Monday, December 31, 2007

Looking forward to 2008 at The Woodland Journal


As 2007 closes today, maybe you're waiting to watch the new "green" ball drop at Times Square by taking in such gridiron classics as the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, the Roady's Truck Stops Humanitarian Bowl or the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl. Or maybe you'd like to tell The Woodland Journal what topics to post as a kick off to 2008.

The last Acorn Poll (November 3) asked for ideas related to youth issues... but that was a dud. Let's leave it wide open this time (well, related to Woodland or Yolo County of course) and tell us what hot topics you want to discuss in the new year. Here's some possible topics, but certainly you can come up with much better ones:

• Brown lid toters for green waste
• Who will be running for city council in 2008?
• Rose Parade vs. Woodland Christmas Parade... what's the diff?
• Sacramento River drinking water... should it come in many flavors?
• Flooding anyone? Flood wall, flood protection or building in the flood plain
• Should Woodland host a bowl game... the Petrovich Rite Aid Chrysler Dodge Ball Classic?

You can list some serious topics or just have some fun.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Woodland's 2008 Community Service Awards


The City of Woodland City Council annually presents Community Service Awards, the City’s highest honor, to select individuals with a distinguished record of public service to the Woodland community. The City is now accepting suggestions from the public of candidates to be considered for the 2008 Award. You and/or your organization are encouraged to submit one or more names for consideration.

Selection criteria for the Community Service Award is:

• Community leadership
• Demonstrated, selfless service to the community
• Initiated an important ongoing project or program in the community
• Interest in varied activities
• Dependability in completing assignments

A City Council appointed Nominating Committee will consider names of potential award candidates and provide the Council with nominations for the Council’s review and approval. Usually three Community Service Awards are made each year. The Nominating Committee will conduct its work in late January. The City Council will present the Awards at an event, open to the public, in February.

To submit a name for consideration complete a Suggested Candidate Form, and return it to Mayor David Flory at Woodland City Hall, City Manager’s Office, 300 First Street, Woodland, CA 95695 no later than Friday, January 25, 2008. Names of candidates suggested in previous years will be reconsidered this year; however, names may also be resubmitted to supply additional or updated information.

Forms are available at City Hall, City Manager’s Office or by calling 661-5800 during normal business hours or on the City of Woodland website at www.cityofwoodland.org. (Click the title of this story)

Wanted: Global correspondents

The Woodland Journal is looking for national and world-wide reporters who hail from Woodland. The objective is to provide Woodlanders' perspectives of points across the nation and around the globe. The goal is to bring an interesting variety of posts (topics) for entertainment or discussion (comments).

We offer an extraordinary compensation package that includes the self-satisfaction of sharing your own experience and insight. In fact... I will double, no triple, my own salary as Interim Blogmaster for those willing to act now and become a regular* reporter. (*A short story a month?)

I know there are Woodland Journal readers in far-away places such as Brazil, England, Germany, Israel, and Australia... and visitors from all parts of the United States such as Virginia, Arizona, Utah and Florida. Join the fun! Be part of an exciting 2008 that will be highlighted by the return of The Realist!

If you're interested in providing a short story a month about a Woodlander abroad (you), send an introductory and confidential email to dino@woodlandjournal.com. The simple submission process will be explained then.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas: Assembly required

I'm not talking about the state assembly... although there are probably legislators who think the holidays couldn't go on without them. I'm talking about the Legos, the rocket kits, and the Barbie castles that JM suggested be made into a blog topic. Okay, here's your chance... spill the beans about your assemblage disaster on Christmas day or your Nightmare Before Christmas. Be honest. Did you read the directions? Were you prepared and bought batteries?

My kids are older now, so this is the first year Santa's presents arrived on Christmas morning before they awoke. I can no longer hold my eyes open waiting for them to go to bed, but I CAN wake up earlier. The only assembled gift in my household this year was my daughter's ballet bar... and she took care of that.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas gifts come in many ways

I received a nice Christmas present this morning by way of the Daily Democrat. It came in the form of an article about longtime softball buddy Murray Hubert. According to the report by Robin Hindery, Murray returned home to Woodland on Christmas Eve, twelve days after his kidney and pancreas transplant surgery in San Francisco.

This was a much-needed boost following news I heard yesterday about a childhood friend passing on December 18 in South Carolina.

I was able to visit with Murray at the mall a few months ago - ironically, I needed some softball equipment so it was funny that I ran into one of my old Dubach Field friends there. He updated me on his condition and the need for regular dialysis treatment. He was very thin and faint, but I remember him saying he needed to stick around as long as possible for his grandson Brycen, who was with him.

I know Murray's Christmas gift has lifted many spirits in Woodland. I loved his quote in the paper, "I've had diabetes for so many years and couldn't eat pizza or a lot of other things, but now it's all up for grabs and I'm excited about it."

My best holiday wishes go out to Murray and his family!

You may access the full story by clicking the title of this post. Also in the Democrat today is a nice Our Town column by Jim Smith and the annual article of the famous "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." I always love reading that.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

City manager presents new initiatives to council



The following are exerpts from a report written by Mark Deven that was included in the city's December eNewsletter. To download the complete document, click the title of this post.

New Organizational Initiatives for the City of Woodland

On December 11, the Woodland City Council met in a Study Session to review new organizational initiatives proposed by the City Manager and Senior Staff. Representatives of Woodland’s employee associations were invited by the Mayor, City Council and City Manager to attend the meeting and all were represented. Other managers, supervisors and various employees at all levels of the organization and from all departments were also in attendance.

City Council Support for New Initiatives

The City Council has expressed interest in supporting a transition that will move the City of Woodland to an outcome oriented, customer driven, efficient and effective local government organization. In order to accomplish this transition, comprehensive organizational change must be planned, implemented and sustained. It must be supported by all levels of the organization and led by people who are focused on implementing certain key initiatives that, when completed, will have lasting impact on the organization. As these key initiatives are completed, others will be initiated that build upon the success of the earlier efforts and the organization will be able to sustain positive change.

In order to begin this process, staff has outlined the Policy, Leadership and Management Initiatives that summarize the key elements required to transition Woodland to the organization described above. It is impossible to implement all of these initiatives at the same time; such an effort would not generate comprehensive change because employees do not have enough time to devote their efforts to everything at once. However, certain initiatives should be implemented in advance of others in order to lay the foundation for future success. Therefore, Senior Staff have developed a transition that focuses on the critical first steps that will facilitate comprehensive change and allow the City organization to create a foundation for future, long term success.

What are Policy, Leadership and Management Initiatives?

The Policy, Leadership and Management Initiatives provide a framework that will guide the City organization in conducting the public’s business. There are several ways that these Initiatives will positively impact the operation of City programs and services. First, the Initiatives seek to align the City Council’s policy direction with the day to day activities of the organization. Second, the Initiatives establish the foundation for what staff seeks to achieve by conducting the business of the City. Third, the Initiatives define the organizational culture which guides how staff interacts with the City Council, the community and each other. Fourth, the Initiatives provide the leadership and management tools that will be used by all employees in order to conduct the public’s business. Finally, the Initiatives provide the means for the City organization to evolve and change in a manner that meets the present and future needs of Woodland.

How Will These Initiatives Be Implemented?

Communicate with Employees. The very first step will be to discuss the program with staff throughout the organization. It is critical for the Initiatives be presented as a positive step and for the City Manager to learn through the dialogue what some of the potential obstacles may be that could require a course correction either at the beginning or at some point in the future.

Vision, Values and Mission. Recognizing the need to establish a firm foundation for this process, it is critical to define the City’s Vision, Values and Mission. With the understanding that broad involvement is needed for this element, Senior Staff has committed to appointing a Task Force composed of 1-2 representatives from each department. Progress will be monitored by Senior Staff and status reports will also be available to the City Council. Woodland’s Vision, Values and Mission must be approved by the City Council before it is implemented because it will be integrated into the organization’s day to day business. Once approved, the Vision, Values and Mission will be used to guide recruitment and training, support policy actions that may be considered by the City Council and define various aspects of employee performance. It is important to note that the City already has a Strategic Plan and a Vision, Values and Mission statement. This document will serve as the starting point for the process. Other Vision, Values and Mission statements for high performing organizations will be reviewed as well. The challenge of the Task Force will be to develop a statement that is unique to Woodland; a carbon copy of a statement used somewhere else will not be acceptable to the entire organization.

City/Community Goals. Concurrent with Vision, Values and Mission, Senior Staff believes that the organization needs to define City/Community Goals. This belief is based on the need to understand the Woodland community’s highest priority outcomes which is the first step in aligning the day to day business of the City and the allocation of resources in order to address the needs and expectations of Woodland residents, businesses, citizens and customers. While it may be argued that staff should already have a solid understanding of these goals, the lack of a document with clearly stated outcomes strongly suggests that the opposite is true. The City Manager and Senior Staff will work closely with the City Council in order to define the first draft the City/Community Goals. By working closely together, the City Council, City Manager and Senior Staff will apply their collective knowledge of the community, familiarity with the organization and understanding of priorities in order to develop the 12-15 draft goal statements.

Economic Development and Development Services. Improvement in these areas is critical to the City’s future development. The reorganization that was implemented last month needs to receive top priority from the City Manager and Assistant City Manager in order to achieve the level of success necessary for Woodland to be recognized as an excellent place to do business. This definition needs to apply to commercial developers, residential builders, national corporations, small businesses, local and regional trade and business organizations and homeowners seeking permits to improve their properties.

Downtown Specific Plan Update. Council and staff have discussed the need to update the City’s Comprehensive General Plan. However, the interest in downtown development associated with projects such as City Center Lofts and the Courts modernization and expansion suggests that it may be more appropriate at this time to focus on updating the Downtown Specific Plan. The focus on economic development and redevelopment requires staff and the Council to understand the infrastructure needs of the downtown area and the resources required to address any deficiencies. If Council is supportive, resources are available to begin the update in early 2008. Completion of an updated Downtown Specific Plan will support the future update to the Comprehensive General Plan. Staff will provide more information regarding this issue at a Study Session planned for January.

10 Year Planning. Senior Staff has already committed to developing 10 Year Financial Plans for all major funds. The Finance Department has already developed 10-year assumptions and will continue to refine revenues and expenditures as part of the FY 2009 budget process.

Senior Staff Management Achievement Plans. One of the first steps in demonstrating a commitment to Outcome/Performance Management is implementing Management Achievement Plans. Senior Staff recognizes this fact and has committed to implementing Management Achievement Plans in mid-January. These Plans will guide the City Manager’s assessment of each Senior Staff member’s performance and may be the first step in engaging all managers to make a similar commitment when appropriate.

Performance Based Budget. An effective implementation plan for organizational change needs to recognize the significant challenges associated with the organization’s current priorities. As the Council is aware, Woodland faces significant challenges in developing the FY 2008-09 budget. Full implementation of PBB may take up to three years.

Restructure/Revising Service Delivery. Similar to the timing associated with PBB, the facilitation of broad employee involvement on restructuring and revising service delivery will be scheduled as a future element.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Clark Pacific resolution appears like a sweet deal


Last Tuesday the Woodland City Council approved a resolution supporting Clark Pacific's plan to locate their company at the former Spreckels Sugar site.

Clark Pacific, founded in 1963, is currently located in West Sacramento. The company serves a unique niche in the building industry as a provider of engineered, architectual precast structures.

According to Lizeth Cazares of the Daily Democrat, several councilmen said they thought the proposed location will be a great benefit to the community. In her article (that can be accessed by clicking the title of this post), councilman Art Pimentel was quoted as saying, "I do support this resolution because, ultimately, this is about economic development."

Yolo County Supervisor Matt Rexroad, who attended the meeting, supports the resolution. He suggested that this was a step to better cooperation between the city and the county.

Brenda Cedarblade, who owns and operates the Historic Nelson Ranch next to the site, noted the zoning change from agricultural to industrial use. "When that area changes to industrial use, there will be a lot of concerns and a lot of unhappy farmers," she was quoted as saying. It was the county who changed the zoning of the 240 acre property.

Matt Morehart, owner of Cache Creek Foods, is also located near the property. He reportedly expressed his concerns about the potential of pollution generated by the concrete company, who uses dry cement and sand-blasting as part of their processing.

On hand at the meeting was Clark Pacific marketing director Thomas Ketron. He said the planned facility will be environmentally sustainable. "We will bring about one to two million gallons of waste water, because six percent of concrete is water, but we don't produce waste water," he said, according to the article.

The council unanimously passed the resolution.

With its passing, councilman Jeff Monroe hopes this isn't the first step to a competitive commercial district right next door to Woodland's commercial district. This was one of the arguments against the urban limit line, he said, that the county would take advantage of the line by placing large commercial districts or housing right outside the line and collect the tax revenue.

Rexroad recently said on rexroad.com: "Some things I am sure of... that is Clark Pacific coming to Woodland. After I heard the plan and met the business owners it just seems obvious that this is what is best for our community. It is not a single. It is not a slash bunt. It is not even a triple. It is a home run for Woodland. A small minority of people will fight this but in the end it needs to happen to bring good jobs to our city. Woodland will end up embracing this."

About Clark Pacific (visit clarkpacific.com)

Clark Pacific specializes in architectural precast systems, design-build parking solutions, seismic technological advances, and custom architectural finishes.

Notable from their product line are parking structures, considering Downtown Woodland is scheduled to include a large parking structure to support the proposed courthoused. The company claims that "owners, developers, architects and contractors all benefit from using precast, prestressed concrete components to design and build parking structures."

They list a few reasons why: Environmental friendliness, safety and security, aesthetic variation, fast, all-weather construction, design flexibility, and quality control. An added benefit of precast construction is the inherent increased durability that minimizes the need for continuous on-site inspections and costly long-term maintenance. Clark Pacific is a PCI-certified plant.

Their awards include:

2007 - PCI Design award: best mixed-use building, St. regis museum tower, San Francisco, CA
2007 - PCI Design award: best multifamily building, 800 J Lofts - Sacramento, CA
2006 - International Parking Institute: Award of Excellence, Sacramento Int'l Airport “Terminal A” Parking Structure
2005 - PCI Design Award: Best Justice Facility/Courthouse, Fresno Courthouse and Federal Building – Fresno, CA
2004 – PCI Design Award: Best Justice Facility/Courthouse, Michael D. Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse
2004 – ACI Northern California Chapter Construction Award: Sacramento Int'l Airport
2002 - PCI Design Award: Best Justice Facility/Courthouse, Las Vegas Federal Courthouse
2002 - PCI Design Award: Best Public Facility, San Diego Convention Center Expansion
2001 – Ascent Magazine: Honorable Mention, San Francisco Towers Retirement Housing
2001 – GSA Design Award: Architecture Award, Las Vegas Federal Courthouse
1999 – Ascent Magazine: Best Public Building, Ontario International Airport
1996 – PCI Design Award, Sacramento Municipal Utility District
1993 – Ascent Magazine: Best Public Building, Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s Customer Service Center

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

School district to buy former Blue Shield building

Woodland joint Unified School Board will be purchasing and occupying the former Blue Shield building located near East and Main, according to a Daily Democrat article published on Dec. 16. The local paper has been diligently reporting on the development of this acquisition. Board deliberations began almost a year ago. (Click the title to access the article.)

Board item: Purchase building and property at 435 6th St.
Board vote: 4-3 vote in favor (Glover, Villagrana and Berg dissenting)
Purchase price: $5.67 million (or ~ $142 per sq. ft)
New space (on 6th): 40,000 sq. ft.
Current space (on Cottonwood): 30,000 sq. ft.
Current lease: $225,000 a year
Funding source: Certificates of Participation (tax-exempt "bonds").
Terms: $450,000 plus 3% annual interest for 30 years
Total amount to be paid: $13.5 million plus interest (or ~337 per sq. ft.)
Prepayment penalties: None
Other costs: $140,965 to Brereton Architects for space planning and design
Considerations: WJUSD 10 year lease for 630 Cottonwood St. coming to an end
Expected employees by 2015: 111
Concerns: Time not right for such a costly project, district can't afford it, additional expenses for new furniture

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Westlands Water District land acquisition policy revealed

The south Yolo ranch owned by farmer Duncan McCormack has been purchased by the nation's largest irrigation district. Westlands Water District, the Fresno-based irrigation district will reportedly pay $12M for 3,450 acres located on the southern tip of Yolo County to ease pressure on the state's water system.

In a December 15 article published by the Davis Enterprise, the acquisiton will also enable the restoration of wetlands and wildlife habitat in the environmentally sensitive Yolo Bypass. According to the Enterprise, the district irrigates more than 600,000 acres of crops in western Fresno and King counties. But its water supply is jeopardized by the decline of the threatened delta smelt.

The report also states that by flooding the ranch and restoring smelt habitat, the district hopes to boost the number of fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and free up water for farmers... and Westlands General Manager Tom Birmingham said the district wants to help the endangered species. He said the disctrict recognizes that its a sensitive issue and plans to "be a good neighbor" in Yolo County.

Endangered species aside, the focus of Westlands has to do with water supply... not saving wildlife. Although there are intrinsic benefits to wildlife within their mission of providing water, saving the smelt is a convenient side bar to the acquistion of the McCormack Ranch. If you click the title of this post, you will find the district's statement about land acquisition:

"Westlands is pursuing land acquisition as a means to address chronic water shortages and drainage issues. The program, financed entirely by farmers in the District, anticipates the purchase of approximately 100,000 acres of drainage-impacted land by 2007. By removing these acquired lands from irrigated agriculture, and reallocating water to land remaining in production, the District is able to provide farmers a more reliable and adequate water supply to ensure the long-term viability of west side communities and preserve the $3.5 billion per year of economic benefits created by District farming activity. This program is separate and distinct from an earlier and now inactive proposal by the United State to retire up to 200,000 acres of farmland in Westlands."

"In recognition that land acquisition could result in short-term economic impacts on the Valley’s west side, Westlands is working with local officials to identify alternative and productive uses for District-owned land. Recently, the District provided land for a federal prison near Mendota that will provide several hundred new jobs. Other potential beneficial uses for these farmlands include wildlife habitat, economic development and local flood control."

This also from their Web site: "It is the mission of Westlands Water District to provide a timely, reliable and affordable water supply to its landowners and water users, and to provide drainage service to those lands that need it. To this end, Westlands is committed to the preservation of its federal contract, which includes water and drainage service, and to the acquisition of additional water necessary to meet the needs of its landowners and water users."

"Formed in 1952, Westlands encompasses more than 600,000 acres of farmland in western Fresno and Kings counties. The District serves approximately 600 family-owned farms that average 900 acres in size."

"Water is delivered to Westlands through the Central Valley Project, a federal water project that stores water in large reservoirs in Northern California for use by cities and farms throughout California. After it is released from CVP reservoirs, the water is pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and delivered 70 miles through the Delta-Mendota Canal to San Luis Reservoir. During the spring and summer, the water is released from San Luis Reservoir and delivered to Westlands farmers through the San Luis Canal and the Coalinga Canal. Once it leaves the federal project canals, water is delivered to farmers through 1,034 miles of underground pipe and more than 3,300 water meters."

"Westlands farmers produce more than 60 high quality commercial food and fiber crops sold for the fresh, dry, canned and frozen food markets, both domestic and export. More than 50,000 people live and work in the communities dependent on the District's agricultural economy. The communities in and near the District's boundaries include Mendota, Huron, Tranquillity, Firebaugh, Three Rocks, Cantua Creek, Helm, San Joaquin, Kerman, Lemoore and Coalinga."

Lastly, the Westlands Water District has long-term contractual and legal entitlements with the United States for a firm supply of 1,150,000 acre-feet (AF) of Central Valley Project (CVP) water during each water year. In some years, the district may acquire additional water pursuant to its entitlements, or other water. The contracts between Westlands and the US allow the district to make CVP water available for not only agricultural, but municipal, industrial and domestic uses, as well. The district may acquire additional water supplies for all of those purposes.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Full Belly Farm delivers fresh organic produce


Full Belly CSA members will probably find these items in "the box" this week:

• Cauliflower and carrots
• Red Russian Kale
• Leeks
• Mandarins
• Turnips and potatoes
• Butternut Squash

Of course, members know that the contents of their CSA box can change from day to day, depending on what's ready to harvest. CSA stands for Community Supported Agricultural project... that's DavisSpeak for delivered fruit and veggies.

From the Full Belly Farm Web site (accessible by clicking the title of this post):

"CSA forges a direct connection between the farm and the people who buy and eat its produce. By belonging to the CSA, members support organic farming practices that are healthful for people and the environment. They also have the opportunity to eat the freshest, most nutritional produce available."

Full Belly CSA members receive boxes of fresh produce delivered to various neighborhood locations in the East Bay, San Rafael, and the South Bay, as well as in Sacramento, Davis, Woodland, and Esparto.

Each month, members place an order for the weeks that produce is needed. Skipping a week or two is allowed if the farm is notified at the beginning of the month. An order of produce costs $15 per week. The cost is $14.50 per week if you pay for three months in advance ($188.50 for 13 weeks), or $14 per week if you pay one year in advance ($686 for 49 consecutive weeks). A weekly order of vegetables feeds an average family of 2 to 4 people. The kinds of vegetables you receive depend on the season, and Full Belly chooses what vegetables and fruits go into the weekly orders.

For CSA information email csa@fullbellyfarm.com or phone 800-791-2110.

To visit Full Belly Farms after you've made the necessary appointment, go through Guinda on Highway 16. About 2 miles past Guinda there are signs warning you to slow down because of a big curve in the road. At this point, watch for road 43 - easy to miss! Turn right onto road 43. Full Belly is at the end of the road. (The photo is from fullbellyfarm.com)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Snack cart program approved by Yolo County Supervisors

I first saw this announced at rexroad.com on Dec.4, then the Daily Democrat reported it last Saturday: The Yolo County Board of Supervisors voted to spend $91,000 a cart service for one of its social services buildings. The money comes from its Mental Health funds.

"I am really disappointed that we voted to spend $91,000 from our Prop 63 money to fund a coffee cart in the Bauer Building. That is nonsense. Duane and I lost on that - and I just can't believe that is the best use for our mental health money," said supervisor Matt Rexroad on his blog site. Rexroad and Duane Chamberlain were the two who voted against the expenditure.

Here's an excerpt from the Daily Democrat: "The coffee cart services, called 'Cool Beans,' will be managed through the county's long-time contractor Turning Point and will provide 'healthy drinks, snacks, and sandwiches' in the Herbert Bauer building, located at 137 N. Cottonwood St. in Woodland, according to the board letter submitted by the department's interim director, Richard DeLiberty. The Bauer building provides mental health, drug and alcohol treatment to clients of the county and, according to DeLiberty's letter to the Board of Supervisors, is one-third of a mile away from any food vendors or restaurants."

It was reported that supervisor Mariko Yamada said opponents understated the full extent of the services provided by the contract. "It will help our consumers gain life skills as well as other competencies that they can use to move on," she said. "The other important point is this business is expected to become fully self-sufficient within two years. This isn't going to be a 91k business on a biannual basis."

Also according to the Democrat, DeLibery said, "It's a start-up for the program to help consumers become self- sufficient and to find them a real job in a real business."

Click on the title of this post to access the complete Daily Democrat story.

Commentary: I think the contractor should have had the option to open the service on their own with a partnership to employ county clients. I disagree with the expenditure... and I disagree with the Daily Democrat opinion published yesterday that states, "It's going to be spent regardless." That's a ridiculous reason to spend money.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Status update on Woodland to Davis bikeway provided by county


"My mission in January will be to focus on the dedicated bike path between Woodland and Davis," said Yolo County Supervisor Matt Rexroad in his Dec. 5 post at rexroad.com. From an earlier post on Nov. 28 he also said, "I still believe that a dedicated bike path between Woodland and Davis is something that would be a huge asset."

Despite the risk of being called a "rexroad-lover" again, I agree with Matt on this matter. I think a dedicated bikeway connecting our two towns is long overdue. Let's remember that Woodlander Willie Lopez, a UC Davis employee, was recently killed while bicycling on County Road 99. He was wearing a helmet and had a light during the dark and foggy 6 am ride. The road is unsafe even in broad daylight, but cyclists have little options for their commutes or rides

From rexroad.com, here are some steps already taken for bicycle safety in Yolo County:

• "Share the Road" signs have been installed on CR 99
• County crews continue to sweep CR 99 on a regular basis to minimize debris
• The county has an online maintenance request form

According to the Dec. 4 "Status Update on Bicycle Facility Improvements in Yolo County," Funding for major road improvement projects comes primarily from state and federal sources. This funding is generally awarded on a competitive, project specific basis. The discretionary revenue received by the Road Fund generally covers only the annual cost to maintain the County’s 794 road miles, with the remainder available to meet match funding requirements.

The county also reports that an application was submitted to SACOG for the Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Funding Program on December 3, 2007. $1.6 million was requested for the widening of the County Road 29 segment. And, a pre-application letter was submitted to SACOG on for $600,000 of SACOG Community Design Funds to improve County Road 99 between County Road 25A for bicyclists.

The county's summary of outside funding secured for the project to date includes:

FY 2001/02 State Bicycle Transportation Account (BTA): $240,642
FY 2007/08 BTA: $353,512
Yolo Solano AQMD Clean Air Funds 02/03: $55,000
Yolo Solano AQMD Clean Air Funds 03/04: $44,497
Yolo Solano AQMD Clean Air funds 06/07: $46,339
Congestion Management and Air Quality: $200,000
State Transportation Improvement Program: $1,400,000
Total: $2,339,990

Although the price tag would be even more for a dedicated bikeway, I support the supervisor's focus on the safer alternative to having cars and bikes sharing county roads. Click on the title of this post for an enlarged map of the Woodland to Davis bikeway improvements.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Dead Cat Alley picked Best of 2007: Public Art Installation


I had two pleasant surprises yesterday. One: George Streng, Woodland Art Center President, and I picked up 36 miniature Dead Cat Alley cat sculptures from the studio of Sacramento artist Gary Dinnen. The collectors items will soon be exclusively sold at the Blue Wing Gallery in support of Woodland Art Center's ongoing Nine Lives Project. It was amazing to see Gary pull each little masterpiece out of the kiln. They were still warm from the final glaze firing.

Two: During the celebration of our new treasures, and general chit-chat, Gary asked if we had heard that Solano Magazine selected Dead Cat Alley as Best of 2007 Public Art Installation. We were both surprised to hear the news, well... news from the magazine's August-September edition, that is. George remembers sending the publication some information on the art project a few months ago, but he never heard back from them. Gary recently stumbled upon the news while Googling. The selection was made by the staff of the magazine and was not based on advertising in the pubication nor uncontrolled ballots sent in by subscribers.

Solano Magazine covers the region's lifestyles with features, columns, guides and other resources. The magazine reflects the dynamics of Solano, Napa, Yolo and surrounding areas by spotlighting people, places and things that appeal to its discerning residents. It links the metropolitan areas of Central Northern California between San Francisco, Sacramento, Napa and Walnut Creek. Click the title of this post to link to Solano Magazines announcement of the Dead Cat Alley art installation.

Note: The Blue Cat shown in the photo sits above Wirth Furniture & Interiors at 515 Main St. on the alley side. This sculpture was stolen in November '06, then recovered in a week by the quick work of WPD, then lived in quarantine for months before being reinstalled near its former location in time for this year's Stroll. WAC is awaiting retribution from three juveniles who also damaged the Tiger Cat that sits above Woodland Sewing and Vacuum Center at 523 Main St. on the alley side.

Old-fashioned Christmas show tonight in Guinda

I was just reminded of an annual event that takes place up the road in Capay Valley. There will be a good, old-fashioned community Christmas show held at the Grange Hall in Guinda tonight at 7:00. It's recommended that you arrive at 6:30 to get a good seat. I'm told Santa will be available afterwards to listen to children's Christmas lists.

Take Highway 16 through Capay Valley to Guinda. In Guinda, turn left at the Corner Store (County Road 53). The Grange Hall is 50 yards up on the left.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Downtown Specific Plan revisions to consider







Here are some ideas I'd like to have considered as part of the upcoming Downtown Specific Plan revisions. The ultimate goal is to shape a shopper-friendly Historic Downtown. We've all talked about adding the right mix of shops and restaurants to enliven the area, so I've listed a variety of items that might jumpstart a renaissance. In some cases, there are proposed changes to existing ideas within the plan.

The thought behind replacing certain traffic lights with stop signs is to make Main Street scaled to the human experience rather than the auto experience. Main Street currently functions like a tunnel, accommodating through traffic to points beyond downtown like Cache Creek Casino. It's difficult to hold a conversation on Main Street because of the noise, so a slower speed limit is also recommended. Drivers interested in speeding around shopper-friendly Main St. will be encouraged to take the one-way Court St. through the newly designated Government Center to the strip malls on West Court.

Let's bring back diagonal parking. It would not only be historical, but it would also add more spaces and make it easier to park. Some downtowns have diagonal parking on one side of the street and parallel parking on the other - that's an option, too.

Anyway, let's just get right to the laundry list:

• Designate Downtown as shopper-friendly
• Designate a Government Center on Court Street (potential identifier)
• Create a one way Government Center Throughway as follows: Make 6th St. northbound between Main and Court one way
and make Court St. westbound between East and Walnut one way
• Create 3-way stop signs at 5th and Main
• Replace traffic light with 4-way stop signs at 3rd and Main
• Replace traffic light with 3-way stop signs at 2nd and Main
• Replace traffic light with 4-way stop signs at 1st and Main
• Replace traffic light with 4-way stop signs at Elm and Main
• Replace traffic light with 4-way stop signs at Walnut and Main
• Create diagonal parking on both sides of Main between 5th and Walnut
• Install stop sign at corner of 2nd and Dead Cat Alley
• Designate State Theatre Redevelopment Complex at Main and Elm to include cineplex, parking and Old Downtown entrance feature
• Designate 800 Block on Main as a Specialty Mall site with the proposed court parking.
• Keep 4th St. open between Main and Court.
• Encourage retail and improvments on Dead Cat Alley, Dog Gone Alley and all cross streets (6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st, College, Elm, Walnut and Cleveland)

My ideas for a Specialty Mall include contemporary fashion outlets to attract the teens and twenty-year-olds, but I could also see more upscale shops and gourmet markets at that location. Let's remember that the Opera House expansion will include another theater at Heritage Plaze and their box office on Main. It would be nice if the Daily Democrat could move it's offices to the rear of their building and add leased boutique spaces on Main (a revenue source for the paper). Right now it's just one long, uninteresting wall.

Now that City Council has proclaimed Dead Cat Alley as an asset, property and business owners should know they would have support to enhance the alley and in some cases, double their retail facades (maybe even lease out the backs of their buildings to boutiques). I envision gate features to punctuate the core of Old China Town on Dead Cat Alley between Elm and College. I can also see similar features at both ends of the alley, at Freeman Park and Cleveland (possibly tying into an entrance and walkway connecting Nugget Market and River City Bank). The City Center Lofts project will transform the alley into a nice retail space including cafes.

There should be equal encouragement, by way of the Downtown Specific Plan, to better utilize Dog Gone Alley and the cross streets to create get-away areas or enclaves for shoppers and pedestrians. Think of all the fun nooks and crannies in Old Sac or in San Francisco. Look at the Cranston Paseo (that leads Dog Gone Alley pedestrians to Tazzina Bistro and the Next Chapter) as a good example of that. We've all experienced pleasant downtowns, and they are popular because people like the same kinds of environments. I do think there is that common denominator in developing the ideas presented here.

So let's hear some of your ideas... or hack away at mine. If you don't like these ideas, tell us what you would like.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

City retreat scheduled for Dec. 11 at Community Center


The City of Woodland Retreat will be held next Tuesday, December 11, from 6 to 9 pm at the Community and Senior Center.

Originally scheduled for last month, the public is invited to attend the retreat designed to give the new city manager and his staff direction in 2008. Different from past retreats, discussion will focus on the city having an outcome oriented, customer-driven leadership style. In other words, a question to answer is, "Should the City of Woodland be run like a business?"

Among the most important issues facing the city next year will be the General Plan Update, the Downtown Specific Plan, and the city budget.

"This [retreat] will be an indepth look at city finance," said Councilman Jeff Monroe. "We will consider what to do about FY '09 and decide whether we should go to a ten year budget plan.

Monday, December 03, 2007

City wants feedback for storm drain funding shortfall


City Manager Mark Deven recently mailed invitations to prospective participants who might help city leaders figure out how to fund our storm drain system.

He wrote, " With the majority no vote in August on the proposed increase in Storm Drain rates, the City is left with deciding how to deal with the funding shortfall. Do we proceed with permanent cuts to other General Fund programs (cuts are being formulated for the balance of this year and for next year), or would the community support another vote for a more modest increase in fees with any additional increases subject to separate votes much later? Your input will help the City Council decide how to proceed."

The meeting will take place at the Leake Room at the City Library on Wednesday, December 5th. It's schedule to run from 7 to 9 pm. Deven suggested that only one meeting is currently proposed, the need for additional meetings will be determined later.

As Woodland Journal readers may remember, I voted against the rate increase. Initially, my decision came down to two major points and many less significant, but swaying, concerns. The two main issues I had were: 1) The increased rates will help "repay" $2.5 million in "loans" from other budget areas, and 2) The increased rates will help pay for State Storm Water Permit regulations that were not fully explained, nor quantified. During the dialogue presented on this blog, I indicated I could have been persuaded to vote for the rate proposal, but nobody provided the information I sought nor answered the questions I asked.

If the city is truly considering another attempt to put the issue to vote, I think they will be walking an unforgiving tight rope. They will need a very clear, concise and informational process... not one that creates more questions. As I said before, I worked way too hard in performing my due diligence for that last vote.

Here are some suggestions I can offer to this process of determining general fund cuts or another rate increase proposal:

1. The city needs to publish a complete, organized and clear city budget on their Web site.
2. The city should then itemize the storm drain budget showing what the true and accurate shortfall is.
3. The city should then provide precise scenarios for so-called "permanent" general fund adjustments (not cuts)
4. If the these adjustments pencil out, then proceed with the revised allocation of general funds to support the storm drain system.
5. If the adjustments do not make operational sense, then the city should provide real numbers that accurately reflect a proposed rate increase.
6. The city should then raise awareness of the need to increase rates by clearly communicating (without acronyms, impertinent legal information or engineering jargon) using easy-to-follow charts if necessary.
7. The proposed rate information should contain all the information that voters need to know about the budget... this means the city should NOT take the position of citizens need to ask if they want to be informed.
8. The proposed rate information should accurately reflect true needs, devoid of threats of state fines or misinformation about intra-city "loans."
9. Property owners should expect NO double taxing scenarios... like making the school district, the county or the city pay for the storm system rates (that would be paying taxes with our taxes).
10. The city should be very careful about including certain nonprofit groups or associations in any rate structure.
11. The city should NOT engage in illegal election campaigning... like running campaign ads in the paper or having campaign booths at the County Fair.

I'm sure there is much more constructive feedback out there. Let's hear it.