Mayor Stephen Cassidy will summarize the state of San Leandro at a City Council meeting tonight. Looking back on his first year in office, he'll be able to tout several accomplishments:
- a balanced budget;
- a new city manager;
- and, most notably perhaps, the new fiber optic loop being installed by .
This 11-mile-network of fiber optic cables will be pulled through existing city-owned pipes. , it could be the magnet for high-tech, biotech and clean tech firms, are already here.
The fiber optic loop was featured in a Wall Street Journal article last week. It put the city's high-tech ambitions before a national business audience while cautioning that "San Leandro might be a hard sell for some tech companies that want easy access to Silicon Valley's labor force."
But the project moved at the government equivalent of light speed and Cassidy can take some credit for that.
As Kennedy, the entrepreneur, told The Atlantic in yet another national article published last week:
"I talked to the mayor a year ago. We've just got the first segment (of fiber) pulled, we're buying the fiber for the second segment and we'll have the rest of it pulled by June."
Faith Fellowship lawsuit remains an issue
In addition to assessing the state of the city Monday night, the council will be forced to deal with unpleasant detail arising from San Leandro's lengthy lawsuit with the Faith Fellowship Worship Center.
To compress the tale: several years ago the fast-growing church tried to move into an industrial building; it was rebuffed by the city; it lost money money along the way and filed a lawsuit that has gone all the way to the Supreme Court and back -- in Wall Street Journal last year suggesting that San Leandro might be on the hook for $4 million in damages.
Monday night the council must make a decision on an issue pertaining to the dispute.
The issue concerns the zoning -- what businesses and groups can or can't do -- in the industrial areas that cover about a quarter of the city (see attached map).
The four types of zoning at issue are:
- assembly uses; the church fits into this category
- recreation, for instance a gym
- entertainment, like a theater
- adult entertainment, a strip club being one example
The city's zoning code bans assembly uses from the industrial area, but allows the other three.
The whole thrust of the Faith Fellowship case is that San Leandro should not treat assembly uses differently than recreation or entertainment uses.
So the city staff is asking the council to change the industrial zoning to exclude recreation and entertainment.
Staff says this would strengthen the city's hand in the lawsuit with the church.
The Chamber of Commerce has opposed the change. So has the city’s planning commission.
City critic and blogger Marga Lacabe Lacabe has lampooned the proposed zoning changes.
She notes that if the council approves these changes, adult entertainment will continue to be allowed in the industrial area. Peep shows, ok. Preaching, not so much.
City Attorney Jayne Williams says past court decisions have required cities to create free speech zones where adult entertainment is allowed. The industrial area would appear to be the least offensive to the rest of the community for this purpose.
Lacabe thinks the city should permit all four uses in the industrial zone, thus putting religious assemblies on an equal footing with the other uses.
Meanwhile, Lacabe notes that if the changes get made, “Shakespeare would be OK, but only if all the actors were nude and got frisky with one another.”
We’ll see what the council decides Monday night.
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