Developing a community workforce agreement, a ban on vaping and taking a fresh look at parking rules were just a few of the ideas tossed around at Tuesday’s Mountain View City Council meeting, during which council members began identifying projects that they’d like to see prioritized in the next council work plan.
Every other year, the council approves a new work plan, a document that serves as city staff’s North Star as they prioritize their time and resources for the following two fiscal years.
At the Feb. 28 meeting, staff asked that the council identify up to 10 new projects that they’d like to see make major headway. The proposed work plan also includes a number of “carry forward” projects, meaning those that are still in progress, plus 10 projects proposed by staff that are already planned to start in the next two fiscal years.
The council gave its unanimous support for the projects identified as priorities by staff. Among those were expanding the safe routes to school program and bringing a local road safety plan to council for adoption.
Members of the public also spoke out about road safety, especially in light of the recent pedestrian death from a hit-and-run on El Camino Real. Vice Mayor Pat Showalter said bike and road safety were top concerns she heard from community members.
“I think there is a tremendous interest in our community in moving forward on our bike infrastructure,” Showalter said.
Both members of council and the public said that the city should prioritize developing a community workforce agreement, a contract with local trade unions that sets terms for their employment on projects. The project was already identified in the council’s last work plan, but didn’t get finished.
Staff recommended it as a carry-forward project for the next cycle, but city council members said they’d like to see it happen as fast as possible. Public Works Director Dawn Cameron said staff could look at prioritizing it higher, but warned that it would take a significant amount of staff time – an underlying concern during much of the council discussion Tuesday night.
“With our severe vacancies we’ve had in engineering and project managers, we’ve fallen way behind,” Cameron said.
Things are looking up for the city staff shortage, Cameron said, with three new engineers slated to start at the end of the month and four more job offers going out in the next two weeks. But the city is still looking to fill 10 project manager positions that are vacant, and Cameron said “and that’s what’s led to these delays.”
Despite these challenges, city staff said they’re confident that they’ll have the bandwidth to make headway on the roughly 40 projects that will end up on the final 2023-25 work plan. Among those are 10 new projects selected by the council. At the Feb. 28 meeting, staff asked each council member to identify two projects that they’re interested in elevating.
Multiple council members said they’d like to see an overhaul, or at least a reevaluation, of the city’s gatekeeper process, a backdoor that allows development projects to move forward even when they don’t comply with city zoning guidelines. The projects that get approved through this process usually offer some sort of community benefit to the city, but council member Margaret Abe-Koga said she’d like to see clarity on what benefits the city is looking for from projects.
“In all frankness, I don’t really know what our criteria is anymore,” she said.
Other council members said they’d like to see the city prioritize a holistic review of its parking regulations, especially in light of recent public outcry over changes to Mountain View’s 72-hour parking rule.
“I really think that we need to have an overview of them, and we need to really consider what is it that we want to regulate, what do we need these regulations to do, and are they doing it?” said Showalter.
Other ideas floated by council included stricter regulations on vaping, extending Stevens Creek trail, cleaning up the city code, and finalizing a dark skies ordinance, to name a few. The council will finalize the 10 projects it wants to prioritize at a study session on April 25, and then will adopt the finalized work plan in June.