By Roz Rogoff
Harry Sachs - In his own wordsUploaded: Oct 2, 2013
I'm planning to write my Endorsements for City Council in the next two or three weeks. I'm emailing each of the candidates with questions about their candidacy. I have probably asked you all or most of these questions, but I want to have a balanced column, so I'm asking some of them again.
1. Why are you running for City Council? You have answered this but give me more specifics this time.
I am running for City Council because I want to promote moderate growth policies, work towards further open space preservation and continue being a voice that reflects our resident's desire to protect their quality of life standards.
I believe that San Ramon's growth management, the proposal to create 680 HOV on off ramps at Norris Canyon Pkwy., the creation of City Center for a downtown area and our efforts to manage our budget deficits are important issues. Residents have expressed their concerns to me about traffic and school impacts that have increased due to Dougherty Valley expansion and they want to make sure that their elected councilmembers are mindful of and working on solutions to growth issues.
I have a proven track record on the planning commission of truly listening and then advocating for changes to projects based in part, on how they may affect neighborhoods or even just a few residents. The Trumark medical building, the Arco gas station renovations, the Camino Ramon Specific Plan, the landscaping for the PG&E corridor, expanding the sidewalk for Country Club Elementary and promoting renovations for both Boone Acres and Athan Downs parks are examples of how I have used my voice to advocate for quality of neighborhood issues. I want to carry that on to the City Council. That is why I am running.
2. What are your goals for being on the Council? Do you have any projects or plans you would like to see happen?
I believe western hillside preservation, reducing housing development on the Faria Preserve project and advocating against development of Tassajara Valley are the three main environmental issues going forward for San Ramon. I would like to see the city continue to work on the Open Space Task force land inventory; I believe the open space task force should be a permanent city advisory committee.
I would like to see the council bring a vote to increase the "hotel tax" to the residents. This would bring our hotel or Transit Occupancy Tax (TOT) up to what surrounding cities are levying, 10%. We are currently at 7.25% and the increase would generate approximately $300,000 in new revenue per year.
I would like to see San Ramon identify the necessary funding to build the Iron Horse Trail overcrossing at Bollinger Canyon Pkwy. Staff has indicated that the build would be approximately $6 million dollars. Apparently having not one but two Priority Development Areas downtown wasn't good enough for the regional bureaucracies that dole out the pork for smart growth and San Ramon was shut out of funding for this project recently. I would like to see the Council develop a strategy not only to identify funding for this, but also for Iron Horse Trail landscaping upgrades starting in south San Ramon going north.
I would like to see a master plan for transportation developed for San Ramon. The proposal to put the 680 Direct HOV on and off ramps at Norris Canyon Pkwy. deals with a limited number of users; there needs to be more comprehensive planning for the city. I believe we could identify another park and ride sight, perhaps in Dougherty Valley, that would offer BART direct bussing. That would certainly be a goal of mine.
Finally, I would like to see more collaboration with builders and environmental advocates going forward as we develop land use policies. We need to recognize that the roadways and schools become more impacted as more housing is built.
3. What are you against or would vote against if you are elected and why?
I publicly oppose the 680 HOV Direct Access Ramps proposal for many reasons. The sound, noise and lighting impacts to the neighborhoods west of San Ramon Valley Blvd. would be devastating. The impacts to nearby local businesses would result in lost jobs and has the potential for some of the affected businesses to close as the construction timeline exceeds 24 months. The only non-freeway ramped east-west artery for residents to use would become severely congested. Also, access to San Ramon Regional Medical Center would be impeded.
Finally, public safety concerns and the "spillback effects" of on and off ramp signalized traffic onto nearby local roadways are all highly negative impacts which far outweigh any limited "potential" benefits this proposal could offer. I will publicly support the No Build Option.
4. Where do you stand on the Mudd's property? This is one of my important issues.
I am hopeful that the state Department of Finance will approve the sale of the property for a community education center concept. I think the link with Crow Canyon gardens needs to be sustained and any use of the building should allow for modernization with the intent of preserving the look of the structure.