Council to hear economic plan update

Martinez City Council will hear an update tonight on the first phase of the Economic Development Action Plan (EDAP) as well as information about the next two phases of the program.

Zach Seal, Economic Development coordinator, wrote in his report that both the General Plan and the Downtown Specific Plan emphasize the importance of economic development to Martinez’s growth and its quality of life.

During the recession 10 years ago, that department was reduced from nearly 16 full time equivalent positions to fewer than 3, and the Economic Development Division was eliminated entirely. That set back the city’s planning and economic development projects, he wrote.

But since the completion of an organizational scan report, the city has reestablished its Community and Economic Development Department and has been working on an economic development strategic plan to establish goals and set priorities for various projects, he wrote.

“Fast forward to today, and the outlook is much brighter,” Seal wrote. Four of five full time equivalent positions in planning and economic development are filled, and the remaining post, the assistant planner, is expected to be filled soon, he wrote.

Seal called Phase 1 of the EDAP “the foundation,” explaining that it identifies the city’s current situation and describes how Martinez’s economic centers contribute to the local economy.

He wrote that city staff has been developing at the same time it’s been performing core economic development functions. Part of that foundation is the city’s economic profile report.

That report is “a deep dive into all of the economic activity occurring throughout the city,” Seal wrote.

Historically, Martinez has focused on revitalizing its downtown, from requiring commercial building owners to complete seismic upgrades to improving street lighting and street landscaping, completing creek improvements and creating sidewalk extension platforms for outdoor restaurant seating.

Although the downtown area is “the pulse of the city’s identity,” Martinez has multiple economic centers, Seale wrote. And all of those business centers need to be recognized if the city is to attract and retain businesses that generate significant revenue, he wrote.

“The key to accomplishing this is in strategic implementation of carefully-vetted goals and programs,” he wrote.

The Council will get a separate chance, including at a work session next year to set goals, to consider EDAP’s second phase.

Once staff examines specific actions and initiatives needed to accomplish those goals, members will return to the Council to start the third EDAP phase, which consists of setting priorities for tasks. That will take place in time for the next budget cycle, Seal wrote.

Besides the various phases of the EDAP, another opportunity the city may examine is a Business Improvement District (BID), which allows for various methods of self-generated funding of downtown improvements.

As part of the city’s renewed commitment to economic development,the Community and Economic Development Department will integrate planning, economic development, building and code enforcement, Seal wrote. That department’s organization should be finished next year, Seal wrote.

“Providing all of these services in a single department will allow Martinez to streamline the development process for residents as well as businesses, and provide consistent, timely service to the community,” he wrote.

He called the creation of the Community and Economic Development Department and reinstatement of the Economic Development Division “the first step in delivering high-quality economic development services to the community.

“The next step is to evaluate the strategic opportunities in each of the city’s 12 economic centers and develop action steps to maximize these opportunities through the EDAP,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, he wrote, the city has been providing core economic development services “so that we continue to build the city’s reputation as ‘business friendly,’” he wrote.

Among them are streamlining the permitting process, building relationships in the business community and offering improved customer service, attracting, retaining and expanding businesses, helping to find sites, ensure the collection of developer use taxes and cooperating with neighboring and regional agencies.

Other services are looking at various economic development funding sources and developing program tools, Seal wrote.

“The completion of the Economic Profiles Report puts Martinez on firm footing to develop economic development goals and implementation measures that will benefit businesses and the community as a whole,” Seal wrote.

Also on tonight’s agenda is the update of the Martinez Climate Action Plan and its sustainability programs.

In his report, Deputy Director of Administrative Services Michael Chandler wrote that Martinez is continuing to make progress on its climate action plan goals.

Among those accomplishments are completing the transition to Marin Clean Energy (MCE), a community choice aggregation program that provides power from predominantly renewable sources along Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) lines. Martinez customers who opted out of MCE were 8.25 percent, lower than the county average of 9.23 percent, Chandler wrote.

Martinez also has completed the third year of participating in the Martinez Unified School District Recycling Project in partnership with the New Leaf Collaborative and Republic Services.  Those in classrooms and cafeterias get educational reinforcement, and are guided by “Green Team” members, teacher “champions” and liaisons and school custodians, he wrote.

In addition, Martinez has finished the fifth year of the California Youth Energy Services Program which pays a trained youth workforce to perform free energy and water conservation assessments and to install certain equipment and provide advice to help residents reduce their power and water consumption. Chandler wrote that since 2014, 950 households have been served in this program.

The city has secured funding and in-kind support from the Tesoro Foundation and Republic Services, at $5,000 each, and the Martinez Adult Education, which provides office space, equipment and work stations, for the Youth Energy Services Program.

Martinez hired its sixth part-time Sustainability Programs assistant since 2012, and its third CivicSpark Fellow, whose tenure wrapped up in September, and completed its process review for the greenhouse gas emissions inventory, he wrote. The city also has obtained recommendations for conducting periodic emissions inventories.

The city also has obtained $20,000 in free technical assistance from East Bay Energy Watch toward the climate control upgrade and window replacement project.

Martinez, in cooperation with Republic Services, provides two compost giveaways annually, and 205 residents participated this year, Chandler wrote. Through Republic Services, the city has had its sixth annual Reuse Roundup, which takes place at Alhambra High School in October. In addition, post-holiday plastic and Styrofoam pickups took place in January.

The 10th annual Martinez Earth Day was celebrated in April with a booth on sustainability programs., Chandler wrote. In addition, the city was host to a home composting workshop.

Martinez also has helped promote this year’s Community Resilience Challenge East Bay, and residents logged 897 actions, coming in second in participating cities as well as Contra Costa County.

On the Consent Calendar, the Council will consider City Engineer Tim Tucker’s request to accept Ross Recreation Equipment’s $61,569.81 proposal for installing a protective surface to a rubber surfaces at several municipal playgrounds and allocating $70,000 from unallocated Park and Recreation impact fees for the work.

It also will consider authorizing a construction maintenance agreement with Union Pacific Railroad for the Ferry Street-Union Pacific Railroad Access Project improvements.

The project’s cope of work and estimates to improve and update the pedestrian access at the location is complete, and the CalTrans Division of Railroad and Mass Transportation approved a contract that provides $542,700 for those improvements.

The city awarded a construction contract for the project Aug. 22, and the contractor is in the process of obtaining encroachment permits from the railroad. However, city staff has been unable to reach the railroad’s project manager, Tucker wrote.

In August, railroad representatives said the project manager no longer works for Union Pacific, and that a construction and maintenance agreement with Union Pacific for the project improvements is needed before work can proceed on the railroad’s property.

The previous UPRR project manager likely should have notified the city of the agreement requirement earlier in the approval process,” Tucker wrote.

The project involves pedestrian directional railing, truncated domes, striping and a pedestrian flashing warning light in the northeast quadrant, Tucker wrote.

To keep the project going forward, he’s asking the Council to authorize City Manager Brad Kilger to execute the agreement once it’s approved by the city attorney’s office.

The Council also will consider confirming Mayor Rob Schroder’s appointment of Jason Martin from alternate to regular member of the Planning Commission and reappointment of Daniel Pellegrini to the Board of Trustees for the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District.

The Council will meet in closed session at 6 p.m. today on two legal matters, one involving Felix Sanchez and Nancy Noonan and the other involving Gary R. Freitas, and labor discussions involving the Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 324, Martinez Police Officers Association, Martinez Police Non-Sworn Employees Association and unrepresented employees.

The regular meeting will start at 7 p.m. today in the Council Chamber of Martinez City Hall, 525 Henrietta St.

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