OCTOBER 5, 2010 Draft Minutes



OCTOBER 5, 2010

A Closed Session/Regular Meeting of the Livingston City Council was held on October 5, 2010, in the City Council Chambers with Mayor Espinoza presiding.


Mayor Espinoza called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m.


Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza

Mayor Pro-Tem Margarita Aguilar

Council Member Frank Vierra

Council Member Theresa Land

Council Member Warren Urnberg

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

1. Conference with Real Property Negotiator.

Government Code Section 54956.8.

Property: Assessor’s Parcel Numbers: 047-617-009, 047-617-010, 047-617-011, 047- 617-012, and 047-617-013, also known as Lots 31, 32, 33, 34, and 35.

Negotiating Parties: Richard N. Warne, City Manager and Roy Van Dorst, Legacy Homes.

Under Negotiation: Price, Terms of Payment.

2. Conference with Real Property Negotiator.

Government Code Section 54956.8.

Property: Assessor’s Parcel Numbers: 022-093-002 and 022-093-003 also known as Davante Villas Unit 1, Lots 144 and 145.

Negotiating Parties: Richard N. Warne, City Manager and Steve Spencer, New America Homes.

Under Negotiation: Price, Terms of Payment.


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



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


The pledge of allegiance to the flag was recited.


Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza

Mayor Pro-Tem Margarita Aguilar

Council Member Frank Vierra

Council Member Theresa Land

Council Member Warren Urnberg




There was no reportable action.


1. Presentation by JKB Energy of Possible Installation of Solar Energy System at Domestic

Wastewater Treatment Plant.

A representative of JKB Energy gave a brief presentation on a solar energy system for the City’s Domestic Wastewater Treatment Plant and the amount of money the City could save by installing this system.


2. Discuss and Make City Council Appointments to City Boards, Commissions, Committees.

Discussion was held and appointments made to the following City Boards, Commissions and Committees:

a. Board Member/Alternate to Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) Governing Board.

Motion: M/S Espinoza/Land to appoint Mayor Espinoza as the member and Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar as the alternate to the Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) Governing Board. The motion carried 5-0.

b. Representative/Alternate to Central Valley Division League of California Citie (CVDLCC) Executive Committee.

Motion: M/S Aguilar/Espinoza to appoint Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar as the member and Council Member Land as the alternate to the Central Valley Division League of California Cities (CVDLCC) Executive Committee. The motion carried 5-0.

c. Board Member/Alternate to Merced County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDCO).

Motion: M/S Aguilar/Espinoza to appoint Council Member Urnberg as the member to the Merced County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDCO). The motion carried 5-0. No alternate was appointed.

d. Representative/Alternate to Special City Selection Committee of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control Board.

Motion: M/S Aguilar/Espinoza to appoint Mayor Espinoza as the City’s representative to the Special City Selection Committee of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control Board. The motion carried 5-0. No alternate was appointed.

e. City Council Liaison to Livingston Planning Commission.

Motion: M/S Land/Aguilar to appoint Council Member Land as the City’s liaison on the Livingston Planning Commission. The motion carried 5-0.

f. City Council Liaison to Livingston Court Theater Committee.

Mayor Espinoza noted that Council Member Vierra had been on the Committee and asked him if he would like to continue his service. Mr. Vierra said he had a conflict as he had missed the last two meetings.

Motion: M/S Espinoza/Land to appoint Council Member Urnberg as the City’s liaison on the Court Theater Committee. The motion carried 5-0.


Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

Supervisor Pedrozo made the following reports:

· Reported he had been busy with the high-speed rail. He gave a brief update on the

status of the system.

· Commented on the solar energy system presentation and said a system was just approved for the County’s Sandy Mush facility and he encouraged the Council to consider installing the system.

· Reminded everyone to get a prostate cancer checkup.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Council Member Frank Vierra

· No reports.

Council Member Theresa Land

· Thanked the City Manager for taking her on a tour of the City and introducing her to

all the department heads. She added that all of the staff had been very welcoming, courteous and helpful which she appreciated.

· Stated there were four weeks to go before Election Day. There were two spots for the Council: One for Mayor and the two people running for that spot were Mr. Espinoza and Mr. Varela; and also a Council Member spot in which Mr. Samra, Mr. Soria, and Ms. Thiara were competing for.

· Reported that on Saturday, October 9th, a car wash would be held at McDonald’s to benefit the Livingston High School Class of 2011.

· Reported that that also on Saturday, October 9th, the Livingston Wolves would be having a carnitas dinner. The cost was $10.00 and would be held from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The dinner would consist of carnitas, rice, beans, and tortillas.

Council Member Warren Urnberg

· Stated he would like to see in the newspaper the dates when the Council meetings were replayed because he had not seen this in the Chronicle. City Manager Warne noted this information was on the City website and Channel 2 and had been publicly announced several times.

· Commented that he just wanted to let people know that his wife of 52 years was born and raised in Livingston. She is Carmen Valdez Urnberg and that is the reason he attended most Council meetings; he had input, and that is why he applied for the interim position.

Mayor Pro-Tem Margarita Aguilar

· Reported on the September 27th Central Valley Division League of California Cities quarterly dinner meeting which she and Council Member Land attended.

· Gave a reminder that the November election was coming up and October 15 was the last day to register for those citizens who were not registered to vote.

· Commented the City would have a Street Fair every Thursday in October and she hoped everyone would attend and support the event.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza

· Stated that his prayers were with Bill Ingram who was in the hospital.

· Announced that when a citizen comes to the podium to please address the Council and not attack residents in the audience.

· Commented there was some concern expressed to him by citizens that kids play basketball at the sports complex after dark. He asked staff to check into possibly installing another light between the basketball courts and the parking lot.

Council Member Vierra said he would like to make a report. It slipped his mind when it was his turn to make announcements or reports.

· The high school informed their staff today that Peach Avenue would be closing starting the 13th of October. The project had gone out to bid and the sidewalks, the roads, and everything would be starting construction. The parking was going to be very limited. There was a new parking lot back by the field house and a parking lot in front, but there was still going to be a lot of people parking on Park Street, Main Street and side streets. High school staff would be negotiating with Value Market to see if some cars could be parked there, so it was going to be chaotic for awhile.

City Manager Warne said City staff members had a meeting with the high school representatives, so they were aware. The process of widening Peach Avenue was going to start with the burying of power lines. The people were going to see that street completely redone from Seventh Street to Main Street. He noted that City Engineer Gottiparthy had been working with the school district to make sure that everything was in conformance with City standards and the City was going to be doing all the inspections on the off-site improvements.

Council Member Vierra wanted to get information in the Livingston Chronicle so that the first week of construction wasn’t a big surprise to the residents. He added that the high school would also be sending out notices.

City Engineer Gottiparthy gave a detailed explanation of the high school project. He said the completion of the project would take 5-6 months.

Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar translated this information into Spanish. She stated, “We were just informed tonight that Peach Avenue, the street along the canal, is going to be closed starting October 13th. This means that traffic is going to be pretty heavy. They are going to be making changes in the streets due to the new high school construction project, so we want you to be aware of that. You need to wake up early and allow more time. The street will be closed for approximately 3-5 months, so it is very important that you are aware of that so that you start planning ahead. We are going to have more officers out there to help direct traffic and make sure that parents dropping off and picking up their children from school follow the law, so you need to be patient and be on time. They are also putting this information in the newspaper and on Channel 2, so this is just some information for you.”

Mayor Espinoza stated in Spanish, “We are going to put this information on Channel 2 in English and Spanish so that parents are aware of this and they can plan ahead and adjust to the changes.”

Mohani Thiara translated the information into Punjabi.




Donna Kenney, 6530 East Avenue Turlock invited the Council to the Livingston Rotary Crab Feed on November 6. She noted that tickets were $40 each and could be purchased from her or any other Rotarian.

Ms. Kenney reminded residents to look in their utility bill for a flier announcing the Citywide garage sale on October 23-24. She asked residents to register at City Hall if they were going to participate. Ms. Kenney noted that the Friday before the event, maps would be available for people to view locations of garage sales.

Kaye Greeley, 1571 Monte Cristo Way commented that she watched the City Council meeting of September 24 and was disappointed with what she viewed. She referred to comments made by Mr. Mario Mendoza about residents of the Monte Cristo Mobile Home Park where she resides which in her opinion were slanderous and threatening.

Ms. Greeley referred to a rumor that the Monte Cristo residents were paying only $20.00 per month for their City utility bill which was not true. She noted her bill for July was $98.00.

Katherine Schell Rodriquez, P.O. Box 163, Livingston asked have you noticed how it had been raining lately and how leaves were falling from the trees and how the City was not under water in many places? Tonight she wanted to talk about Christmas trees, branches and leaves, flooded streets, and street sweepers. She said this is the season for falling leaves and falling rain, falling leaves and clogged up drains, clogged up drains plus falling rain and lots of flooded streets. Ms. Schell Rodriguez asked who was going to pickup the dry Christmas trees that are left in the street so the drains do not get clogged. How are the streets kept clean all year so that all the drains are free and clear? She said it was a lot of work to keep things pretty and neat and not flooded in our City and that was the reason for the sanitation fund.

Estella Martinez, P.O. 281, Livingston relayed a concern that on September 24, in a special meeting, the Mayor and Council voted to lower the water rates. Her question was when this was discussed, when the Council had the opportunity to talk and make a decision, and if it was discussed in closed session why it wasn’t on the agenda. She saw nothing about that on the agenda, unless she didn’t see the right agenda. Ms. Martinez said residents received a bill and received a letter and that letter raised more questions for her. The Council said they would reconsider the rates, but how will problems with Well #15 be addressed?

Myra Bettencourt, 1584 Duke Drive commented that she was reading the following statement for Debra Lopez, 1543 Monte Cristo Way, because she was out of town, “Mr. Espinoza, Ms. Aguilar, and Mrs. Land, in closed session you withdrew the appeal. Based on prior comments made by Mr. Espinoza and Ms. Aguilar, you stated you were upset about the cost of legal fees. Mrs. Land, on November 17, 2009, at a Council meeting, you stated in a quote that once we get rid of the people who are not listening to the people, let us make sure we put people in their place who make sure that their first order of business is to get rid of the root of this fiasco. You also stated, “That you vote for someone to represent me to make things happen that will make my life better and better for my fellow man. I do not expect them to have their own agenda.” I myself would like to suggest to you that you have your own agenda. I, along with two other citizens, spoke to this Council prior to closed session and apparently the Council was not going to follow our suggestion. This case is in the appeal process, reached for appeal by both sides, money was already spent. The only way it would have cost more is if the judge required oral arguments. Most likely the briefs or arguments would have been enough since the attorneys would have done their job. You flushed that money that was already spent down the drain. This is no savings. You were more interested in playing nice with Foster Farms. According to Mr. Voris, Counsel for Foster Farms, it would go a long way for improving relations between the City and Foster Farms. This was your goal all along. This City reminds me of an old mining town. There is an old song that goes like this, “Sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt. St. Peter don’t you call me because I can’t go; I owe my soul to the company store.” This Council might as well change our name from the City of Livingston to the City of Foster Farms.”

Robert Harding, 1229 Davis Street voiced a concern regarding the delay in completion of sidewalk installation on Davis Street. He further noted that water would not go into the gutter because the contractor poured the sidewalk uphill and although a dry well was put in, dry wells hold only so much water. Mr. Harding was referred to Public Works about this matter.

Lavonna Bates 1770 Ash Court thanked the Council for lowering the water rates. She noted she read an article in the newspaper about the City of Atwater inviting Livingston residents to attend their 4th of July celebration. Ms. Bates said she did not favor holding Livingston’s event the day before or the day after July 4th. In another matter, Ms. Bates said she had a letter from Barbara Boxer regarding English being the official language of our Country.

Anna Maria Galvan, no address given, made the following statement in Spanish, “Good evening. I heard the lady saying she does not want us to speak Spanish. It seems as if this Country only belongs to the American people. There are many Hispanics here and most of the work is being done by Hispanics. I want to thank the City Council for lowering the water rates. There are people on Mr. Varela’s side that don’t agree with the decrease in the water rates, so you can increase their water bill to the amount it was before so they can be happy. We are behind you. The whole town is behind you. When you decide to raise our water rates, just make sure you hold a public meeting in English, Spanish and Punjabi and we will support you. We don’t want free water; we only want a fair rate. Not only has the City of Livingston protested, there is another town south of here named “Bell”, whose Council Members and the City Manager are currently in jail, and other cities that are also protesting the water rate increases and the salaries of the City Council and City Manager. It is not only the City of Livingston. Again, like I already said, the whole town is behind you. If you decide to increase the water rates, have a large meeting, and Mr. Mayor, campaign for your re-election.”

Interim City Attorney Sanchez interpreted Ms. Galvan’s comments in English. He stated the comments started off addressing the previous comment about English only and made sure to state that this Country was not made up of just with the term American which refers mostly to English speaking. The Country also had a lot of Hispanic people who actually, according to the speaker, did most of the work and the hardest work. Then the comment moved on and thanked the Council for lowering the water rates and that the whole town was behind the Council and next time the Council decided to raise the rates, to basically have a town meeting, a large meeting in all three languages, English, Spanish, and Punjabi, so people could be there and listen and be heard. She also mentioned other cities not agreeing with some of the rates and mentioned the City of Bell and how the City Manager and Council Members were actually in jail. She also mentioned other cities where residents were also against the water rate increase.

Mohani Thiara, 2691 Claret Circle thanked Mayor Espinoza for making the announcement about people attacking each other. She would have liked him to say that last time too because when she was at the Council meeting, she had to check to see if she could still talk as a resident and she could still talk before the election. She wanted to address, again, what Ms. Kaye Greeley said that we were truly blessed to live in this community where we have Spanish, Punjabi, and Portuguese residents that are a part of our community and are great people.

Ralph Mull, 1445 First Street commented that he learned his 1-2-3’s right at the Legion Hall. He learned how to add and subtract at Campus Park School, multiply and divide at Selma Herndon School, and do much more at the high school and he was thankful for all of that. He appreciated our City and was glad to see that we had an agreeable Council. He also looked at his new utility bill. He was very happy that it was nothing compared to what he had been paying, but he liked his grass green and didn’t want to kill his trees, and if he let his flower beds die, his wife would have his head, so he paid his bill. He noted we have almost 3,000 people that pay water, garbage and sewer – 3,000 x 10 is $30,000. Mr. Mull noted that we were in the negative on our water. He realized that we had been going in the hole and probably needed to recoup some of that money. He understood that we had to raise the rates, but said this could be done in a nice and easy manner.

Mario Mendoza, no address given, stated that some people were offended by his comments at the last City Council meeting about calling residents the Monte Cristo gang. In response to these comments about him working for the City Council, he noted he did not get paid by the City Council and he did not make threats. He was educated and he would not comment further for fear of repercussions.

Brian DaSilva, 13196 West Rose Avenue, Livingston asked for a status and if the Council was going to proceed with plans for a skate park. Community Development Director Kenney said she met with RJM Consultants and setup a schedule for workshops and the first meeting would be held on November 15 from 6 to 9 p.m. She added that City staff and the Consultants were starting to narrow down locations for the skate park.

Rick Soria, 1526 Main Street questioned if the citizens would be interested in putting together a boxing club and a PAL Program with the police department. He also noted that if the ladies from the Monte Cristo area would like to get involved with helping with some of the youth programs they were welcome to assist.

Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar thanked the residents for responding and giving the Council some information about what their street is going through. She knew the residents had several conversations with City Engineer Nanda Gottiparthy. She asked Mr. Gottiparthy to give the Council an update on what was going on for those persons who were not able to come and ask questions and would he give just give a general overview. She felt the information would benefit a lot of people.

City Engineer Gottiparthy reported there were sidewalks being constructed all over town. It is a federally funded grant project. This was being done by JJR Construction. About 90 % of the construction had been completed. Most of the concrete work had been completed. There was some landscape and driveway repairs and some asphalt work remaining, so staff had been working closely with the contractor. Staff anticipated that the majority of the work would be completed in about 2-3 more weeks. After that, the contractor would finish up all the deficiencies of the project. Subsequently, staff would bring the project to the City Council for final acceptance. Mr. Gottiparthy noted again that this project was funded 100% by federal grants. Staff submitted project costs to Caltrans for reimbursement. He commented that if residents had any questions they could contact City Hall, call him directly or call the staff at Public Works.


Mayor Espinoza presented the consent calendar items for approval:

3. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on May 4, 2010.

4. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on July 6, 2010.

5. Approval of Warrant Register Dated September 30, 2010.

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


6. Discussion of City Council Cell Phone Policy.

Mayor Espinoza stated that he placed this item on the agenda because he believed that in the past there was discussion about the misuse of City cell phones. His personal feeling was that City Council Members should not have a City cell phone. Council Member Land agreed.

Mayor Espinoza asked if he was correct that the City had a cell phone policy. City Manager Warne said yes, but it was an employee policy only and as Council Members it was up to them on how they governed themselves.

Council Member Land noted that when she spoke with the City Manager she was not aware that the policy was for employees only. She commented that if the Council was not going to be included in a cell phone policy, the Council should not have City cell phones.

Council Member Vierra commented on the need for transparency. Council Member Land said she reviewed Mr. Vierra’s cell phone minutes and it appeared that he used his cell phone for personal use.

Mayor Espinoza recalled that former Mayor Varela used his City cell phone for personal use including for campaign purposes.

City Manager Warne commented that if this was the direction the Council wanted to take, they might want to make a motion that the City Council no longer have City cell phones.

Katherine Schell Rodriguez, P.O. Box 163, Livingston said she believed that members of the City Council should have a separate cell phone. She also felt that City business should be City business and private business, private business. She added that the people had the right to receive City cell phone records.

Myra Bettencourt 1584 Duke Drive thought the residents should know who the Council was calling and they should be able to call the Council if they needed something.

Ricardo Soria, 1526 Main disagreed because if the people wanted to talk to the Council and it was an emergency they knew what number to call.

Interim City Attorney Sanchez commented that as far as the law went in a public records act, personal cell phone numbers were not subject to the private public records act. He said if a cell phone was issued to a Council Member that was subject to the private public records act.

Mayor Espinoza believed the policy should also include the City Manager. He had his own cell phone and didn’t think the Council should have a City cell phone because that came back to wasteful spending and cell phone abuse whether it was personal and then the Council could decide what to use it for.

City Manager Warne said he did have a personal cell phone, and he didn’t want to be in a position where he got a personal call and then someone suggested that he was using the City cell phone inappropriately.

Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar began a discussion on the possible reasons why City employees might get a personal call on their work phone.

Motion: M/S Espinoza/Aguilar that City Council Members do not have City cell phones. The motion carried 5-0.

7. City Manager Announcements and Reports.



The meeting was adjourned by consensus at 8:47 p.m.


City Clerk of the City of Livingston

APPROVED: February 1, 2011


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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