If anyone has been to a City Council meeting in the last 10 years, the address 410 Gregg Place should sound familiar. That's the address Jim Gibbon always introduces himself with at City Council meetings. I was looking at listings for San Ramon on Realtor.com because my neighbor just put his house up for sale, and the above address jumped out at me.
Gibbon is a well-known activist in San Ramon with his group, San Ramon for Open Government (SROG). Jim retired as a LEED Architect (green building) from Safeway last August. Here's an excerpt from a memo he sent to his friends and co-workers announcing his retirement.
". . . my reason for going is that I am at the age where I am ready to go back to my first love, designing custom homes. I have worked in the architectural field for fifty years now, 17 years at Safeway, and want to add to my architectural legacy."
He retired about six months before Albertsons announced it was buying Safeway. Gibbon suspected something was up. I emailed Jim with some questions for this blog, and threw in a question about the timing of his retirement from Safeway. His reply surprised me.
"There was speculation about changes in Safeway when the top people in leadership of the company started announcing their retirement about the same time I did. I was not aware of this particular move. It is a logical step to create a new leadership structure for the company. I think it was a good move on Safeway's part."
I asked Jim if he was scoping down by selling his big house in San Ramon and moving to a smaller place here, or out of the area. "We have decided to sell our house after living in San Ramon for 36 years. I now live in Castro Valley and I do not know where my wife will live in the future."
Jim and I are often on opposite sides of the fence, both figuratively and geographically. My house is almost directly across South San Ramon Creek from his, separated not only by the creek and the Iron Horse Trail, but by Kittery Avenue and Riviera Way. I can see the back of Rivera Way from the back of my house but not Gregg Place which is a cul-de-sac between Kittery and Riviera.
We disagree on the HOV ramps planned for the Norris Canyon Overpass. Jim said, "We (he and Jim Blickenstaff) are not opposed to the HOV lanes, only the Ramps being location at Norris Canyon Road. It is a bad use of public money."
Councilman Dave Hudson told me the improvements to the Norris Canyon Overpass is a much better use of public money than putting the ramps on a one-way connection to Executive Parkway. In addition to adding entry and exit ramps directly to the HOV lanes on the I-680, the overpass would be rebuilt to increase seismic safety and widened to add pedestrian and bike lanes.
Gibbon says he and Jim Blickenstaff will continue to work for more public involvement in City government. "I and Jim B are both co-leaders of San Ramon for Open Government and plan on continue with the effort to make city government as open as possible and accountable to its residents. I plan to continue caring about and be involved in San Ramon politics through my participation in SROG and in the Diablo Group ExCom of the Sierra Club."
Personally I believe residents are involved in government as much as they want to be, and those who are not don't want to be. You can't force people to come to meetings to make speeches or write blogs if they don't care. Jim Gibbon and Jim Blickenstaff care, but they expect everyone else to care as much as they do.
"Jim (Blickenstaff) and I are concerned about four main issues in San Ramon at the present time, the HOV Ramps proposed for Norris Canyon Over crossing, the Faria Preserve Development, the Civic Center project for new City Center, and forth the preservation of the Mudd's Restaurant property. I don't see us backing away from these issues."
I'm glad Jim Gibbon kept the Mudd's Restaurant property on his list. I asked him to help me save the Mudd's property. He put together a history of the building and filled out an application for State Landmark Status. This application requires permission from the building's owner, which we think is the City of San Ramon or the Successor Agency to the RDA, which is also the City Council. So far neither the City Council nor the Successor Agency has voted to sign the paperwork.
I'm sure some residents of San Ramon will not miss Jim Gibbon making a speech at Council meetings or suing the City Council over one thing or another, but I'll miss him if he moves away. I always respected his passion for and dedication to San Ramon.
I wish Jim and his family well whatever he decides to do. I believe San Ramon is a better place because he lived here. Even when Jim and I are on different sides, we try to do what we believe is best for San Ramon.