Olga Vidriales | City Council Candidate

1) What is your name?
Olga Vidriales

2) A council member needs support from a majority of the council to pass resolutions and ordinances. How do you see yourself working with other council members and City staff?
I am very familiar with both the current City Council members and all the candidates – I see myself working well with all. At the Candidate Orientation sponsored by the City of Brentwood we had the opportunity to meet City of Brentwood Directors and department heads -that went very well and I foresee a good working relationship with all staff. My previous positions including President of the Rotary Club of Brentwood, Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Secretary for Brentwood Neighborhood Committee as well as my years in bank branch management have afforded me excellent negotiating skills. The ability to work well with others to accomplish a common goal is crucial and I am confident of my abilities in this area.

3) How do you prepare for meetings regarding controversial topics?
The same way I will deal with all topics. Fully educating myself regarding the topic at hand.- education & communication is key. Listening to the concerns of our citizens is of the most importance to me. A City Council member is presented with information and facts on which to base her/his decision- however, I believe it is important to understand and listen to the concerns of all, to the pros and cons on every issue.

4) How do you plan to involve residents in the decision making process in Brentwood?
A City Council person is presented with information and facts on which to base their decision- I believe it is important to understand and listen to the concerns of all. A city council member needs to have his/her finger on the pulse of the community which can be accomplished through active participation and involvement in the community- something I’ve always taken part in.

5) Did you provide input during the PA-1 process? How do you feel about the potential inclusion of eBart in the project?
No, I did not. I do not have enough information or facts to discuss. I understand the importance of PA-1 and understood the benefits as presented by our City Manager at the City Council meeting. eBart, I believe, is decades out so I’m unsure how to plan around a project that may or may not occur and/or is decades out.

6) Do you believe the Urban Growth Boundaries in Brentwood should be expanded?
I believe we need to protect Brentwood: the quality of life our city offers and our agricultural heritage. I believe smart growth is necessary to protect both our quality of life and our agricultural heritage. I also believe we need to protect our boundaries from our sister cities!

7) The current city council recently denied a project for a Goodwill facility. Do you agree with that decision and why?
Yes. I believe that particular project did not specifically meet the zoning requirements for that location. I believe there is a more appropriate project for that location that will enhance that area/neighborhood.

8) The City staff recently recommended denial of a project to develop part of Shadow Lakes and Deer Ridge golf courses. Do you agree with that recommendation and why?
Yes. The project required rezoning for the area- I believe the current zoning is most appropriate. I believe the rezoning- the additions of the multi-story residential housing is not suited for the neighborhoods for several reasons including the added traffic congestion to the area.

9) ECCFPD is having troubles with response times and stations closing, potentially endangering the lives of Brentwood citizens needing emergency fire and medical assistance. Given that ECCFPD is a regional agency, what steps can the City of Brentwood take to resolve this situation, and what steps would you take as a member of the City Council?
We must better educate our Brentwood citizens so that they fully understand our city is severely under protected. Increased funding for our emergency services can be accomplished by reallocating existing funds and creating new revenue streams.

10) Do you have ideas for local improvements that you think have not been discussed or considered publicly?
I share the concerns of most in Brentwood- bringing hi paying jobs to Brentwood, public safety for our citizens, police and firefighters, improved roads & commutes.

11) Do you believe our city has firm financial footing? If so, what would you do to maintain that? If not, what would you do to improve the situation?
Yes as we have 30% funds in reserve. Maintaining our firm financial footing can be accomplished by holding our city planners accountable to this standard and prudent spending.

12) What do you love about living in Brentwood?
I love the quality of life in Brentwood. My husband Vince and I moved here from the Bay Area in 2003 and are proud to be original owners in Shadow Lakes. What a culture shock from our previous city – in Brentwood we found ourselves taking long walks in our neighborhood and meeting all our neighbors. I watch families with their children playing in our park across the street on hot summer nights! I love driving the streets of Brentwood and enjoying the clean, beautiful landscaping including the immaculate streets of Fairview AV, O’Hara AV, Shadow Lakes, Deer Ridge as well as our beautiful City Park and quaint Downtown Brentwood. I often boast about our 90+ beautiful parks to those in other cities. I enjoy the “Hometown Feel” of Brentwood and all the various events such as Starry Night Concerts in the Park, Hometown Halloween, Christmas Parade, Art Wine & Jazz Festival. Where else can you drive 10 minutes to enjoy a great concert with family and friends on a warm summer night in a wonderful park setting. Or sip hot chocolate while watching local school talent perform at our annual Christmas Tree Lighting event in City Park! I love taking my 2-year-old great-nephew Quinten and fury daughter Cha Cha on beautiful and safe walks in Shadow Lakes in the morning to a well-maintained park. I love, love, love the quality of life in Brentwood #BetterinBrentwood #Passion4Brentwood

Johnny Rodriguez | City Council Candidate

1) What is your name?
Johnny Rodriguez

2) A council member needs support from a majority of the council to pass resolutions and ordinances. How do you see yourself working with other council members and City staff?
My experience as a member of the Brentwood Union School Board has helped me gain insights in town to work as a team on discussions of important issues. Skills required include being a good listener, respecting all opinions and carefully considering the input from the City’s professional and knowledgeable staff. I value being part of a larger team.

3) How do you prepare for meetings regarding controversial topics?
Living and working in the City allows me to be knowledgeable on issues, and to have time to visit and meet with concerned residents about their questions and concerns, while also studying the background materials on the topics to be considered. I will do my homework and be ready to share what I have learned from each issue.

4) How do you plan to involve residents in the decision making process in Brentwood?
I will set up an ongoing outreach program where I can meet and discuss concerns, I will use the full range of social media options to keep in touch, and of course, I will be accessible by phone. This role also involves working with active and involved residents. I need inputs and thoughts from citizens to be effective, and that means creating a strong team between our residents and their elected officials.

5) Did you provide input during the PA-1 process? How do you feel about the potential inclusion of eBart in the project?
I did not attend the input meeting with the Consultant on the PA-1 process. I have followed it in the local news and discussing with individuals who did attend. I am very pleased that the council in their General Plan has designated the importance of this Priority Area economic center in Brentwood’s future planning.

6) Do you believe the Urban Growth Boundaries in Brentwood should be expanded?
The Urban Limit Line was originated to keep sprawling growth from occurring throughout Contra Corta. I believe that growth control needed to be established, however; when the County moved Brentwood’s Urban Limit Line East on the West side of town they also created, the already purchased, Heritage/Adams school traffic and safety mess. Brentwood has, with public input created a General Plan that includes some areas of future planning. I believe these planned areas in Brentwood’s Sphere of influence need to be carefully followed to create Smart Growth limited to these areas. I believe we need to continue to protect our downtown, our current residents and our Ag Core areas outside this plan.

7) The current city council recently denied a project for a Goodwill facility. Do you agree with that decision and why?
Yes, but I share with many the understanding that on an appropriate site, Goodwill can be beneficial. I will be interested in working on this effort if I can be of help.

8) The City staff recently recommended denial of a project to develop part of Shadow Lakes and Deer Ridge golf courses. Do you agree with that recommendation and why?
Yes, I support that decision. It is not the City Council’s job to bail out developers’ poor decisions. When residents buy a home they are also buying a trust that Brentwood’s current land use policies will remain in place. As an elected official it would be my job to protect our residents from changes that could put their financial dreams at risk.

9) ECCFPD is having troubles with response times and stations closing, potentially endangering the lives of Brentwood citizens needing emergency fire and medical assistance. Given that ECCFPD is a regional agency, what steps can the City of Brentwood take to resolve this situation, and what steps would you take as a member of the City Council?
A separate Special District, under an elected Board of five people, provides fire services for Brentwood. Some will suggest that Brentwood should look at bringing in some of their tax bases to support this special district. Brentwood has a well-defined financial plan and budget and to use it for non-city services could put at risk the services residents have come to depend upon. As Brentwood grew and planned for future growth, it developed a clear set of developer fees to help support the impact of the growth. As a separate governmental unit, the Fire District failed to do the similar planning and the results are the service shortages we see today. Today Brentwood suffers from this planning failure and I will work hard with the Fire District Board to help them lay out a plan to bring fire services levels up to those seen in systems provided by our City and School systems.

10) Do you have ideas for local improvements that you think have not been discussed or considered publicly?
Yes, One of my biggest hopes in running for the City Council is to develop a service center for the ever-increasing younger population. We have seen the wonderful success of our Senior Citizens Center and the programs they offer. A similar center focusing on youth would fill a real gap in our community. I would like to work to explore getting a YMCA facility or a Boys and Girls Club. I am sure there are lots of ideas and options in this area and with my twenty years of youth service work in Brentwood I would dedicate my time and energy to explore this.

11) Do you believe our city has firm financial footing? If so, what would you do to maintain that? If not, what would you do to improve the situation?
I am proud of the financial planning Brentwood has done over the past decades. With a General Fund budget of $59 million dollars, we are on firm ground. We have millions of dollars of infrastructure in place and that investment needs to be protected and maintained, I will watch it carefully.

12) What do you love about living in Brentwood?
I have been a lifelong resident of Brentwood. I attend the same schools many of our residents’ children attend. Like everyone else, I love the benefits Brentwood now provides and will work to make sure these will continue and grow. I also have the unique perspective of being a member of the Brentwood Union School District Board, and the honor of having been selected as Brentwood’s Citizen of the Year 2015. I will work hard to help shape our community with those who value safety and a choice of services. My wife is a local preschool Director, and with our two wonderful young boys, I want to make sure the wonderful community I grew up in. Is also a wonderful community for them and for all of our residents. That is why I have filed for this position and look forward to meeting and working with all of you.

John D. Fink | City Council Candidate

1) What is your name?
John D Fink

2) A council member needs support from a majority of the council to pass resolutions and ordinances. How do you see yourself working with other council members and City staff?
As a Planning Commissioner for almost 9 years I have a very good working relationship with City staff. Councilwoman Karen Rarey has endorsed me for my campaign and Karen and I are friends and work very well together. I have worked with Councilwoman Claudette Staton when she was a Planning Commissioner and we had a good relationship and I hope that will continue on the Council.

3) How do you prepare for meetings regarding controversial topics? 
The most important way to prepare for a controversial item is to get input, input, input! I have meeting with folks that are involved with the project, and meeting with citizens who will be effected by the project and lastly with City staff to make sure all the input from the applicant and the citizens are consistent and does the project meet the needs of all involved and does it match up with the General Plan

4) How do you plan to involve residents in the decision making process in Brentwood?
Meet and talk with them, get their input, get their concerns out in the open. I am all about meeting someone face to face and getting the real story, getting the real information to so I can make decisions that reflect what the community wants, not what I think is best.

5) Did you provide input during the PA-1 process? How do you feel about the potential inclusion of eBart in the project?
I was the Planning Commissioner on the working group for PA-1. My comments and suggestions are already part of the overall plan. As far as the eBART, in the survey of citizens for PA-1 before we got started, 71% of the 1,000 or so people surveyed said they did not want it. I agree with those polled, but if BART wants to make its case, there are a number of items, public safety at the highest on the list, that would have to be addressed before I would reconsider.

6) Do you believe the Urban Growth Boundaries in Brentwood should be expanded? 
Yes, I do believe that a westward expansion to Deer Valley Rd. is in our future. BUT…the amount of community involvement is going to be of utmost importance. All the stakeholders…the City of Brentwood, the landowners, the East Bay Regional Park District, Save Mt Diablo…they will all have a seat at the table so we can craft a plan that meets all the needs and has the least impact on the environment.

7) The current city council recently denied a project for a Goodwill facility. Do you agree with that decision and why?
As the Chair of the Planning Commission I was responsible for the denial of the project. When it went to Council on appeal, the Council made the right decision to deny the appeal of the applicant.

8) The City staff recently recommended denial of a project to develop part of Shadow Lakes and Deer Ridge golf courses. Do you agree with that recommendation and why?
I agree with Staff’s decision on the project. I believe in the consistency of the General Plan and how well it has served our community for the last 20 years. The project was not consistent with the General Plan and therefore should have been denied.

9) ECCFPD is having troubles with response times and stations closing, potentially endangering the lives of Brentwood citizens needing emergency fire and medical assistance. Given that ECCFPD is a regional agency, what steps can the City of Brentwood take to resolve this situation, and what steps would you take as a member of the City Council?
To first answer this, I have received the endorsement of the Firefighters for the election and I am already working with Chief Helmick to make sure that we are getting the word out about his strategic plan that will be the catalyst to saving the district and getting better service. I believe we need to look at all options with more citizen input on a “benefit assessment”, but also at the same time do hard research on Brentwood creating its own fire department.

10) Do you have ideas for local improvements that you think have not been discussed or considered publicly?
Economic development is very important and PA-1 is going to be a driving force to bringing high-wage jobs to Brentwood. Also, we need to focus on our Agricultural Community and strive for the creation of an Ag Economic Zone that will allow the farmers to expand into Agro-Tourism.

11) Do you believe our city has firm financial footing? If so, what would you do to maintain that? If not, what would you do to improve the situation?
Currently we are on a firm financial footing, but we are carrying debt from the construction of the Civic Center and the unfunded liabilities of our staff’s benefits that we will need to address in the years ahead. Also, if we do not expand out urban limit line as suggested by the General Plan we could be at build out faster that we anticipated and we would need to make some hard decision on how we move forward with funding staff and City services.

12) What do you love about living in Brentwood?
I love Brentwood because it is one of the last places I know that has a real sense of “community”. People caring about other people, taking up the charge when issues facing our community don’t fit and the average citizen has a voice that is actually heard. That is what I love about living in Brentwood.

Getting to know the City Council Candidates

The No Rezone Committee recently created a Brentwood City Council Candidate Questionnaire covering a variety of topics and sent it to each of the five candidates with a request to complete it by September 3rd.

Three candidates responded and, by responding, they have demonstrated that they care about citizen involvement and are willing to engage with concerned citizens who may come before them on the City Council.

Through their responses, they have shared with us where they currently stand on topics including the ULL, the DR/SL proposed rezone, Goodwill, and the ECCFPD.  With their permission, we share their responses with you.

In the order that they were received:

John D. Fink

Johnny Rodriguez

Olga Vidriales

We thank each of them for sharing their thoughts and for their willingness to go above and beyond for our city and it’s citizens.

No Rezone DR/SL Committee’s City Council Endorsement

The No Rezone DR/SL Committee hereby endorses Planning Commission Chair John Fink for the office of Brentwood City Council Member, and we urge all Brentwood voters to give him your vote on November 6, 2018.

We know John, and we know where he stands. We know he stands with us. And we know he stands with Brentwood. We have spoken to John many times, in our group and individually. John is direct and forthright. John does not play coy, and he does not hide. When John speaks, he knows what he is talking about, because he has been in the middle of things in this city for many years, and because he has devoted his time to understanding how this city works. And yet, for all his experience and expertise, he also listens. When we talk to John, we know he hears us. And we know he cares about what we care about.

Like us, John cares about Brentwood, about the people living and working in Brentwood, now and in the coming years. Like us, probably more than most of us, John knows the opportunities and challenges that face Brentwood right now, at this critical time, as we fill in the last of our available spaces. He knows that we must be careful with our choices now. He knows that these choices will affect the quality of life now and for future generations to come.

We have all seen first hand that John will not flinch and will not back down, when a project comes to the city that is not consistent with our General Plan and the goals it sets to ensure our best future. On the evening of April 3, 2018, we saw Planning Commission Chair John Fink in action. On this night, with the Goodwill project before him, we saw John make sure every concerned neighbor had a full chance to be heard. We saw him lead the Planning Commission to the correct conclusion, that this project was not the right project for this location, and that it could not be done in a way consistent with the General Plan. This was a difficult and courageous position to take, but it was the right one, and was ultimately upheld on appeal to the City Council. That night, we saw a man willing to stand up for his city, a man not afraid to make the right call, and we saw the man we want sitting on the Brentwood City Council when our No Rezone issue, and so many others important to our future, come up for a vote.

The No Rezone DR/SL Committee cares about more than the future of our golf courses. We care about the future of our city. We know there are many difficult decisions ahead, and we want to make sure that we have leadership in our city that will listen to the citizens. We need leaders who will work hard find the best path forward to protect our quality of life, while providing the kind of growth we need to provide good local jobs for our citizens and dependable revenue for our city. If you agree with us, then we urge you to come out to cast your vote for John Fink for Brentwood City Council on November 6, 2018.

Letter from Resident to City Council

We received the below from a Brentwood resident:

In EBT’s 7/13/2018 news report on DRSL Development Project:

Jeff Farano is back to claiming there is a “small group of vocal opponents” even though we gave petition numbers of 2800+ on-line and 800+ paper at the City Council Meeting.

He also says opponents spread “misinformation” and created “fear and confusion”.  Please don’t let SunCoast discredit/trivialize the concerns of residents.  The city staff’s report supporting a recommendation to deny the project reflects many of the concerns of residents as well.  Is Jeff Farano saying that they are spreading misinformation and creating fear and confusion as well with their detailed analysis and findings?

Here is a letter written to Council and Commission to counter SunCoast’s latest letter to select residents:

Attention Commission and Council:

I received a letter (dated June 18) from Jeff Farano, Suncoast, explaining what they are doing and urging me to support the DRSL Development Project.

I was very disturbed by how he twisted the facts…to try and convince me/residents that the building of huge apartment complexes in Deer Ridge and Shadow Lakes is beneficial/an improvement. So I would appreciate it if you would read my response below before you make your decision on July 12 and in August.

Jeff Farano wrote: “We have tried everything to make the courses profitable and have even tried to sell to a golf buyer.  There has been virtually no interest and zero credible buyers.”

First, I’d like to say SunCoast did not try everything.

In 2017, the SL golf course and club house had been poorly maintained for years.  There were weeds everywhere and plants were extremely overgrown.  The club houses at both golf courses had areas that needed repairs and painting.  Things were falling apart.

When SL announced rotations, we all knew for sure it was not doing well. I met with Charles Fralix, the General Manager at the time, to see how we, residents, could help.

  • I suggested we could get volunteers to help but he said “no” because that was a liability.
  • I asked about getting additional funding from the owner to make repairs so the course and facilities can be more attractive. He said the owner would not increase their budget.

Second, we now know of an interested credible buyer.  Advance Golf made an offer and was turned down.  To this day, Jamie B. Miller of Advance Golf says their offer was credible. (See email below.)  And in the meanwhile, the golf course continues to deteriorate.  Now it will require a lot more money to rehabilitate.

Jeff Farano wrote: “After dozens of meeting with the community, we identified a solution that keeps golf in both neighborhoods and helps us continue financially with minimal impact.”

The fact is they did not meet with the community before the proposal was created.

They did meet with the community to share their final proposal and tried to convince residents that was the “only” solution.

They did meet with the community to ask their ideas for what to do with the closed golf holes.

If they had met with the community before creating their proposal, they would have known that many residents would not have wanted huge apartment complexes next to/near their homes.  That many residents would not consider their solution “minimal impact.’

They would have saved a lot of time and money. Money they could have used to maintain/improve the Shadow Lakes golf course making it more attractive to golfers.

I am not here to guess what residents want or what the best solution is. But I do know many do not want huge apartment complexes next to or near their homes.  Go to https://goo.gl/VLmjw9 and you will see 2800+ have signed the online petition against the high density apartment complexes.

Jeff Farano wrote. “The end result will be an appropriate and exciting reuse of the closed holes and a carefully maintained sustainable course together with new senior homes which will generate the funding for all the improvements as well as ongoing funding for maintenance.”

Don’t be fooled by his “end result” proclamations. The “senior homes” are huge apartment building complexes with a total of 560 units. The proposed apartment complex of 18.2 acres just for Shadow Lakes will be the largest apartment complex, both in mass and acreage, in all of Brentwood, present and pending.

The proposed apartment complex of 13.77 acres for Deer Ridge will be the third largest.

These proposed apartment complexes are very undesirable and extremely out of character with the low to very low density houses of these communities.

Many of us question if there are 560 seniors waiting to and can afford to rent out those apartments. These apartments would be charging a premium to fund a golf course that many seniors may not use.

What if these are not rented out?

What will they do if they cannot get that ongoing funding?

Then what?

Change “senior” to “regular” apartments?

Not maintain the combined golf course?

Jeff Farano wrote: The “other option is to close both courses, walk away and sell to a housing developer…looking to build everywhere. This would be a lose-lose for the owner and neighborhood.”

This is a loss only for the SunCoast. This is an empty threat.

If Suncoast can find such a clueless developer who would buy land that is zoned as follows: “All property described on the development plan and related exhibits as a golf course shall remain as open space, until such time as a golf course is deemed necessary for implementation. At no such time shall any residential development occur within that area designated as a golf course.”

Then, we say “Go ahead and sell it.”

If any housing developer wants to build houses on the golf courses/open spaces, s/he would have to go through a very challenging General Plan change and rezoning process. The same process Suncoast is going through now.

Hopefully that developer would be smart enough to get input from residents before they come up with plans.

Jeff Farano wrote: “We have heard rumors that there is nothing the city or community can do to ensure we actually do what we are proposing. The truth is we will enter into a development agreement with the city, a legally binding contract, to ensure we do as we have planned.”

This is not the whole truth. The present General Plan and Zoning are legally binding and yet anyone, like SunCoast, can come along and apply to change it.

The developer agreement may no longer be valid if the General Plan and/or zoning are changed by other developers.

And what consequence are there if the development agreement is not met?

What if SunCoast/developers declare the project unprofitable and/or declare they lack funds?

What can the city do?

Even if there are written/agreed upon consequences, how would these be enforced?

The city does not have the funds to be in lengthy litigation.

Jeff Farano wrote: “A recent impact analysis of the project found that the senior housing property taxes will generate an annual surplus of $105,370 to the city’s General Fund, $135,000 annually to the Fire Department, and $600,000 annually to local schools.”

First, we need to see that impact analysis so that these figures quoted are verified.

Second, we do not know if the amount $105, 370 would be enough to cover all the cost of city services that 560 plus new residents would generate.

We do not know how much of that $135,000 would actually go to local fire services and how much of that $600,000 would actually go to our schools.

I urge Council and Commission members not to take their numbers at face value. To question them and get the facts if those numbers matter.

But in the end, it doesn’t matter to me and many other residents because the huge apartment building complexes are not wanted in our community.  They are not a desirable element in our community.

After the proposal is rejected. I will be happy to be a part of a community group to discuss solutions and what is acceptable.

Sincerely,
A concerned resident.

Email from Jamie B. Miller on 7/4/2018:

“As I have said in the past we have discussed with them a plan to buy. But because they are losing money (at both properties) NO bank will finance this plan. So they are looking for All Cash buyers. I have been in this business for over 30 years and I can count on 3 fingers the number of courses that sold for All Cash. And each of those was in a much better financial situation than Deer Ridge and Shadow Lakes. So they are incorrect and misrepresenting facts when they so there are “zero credible buyers.” Sure, the deal to buy those courses will have to be creative but it can be done AND we have proposed some creative plans to them already. But because they are not All Cash they were rejected.”