In a 3-2 vote at the Jan. 5, 2021 meeting, Councilmembers Tanaka, Donovan and Mayor Bailey negated previous council action and re-opened discussion on the Ocean Boulevard Improvement Project.
On Dec. 1, 2020 the city council approved a measure to widen the sidewalk along the entire length of Ocean Boulevard at a cost of $1.9 million. The action was approved in a 3-2 vote with Heinze, Sandke, Benzian in favor and Donovan, Bailey opposed.
A procedural policy [Council Policy 9] allows for a newly seated member to request reconsideration of a decision that he/she was not party to. Tanaka, who was not on the council when action was taken to approve the project, asked for the decision to be reconsidered.
Tanaka explained his request. “I have great concerns about narrowing Ocean Boulevard” and referred to the volume of public comments on the subject, “...the 37 comments on the matter were pretty close to unanimous” against the project.
During discussion of Tanaka’s proposal, Sandke and Heinze declared that they respected the previous vote and gave reasons they were satisfied with the decision and the work of staff and council during the four year process. Both also commented that negating the previous vote would likely end the project altogether.
Bailey said that he was willing to “cancel out previous action” and re-open the discussion, but was committed to taking prompt action in some form of improvements to the area. “I’m willing to look at a variant of one of the options but with a definite bias toward action. I’m not in favor of leaving Ocean Boulevard in the status quo,” he stated.
The subject of relieving congestion issues along Ocean Boulevard has been discussed by Council since 2015 and funding for a street improvement project was identified in the spring of 2019. A detailed staff report and discussion of three different options were presented prior to the December vote.
Ultimately a 3-2 vote, with Sandke and Henize opposed, nullified the previous decision.
After some discussion of the options for going forward, the council then voted unanimously to bring the item back at the next meeting. At that time they will consider the three previous options or variations of any of them, or opt for no improvements. If a majority is not reached then no changes will occur on Ocean Boulevard. The public is encouraged to contact the City and councilmembers with ideas and opinions.
Per councilmember Donovan’s request, Ocean Boulevard residents will receive letters of notification regarding updated information. The next meeting will be Tuesday, Jan. 19, at 4 p.m.