Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - February 21, 2014

Pleasanton measures up to services it provides

A new survey showing how Pleasanton is meeting local and national goals in providing public services gives high marks to the city's government, including the City Council and its city management team.

Although a survey of the public's attitudes was conducted by an outside consultant, the information most relevant to the ongoing condition of the community was handled by the council, City Manager Nelson Fialho and his management team. Using national data for a city with Pleasanton's 72,000 population and land area, the in-house survey team also used the city's General Plan with its myriad policies, regulations and goals as the key measuring device. Because of the inaugural scope of the report, some measures were developed for the first time, but this data will now be available for the annual and similar surveys Fialho and his team plan to conduct.

The survey took a qualitative look at the community, with the consultant's polling measuring people's attitude about the community. As a follow-up, the in-house team then measured various activities, including public safety, infrastructure, economic development, the public library, community services and the administration of Pleasanton's municipal financing. It looked at targets, such as the General Plan, asking if there are any GP goals and objectives that are known to be in the plan but that haven't really been tested to determine whether or not those goals are being met. The team also looked at all of the specific and master plans that have been written over the years and are still in force, as well as more broad-based industry standards.

For example, the General Plan calls for a 4-minute response time for emergency calls by the police department. It also states that as the city grows, the goal continues to maintain that 4-minute response time. The analysis concluded police do respond within 4 minutes and have met that target for at least the last three years. If police don't hit that target in future years, the new metric system now in place will alert the city and police department managers to ask why. Is the city growing too fast? Has it not allocated enough police officers for that activity? Is there something wrong with the police dispatch system that needs to be re-engineered or analyzed? It leads to questions and management solutions that may otherwise not have been addressed because those standards and goals were not being highlighted in the public document now created.

In the street department, the city puts a lot of resources towards maintenance, including resurfacing city streets. While there's no standard in the General Plan on how to maintain streets, there is a public engineers' industry standard. It's called the pavement management index. And, nationally, that number for a community Pleasanton's size and for the amount of roads here is 75. That basically involves having engineers who go out to survey the city to determine whether or not our streets are failing. They rate each street segment, and then the average is calculated. The goal is to always be above 75; our rating is 80.

So every year going forward, the city's in-house team will monitor the street department's reports to make sure Pleasanton is staying above the index. If it's not, city officials will look to see if appropriate resources are being applied toward street maintenance or if the city's repair and replacement strategy might be flawed.

Another example as to how the new city measuring system will be used affects parks. The General Plan calls for the city to have 5 acres of parkland for every 1,000 residents. Although that's been assumed, it's never been precisely measured. It now has and the results show that Pleasanton actually has about 7.5 acres for every 1,000 residents. That's a standard the city will seek to maintain as its population grows.

Those who want to see the full report can ask to view it at the office of the City Clerk Karen Diaz at Pleasanton City Hall. It's well worth the time to see how the city measures up on maintaining the quality of life we enjoy here.

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