Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Published news story by Lurene Kathleen Helzer, partial clip is undated, but probably published after February, 1990, The El Cerrito Journal, “New Development Commission Nixed By Time-Frugal Council”. (Photo of me, 2007)

Email Lurene in 2014 at

This, I hope, is the last entry for these two news blogs, bayarealurene and bayarealureneb. I can concentrate on other areas now, some editing.

I was tempted to finish last week, but decided to throw these last few old news stories in at end. I like this last story because of Mr. Abelson's funny remarks. The Bay Area has lost its tolerance by 2010 for frank local leaders like Abelson, takes itself too seriously today:

With the El Cerrito city staff two to four weeks behind in their work, redevelopment agency members scoffed at the prospect of forming a new commission to help attract developers to the city, saying it would further burden the staff.

Redevelopment agency Executive Director Pat O’Keeffe said an economic development commission would require additional staff and “would cause a significant decrease in my effectiveness.”

Councilman and Redevelopment Agency Chairman Charles Lewis, IV, said Monday night El Cerrito business leaders on the proposed commission could help the agency promote El Cerrito and provide feedback from El Cerrito business leaders.

One of the disadvantages of a commission, according to a staff report released at the meeting, is that the commission’s duties would overlap with duties of existing city departments.

“I hadn’t intended that this would be a mini-planning commission,” said Lewis, who brought up the idea at the February 17 agency meeting. “El Cerrito business leaders are a resource we’re not currently tapping.”

Another point brought up in the report was the current overload of work. The report said the processing time for policy and development plans would be “doubled as a result of staff having to move proposed projects and plans through two policy bodies for decision.”

The report said “some of the projects we have already established are not being given proper attention.”

Councilmember Howard Abelson also criticized the council for contributing to the staff’s overload of work.

At a previous council meeting, staff members were directed to study the city of Richmond’s request for $1,100 toward the Richmond Rescue Mission.

Abelson said at the earlier meeting, “Instead of spending staff time studying the issue, we should just give the funds to the one homeless person in El Cerrito. It would be more economical.”

During an interview Abelson said, “I get the impression that these requests for reports take staff time away from things that are more important to the city. Council members ought to be able to make a few phone calls themselves.”

During the Monday night meeting, Abelson asked City Manager Ronald D. Creagh how much money and time had been spent studying the issue.

Creagh said the study took 10 to 11 hours of staff time, or from three to five hundred dollars to complete.

O’Keeffe and Creagh both refused to comment when asked to give more details on the backlog of work. But Creagh complained at an earlier meeting that he didn’t have time to prepare a report on homelessness.
Lewis and Howe were the only council members who supported the idea of an economic development commission. Most said O’Keeffe was doing a god job and the commission would be a waste of city resources.

The staff surveyed 10 Contra Costa cities in making the report. They found that Concord had a commission similar to what El Cerrito might require.

The Concord commission advises the Redevelopment Agency on redevelopment plans and policies, budget matters, and advises the agency on its potential for participation in redevelopment projects, the report found.

El Cerrito’s Land Use Committee, similar to what an Economic Development Commission would be, was disbanded after initial redevelopment planning for the city was complete, according to the report. –end--

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