What Next?

By Edi Birsan, Concord City Councilmember Edibirsan@gmail.com

With local elections determined, we need to look at what is next. Concord saw the two incumbents as well as all in Pleasant Hill have been returned while in Walnut Creek there is change.
All City Councils must deal with some of the same things to a certain degree such as recovery from or through Covid, homelessness, potential wave of evictions, affordable housing and increasing the scope of skills in crisis response.
In Concord I can break out some of the following things in no particular order of priority.

1 Reissue of the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the base. The navy has informed us that it will take about two years before transfer can be done because of recent toxic concerns which allows for the replacement of the failed Lennar proposal without actual loss of development time.

2 Downtown RFP for the former Redevelopment land *(the White Picket Fence area).

3 Five Cannabis dispensaries to be selected.

4 Completion of the process on about 400 affordable rental units under review and as many as we can above that.

5 Introduction of a pilot program on mental health response as well as enhanced homeless response.

6 Finding a place to move homeless encampments and especially the RV/Vehicle homeless into a safe holding area where there can be focused services, and those services themselves need to be enhanced with a greater success rate.

7 Revising our Council procedures to allow for more public discussion as well as a method to force such a discussion when there are not three votes for the discussion to take place in the first place.

8 Moving to directly elected Mayor.

9 Having in ordinance a clearly defned rotation of appointed mayors and councilmembers.

10 Increased allocation to road repair. One possible method is having an upfront loan tied to sales tax so that it must go to roads. This technique has successfully been done in the past and allows us to front load results. However, people must remain calm when the payments are made years after the road work has been done.

11 Tenants need support. We cannot rely on the civil non-government legal process to help our tenants, especially for those of lower income. We need a city controlled, directly overseen legal team to deal with harassment, unjust evictions, illegal rent increases.

12 We have a new data system being installed in December that will start to create some new capabilities in police data response. However, whenever there is a data change, the comparisons to the past become difficult, if not impossible. The whole issue of data remains; what data speaks to what and what does it mean? Clearly in politics in general, and in police policy politics in particular, those that scream the loudest for ’more data’ are really just asking for new data that supports their view of what should be done.
As a son of a scientist, it was pounded into me that the data needs to speak for itself, and you must be prepared to see that the data does not support your hypothesis in the first place. In police politics, typically at elections one side takes the view that if crime is going up you want more police. If it is the same, you want more police to make it go down, and if it is going down you want more police to make it go down faster.
The other side says that you need less police in all the situations because they do not fundamentally agree that police impact crime. Data needs to be respected and we need to at least agree what you think the data could be saying regardless of your bias.

13 Prepare for redrawing the council district lines.

14 How do we get more people to work at a scale that they can afford to live here?

15 Reintroduction to the School Board to see if there can be cooperative approaches on basic things like local history, civics and the like.

16 Reuniting the different segments that supported different candidates through the city on all different levels and refocus on moving the city forward.
There is more. There is always more to be done. I look forward to those challenges as well as your views and your help in tackling them.

[Congratulations for his re-election to another term as City Council. Edi ran unopposed in his District. Ideas expressed in this article are exclusively of Edi Birsan as an individual and are not to be considered views as a City Councilmember of Concord. By the way, no part of this article is subject to a recount.