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Citizens come first now for comments before council

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POSTED September 20, 2017 1:17 a.m.

Have a concern dealing with the city?
Thanks to a decision by Manteca Mayor Steve DeBrum you won’t have to take NoDoz maximum strength pills before attending a City Council meeting if your beef isn’t connected with an item that is already on the agenda.
DeBrum earlier this month switched public comments for items not on the agenda from the end of the agenda to the No. 3 spot after the invocation/flag salute and ceremonial presentations.
It is a departure from the past 15 years.  The last time public comment was at the front end of the meeting was when Carlon Perry was mayor.
What prompted the switch to the back at the first meeting of Willie Weatherford’s 12-year run as mayor was the marathon comments associated with the Big League Dreams project when it was first proposed at Woodward Park. Perry, who was no fan of the BLD project as it was first envisioned, moved the public comments to the front. That allowed the anti-BLD forces meeting after meeting to repeat their objections to the project speaker after speaker. It literally went on for nearly two years guaranteeing public comments never were less than 30 minutes. One particular contentious comment session delayed the council meeting from doing any other business one meeting for almost two hours.
The switch to the back slashed comment time significantly on BLD.
DeBrum said people shouldn’t have to wait for upwards or two or more hours to share their concerns especially given many have to get up for work or have families. DeBrum said if things start going sideways, he’ll take another look at where the public comments fall on the agenda, but for now it is working out well for everyone.
Speakers are limited to three minutes unless the mayor extends the time or if it is done through a majority vote of the council.
At the same time the city attorney, that has sat across the way from the city manager for 30 plus years — is now seated next to the city manager. That allows City Manager Tim Ogden, who may have a quick question of City Attorney John Brinton about an issue before the council, to do so discreetly. Up until this month the only way to ask such questions without disrupting the flow of the meeting was via texting.
Asbestos delays timeline
for tear down of  houses
city bought for interchange
City Manager Tim Ogden had adopted an aggressive timeline to tear down the houses the city has purchased for the McKinley Avenue /120 Bypass interchange project.
But a higher-level-than-expected of asbestos meant the bids came in higher than anticipated. The bids exceeded the threshold that Ogden was authorized by the council to spend. The bids will be before the council at their Oct. 3 meeting.
The city wants the houses removed well in advance of the actual interchange work starting — which may not be until late 2018 — so they aren’t a magnet for illegal trespassers.

Good news, bad news
on Atherton “gap”
City Manager Tim Ogden told the City Council Tuesday that there wasn’t funding in municipal road construction accounts available to complete the missing 4,100 feet of Atherton Drive between Union Road and Airport Way.
That said, Ogden added staff was working on a solution to secure the money and would be bringing it before the council in the next few meetings.
Although he didn’t elaborate, one suggestion that has been batted around was to make a “loan” to the project from reserve accounts that would be paid back as development occurs. All of the money involved — that already collected and future collections — is coming from the development community.
Manteca is sitting on $25.4 million in various general fund reserves. While it is earmarked for various purposes, some of it — $4.3 million in bonus bucks, $4.6 for economic revitalization, and other reserves that don’t have a specific project in place moving forward to finance or weren’t created to cover cash flow, emergency, and economic downturn — could be tapped for inter-fund loans.
Such a loan could marry money for roads collected from growth through the Public Facilities Implementation Plan to provide the estimated  $5 million needed  to build the gap. Of that amount, $2 million was once designated to come from the Public Facilities Improvement Funds to initially build just two lanes.
In reality the entire $5 million tab is being picked up by developers as they pay the PFIP fees. The $5 million tab represents building all improvements including four lanes initially instead of two lanes as had been previously suggested

Safety issues at
Joseph Road & Main
plus along Cottage
Councilwoman Debby Moorhead who over the years has made pedestrian and traffic safety a personal priority, asked staff to look at addressing truck parking at the Joseph Road and Main Street intersection where The Pub is located.
A Joseph Road resident brought up the concern to Moorhead who dropped by to look at it firsthand. She shared with the council on Tuesday how parked vehicles were creating a serious sight line problem leading to frequent near misses.
City Manager Tim Ogden promised staff would take a look at the intersection and see if anything could be done to improve the situation.
Moorhead also shared a complaint from a  resident on Cottage Avenue complaining traffic on the two-lane road as it nears Lathrop Road was pushing 60 mph when its posted for 45 mph.
While Police Chief Jodie Estarziau promised to take a look, it will require calls to either the San Joaquin County Sherriff’s Department or CHP given it is in the county’s jurisdiction.

Stepped up enforcement
for illegal trucks using
Airport Way in Manteca
City Manager Tim Ogden shared Tuesday that the city has stepped up enforcement regarding illegal truck traffic along Airport Way.
Ogden noted staff is preparing to seek proposals for a citywide truck route study. The council earmarked $125,000 in the current budget for such work.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@manteccabulletin.com

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