In a unanimous decision, the Pleasanton City Council approved entering into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) alongside Dublin and Livermore for a mental health urgent care pilot program funding.
The pilot program offers urgent mental health services through Axis Community Health, which has offices in Pleasanton and Livermore.
“The need for mental health services in the Tri-Valley has increased dramatically in the last decade and has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated the staff report. “There is not enough capacity to meet the demand, and the systems are complex and difficult to maneuver, especially in a crisis.”
Through the MOU, the cities of Pleasanton, Livermore and Dublin agree to pay Axis Community Health a sum not to exceed $321,495 for project startup and project budget year one costs. Each city will pay one-third at this time.
Councilmember Jack Balch said he was very supportive of the program and hoped it would be evaluated on a regular basis, so that it could continually improve. Councilmember Kathy Narum expressed appreciation that the pilot program was a proactive measure to address issues within the community. She noted it could help ease the strain on law enforcement. Vice Mayor Julie Testa called the program a terrific first step, and Councilmember Valerie Arkin said she was happy to see the services offered to the community.
Mayor Karla Brown thanked the many students who have called in to stress the critical importance of mental health.
“(Students) were even willing to trade off school resource officers in order to get mental health support,” Brown said. “I also just wanted to say that this is a supplement to our officers and our emergency responders, which I think is going to be welcomed. For our city staff who make those first calls, those initial calls, now they have someone to refer their residents to.”
Council Draws Road Map for 2021 Legislation
The city council unanimously approved a series of policy positions and comments pertaining to potential new jurisdictive bills.
The Pleasanton Legislative Framework and Focus Areas for 2021 were reviewed and submitted to the city council during the March 2 regular meeting.
The following are some of the focus areas and items recommended by staff and approved by council: COVID-19 response and recovery; housing; fiscal sustainability; Pleasanton's infrastructure; protect local control; safe and secure community; sustainable development; and regional collaboration.
Each year, the City Council Legislative Subcommittee is asked to review and discuss new bills that have been introduced at the state and federal levels and determine the city’s policy positions. The report, once approved by all five Tri-Valley cities, serves as a framework to provide collective voices at the legislative level.
“There are lots of focus areas for this year, but I imagine the (primary) focus will be on COVID-19 and housing issues,” said Becky Hopkins, assistant to the city manager.
The subcommittee led by Testa and Narum, examined various bills ranging from environmental issues and mental health services to homelessness and fire prevention.
“I’m pleased we are taking a forward position on things; it’s important that we don’t sit and watch, and it’s important we kind of lead the way on this,” said Testa.
Although the intent behind the document is to create solidarity and a strong collective voice among all the Tri-Valley cities — Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon and the Town of Danville — City Manager Nelson Fiahlo pointed out there can be exceptions if one or more cities don’t concur.
“Yes, all five cities must agree, but in some cases, it can be just four cities supporting an initiative,” said Fiahlo. “But 90% (of the time) or sometimes more, there is an alignment.”
The focus areas were chosen based on current political issues at the federal and state levels in addition to timely regional and local issues. City staff will continue to monitor incoming bills throughout the 2021 legislative cycle to determine if and when the city council should take a formal position on additional items.
“I think this really sums up well all the different areas where we can be effective, and that really can have an influence on the city,” said Narum. “They are things that really make Pleasanton a unique and great place to live, and so I’m happy that we continue to work through these bills — both the ones that help us and try to modify the ones that are maybe not quite as much in our favor. I think this is a really great process.”
For additional information, visit www.cityofpleasantonca.gov.