For the first time in years, the City Council will not have an ambitious set of goals for the year, a direction made apparent in the council's annual goal-setting meeting Tuesday night.
Council members submitted ideas to create a list of 22 possible goals, but with the city facing a $6 million budget deficit, most were "philosophical and operational" in nature, said council member Mike Kasperzak. The list was quickly slashed in half as the council realized that most of its goals would be addressed as part of three "overarching" projects this year: the General Plan update, implementation of climate change initiatives and the city's budget process. Through a process of elimination, the council ended up with six goals that are likely to be considered further before adoption.
One goal that made the cut was almost a restatement of last year's top goal for positive activities for youth -- council member Ronit Bryant said she feared such programs would disappear during budget cuts this year. In one of several humorous exchanges Tuesday night, Bryant said Kevin Duggan, city manager, told her that "If you asked us what we can afford, all your favorite programs might disappear."
Amid laughter, Duggan clarified: "What I meant to say was everything we do is important to somebody; it was not a threat."
Bryant's goal to strengthen the city's volunteer program also gained support, along with her goal to "actualize" the city's environmental sustainability action plan, though it will only emphasize a plan the council has already adopted. (The council quietly approved the action plan on last week's consent calendar.)
Council members favored a "master plan" for youth services which could be part of the city's General Plan. Two other goals focused on Rengstorff Park and its surrounding neighborhood in terms of city services, pedestrian safety, teen use of the Community Center and park and neighborhood "infrastructure."
Several items made it onto what members jokingly referred to as "Kevin's bucket list" -- items the city manager has promised to work on, including increased coordination with NASA Ames in developing its 75-acre Research Park.
Goals for a teen center and community center at Rengtsorff Park were withdrawn from the list after city staff assured the council that work was underway to identify ways to raise the $50 million to rebuild the park's current Community Center, which will likely include a teen center.
A goal to determine a location and fundraising method for a large community park in the Whisman area fell off the priority list after a discussion about the difficulties of buying a piece of land large enough for a community park. Only two members supported it as a top goal: Kasperzak and Jac Siegel, who seemed optimistic about raising money to buy the land through a bond measure.