JANAURY 03, 2012 Draft Minutes





JANAURY 3, 2012

A Closed Session/Regular Meeting of the Livingston City Council was held on January 3, 2012, in the City Council Chambers with Mayor Espinoza presiding.



Mayor Espinoza called the meeting to order at 6:04 p.m.


Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza

Mayor Pro-Tem Margarita Aguilar  (Excused Absence)

Council Member Frank Vierra  (Excused Absence)

Council Member Theresa Land

Council Member Gurpal Samra

Mayor Espinoza opened the meeting for public comments. There were no comments from the public. The Council subsequently adjourned to Closed Session at 6:06 p.m. to discuss the following matters:

1. Public Employee Appointment

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: Chief of Police

2. Conference with Legal Counsel—Potential Litigation

[(Government Code Section 54956.9(b)(1)]

Number of Cases: 1

3. Conference with Labor Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Agency Negotiator: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez

Employee Organizations: All Represented City Employees

4. Conference with Legal Counsel—Potential Litigation

[(Government Code Section 54956.9(b)(1)]

Number of Cases: 3


The Council came out of Closed Session to begin the Regular Meeting.



Mayor Espinoza called the meeting to order at 7:13 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  (Excused Absence)

Council Member Theresa Land

Council Member Gurpal Samra


No announcements were made.


Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza requested that consent agenda items 4 and 6 be pulled.






Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

Brenda Valenzuela-Porras, Administrative Assistant to Supervisor Pedrozo announced that a Town Hall meeting will be held in Livingston on January 19, 2012, at 6:30 p.m., in the City Council Chambers.

City Staff Announcements and Reports.

Community Development Director Donna Kenney announced that the City was notified that the second expansion of the enterprise zone has been approved by the state. She also reported that the Planning Commission held a special meeting on December 29, 2011, and voted 5-0 to recommend to the City Council approval of the Gallo Annexation, Prezone, General Plan Amendment and Mitigated Negative Declaration. This project will be presented to the City Council at their regular meeting of January 17, 2012.

Public Works Superintendent Kathryn Reyes announced that the department is currently doing Christmas tree pickup and will continue to pickup trees through February and there is no need to call.

Mayor Espinoza thanked the Public Works Department and Superintendent Reyes for picking up all trees in the community. He added that they will be bringing this back to the City Council next year to see if they want to continue this project in the future.

Assistant City Manager Odi Ortiz commented that according to the HDL Company’s report the City’s third quarter sales tax activity was positive and the City gained 17% from the previous quarter. He noted that he is working on the City’s mid-year budget review.

City Manager Announcements and Reports

City Manager Ramirez announced the bad news regarding the dissolution of California’s Redevelopment Agencies and asked City Attorney Sanchez to give an update on this matter.

City Attorney Sanchez shared that the decision came from the California Supreme Court. There were two Assembly Bills in question, AB26 and AB27. AB26 dissolved the Redevelopment Agencies and AB27 allowed them to come back if the public entity was willing to pay a certain amount every year in order to continue with redevelopment entities and with all of the functions. The cities were arguing against the payments and the dissolving of the Redevelopment Agencies. The decision basically upheld AB26 and invalidated AB27. Therefore, effective February 1, 2012, all Redevelopment Agencies will be dissolved. He will be recommending that the City be named the successor entity and is in charge of winding down the assets held by the Redevelopment Agency.

City Manager Ramirez added that the City has until January 31 to identify the special agency. On May 1st there has to be a board, a combination of school officials, county officials, city officials that will comprise the successor agency. He commented that he will continue to work closely with Supervisor John Pedrozo’s office in regards to the City’s tax sharing agreement with the County. In addition, City Manager Ramirez stated that the City looks forward to working with the 4th of July Committee members and partnering and bringing in a carnival and bringing back the sweet potato festival. He will also be attending an SRMA meeting tomorrow in Sacramento and looking at the best cost effective health insurance plans for City employees.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Council Member Land wished everyone a Happy New Year and hopes everyone spent time with their families. She announced that Livingston High School will be back in session on January 4th after the holiday break. Council Member Land thanked the Livingston Police Department for the Kops for Kids event which she deemed fabulous with a lot of kids with smiling faces participating. She thanked all that were involved.

Council Member Samra also wished everyone a Happy New Year. He noted that the toy drive photo in the Livingston Chronicle said it all and really showed the hard work that everyone did. He also thanked all the staff that took part in the event.

City Manager Ramirez commented that he also wished to thank City Hall staff for donating funds to a worthy cause; two families with children were in need and staff came to the rescue.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports

Mayor Espinoza also thanked the staff members who helped with the toy drive. He added that one family that he spoke with did not make it in time for the program this year so he explained how to apply next year.

Mayor Espinoza stated in Spanish, “For those families that did not apply for Christmas gifts at the Police Department last year, please remember to submit your application in November this year so you can get presents in December because if you don’t apply, you will not get any presents even if you show up when they are being distributed.”

Mayor Espinoza gave an update of the December Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) meeting and commented that he had attended his first meeting of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Special City Selection Committee in Salida and noted that everyone throughout the valley is part of this District. Mayor Espinoza also reported that yesterday he called the police department about a dead dog on Campbell Blvd. He knows the City doesn’t have a policy about dead animals, but feels that citizens should be able to call someone to pick-up dead animals on the weekend.


1. Resolution Conditionally Approving Site Plan/Design Review 2011-01 for the Taco Bell Project.

Community Development Director Donna Kenney presented the agenda item.

Mayor Espinoza opened the hearing for public comments at 7:26 p.m.

Colette Alvernaz, P.O. Box 255 commented that the traffic on Joseph Gallo Drive is terrible; trucks are running red lights trying to get onto Winton Parkway to get to the onramp. It is an already impacted intersection and should be looked at. She noted that this will be a magnet for junior high students. There needs to be a safe route for kids to get to that area. Mrs. Alvernaz asked if the City has water available for this business. Two years ago she noted that Starbucks had been shut down one afternoon because they were having trouble getting water. She commented that if we allow someone to come into our community we absolutely need to provide services, so she wanted to ensure that there is good quality water available for the business. Mrs. Alvernaz further commented there have been issues about the well there and the City just received a settlement and water is very important. She commented about air quality down in San Luis Obispo where they don’t have any drive thrus and the reason they don’t is because of air pollution. They have not regulated drive thrus yet here, but it is just a matter of time. Mrs. Alvernaz said she is not opposed to the project, but is concerned about the traffic, safety of the kids, air quality and water.

City Manager Jose Ramirez noted that there is a technical review committee that is made up of staff members that make sure that the City has the capacity for infrastructure needs. Also regarding safety for the children, City Manager Ramirez said that we will look at that with City department heads and Gallo to make sure that there is a safe route for children to get to the area. Regarding traffic he said staff is very aware that that intersection is heavily impacted, so staff is working with the Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) and Council may be opting for the Regional Transportation Fund (RTF) program.

Mike Sperry, 1328 First Street commented that Mrs. Alvernaz hit on some good things. That area is growing and as a community we need to see something generated to connect here to over there. He commented that there is not one single crosswalk from the south side of B Street and none as far as this side goes. He sees people walking along the canal banks going out to that area. Mr. Sperry noted that Taco Bell is going to be on the furthest point for the people of Livingston so there are crosswalks once you hit Jack in the Box, but at the intersection there is nothing there. He also added that maybe if they want to build in Livingston they need to help us out. At this time no one has been hit in the fog, but we need to start looking at this.

Mayor Espinoza added that the corner would be addressed by adding improvements.

Community Development Director Kenney added that as Rancho San Miguel and Livingston Commons build, they will be working on the traffic lights and putting in sidewalks on the north side of B. Within the last year the City has put in a sidewalk on the south side of B Street with a crosswalk at the light.

Mayor Espinoza closed the hearing at 7:38 p.m. as there were no further comments from the public.

City Manager Ramirez commented that we welcome the investors that decide to come here and look forward to working with them; this will be a nice addition to that area. Also in terms of sales tax dollars every little bit helps, and with Taco Bell’s success others will be attracted to the area.

Mark Tanis of OCAT added that they are excited and the town is excited; this is going to be a great business venture.

Council Member Samra asked if this project moves forward what is the timeline.

Mr. Tanis responded as soon as possible. He said they are finishing up the plans to submit to the Building Department this month.

Council Member Land welcomed the business on board and said she is very excited and that the citizens are excited as well. Also the business will create jobs for our citizens.

Motion: M/S Samra/Land to approve Resolution No. 2012-01 Conditionally Approving Site Plan/Design Review 2011-01 for the Taco Bell Project. The motion carried 3-0 by the following roll call vote:

AYES: Council Members: Espinoza, Land, and Samra

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: Aguilar, Vierra

2. Introduce and Waive the First Reading of an Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Livingston Municipal Code (LMC) 5-3 Setbacks, Setback Exceptions, Maximum Site Coverage and Maximum Floor Area Ratio Concerning Residential Rear Yards.

Community Development Director Kenney presented the agenda item.

Mayor Espinoza asked if the Planning Commission was actually opposed to the ordinance.

Director Kenney responded that one of their issues was that if a house is built with a five foot rear setback and it is a two-story house, then the people on the second floor would easily be able to look into the backyard of the neighbor’s house, invading the privacy. She explained to them that some special things could take care of that. For example, there are some windows that are installed higher in the wall which aren’t tall but are wide to let in light. So you could have the sunlight coming into your room upstairs, but not be able to look down into the neighbor’s yard. Also staff can require additional landscaping in the five foot setback that could screen the view into the neighbor’s yard.

Brief discussion followed.

Mayor Espinoza opened the hearing at 7:48 p.m. for public comments.

Katherine Schell Rodriquez, P.O. Box 163 asked to have the City Attorney comment about the kinds of problems that might come up if the City adopts one set of rules for housing that already exist and then tries to adopt another setback rule for development that has not yet occurred. Especially when it comes to our codes and updating our zoning, so that it is one set of rules that applies to all. That way everyone knows what is going on.

City Attorney Sanchez responded that it is at the City Council’s discretion to move forward and have new development addressed differently. He noted you would have to look at different ways to amend the code which may change either the zone they are in or the requirements in the zone in order to apply those different rules. It would have to go back to Planning Commission in order for us to look at other option and work with staff to see what the best way to do that would be.

Mayor Espinoza added that it was just a suggestion.

Colette Alvernaz, P.O. Box 255 noted that this not the first time this has been brought up. Citizens have been angry because their neighbor raised their house to two stories just so they could see in the backyard. This was a big mess and possible litigation because they had a right to sue for what happened in that case. She commented that her first question is it fire safe and what will happen if you put a building that close to another? Also with high windows, do you have a safe exit? She has a second story and she went and got one of those metal ladders that you can throw over the window in case there was ever a fire so there was another exit. Mrs. Alvernaz said you need to look at where the other exit is if you are allowing this, and some people like to look out their windows. She also added the 45% of lot coverage and going to 55% of lot coverage and water are a big issue with her. She is a farmer and she cares about water within our state. She asked what happens if we are over taxing our underground aquifer in the state. This is just not in Livingston, it is everywhere. So anytime you cover up the land there is going to be less water and this is something to keep in mind.

Mayor Espinoza closed the hearing at 7:53 p.m. there being no further comments from the public.

Council Member Samra added that Mayor Espinoza had brought this item forward and was his intent to allow for patios and additional rooms or what was his original intent?

Mayor Espinoza responded that the issue was that people could only build to more than 5’ or when they wanted to add a 17’ or 20’ space in the back and then they can’t put in a patio they couldn’t go and add another 10’ of patio cover.

Council Member Samra added that if Mayor Espinoza is intending to allow for patios, he hasn’t seen too many patios with upstairs windows. So if the intent is patios he didn’t think it was going to be an issue.

Mayor Espinoza stated that it is not just patios, but if they wanted to add another room they can’t go out any further.

Brief discussion followed.

Council Member Land agreed with Council Member Samra.

City Attorney Sanchez added a motion to send the item with comments back to the Planning Commission, and to give staff time to find the wording for two different setback requirements, one for one story and then one for a second story. He stated that we want to be as equal as possible and want to think of what that results in with the maximum site coverage, how those properties will look.

Motion: M/S Espinoza/Samra to send this item back to the Planning Commission with comments. The motion carried 3-0 by the following roll call vote:

AYES: Council Members: Espinoza, Land, and Samra

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: Aguilar, Vierra


Daniel Valera, 752 Maple Avenue said he hoped everyone had a wonderful Christmas. He shared that one of your constituents, his son, graduated from avionics training in Pensacola, Florida. He was proud to say that his son has been promoted to private first class and is excited about the future. Mr. Varela said he wanted to announce that he will not be running for any seats in the 2012 election so that there is no confusion for what he is trying to do in the community. He is promoting a volunteer program in Livingston that involves young people in the community and an event held twice a year. Mr. Varela informed Council Member Samra about this program two months ago and he was very supportive so he is approaching the Council tonight to see if they would be in support of this activity. He added that the Council did not have to do anything, but try to be involved. The program will include some of the local churches and high school students. The first day is April 28th, a four hour activity, a promotion on giving back to our community. He asked if he could meet with the Mayor and City Manager to discuss how the City could provide protective hand gear for the children while they are picking up trash on the streets and maybe some bags. Mr. Varela also asked if they could get a fee waiver on the usage of the park. They would not need to use the kitchen, just the barbecue pit and stage.

Colette Alvernaz, PO Box 255 commented that she turned in six letters at the Livingston Planning Commission meeting and addressed them to the City Council and she wanted to make sure that they were received. She noted that her family has had some medical needs and she wanted to thank the volunteer fire department for their past actions. Mrs. Alvernaz stated that again water is an issue. She recently read a survey that was done for the State of California; 85% of the people severely had concerns about the water and again she wanted to note that water is not only an issue in Livingston, but in the entire state. She noted that the City recently received a $9 million settlement and that she has the joy of getting back involved in the community after being away for a couple of years. Mrs. Alvernaz stated that there is a sense out there that the money is not going to be fixing the wells. She stated the citizens need to know where every single penny is spent and stated the wells have to be fixed. She also stated that the Gallo annexation project is violating CEQA law and the project needs a full EIR. Mrs. Alvernaz commented that everyone needs to come out and say how they feel. She added that there is no stoplight at Vinewood and Robin and she knows that the community is in desperate need of jobs. She has unemployed adult children and we need to look at all of these issues but not at the expensive of safety. There is a river there and that is a federal protected waterway. When they were building the dam they took things up the river to build the dam, it is a navigated waterway. Mrs. Alvernaz further commented that on January 20th at her church in Hilmar there will be a “feed my starving children” event and they are looking for 1,500 volunteers. Close to $50,000 has been raised over two years and these meals go to feeding starving children. She invited anyone that would like to get involved to attend the event.

Warren Urnberg, 1331 Eighth Street commented that we need to go back to restricted watering days.

Mayor Espinoza stated that we would probably see that item on an upcoming agenda.

Council Member Samra said he didn’t recall rescinding the watering days.

Mayor Espinoza added that we would do more research and put it on an agenda in the future.

Julio Valadez, P.O. Box 701 and 4th of July Committee Chair agreed with bringing back restricted watering days. He asked what would happen to the Court Theater without the RDA.

City Attorney Sanchez stated that the City Manager would need to take a look at that.

City Manager Ramirez stated that he would look into it.

Julio Valadez asked how much money the City has in the RDA.

City Manager Ramirez answered that the funds the City has exclusively for housing is about $870,000 and under the general RDA, $190,000.

Assistant City Manager Ortiz said about $170,000.

City Manager Ramirez added that it is not a lot and all of that is eaten up by things that are allocated. The real impact is going to be on the housing side.

Senior Accountant Bains commented on the Court Theater and the RDA and explained that in 2004 the City was approved for grant funding from the State Department of Parks and Recreation in the amount of $500,000, and the City also contributed $361,000 from the RDA as a match in funds. Therefore, as the City moves forward with AB27 it will need to re-review to determine if this is an enforceable obligation because it was passed by the City Council in 2004.

Julio Valadez asked for clarification on the 4th of July Committee and their status, are they a part of the City or not?

City Manager Ramirez clarified the committee is an ad hoc committee that is made up of members that volunteer their time. The City basically set aside $5,000 for the committee to use, so that the committee will put together the 4th of July event and the proceeds are then used for that same purpose. There is no appointment of people, so there could be an influx of people coming in and going out. Also there is an audit trail in terms of the money, everything must be documented and structured. So the committee is not part of the City, but an ad hoc that works with the City.

Julio Valadez asked if the City Council has to approve what the committee does.

Mayor Espinoza answered no.

Julio Valadez asked if the City wants to take back the event, because he has heard that.

Mayor Espinoza commented that the committee did a good job last year and the Council is supporting them.

Julio Valadez added that the committee has been having meetings and introduced Joylynn Peterson as the treasurer and they were told that they needed Council’s approval on what monies are spent.

City Attorney Sanchez reminded the Council that this item is not on the agenda and that these are just public comments; the Brown Act allows for a brief response to the comments, but this item is not on the agenda for a full discussion.

Joylynn Peterson stated that she wanted to clarify as to what the committee needs to do to get funds. She said they wanted to start a raffle and get the funds to do so. What forms do we need to use – something different from last year?

City Manager Ramirez stated that all expenditures make their way back to the City Council and to not worry about that. He said what is most important is that the committee has the back-up materials that are necessary for the City’s audits. City Attorney Ramirez commented the City is trying to protect the committee and itself, therefore we need structure. He asked them to come in and meet with him about the forms.

Senior Accountant Bains commented on the forms and normal procedures for the Finance Department.

Katherine Schell Rodriquez, P.O. Box 163 asked how many applicants were there for the Police Chief position and how close are you to making a decision? How many grant applications are out, and what are they for? How many consultants are working for the City other than SNG and PMC, who are they and what are they doing? How many RFP’s do we have out, other than for the utility rate consultant and the centralized water treatment feasibility study? She was looking at the warrant register and noticed that the City paid over $12,200 for legal work done on the Tequila Club Conditional Use Permit application, which was on the Planning Commission agenda last month, but was postponed until this coming month. She is curious as it turns out to be about 56 billable hours at $220 per hour, so who will be responsible for that amount in legal fees?


3. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on December 5, 2011.

4. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on December 6, 2011.

5. Approval of Warrant Register Dated December 14, 2011.

6. Approval of Warrant Register Dated December 28, 2011.

Motion: M/S Espinoza/Land to approve consent agenda items 3 and 6. The motion carried 3-0 by the following roll call vote:

AYES: Council Members: Espinoza, Land, and Samra

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: Aguilar, Vierra

Mayor Espinoza questioned item 6 and asked that check No. 74127 be held. Also on item 4 he asked if the motion on page 7 of 9 was correct.

City Attorney Sanchez stated that the Mayor was correct the resolution needs to be modified to capture the changes that were made in the second paragraph of the page, to read a Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston regarding its intent to consider negotiating the revenue sharing agreement with Merced County, sphere of influence and so on. He recommended continuing the item.

City Attorney Sanchez requested that item 6 be reopened.

Mayor Espinoza reopened item 6 to pull and discuss warrant #74127 and Council Member Land seconded it.

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

AYES: Council Members: Espinoza, Land, and Samra

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: Aguilar, Vierra


7. Resolution Reappointing Luis Enrique Flores to the Planning Commission.

Community Development Director Kenney presented the agenda item.

Katherine Schell Rodriquez, P.O. Box 163 stated she hoped the City would continue to advertise for these Commission positions now and in the future.

Motion: M/S Samra/Espinoza to approve Resolution No. 2012-2 Reappointing Luis Enrique Flores to the Planning Commission. The motion carried 3-0 by the following roll call vote:

AYES: Council Members: Espinoza, Land, and Samra

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: Aguilar, Vierra


The meeting was adjourned by consensus at 8:37 p.m.


City Clerk of the City of Livingston

APPROVED: February 7, 2012


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.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s