Two days, 16 hours: Gilroy City Council wraps up retreat

Gilroy Mayor Al Pinheiro discussed the possibility of expanding

The Gilroy City Council had some things to write home about
during its annual goal-setting retreat Friday and Saturday at the
Gilroy Police Department Community Room. After 16 hours of meetings
in two days, the retreat revealed some serious discussions and some
lighter moments among the Council members:
The Gilroy City Council had some things to write home about during its annual goal-setting retreat Friday and Saturday at the Gilroy Police Department Community Room. After 16 hours of meetings in two days, the retreat revealed some serious discussions and some lighter moments among the Council members:

Improving downtown

Restoring the “vitality” of downtown was the first point of discussion during the Council’s goal-setting session. Several Council members showed interest in pairing with the Gilroy Downtown Association to promote events downtown. City Administrator Thomas Haglund said a citywide survey has revealed most residents are optimistic about reviving downtown.

– Happy Birthday: Downtown Business Association President Eric Howard joked that he was frustrated Mayor Al Pinheiro was making him wait his turn to speak. “I’m missing my kid’s birthday for you, Al,” Howard said.

Homelessness

City Community Development Director Kristi Abrams told the Council the city had the highest number of homeless people per capita of any city in Santa Clara County. The city also doesn’t receive it’s fair share of funding to combat homelessness, Abrams said. The Council recommended city staff should pool all groups working on homelessness in Gilroy together to open a year-round homeless shelter.

gang task force

The Council called for the reorganization of the city’s gang task force. Under a revamped gang task force, officials and the GPD would work together on intervention and education methods to prevent local, young residents from joining gangs. Haglund said the city should inform residents of curfew laws and enforce them.

– Night fever: Peter Arellano said if some places have midnight basketball programs, “Why not midnight violin performances?”

Regional fire services

The Council requested to receive a bid from CalFire for services in Gilroy. Councilmen Bob Dillon and Perry Woodward said they preferred local fire services, but were open to viewing cost comparisons for fire service. “We’ve go to make sure we’re getting the best for our buck,” Pinheiro said.

– Bocce ball: The Council decided it would seek public input on whether there was enough interest in the community to install a bocce ball court – which could cost approximately $35,000 – at a city park.

Shovel-ready program

The Council agreed to review the city’s shovel-ready redevelopment ordinance and to schedule a study session to review the ordinance sometime in March. The Council will decide whether to put a 30-day hold on the ordinance at its Feb. 7 meeting.

– Rookie lucks out: Peter Leroe-Muñoz, who was elected to the Council in November, said, “I enjoyed my freshmen orientation.” Arellano replied, “And we didn’t do any hazing like we normally do.”

Street sweeping

The Council agreed to participate in a study session to discuss the possibility of either increasing city street sweeping or doing away with it. Councilman Dillon said people who park their cars during street sweeping hours should be towed.

– Speaking of towing: Mayor Al Pinheiro joked that one council member might benefit from towing cars during street sweeping. “For Dion, maybe we can bring this up for the towing stuff.” Councilman Bracco owns Bracco’s Towing and Transport.

Budget

With a $21.4 million reserve balances as of June 30, 2010, Gilroy has become the envy of many other cities, Haglund said. “If there are 450 cities in California, 449 are very jealous of the city of Gilroy,” he said.

– Memory loss: During a discussion on code enforcement, City Administrator Thomas Haglund, said, “I don’t recall spending $200,000 on a code violation.” Councilman Perry Woodward replied, “You don’t?” as the Council erupted in laughter. The city spent roughly $200,000 after filing a lawsuit in December against medical marijuana dispensary MediLeaf.

Economic development

The Council agreed to develop an economic development strategic plan as part of the city’s general plan, for approval by Council. Council members decided they wanted information on the creation of a new ombudsmen or spokesperson to work on economic development and review it during the EDC next meeting.

– Grave mistake: While the Council discussed ideas on a new hire salary wage scale, Arellano said that, in business, sometimes you make mistakes. Councilman Dillon replied, “But you get to bury your mistakes, Peter.”

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