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Concord's do-nothing City Council: Trees and Elections

As Concord gears up for the 2014 City Council elections, the current mayor, Tim Grayson, has taken time to send an e-mail to some city residents. A few days ago, I received the following message:

“You may have heard on the news that PG&E wants to cut down 730 trees in Concord (3,000 trees in Contra Costa County) without notice to the City of Concord or private citizens. What happened in San Bruno was a welding issue, not a root problem – Concord citizens shouldn’t be penalized by losing the beautiful trees on their property.

“We have started legal proceedings to stop PG&E. If a representative of PG&E knocks on your door, you do not have to let them into your backyard. Please tell the representative that you received this email from the Mayor and feel free to email or call me if there is a problem.

“Thank you,

“Tim Grayson
“Mayor of Concord
“TimGrayson@ConcordMayor.com
“(925) 595-5014 Personal Cell”

So, what's the problem with this e-mail?

Our city’s part-time employees on the Council must know that it will be difficult at best to fight PG&E: they have a right of way easement with access rights.

Mayor Grayson's e-mail seems to be hyperbole at best, and ignorance at worst. PG&E isn't removing the trees because of root problems: they are removing the trees to be able to gain access for running testing equipment to check for leaks and failing welds.

However, there is a strong possibility that PG&E probably won't ever run the equipment, but Mayor Grayson’s e-mail makes it appear as if the City Council is taking new measures for our safety. Given that, if Contra Costa County's cities fight the tree removal, and if there are leaks and/or explosions in the future, PG&E can say, "Hey, we tried, but were blocked."

To me, this looks like grandstanding the city will lose, but the Concord City Council will get lots of publicity for it, and look like the underdogs --while spending lots of our money. Losing the trees is truly unfortunate, but the ground over the gas lines shouldn't have been planted in the first place. Arguably, this is an issue that should have been addressed 20+ years ago --had PG&E and the Concord City Council had their collective act together, and had there actually been concern about safety back then.

I’d like to know whether the city, which was given millions of dollars to improve our infrastructure, will press PG&E to remove their "trees", the above-ground power and phone lines on Concord Boulevard that still stand after a partial repaving, and properly get the lines underground, and complete the paving and construction of the sidewalks to Kirker Pass Road? PG&E gave the city money to do this but, due to poor planning, the Concord City Council did not give PG&E enough “heads up” when it was decided Concord Boulevard should undergo badly-needed resurfacing. Will the Concord City Council act to rectify this haphazard effort on Concord Boulevard, or just clown around some more until this blows over and is forgotten by campaign season?






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