Envision Brea Needs Public Input.

Next Tuesday, May 5, the City Council agenda includes a Consent Calendar item to approve a Public Service Agreement (contract) with MIG, Inc. for (up to) $185,000 to launch Envision Brea, a long range planning project.

MIG’s original proposal, presented to Council during their Study Session last January 20, fell quite short of meeting Council expectations… most notably in the areas of Council authority/direction and public engagement. Comments made by myself during Matters From The Audience and revoiced by Marick, Hupp and Vargas, helped lead to a request for a citizen steering committee. Council directed staff and MIG to give it another shot.

A couple of weeks ago, at the Study Session on April 21, MIG ran Plan B up the flagpole. Once again Council broke out in spirited debate. It was clear that the revised plan was more to their liking, many questions remained and the PSA was, once again, not approved. Though discussion had been wide ranging and lingering concerns about public engagement persisted, no clear instructions were voiced to staff.

When I saw the Consent Calendar item to approve the contract I went a little ballistic.

Stop abusing the Consent Calendar.

Envision Brea matters.In recent years dozens of citizens have publicly and loudly objected to the sneaking of large expense items through the approval process without public comment by burying them in the Consent Calendar.

A Consent Calendar lumps numerous “uncontroversial” items together to be passed with a single vote.

Supposedly designed to save time, the Consent Calendar should be renamed Without Consent Calendar as it blocks the public’s ability to wade in on important matters.

I’ve lobbied heavily over the last couple of days for Council to pull this item and to openly discuss it during general session. While this pressure, and that from other citizens with the same objections, seems to have had good effect… I’ll believe it when I see it.

Talk first, spend later.

Include Brea's YouthCouncil members have loudly and consistently tooted the horn for transparency and public engagement since reorganizing last December.

Their most vocal concerns about the current MIG proposal center around it’s lack of engagement opportunities focused upon Brea’s younger population. I share their concerns.

Failure to make Envision Brea relevant to our Gen X, Y and Millennial population, to such an extent that they feel their contribution will be meaningful and contribute in real ways to the final product, guarantees failure of Envision Brea.

I and others have also lobbied for Council to hold a special session… as they recently did on the downtown parking structure, to allow the public to help frame the scope of Envision Brea.

If public engagement is so important, how about doing it instead of talking about it.

How you can help.

You don’t usually get involved in this stuff. You certainly don’t get up at public meetings and unload in five minute sound bites. But this is starting to hit close to home. You have some thoughts about how the city should handle your money. You agree that excluding the public, that dismissing your input or reducing it to giving them a stamp of approval, is unacceptable.

Send an email. Email the Mayor and entire Council or focus in on the Council member with whom you feel the greatest compatibility. Add your thoughts and concerns to the growing chorus of public opinion.

Take a stand. Make a difference. Contact A Council Member.

Make Brea Matters your soapbox too.

Consent Calendar hides.Adding your comment to this and future posts on Brea Matters kicks the conversation into fifth gear. You add both third party credibility and often expanded understanding of the issues being discussed. And you encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same.

Make some noise today. Encourage Council to pull the Envision Brea item from the Consent Calendar. Tell them to take their discussion downstairs and into public view. Demand an opportunity to wade in on Envision Brea before committing our money to a PSA contract, not after… when the opportunity for us to help mold the project’s scope and purpose is gone. Ask them to post the MIG proposal on the city’s website so you can dig into the details.

It’s your community. It’s your future. It’s time to assume the leadership and control you deserve.

 

State College Plans Rejected, City Responds.

It would seem that the email Jim Grosse sent to Council about the state college slopes meeting, no doubt aided by Ric Clough’s original meeting summary, both published here, has ruffled the right feathers to generate a response. I doubted it would come, but it has.

eric_rambles about state collegeThis morning Eric Nicoll, Community Development Director, sent the following communication in response to the email sent by Jim Grosse.

(Note: I’ve added a couple of paragraph breaks and reformatted Eric’s conclusions for easier reading.)

Tim, Council Members and Jim Grosse,

Good morning!  As Jim points out in his correspondence below, we presented the State College Slopes options to the affected residents last week and there was not any support for self funding the project even with some participation by the City through a LLMD or CFD.

We had a good turn out with 33 residents attending but the consensus was clear, if the City wants to improve this area we need to pay for it. We received some helpful input that will assist us in the future:

  1. They appreciate the traffic control and free bins the City provided and want to continue that program.
  2. They would like to see the concept landscape design (landscaping, V ditch and irrigation) as a “design guideline” for their use in planning their own improvements and requested consideration of permit fee waivers if they submit plans.
  3. The consultant work (both landscape architect and financial plan) provided concepts and real numbers for the first time and the residents can see what an improved slope looks like.

The City Council can now use this information as Envision Brea 2035 begins and the entire Brea community will participate in evaluating priorities.

Although the meeting did not result in any resident interest in moving forward on a self financed plan, it did give us their perspective and the Council can continue to explore options should the broader community see this as a priority enhancement project.

At the end of the meeting, we agreed to send a memo to the Council and the residents identifying the key points discussed in the meeting, which is forthcoming.

Regarding Jim’s specific questions below, I would like to have Bill Bowlus respond to him since he has been working with the consultants on this project and can best address those questions.

Eric

Translating government double speak.

“Not any support for self funding… even with some participation by the City” – Homeowners weren’t tricked into believing the recommendations benefitted them or that the City would seriously wade in with financial support (creating a bond) without a huge profit margin.

“We had a good turn out… 33 residents” – We thought we could duck dealing with homeowners on the south side of State College, equally problematic, or seeing the issues extrapolated citywide. Public review and reporting force us to rethink our position.

Citizen input reduced to vague remarks.

  1. First let me paint a picture of how much they love us.
  2. Design guidelines might be a place to begin once the State College corridor is identified as benefitting the entire community and alternative funding is developed that doesn’t create hardship for a majority of the homeowners whose property backs up to the thoroughfare.
  3. Residents were shocked at the astronomical costs in the consultant’s plan, particularly after ill-defined financing charges and exorbitant interest were added to the mediation costs.

Kick the State College can way down the road..

Pushing the discussion off onto the Envision Brea 2035 agenda is simply ridiculous. Envision Brea 2035 is simply ridiculous. Long range corporate planning has been a key part of my professional skills for nearly forty years. Never has a client asked to project so far into the future because they understood the unintelligent, half-baked and imprudent nature of such a wasted effort.

Envision Brea 2035, more than likely, will be attended by the same Boomers that have attended all other public forums, “discussions,” charrettes and charades conducted by the City. Don’t expect to see Gen X, Gen Y or the Millennials effectively invited or participating. They’ll quickly grasp the futility of the project.

What a shame that the very people with the greatest probability of being alive in 2035 Brea will end up having little or no influence on how Brea evolves over the next twenty years.

And please, forget that Summary Memorandum.

Eric, put your mastery of government double speak and powerpoint to good use and generate a full staff report. This time include all the details and describe them in a way that we all can understand them. If you need help from Bill Bowlus to accurately remember the specifics, you’ll get no objection.

Murdock prays about State CollegeAnd Mr. Murdock, since all of this was precipitated by your absurd original request, please do us the courtesy of bringing the final report and discussion to the Council meeting soon. As was clearly stated in the conclusion of “State College Controversy Grows” – Reviewing this in study session is a blatant rejection of reasonable transparency in government. The public should not be limited to commenting during matters from the audience, but should be afforded the opportunity of a formal public hearing. The precedents that could possibly be set here are wide ranging and likely to impact the entire community, not just the 44 homeowners selected as the target du jour.