June 02, 2009

 

CLOSED SESSION/REGULAR MEETING

LIVINGSTON CITY COUNCIL

JUNE 2, 2009

 

 

A Closed Session/Regular Meeting of the Livingston City Council was held June 2, 2009, in the City Council Chambers with Mayor Varela presiding.

 

CLOSED SESSION

 

Mayor Varela opened the meeting at 6:30 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, Assistant City Manager/Finance Director Vickie Lewis, and City Attorney Malathy Subramanian.

 

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

 

     1. 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 7:26 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

 

There was no reportable action.

 

CHANGES TO THE AGENDA

 

None.

 

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

 

1.     Twenty Year Service Recognition – Chris Soria.

 

Mayor Varela presented Police Lieutenant Chris Soria with a service pin in recognition for his twenty years of employment with the City of Livingston.  Lieutenant Soria thanked everyone for their assistance and support over the years.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

 

     Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

 

     Administrative Assistant Juan Corona reported the following:

 

·        Supervisor Pedrozo could not be present this evening, but he wanted Mr. Corona to share a couple of things.  Merced County is aware of the cuts in funding coming from the State.   Supervisor Pedrozo wanted everyone to know that the County will do everything that it can to prevent layoffs of County employees.

 

·        Merced County has been identified as a possible location for a maintenance hub for the high speed rail at Castle.  The County is in competition with other counties for the maintenance hub site.  Supervisor Pedrozo attended a meeting today to discuss the maintenance hub feasibility study for Castle.   Supervisor Pedrozo is available to talk about the high speed rail with anyone.  He is also available to discuss any county issue with City residents.

 

·        Thanked Martha Nateras for the invitation to participate in the Relay for Life event. 

 

·        Supervisor Pedrozo has a medical appointment at Stanford tomorrow.  He would like all men to know that they need to get their PSA test for prostate cancer.

 

     City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

 

     Mayor Pro Tem Frank Vierra

 

·        Expressed his condolences to the Carlos Aguilar family.  He was a member of the City staff.  Mr. Aguilar leaves behind a child in the eighth grade who will need some support because she is by herself now.  City staff members have joined together to host a benefit chicken dinner for the family.

 

·        Discussed his first train ride in 67 years and it was cheaper than driving a vehicle.  He took some Livingston High School Key Club students to Southern California for training.  They rode the train which was on time.  Mr. Vierra said we really need to support the high speed rail coming to the Central Valley.

 

·        Commented on the Farm Festival that was held on Livingston-Cressey Road this weekend.  He said they had activities for children and adults.  There was music all day and many other activities.  Everyone attending had a great time.  You could pick your own blueberries and cherries.  He said the festival happens every year at this time.  This was the festival’s tenth year.  The event is close and you do not have to travel very far to enjoy it.

 

     Council Member Martha Nateras

 

·        Concurred with Mayor Pro Tem Vierra regarding the loss of City staff member Carlos Aguilar.

 

·        She attended the Farm Festival and thought it was the best kept secret in Livingston.  It was a nice event and she encouraged everyone to attend future festivals.  She said it is a good experience for the kids.  She said they picked and ate a lot of cherries.

 

·        Thanked everyone who participated and helped with the Relay for Life event.  She expressed appreciation for the people who helped put up the tents.  Council Member Nateras thanked the Fire Department for spraying the grass and the track, and getting everyone wet.  She said it was nice to walk with Mr. Corona and Supervisor Pedrozo at 5:00 a.m. at the Relay for Life event.

 

 

·        She attended the Planning Commission meeting.  The item is on the agenda tonight.

 

     Council Member Rodrigo Espinoza

 

·        Expressed his condolences to the Aguilar Family.  He said Carlos Aguilar was one of the hardest City workers, even though he was only a part-time employee.  Carlos Aguilar wanted to become a full-time employee and looked forward to that day.  He had been looking forward to working with the City for a long time.

 

·        Expressed appreciation to the Police Chief and Fire Chief.  He would like the Police Department and Fire Department to give the City Council an annual update.

 

·        Asked who was in charge of weed code enforcement.  City Manager Warne stated that, as he had indicated previously to Council Member Espinoza, the City Code Enforcement Officer handles weed code enforcement within the City.  The County Fire Department is responsible for weed code enforcement outside the City.  He said the Code Enforcement Officer is doing a good job and is keeping good records of the issues that have been resolved.

 

     Council Member Margarita Aguilar

 

·        She wanted Mr. Vierra to know that she would be happy to help with the sale of tickets for the Carlos Aguilar benefit barbecue.

 

·        She reported that last week we were honored to be at a three-day conference in San Diego hosted by the League of California Cities.  It was very beneficial for her being a new Council Member.  She attended a number of sessions that were very informative and helped her to learn to share information to become a better Council person.  Some of the sessions she attended helped her see both sides of the republicans and democrats serving their purpose.  She said it was a good idea to sit and see which way we are going.  She was focusing on what was the best for the residents. 

 

Council Member Aguilar also attended one session called “Show Me the Money.”  She said the session gave the attendees an idea of where our State is financially going.  Our governor is going to be borrowing money from the cities—probably 8%.  We did have the opportunity through the League of California Cities to make a video that addresses the issues.  She said the video is going to be shown on the League of California Cities website.  This is just letting our government know that their budget is their budget and they need to leave our monies alone.                   

 

Council Member Aguilar said there was also a downtown rally.  The rally was on TV.  It was nice to see some of the representatives there.  She thanked the citizens for allowing them be a part of the League of California Cities.  She was able to meet different Council Members that are going through similar situations.  This is the second workshop she has attended.

 

Ms. Aguilar said that one of the main sessions was called city manager’s evaluation.  She said she brought this up on April 7.  She said she was lucky to have the City Manager

sitting with her at the session, so he has the same information.  This is something that we really need to consider.  She brought back some information that Mayor Varela, the City Manager and Council Member Nateras received the first time they attended a conference.  Ms. Aguilar said evaluations give us an outline of what is required.  It talks about a facilitator who can bring it about.  It is a closed session item for the City Council where they can prioritize what our needs are.  She said she will leave copies of the materials with the City Attorney and Council Member Vierra because he did not attend the session.  She also has a copy for residents that she will leave with the City Clerk.  She believes we need to look at the expenses our City, especially with the water situation, and take a look at our finances.  Ms. Aguilar said we have been allowed to attend these sessions and it is a benefit to former and present Council Members and Mayors.  She said there is another conference in September and she recommended that the City Council members attend.  She said everyone has room for improvement.  We have to be open minded.  She thanked everyone for listening.

 

     Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

 

     Mayor Daniel Varela

 

·        Extended his condolences to the Carlos Aguilar family and City employees for his tragic death.  He said the Carlos Aguilar family came to mind yesterday while we were having our community prayer.  There were a few young boys present and they talked to each other about Carlos Aguilar.  He suggested to these boys that, when they go home today, they give their mom and dad a hug because things happen.  As a community we come together and support the family.  Mayor Varela said he had a flier about the Carlos Aguilar benefit barbecue and asked everyone to please get involved and support the family during this difficult time.

 

·        Commented that the visit to San Diego provided the City Council with opportunities to network with other communities.  He said this was a great opportunity to share some successful experiences in our community.  We heard a lot of doom and gloom about communities.  We have our issues, but we are in pretty good shape.  He said we have a good community, positive people, proactive people, moral people that are always trying to do the right thing.

 

·        He congratulated the Livingston High School graduating class.  He said the parents have raised some great kids and they have a great future ahead of them.

 

Council Member Aguilar asked Mayor Varela if she could speak.  Mayor Varela told her to proceed.

 

Council Member Aguilar said she would like to add the goals and prioritization of capital projects to the agenda.  She would like to make a motion to add this to the agenda for the month of July.  She asked the City Attorney how she would do this.

 

City Attorney Subramanian said she could make that motion so that it would be on the agenda for the first meeting in July.  Council Member Aguilar said she would like to make the motion to put it on the agenda for July 21 to see what is in the packet and get a facilitator.  She asked the City Attorney if this was enough time.  The City Attorney said it probably would be enough time to hire a facilitator, but not do much more.  City Attorney Subramanian said that the most that can be done tonight is place the item on the agenda for the next meeting for discussion.

 

Council Member Aguilar made a motion that the item be placed for discussion on the next agenda.  Mayor Varela asked the City Attorney if this item can be discussed tonight.  City Attorney Subramanian said that the most the City Council can do is make a motion to place it on the next agenda.  A member of the public asked what the motion was.  Council Member Aguilar said that the motion is to place for discussion for the next meeting to hire a facilitator so that the City Council can be directed to setting goals and prioritizing capital improvements through the City Manager.

 

Mayor Varela said it appeared that Council Member Aguilar wanted to hire a facilitator so that we can direct staff to determine what projects to do.  Staff is already doing this.  This is their job.  He said he didn’t understand why Council Member Aguilar wanted a facilitator and asked her to please clarify her reasons.  Council Member Aguilar stated the conference was available to the Mayor, so he could have sat in on the session.  She said the Mayor had an opportunity to attend, and said that the item is up for discussion and she is not going to get into details.

 

City Manager Warne said the setting of goals and goal prioritization is currently done during the annual budget process.  During that process, the City Council has a proposed budget that contains proposed goals.  Council members have the opportunity to make any changes to the goals they determine.  They can add or delete goals.  Staff is now in the process of trying to together the proposed budget.  He said one of the big questions that staff has now is what the City Council is going to do about utility rates, and what the impact rate increases are going to have on the General Fund if they are not approved.  City Manager Warne said capital projects are outlined in the proposed budget given to the Council.  He said in the past the City Council has looked over the goals and capital projects and they either approve them or not approve them.  In the absence of the whole budget document, it is difficult to set goals because they are set in a financial vacuum without the benefit of financial information.  You may be trying to set goals that are not financially realistic, he said.

 

Council Member Espinoza seconded the previous motion made by Council Member Aguilar.  He said he knew what Council Member Aguilar is trying to say that there are a lot of questions to be answered under closed session because there are a lot of questions that we cannot ask before because they are confidential.  He said that a lot of the capital projects can be prioritized, so that they can be included in the next budget.   

 

City Attorney Subramanian stated that discussing the priority of capital improvement projects could not be done in closed session.  City Manager’s objectives could be discussed in closed session.  Council Member Nateras asked if the City Council is going to vote just to have a discussion, and not to hire someone.  City Attorney Subramanian asked if the City Council wants to hire a facilitator for a closed session to handle a City manager evaluation; or if the City Council is specifically going to prioritize capital projects?

 

Council Member Aguilar stated that in the session she attended it talked about how we would come together as a Council and talk about our goals.  She commented that when she was elected to the City Council she received a City of Livingston list of projects and issues.  There are no dates, or starting dates.  She felt that the Council can prioritize this list into something that will keep costs down.  City Attorney Subramanian said this would be something that the Council would do in open session.  This would not be part of the closed session.

 

Council Member Aguilar asked if the item could be put on the agenda.  City Attorney Subramanian explained that if the Council is looking to talk about prioritizing capital projects you probably do not need a facilitator for that.  Council Member Aguilar said that in regards to the City Manager, he is the one that has to carry out those projects and then the Council could look and see if he is completing that list.  The City Attorney said the prioritizing of capital projects is an open meeting item.  The accomplishment of the projects is a closed meeting item.  City Attorney Subramanian asked if the request is to put an evaluation for the City Manager or prioritization of capital projects on the agenda or to hire a facilitator.  Council Members Aguilar and Espinoza said they wanted to discuss the evaluation of the City Manager in closed session and hiring of a facilitator to be placed on the next open meeting agenda.  Council Member Espinoza asked about the time.  Mayor Varela said that if the discussion will be whether to hire a facilitator, it should not take much time.

 

PUBLIC HEARINGS

 

2.      Application for Funding under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP).         

 

Mayor Varela introduced the agenda item.  Susan Adkins, representing Self-Help Enterprises, made a short presentation regarding the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP).  She said that this is a $289,991 grant request by the City of Livingston for part of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) allocation for Merced County.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has provided each state an allocation for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.  The County has been given an allocation of $3,844,000 by the State of California.  Livingston’s share based on housing foreclosures is $289,991.  These funds are being provided through the federal stimulus bill.  This public hearing is to give people the opportunity to comment on the use of these funds to stabilize neighborhoods affected by housing foreclosures.  The City will use the money to provide funds for first-time homebuyers of foreclosed homes. 

 

Mayor Varela opened the Public Hearing at  8:04 p.m.

 

Luis Torres – 707 Almondwood Drive, asked if there are any other city or county partnerships, and what is the time limit the City has for the grant.

 

Ms. Atkins said there are several cities and counties throughout California applying for these federal funds.  She said the federal funds have to be used within 18 months.  The application deadline is  June 15.  She noted it is money that will be available fairly quickly.  City Manager Warne explained that a portion of this grant is part of the federal stimulus package for housing.  He said that the City has been aggressive in applying for federal stimulus grants for water, sewer, housing and other projects.  He said the public hearing we are holding tonight is to seek public comment regarding submitting an application for funding for $289,991 of that stimulus money.  The City is in partnership with Merced County on this issue.  With this stimulus money, Livingston will spend over $1 million on first-time homebuyers programs and housing rehabilitation for low- and moderate-income people in the community this year.  This represents a major commitment by the City of Livingston to look after low- and moderate-income people and to access funds from the federal government to help our citizens.

 

Mayor Varela asked Ms. Atkins how successful has the partnership been with the City and the County.  Ms. Atkins said this is a new endeavor with Merced County.  However, the City has worked with Self-Help Enterprises in the administration of its housing programs. 

 

Mayor Varela asked how successful has this program been.  Ms. Adkins said the City’s housing program has been very successful.  She noted that Self-Help has assisted five homebuyers in purchasing homes between July and November of last year.  Three of these properties were bank owned.  Ms. Adkins said the success of the program in the community has been tremendous.

 

Council Member Nateras asked how the City can get the word out to the non-English speaking residents in the community.  Ms. Adkins said the City has a pretty substantial waiting list as this point, but Self-Help did provide pamphlets and has been trying to provide workshops.  There are also fliers explaining the City housing programs available at City Hall.

 

          Mayor Varela closed the Public Hearing at 8:09 p.m.

 

City Manager Warne stated that this item was for discussion purposes only, no City Council action was necessary.

 

  1. Introduce and Waive the First Reading of an Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Rezoning APN 023-006-008 from M-1 (Limited Industrial) to P/OS (Park/Open Space) for the Livingston Sports Complex Project.

 

Mayor Varela introduced the agenda item.  Community Development Director Donna Kenney presented the agenda item.  She stated that the City Council, at its regular meeting on April 7, 2009, adopted an initial study and a mitigated negative declaration for Livingston Sports Complex.  The property (12.6 acres) is now zoned M-1 (Industrial), which does not permit a park or open space uses.  The staff is recommending that the property be rezoned from M-1 (Industrial) to P/OS (Park and Open Space) so that recreation facilities can be built in the future when grant funding or other funding becomes available.  The Planning Commission voted 4-1 on May 12, 2009, to recommend approval of rezoning; voted to approve the conditional use permit to approve the buildings and utility services for the recreation facilities; but denied the conditional use permit for the temporary gardens.  This rezoning will bring the property into conformance with the City’s General Plan, which has designated this property as park and open space.

 

Council Member Aguilar stated that the City Council approved the land at a City Council meeting by a 5-0 vote.  She recalled that one of the conditions of approval was that the property needed to be rezoned.  She asked why the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) did not include the community garden.  She listened to the meeting recording and she thought there was a lot of misinformation given to the Planning Commission.

 

Community Development Director Kenney explained that the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) is a separate action from the rezoning that only goes to the Planning Commission for approval unless someone appeals it to the City Council.  She said this rezone does not include the conditional use (CUP) portion.  The Planning Commission expressed their concerns about having a garden and an orchard there at a time when the City may possibly apply for and receive some funding for the ball fields.  She noted the Planning Commission wanted to make sure that the land would be available for recreation if the City had the opportunity to fund the baseball fields.

 

Council Member Aguilar asked if anyone had called Pastor Bill Ruth since it was going to be rezoned for a community garden.  She said that one of the questions on the meeting recording was that Ms. Kenney said she was not  aware of what vegetables or other crops were going to be harvested, or even if they were seasonal.  Ms. Kenney commented that the project is not being rezoned for a community garden. It is being rezoned for park use.  The Conditional Use Permit (CUP) was for the garden.  She said that she was not involved in the earlier meeting with the City Manager, Mayor and Pastor Ruth regarding the community garden.

 

Council Member Aguilar asked if Ms. Kenney thought it would have helped for the Planning Commissioners to have more information regarding what was going to be planted so they could have approved the community garden.  Ms. Kenney said she was not sure what Council Member Aguilar meant by her question.  Council Member Aguilar said on the meeting recording Ms. Kenney said she was not aware of what the plans were for the community garden or what kinds of things were going to be planted.  Her question to Ms. Kenney is: Did she think she could have taken a little more initiative in regards to giving information to the Commissioners that voted no?  Ms. Aguilar said Kaye Greeley was the only Planning Commissioner that was not in agreement with the decision.  She was puzzled why four Commissioners voted yes and one Commissioner voted no.  Ms. Kenney explained that staff did not receive a site plan or any information as to how this garden would be working.  The only thing she knew about the orchard were comments she read in the newspaper.

 

Mayor Varela commented that the City Council got caught up about having a community garden.  His initial understanding was that there was only going to be seasonal plants on the property.  Later there were comments about having long-term trees.  A meeting was held with Pastor Ruth in which he was shown another 2.5-acre parcel that could be used by the Merced County Hunger Task Force on a long-term basis to make his project successful.  The Planning Commission did their job and considered the long-term effects that it would have on Livingston Sports Complex property.  The Sports Complex is not long-term because the use of the property for a community garden can be terminated with 60 days notice.  He said that the City has to look at long-term venues for community projects, and the 2.5 acres shown to Pastor Ruth is something feasible for long-term use by the Merced County Hunger Task Force for their program.  The Planning Commission was looking at something that was long-term and not just temporary for both the City and the Merced County Hunger Task Force.

 

Ms. Kenney commented that the Planning Commission was also given the option to approve the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for the temporary garden with the condition that no orchard or long-term trees be planted.  The Planning Commission chose not to accept this option.

 

Council Member Aguilar asked if Pastor Ruth was allowed to speak.  Mayor Varela said Pastor Ruth was welcome to speak.

 

Council Member Espinoza said that the City Council approved a legal contract and did not think that the Planning Commission could deny the community garden use.  City Attorney Subramanian said the contract approval by the City Council was subject to the approval of the property rezoning.  So if the property was not rezoned and the Planning Commission did not approve the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for a community garden, the project could not go forward.

 

Ms. Kenney asked if the rezone is approved tonight, does the item need to go back to the Planning Commission for another chance at the Conditional Use Permit (CUP).  City Attorney Subramanian said no, because she believes the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) was also conditioned on the City Council approving the property rezone.  She said that both the rezoning and the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) were considered together to expedite the review process.

 

Mayor Varela commented that we all knew that this Livingston Sports Complex property was going to be a temporary location for the community garden until the expansion of the sports complex.  Since there is another parcel available for a long-term garden, it sets a different scenario.

 

Council Member Aguilar said that, when she listened to the meeting recording, it sounded like Vice Chair Avila thought that there were two issues.  It sounded like he did not think the Planning Commission should be voting on both issues at the same meeting.  Ms. Kenney said she was not sure how Mr. Avila would have gotten that understanding because it was advertised as a rezone and Conditional Use Permit (CUP).  It was publicly noticed and that was what was in the staff report that was being approved that night.

 

Council Member Aguilar asked if the City Council approves the rezone tonight, it would allow for the sports complex and that would deny the garden to be in that area.  City Attorney Subramanian asked if the Planning Commission approved the garden as a part of their Conditional Use Permit (CUP).  Ms. Kenney said the Planning Commission approved the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for the buildings and the utilities, but denied it for the garden.  She said at this point the City Council is only considering the property rezoning and the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) without the community garden.  The community garden denial would have to be appealed to the City Council.  Ms. Kenney said it would need to be appealed to the City Council, but the ten-day appeal period from the denial of the Planning Commission has lapsed.

 

City Manager Warne commented he thought there were two issues involved.  The issue you have before you tonight is whether or not the City Council wishes to rezone the property so that the uses for the property as outlined in the Livingston Sports Complex Master Plan can be built.  Whether or not you wish to have a community garden is a separate issue. This can be taken up later.  He said the Planning Commission did not feel comfortable about the community garden, but the Council initially felt comfortable about it.  It seems there was an issue about having fruit trees or not having fruit trees.  There was some discussion initially that there were only going to be annual crops.  He thought there was some confusion.  He said that the City Council is only considering the rezoning so that the facilities outlined on the Livingston Sports Complex Master Plan can be built.

 

Council Member Espinoza discussed the trees and asked who decided that they could not be planted.  City Manager Warne said he did not think it had been totally decided what was going to be planted.  It was up to the community garden committee to decide what was going to be planted.  Council Member Espinoza said he was excited about the community garden and did not know who did not understand that there was not going to be trees.  Trees can be taken out.  He was disappointed that people were against the community garden and are trying to push them out. 

 

Mayor Varela said we are excited about this project and it has great opportunity.  The City Council is just trying to figure out where is the best, feasible long-term place for the garden.  It is two blocks from the school.  He said the City Council approved a contract a couple of months ago with a 60-day termination clause.  He said we do not have one vegetable planted and we are already having issues. 

 

He said there could be problems in the future if the City wants to construct recreation facilities at the sports complex and the Merced County Hunger Task Force does not want to move.  A community garden is a great thing and it is being overshadowed by where to have it.  The community garden can be located on the 2.5 acres that can be dedicated permanently to the Hunger Task Force, or we have this piece of land that is on a 12-acre parcel that is attached to the sports complex that one day will need to be removed.   This is why the City Council considered offering the 2.5 acres of land to Pastor Bill Ruth.  He said this is a good location.  His concern is that, not one seed has been put into the ground, and it is already an issue.

 

Council Member Espinoza said some people want to put soccer fields at the sports complex.  He said that they were ready to donate everything including the sprinklers and sod.  They were encouraged and then staff issued regulations that stopped them.  This makes people angry.  City Manager Warne said that staff has always supported temporary soccer fields at the Livingston Sports Complex.  Ms. Kenney noted the City was unable to construct a temporary soccer field because the environmental document required by law was not complete.  She said she put temporary soccer fields in the environmental document, and now that it has been adopted, we can start looking at that.  City Manger Warne said the environmental document for the Sports Complex contains both a community garden and temporary soccer fields if the City Council wished to have these facilities at the site.  Staff has not impeded the construction of the temporary soccer fields.   

 

Council Member Aguilar said she heard on the Planning Commission meeting minutes recording a comment from Ms. Kenney that staff had talked to Wal-Mart about using the sports complex property for their drainage.  She asked Donna Kenney who gave her the authority to talk to Wal-Mart.  She said that the City Council had not heard from Wal-Mart.  She asked Ms. Kenney to comment and provide input on this.  Ms. Kenney explained that whenever a new project comes into the City, it goes to staff for review.  Staff looks at the City Code, the General Plan, City design guidelines and helps the developers to insure that the development fits City codes and regulations.  For example, if there is an opportunity for a business to discharge water on the park property that belongs to the City, and the applicant is willing to pay for the grading and the improvements, the City gets part of a future park developed for free.  This is a discussion that the City has with many developers around City parks.  Ms. Kenney said Wal-Mart and Fresenius are no different.  When they approached the City about expanding or building new projects, and they needed a place to drain their storm water, staff sees this can be an opportunity for the City.

 

Council Member Aguilar asked who directs you as a head of a department to talk or negotiate with developers.  Ms. Kenney stated that the City has a Development Management Committee.  City Manager Warne stated, as Council Member Aguilar already knows, the City has a Development Management Committee made up of the City Manager, City Engineer and the Community Development Director.  All development is staffed through that committee.  When a project comes before the City, it goes to that committee and the development issues related to the development are discussed including streets, drainage, curb and gutter, infrastructure connections to sewer and water lines.  He said that part of those discussions include what to do with storm water from the development.  These are procedures that are in place and established by the City.  City Manager Warne said the City Council is aware of the procedures and approved them.  He added that discussions are ongoing and continuing with Wal-Mart because staff continues to work with them on their site plan.  This is how the committee is setup and how it works.  He knows that Council Member Aguilar is aware of this.

 

Council Member Aguilar said she is aware that there is a procedure, but she would not want certain businesses trying to come in thinking that the committee’s comments represent the Council as a whole because she represents herself.  She knows that this is part of the procedures, but she would like to know about them and not listen to them on the minutes CD.  Ms. Kenney said that these are just preliminary discussions, and until the environment document moves forward to the Planning Commission and City Council, they are just discussions and so there is no information to share.

 

Mayor Varela stated there are certain functions of City staff.  Cities hire staff.  They are trained to work with developers to make sure that developments are beneficial to the City.  As far as storm drains and basins go, staff works with developers so that it does not fall on the City Council.  That is the decision they make with the developers.  Mayor Varela commented that the City Council does not micromanage the staff.  The staff does their job.  He added that if Donna Kenney has established a good working relationship with Wal-Mart.  She is doing her job.  We do not have to approve where a gutter goes because there is a policy that is in place so those decisions are made.

 

Mayor Varela opened the Public Hearing at 8:38 p.m.

 

Pastor Bill Ruth, 1518 Nut Tree, stated that he is the director of the Merced County Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, pastor of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church and Chairperson of the Merced County Hunger Task Force.  He stated the idea of a community garden is not new.  The idea was presented to former City Manager Tim Kerr many years ago.  Pastor Ruth said that illnesses in the City and County can be alleviated by diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially when people grow their own fruits and vegetables.  Pastor Ruth stated that the reason that he approached the City is because he knew that sometimes the City has land available.  He did not want this to be a point of contention between a sports center and garden. This was never his intention.

 

In the summer of 2007, he talked to Mayor Samra who said he would talk with City Manager Warne.  In the summer of 2008, City Manager Warne said the City had 12 acres to offer the Merced County Hunger Task Force.   He met in February with the Mayor, City Manager and Kathryn Reyes and they looked at the 12 acres of property.  Pastor Ruth said he thought everything was okay until he attended the April 7 City Council meeting.  He then realized there was a cloud over all of this.  He initially thought that it was the Wal-Mart development and did not know at the time that the sports complex was part of it.  He realized then that the community garden would be in the way and he did not want it to be in the way.  He said that community gardens are important and should be in every neighborhood.  Pastor Ruth said that he then found out that the Planning Commission had talked about the community garden.  He said that he did not know about the meeting because he is busy working two jobs.  The Planning Commission talked about trees in the sports complex.  He stated at the April 7 City Council meeting he thought that the City and the Hunger Task Force could work things out.  The Hunger Task Force could plant only things that could be uprooted easily.  He is not sold on trees.   

 

Pastor Ruth said he hopes that the Council and citizens will realize the importance of the community garden.  Community gardens provide recreation.  They are a community effort to make fruits and vegetables available to everyone.  Pastor Ruth said he was sorry this became a political football.  This was not his intention.  He just wants people to be healthy and eat healthy.  He said he appreciated the City finding him another location, but the 2.7 acres is part of a drainage pond area of Foster Farms.  He said it was great that the City is looking for other places, but the 2.7 acres was not feasible.

 

Gurpal Samra, 1034 J Street, stated he feels the community garden is a great thing. He supported the project back when he was on the City Council.  He still does.  He commented that if the City wants to change the zoning to Park/Open Space, so be it. However, we do not know the development timeline for the sports complex.   Mr. Samra said there is no reason to have a temporary community garden there.  It is open space.  He thinks a community garden would be great as long as it is not permanent.  The City has other alternatives and he knows the Council can give a waiver for this project.

 

Mike Torres, 1616 Eighth Street, talked about the rezoning of the sports complex and said he could not understand the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) on the buildings at the sports complex.  Donna Kenney said the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for the buildings and underground utilities was approved by the Planning Commission; but the community garden was not approved by them.  She said that all three uses requires a Conditional Use Permit (CUP).   Mr. Torres said there is an ordinance in the City Code that states only row crops, such as sweet potatoes or corn, can be grown in the City limits.  He said that he does not know the section.  Any crop in the City has to be a row crop because when trees die they cannot be replanted.

 

Angelina Torres, 1620 Jantz, stated that she was very disappointed when she attended the Planning Commission meeting.  She stated that she heard that the entire Sports Complex would cost $20 million.  The City should be looking for grants.  She said that the City should be spending money instead to update the Fire Department.  That is a necessity to the City, and something that is going to be used.  Ms. Torres commented that as far as the garden is concerned she would like the Council to look at pictures of the land (she passed out photos of the land).  The Planning Commission had the option to exclude trees.  This was for the community.  It would have brought us all together and then it just went out the door.  Ms. Torres said there was a question about what they actually voted on.  They had the option to exclude the trees, but keep the garden. She added that when the Council votes on something she hoped they know what they are voting on.  She said she would rather hear the Council ask 20 times what they are voting on, so when the Council is voting tonight on all their projects make sure that they look into the eyes of everyone here.

 

Martin Mendoza, gave no address, asked how sure the Council was about receiving stimulus money to construct the project.  Does the City have enough money to complete the sports complex?  He stated the City is going to run out of money in the middle of this project and asked what the Council was going to do when this occurred.  Is the City Council going to come back to the residents and raise rates again?

 

Luis Flores, 707 Almondwood, asked what all the green was in the photo.  Donna Kenney said that it was grass.  Mr. Torres asked how much it is going to cost to maintain the grass with water.

 

Mayor Varela commented that it is a plan and you can applaud all you want, but ultimately the City Council has to make decisions that are going to be beneficial for this community whether you believe it or not.  The sports complex was a gem of great minds years ago.  It is a mind set and a vision.  We can have dirt fields and then we will have parents asking us why we do not have grass fields for our kids playing soccer.  We hear it from both sides.  Mayor Varela stated the City Council is going to have to make decisions that are going to be beneficial to our kids.  This is a great idea

 

The Public Hearing was closed at 8:54 p.m.

 

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra stated that he heard applauding about the use of water.  He said that the Livingston Sports Complex Master Plan drawing came to the City Council in an open meeting.  The room was packed.  The Livingston Sports Complex Master Plan is what the community wanted.  The City Council even removed the skate board park during its deliberations because it was requested by the community.  He said that he does not agree with everything on the Livingston Sports Complex Master Plan, but the City Council listened to the people.  People that do not like the plan should have been at the meetings when this type of thing was discussed by the City Council.

 

Motion: M/S Varela/Vierra to introduce and waive the first reading of Ordinance No. 581, an Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Rezoning APN 023-006-008 from M-1 (Limited Industrial) to P/OS (Park/Open Space) for the Livingston Sports Complex Project.

 

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra asked what a “yes” vote would mean and what a “no” vote would mean.  City Attorney Subramanian explained that if the City Council voted to introduce and waive the first reading of the ordinance, the property would be rezoned if the City Council approved the second reading.  The property would then be able to accommodate a sports complex.  It does not mean the sports complex will be built, but it does allow it to be built because the property would conform to the General Plan.           

 

City Manager Warne explained that right now the property is zoned industrial.  The action in the ordinance only rezones the property so it can be used for recreation and open space purposes.   It moves the use from industrial to recreation and open space.  He said the rezone will make the property consistent with the General Plan.  As long as the property is zoned industrial so the sports complex can be built.  If it is not rezoned it will never be a park.

 

Council Member Espinoza asked if the ordinance includes the denial of the community garden.  City Manager Warne said the ordinance does not include the denial of the garden because that is a whole separate issue.  City Attorney Subramanian noted the garden still needs a Conditional Use Permit (CUP).  Mayor Pro Tem Vierra stated that the community garden would need to come back as a separate issue.  City Attorney Subramanian said this is correct, but it would also need the rezone before the City Council this evening.

 

Council Member Aguilar stated that the 10-day appeal period is over.  City Attorney Subramanian said we would need to discuss that and what would the next steps be if the City Council wanted the Planning Commission to reconsider the community garden.  She said that, as was previously mentioned, this is just rezoning of the property to accommodate park and open space.  Mayor Pro Tem Vierra said that the rezoning needs to be done no matter what the Council is going to do.  City Attorney Subramanian said this was correct because the General Plan does not allow the property to be used for a park.

 

The previous motion made by Mayor Varela and seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Vierra carried 4-1 by the following roll call vote:

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

NOES:        Council Members:          Aguilar

ABSENT:   Council Members:          None

 

At the request of Council Member Espinoza, agenda items #9 and #10 were moved for discussion and action.

 

  1. Introduce and Waive the First Reading of One of the Three Ordinances Relating to Establishing Rates for Water Service Fees.

 

Subitem A–An Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Establishing Rates for Water Service Fees–Scenario 1.

 

Subitem B–An Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Establishing Rates for Water Service Fees–Scenario 2.

 

Subitem C–An Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Establishing Rates for Water Service Fees–Scenario 3.

 

City Attorney Subramanian presented the agenda item.  She stated, at the public hearings held on the proposed water rate increase on April 21 and May 5, 2009, the City Council heard and considered all written and oral protests to the proposed rate increase. The Council closed the public comment portion of the public hearing at the May 5, 2009, meeting after hearing all speakers present at the May 5thmeeting.  Once the public comment portion of a public hearing is closed, no additional written protests or oral comments may be considered by the City Council.  After the City Council close of the public hearing, it was determined that the City did not receive written protests against the proposed water rate increase from a majority of property owners or customers of the identified parcels upon which the rate increases are proposed to be imposed. The City Council continued the item to today’s meeting for a determination of whether to adopt the proposed water rate increase.  She stated that the Council closed the public hearing on this item at its May 5  meeting, no additional public comments may be made on this item tonight.  The City’s inclusion of this item on the agenda tonight is only for the purpose of the consideration and discussion to impose the proposed rate increases to the was water service fees.  City Attorney Subramanian stated that it is not appropriate for the public to speak on this agenda item during the public comment portion of the meeting, as public comment is only for items not on the City agenda.

 

City Manger Warne stated this is a very difficult decision before the City Council.  He commented that the City Council has had information on this issue for six months.  The City Council has had public meetings regarding water rates on March 26, April 21, May 5, May 19 and now June 2.  Water rates have not been raised since 1995, and the City simply cannot provide water service at the same price as it did in 1995.  Mr. Warne said it is unfortunate that these increases are substantial, and for that reason we have come up with three scenarios to implement the rate increase.  He said, had there been small adjustments along the way by the City Council, we would not be here today.  However, in order to address on-going maintenance, accumulated operational losses and needed capital projects to provide the community with safe drinking water, the City commissioned a water rate study.    The study has been presented at a previous meeting.  He urged the City Council to make a very difficult decision and to simply move forward and adjust the rates so that the City may provide water service to the residents.  He knows this is not a popular issue, but something that needs to be done.

 

Council Member Espinoza read the agenda item.

 

Mayor Varela asked if there were any comments from the City Council.  He also asked if The City Council was ready to move forward with this issue and select an option.

 

Council Member Aguilar said her concern, which she has stated at the last three meetings, is the hardship for the citizens, especially now with the economic situation.  She said she was not against the water increases and knows the rates have to be increased; but hopes that the City Council will consider the unemployment rate of the community, cost of living, those on fixed incomes, and those living with family members who cannot pay their mortgage.  The recalculation should be taken into account and capital improvements should be prioritized as needed.  Ms. Aguilar is aware that there is infrastructure that is needed in the future, but feels the City Council needs to think about a minimal rate increase to maintain daily operations and maintenance including staff.

 

Mayor Varela asked Council Member if she was ready to move forward on a decision.  Council Member Aguilar said the City Council needed to vote on the issue.  Mayor Varela stated that those cases mentioned by Ms. Aguilar are being taken into consideration.  The City has provided information on financial assistance through the county.  He said it was obvious that if the Council doesn’t taken action, the City is going to be facing a financial hardship.  He again asked Ms. Aguilar if she was willing to vote on any of the three scenarios tonight.  Council Member Aguilar she was not prepared to vote on any of the three scenarios at this time.

 

Mayor Varela called on Council Member Espinoza for comments.  He said that he wanted to hear the comments of the other members of the City Council.

 

Council Member Nateras agreed with Ms. Aguilar’s comments about the hardship to the residents and the current economic situation.  However, the Council Members knew they were going to inherit this problem when they ran for office.  It is not easy.  Something needs to be done.  She asked Council Member Aguilar if she had a solution to the problem.

 

Council Member Aguilar said that she had already given her opinion.  She wanted the consultant to come back and make the amount of the rate increase more affordable for citizens.  At the same time the City Council can look at scenarios #1, #2 and #3.  In reality the people are going to have to pay.  Ms. Aguilar said she can’t live with that.  She asked Council Member Nateras if she could live with it.

 

Council Member Nateras said this is why she chose Scenario #3 which is the lowest.  She stated that Council Member Aguilar should not be mad at the present Council.  The ones she should be mad at are previous City Councils who passed on this burden of raising rates.

 

Mayor Varela proposed that the Council continue this item to the next meeting.  Council Member Aguilar disagreed.  Council Member Espinoza said he did not know why the City Council needed to continue the item.  It has been said that past City Councils did nothing and the City has wasted millions of dollars fighting Foster Farms, which took the City nowhere.  He said the City spent almost $2 million for attorney fees and $60,000 for election fees and then $5 million for construction of a wastewater treatment plant.  Mr. Espinoza said it is useless.  The wastewater treatment plant went nowhere because Foster Farms wouldn’t pay for it.  He said that was $3.5 million dollars and if the City had the money right now, it would not be in this situation.

 

Council Member Nateras said that Council Member Espinoza was part of the City Council faction that had the majority vote last time.  She knew this because she was serving as the City Clerk and was present at the meetings. 

 

Motion:  M/S Varela/Nateras to continue this item to the regular meeting of June 16, 2009.  The motion carried 3-2, with Council Members Aguilar and Espinoza voting no.

 

     10.     Introduce and Waive the First Reading of One of the Three Ordinances Relating to Establishing Rates for Domestic Wastewater Service Fees.

 

     Subitem A–Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Establishing Rates for Domestic Wastewater Service Fees–Scenario 1.

 

Subitem B–Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Establishing Rates for Domestic Wastewater Service Fees–Scenario 2.

 

Subitem C–Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Establishing Rates for Domestic Wastewater Service Fees–Scenario 3.

         

Mayor Varela presented the agenda item.  He asked Council asked Council Member Aguilar if she was ready to make a selection for any of the three Scenarios.  She said, “no.”  Mayor Varela asked Council Member Espinoza if he was ready to vote on any of the three scenarios.  He said that he would like to vote on the item.  Mayor Varela said that he had a feeling that the City Council was going to be in the same place on this item as the last agenda item.  He made the motion to continue this item to the regular meeting of June 16, 2009.  The motion was seconded by Council Member Nateras and carried 3-2, with Council Members Aguilar and Espinoza voting no.

 

Mike Torres asked to speak on the agenda item.  City Attorney Subramanian stated that the public hearing was closed.  Mike Torres asked if there was a limit on the number of times the City Council can consider an item.  City Attorney Subramanian said, “no.”

 

 

CITIZEN COMMENTS

 

Gerri Martin,16181 Vinewood, commented on the domestic wastewater treatment plant.  She stated that she hoped that the City Council has had a chance to review the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the domestic wastewater treatment plant.  She stated that it was her opinion that the population projections were not accurate.  Banks are not going to build homes on speculation.    No one is expecting the growth rate to move that fast.  The City has continued to spend money on the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the sewer plant and the City is making plans to borrow money from the state for the expansion.  The 2025 general plan has only been adopted by the City.  It has not been approved by LAFCO.  There is a lawsuit against that general plan and Environmental Impact Report (EIR).  One cause of action and lawsuit was the lack of evidence that the existing residential land is imminent or even likely during the 20-year plan.  The same case will probably be made against the EIR for the sewer plant.  The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is just another way to guarantee that this City will spend more money on attorney fees.

 

Kathryn Schell Rodriquez, P.O. Box 163, commented on the water rate discussion.  She said, if it takes a super majority of four to pass the water rates, and if you have two that voted against postponement, this means that the two that voted against postponement are ready to go public with their vote right now.  She said if two are ready to vote for at least one of the options, plus the three that voted to postpone, there is a super majority.  There really is no need for foot dragging.

 

Ms. Schell Rodriguez said the county has been putting up traps for med flies.  There is a rumor that if you allow them to put up a trap, you are going to have to pay a fee.  She said the county does not charge you if they hang a trap in your tree.  If anyone comes around asking for a fee, it is not the county.

 

Ms. Schell Rodriguez commented on the Court Theater project.  She received an e-mail from Roger Courtin the United Kingdom (UK).  He is very interested in tracking the development of the Court Theater. 

 

Warren Urnberg, 1331 Eighth Street, noted the Council had a discussion sometime ago about the high school closing Peach Avenue as part of the high school expansion.  He asked for the status of this project.  City Manager Warne said the high school is evaluating the various options.  The City and school district have had a couple of meetings and they are still looking at the project.  Mr. Urnberg asked City Manager Warne if he knew which way the school district was leaning.  Mr. Warne replied that he didn’t know which way they were leaning.

 

Mayor Varela stated that the he attended a meeting with the school district regarding Peach Avenue.  The City brought the Community Development Director, City Engineer and City Manager in order to have a discussion on the issue.  The School District did not bring anyone from their staff.  They did not even have a map.  The meeting was not productive.

 

Angelina Torres requested that the Council move the important items to the front of the agenda, so people that are present can listen to the important things.  She said the City Council needs to revisit what their goals are for the City.  The plan you had a couple of years ago does not fit right now.  The City Council needs to set goals for what is happening today.  Ms. Torres said there is an option for the water rates.  She knew that the City Council cut out the public comments, but it is an important item that is going to affect all of us.

 

Fernando Cortez,  2114 Cardella Court, commented that City’s web site on the internet has a lot of good information.  He claimed that there are buttons that do not work, and links that are not there.  Mr. Cortez suggested taking out the old stuff and put on the new stuff.  For example, he said, the organizational chart still shows Gurpal Samra as the Mayor.

 

Mr. Cortez stated he heard Mayor Varela say that the City Council is not going to micromanage the staff.  He said the City Council is supposed to be managing what staff does.  The Mayor cannot just say this is why we put them there.  He also heard Mayor Pro Tem Frank Vierra state that the City Council needs to make a decision about the water rates and do what the law says.  Mr. Cortez commented that what the Council needs to do is vote.  He said the City Council said the sports complex is there because this is what the community wanted, but just as the Council listened to the community about the sports complex, it needs to listen to the citizens right now.

Mr. Cortez said the Council needs to update its mission statement.  It states what the Council is responsible for.  The Council needs to establish goals.  He said it is not their needs, they are the needs of everyone else.  The Council needs to take care of it and he can clearly see that only two members want to vote no on the water rate issue.

 

City Attorney Subramanian reminded the audience, as she had mentioned before, that the public comments portion of the agenda is not the time to bring up comments about the water rates.  The City Council has already closed the public hearing on this issue.  The City Council will not be hearing additional testimony on this issue.

 

Madeline Xavier, 1433 Lupin Court, stated that at the last meeting the Council mentioned how clean the City looked.  She asked if the Council has driven to Lupin Court.  There are dead trees, tall grass and fire hazards there.  She received a letter in February indicating that she needed to remove the mistletoe in her trees.  There are numerous trees with mistletoe and did anybody say anything about this?  She would like to know why mistletoe in trees is so important.  Ms Xavier also asked why there are still people on her street with no water meters.

 

City Manager Warne explained that the City has a new code enforcement officer.   He will turn her concern over to him.  Mr. Warne noted that the City has been aggressively installing water meters throughout the City.  He is happy to report that meters have been installed at the Merced County Housing Authority apartments, the last large water user last month.  The City only has 184 connections that have not been metered out of a total of 3,034 accounts. 

 

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra commented that the Lupin Court situation has been going on since the year 2000.  The City had the county health department involved.  They gave up on the situation. Hopefully, the new code enforcement officer will be more aggressive with residents who have mistletoe problems.

 

Mike Torres, 1616 Eighth Street, asked if it is possible to open the City Hall conference room for people to sit while waiting for the regular meeting to start.  Mr. Torres asked for input on consent calendar item #6.  The Mayor Varela said that he was sorry, but it was the first time that the City Council had gone overtime in closed session.

 

Mark Mendoza told Council Member Nateras that he found it very unprofessional on her part to point fingers at past council members, but she never mentions former Council Member Soria, former Mayor Friesen or Council Member Vierra.  He stated that if she didn’t want to be fair it would be best if she said nothing at all.  Council Member Nateras stated that the reason she hasn’t mentioned Mr. Vierra is that when she served as City Clerk it was always a 3-2 vote—just like it is now.

 

Luis Torres, 707 Almondwood Drive, asked why there is not an active Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC).  Council Member Nateras asked if he would like to serve on the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC).  Mr. Torres said he believes there were two spots open.  Ms. Nateras said there are 11 open positions.

 

CONSENT CALENDAR

 

City Manager Warne presented the following consent calendar items for City Council consideration:

 

4.      Local Transportation Funds (LTF) Claim Submittal.

 

5.      Resolution for Acceptance of the Vintage West Basin Backfill Project, Authorizing the City Clerk to Record a Notice of Completion with Merced County and Authorizing the City Manager to release Performance and Material Bonds and to Make Final Payment of Retention Monies to Ross F. Carroll, Inc.

 

6.      Resolution for the Acceptance of the Proposition 13 Water Line And Alleyway Paving Improvements, authorizing the City Clerk to record a Notice of Completion with Merced County and authorizing the City Manager to release Performance and Material Bonds and to make final payment of retention monies to Preston Pipelines, Inc.

 

Mike Torres, 1616, Eighth Street, commented the final payment on the water line and paving project is back on the agenda again.  He said that the alley behind Rite Aid has a number patches.  He said that it is terrible.  He said the fence for the dentist office is  falling apart.  Mr. Torres said he wished the Council would take a look at the alley again.  He feels the contractor should not be paid until the work is done right.  In some alleys there is grass coming through.  It is just an alley, but it is taxpayer’s money.  Phase I is done, but Phase II is coming up.  He suggested just paving City property.

 

City Engineer Gottiparthy stated he has visited the location which was mentioned and   had the contractor come back to take care of minor patches that needed to be made.  The patches around the meter boxes also needed to be fixed.  He checked these locations and they have been fixed to meet the requirements.  He explained that the difficulty in dealing with alleyways is the multiple properties, multiple grades, multiple fences of different materials, retaining walls and other engineering issues.  These conditions make the project difficult because there were no engineering controls over the alleys when they were originally constructed.  It is not like building a street section where you have control over the grade and the conditions around the street.  There are back yard fences in the alleyways.  The alley paving consisted of the main alley way that is a 20-foot section down the center of the alley.  It is smooth and performing well.  The area outside the 20-foot section is not a structured section.  He is satisfied that the 20-foot main section meets its purpose.  The City Council needs to move ahead and accept this project so that the City can apply for the final retention monies due the City from the state grant.

 

City Manager Warne reported that the dentist’s office has submitted a site plan and the City told them that they need to fix the fence when he builds the dental office.  This is one of the issues that will be taken care of when the owner builds the dental office.

 

Council Member Aguilar said she was also invited by Mr. Torres to look at the alleys.  She asked if there were City plans given to the contractor outlining what needed to be done.  City Engineer Gottiparthy said improvement plans were prepared by an engineer and given to the contractor.  Council Member Aguilar asked if the company had any obligation to come back and fix anything once they are paid.  Mr. Gottiparthy noted there is a one-year warranty period from the date of acceptance to come back and fix any problems. 

 

Council Member Aguilar asked when the City Engineer refers to deficiencies, does that include the fences that are rotting?  City Engineer Gottiparthy explained this was near the vacant property.  There are many situations where there were problems with fences.  In these cases, the City made a conscientious effort not to repair those fences because they are on private property.  Council Member Aguilar noted that this was Phase I and Phase II is coming up and she hopes the City gets funding from the state.  She asked if the City will continue to do business with this company.  City Engineer Gottiparthy said “no.” The City will go through a sealed bid process on future phases as it does on any construction project.  Once we secure the funding we will go through the bidding process; but very likely with some other contractor on future phases.  Future contracts will be based on the lowest contractor’s bid.

 

7.      Approval of Warrant Register Dated May 28, 2009.

 

Regarding Item #4, Mayor Pro Tem Vierra asked if that amount is more or less than what the City has received in the past.  City Manager Warne said the amount is less than in the past because the Governor has taken a portion of State Transit Assistance money and shifted it to fund school buses.  This action has left the City with substantially less Local Transportation Funds (LTF) for streets and roads.  Mayor Pro Tem Vierra commented that the City could not do much with only $27,000.

 

Motion:  M/S Aguilar/Vierra to approve the consent calendar items.  The motion carried 5-0.

 

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS         

 

  1. Resolution Finding a Severe Fiscal Hardship Will Exist if Additional Tax Funds are Seized and Additional Unfunded Mandates are Adopted by the State of California.

 

City Manager Warne presented the agenda item.  The Governor has proposed to take $2 billion from the cities to help close the $24 billion state deficit.  This take would come from an eight percent reduction in property taxes that would be sent to the State through the Education Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF).  Livingston’s share is estimated to be $216,516.87.  We have a resolution that the League of California Cities has suggested Livingston adopt.  This resolution declares a fiscal hardship if additional tax funds are seized or additional unfunded mandates are levied against the City of Livingston.  This resolution does not cover the latest proposal by the Governor to seize City Proposition 42 ($122,000) funds and City gasoline taxes ($250,000).  We are looking for approximately $500,000 taken from the City of Livingston on top of approximately $500,000 that the State of California already takes from the City.

Katherine Schell Rodriguez commented that once upon a time, back in 1995, when the Enterprise funds were running in the red, and there was not enough money in the General Fund to give anyone a raise, the State of California was in a financial mess.  It “borrowed” money from the cities to solve its financial woes.  She said here we are again, not quite 20 years later, in the middle of a financial meltdown, with the City Enterprise Funds running in the red and the State looking to “borrow” from the cities.  It seems some politicians either do not know their history, or don’t have enough “balls” to do the right thing at the right time.

The State is in the mess it’s in because our elected officials in Sacramento have not done the job for which they were put in office.  They have grown the size of State government, failed to adopt fiscally sound recommendations as contained in the California Performance Review, and have made California a hostile environment for business.  The recall of Gray Davis was one of many signals that all was not well with the State and folks were not happy.  Yet, Sacramento didn’t seem to listen.  Over the years, several bond measures have gone up in flames.  Still, Sacramento did not seem to “get it.”  The recent defeat of several Propositions in May seems to have sent a message, but the message the taxpayers sent and the message the lawmakers received seem to be two different things.

Voters want Sacramento to take a good, hard, open minded look at the State’s budget and get its house in order.  However, recent actions by the State Appropriations Committee which quietly shelved bills on pay freezes and salary restructuring for state boards and commissions, is a clear indication that political gamesmanship is still in play in Sacramento.  Once again, years of political pandering, neglect, and perhaps indifference, have wrecked the State’s finances.  Now the State wants money from the City.  It is time the California Legislature gets its act together, gets its house in order, and starts facing reality. Pronto!  (And for that matter, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if everyone on the City Council did the same.)

Motion:  M/S Vierra/Nateras to adopt Resolution No. 2009-23 finding a severe fiscal hardship will exist if additional tax funds are seized and additional unfunded mandates are adopted by the State of California.  The motion carried 5-0 by the following vote

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

NOES:                  Council Members:          None

          ABSENT:   Council Members:          None

 

     11. City Manager Announcements and Reports.

 

None.

ADJOURNMENT

The meeting was adjourned by consensus at 10:07 p.m.

 

                                                                   ______________________________                 City Clerk of the City of Livingston

 

ADOPTED:  August 4, 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.

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2 thoughts on “June 02, 2009

  1. Pingback: A Soldier in Need, a Notice of Intent, and a Presidential Turkey « 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 6— Some Background Information and a Brief Recap of What Happened Between 1995 and June 2009 « Thegardeningsnail's

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