The Half Moon Bay City Council agreed on four general areas to focus on in the upcoming fiscal year. They are economic recovery and development; public safety, health and emergency preparedness; community and climate resilience/sustainability; and affordable housing.
The decision was made at the council’s annual priority setting session meeting on Wednesday.
The new priorities mirror last year’s list, except that this year’s list excludes traffic management. The council acknowledged that staff was continuously working on traffic issues. Most recently, staff presented a beach traffic plan at last week’s City Council meeting.
City Manager Bob Nisbet said the priority setting session naturally follows from a series of listening sessions, which were held on March 3 and 6, and results in high-level categories of issues the council would like to tackle in the upcoming fiscal year. Nisbet said city staff then takes the council’s priorities and creates an action plan in the weeks following the priority setting session.
Last year, however, the city never finished its action plan. The pandemic hit around the time the council approved its priorities.
Nisbet said he isn’t surprised that the council landed on a similar set of priorities as last year and said the priority setting session was time well spent, especially given new ideas to consider.
“It shows that we listen to the community, that we went through a process,” Nisbet said. “And even if we landed on the same thing, that’s reaffirming that we were heading in the right direction. I think that’s a valuable use of our time.”
Consultants hired to facilitate Wednesday’s discussion prompted the council to come up with appropriate names for the hundred-plus ideas generated from conversations with residents and council members.
The time spent on creating the categories drew criticism from some council members, including Deborah Penrose.
“The worsmithing was of very little use. I think coming up with broad categories as high falutin’ as we have is useless,” Penrose said. “I would like to see us attack our strategic priority list with actual plans to actually do something.”
Councilmember Harvey Rarback agreed.
“Just putting moving tiles around as to what the priorities are doesn’t accomplish anything,” Rarback said. “If you want my opinion, I certainly think affordable housing has to be built. We talk and talk and talk but we gotta do it.”
Penrose said internet availability on the entire Coastside, new affordable housing built this year and a traffic plan that encourages visitation at downtown businesses should be prioritized. Rarback, joined by council member Joaquin Jimenez, also called the need for improved relations with law enforcement and affordable housing.
Brownstone and Ruddock said there was no need to reiterate their preferences because it was captured in the list the facilitators presented.
“The process is designed so that it isn’t about individual councilmembers and their wants. It’s about us working as a council together, with staff,” Ruddock said.