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Citizens Can Shape Future El Cerrito

In this guest column, Al Miller urges fellow residents and businesses in El Cerrito to take a proactive role in the current General Plan process and other significant decisions that will shape the future quality of life and development in the city.

Editor's note: This guest column makes reference to a   by El Cerrito Mayor Bill Jones.

We, the residents of El Cerrito, are fortunate to have a City Council and staff that are willing and able to learn from our past while providing needed services for the present and planning for our future. Unlike some of our neighboring communities, our City Council and staff value citizens' participation and input through our various commissions, committees and community meetings.

In his report, Mayor Jones mentions two very important processes that will unfold in our near future: the multi-year process of updating the General Plan and the study of whether a City Charter form of governance will be the best way for El Cerrito to govern itself in the future. Both of these events will significantly affect our future by setting the framework within which El Cerrito will be governed in future years.

It is incumbent on all of us in El Cerrito to be sure our ideas and desires are considered in the discussions that will be undertaken while generating our new General Plan and considering our form of city government. Do you have an opinion on what kind of development should be allowed along San Pablo Avenue? Would you care if five-story buildings became the norm or were prohibited? DO you have an opinion on traffic flow or control in our city? Do you want more Bike Lanes or no Bike Lanes on our streets? Do you care what businesses are encouraged to come to El Cerrito or where they will be located?

What has a higher priority for you? A new library? A new senior facility? A new Public Safety Building? Do you care where a new library, senior facility or maybe a combination Community Learning and Service Center is located?

These and other community-wide issues and needs will be significantly influenced by the various components of a new General Plan. That is why it is so important that we, the residents and business owners of El Cerrito, take part in these processes that Mayor Jones identified. If we don't, the influence of outside developers and consultants may determine El Cerrito's future. Also, if our city staff do not hear and understand our preferences, the plans developed for Council approval may not reflect our wishes.

So when these processes begin, and the schedule of public meetings becomes available, set aside time to attend and take an active part in the proceedings to ensure that your ideas and opinions are considered. Our collective thoughts offered during the process will have will have a much, much stronger effect on the outcome that our complaints and negative comments made after the fact ever will.

Let's all be part of the solution and take part in these processes. Let's be sure that we the people of El Cerrito determine to our own future.

El Cerrito resident Al Miller plays a variety of civic roles, including member of the board of directors of the Stege Sanitary District and chair of the Citizens Street Oversight Committee.

El Cerrito Patch welcomes guest columns from readers. You can send ideas to elcerrito@patch.com. You can see past guest columns .

Richard Leigh March 10, 2012 at 05:44 PM
The City of El Cerrito should bring democracy to East Richmond Heights by annexing its wholly owned Sphere of Influence into the City bounderies. It would be revenue neutral to the City Budget according the independent property tax study obtained by City Manager, Scott Hannin. Residents there have waited 40 years. This initiative should be incorporated in the Strategic Plan and has been mentioned in previous Strategic Plans.
Todd Groves March 11, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Thanks, Al, for this and your many other contributions to the El Cerrito community. The City of El Cerrito should consider a more active role in our public schools. Our prospects are tied inextricably to our schools' successes. Everything from property values to our children's health depend on them, yet the relationship between the public schools and our city could be much stronger and strategic. At a minimum, an El Cerrito Education Commission could establish a coherent policy voice for EC in WCCUSD issues.
Karin October 19, 2012 at 02:12 PM
I read an interesting article in USA Today (10/19) titled "More Small Towns Thinking Big" which seems very relevant to this topic.

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