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Policy Committee recommends expanding dedicated hours for EV charging stations

Proposal to reduce time allotted for residents’ forum comments also advances

By Mike Wood

Staff writer

(Friday, Aug. 18): By a 4-0 vote, the Policy Committee recommended expansion of dedicated parking-space hours for three sets of EV charging stations on GRF parking lots.

At its Aug. 14 meeting, the committee opted to broaden dedicated hours for EV charging parking spots at Gateway and the Fitness Center, which each has 10 chargers and corresponding parking spaces, solely for the purpose of charging starting at 5 p.m. (currently 10 p.m.) until 6 a.m. After 6 a.m., the spaces would continue to be first-come, first-serve for either parking or charging.

A bigger change comes for the Event Center’s 10 EV spaces, which would have dedicated hours from 10 p.m. to 5 p.m. the next day. Because of the Event Center’s considerable evening usage, the committee opted for a daytime approach for that lot, a significant shift from the current 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. span.

A recommendation to change signage at those lots to reflect the new hours goes to the GRF Board for consideration at its Aug. 31 meeting.

Electric vehicles ownership has been growing at a steady clip in Rossmoor. Even with faster-charging options now available along Tice Valley Boulevard at the Rossmoor Shopping Center and at the Texaco station lot, expanding dedicated hours for Rossmoor’s three sets of Shell Recharge chargers is a distinct nod to the transforming vehicle landscape.

“It’s important because the biggest impediment to people getting EVs is being able to charge them,” committee member Dwight Walker said. “These are not the most convenient chargers. Because they’re slow. They’re very slow. But to be able to charge at Gateway and Fitness Center from (5 p.m. to 6 a.m.), I think is very important.”

Residents’ forum time limit

A recommendation to lower the allotted time for residents’ forum comments from three minutes to two minutes per speaker will also go to the Board.

That proposal, presented by Walker, passed by a 3-1 margin. Committee chair Maxine Topper voted no. Topper said that a reduced time limit for the forum could deter residents who have a fear of public speaking.

“We want to encourage as many people as possible to offer their opinions,” said Topper, adding that the proposal feels like “a restriction. … Not everybody is as well-spoken as some of the others.”

Committee member Carol Meehan said it would be more efficient to go for two minutes, which the city of Walnut Creek and Contra Costa County both use for public comments.

Attached to the recommendation is consideration of a digital process for residents’ forum commentary, limited to 250 maximum words, to mirror letters to the editor for the Rossmoor News; this would be added to a 2024 to-do list for MyRossmoor.com

While Walnut Creek’s ability to accept the digital submission of public comments provides another avenue for viewpoints, GRF Director of Communications Ann Peterson said she has been told it has created a greater workload for moderation due to inflammatory submissions.

The possibility of a submitted component for residents’ forum carried some appeal for committee vice-chair James Lee.

“The idea of incorporating a written comment, written emails in addition to live speakers, we may find people who are not comfortable with public speaking may just choose to submit written comments because they can sit and take the time to write their thoughts out,” Lee said.

MyRossmoor.com costs

Housing a new outlet for residents’ forum or a digital method for securing petitions for Board elections will depend on the shape MyRossmoor.com itself takes in the future. Costs for the customized site are soaring, Peterson told the committee.

“We’re going to walk away from a customized site for MyRossmoor.com and move to a predesigned membership software site. We have to,” Peterson said. “That’s becoming more and more apparent.”

She had been quoted $52,000 next year for maintenance fees, a huge hike from $16,000 this year, based on adding elements like bus schedules and Fitness Center class sign-ups. Peterson said the aim is to have a new predesigned membership software-based portal selected before the end of 2023.

David Cohen spoke during residents’ forum about physical challenges of the traditional door-to-door collecting of the required 10 percent of resident signatures within a district for Board elections. Not all entries and districts are created equal when it comes to maneuvering around on foot, which he experienced in his petition-gathering efforts within District G.

“This is much harder with entries with units with double flights of stairs and steeply sloping terrain such as Terra Granada,” Cohen said. Doing so with multiple flights of stairs can be very taxing.

Lee shared his experiences: “I figured out I must have climbed over a thousand steps in one day. I was exhausted by the end of the day.”

Topper and Lee, who have collaborated in work group meetings regarding challenges faced in door-to-door petitioning and other aspects of the Board candidacy program, including digital access to forms, will continue to meet.

“We’re looking at ways to make the whole process simpler and for residents to more easily access the information and the forms necessary to initiate the process,” Topper said.

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