Your City Council — Live!

Live coverage of the Tuesday, March 8 City Council meeting.


Kuehne, will start scheduling office hours.

Delgado, attended last week's Citizens Advisory Financial Ad Hoc Committee. Advises others to attend and learn more about city's financial situation.

deVera, attended Pinole-Hercules wastewater meeting. Are we going to stay or leave them for west county wastewater. I asked them to be patient. They gave us a July 1 deadline to decide.

Ward, attended law enforcement night in El Sobrante and some of the same meetings deVera attended.


1. Conduct Discussion And Authorize The Acting City Manager To: (a) Postpone/
Cancel All Community Events Until Finances Can Support; Or (b) Evaluate
Community Events And Make Recommendation To Continue Certain Events.

Deglado: Makes motion to authorize the city manager to postpone city events, keeping the cultural festival, Fourth of July parade, farmers market, golf tournament and, possibly, community cleanup with a small fee. Cancel tree lighting, community update and Martin Luther King Jr. celebration sponsorship.

Parks and Rec department head Pedro Jimenez recommends trying to keep some the city's events and find more sponsors for them (Events reviewed: Cultural Festival, Golf Tournament, Fourth of July, Community Cleanup, Tree Lighting, Community Update, Martin Luther King Jr. celebration).  We have a lot of vendors calling in to see if we're going to do these events or not. Seeking direction from council.

Councilman Don Kuehne: I'd like to keep the Cultural Festival and maybe charge an admission fee.

deVera: I agree we should continue the Cultural Festival, however I'm concerned about charging an entrance fee.

Delgado: I think we need to wait for the results of the audit.

Mayor Joanne Ward: Wants to keep the Cultural Festival if financially possible.

2. Adopt A Resolution Authorizing The Appropriation And Expenditure Of An Amount Not To Exceed $2,253,058 Specifically For Oliver And Company To Continue Construction Of The Sycamore North Project For An Additional Sixty (60) Days; Authorize The Acting City Manager, Treasurer And/Or Finance Director To Make Loans With Simple Interest From Various Funds To The Sycamore North Project.

Muncipal Services Director John Stier: Oliver & Company (working on Sycamore North construction) has agreed to do construction for $450K/month through May. We want to keep everything in place for the next owner.

Delgado: Will these funds be backfilled once Sycamore North sells?

Stier: If we get $25 million or less, there will be a shortfall....We're in a tough spot, I don't know how to say it any different.

One thought I have had is to demolish all of the residential....I don't know the ramifications of the affordable mix, but I have thought about it...I'm trying to express how extreme we've thought.

3. Receive Report And Provide Direction To Staff Regarding The Status Of Negotiations With Hercules Bayfront.

Consultant Charlie Long and residents Phil Simmons and Ken Morrison give presentation on the efforts of the Hercules Bayfront Taskforce.

Simmons: Part of what the task force want to see, is we want to see how the deal looks as it’s going along. The task force is going to be the eyes and the ears for you guys.

Long: There are three things that are driving this process in terms of the time.

1) 21 million committed to the first phase of the ITC by outside funding agencies. They are looking for a level of credibility from the city and assurance that the city can secure the ITC property, which belongs to Hercules Bayfront LLC. That needs to happen in the next 60 days.

2) Governor’s proposals for the state budget which involve to elimination of RDAs. It looks like the elimination of redevelopment as you know it will happen.

3) We don't have anymore bond funds immediately available. The is $14 million but it is set aside exclusively to pay Catellus due to a legal settlement. We are trying to get Catellus to agree to an arrangement so that the $14 million is released to go back into the ITC Bayfront project.

Also, ...looking at building the ITC so that costs less than the $20 million it is now designed to cost.

4. Adopt A Resolution Authorizing The Acting City Manager/Executive Director
To Suspend Or Cancel Contracts With WestCat For Bus Wraps, Joe A. Gonsalves
And Son For Lobby Representation, Brent Salmi For Engineering Services, And
Fernandez Commercial Cleaning For Landscaping Services At Hercules Fitness--APPROVED UNANIMOUSLY.

Fernandez Comm. Cleaning: Cut some of the company's scope of work for Hercules.

Brent Salmi: Fired due to lack of project for Salmi to work on.

WestCat Bus Wraps: WestCat is removing the wrap.

5. Adopt A Resolution Rescinding The Following Resolutions Nod. 10-144, 10-146, 10-147 And 10-148 Which Authorized The Purchase Of Equipment Or Services For The HMU Substation Project; And Authorizing The Acting City Manager To Delay And/ Or Cancel The Purchase Of Any Remaining Equipment And Services For The HMU Substation Project.


Nov. 23, City Council adopted these resolutions to allow the HMU to grow.

We feel it's prudent not to go forward with that.

Kuehne: I have some concerns about this recommendation. It was going to provide a new, modern substation separate the substation we're using now. Building the substation would increase the value of the HMU for a possible sale...when over the summer several years back, my power (with PG&E) was off for three days.

Stier: When I did meet with PG&E, they said the parallel substation was of no value to them. You're statement about reliability--your right.

Glen Reddick: I have some concerns about this, mainly with the contracts issue. If the substation is not completed, we don't have a means or method to serve our customers (due to contract restrictions)...the missing link is what we're paying PG&E in a monthly fee to transform their substation... Will probably take several months to negotiate contract with PG&E if Hercules doesn't go with building the new substation...I would characterize it as unwise to cancel the purchase of this substation at this point...New substation won't affect the general fund...If it's a normal or hot summer, might have to put the city on portable generators if substation isn't build...if not able to complete negotiations with PG&E...HMU will operate without being a tax on the general fund.

My recommendations have never changed: Complete the substation and sell the HMU if the price is right...money for HMU will come from HMU funds.

Stier: I need to make a claification, The bond money was specifically for capital improvement for the substation but to say (operating/expanding) is untrue....the subsidy for the operating expenses have always come from the general fund...(it will likely) continue to be subsidized by the general fund.

Resident Bill Wilkins: HMU is costing the city money: If the general fund can afford to pick up 600-700k/year to subsidize the general fund (then do) otherwise, we advise against it.

Romero: HMU has lost $9million. To build that substation would be catstrophic for this city...to build this plan, go out in an unknown market and try to sell the substation when we are hurting, would be terrible for our city...when the previous HMU director came before the council in November with the HMU report, it was tainted (based on income from several projects that will not be completed). Why are we going to move forward with a project that is a loser.

Stier: PG&E said it would manage HMU for the city, would extend the PG&E contract if needed...

Long: I just want to make sure that the numbers which have been thrown around (are accurate and not misleading).

The deficits that the HMU have been running are real deficits. ...you're looking at ongoing deficits with HMU.



1. Adopt Resolutions Transferring And Accepting Four (4) Hercules Redevelopment Agency Properties To The City Of Hercules In Order To Maintain Continuity For Insuring That The Properties Are Used In Accordance With The Redevelopment Plan And Land Use Plans That Have Been Adopted Within The Past 5 Years.

2. Adopt Resolutions Authorizing the Redevelopment Agency to Enter Into a Loan and Repayment Agreement with the City of Hercules for Funds Advanced to the Agency for Various Obligations Including Debt Service, and Directing the Interim Executive Director to Execute Said Agreement

3. Adopt A Resolution Authorizing the City of Hercules to Enter Into a Loan and
Repayment Agreement with the Hercules Redevelopment Agency for Funds Loaned to the Agency for Various Obligations Including Debt Service, and Directing the Interim City Manager to Execute Said Agreement.


1. Authorize Staff To Issue A Request For Proposals For The Solicitation Of Competitive Proposals For The Management Of The City’s Portfolio Of Affordable Housing Programs--ALL CONSENT CALENDAR ITEMS APPROVED, 4-0.

Councilman John Delgado and Vice Mayor deVera ask to pull this item. The city is now recruiting an affordable housing manager with a salary just under $70k. The new manager will help with the heavy work load that moved in-house when the city terminated contracts with NEO Consulting.

2. Adopt A Resolution Calling For A Special Election To Be Held In The City Of Hercules On Tuesday, June 7, 2011, For The Purpose Of Conducting A Recall Election And Fixing The Length And Allocating The Cost Of Candidates Statements

3. Adopt A Resolution Requesting That The Contra Costa County Board Of Supervisors Permit The County Clerk Of Said County To Render Specified Services To The City Of Hercules Relating To The Conduct Of A Recall Election To Be Held In Said City On Tuesday, June 7, 2011

4. Adopt A Resolution Authorizing The Acting City Manager To Execute The Fourth Amendment To The West Contra Costa Integrated Waste Management Authority Joint Exercise Of Powers Agreement

5. Adopt A Resolution Confirming The Report Of Delinquent Accounts And Placing Liens On Said Properties And Special Assessments Upon Property Taxes Pursuant To City Of Hercules Municipal Code Section 5-2.01 To 5-2.16, Mandatory Garbage/Solid Waste Disposal


Dan Romero: I'm asking that the city council requests having Red Barn checks and other checks issued by the city published on the city's website. Those checked were issued, not approved by the city council. The residence or the council would have questioned those transactions.


1. Presentation of Proclamation Proclaiming March 2011 As “Women’s History Month.”

The Hercules City Council proclaims March Women's History Month.

A young man named Sean from the Contra Costa Commission for Women gives brief speech on Women's History Month. 

Myrna deVera: "It is a historic moment to have (so many women) in leadership roles in the City of Hercules."

2. Presentation of Proclamation Proclaiming March 2011 As American Red Cross Month

March is also now American Red Cross Month.

7:10, The council and staff have entered the council chambers--NO REPORTABLE ACTION FROM CLOSED SESSION.

7:05 p.m., A rather quiet start to the meeting.

Starts at 7 p.m. Find live-streamed video of the meeting here.

Douglas Bright March 09, 2011 at 05:36 PM
I'm with Stier: demolishing the residential portion of Sycamore North should be considered. The building is out of scale with the neighborhood. The high percentage affordable housing component concerns me as well. At least remove the top floor of the building so its massing and height is more to a human scale and compatible with the surrounding neighborhood.
35 Year Resident March 09, 2011 at 06:51 PM
I also think Mr Stier is on the right track. Perhaps make it 2 stories with the second story residential with a "realistic mix" of affordable housing. The current ratio will be nothing but trouble. Lowering that hulk to the height of the buildings in the surrounding area will make it much more palatable.
Susan D.Keeffe March 10, 2011 at 01:16 AM
We were told at one point that the mix had to stay because of the Redevelopment rules attached to the funding. But if its torn down in whole or in part what does that do to the legal requirements? I think its worth exploring.
Phil Simmons March 10, 2011 at 03:27 AM
Let's turn it sideways and make it a sky scraper.
Kim March 10, 2011 at 06:08 AM
Agree with 31 years, 2 stories is plenty.
Susan D.Keeffe March 10, 2011 at 07:37 AM
Or forget the whole thing and make it a park with trees and benches. If not, one story - retail only.
Mr.Windemere March 10, 2011 at 08:10 AM
What about the low income requirements that these units were supposed to meet? I believe that one of the purposes of this project was to meet the low income requirements for that specific Sycamore-Bay area. I was told by the City that all those new homes need a low income section which this development satisfies. It is a legal nightmare. P.S. I love Phil's idea ! LOL It still meets the requirements.
Julian W March 10, 2011 at 05:44 PM
What it should have been to begin with--trees, benches, retail, small units above blending in nicely with the surrounding homes like on Railroad Ave...The citizenry was asleep at the switches, while those in charge made off with the cookie jar--lesson learned.
Douglas Bright March 10, 2011 at 06:54 PM
I have found a new design for the Sycamore North building that might be more attractive. Perhaps this relatively minor adjustment to the building plans could be implemented: http://www.backtoclassics.com/images/pics/thomascole/thomascole_thearchitectsdream.jpg
Susan D.Keeffe March 10, 2011 at 08:51 PM
Phil's idea is hilarious. turn it sideways - let the Fire Department use it for high-rise practice. Good question re legalities. If the City can tear it down at least in part I'm guessing they would still be on the hook for at least a portion of that mix and would have to find other places to satisfy that requirement. If they declare bankruptcy, all contracts are void and they are off the hook.
35 Year Resident March 10, 2011 at 09:37 PM
All kidding aside, I have wondered if our fire dept is properly equipped to effectively defend a structure of that size.
Susan D.Keeffe March 10, 2011 at 09:39 PM
31 Year Resident, Another good question! They practice on the old powderworks brick building from time to time - fun to watch! But its not exactly a high rise. The Richmond Fire Dept has a tower they use for practice.
Gerard Boulanger March 10, 2011 at 10:28 PM
I love the jokes and the picture sent from Douglas bright, very funny! More seriously: Sycamore North has been financially designed (bonds from the state) to accommodate 3 levels of affordable housing units. Very Low income, Low income and Moderate income. Check the link: http://www.hcd.ca.gov/hpd/ Out of the 96 units total, half of them were meant for Very Low income. From the other half, about 25 of them are for Low and Moderate income. The rest (about 25 units don't have any restriction). I raised the outrageous affordable mix of 77% many times. I was hoping to reduce it to the "legal" level of 30%, but is seems impossible due to the time it will take to be done, if ever. Changing the mix may need 9-12 months, and as everybody knows, the building should have changed ownership then. So, we are stuck with this ratio and concentration. Just to be somewhat optimistic (if possible on this project...): Affordable Housing does not mean Section 8. Shutting down the project while keeping the scaffolding is the best we can do for now. I hate to see General Funds to be used to pay the bills ($2M+), but we don't have other choice. $37M paid, $31M needed to make it a finished product. If we sell it for $31M, we won't need to provide $ to escrow, however a lower offer will be a terrible news for our city... At best, we are burning $37M for nothing, just what we needed for the ITC... All of that for a project voted 5-0 from a consent calendar council meeting in 2009. Unbelievable!
Douglas Bright March 11, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Gerard, Do you know if the mandated affordable housing mix of 77% would transfer to the new owner or would that requirement vanish if the city relinquishes ownership of the project before it is completed? If that isn't possible, are you aware of any appeals or waivers that could be applied for to lower the limit or at least pass a portion of it on to a future development? I agree that community of residents who are affordable housing homeowners is much different than a community of Section 8 renters. However, 77% is pretty unreasonable and if there is any way to mitigate this, it should be explored.
Gerard Boulanger March 11, 2011 at 12:15 AM
Douglas, I agree with you: 77% is way too much and we know why... I am afraid that ratio will be part of the transaction since the financing has been setup that way by the state. Those conditions have to be maintained for a very long time (more than 30 years). The last thing I heard was : if we- or next owner- want to get rid of affordable housing it will cost us a huge amount of money ($30M+). Going down to the required 30% minimum by State would have cost us about $5.5M and would have also gave us the opportunity to raise the offer as well, but as I said, we don't have time and we are not even sure it will be approved by the State HCD.
Phil Simmons March 11, 2011 at 01:11 AM
Gerard Boulanger Changing the affordable mix to 30% from 77% would cost $5.5m. If the 77% was reduced to 30% that would be 74units to 29 units. That is a difference of 45 unit's which could then be sold at a higher price. I assume that selling the units at full value instead of affordable housing value would net enough to cover most, if not all, of the $5.5m. So, the issue isn't about money. The issue is about the time it would take. It is not as though the city has a buyer. So, if the city started now with making the chances it may get done before a buyer comes along. I would assume that if a buyer did come along sooner than later then the process of making the change in the mix could be followed through by the city and the buyer combined. Certainly the task would take no longer than the time it will take to complete the building. Therefore, it does not seem to me that the issue is the money nor the time. I have yet to hear a reason from city hall. Just "oh, it will be to difficult" or "oh, it will take to long". These are not sound reasons, only faint excuses. Until I hear solid facts about the change being impossible (not impractical or difficult) I can only assume it is not being done because it is not considered important enough to worry about. Only those that live nearby will be impacted. So, why go to all that effort. If anyone out there has facts (not just speculation and not just views of impracticality) as to why this can not be done please offer up the evidence.
patrick tang March 11, 2011 at 01:28 AM
I am on the same page with Phil. I have also heard from staff that it would be difficult, but no one has said it is not doable or not feasible. Changing the mix will make the property more marketable, might result in a quicker sale, and would bring a higher price. If I were a potential purchaser, I would consider positively the fact that a review of the affordable mix was underway at the state level.
Douglas Bright March 11, 2011 at 05:21 AM
I believe Charles Long talked about changing the affordable housing mix a few months ago, before he was let go.
Sheila Smith April 13, 2011 at 03:58 AM
"The high percentage affordable housing component concerns me as well" So right, we might end up with teachers, city clerical workers and other underpaid workers. What would that do to our property values.


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