August 4, 2009

 

CLOSED SESSION/REGULAR MEETING

LIVINGSTON CITY COUNCIL

AUGUST 4, 2009

A Closed Session/Regular Meeting of the Livingston City Council was held on August 4, 2009, in the City Council Chambers with Mayor Varela presiding.

CLOSED SESSION 

Mayor Varela opened the meeting at 6:00 p.m.

ROLL CALL 

   Mayor Daniel Varela, Sr.                      

   Mayor Pro-Tem Rodrigo Espinoza

   Council Member Frank Vierra

   Council Member Margarita Aguilar

   Council Member Martha Nateras

Also present were City Manager Richard Warne, City Attorney Jonathan Hobbs and Assistant City Manager/Finance Director Vickie Lewis.

The City Council went into Closed Session to discuss the following matters:

     1.  Conference with Legal Counsel—Existing Litigation.

          Government Code Section 54956.9(a).

          a.       Merced County Farm Bureau v. City of Livingston, et al., California Superior Court, County of Merced, Case No. CU151754 [consolidated with Valley Advocates v. City of Livingston, et al., Superior Court, County of Merced, Case No. CU151757]

b.                 Foster Poultry Farms, Inc. v. City of Livingston, et al., California Superior Court, County of Merced, Case No. CV000292

2.     Conference with Legal Counsel—Anticipated Litigation.
Government Code Section 54956.9(b).

          Significant Exposure to Litigation (1 Case).

OPEN SESSION

The City Council came out of Closed Session and into Open Session.

REGULAR MEETING                                     

CALL TO ORDER     

Mayor Varela called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. 

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

The pledge of allegiance to the flag was recited.

ROLL CALL

   Mayor Daniel Varela, Sr.                      

   Mayor Pro-Tem Rodrigo Espinoza

   Council Member Frank Vierra

   Council Member Margarita Aguilar

   Council Member Martha Nateras

CLOSED SESSION ANNOUNCEMENTS

City Attorney Hobbs announced that there were no reportable actions taken during Closed Session.  However, he asked that the meeting minutes reflect that Mayor Varela did not participate during discussion of Item 1B, Foster Poultry Farms, Inc. v. City of Livingston, et al.

CHANGES TO THE AGENDA

Council Member Espinoza requested that Warrant Number 68456 from the Consent Calendar be pulled for discussion.  Council Member Aguilar asked that Warrant Number 68456 and Warrant Number 68467 be pulled for discussion.                                     

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

1.      Introduction of John Alexander, Chief Executive Officer, Livingston Medical Group.

     Mayor Varela introduced Mr. John Alexander, the new Chief Executive Officer of the Livingston Medical Group, to the audience.  Mayor Varela presented Mr. Alexander with a City of Livingston pin.  Mr. Alexander formally recognized Aurora Garcia, who retired as Chief Executive Officer of the medical group on June 8, 2009, after nearly 39 years of service. 

Mr. Alexander commented that he had a web log on the Livingston Medical Group web site and that he has posted his work plan for the next six months.  He said that he wanted to be very open and answer any questions.  He will also post his CEO report to the Board on the web site.     

          Mr. Alexander spoke about the Extended Access to Primary Care (EAPC) Program.  He said the Governor prepared a budget that was passed by the State Legislature.  The Governor eliminated through the line-item veto several programs that have resulted in a loss of $480,000 in revenue out of a $7 million budget for the Livingston Medical Group.  Mr. Alexander said they have implemented a sliding fee schedule to offset some of the revenue losses.  All patients are being seen, but they pay a minimum of $35.  He said that there are provisions for those that cannot pay anything up front.  No one is denied care.  However, the clinic is not free and the Livingston Medical Group needs some revenue to operate.  The clinic is a great health safety net for the people in the community.

        Mr. Alexander commented that the Livingston Medical Group has received $721,000 in Federal stimulus funds for construction and infrastructure.  None of these funds can be used for patient care.  In addition, he said Livingston Medical Group has received a State expansion grant that will enable it to hire a physician and support staff.  He said that these funds cannot be used for patients who cannot pay for their care.  He is prepared to work with anybody to make sure they have medical care.

          Mr. Alexander said that the country celebrates National Health Centers Week every August.  He said that the Livingston Medical Group was one of the first health centers established in the area.  He said that the celebration will be all next week starting Monday at 9:00 a.m.  The City Council is invited to participate in the activities during the week.  All events will be posted on the web site.  He said that Congressman Cardoza will be coming to the clinic on Thursday at 10:15 a.m.  The week-long celebration will be closed out on Friday with an employee appreciation barbecue lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Mayor Varela asked if any of the Federal stimulus money could be used for training.  Mr. Alexander said that these funds could not be used for this purpose.  He said that the Livingston Medical Group would be applying for some competitive grants that did have a training component.  Mr. Alexander gave an update on the Delhi Community Health Center and said that they would be applying next Thursday for a grant to construct and operate a clinic in Delhi.  Two AmeriCorps youth volunteers currently work at the clinic.  They will receive college tuition for their work and many pre-med students come to work in this program.

Mayor Varela asked if there are any programs for the young people in high school.  Mr. Alexander said that there are not many opportunities for kids under the age of 18, due to the health insurance requirements and privacy laws.  However, they are trying to work with the High School ROP program to provide students with exposure to health care careers.

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

     Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

·        Congratulated Mr. Alexander on his appointment as the Chief Executive Officer of the Livingston Medical Group.

·        Reported Merced County will have its final budget completed by August 18.  He said things are pretty bleak, so please bear with them.  He will be able to give a more in-depthbudget report at the next City Council meeting.

·        Reported that the high-speed rail is still progressing with stimulus dollars.  His main focus is the maintenance facility at Castle.  He commented that we are in competition with Fresno, who also wants the high-speed rail maintenance facility.  He said that he will be attending most of the high-speed rail meetings in Sacramento.

·        Commented that today was national night out for drug and crime prevention.  He commended the Livingston Police Department for their service and their efforts to prevent crime.

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra said that he had the opportunity to ride the train to Los Angeles and said there were a lot of people on the train discussing the high-speed rail project.  These people could not wait for it to happen.  Supervisor Pedrozo said we are fortunate to be here in the valley where the high-speed rail will have its first test route.  He said that he has a few concerns about the route, but it could be all worked out.  He did not want the route to go through some of the small unincorporated towns.  The high-speed rail will be such an asset.  The President and Vice President of the United States are in support of rail.  He said that the ridership on the Amtrak train is increasing.  He said that this project is going to happen and will bring a large number of jobs to the area.

Council Member Nateras asked Supervisor Pedrozo if he had an answer regarding her question on the senior citizen center.  He said that he would get back to her with an answer. 

     City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

     Council Member Margarita Aguilar

·        Commented that she took a vacation and took time to relax.  She said that she had been doing some great stuff.  She visited City Hall and wanted to thank Vickie Lewis.  Vickie was in charge for a week while the City Manager was on vacation, and it was really nice to talk to Vickie for a few minutes.  She said Vickie was really nice and polite.  The staff seemed to have a busy week.

·        Reported that the Livingston Community Network is having a Cultural Festival August 23 from 12:00 noon to 9:00 p.m. in Memorial Park.  There will be a lot of entertainment.  She said the Livingston Community Network meets every Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. at Jaime Fuentes’ Insurance Agency.  She hopes to see a lot of people at the festival.  The festival is held to help raise scholarship funds for elementary school students to further their education.

·        Commented that August 17 is the first day back to school.  She encouraged people to be cautious and watch for students when they were driving.

·        She was hoping that the Council was going to get an update on the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) granted by the Planning Commission for the tarp that is on Main Street by the Neighborhood Church.

·        Stated that Pastor Bill Ruth will be present at the next Planning Commission meeting on August 11.  He was not previously granted a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for a community garden by the Planning Commission.  She hopes he will have a good presentation and is allowed sufficient time.

·        She hoped Police Chief Eldridge would give the City Council an update on any community situations.

     Council Member Rodrigo Espinoza

·        Council Member Espinoza stated that he requested that a resolution from March 17 be placed on tonight’s agenda.  This resolution required a majority vote of the Council Members to approve contracts.  He stated that some City Council members had requested legal opinions from attorneys regarding the adoption of the water rates by majority vote of three votes and by resolution instead of by ordinance.  He thought that these Council Members were not following this resolution when they requested these legal opinions from these three law firms.  He said that he and Council Member Aguilar did not know about it.  He did not think that there was transparency and thought that he should have been informed.  He said that there were two legal opinions provided before the water rates were approved.  One opinion was provided after the rates were passed.  One opinion cost $3,000 or $4,000 and one was for $7,000.    

        Mayor Varela commented that this time is for announcements and reports and what Council Member Espinoza was talking about are legal matters and he respectfully asked that Council Member Espinoza to “roll up” his comments.

Council Member Espinoza said that there should have been a vote prior to hiring the attorneys.  He said that he did not know what was going on, but the money was being spent.    

     Council Member Martha Nateras

·        Commented that she works for Livingston High School and was off the month of July. She attended a conference (sponsored in part by the League of California Cities) on Friday and Saturday in Sacramento.  It was a summit by leaders of cities, counties and schools to discuss State government and how the three entities can unite to work together to bring reform to State government. 

·        Commented that the Planning Commission meeting was a special meeting.  The Commission granted a temporary use permit for the Neighborhood Church for the tarp.

     They will be holding summer activities and will also be selling vegetables from their gardens.

·        On July 23, she was at  Lucero Park attending a  Neighborhood Visit (barbecue).  She gave special thanks to the Police Department and the Fire Department.  She said the temperature was in the triple digits that day.  It was nice to see the kids getting cooled off by the Fire Department.

·        Reported that a Relay for Life wrap-up meeting was held on July 29.  The district manager came and thanked the people that had organized this year’s event, especially since it was Livingston’s first year.  She said that the level of participation was more along the lines of a community holding its fifth event and not its first event.  Next year’s event is tentatively scheduled for April 17 at the High School football field.

·        Noted that she visited her daughter in New York and her other daughter and son in Southern California.

·        Noted that she has set the following goals for herself:

1.           Beautify Livingston and focus on the entrance to the City.

2.           Put the Citizens’ Advisory Committee back together working on a mission statement.  She wanted to rename the committee as the Citizens’ Service Committee.

3.           Skateboard park.  City is visiting other skate board parks.

4.           Bring new businesses into town and promote the Enterprise Zone.

5.           Bring Neighborhood Watch back to Livingston to help reduce crime.

6.           Challenged her colleagues to come up with their own set of goals.

     Mayor Pro Tem Frank Vierra

·        The high school had their roundup today.  All high school students need to register for the coming year.  He also attended the last neighborhood visit and Relay for Life meeting at the Police Department.  He also went to Madera to look at the city skateboard park.  Mr. Vierra said that we need to have some of the students go down and take a look at that skateboard park.  The skateboard park is located right off Highway 99.

·        Attended a workshop in Modesto within the last three weeks entitled “Creating a Vibrant Future—Looking Ahead in Turbulent Times and Planning in an Era of Scarce Resources.”  The presenters said that every city needs to do the following:

1.           Control labor costs.

2.           Create a financial surplus.

3.           Maintain reserves.

4.           Invest in infrastructure and jobs.

5.           Economic development.  This should be the number one priority in the City.

          Mayor Pro Tem Vierra knows that Livingston is doing many of these things and he hopes that the City will see the fruits of it in the near future.

     Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

     Mayor Daniel Varela

·        Commented that last week he found a homeless person lying in a parking lot.  He picked up the individual and took him to lunch, talked to him, and then got him some help.  In the process he found a gentleman, who is a pastor of a church in Winton.  He is the sole sponsor of a church program that is housing homeless people and addicts.  The program also helps people who are ex-gang members that want to change their lives.  Mayor Varela said he has a meeting with the pastor this Thursday and the pastor is going to show him his facility.  He commented that the reason he brought this up is that we have issues in our community.  They don’t all involve water—they involve people.  We need to make a difference in our community.  He commented that he met with Chief Eldridge and they have talked about introducing the neighborhood watch program to create a more intimate program watching your neighborhood.  People need to be aware of what is going on in their neighborhood.  You are responsible for your neighborhood.  He encouraged the people to talk to their neighbors.  We are trying to find solutions to the City’s problems.  Neighborhood visits are a great way to reach out to people.  Mayor Varela said he appreciated fire personnel, police officers and the people from the WestAmerica bank.  They have great people skills and are doing a great job at the neighborhood visits. 

·        Reported that he received a letter from someone who wrote to one of our Council Members.  He said he wanted to read the letter because the Council is in office to make a difference.  Mayor Varela proceeded to translate a letter in Spanish from Norma Gutierrez addressed to Mayor Pro Tem Vierra.  The letter expressed appreciation for the food he brought to their house and the help Mayor Pro Tem Vierra had given the family.  Mayor Varela recognized Mr. Vierra for his service and contributions to the community.  He said that Mayor Pro Tem Vierra continues to make a difference in the City of Livingston.  We are all here to make a difference in the community.

·        Announced that a Christian car show will be held on Saturday at Memorial Park from 11:00 to 4:00 p.m.  He would appreciate the City Council’s support of this event.  He said that he appreciated the Livingston Community Network Multi-Cultural Festival.  He said that he had attended this event in the past and it was an incredible experience.

Mayor Varela said that he also wanted to reiterate what Council Member Aguilar said about the kids going back to school.  He thanked the Livingston Police Department for all that they do to keep the school children safe.

Mayor Varela said he received an e-mail from Battalion Fire Chief Armando Rios and said that he was going to tour the Livingston Fire Station.  He encouraged all members of the City Council to do the same and to go on police ride-alongs. 

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra said he thought that students from the high school and several clubs may be interested in participating in the Livingston Community Network Multi-Cultural Festival.  He said he understood the students could have a booth at the festival to raise money.  Council Member Espinoza said that this is true.  Non-profit organizations are not charged for a booth.  Mayor Pro Tem Vierra said he knew one musical group that wanted to play at the festival.  He sent them to Jaime Fuentes’ Farmers Insurance office.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

None.

CITIZEN COMMENTS

Mike Torres, 1616 Eighth Street, stated that City Council members had indicated when they took office that they wanted to have an open policy.  He asked if the City Council had any legal advice prior to voting on the water rate increase and whether the water rate increase should be done by ordinance or resolution.   Mayor Varela asked City Attorney Hobbs to comment on Mr. Torres’ question.

City Attorney Hobbs said the matter is in litigation.  So no one is going to comment on this matter, except to say that the City Council received legal advice on the procedures they followed in adopting the new water rates.   Mr. Torres clarified that Mr. Hobbs could not comment on the matter.  Mr. Hobbs said this was the only comment he would make on the matter, and that the City did receive legal advice.

Kathryn Schell Rodriquez, P.O. Box 163, stated that it was hard to say goodbye to our police chief.  She will miss him.  She said the person who replaces him will never really be able to replace him.  He or she will have awfully big shoes to fill, and he or she will need to fill an apron and handle a spatula and have a big heart.  She said that Chief Eldridge has steered us through some very turbulent times.  She felt that we are a better town because he was here and our Police Department is better because of his leadership.  For example, a couple of days ago as her husband came home that night he noticed several police cars around where she lives.  The next day she went and talked to Sgt. Tyson Perry regarding this and he was very approachable and very personable and pleasant to talk to.  She wanted to thank him for that.  She said it was a credit to our Chief to have sergeants that are personable and as open to us.  She added that we do have many good people in this town who are willing to come together in a hurry to help others.  We have had at least a couple of benefit dinners for people–one for a person who passed away and another for a person whose parents have a sick daughter. 

Ms. Schell Rodriguez encouraged everyone to participate in the Livingston Community Blood Drive on Thursday, August 6 at the Veterans’ Hall.  

Gurpal Samra, 1034 J Street, commented that the City is going to lose Police Chief Bill Eldridge in 37 days.  He is always there for the community, and he does not know who the City Council is going to get to replace him.  Mr. Samra said he has full confidence in Lt. Silva, and thought the town would be in good hands.  The last time the Police Chief announced his retirement, the City was going to do something for him.  Gurpal Samra said that this time we are not doing anything for him and he would like to know why.  He thinks we need to do something even if it’s only hot dogs.  He urged the Council to see what can be done for the Chief.  Mayor Varela noted that we are making sure we are doing something for him

Jonathan Sikma, a resident of Lilac Lane, stated there is an unfinished park in his area that has been this way for about a year and a half.  He noted that the Council wants the parents to be careful when they drop their children off for school, yet we have kids that play in the street because there is an unfinished park.  Mayor Varela asked Mr. Sikma to call him, so that the appropriate staff could investigate this matter.  Mr. Sikma said he has called the City about weeds because they were a fire hazard.  He said he would like to get the kids off the street.  He lets the kids play in his yard so that they are not playing in the street.

Mr. Sikma further commented that he has noticed that the police department has been issuing parking tickets.  He stated the City should hire a meter maid to write tickets.  He said the police department’s job is to protect and serve.  Mr. Sikma stated that he heard that the Council wants to start a neighborhood watch program.  The police department is writing parking tickets at 1:30 in the morning when they could be watching the community. 

CONSENT CALENDAR

          Mayor Pro Tem Vierra presented the following consent calendar items for the Council’s consideration.

     2.  Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance 582 of the City Council of the City of Livingston Adopting an Amendment to the Kishi (Country Lane) Subdivision Development Agreement.

3.  Resolution Approving Submittal of a Grant Application to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for HOME Investment Partnership Program Funds. (Resolution No. 2009-38).        

4.  Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on June 2, 2009.

5.  Approval of Warrant Register Dated July 16, 2009.

6.  Approval of Warrant Register Dated July 30, 2009.

     Motion:  M/S Vierra/Aguilar to approve the consent calendar with the exception of      Warrant Numbers 68345, 68456 and 68467 being pulled for discussion.  The motion      carried 5-0.   

     Council Member Espinoza said Warrant Number 68456 was for itemized charges for the City Attorney.  He said that it shows that he did some work for the City on June 6, and that he was representing the City on the Farm Bureau lawsuit.  City Attorney Hobbs said this is correct.  He and his firm had a contract with the City at that time to do legal work.  Council Member Espinoza stated that he felt that Mr. Hobbs should not have been doing work for the City besides the Farm Bureau lawsuit.  Mayor Varela asked Mr. Espinoza if he wanted to make a motion to not pay for those fees.  Mr. Espinoza asked who requested that Mr. Hobbs work on those items.  He felt that former City Attorney Malathy Subramanian should have been doing that before she was terminated by the City Council.

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra said he thought the City had hired this firm to work on the general plan, and this was long before the matter in question arose.  Council Member Espinoza felt that there were some issues on the warrant register that Mr. Hobbs should not have been working on.  

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra stated that the work being billed by City Attorney Hobbs was for the general plan.  Mayor Varela again asked Council Member Espinoza if he wanted to make a motion.

Council Member Aguilar stated that she and Council Member Espinoza are in charge of reviewing the warrants, and so they have a little more information than the other members of the City Council, unless they request that a certain warrant be pulled.  She said that Council Member Espinoza was addressing a resolution that was passed on March 17 of this year.  She said the City Attorney told her that the resolution did not give a price on how much the City Manager was allowed to get consultants for.  She assumes that what Council Member Espinoza is trying to say is that this was work that was done without City Council approval.  That is also where she stands.  The City Council should be aware of any monies that go out, even $1,000.  Council Member Aguilar commented that we are raising the rates and applying penalties.  She said we talked about a facilitator the last time and that was thrown out the window.  Council Member Aguilar said she felt that the warrants should not be paid because she felt that procedures had not been followed. 

Council Member Espinoza began to comment on the City Attorney invoices.  City Attorney Hobbs explained to Council Member Espinoza that those documents he had in his hand are not public documents and are protected by attorney-client privilege.  The warrant descriptions in the City Council agenda packet are public documents, but the documents Council Member Espinoza has in his hand are protected by attorney-client privilege. 

     Council Member Espinoza reiterated that there are fees on the warrant register that were incurred before Mr. Hobbs was hired as the City Attorney.

Mayor Varela explained that information was received at the League of California Cities conference in San Diego on Proposition 218.  One of the conference presenters, who is also an attorney, said that the water and sewer rates could be increased by a simple majority vote of the City Council.  He asked the City Manager to look into it, and he did, and we moved forward.   He stated that we had a situation that was costing a major amount of money.  We had a stalemate.  We found a legal way and the right way to move forward and that is what we did.

     Mayor Varela moved to pay the warrants in question and move forward.  The motion was seconded by  Mayor Pro Tem Vierra.

     Council Member Espinoza asked if Mayor Varela could vote to approve the warrants.

     City Attorney Hobbs said the Mayor could vote on these items.

     Motion:  M/S Varela/Nateras to approve Warrant Numbers 68456 and 68467.  The      motion carried 3-2, with Council Members Aguilar and Espinoza voting no.

     Motion:  M/S Varela/Vierra to approve Warrant Number 68345.  The motion carried 3-2, with Council Members Aguilar and Espinoza voting no.

 Mayor Varela asked that City Council members desiring to pull warrants for separate discussion call in advance so that everyone knows which warrants are going to be pulled for discussion.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

     7.  (1) Provide Policy Guidance to Staff Regarding Draft Development Agreement and (2) Consideration of Resolution Authorizing the City Manager to Participate in a HOME Application with Pacific West Communities, Inc, for their Affordable Housing Project.

 The agenda item was presented by Community Development Director Donna Kenney.

          This project is an affordable housing development to be located south of Peach Avenue on Lincoln Avenue on 4.5 acres.  Staff is seeking (1) direction on some issues that have come up as it has been negotiating the development agreement with the developer as well as (2) approval for the City to submit a HOME application with Pacific West Communities.  It is a 48-unit affordable multi-housing project that includes a community center, playground and pool.

Every development agreement that the City has entered into in recent years has required the development to be part of a landscaping and lighting district, benefit assessment district and community facilities district for long-term maintenance of their properties.  The developer does not want to annex into these districts and has offered instead a one-time cash payment of $750,000 or approximately 15 years of maintenance.  This time is only the approximate time because there is no way to know the annual costs until an engineer’s report is completed.   Staff does not feel that it can negotiate away this requirement because it has been required by the City Council of all recent projects. 

The developer has a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HOME grant application deadline of Monday, August 14.  He needs a resolution from the City Council authorizing the HOME grant application with the City of Livingston.  Staff will be bringing forward the site and design and conditional use permit based on the City Council decision this evening.    

Mike Kelley with the Pacific West Communities thanked City staff for working with them in advance.  He said their project is an affordable housing development and a new product type for the City.

Mr. Kelley gave a brief power point presentation of their company and a description of the units to be built.  He also gave the reasons why they do not want to be a part of the landscape and lighting district, benefit assessment district and the community facilities district.  He said that they finance their units through tax credits for low-and moderate-income people.  Because they use government tax credits to provide subsidized housing, the company is restricted on how much they can raise their rents each year.  Rent increases are limited to the increases in the median income.  The increase in the lighting and landscape district assessments, benefit assessment district assessments and community facilities district assessments are based on the annual consumer price index.  They feel that they may find themselves in a position where their annual income from rents is not increasing while the assessment district costs are increasing.  Mr. Kelly said that staff said that the issue of belonging to the assessment districts rests with the City Council.

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra stated that one thing he has heard very loud and clear is that the residents living in Livingston all of their lives do not want to pay for any new development that comes to town.  This is why we have these assessment districts.  The assessment district fees, among other things, take care of our police and fire services.  Mayor Pro Tem Vierra would like to know who is going to pay for these services after the one-time cash payment of $750,000 is gone.  Are we going to come to the people in this room and ask them to pay?  Mayor Pro Tem Vierra also pointed out that the City might be setting a precedent and asked what we are going to tell future developers that come to town when they ask for the same thing.  People are not going to distinguish between an “affordable” housing project and other market-based housing project.  Mayor Pro Tem Vierra stated that every time the City adds 1100 people, the City needs to add a new police officer.  He asked Mr. Kelly if he knew how many people this project would bring to the community. 

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra said what he is asking is where is the money coming from?  He heard loud and clear the residents do not want to pay for new development coming to town.  After 10-15 years, who is going to pay the bill?  Mayor Pro Tem Vierra said that he does not want people in 10 or 15 years to say that this City Council made the people pay for this apartment complex.

Mr. Kelley said the project is a 48-unit project.  The annual cost of the assessments through the landscaping and lighting district, benefit assessment district and community facilities district to not make the project financially sustainable.  He said that affordable housing projects are different from market-based housing projects.  A market-based housing developer can sell his project.  An affordable housing project like the one they are proposing to build precludes the future sale of the development.  

Mr. Kelley said he understood that other developers that come in behind him are not going to want to annex into the special districts.  He said that the City Council needs to understand that they are different housing product types.  The Council will just have to make a decision whether they want affordable housing in Livingston or not.  Any developer after him is not going to develop affordable housing if they have to belong to the special assessment districts.  Riverbank waived all fees.

Council Member Martha Nateras and Mayor Varela asked if there were other cities that had waived their fees and assessments.  Mr. Kelly replied that all fees and assessments had been waived in Riverbank, Lemoore, and Farmersville.  Some of these cities had also contributed redevelopment agency funds.

City Manager Warne told Mr. Kelly that the City Council was faced with a policy decision about whether to accept a one-time cash payment of $750,000 or require this project annexed into the lighting and landscape special assessment district, benefit assessment district or community facilities district.  He said that Mr. Kelly’s suggestion that the City will never have an affordable housing project in the community if the City Council requires this development to be part of the special assessment districts was not true.  He said that the City has a large inventory of affordable housing due in part to the reduction in home values and home prices.  The City Council should not get the impression that there will never be an affordable housing project in Livingston regardless of the policy decision the City Council makes.

Council Member Aguilar agreed with Mayor Pro Tem Vierra.  She thought that this project should be part of the special assessment districts.  She did not want to set a precedent of allowing a project to be exempt from the special assessment districts. 

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra commented that the money will need to come from somewhere once the one-time cash payment of $750,000 is gone.  Mr. Kelley said that he accepted what Mayor Pro Tem Vierra was saying.  He said that his development was paying development impact fees and all other fees.

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra asked if there would be Section 8 housing in this facility.  Mr. Kelley said they do not discriminate against Section 8 renters.  He noted that about 5% of the units in their developments have Section 8 renters. 

Council Member Espinoza asked if the City had met its low-income housing requirements.  City Manager Warne stated that Livingston had met its low-income housing requirements as outlined in the Housing Element of the General Plan.  It does not need this project to meet its goals.

City Council Member Espinoza asked if the $750,000 was restricted to any particular project or purpose.  City Manager Warne stated that the use of the $750,000 was up to the City Council and could be used for whatever purpose they desired.   

Council Member Espinoza asked how long does the HOME grant application take to be approved.  City Manager Warne explained there are two parts to the City Council decision this evening.  One is whether or not the City Council wishes to accept a one-time cash payment of $750,000 or require this development to belong to the special assessment districts.  The second part is City Council authorization to join with the developer and submit a HOME grant application for an affordable housing project.  We will submit the application and the City will know by February if the City has received the grant.

Council Member Espinoza asked what the property was zoned.  City Manager Warne said that the property is zoned R-3.  The General Plan also designates that property as R-3.

Mayor Varela told Mr. Kelly that he noticed that his firm was willing to pay a one-time cash payment of $750,000.  He asked how they would feel about increasing the payment to $1 million.  He said that the City could use the funds to improve parks, including the skateboard park.  Mayor Varela said that the City needs to be creative and proactive.  He said that the money could be used for the kids of the community.

Mr. Kelley commented that when they started the project was for an 80-unit complex.  The project has been reduced to 48 units on 4.2 acres because of right-of-way dedications. In addition, we are required to underground the canal which is going to cost at least $100,000.  He stated they will be making a contribution to the skateboard park and they will have paid all impact fees.  The only reason that they are making a request on the special assessment fees is because they are variable fees.  In addition, this is a competitive project in that they are going to be applying for federal tax credits and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (USDA) HOME grant funds and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant funds.  He said that the project will not be competitive with additional debt and the assessment district fees.

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra commented that some of the people in this room have been here since 2000, and he would like to hear what they have to say.  He strongly feels that the economy is not going to get that much better in five years and these funds are going to be gone.  He is aware of all the things that we would like to spend the $750,000 on, but who is going to pay for the police officers and other things once the money is gone.  Mayor Pro Tem Vierra lives in an apartment building and he knows that the police are there constantly.  He does not see this project being any different than the other apartment buildings in town.  He said either the developer is going to pay, or the City or the citizens are going to pay.  There are only two choices.

Katherine Schell Rodriguez asked would it be possible to take the $750,000 and deposit it into an interest-bearing account and have the annual special assessments covered through the interest that is earned.  She asked if there would be enough interest to cover the annual special assessment.  Ms. Schell Rodriguez also asked if this could be done under State law, and was there any precedent for it.

City Attorney Hobbs said it could legally be done.  He does not know if it is financially viable.  

City Manager Warne commented that when a Landscape and Lighting District and Benefit Assessment District are formed, the City is required to do an engineering study to determine the annual special assessments.  He said no engineering study has been done for this apartment complex project, and so nobody knows what the annual special assessments will be.  Staff did ask our special assessment district financial consultant to give us an estimate of what it might be, and these estimates are in the City Council’s packet.  He said that the annual assessment for the Landscape and Lighting District is $400, Benefit Assessment District is $90 and Community Facilities District is $400.  Total assessments are almost $1,000 a unit or about $48,000 per year for the entire apartment complex.  So if you were to take the one-time cash payment of $750,000, and then use an interest rate from the Local Agency Investment Fund (LAIF) of 3% or 4%, the total annual collections will be $22,000 to $30,000 per year.  City Manager Warne stated that depositing the one-time money into an interest-bearing account will result in collecting substantially less money than if the City collected the annual assessments through the special assessment districts.  He said that these are just very rough numbers, but that gives you a ballpark figure of what you could collect with either scenario.

Jean Okuye, 10181 Olive Avenue, stated that the idea of taking the one-time money and doing something now is what got the area into trouble.  People were building houses now, thinking that they would go up in the future.  She waits until she has her money secured before she spends it.  She stated that studies have shown that houses do not bring money into a community.  For every $2 of infrastructure required for a house, the house brings in $1 in taxes.  She stated that the other $1 comes from the people.  She asked what the liability to the City is.  The application is due August 14.  What is the hurry?  She told the Council to really think about what they are doing before they commit themselves to a course of action.  Ms. Okuye said she knows the City needs the money now, but she urged the City Council to look into the future.  She stated that $750,000 plus interest does not “pencil out.”

       Mike Torres,1616 Eighth Street, asked where the project was located. Mayor ProTem Vierra replied just off Lincoln Avenue, southof Peach Avenue, near the canal.

Mr. Torres asked what the rents were for their current projects.  Mr. Kelly thought that 30 percent of the units would be two-bedroom apartments and would rent for between $500-$600 per month.  Sixty percent of the units would be a larger two-bedroom apartment that would rent for $800 per month.   

Mr. Torres asked if there is a cap on the rents for five or ten years.  Mr. Kelley noted that rents will rise a small percentage each year.  He said that there would be a deed restriction on the property for 55 years that would keep rents down.  He said that the federal tax credits, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) HOME grant and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant insure that rents will be monitored and kept down.

Mr. Torres commented that the rents would rise a small percentage each year.  He said we have had locations here in town where there is a plan, but the City has no control.

Police Chief Eldridge said that he has a point on health and safety.  He said that many Council Members have had the opportunity to work around some of the current apartment complexes in the community.  Quite a few of these apartment complexes, probably four, should not be inhabited.  People in our community are being forced to live there because they have no where else to live.  These are your citizens and your people.  We should care about them.  He is not saying we should bring this apartment complex in.  But the other side of it is that the City has a lot of slumlord homes that people are forced to live in.  It is sad.  People have nowhere else to go.  They are living with10-12 people to an apartment.  Chief Eldridge said some of these apartments should be shut down.

Chief Eldridge that there is an apartment complex on Eighth Street that has major problems.  People trip in the driveway because of its condition.  The trash cans cannot accommodate the population.  These apartments are where people are living, and he would like to reiterate that these are people that are not going to get out of where they are until the City can move forward and bring something better into the community.  Chief Eldridge stated that we to have empathy for these people.  He said if he had his way he would put a lot of these landlords in jail.  It is an embarrassment.  Chief Eldridge noted that we need to be proud of our community.  He is immensely proud.  He does not live here, but he knows it is a safe community with good, hard working people.  He favors finding a way of getting decent apartment complexes.  Chief Eldridge challenged people to take a few minutes of their time and walk around some of the apartments in this City. 

Angelina Torres said that she agreed with Chief Eldridge and Council Member Aguilar.  The City should require developers to pay their way.  She does not want to tell her children why the City is paying for a developer’s project.  The developer should be responsible for constructing the nearby park. 

Gurpal Samra,1034 J Street, said he agrees with Mayor Pro Tem Vierra.  He does not think anybody is opposed to the project.  We need affordable housing in the City.  There is a shortage of apartments in the community.  He said Chief Eldridge was right.  The landlords are putting multiple people in our current apartments, but there are not that many choices for our citizens.  He thinks that we should work with the developer to bring in the funding.  He said we do not always know what the future is going to bring.

Mr. Samra said we do not know what the cost of services is going to be in three years, five years or seven years from now.  The one-time cash payment of $750,000 will generate between $22,000 and $30,000 per year.  Costs can increase while revenues will stay the same.  He said that the City should learn from the past and pay as it goes.  He commented that, as Mr. Vierra pointed out, Section 8 is not all that it is cracked up to be.  One reason why they can collect more money is because you need to go through more regulations in order to rent to these people.

Council Member Espinoza asked the value of the property and the project.  Mr. Kelley said the total project cost is $10 million.  Council Member Espinoza said he wants to know what the additional property tax to the City will be.  Mayor Pro Tem Vierra commented that the property tax is about 1% of the valuation.  He said that the State of California just took away property tax from the City, so property tax does not really help the City.

Mayor Varela stated that he was contacted by a tenant because they had a very bad situation where they reside.  The court yard is a dangerous place to have kids play, but that is all they have.  He said it’s true what Chief Eldridge says.  There are some housing areas that are frightful.  The plumbing is out of control and the outside where the children play is not feasible.  He said we absolutely need to upscale affordable housing.

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra stated the annual bank interest on the one-time cash payment would be about $20,000.  He said this will not even pay for a policeman.  He asked who is going to pay for this in 15 years?  Mr. Vierra commented that if you want to take that responsibility, then you vote for it.  He really has some concerns with what this will open up.  Down the road there will be other developers that are going to want the same favors.  People are not going to differentiate between an affordable apartment complex and a market-based apartment complex.  They are going to see it as two buildings that are exactly the same.

City Manager Warne stated that there are two actions that the City Council needs to take.  The first action is whether this development should be included in the special assessment districts, including the landscape and lighting district, benefit assessment district and the community facilities district.  The second action is whether the City wishes to submit an application with the developer to the California State Department of Community Development for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HOME grant funds.  Mayor Varela said the City Council will take up the first issue.  He asked for a motion.       

Council Member Espinoza made a motion to accept the one-time cash payment of $750,000 from the developer and exclude their project from the special assessment districts.  There was no second to the motion.  The motion died for lack of a second.

Motion: M/S Vierra/Aguilar that the apartment complex would be included in the special  assessment districts, including the landscaping and lighting district, benefit assessment district and the community facilities district.  The motion carried 5-0. 

City Manager Warne said the deadline set by the California State Department of Community Development to submit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HOME grant application is August 14.  If the City Council wants staff to submit the application along with the developer, we would need your authorization this evening.  

Mayor Varela said if this developer wants to develop his apartment complex in Livingston, he can move forward as long as his development is part of the special assessment districts.  He suggested making a motion authorizing the submission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HOME grant application to the California State Department of Community Development, provided the development is included in the special districts.  

Council Member Nateras said we do need the project, but we need the developer to be willing to work with us.  She knows it is a little harsh, but our citizens and community deserve it.

Mr. Kelley stated you cannot get an investor to finance this project.  He stated that he and his firm declined the offer. 

       Mayor Varela suggested moving forward in case the developer changed his mind.

Motion: M/S Vierra/Nateras to approve Resolution No. 2009-39, a Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Approving the Submittal of an Application to the California State Department of Housing and Community Development for Funding under the Home Investment Partnership Act and Authorizing the City Manager to Participate in a HOME Application with Pacific West Communities, Inc, for their Affordable Housing Project.  The motion carried 4-1 by the following vote:

AYES:                  Council Members:          Aguilar, Espinoza, Nateras, Varela

NOES:                  Council Members:          Vierra

ABSENT:   Council Members:          None                                        

8.  Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance 583 of the City Council of Livingston Amending the Livingston Municipal Code Relating to Water Service Penalties and Collection Procedures.

The agenda item was presented by City Manager Warne.  He said that this item has been before the City Council previously and this ordinance amendment would bring the City’s penalty for non-payment of water bills into compliance with the Revenue Bond Act of 1941.

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra said that he wanted to make it clear to everyone that this ordinance amendment would decrease the penalty for non-payment of water bills from 10% to 5%.

          Motion: M/S Vierra/Varela to waive the second reading and adopt Ordinance No. 583 amending the Livingston Municipal Code Relating to Water Service Penalties and Collection Procedures.  The motion carried 3-2 by the following vote:

          AYES:                  Council Members:          Nateras, Varela, Vierra

          NOES:                  Council Members:          Aguilar, Espinoza

          ABSENT:   Council Members:          None

9.  Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance 584 of the City Council of Livingston Amending the Livingston Municipal Code Relating to Wastewater Service Penalties and Collection Procedures.

City Manager Warne presented the agenda item. He said that this item has been before the City Council previously and this ordinance amendment was similar to the water amendment just considered in the previous City Council agenda item.  The ordinance would bring the City’s penalty for non-payment of domestic wastewater bills into compliance with the Revenue Bond Act of 1941.

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra said that he wanted to make it clear to everyone that this ordinance amendment would decrease the penalty for non-payment of domestic wastewater bills from 10% to 5%.

     Motion:  M/S Vierra/Nateras to waive the second reading and adopt Ordinance No. 584, Amending the Livingston Municipal Code Relating to Wastewater Service Penalties and Collection Procedures.  The motion carried 3-2 by the following vote:

          AYES:                  Council Members:          Nateras, Varela, Vierra

          NOES:                  Council Members:          Aguilar, Espinoza

          ABSENT:   Council Members:          None

10. Presentation of FY 2010 Budget and Discussion by the City Council.

City Manager Warne presented the Fiscal Year 2010 City Budget for discussion.  He said that the budget document was on the City website and copies were available on paper and on disk at City Hall.  He read the three pages of the executive summary.

Council Member Espinoza said that last year’s budget was online and he heard it was taken down.  City Manager Warne said last year’s budget was taken off because this year’s proposed budget has been put on.  Mr. Espinoza asked if last year’s budget could be put back on the website.

Council Member Aguilar asked if can be printed out because some people are having problems opening the document.  City Manager Warne said there should not be a problem opening it.  If anyone wants to come down to City Hall and get a disk of the budget, they are more than welcome to do so.

City Manager Warne asked that the City Council set a public hearing for the Proposed FY2010 Budget for August 18 at 7:00 p.m.   

Motion:  M/S Varela/Vierra to set a public hearing for the Proposed FY2010 Budget for August 18.  The motion carried 5-0.          

11.            City Manager Announcements and Reports.

 

          None.

ADJOURNMENT

The meeting was adjourned by consensus at 9:37 p.m.                                                                  ________________________________

                                                                   City Clerk of the City of Livingston

APPROVED:  October 20, 2009

_________________________

 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.  

3 thoughts on “August 4, 2009

  1. Pingback: Just a Short Recap of the January 5th 2010 City Council Meeting: Round 2 « Thegardeningsnail's Weblog (because not every critter is hiding under a rock…)

  2. Pingback: A Brief History of Time (Spent on “Fixing” Water, Waste Water, and Garbage Rates-and other related issues) Part 7: Some Enterprise Funds Basics, Meeting Highlights: July 7, 2009 through December 01, and a City Council Agenda « Thegardeni

  3. Pingback: A Brief History of Time (Spent on “Fixing” Water, Waste Water, and Garbage Rates-and other related issues) Part 7: Some Enterprise Funds Basics, Meeting Highlights: July 7, 2009 through December 01, and a City Council Agenda « Thegardeni

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