Walnut Creek City News
Jan 02, 2018 05:06PM
The mayor of the City of Walnut Creek has a one-year rotation, and on December 5, council elected Justin Wedel to act as mayor for 2018. Councilmember Cindy Silva will serve as mayor pro tem. Wedel replaces Rich Carlston, who served as mayor in 2017.
Start Up in Residence Program
Walnut Creek was selected as one of eight cities across the country to participate in the Start Up in Residence Program. Under this program, selected cities collaborate with startups to give cities access to breaking technology and develop solutions to improve civic government. Through the partnership with startups, solutions are found that help not only the selected city but also potentially all cities in the country.
Free Tax Preparation
As tax season approaches, qualifying residents can receive free tax preparation through AARP’s Tax-Aide and United Way’s Earn It, Keep It, Save It programs. Both programs serve people of all ages, with no requirement to be a member of AARP. Starting January 8, 2018, the programs can be accessed in Walnut Creek by calling 925-943-5851 (Walnut Creek Senior Center); 925-405-6278 (Walnut Creek Grace Presbyterian Church); or 925-979-5013 (Walnut Creek St. Paul’s Episcopal Church).
Civic Park Plaza Accessibility Improvements Project
At the December 5 city council meeting, council awarded the contract for improvements to Civic Park Plaza to iTech Solutions. This project will reconstruct the plaza between the Civic Park Community Center and Assembly Hall in Civic Park. The new plaza will improve accessibility and provide additional amenities to both facilities, which are heavily used by the senior community. The bid alternate calls to provide and construct three wood trellises, three bike racks, and two green screens.
The project is partially funded by a Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). A total of $147,880 in CDBG funds are available for this project, and additional funding is provided by the Civic Park Community Center Renovation Project. A total of five bids were received.
Communications and Outreach Manager Retires
Gayle Vassar, the city’s communications and outreach manager, has retired after 17 years of extraordinary work for the City of Walnut Creek. During her time working with the city, Vassar created Walnut Creek’s Emergency Response Team (CERT), which has been used by other cities in creating their own response teams. She also launched the city’s social media and television platforms and led 19 Citizen Institute programs. She acted as the project manager for the city’s centennial, and was the editor of the Nutshell. The new communications and community relations manager, Betsy Burkhart, who joined the city on December 18, replaces Vassar. Burkhart has extensive experience in civic communications, most recently as Contra Costa County’s director of communications and media. During the recent North Bay fires, she was tapped to establish and train Sonoma County's emergency public information team. Betsy may be reached at Burkhart@walnut-creek.org.
Affordable Housing Questionnaire
Improving the affordability and availability of housing is a top priority for the Walnut Creek City Council. In December, the City of Walnut Creek had a link on their home page to a survey asking for community input about the affordability of housing in Walnut Creek. The deadline to complete the four-question survey was December 31. Responses will help shape future outreach efforts on this topic.
With almost 1,000 responses (about 300 registered responses and 700 unregistered responses), the majority of respondents said there is not enough housing to meet the needs of the community nor is it affordable enough to meet the needs of the community. Many also said there were not enough housing options (homes, apartments, condos, senior housing). Most believed that affordable housing would benefit their community; however, traffic congestion is a major concern. Most respondents also supported a community where people can afford to live where they work and supported subsidized affordable housing units in their community.