October 21, 2008





OCTOBER 21, 2008




A Closed Session/Regular Meeting of the Livingston City Council was held on October 21, 2008, in the City Council Chambers with Mayor Samra presiding.




Mayor Samra opened the meeting at 6:34 p.m.




   Mayor Gurpal Samra

   Mayor Pro-Tem William Ingram

   Council Member Frank Vierra

   Council Member Rodrigo Espinoza

   Council Member Roy Soria


Also present were City Manager Warne, Assistant City Manager/Finance Director Lewis, John Eastman, Special General Plan Consultant, Donna Kenney, Community Development Director, Nanda Gottiparthy, City Engineer, Sara Allinder and Anna Choudhury from Pacific Municipal Consultants (PMC), Jose Gutierrez and Ken Lopper from Carollo Engineers, and Ken Anderson, KD Anderson and Associates.


The Council went into Closed Session at 6:35 p.m. for the following matters:


1.      Conference with Legal Counsel—Anticipated Litigation. Significant exposure to litigation pursuant to subdivision (b) (1) of Government Code Section 54956.9: (one case involving the 2025 General Plan Update EIR).


2.      Conference with Legal Counsel—Anticipated Litigation.  Significant exposure to litigation

pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(b). (1 Case).


The Closed Session ended at 7:10 p.m.




The Council came out of Closed Session and into Open Session at 7:19 p.m.






Mayor Samra called the meeting to order at 7:19 p.m.




   Mayor Gurpal Samra

   Mayor Pro-Tem William Ingram

   Council Member Frank Vierra

   Council Member Rodrigo Espinoza

   Council Member Roy Soria




The pledge of allegiance to the flag was recited.




There was no reportable action.  The Council gave direction to staff.








Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.


Supervisor Pedrozo expressed concern that the last time his representative, Juan Corona, was at City Hall he was unable to use the conference room. Supervisor Pedrozo wanted to say that if there was a conflict in scheduling he would look for alternatives. City Manager Warne said this was the first time he had heard there was a problem.  He asked for clarification if this was an ongoing issue or a one time occurrence. Supervisor Pedrozo said it seems it happened just the last time Mr. Corona was at City Hall.  Mr. Warne noted there must have been a conflict at that time and he assured Supervisor Pedrozo that Mr. Corona would have a place to work in the future.



Secondly, Supervisor Pedrozo wanted to assure the City that the County is willing to work together on the General Plan. Additionally, he noted if he was needed to attend meetings he would be available.


City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.


Council Member Soria


·        No reports.


Council Member Vierra


·        Requested an update on the Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) meeting from Mayor Samra, specifically information on Local Transportation Fund (LTF) money.  Mayor Samra reported that he had voted to return the LTF money for street and road maintenance to transit because an MCAG Attorney stated that the money had to go to transit first.  Mayor Samra stated he was not prepared to make a full report as he did not have his notes.  Council Member Vierra stated that he had concerns with budget cuts and where the local government will get money for roads.  Council Member Vierra requested this item be placed on the next agenda.


Council Member Espinoza


·        No reports.


Mayor Pro-Tem Ingram


·        No reports.


Mayor’s Announcements and Reports



Mayor Gurpal Samra reported he was not in favor of voting at the MCAG meeting to return the LTF street and road money to transit.  He noted that he felt the fiscal impacts would be too much for transit and it was in the best interest of the City, given the financial constraints on the money, to vote to return it.





Approval of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the 2025 General Plan Update Project, and Approval of the 2025 General Plan Update.
City Manager Warne noted that this was a continued Public Hearing and recommended that the Council listen to comments and make a decision.



Mayor Samra opened the Public Hearing at 7:30 p.m.
Frank Borges, representing Mike Gallo, commented that there should be a correction to the minutes of the last meeting.  He noted that the Gallos are in support of alternative number four as modified.  He explained that they were not in favor of the expanded boundaries and are encouraging modification to alternative number four.


James Alvernaz, P.O. Box 255, Livingston, stated that he opposes the approval of the General Plan and Environmental Impact Report (EIR).   He also requested that the meeting minutes be part of the administrative record and be available to the public. Mr. Alvernaz expressed his concern about the change to the sphere of influence and stated that the Alvernaz family will not consent to the change.


Elaine Hamuza, 5901 N. Cressey Way, Livingston, noted that her comment letter was not included in the public comments.  She is concerned that her family’s land is included in the proposed sphere of influence and that further development will impact their farmland located on Cressey Way.


Scott Dorius, 300 N. Palm, Turlock, attorney for the Durjava family, supports the General Plan and the Environmental Impact Study.  He feels the process has been effective, and the General Plan is a living document and will change and evolve.  Mr. Dorius thanked the City for the way the project has been handled.


Erlene Elam, 1459 Second Street, Livingston, commented that two letters were not included in the public comments.  She feels the General Plan is not realistic for the future. Mrs. Elam expressed concern about the taking of farmland and that the document will be difficult if not impossible to revise.


Christy Hendricks, 1520 W. Main Street, Merced, stated her comments were not meant for the Environmental Impact Report, but were General Plan policy questions.   She expressed concern about overlooking and adding language into the General Plan relating to child care.


Diann Benafield, 1330 Queen Way, Livingston, urged the Council to postpone adopting the General Plan and to conduct additional workshops together with the Planning Commission.


Robert Smith, Merced County Director of Special Projects, noted roadway conflicts between the County and the City’s General Plans.  He commented that the County wants to change the tax sharing agreement with the City of Livingston for the Sultana commercial area.


Jean Okuye, 10181 W. Olive Avenue, Livingston, is concerned about rezoning the land, and urban development that will hinder farming.  She noted that the Merced County Farm Bureau opposes the approval of the 2025 General Plan update.
Diana Westmoreland Pedrozo, representing the Farm Bureau, stated that the General Plan has many contradictions and does not meet CEQA requirements.  She feels the City was deceptive in public noticing and that the document is flawed.



Richard Harriman of Fresno, an attorney representing the Arakelian family, stated his clients were not in favor of approving the General Plan and he joined others in requesting that the Public Hearing be continued to allow stakeholders to meet with staff and consultants to correct the Environmental Impact Report and modify the project.  Mr. Harriman recommended an alternative other than an expansion of 8800 acres.  The primary concern is the Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion impacting the northwest area of the City.


Doug Wells, 16508 W. River Road, Livingston, expressed concern about his perceived difference in the treatment of County residents versus residents in the City limits.  He feels that County residents are not being heard.
Geri Martin, 16181 Vinewood Avenue, Livingston, noted that none of the documents were printed in Spanish nor has she seen any interpreters at the meetings.



Mayor Samra closed the Public Hearing at 8:06 p.m., there being no further public comments.


Mayor Samra requested an overview of California Civil Code 5.60(a).
Council Member Vierra commented that the Council has listened for many weeks to the input of the community and wants to know why no one questions the new recent County housing projects out in the middle of nowhere in the unincorporated County.  He gave examples.

Council Member Espinoza said he feels the same way as Council Member Vierra.  The County builds homes with septic tanks and there are no sidewalks.  The City offers a Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Police Department is available.

Council Member Soria concurs with Council Members Espinoza and Vierra.  He noted that the concerns of the people living outside of Livingston were heard.  He also has heard the desire of the community to have more jobs.  He also noted that the City is continuing to improve infrastructure and commercial opportunities.  We need to keep improving the quality of Livingston.
Mayor Pro-Tem Ingram stated he previously supported an alternative or modified plan 4. He now supports the General Plan and Environmental Impact Study as proposed.  The City is responsible to service future growth.   He pointed out that we can contain additional Domestic Wastewater Treatment Plant outflow on site.  He further noted that he considers the farmers outside of City limits citizens of Livingston.  Mayor Pro-Tem Ingram explained that the cost of translating the General Plan documents in other languages is too expensive. Bilingual staff is available at City Hall to translate and answer questions.  He commented that the General Plan project has been going on for four years and numerous meetings have been held and the County has been invited to attend.

Council Member Vierra mentioned that $1.4 million has been spent on this project and if we continue to delay he asked where will the money be taken from – the General Fund which involves taxpayer’s money.

Council Member Espinoza stated that ag land conservation easements cannot be taken by eminent domain. Farmers should get a conservation easement like his family has if they are serious about keeping their land in agriculture.

Mayor Samra said he received comments from the community at meetings as well as in the community.  The comments ranged from too ambitious to not ambitious enough.  He said it is difficult to get 100% agreement from the community.  Mayor Samra clarified that the County has been invited to be involved and that public notices were sent out in multiple languages.  He added that it is impossible to publish entire documents in multiple languages.  The Mayor and Council can translate at meetings.  Mayor Samra reported the City is not going to take land from farmers who are not willing to sell.  We appreciate the County and their participation in the process.  Our services are far superior to the County’s services for 16,000 houses.  We must speak to the future.



Motion:  M/S Ingram/Espinoza to adopt Resolution No. 2008-55 approving the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the 2005 General Plan Update Project, and the 2005 General Plan Update.  The motion carried 5-0 by the following vote:

AYES:                  Council Members:          Espinoza, Ingram, Samra, Soria, Vierra

NOES:                  Council Members:          None

ABSENT:   Council Members:          None




The Council took a short recess at 8:31 p.m.  The meeting resumed at 8:39 p.m.




Luis Nova, 1438 Ninth Street, addressed the Council about a skate park or a safe place to skate without getting tickets and getting reprimanded.  He said that location is not an issue and they can skate to the park.  Mayor Samra asked how many kids skate and if there were kids from the middle school and high school at the meeting tonight.  Mr. Nova estimated about 50 kids.  Mayor Samra asked where the park should be located; noting he feels the skate park should be centrally located.


Council Member Espinoza supported a skate park and recommended applying for a grant. Council Member Vierra was in agreement.  Council Member Soria supports recreation services in the community.  He said a location is being considered and funds need to be identified such as applying for a grant.  Mayor Pro-Tem Ingram commented the City is considering issues of liability and he recommended including a skate park at the sports complex area on Walnut and Dwight. 


Roman Maldonado recommended the skate park be located at the Little Guys/Gals ballpark, adjacent to the telephone company or at Arakelian Park.


Bill Ruth, 1518 Nut Tree Avenue, was present to represent the Merced County Hunger Task Force Mission to feed hungry people in the County.   He announced that a Food Summit is planned for November 6 at the Gateway Community Church in Merced from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and invited the Council to attend.  Pastor Ruth commented the Task Force Mission is looking for community gardens, farmers markets, school programs and anticipates meeting and strategizing. City Manager Warne noted that he and Pastor Ruth had discussed that 12 acres designated for the sports complex be utilized for a community garden until the sports complex is ready to be built.


Katherine Schell-Rodriquez, P.O. Box 163, Livingston, commended volunteers who do things for the sake of doing good things and not simply for recognition.  She noted that there were many volunteers within the community and on the Council as well as City Hall employees. 
Council Member Soria asked Wayne Koehn for an update on a project at Campus Park.  Mr. Koehn explained that a modular building is being installed, utilities connected and that concrete work is expected to be completed next week.  He noted that invitations for the project opening will be sent out soon.





The following consent calendar items were presented for Council consideration:


2.     Denial of Claim for Damages from Armando Pimentel.


3.     Denial of Claim for Damages from Sen Le.


4.     Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on October 7, 2008.


5.     Approval of Warrant Register Dated October 16, 2008.


Motion:  M/S Ingram/Soria to approve the consent calendar as presented.  The motion carried





6.     City Manager Announcements and Reports.


·        City Manager Warne commented the City was successful in securing a $761,000 Federal Safe Sidewalk Grant to install 11,000 lineal feet of sidewalk in the City.  He anticipates construction to begin in the spring of 2009.  Council Member Espinoza asked if the sidewalk areas have been designated.  City Manager Warne clarified that the grant included designated areas; however there would be some flexibility and the City could provide matching funds.




The meeting was adjourned by consensus at 9:02 p.m.





                                                                    City Clerk of the City of Livingston




APPROVED:  November 18, 2008





 Mayor or Mayor ProTempore





The written meeting minutes reflect a summary of specific actions taken by the City Council. They do not necessarily reflect all of the comments or dialogue leading up to the action. All meetings are digitally recorded and are an official record of the meeting’s proceedings. Digitally recorded verbatim minutes are available, upon request, and may be obtained at Livingston City Hall.  



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