Downtown dancing, truck routes on Council’s plate

Councilman Dion Bracco

A proposed sewer fee hike isn’t the only item up for debate at Monday’s 6 p.m. Gilroy City Council meeting.

On top of a public hearing to flesh out a proposed wastewater fee increase – more than 40 percent over the next five years – Council members will tackle several other controversial topics, including city truck routes, a downtown dancing ordinance and an oft-discussed, wittled-down election ethics ordinance.

Council moving closer to adopting elections ordinance

After months of crafting by the city’s Open Government Commission – and several meetings of truncation by fellow Council members – the Council will decide whether to introduce a new elections ordinance that would eliminate all anonymous campaign donations.

If approved, the new ordinance also would require the reporting of all campaign contributions – this includes gifts, not just money – and call for an additional pre-election campaign statement four calendars days before the Nov. 6 Election Day, according to a city staff report.

Previous drafts of the ordinance also included raising candidate expenditure ceilings from approximately $25,000 to $35,000, but the Council voted last month to eliminate that provision. Candidates who agree to the current voluntary expenditure ceiling will be required to notify all election opponents and the City Clerk the day the ceiling is exceeded, according to the staff report.

The ordinance was previously known as the “Election Focused Ethics Program,” but the name has been changed to “Elections Campaign Finance” when the Council voted down several key components following a heated discussion between Mayor Al Pinheiro and Councilman Perry Woodward over whether the city’s Open Government Commission should tackle elections issues.

City staff suggests eliminating truck routes

The City Council should nix four truck routes through residential neighborhoods in east Gilroy, but allow one family to be “grandfathered in” and keep their two tractor-trailers parked along the street, City Transportation Engineer Don Dey wrote in a staff report.

If the Council takes Dey’s advice, the resolution would eliminate truck routes on Murray Avenue, IOOF Avenue, Forrest Street and Lewis Street, but allow Joseph and Patricia Sanchez – owners of Priestley Transportation – to continue to park their trucks on the 7700 block of Forrest Street. The city’s Public Works Department would remove the white “Truck Routes” signs from those streets, according to the staff report.

In November, east-side residents protested the truck routes, fearing for the safety of children and elderly Gilroyans who often walk in those neighborhoods.

Portions of First Street, Tenth Street, Monterey Street, Leavesley Road, Alexander Street, Chestnut Street and Luchessa Avenue will remain truck routes. The city’s truck routes haven’t been modified since 1974, according to the staff report.

Tip-toeing toward downtown dancing rules

For the first time in more than six months, the Council will rekindle its debate over proposed regulations for downtown businesses that offer dancing.

Last June, city staff presented the Council with a proposed entertainment ordinance, penned by recommendations from a Downtown Dancing Task Force. The ordinance restricts sizes of dance floors depending on how big or how small downtown venues are, and would require the dancing to be associated with a full-service restaurant or theater, according to a staff report.

The new ordinance also would set guidelines for security plans and lighting levels, would require newer businesses to close at 1 a.m. – one hour sooner than older businesses.

Also appearing on Monday’s City Council agenda:

• Annual presentation by the Downtown Merchants Association

• Recognition for recipients of the 2011 Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Spice of Life Awards

• Presentation of City of Gilroy’s fiscal year 2010-11 audited financial statements


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