The long-standing fight over a proposed dog park at the southeastern edge of Lake Merritt will finally go to the City Council on Dec. 4.
The council's Rules Committee agreed Thursday to schedule a hearing on the dog park proposal over the objection of opponents, who wanted the hearing and likely vote pushed back until after the new year, when the city's Parks and Recreation Commission releases a new report.
Dog park supporters feared that political motivations were behind the postponement request. The proposed park at the corner of MacArthur Boulevard and Lakeshore Drive, near the I-580 interchange, is at the edge of Councilwoman Nancy Nadel's district. Nadel, a park supporter, will leave the council at the beginning of January.
Her successor, Lynette Gibson McElhaney, said earlier this year that she felt a better site could be found for the park.
Nadel's aide, Carletta Starks, pushed for the December hearing. "We cannot delay this park out of existence," she told members of the Rules Committee. "It is at the point that this needs to be decided ... on its own merits."
The council postponed the item earlier this year at the request of park supporters.
Opponents have argued that the park would significantly reduce the largest grass expanse in the Grand Lake neighborhood. The Planning Commission rejected the park proposal earlier this year, but supporters appealed that decision to the council.
Previous negotiations have failed to produce a compromise. However, there have been discussions about holding a mediation session led by Councilwoman Jane Brunner, who last week brokered an agreement between Safeway and opponents of the expansion of the chain's Rockridge store.
Fremont to form Environmental Sustainability Commission
The Fremont City Council voted Tuesday to form a new government panel to guide decision-makers on environmental issues.
The Environmental Sustainability Commission is expected to be formed by March and will meet quarterly, officials said. It will serve an advisory role to the City Council and be tasked with receiving any required progress reports from staff on meeting climate action goals. It also will advise the City Council on policy issues related to environmental sustainability and any updates to the Climate Action Plan.
The Commission will have up to seven members, including a student and a representative from the Fremont business community, an environmental organization and the development/construction industry. Remaining seats will be open to community members at-large.
Natarajan to remain as Fremont's vice mayor
Councilwoman Anu Natarajan, who finished third in the Fremont mayoral election last week, is expected to continue to serve as vice mayor through next year.
Natarajan captured 26.1 percent of the vote while finishing behind Councilman Bill Harrison and Steve Cho. Harrison was scheduled to serve as vice mayor in 2013, but his election as mayor will leave the position open for Natarajan.
To fulfill legal technicalities in the Fremont City Council handbook, Harrison will be appointed vice mayor Tuesday, but he will vacate the position when he is sworn in as mayor at a council meeting next month.
Natarajan, a council member since 2006, is expected to be appointed vice mayor at the same meeting, according to city officials. Natarajan served as vice mayor the previous 12 months, which makes her eligible to regain the position, according to the Fremont City Council handbook.
The handbook states that if a "vacancy is in the office of a council member and is the incumbent vice mayor, then the council member who was the last previous vice mayor shall be appointed vice mayor until the following November."
It likely will be cold comfort for Natarajan, who said Friday that she is unsure if she will run for re-election in 2014, when her council term expires.
"I am now the most senior member of the City Council and, in that role, I'd like to bring all the council members together as a team," she said. "The reason I ran for mayor was that Fremont is in this great place where we have wonderful things happening. I'd like to get the community excited about where Fremont is."
As for future political office?
"I just gave everything I had in running a campaign for mayor," she said. "I haven't even thought about the next two years."