Last night’s Town Hall for businesses on the future of Oakley’s Revitalization plans for downtown had a mix of support, concerns, and many questions. Overall, it was a productive meeting for local businesses while I do believe some of the questions and comments stated were a bit unfair to the City. Having said that, the city did a great job last night and I’d encourage others to attend future meetings.
This meeting appeared to be a recap of what had been going on at City Council meetings but with a condensed 20-minute PowerPoint presentation that did provide a few tidbits of new information (See Q&A below). Although similar information was shared and it was geared towards businesses and was a nice change of pace from a traditional council meeting where the dialogue was interesting while testy at times.
Nancy Marquez did a great job in opening up the meeting and explaining the format while she helped control the tone of the meeting. What was appreciated was she ensured the meeting did not drag on or become mundane. City Manager Bryan Montgomery was a powerful voice that followed her to give a nice contrast in speaking styles. His presentation was brief but his update had an impact. Mr. Montgomery stepped up big time last night in the Q&A while controlling the message. It was nice to see him be blunt at times when he had to be—based on some of the comments and statements, I don’t blame him.
Both Josh McMurray and Reggie Decker did a solid job explaining their portions of the project giving details that had not really been discussed in public (see Q&A below). Councilman Jim Frazier was also in attendance to show support.
The 20-minute presentation featured updates on the following items:
- Indoor & outdoor seating
- Façade Improvements
- Pedestrian friendly walkways
- Main Street Renovations
Summary of Q&A
A question was asked about who will be responsible for outdoor dining in the Plaza and if either restaurant will have outdoor dining.
Carpaccio’s will have its own dedicated space for outdoor dining but the plaza will have a space for anyone who wants to eat outside. According to Montgomery, the fountain within the Plaza will end up being 1/3 the cost as originally thought.
A question was asked about with the bypass change will there still be big rigs allowed downtown and where will they park?
Bryan Montgomery admitted the city did not think of about parking for large trucks and mobile homes, however, he began to look at possible locations nearby where it might work in order to allow these trucks and boats to park if they want to stop by any of the restaurants.
During Construction, will trucks be rerouted to other roads?
The city is not planning to reroute traffic as they have planned to have as little impact on the road as possible. The city estimates that construction for the road will take 120-days but are trying to reduce the timeline. Construction is expected to begin and May and be completed in August/September time-frame.
Questions were brought up about the impact of Carpaccio’s and alcohol at night on Main Street based off the incident a few weeks ago. There were concerns about stop lights and traffic.
The City essentially explained that traffic will slow down because of diagonal parking spots along with an added stop light. They assured the businesses owners that the four-way stoplight across from Black Bear Diner will not be removed. Personally, I think these hypothetical suggestions were odd and did not really add to the conversation.
Accusations that this plan was a “done deal” and the public was not informed in the decision making process.
The city explained that there was much outreach and this had been in the planning stages for many years and many city council meetings discussed the downtown plans.
The city is correct, the downtown plans have been going on for nearly 20 years and before Oakley was even its own City.
A business owner accused the City of Oakley of providing $750k worth of grants to outside businesses to come to Oakley that were not available to local businesses. The business explained that we are not a downtown like other cities such as Pleasanton, but that our dynamics are different. There were also concerns about the two-story Carpaccio building blocking businesses in the back of the lot from street view along with limited parking for boats and trucks.
Bryan Montgomery noted that nothing will change and that under the City’s plan, it will actually draw more traffic downtown and increase business because of an added stop light, slower traffic, and downtown atmosphere which would provide a “shopping experience”. As for being blocked from street view, the City will look at signs and look for an “anchor” to draw traffic to the shopping center.
Under the proposed plan, a business threatened they might leave because their business will be effected and there will not be enough parking. A business accused City of only looking at 1-location for downtown revitalization rather than looking at other areas in Oakley for businesses to possibly move to.
This is where I believe Bryan Montgomery made the best statement of the night stating that the City has made its plans and it’s up to each business to do what is best for them. He stated “it’s your decision and for you to decide” which he is correct in stating.
Yes, Mr. Montgomery was blunt and it might have offended some, but I support him for it. If the business sees this plan as harming their business, they should move to another location—the City is doing what’s best for all, not a single business.
Look, the City is not going to please everyone, but this plan is wonderful and actually helps all the businesses upon completion if it’s marketed right. Short term thinking is dangerous in this type of situation and I encourage that business to think long term—especially with the traffic that will soon come based on the plaza and downtown events.
Why is the City making this a pedestrian friendly project rather than road friend?
The city wants sidewalks up and down Main Street in order to get people to walk downtown and stop in at businesses. With the diagonal parking, it will slow down traffic and bring people downtown to shop.
For more information on the Downtown Revitalization, please contact
Phone: (925) 625-7007
Email at Maquez@ci.oakley.ca.us