MARCH 15, 2011 Draft Minutes




MARCH 15, 2011

A Closed Session/Regular Meeting of the Livingston City Council was held on March 15, 2011, in the City Council Chambers with Mayor Espinoza presiding.


Mayor Espinoza opened the meeting at 6:32 p.m.


Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza

Mayor Pro-Tem Margarita Aguilar

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 and the Council then adjourned to the City Hall Conference Room for Closed Session to discuss the following matter:

1. Public Employee Appointment

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: City Manager


The Council came out of Closed Session and into Open Session and returned to the City Council

Chambers for the Regular Meeting.



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 Gurpal Samra


The Council approved the brochure for the recruitment of a City Manager with Avery and Associates.




1. Presentation of Plaque to Marine Sergeant Benito Armenta Aguilar.

All Council Members presented a plaque to Marine Sergeant Benito Armenta Aguilar in appreciation for his service and dedication in the Armed Forces. Marine Sergeant Aguilar recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Marine Sergeant Aguilar stated he was proud to be standing in front of the public tonight.

He said he had served two terms in Iraq and it was an honor to serve his country and his community.

Mayor Espinoza said the plaque was also meant to honor all the men and women serving our country in the military including those in the community.


Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

Supervisor Pedrozo was absent.

Acting City Manager Announcements and Reports.

Acting City Manager Vickie Lewis

· No reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Council Member Frank Vierra

· No reports.

Council Member Theresa Land

· Announced that as part of Relay for Life a Cancer Survivor breakfast and rummage sale would be held at the Livingston Community Center on March 19 from 8-11 a.m. She also announced that a Sober Grad Nite meeting was scheduled for April 4 in Room 901 at Livingston High School.

· Commented that she had met with JoAnne Mires and Diann Benafield, members of the Court Theater Committee and she wanted to say that she supported the theater project.

Council Member Gurpal Samra

· Noted that a Sikh Parade would be held on Sunday, March 27 and he encouraged everyone to attend where free food and drinks would be available. He said an attendance of about 3,000 people was anticipated.

· Commented that for the first time tonight the Council meeting was being live streamed on the City website and people could watch the meeting on the website. He suggested that this new feature be announced to the public by including a flier in the utility bills. Mr. Samra said this was just another thing this Council was doing that shows transparency.

Mayor Pro-Tem Margarita Aguilar

· Thanked the 4th of July Committee and also Riggs Ambulance, A.V. Thomas Produce and Direct Towing for returning their business letters. She noted the next Committee meeting would be held on March 21 at 7:00 p.m. at Geneo’s Pizza.

· Announced that a Fill the Hat Day to raise money for the 4th of July event would be held on April 2 at Main and “B” Streets.

· Reported that opening ceremonies for the 2011 baseball season would be held at

Alvernaz Ballfield on April 8.

· Welcomed her son back home and thanked her family for being at the meeting.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza

· Thanked the 4th of July Committee members for all they were doing to raise funds and Vickie Lewis, Jacquie Benoit and Interim Police Chief Chris Soria for their support of the event. He felt that this year the event would be back on track as in previous years.

· Reported that Jaime Fuentes was having a Relay for Life fundraiser on Saturday to Black Oak Casino. The cost was $40 per person.


2. Review Title 4, Chapter 2, Signage Regulations of the Livingston Municipal Code and Provide Staff Direction.

Community Development Director Donna Kenney presented the agenda item. She said it was her understanding that the Council wanted to review the Sign Ordinance. She noted that she had provided the Council with this information and had listed some of the items that had come up for the Council’s consideration.

Ms. Kenney said staff was happy to work with the Council and update them on the Sign Ordinance. She commented that if the Council had anything on their minds at the moment, she could take some notes and bring the information back to the Council or another option would be to have a planning workshop.

Mayor Espinoza stated that he asked for this item to be put on the agenda because in the past a lot of businesses had complained about the signs either being too small and then they put up a bigger sign only to be asked to take down the sign. He stressed that the Council wanted to help out as many businesses as possible, but of course with signs that would look decent. Mayor Espinoza felt the Council needed more time to review the Sign Ordinance and felt the City Attorney should review it also. He noted there might be a need for this item to go back to the Planning Commission for review.

Mayor Espinoza opened the hearing for public comments at 7:18 p.m.

Warren Urnberg, 1331 Eighth Street, commented that he had been checking with other cities to see what their sign ordinances say and recommended that the Council and staff check with other cities to determine how they were handling the sign situations. Mr. Urnberg referred to poles with flags on them that need to be addressed as well.

Mayor Espinoza closed the hearing at 7:20 p.m. as there were no further comments from the public.

Council Member Samra said he had gone through some of the Sign Ordinance and had also heard some of the same concerns that the Council had expressed. He noted that most of his questions involved industrial and commercial signs. Mr. Samra said he would like to see the businesses get involved and that letters be sent to them to inform them that the Council was reviewing the Sign Ordinance and get their input. Perhaps they in turn could write a letter to the Planning Department with their concerns. He commented that the industrial area didn’t have the frontage and if they are facing two buildings then you don’t see the sign.

Ms. Kenney said she thought money might play into it as well. She said a 30 foot tall tenant sign was quite expensive so there was an option for them to do one of those signs so they were relying on their wall sign.

Council Member Samra noted the property owner didn’t want to front the money to put up the sign.

Mayor Espinoza said he understood because businesses were striving to survive right now.

Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar was in agreement with the comments that were made. She felt the item should go back to the Planning Commission for review and then have the business owners provide input.

Ms. Kenney noted that staff had tried to be flexible with banners and it was only good for 45 days and if it was not affecting traffic

Mayor Espinoza said he knew that those dealerships try to put up flags.

Ms. Kenney commented that a dealership could have flags, but it would require a Conditional Use Permit. She said she did allow those feather shaped flags on a temporary basis under the banner section of the ordinance.

Council Members Vierra and Land agreed that the item be sent back to the Planning Commission for review.

City Attorney Sanchez commented that staff had received direction to return this item to the Planning Commission.


Myra Bettencourt, 1584 Duke Drive, voiced her opinion on the news of the retirement of Lt. Silva. Ms. Bettencourt also stated that she hoped that Ms. Lewis had a degree due to her high salary. Additionally, she pointed out the large severance packages paid out to Mr. Warne and Mr. Dunford. Ms. Bettencourt told Ms. Lewis that she felt sorry for her because she was going to be the scapegoat for the Council and do all the crooked things the Council wanted done.

In response, Ms. Lewis stated that she would listen to everything that was said at the podium, but when someone accused her of doing crooked things she took exception to that.

Mayor Espinoza noted that the large severance packages were given because they were approved by the previous Council.

Council Member Samra stated that since he got back on the Council he had kept his mouth shut. He told Ms. Bettencourt that just because she could say something didn’t mean that she should. He said he was proud to know and work with Ms. Lewis and for Ms. Bettencourt to call her crooked was wrong. Mr. Samra said he was not sure where Ms. Bettencourt was getting her information, but she needed to rethink who she was before making derogatory remarks.

Mario Mendoza, no address given, stated that Ms. Lewis was doing a great job and she was the only person who took the time to talk to him. He said and if they talk about education, one cannot be accusing another person without evidence.

Warren Urnberg, 1331 Eighth Street commented that he had dealt with Ms. Lewis many times and she had an open door policy and put in a lot of overtime. He thanked Ms. Lewis for all she did.

Mr. Urnberg said that he was glad to see Mr. Vierra at the meeting. He noted that Mr. Vierra had missed three months of Council meetings for whatever reason, and he felt Mr. Vierra’s $900 stipend should be donated to the 4th of July Committee because it wasn’t earned.

Kathryn Schell Rodriquez, P.O. Box 163, Livingston shared a cartoon depicting education. She noted that there was an obvious concern regarding cuts to education. In addition she pointed out that there seemed to be irony related to the current situation. Some of the current Council Members had gone on record to say that everything in City employees’ contracts should be looked at and possibly reduced. However, Ms. Schell Rodriquez pointed out that the majority of the Council were paid through taxpayer funds or were friends with union representatives who were negotiating for pretty much the opposite.


Mayor Espinoza presented the following consent calendar items for the Council’s consideration:

3. Resolution No. 2011-18, Authorizing the Interim City Manager to Enter into an Agreement Between the City of Livingston and the Livingston Union School District for the Installation of the Video Surveillance Systems as Funded by the United States Department of Justice under the 2009 COPS Secure Our Schools Grant Program.

4. Resolution No. 2011-19, Authorizing the Interim City Manager to Prepare and Distribute a Request for Proposals for Grant Services Related to the Housing Components of the HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME), the State Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, and the CalHOME Housing Rehabilitation Program.

5. Resolution No. 2011-20, Appointing Parks and Recreation Commissioners.

6. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on February 9, 2011.

7. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on February 15, 2011.Approval of Warrant Register Dated March 9, 2011.

Motion: M/S Aguilar/Samra to approve the consent calendar items as presented. The motion carried 5-0 by the following roll call vote:

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

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: None


  1. City Council Review and Provide Staff Direction on Livingston Municipal Code Title 5,

Chapter 3, Table 3, Footnote 1, Concerning Alcohol by the Glass in the Downtown Commercial District (DTC).

Community Development Director Donna Kenney presented the agenda item. Ms. Kenney shared information provided to Council Member Land regarding Punjab Sweets.

Their business license which was beer and wine sales was granted by Brian Millar in January 2005. There was no ABC license for alcohol sales. The Cocina Mexicana, the business that was located in the same location prior to Punjab Sweets had an ABC license. There was no six month vacancy. The business went from restaurant to restaurant, therefore no Conditional Use Permit (CUP) was required.

Mountain Mike’s business license was issued in March 2004 and was reviewed and approved by all City departments except for planning. At that time there was no permanent City Planner so there was no one in the Planning Department to review the license. A search of ABC records showed that Mountain Mikes began business with a beer and wine license in 1999. The current business dropped an owner in 2007. The previous business did not sell alcohol by the glass.

Ms. Kenney commented that as the Council moved forward to consider the change it wouldn’t apply to one person, it would apply to the whole downtown area. She noted since this did affect the zoning code it would need to go to the Planning Commission and staff was asking for direction.

Mayor Espinoza asked if the proper procedure was to send this to the Planning Commission first.

Ms. Kenney replied that the City Code allowed this with an amendment to be initiated through the Planning Commission or through the City Council or an applicant.

City Attorney Sanchez asked Ms. Kenney what the process would be if the footnote was taken out.

Ms. Kenney explained an applicant would submit an application to the City and it would be accepted as a Conditional Use Permit.

Mayor Espinoza noted this section was adopted in August 2005 and it was up to the Council to send it back to the Planning Commission.

Mayor Espinoza opened the item for public comment at 7:49 p.m. There were no public comments and the public comment period was closed at 7:49 p.m.

Council Member Samra recommended that the Council send the ordinance to the Planning Commission for review. He noted he also had people say that they didn’t just want to sit. People wanted a place where they could dance as well.

Mayor Espinoza commented the City was limited to some businesses coming into town. He said many downtowns in other cities had nice bars where people could hang out.

Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar agreed that the Council needed to send the ordinance to the Planning Commission and contact some of the businesses. It was also noted that public safety should be considered while making decisions on this matter.

City Attorney Sanchez said the Municipal Code did refer to a resolution of intention. He noted a Code amendment was necessary since a lot of businesses had asked for this.

Ms. Kenney said this was not an existing business, but people wanting to start a business.

Council Member Land agreed with bringing businesses in, but she didn’t think the Downtown Commercial area was the place for it.

Council Member Vierra agreed that this item did need to go the Planning Commission.

Ms. Kenney asked the Council if they wanted a resolution of intent.

City Attorney Sanchez recommended that the item be sent to the Planning Commission and that it also be added to the consent calendar for the next Council meeting.

It was the consensus of the Council that this item be sent to the Planning Commission for review.


The meeting was adjourned by consensus at 7:55 p.m.


City Clerk of the City of Livingston

APPROVED: April 19, 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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