City council, Feb. 4, 2013


Alan Riffer, long time Albany Education Foundation board member and treasurer, former Albany school board member and current member of the Albany Library Board, was approved to serve as the city’s representative on the Alameda County Library Commission.


Planning consultant Barry Miller was hired to help the city formulate its next general plan. The general plan is a big deal. California cities are required by state law to formulate these plans, typically for 20 year time periods. Our plan will most likely cover the years 2015-2035. Most of the preliminary work will fall to the Planning and Zoning commission.

 Miller is a sole practitioner (more here) who has consulted with several local cities to help them craft their general plans. Jeff Bond, or community development director, is optimistic this planning process will be completed in a few years. It will have to undergo CEQA review. The estimated cost for Miller’s consulting services is $133K.

 The council also agreed to hire Frank Benest, former city manager for Palo Alto and other California cities, to consultant with council on shorter-term strategic planning for Albany (more on Benest here). The consulting contract will not exceed $14K. There are many issues the council needs to resolve even before we dive into the 2015-2035 general plan, so I am hoping we can use this shorter-term process to help us get our priorities in order over the next few years.


Nancy Skinner, who represents the 15th district, is our assembly member in Sacramento. Her liaison, Amilia Lopez, talked with us at the meeting about three bills Skinner has sponsored at the state capitol (text here). 

The first Assembly Bill #39 (AB39) has to do with energy-efficiency funding for schools. Great idea, but it is more in the realm of the school board than the city council.

 Assembly Bill #48, also sponsored by Skinner, has to do with gun control, specifically regulating the sales of large-capacity ammo clips and the sale of ammunition. There have been many gun control bills sponsored this legislative session in Sacramento (see here). It’s difficult to know which bills will survive the committee process and it in what form, but in general, I think AB48 is a good start and I am optimistic there will be some progress in the capitol on gun control this legislative session.

 Assembly Bill #127 would regulate the use of toxic flame retardant chemicals in building insulation. This follows Governor Brown’s recent action to modify the state’s technical bulletin 117, which has required flame retardants to be added furniture foam. There is growing evidence that these flame retardants are toxic and do little to add to fire safety generally. See here and here.