“Broken” Wells, State Mandates, A Contract Public Works Director, A Council Member Resigns, And a Brief Summary of APRIL, 2015

If the city loses one of its existing wells, Samra said, it would have to implement severe conservation efforts, such as restricting residents from watering their lawns or asking Foster Farms to alter its production   Ramona Giwargis – Merced Sun Star, September 16, 2013 – Livingston gets water project grant amid struggle to pass balanced budget

On April 3, 2015, Well #14 experienced a sudden and unexpected failure…. At the time that Well #14 failed, Well Nos. 9 and No. 11B were still out of service due to the large quantities of sand they produce. – Excerpted from the Staff Report: Resolution Approving a Memorandum of Understanding with Foster Farms to Repair the Submersible Pump at Well #14 and Making Findings Explaining Why Public Bidding is Not Required for this Project.

With new measurements showing the state’s mountain snowpack at a record low, officials said California’s drought is entering uncharted territory and certain to extend into a fourth straight year. As a result, Brown issued sweeping new directives to reduce water consumption by state residents, including a mandatory 25 percent cut in urban water use – California governor issues mandatory water cuts as snowpack hits record low – The Merced Sun Star – April 01, 2015

The issue that we have is that because of the 4th of July Festival, all the streets around the Livingston Pentecost Club’s buildings are completely blocked. We don’t have much access to and from the buildings and its causing us a lot of problems. Eldini DeJesus – President – Portuguese Pentecost Association – May 05, 2015 City Council Meeting. appx 8:20 minutes into the meeting.


  • April 01, 2015: Well #9 & 11B still not operational pending the installation of Sand Separators.

  • April 03: Motor on Well #14 Fails – now 3 wells are offline at the same time.

  • April 07, 2015: Regular City Council Meeting Canceled for lac of Agenda Items.

  • April 14, 2015: Special City Council Meeting – Memorandum of Understanding with Foster Farms for repairs to Well #14.

  • April 14, Planning Commission Meeting

  • April 21, 2015: Regular City Council Meeting.

    • City considers installation of Solar Farm at the Old Industrial WasteWater Treatment Plant.

    • Council approves contract for a Contract Public Works Director

    • Council discusses, but does not adopt an Emergency Drought Declaration

    • Council approves purchase of Body Worn Camera System for the Police Department.

  • April 30, 2015: Council Member David Mendoza submits resignation from the Council 

LIVINGSTON, CA 06/12/2015

Livingston 4th of July 2015THE 4TH OF JULY FESTIVAL WILL BE MOVING to the MAX FOSTER SPORTS COMPLEX this year. According to Julio Valedez, the move would place the event entirely on City Property: with more space for Event Activities and Parking. Everyone would be welcome to bring lawn chairs and Umbrella Shades: just like a day out at the beach. There are also plans for a Shuttle to run between Memorial Park and the Sports Complex: for those who cannot or would rather not drive over.

The move will certainly make some members of the Portuguese Pentecost Association very happy.  At the May 5th City Council Meeting, Association President Eldini DeJesus, accompanied by some committee members and directors went before the City Council: stating that Street Closures on behalf of the July 4th Celebration interfered with the Portuguese Pentecost Celebration and Parade.

Moving the July 4th Celebration across town should resolve any conflicts between the two events.

THE REGULAR MEETING for April 07, 2015 was canceled due to lack of agenda items. However, just one week later, at an April 14, 2015 Special City Council Meeting, the Council approved a Resolution Approving a Memorandum of Understanding with Foster Farms to Repair the Submersible Pump at Well #14 and Making Findings Explaining Why Public Bidding is Not Required for this Project.


According to the Staff Report,

On April 3, 2015, Well #14 experienced a sudden and unexpected failure….  At the time that Well #14 failed, Well Nos. 9 and No. 1lB were still out of service due to the large quantities of sand they produce.

Foster Farms received the City purchased filters to remove sand from Well Nos. 9 and 11B on March 20, 2015, and they were making arrangements to install them when Well #14 failed. Foster Farms installed the filters on Well Nos. 9 and 1 lB on April 4th and those two wells are now back in operation….Foster Farms wants to restore the water system’s redundancy as soon as possible to avoid any disruptions to their production.

Foster Farms would like to purchase and install a new submersible pump at Well #14. Foster Farms is the largest water user in the City and benefits from having a reliable supply. Thus, Foster Farms is not asking to be reimbursed for these repairs.

During the meeting, the City Engineer stated that it was Foster Farms who had approached the City about doing the repairs, and that Foster Farms had already had to shut down because of a well being down.

Mayor Pro Temp Samra said that this was was Health and Safety Issue. Mayor Espinoza stated a lot of wells in the area were going down because of the drought.

April 14, 2014


On the Agenda

  • Appointing a new Chair and Vice Chair

  • Substituting Rosenberg’s Rules of Order for Robert’s Rules of Order

Because Commissioners Mendoza and Castellanos were absent, the Commission decided to postpone the appointment of a permanent Chair and Vice Chair.

It was reported by the Contract Planner that he was working with Carlos Vierra. Mr. Vierra is interested in moving his  Boxing Studio, currently located at 444 Main Street to a new building to be built at the corner of 2nd & B St.

APRIL 21, 2015


CLOSED SESSION Items included

  • 1 case of Potential Litigation [(Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(2)]

  • Another Conference with Labor Negotiator regarding All Represented and Non-Represented City Employees

Regular Meeting



1. Color Guard by Livingston Police Explorer Post 518.

Invocation by Police Chaplain Mike Outten.

Introduction and Affirmation of Oath of Office and Re-pinning of Badges for Police Officer Taylor Kollmann and Reserve Police Officer Enrique Villalobos by Police Chief Ruben Chavez.

2. Presentation by Dennis Mueller (VP/CTO) of American Solar Utility on the following: – Livingston City Energy Assessment status. – Solar project Aggregate Net-Metering options with both PG&E and MID. – Solar project Land Options. – Solar project Power Purchase Agreement – Options between ASU and Livingston. – Energy Efficiency technologies (lighting, etc.) with near and long-term options. – Next steps and schedule.

In late December, 2014, the City Council gave the approval to do an Energy Audit and to look for possible places to build a Solar Farm.

During the Presentation, one of the Suggestions was to locate the Solar Farm at the old Industrial WasteWater Treatment Plant site which is being decommissioned by Foster Farms: as the Permitting Process would be easier.

But there’s a slight hitch…even though Foster Farms brought it’s own Industrial Waste Water Treatment Plant online in December 2010, it may be a while yet before the site of the Old Plant is completely decommissioned and ready for other uses. According to a Clean Up and Abatement Order issued by the Californial Water Board on July 21, 2012 for the Old Industrial Wastewater Treatment Facility: Foster Farms was instructed to

Pond Remediation Schedule

According to the Schedule Above, the last of the ponds will not be cleaned up until of the end of 2017. However, Mr. Mueller indicated that he ought to be able to negotiate with Foster Farms and help the process move along just a little bit faster.

There was also a discussion about whether the City should enter into a Power Purchase Agreement, or buy the System outright: with the City Attorney stating he had experience negotiating Power Purchase Agreements and could evaluate all the City’s Options.


3. Resolution Adopting the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan. 

According to the Staff Report, an ADA Self-Evaluation was a requirement of Caltrans. If this Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan was not done, the City “would not be able to request funding authorization on any transportation projects funded by the Federal Highways Administration.

Deficiencies turned up by this Evaluation would be addressed as funds become available. Although the City does not currently have enough money to correct everything listed in the Engineer’s Report, there may some money coming for these projects at a later date.


4. City Council Authorize the Purchase and Installation of Memorial Marker for the Late City of Livingston Planning Commissioner Michael Anthony Silva.

This item was pulled from the Consent Calendar for a separate discussion. During the discussion, Warren Urnberg, (a current planning commissioner) suggested that instead of a plaque dedicated to just one person, the council commission a plaque that could accommodate the names of those who have served the City over the years: particularly those who have already passed away.

Mayor Espinoza replied that the Council had taken some heat for naming a street after Karina Lau, and he thought Mr. Silva was deserving of a Memorial Plaque.

5. City Council Authorization for the Purchase of One New Police Vehicle. 

A 2014 Ford Explorer Police Vehicle. Funds to come from:

  • 20% Abandoned Vehicle Abatement Program

  • 40% Seizure Funds

  • 40% Community Development Fund

6. Approval of Warrant Register Dated April 2, 2015.

7. Approval of Warrant Register Dated April 16, 2015.


8. Adoption of Two Resolutions Approving a Four (4) Year Loan Repayment Agreement Between the City of Livingston and the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency. 

Once upon a time, The General Fund loaned a whole bunch of money to the Livingston Redevelopment Agency with the intent that it would be paid back over time.

When the State decided to get rid of Redevelopment Agencies, the Livingston Redevelopment Agency still owed the General Fund $700,000. But, eventually, the State said “nope” to the Redevelopment Agency’s transfer of $700,000 to the General Fund and demanded the money be transferred from the General Fund to the Successor Agency.

The City ended up going to court about it: claiming there had been a valid loan between the General Fund and the Redevelopment Agency. But the Court ruled that Livingston did not have enough valid documentation to prove it really was a loan.

BUT, because of the City’s financial situation, if it had to cough up $700,000 all in one lump sum, it would put the City in the position of not having enough cash on hand to respond to any emergency that might crop up.


9. City Council Direction on Appointment of Parks and Recreation Commission Members. 

There were no new letters of interest submitted since the last time the Council took up this issue in March. Mayor Pro Temp Samra stated the council was doing everything it could to get people to serve on the Commission. Mayor Espinoza suggested the duties of the Parks and Recreation Commission be assigned to the Planning Commission.

10. Resolution Establishing Designated Level I Reserve Police Officers. Which would extend “police officer authority” 24/7 allow these Reserve Officers to carry a Concealed Weapon without having to go through the process of obtaining a Concealed Carry Weapons Permit.

11. Resolution Approving a One (1) Year Professional Services Agreement with Mountain Valley Environmental Services and Authorizing the Interim City Manager to Execute Agreement.

It has been nearly a year and a half since the City had a Public Works Director. Although the City went out with 4 recruitment tries, According to the Acting City Manager, Odilion Ortiz, Livingston’s location and the salary being offered has made it a challenge to fill the position: candidates that have been interviewed were interested in making a little more than Livingston was offering.

Per this contract, the City will now have a Contract Public Works Director for 4 days a week for up to 25 hours per week.

12. Resolution Proclaiming a Local Drought Emergency and Implementing Mandatory Water Use Restrictions and Rescinding Resolution 2014-1.

The City Attorney recommended continuing this item until the next meeting to allow staff time to finish drafting an Ordinance.

I asked a question about the State’s Mandate of a 25% reduction in water usage: How could the City as a whole reduce water usage by 25%, when over 60% of Livingston’s Water goes to just one user.

The reply was that Industry will have to do it’s part. There had been some recent contact with Foster Farms and they are working on the problem.

13. City Council Authorization for the Purchase and Implementation of a Body Worn Camera System and Replacement of In-Car Video System. 

Mayor Pro Temp Samra stated that it was a good idea. Mayor Espinoza commented that, with the cameras, citizens know they are being recorded and that there had been calls that someone was harassing them.

14. Resolution Approving a Deed Restriction for Parcels Designated with Assessor Parcel Numbers 022-050-027, 022-050-008, and 022-050-006 (collectively known as the Joseph Gallo Park) Pursuant to the Requirements of the Roberti-Z’berg-Harris Nonurbanized Area Need-Basis Grant Program for the Joseph Gallo Park Improvements Project. 

Simply put, this is a promise by the City that it will continue to use the Park as a Park and not sell the Grant Funded Improvements to anyone else for at least 16 years or so

Joseph Gallo Park Grant 


In my next post, we will continue with brief Summary of What Happened In May, such as:

You might also be interested in the following articles from the Merced Sun Star: Let me know if the links don’t work

More water restrictions likely in Merced County communities  – BY ROB PARSONS – 04/03/2015 – The Merced Sun Star – Further water restrictions are already in the works for Merced County residents ahead of the order earlier this week from Gov. Jerry Brown to cut back water use in cities and counties by 25 percent.

Drought expands across large section of nation’s crop region – THE ASSOCIATED PRESS – 04/06/2015 – The Merced Sun  – DES MOINES, IOWA —Drought conditions are expanding across a large section of the U.S., from California to the Great Plains. –The National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska says the area covered by moderate drought or worse expanded by nearly five percentage points to 36.8 percent during March. –The drought monitor shows dry conditions broadened in the Midwest with 22 percent of the U.S. corn production area and 18 percent of the soybean area in some degree of drought. That’s up sharply from early March when just 6 percent of the corn growing area and 5 percent of the soybean region were in drought conditions. –Dryness worsened during March in Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. –Two-thirds of California is in extreme to exceptional drought.

Livingston Kite Festival Photo Gallary – The Merced Sun Star

High-flying fun in Livingston – 04/17/2015 – The Merced Sun Star – Livingston’s fourth annual Kite Festival was another big hit with families, with more than 5,000 kite enthusiasts and their supporters coming from as far away as Sacramento and the Bay Area, according to event organizers….  The family-friendly, free event was hosted by the Knights of Columbus at Livingston Middle School. The Kite Festival kicked off the Week of the Young Child, a nationwide observance meant to bring attention to the development of children and the needs of their families that ends today.

Livingston council considers new water rules, approves police body cameras – 04/22/2015 – By Ramona Giwargis – The Merced Sun Star –Livingston has trimmed its water consumption by 18 percent compared to 2013, but city leaders are considering scaling back even further.—The City Council on Tuesday considered a resolution that would reduce outdoor watering from three days per week to two, ban washing cars and prohibit irrigating outdoors within 48 hours of a storm.—It would also restrict excessive water runoff onto the pavement or sidewalks and require property owners to fix water leaks.—The council did not pass the resolution Tuesday, instead voting 3-0 to bring it back with a few changes. Councilmen Arturo Sicairos and David Mendoza were absent Tuesday.

A Game of Chicken – USDA REPEATEDLY BLINKED WHEN FACING SALMONELLA OUTBREAKS INVOLVING FOSTER FARMS – Story by LYNNE TERRY  – Oregonlive.com – 05/01/2015 – Over the course of a decade, hundreds of people from Eugene to Baker City to Portland and Seattle were struck by bouts of food poisoning so severe they fled to their doctors or emergency rooms for treatment. – They had no idea what made them sick. But federal regulators did. – Oregon and Washington public health officials repeatedly told the U.S. Department of Agriculture they had linked salmonella outbreaks in 2004, 2009 and 2012 to Foster Farms chicken.

Mendoza expected to resign from Livingston City Council – By Rob Parsons– 05/04/2015 – David Mendoza is expected to resign Tuesday from the Livingston City Council, according to the council’s agenda posted Monday….(Council Member) Samra … said he would be willing to consider the possibility of allowing Mendoza to step away from the council temporarily with the idea that he would return at a later date….Mendoza was elected to the council in 2012, along with Councilmen Jim Soria and Arturo Sicairos. 

You can find even more Livingston History if you CLICK HERE



Author: thegardeningsnail

Local Politics fanatic. Often spending hours researching the historical background to current issues; reading through City Council and Planning Commission Agenda Packets. Some people can spend hours playing online video games. I can spend hours looking up old newspaper articles online..... One of my favorites quotes is from the "Dune Saga"..."Belief can be manipulated. Knowledge is dangerous"

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