San Bernardino Seal

By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: 01/14/15, 7:01 PM PST |

SAN BERNARDINO >> With a May 30 deadline to file its bankruptcy exit plan looming and years of growth hoped for after that, city officials are moving forward with a long-term strategic plan that will help form the bankruptcy plan and extend far beyond it.

The plan will be modeled on similar strategic planning efforts by the county and San Bernardino City Unified School District, and will heavily borrow from the school district’s contacts and resources.

Like those plans, this one will requite extensive meeting with the public, city officials say.

“We’re going to require a significant amount of engagement from all stakeholders — residents; businesses; important institutions, for example the school district,” said City Attorney Gary Saenz. “We’ve been under a gag order for much of this case… but we want to involve many more people now.”

So far, work on the bankruptcy exit plan known as the Plan of Adjustment — an extensive document that will expand on a usual budget, detailing how the city’s creditors will be treated and including a 20-year forecast for the city — has been done behind closed doors.

And until December a gag order prohibited much of the information related to that plan from even being disclosed to City Council members. All seven council members are now privy to the information.

And while much of the city’s bankruptcy mediation remains confidential, the time for public involvement is coming, said Mayor Carey Davis.

“We can’t have the strategic plan and the Plan of Adjustment pulling in two different directions,” Davis said.

For example, if community members say the city’s focus should be on increasing education or reducing crime, the Plan of Adjustment will need to fund those areas appropriately, he said.

Davis and Saenz, along with City Manager Allen Parker and consultant Bob Deis, presented the plan to The Sun’s editorial board Wednesday.

According to a timeline provided by the city, a draft of the Plan of Adjustment will first be presented to the City Council — in closed session — in April, with the first public hearing in May.

Meanwhile, work will continue in parallel on the strategic plan, which is intended to be a longer-term plan of how the city should progress beyond bankruptcy and to be updated regularly.

Davis said the goal is to have four stakeholder meetings open to the public, followed by a “state of the city” in late February or early March.

That’s a compressed version of what Management Partners, which is advising the city, did to help Stockton develop its Plan of Adjustment.

To read entire story, click here.