Dublin will launch a new era for some of its commissions and committees by instituting a policy of appointing alternates to serve on them.

The city council voted 3-2 vote for the change at its May 7 meeting. It will become official when the resolution returns to council for a second reading after draft language is changed.

Dublin joins Pleasanton and Danville in adopting alternate seats. Alternates will be able to take part in discussions, but can vote only when sitting in for an absent member or sitting in a vacated seat.

Mayor David Haubert made the motion, which was seconded by Vice-mayor Melissa Hernandez and supported by Councilmember Shawn Kumagai. Councilmembers Arun Goel and Jean Josey voted no.

Goel and Josey said that one alternate, not two as recommended in a report, would be enough for the Planning Commission, Parks and Community Services Commission, Human Services Commission, and Senior Center Advisory Committee.

Josey said that it is rare that the Planning Commission has only three members in attendance, so two alternates really are not needed. The council in the past drafted attendance rules for commissioners, after complaints arose about people missing too many meetings, which delayed action on some items. Now, if a Planning Commissioner were to miss a certain number of meetings, she or he would be dismissed.

Goel said he opposed two alternates on the commissions, because he had been appointed to city commissions, and saw how much effort commissioners put into serving. If there were little need for a second commissioner, it would make that person do a lot of work reading reports, receiving instruction on the Brown Act rules and other things commissioners need to know, but there would be little, if any, payoff.

Hernandez said it was worth trying two alternates. The policy could be reviewed in a year to see how it works, and make a judgement then about continuing.

Only Michelle Smith McDonald, who is chairperson of the Parks and Community Services Commission, spoke from the audience. Smith McDonald said that she preferred one alternate only, because two are unwieldy for meeting management purposes. She was also concerned about a second alternate involved in the discussion for a long time, but not able to vote.

Whatever the council decided, “the rules of the road,” should be made clear, stated Smith McDonald, who was appointed to the Zone 7 Water Agency board earlier this month.

HOUSING ECONOMICS, FROM LOW TO HIGH

The council passed a resolution proclaiming the 23rd annual Affordable Housing Week from May 9 through May 19. It also heard a presentation from a realty association official about the trends in prices of single family detached homes over the past few years.

In the Affordable Housing proclamation, supported by cities in Alameda County, Dublin declares that it has a deed-restricted affordable housing stock of more than 1380 residences, including single-family homes, condominiums, apartments, and accessory dwelling units, sometimes known as backyard granny flats.

The council also heard a report from David Stark, Public Affairs Director of the Bay East Association of Realtors.

Stark talked only about single-family detached homes. He noted that their price in Dublin increased by 24% from 2012 to 2013, as the city was pulling out of the Great Recession. The following year, the increase was 12%, followed by a 7% increase in each of the next two years, and then 6% in 2017-18.

Stark said his interest in housing is as shelter, not as an investment. The 24% climb in prices definitely was not sustainable. That was why the numbers kept lowering.

In housing prices, month to month fluctuations in sellers’ asking prices compared to actual sales prices showed unusual behavior in September and October of 2018. Buyers on average had been bidding above the asking price in previous months, but in September and October of 2018, they bid lower than the asking price. They were able to negotiate a price lower than the asking price.

Stark stated, “That is something we had not experienced in years. It says something (falling two months in a row). The prices dropped all the way to $960,000, but then rebounded to $1.1 million.

“In the first quarter of 2019 the median price — the middle price in a ranking of prices stacked from bottom to top — came in lower than the first quarter of 2018. That kind of year to year quarterly performance has not been seen in Dublin in a long time, said Stark.

Stark observed that the last three years’ of home sale inventory has been very stable. “Sellers are not putting their homes on the market. It tells us they like it in Dublin. They choose to stay,” said Stark.

Also, statewide years ago, people kept their homes an average of seven years before selling them. However, that statistic has shifted to 11 years. Stark said that given the high quality of Dublin as a community, it’s likely the city’s average home retention is more than 11 years.