Clayton council reviews resident survey to guide city goals

Pete Cruz photo.

CLAYTON, CA (Feb. 20, 2024) — A survey of 500 residents shows that a low crime rate and a safe environment are their most valued aspects of life in Clayton.

After access to nature and outdoor spaces, other priorities include well-maintained public spaces, high-quality schools, and the availability of small and local businesses.

At the Feb. 6 meeting, the City Council reviewed the respondents’ priorities along with their own top goals. Councilmembers will break into ad hoc committees and return on Feb. 20 with a strategic objective attached to each goal.

“The survey results are a great first step,” said Councilmember Peter Cloven. “It will be up to the council to prioritize strategic goals so that our staff can focus our limited resources on the goals that matter most.”

Cloven expects the council to face some challenges when City Manager Bret Prebula presents the “Five-year Forecast and Revised Fund Balance Policy” at the March 5 meeting.

“Clayton will need to make some difficult choices in the very near future relative to revenue vs. expected services,” Cloven said. “It is important that Claytonians listen to City Council proceedings these next couple months because it will impact their perception of the quality of life in the future.”

Public safety essential

The survey had a strong focus on police services. In a ranking of which resources were most important to residents, the survey highlighted the level of police services as well as pedestrian safety and traffic management.

Clayton Police Chief Richard McEachin says that the police department is actively managing traffic and pedestrian safety. In 2023, under McEachin, the department created a dedicated traffic officer position.

“His primary focus is traffic, and he has done an excellent job with both traffic enforcement and traffic education,” says McEachin.

The traffic officer also heads to schools during drop-off and pick-up, which McEachin says “helps keep our children safe as they go to and from school.”

Councilmembers Kim Trupiano and Holly Tillman agreed on public safety and accessibility, including sidewalk maintenance and ADA accessibility, as important survey results to focus on in strategic planning.

Debate over small town aspect

The spotlight on Clayton’s small-town charm stood out to Mayor Jim Diaz.

“I find it a very striking thought, and there are some challenges in order to maintain that,” he said.

As an example, he noted that more than 60% of respondents would like the Farmers Market to return – but vendors were not receiving enough business to sustain it the last time it was in town.

Resident Lauren Kindorf said she doesn’t want the small-town feel mentioned in the survey to be used as a rationale to keep people out of Clayton.

“I hope our city staff realizes that we have to follow (state laws). If there’s land that’s available, we have to accept that people may come in … and want to develop.”

A desire for local business

Another theme that came up in the survey was the importance of small and local businesses, including the value of family-friendly as well as recreation-centered businesses.

One new Clayton business, Odyssey VR Lounge, exemplifies such an endeavor. Odyssey is a virtual reality “arcade” that creates unique recreation experiences and games.

“Clayton has a lot of young families, a lot of people looking to do things with the family,” said Eric Rasmussen, who owns the business with wife Kristina. “And up to now, a lot of that has to have been done outside of Clayton.”

Survey respondents said a robust business scene in the Town Center is exactly what they want, and Odyssey has made that vision closer to reality.

“So now we’re bringing something to the town where they can have a nice night out to dinner or go get some ice cream and then start off or finish off with some games,” ­Rasmussen said.

He sums up the results of the survey perfectly: “A lot of people are just kind of looking for something new and different.”

Vince Martellacci
Vince Martellacci

Vince Martellacci is a somewhat new resident of Clayton who loves to spend time in the town center and in Concord. He represents musicians across the Bay Area in the media when he’s not writing. Contact him at