Gathering for a special early morning session on Friday, July 12, the City of Riverbank hosted a city council ‘breakfast meeting’ to reach out to business owners along Highway 108. The session was slated to run from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., in the council chambers on Third Street.
City Manager Jill Anderson and Mayor Richard O’Brien said the goal was to gather everyone together to open the lines of communication between local business owners and the city, with hopes of gaining a clearer understanding of the challenges the local businesses are facing along Highway 108 as it runs through the community.
The Business Outreach Breakfast included breakfast for attendees, with a variety of fruit, pastries, and breakfast burritos offered.
After everyone served themselves, Mayor O’Brien welcomed the attendees and the discussion began. One business owner complained about receiving adversarial letters from the city seeking payment on a $9000 sidewalk that has yet to be installed. Another issue expressed by a salon owner was that it takes a very long time to receive a business license after applying.
“That is what we are trying to do. We are trying to find out where the issues are so we can become more of a partner with you,” said O’Brien. “We are trying to change the tone with how we do business with you.”
There were also some positives that business owners mentioned, and generally all were pleased to have the opportunity for the face-to-face session with the city leaders.
Laura Podolsky, Project Manager with the Local Government Commission gave an overview of the current planning efforts for Highway 108 and noted the city may have more ownership over Highway 108 once the North County Corridor is complete. Podolsky also used a display board to gather feedback from the community and placed dots in the areas of desired future growth along the highway, helping plan a roadmap for success.
Anderson and O’Brien have a meeting set with Caltrans at the end of August and will be discussing a number of items as well. One of the items is the center divider along 108 between CVS and O’Brien’s Market, which many said has been affecting business.
“A left hand turn into the shopping center will stimulate more business,” said O’Brien. “The barriers are not necessary now since they widened the road and added an extra lane.”
Another item is the right hand turn at Oakdale Road and 108, turning from Oakdale onto the highway. Officials are hoping to get a reprieve from the ‘no turn on red’ at the intersection.
Due to comments from another business owner, the city is also talking about investing back into code enforcement.
“You’re going to make errors and we are going to make errors but we are going to work together,” said O’Brien. “We do need to be friendlier and we are working on that.”
Throughout the meeting there were complaints, opinions, and ideas shared, which seemed to be welcomed by all involved.
Moving forward O’Brien and Anderson plan to have additional meetings with local business owners to gain more knowledge of what those businesses need and to improve how the city conducts business.