelines, views, and open space in and around the City has expressed interest in being on this Task Force. In my opinion (and this is my opinion blog), Gibbon would be a good candidate if the City Council votes to include a Citizen At Large member.
I hope the Council does add at least one At Large member and one from the environmental groups in San Ramon. I'm sure if this position is opened up, Gibbon won't be the only one to apply, but if he does he appears to meet all of the qualifications in the list.
I would like to see this new Task Force complete the work started by the original committee and not just be an election year gimmick.