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Council moves forward on economic development plans, adopts five-year redevelopment plan at Feb. 7 meeting

The City Council took steps Feb. 7 in its efforts to make the city more attractive to business. The council voted unanimously to establish an Economic Development Commission, accept a task force's economic develop strategy and action plan, and direct staff to begin defining the role of a planned economic development manager.

"If we don't do something definitive now, we're going to lose momentum," said Councilman Larry Damon.

Mayor Mark Friedman said it is important for the city to move ahead while the economy is strong.

While the council accepted the task force's plan, it made it clear that details of carrying out the many recommendations of the commission still need to be worked out.

Later in the meeting, the council also adopted a five-year plan for the city's Redevelopment Agency.

Goals of the city's economic development plan include increasing and diversifying tax revenue, and increasing shopping and employment opportunities in the city.

Recommendations in the 40-page report include:

* work with other agencies to address traffic and parking issues;

* review city policies and organization to make them more business friendly;

* develop a marketing brochure for the city;

* improve the city's web page;

* build on the revitalization of the Plaza and the existence of the Plaza BART station to develop Fairmount Avenue as a "Main Street commercial environment."

 

* work with BART to build the BART parking garage provided for in Measure C;

* develop the mid-town area around El Cerrito Mill & Lumber, and the Del Norte area;

* launch a Shop El Cerrito campaign;

* work more closely with the schools.

Councilwoman Gina Brusatori said the city needs to have a plan that shows that the city will get its money back on what is spent on the economic development program -- estimated in the task force's report at $350,000 for the first year.

Raymond Miles, chairman of the Economic Development Task Force, said for other cities the pay off from economic development has taken 10 years or more. But Brusatori said, "We don't have 10 to 15 years. We have maybe three to seven years."

She cautioned that El Cerrito has several "fatal flaws" it must overcome to enhance development in the city including small lots, lots that the owners are keeping underdeveloped, congested traffic, and vocal opposition to development.

Other council members echoed the concerns about traffic and talked about the need to work with other agencies, including Richmond, since the problem is not El Cerrito's alone.

In other action, the council:

* voted to establish a four-hour restricted parking zone in west El Cerrito. The restrictions would apply to both sides of the street on School Street, Cypress Avenue, South 53rd Street, South 55th Street, and a portion of Potrero.

Residents of the area have asked the city to restrict parking. Casual carpoolers use the area -- south of Potrero Avenue and west of Interstate 80 -- to park.

Residents of the neighborhood will be able to get parking permits exempting them from the limit.

*endorsed state Proposition 12, the State park bond ; Proposition 13, the water bond; and Proposition 14, The California Reading and Literacy Improvement and Public Library Construction and Renovation Bond Act. The council opposed Proposition 28, which would repeal the Proposition 10 tobacco surtax.

* as the governing board of the Redevelopment Agency, asked staff to gather additional information on parties interested in leasing agency-owned property at 11335-11341 San Pablo Avenue .


Run dates: 2000-02-07 - 2000-03-07
 


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