At last week’s Livermore City Council meeting, the council unanimously approved a district boundary plan known as the “Lime” configuration. Community input regarding the boundaries, composition and sequencing of the districts in future district-based elections was discussed and voted upon.

Consultant Michael Wagaman noted that the four public hearings resulted in the eight configurations shown to the council. Council member incumbency was not considered as a factor. Draft maps were posted online. In addition, maps submitted by members of the public were included in the choices. The final maps reviewed were named Lime, Olive, Sage, Emerald, Lavender, Maroon, Sapphire and Tangerine.

One member of the current council lives in each district. District based elections will not be in effect for the current 2018 election.

In 2020, Council members Bob Coomber, who lives in Southeast District 3, and Bob Carling, who lives the Southwest District 4, would be affected. Coomber and Carling would be eligible to run for reelection and face all challengers from residents within their respective districts. If Vice-Mayor Bob Woerner, who resides in District 1, were to be reelected this November, he could not run again in 2022 for a council seat since he has reached the Council term limit of 8 consecutive years without a break from service. Council member Steve Spedowfski lives in Northwest District 2, but has chosen not to run this November. In 2022, candidates living in districts 1 and 2 would compete for the seats. In addition, moving from one district to another does not negate the already established total length of term limits in place for City Council members.

Audience member John Stein commented that district-based elections had been imposed upon the city by the state. Karl Wente noted that the process was done well and openly.

After another public meeting on October 22 presenting the City Council’s decision, the ordinance will be adopted on November 26.

According to the California Voting Rights Act of 2001, city-wide elections could disproportionately influence election outcomes for an entire city, thereby denying the rights of a number of voters in sparsely occupied areas to be properly represented. Those areas are usually occupied by protected classes and minorities. Therefore, the strength of their representation is diluted. By having specific geographic districts, candidates running in an election to represent their districts and their constituents would allow the concerns of the entire electorate of the city to be heard at city council meetings.

The 2020 census may require new districts to be formed for the 2022 election based on any new population distribution.

CITIZEN’S SURVEY: WHAT CHANGES ARE NEEDED?

Christine Martin, Assistant City Manager, presented the proposed 2018 Citizens Survey. The questions concerned safety, mobility, the environment, education, enrichment engagement, recreation, wellness and the economy. The council was asked if the questions should remain the same or be changed for the 2018 survey.

Councilmember Bob Carling’s suggestions included housing, homelessness, traffic and parking.

Mayor John Marchand asked whether bonds for infrastructure replacement, for an open space park located in Springtown or a parcel tax to support the arts in Livermore should be included.

The Council settled on three final questions. Citizens will be asked what their level of support is for the following: first, more active city involvement in transportation and ride sharing services; next, additional community effort to alleviate homelessness, including how services and housing could be provided; and finally, an increase in low and moderately priced housing to help teachers, first responders and other professionals within the community to attain affordable housing.

The council members wanted the answers changed from the present yes or no to a sliding scale going from strongly support to strongly oppose.

Marc Roberts, City Manager, noted that many of the questions were already being addressed in the present city plan. He mentioned Livermore’s inclusionary program, one of the very first and longest running in the State, that requires a portion of every market rate project to include affordable units. There are almost 500 affordable units in some stage of development in Livermore. A homeless taskforce responds in a timely and appropriate manner; a homeless on-line portal is available.

HOMELESS STRATEGIES: A MOVING TARGET

Claudia Young, staff liaison for Livermore City Human Services Commission in charge of homeless services, gave her bi-annual report. She stated that in 2017, 243 individuals were homeless, with 102 in shelters or emergency housing and 141 unsheltered, including living in cars.

The resources and responses needed to be increased. These included case management, prevention, temporary shelters, safety net services, outreach and resource referrals, health and sanitation and basic needs availability, such as bathrooms showers and laundry facilities.

Livermore applied for Alameda County Immediate Impact Funds, which led to City Serve of the Tri-Valley distributing $50,000 to Livermore and $25,000 each to Pleasanton and Dublin. A homeless taskforce meets monthly in Livermore to improve coordination, develop strategies, discuss ways to improve services, review data and provide welfare checks to the most at risk individuals.

Homeless group sharing has included the faith-based community as part of their ministry, but needs more coordination. There will be a networking event in November with Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin to discuss outreach.

Mayor John Marchand stated that Alameda County passed a measure for low income housing about two years ago with a $500 million bond to build 5000 affordable housing units. He then remarked that estimates for the next round of Section 8 requests would be 100,000 applications. He also noted that there are seven facilities for the disadvantaged, homeless and abused in Livermore and none in other cities. “This goes back to the DNA of our community. We are a giving and generous community.”