AUGUST 16, 2011 Draft Minutes





AUGUST 16, 2011

A Closed Session/Regular Meeting of the Livingston City Council was held on August 16, 2011 in the City Council Chambers with Mayor Espinoza presiding.



Mayor Espinoza opened the meeting at 6:01 p.m.


The pledge of allegiance to the flag was recited.


Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza

Mayor Pro-Tem Margarita Aguilar (Excused Absence)

Council Member Frank Vierra

Council Member Theresa Land

Council Member Gurpal Samra

Mayor Espinoza opened the meeting for public comments. There were no public comments.

The City Council subsequently adjourned to the City Hall Conference Room for Closed Session to discuss the following matter

1. Conference with Legal Counsel – Existing Litigation

Government Code Section 54956.9(a)

a. City of Livingston v. The Dow Chemical Company, et al.

San Francisco Superior Court, Case No.CGC-05-442837

San Bernardino Superior Court, Case No. SVCSS 120627

Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding No. 4435


The City Council came out of Closed Session and adjourned to the City Council Chambers for the start of the Regular Meeting.



Mayor Espinoza opened the meeting at 7:01 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 Gurpal Samra


Mayor Espinoza indicated there was nothing to report at this time.


City Attorney Jose Sanchez stated that he would like to pull Item No. 5 on the consent calendar and continue the item. The item was the second reading of the ordinance opting for the voluntary alternative redevelopment program. He also noted that Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar was in attendance, but she was not present at the Closed Session.


1. Presentation by Kristen Lucas, City of Livingston Animal Control Officer.

Animal Control Officer Kristen Lucas presented information on the animal control department that is a part of the Police Department and shared her duties and responsibilities. She also gave a Power Point presentation outlining animal control statistics.

Katherine Schell Rodriquez, P.O. Box 163 asked if Ms. Lucas was aware of a feral cat spay or neuter program?

Officer Lucas stated that she does trap feral cats.

Brief discussion and a question and answer period followed.


Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

Supervisor Pedrozo was absent.

City Staff Announcements and Reports.

Community Development Director Donna Kenney gave an update on new Planning Commissioner Francisco Castellanos who was sworn in at the last meeting. She added that the Planning Commission reviewed the monopine application for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) which will be located on the high school football field property. This passed by a vote of 3-2. Director Kenney noted the Planning Commission also discussed signage and she was directed to bring them a resolution at the next meeting.

Public Works Superintendent Kathryn Reyes stated that the fall street fair was getting ready to start and would be held for two months this year, every Thursday in September and October from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. She also gave an update on the signs in the park stating that pets need to be kept on leashes and for people to clean up after their pets. Superintendent Reyes commented that she was moving forward on getting the signs installed and she discovered that the City had a park resolution in place that states that pets are not allowed in the parks. She wants to change this and is currently working on this item.

City Engineer Nanda Gottiparthy gave an update on the Peach Avenue traffic. He said that Peach Avenue is open to traffic and the temporary stop sign at Park and Main Streets has been removed. There was discussion about observing traffic there. Since the stop sign was installed as a temporary control the City now plans on observing the traffic and taking traffic counts then coming back to the City Council to determine if the stop sign will be needed.

Interim Chief of Police Chris Soria stated that tomorrow night will be the last neighborhood visit this year.

City Manager Announcements and Reports.

City Manager Jose Ramirez stated that today he and Mayor Espinoza met with Mercedes Marquez the Assistant Secretary to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). He commented that HUD is a very important agency. This agency has more funding available than some of the other agencies so he is looking forward to seeing what kind of resources the City can find. He also added that the he wanted the community to know that the City is trying to build up its funding. Grant funding is out there and he is looking at bringing in the right partners and grant writing teams to get this moving forward.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Council Member Vierra referred to an August 12th newspaper article and said he didn’t know if they misquoted Council Member Samra, but it sounded like the City put the blame for all of the lawsuits on the last two previous Councils and he felt the entire City Council needed to accept the blame for lawsuits over the last five to six years. He added that when Council Member Samra was elected Mayor, that year the City was hit with two lawsuits from the Merced County Farm Bureau because the City Council passed the general plan update, and that was not even indicated in the article. He wanted everyone to understand that every Council Member who sat on the Council in the last five years should take some blame.

Council Member Land announced that Back to School Nights would be held on August 23rd at Yamato Colony School, 6:00 p.m.; Livingston Middle School, August 25th, 6:00 p.m.; Selma Herndon , August 30th, 6:00 p.m.; and September 1st, Campus Park, 6:00 p.m. She added that traffic on Peach Avenue has been perfect and she thanked City Engineer Gottiparthy for his hard work.

Council Member Samra relayed to Council Member Vierra that he was right about responsibility for the lawsuits, but he believed that some were more responsible than others. He added that he didn’t believe that Council Member Vierra had done one thing to help cut down on these lawsuits. Council Member Samra stated that each time he had come on the City Council, he has had to stop lawsuits that were started when the majority of the City Council shifted. Those were lawsuits that were initiated with Foster Farms. He indicated that they all knew why those lawsuits started. The general plan was an entire vote of the City Council, but if you look at the major portion of the lawsuits they were based on a split City Council each time. He wanted Council Member Vierra to remember that he has been on and off the City Council and Council Member Vierra has been on the City Council ever since. Council Member Samra noted that Merced is changing out some street lights and he wants to know their funding mechanism.

Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar stated that school is back in session and reminded everyone to please slow down and leave on time so that students can cross the streets safely. She also invited the public to the multicultural event at Memorial Park on Sunday, August 28th from 12:00 noon to 10:00 p.m.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

Mayor Espinoza added that this is the sixth year for the multicultural event and last year’s event was a huge success. He noted that he and City Manager Ramirez went to Fresno today and visited with Mrs. Mercedes Marquez, the National Assistant Secretary for HUD and she was very friendly. He said they also met some people that belong to the League of Cities in the Fresno area.




Katherine Schell Rodriquez, P.O. Box 163 commented that according to Cora Hiezer in Twenty Nine Palms, a former City Council Member called her because he or she thought that Twenty Nine Palms would be interested in the August 12th Merced Sun Star article just discussed by Council Members Vierra and Samra. She stated that it almost sounded like someone isn’t satisfied enough that the former City Manager is gone. That person wants the former City Manager destroyed. She wonders if it is the same person who goes by the Sun Star sign-on: “Getting Grey”. She has no documentation that would stand up in a court of law that would show a vindication on the part of the City or any City official. She does have several legally obtained public documents that show that Foster Farms uses over half the water produced by Livingston daily and indicates that Foster’s did not have back flow devices or water meters prior to 2006. Foster Farms is a big company and has been around for a long time. This company also did a lot of construction without permits. If Getting Grey has any more information she wished that he or she would get a word press log and post that information.

JoAnne Mires, 4617 Arena Way, Atwater, Chairperson of the Court Theater Committee stated that the Committee was very encouraged by the resolution that was passed by the City Council at the May meeting. She said the resolution let the Committee know that the City Council supported the Theater project. Ms. Mires noted that they were very encouraged because they now feel that the City Council as well as the Committee both know the importance of having the City owned building become a facility that can be used by the entire community, be it recreation, entertainment, special events, etc. She added that having this resolution passed has encouraged the Committee to continue its endeavors of what they feel this project is. She invited everyone to a Committee tea party fundraiser on September 17th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at 4617 Arena Way, Atwater. Ms. Mires also noted that the Committee was delighted that the City Manager attended the last meeting. She also announced another fundraiser, a Bunco Bash in February 2012.

Myra Bettencourt, 1584 Duke Drive commented that she felt that Council Member Samra had misunderstood Council Member Vierra regarding the lawsuits and Council Member Vierra was also taking the blame so Council Member Samra should not put all the blame on him. She stated that Council Member Samra and Mayor Espinoza were both on the City Council at the time and there have been several lawsuits and it just wasn’t when Daniel Varela was the Mayor.

Council Member Samra commented that it was interesting that when there is blame to be made some people want to share that, but never do they mention that it was the Mayor himself who stopped the two lawsuits. He stated that Council Member Vierra made no attempt to stop these lawsuits. The City made Los Angeles lawyers very rich and then the City started spreading the wealth to Sacramento. Council Member Samra added that Council Member Vierra should have made the attempt to stop these suits that he complains about. When the majority shifted back, those things came to a halt.

Mayor Espinoza added that spending $60,000 trying to affect the outcome of an election; they spent that without City Council approval so they stopped both lawsuits with Foster Farms. He said the City spent about $100,000 with the current attorneys off the case.

Council Member Samra added that there are things the City Council is prohibited from talking about regarding lawsuits, so Council Member Vierra knows exactly how much blame to pass around and he needs to knock it off and accept what happened and say the City Council messed up and they are not going to let this happen again.

Luis Flores, 707 Almondwood Drive announced that a Livingston Community Garden meeting would be held on August 17th at 5:00 p.m. He noted the Committee was gearing up for a lot of exciting things for the community. He mentioned again that the multicultural event would be held on August 28th. Mr. Flores commented that on August 27th at 7:30 a.m. there would be a 4 mile walk/run for fallen soldiers. He mentioned Karina Lau who passed away a few years ago and was the first female soldier to lose her life in the line of duty and this event was dedicated to her. He said the event would be held at Applegate Park in Merced, with registration starting at 7:30 a.m. Mr. Flores also commented that as the renewal of the Gilton Solid Waste contract gets closer he would like to see more updates.

Joylynn Peterson, 2858 Evergreen Court stated that she works for the recreation department and also sits on the Parks and Recreation Commission and she wanted to say that she did not think it was appropriate for Council Members to clash against each other. She felt if this was necessary it should be done behind closed doors. She invited everyone to the Second Annual Summer Slam on Saturday, August 20th, 7:00 p.m., at the Walnut Sports Complex. The event will include a basketball tournament, three on three, slam dunk and free throw contest. They have collected many donations for prizes.


2. Adopt Resolution No. 2011-55, Approving Amendment No. 2 to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Between the City of Livingston and Merced County Workforce Investment Board for Enterprise Zone Marketing and Program Management Services.

3. Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 593 of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Livingston Municipal Code Section 5-6-2(B) Concerning Amendments and Rezonings.

4. Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 594 of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Livingston Municipal Code Title 5, Chapter 3 Relating to Farmworker Housing, Emergency Shelters and Transitional and Supportive Housing as Required by the City’s Housing Element.

4. Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 595 of the City Council of the City of Livingston Authorizing the City to Participate in the ABx1 27 Voluntary Alternative Redevelopment Program.

5. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on August 2, 2011.

6. Approval of Warrant Register Dated August 10, 2011

City Attorney Sanchez pulled Item No. 5 for discussion.

Motion: M/S Land/Samra to approve consent agenda items 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7. The motion carried 5-0 by the following roll call vote:

AYES: Council Members: Espinoza, Aguilar, Land, Samra, Vierra

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: None

City Attorney Sanchez explained why he wanted to continue this item. He noted that a lot of legislation was going on and there have been proposals made to get rid of redevelopment and the latest were AB 26 and AB 27. City Attorney Sanchez commented that with AB 26 they are basically winding down redevelopment. With AB 27 the law allows redevelopment to come back to allow the City to enroll in what they call “Pay to Play” where the City agrees to send annual payments to the County Auditor-Controller which they will distribute amongst tax entities, local entities such as school districts and then the City can continue their redevelopment agency. He also added the AB 27, which was the “Pay to Play” program, required the City to adopt an ordinance. City Attorney Sanchez noted that last week the City Council waived the first reading and introduced an ordinance getting the City into the system of the Pay to Play activities. The payments were very high. On Thursday, August 11th the Supreme Court reviewed pending litigation where the California Redevelopment Association actually filed a lawsuit basically questioning the constitutionality of these assembly bills. The Supreme Court issued a stay, putting a freeze on certain parts of the legislation, specifically AB 27 that allows the City to adopt an ordinance in order to Pay to Play. That has been placed on hold. The Ordinance will be continued and if the Supreme Court comes back and says that the Ordinance is still needed, then the Ordinance would need one more reading.


8. Adoption of Resolution No. 2011-___Authorizing the City Manager to Enter into an Agreement for Building Department Contract Staff Support Services.

Community Development Director Donna Kenney presented the item.

Katherine Schell Rodriquez, P.O. Box 163 asked the City Council to please not bounce this around and pick a company.

Brief discussion followed.

Motion: M/S Aguilar/Vierra to adopt Resolution No. 20111-56 selecting WC³ for Building Department Contract Staff Support Services. The motion carried 5-0 by the following roll call vote:

AYES: Council Members: Aguilar, Samra, Vierra, Espinoza, Land

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: None

9. Discussion – Renaming of Livingston-Cressey Road to North Main Street.

Mayor Espinoza commented that he brought this item to light for discussion purposes because he believed the change will benefit the community. He stated the decision to move forward was up to Council. Mayor Espinoza noted the item could be continued to a future meeting where all businesses and residents would be invited to participate and comment. He also noted that the name change would bring the City together as a whole.

City Manager Jose Ramirez commented that we have the freeway coming through and the extension of the downtown, but we also have to look at the cost of changing names. His recommendation was to do this over time because there will be an impact to the school district and businesses. Mr. Ramirez stated that we know that businesses purchase letterhead, etc. and we need to take this all into account.

Mayor Espinoza agreed with the cost to businesses to rename Livingston-Cressey Road.

Community Development Director Donna Kenney added that at the request of Council Member Land, staff hand-delivered notices to everyone with a Livingston-Cressey Road address between Highway 99 and Olive Avenue.

City Manager Ramirez noted that he had a chance to talk to LUSD Superintendent Andres Zamora to let him know that this was just an idea that the Mayor would like to have a discussion on and see what direction the City should take.

Warren Urnberg, 1331 Eighth Street commented that renaming Livingston-Cressey to North Main Street was a good idea and he was in favor of the name change. He added that Main Street used to be Third Street many years ago. Mr. Urnberg added that one day the City Council had a meeting and the next day, the signs changing the street name were up. He commented that he would go along with the change of North Main Street because this was the only way you can separate between Main and that side of town to assign addresses. Mr. Urnberg’s recommendation was to give residents and businesses about six to nine months to enable them to use all of their letterhead and business cards.

Katherine Schell Rodriquez, P.O. Box 163 commented that if the City Council voted tonight and the signs went up tomorrow, she would call that a Brown Act violation. She added that there is a reason why we call the road Livingston-Cressey, because that is how you get to the town of Cressey.

Cindy Lashbrook, 12230 Livingston-Cressey asked if the growth boundary goes out beyond Olive Avenue. She referred to Monte Vista Avenue and University Way in Turlock and commented that she too would like to keep the Livingston-Cressey Road sign for a long time for the people that come out on the frontage roads, maybe even memorialize it.

Sabin Escobedo, a business owner on Livingston-Cressey Road welcomed City Manager Ramirez to the City. Mr. Escobedo is also in favor of renaming the road. He noted he tried to do this on another occasion about seven years ago and his suggestion was voted down. Mr. Escobedo noted that he has talked to most of the business owners and received about 85% approval of changing the name in a transitional period – eight months to a year. That way the businesses would have time to change their stationary. Mr. Escobedo commented that he owns the building on the corner of Livingston-Cressey Road and Campbell Avenue which houses four businesses. On occasion he gets truckers at his building asking for an address on Cressey Way because there is a Cressey Way out of City limits. He noted that there is confusion when you have people from the outside bringing in deliveries or looking for an address. They get confused with Livingston-Cressey Road and Cressey Way. He also stated that on his radio announcements he notes Main Street and that seems to help his clients find his place of business.

Council Member Samra commented that residents and businesses are in favor of North Main Street because it brings the City together. He stated that he is in favor of bringing this item back.

Council Member Land added that she didn’t have an opinion either way, but that she wanted the people who are affected to know about the change.

Council Member Vierra added that the reason why Turlock has University Way on the Monte Vista sign is because they had a lot of turmoil over that and both names stayed on the sign. He also noted that if we are looking at the north end, we should be taking a look at the south end too. We should change the whole street and not just part of it.

Mayor Espinoza clarified that there was a consensus to direct the City Manager to schedule the item for comments. Council Member Samra and Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar agreed.

Council Member Land favored looking at both sides.

Council Member Vierra stated that people need to be notified and given plenty of time.

City Attorney Sanchez added that to make the direction clear, at the next City Council meeting should staff present a resolution or just a discussion item?

Mayor Espinoza replied just a discussion item.


The meeting was adjourned by consensus at 8:50 p.m.


City Clerk of the City of Livingston

APPROVED: September 6, 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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