MARCH 19, 2013






MARCH 19, 2013

A Concurrent Meeting of the City Council and the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Livingston was held on March 19, 2013, in the City Council Chambers with Mayor Espinoza presiding.


Mayor Pr-Tem Samra called the meeting to order at 6:10 p.m.


Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza (Late Arrival, 6:20 p.m.)

Mayor Pro-Tem Gurpal Samra

Council Member Jim Soria

Council Member Arturo Sicairos

Council Member David Mendoza

Mayor Pro-Tem Samra opened the meeting for public comments. There were no comments from the public. The Council subsequently adjourned to Closed Session at 6:10 p.m. to discuss the following matters:

1. Successor Agency

Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

[(Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(2)]

Number of Cases: 1

2. Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

[(Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(2)]

Number of Cases: 3

3.  Conference with Real Property Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54956.8)

APN Numbers 047-140-006 and 047-140-0017

Negotiating Parties: City Manager

4. Conference with Labor Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Labor Negotiator: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez

Employee Organizations: All Represented City Employees


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



Mayor Espinoza called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m.


The pledge of allegiance to the flag was recited.


Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza

Mayor Pro-Tem Gurpal Samra

Council Member Jim Soria

Council Member Arturo Sicairos

Council Member David Mendoza


City Attorney Sanchez announced that the Successor Agency Board by a unanimous vote of 5-0 had given direction to initiate an action pursuing Government Code section 54957.182. The action of the defendants and other details shall be disclosed to any person upon inquiry once the action is formally met.


Mayor Pro-Tem Samra asked that consent agenda item #6 be pulled for separate discussion.


1. Introduction by Police Chief Ruben Chavez of new Reserve Officers Javier Ramirez, Badge Number L20; Satveer Singh, Badge Number L21. Oaths of Office by City Clerk Tony Silva.

Police Chief Chavez presented the item.

City Clerk Silva administered the oaths of office to the new Reserve Officers.

Chief Chavez introduced the new Reserve Officers and their families.

A break for photos was taken at 7:16 p.m.

The meeting resumed at 7:30 p.m.




Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

Supervisor Pedrozo thanked the City for allowing him to use the Council Chambers for his Town Hall meeting last month; unfortunately the turnout wasn’t as good as he had hoped. He gave an update on Merced Irrigation District (MID) wanting to take 35% of the water. Supervisor Pedrozo stated that we need to realize that this is the San Joaquin Valley and between Merced County and Stanislaus County this proposal is really important because the people that are going to suffer the most are not only the residents of our County, but our farmers who do all the work and people take for granted. He relayed that on Friday there is a Joint Powers Authority meeting. This is the first meeting with passenger rail, not high-speed rail. Amtrak Rail is now uniting with Caltrans. He gave a brief explanation of this process.

City Staff Announcements and Reports.

Fire Captain Larry Bergmann gave a PowerPoint presentation and brief update on Fire Department activities. Upcoming events are Firefighter of the Year event, April 3rd; Kite Festival, April 14th ; Pancake Breakfast, May 4th.

Recreation Superintendent Benoit gave an update on the upcoming Easter Egg Hunt at the Max Foster Complex on March 30th starting at 10 a.m. The adult baseball league has started up with games being held on Monday and Friday nights. She is currently working on Livingston’s first activity guide that she hoped would be given to the Council soon.

City Manager Announcements and Reports

City Manager Ramirez stated that the water curtailment is a crucial issue and tomorrow the hearings begin in Sacramento and he will be attending. He introduced Phillip McMurray from MID and asked him to provide some information on the water situation.

Mr. McMurray addressed the impacts of this water situation; hearings are taking place tomorrow in Sacramento starting at 10:00 a.m. MID will be making a presentation and any support the City and the public can provide is greatly appreciated.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Council Member Soria thanked the Fire Department and volunteers for their quick responses. He also thanked Recreation Superintendent Benoit for her hard work and noted that he was looking forward to watching the kids play ball.

Mayor Pro-Tem Samra announced that the Sikh parade will take place on March 31st, starting at 12:00 noon on Peach Avenue; they will march to B Street and then back.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

Mayor Espinoza thanked Police Chief Chavez for bringing on the new Reserves. He said hopefully, when the economy improves, we will be able to hire more officers. He asked if there were any funds available to help light up the Main Street overpass over Highway 99. He had talked to Caltrans in the past regarding this and believed that the wiring is there, but the City is responsible.


1.  Resolution and Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Establishing Rates

for Solid Waste Service Fees.

Mayor Espinoza, in Spanish, stated, “This is a public hearing regarding garbage services. If you have any comments you can make them in Spanish and one of us will translate for you".

City Manager Ramirez presented the item.

Deputy City Clerk Rasmussen read into the record the eight protest letters that had been received.

City Attorney Sanchez commented that letters of protest will still be received until the end of the public hearing.

City Attorney Sanchez, in Spanish stated, “The garbage rate increase protests letters will continue to be accepted until the end of this public hearing. Protests have to be in writing. We have only received eight (8) protest letters to date”.

Mayor Espinoza, in Spanish informed the audience that in order for the garbage rate increase not to happen, they need protest letters from half of the City’s population plus one, so eight (8) protest letters will not be enough; protest letters will only be accepted until the public hearing closes.

City Manager Ramirez introduced Catherine Hansford.

City Manager Ramirez, in Spanish stated, “The lady here tonight is one of the persons the City contracted to balance the garbage rates. She will be doing a presentation. Everyone is welcome to ask questions”.

Ms. Hansford gave a Power Point presentation on the item.

Mayor Espinoza commented that this presentation was for sanitation rates only and sewer and water rates will be considered in the future.

Mayor Espinoza, in Spanish stated, “This presentation is about sanitation rates only. It is not about water or sewer rates. Those will be considered at a later date”.

Mayor Espinoza, in Spanish stated, “She was explaining how much it is going to cost per month if we increase the rates. The people who pay for two cans right now pay $22.04 and if we increase the rates, it is going to be $23.79. The people that only have one can only pay $18.60. If you have two cans, it will be a little bit more. If you saw on the PowerPoint presentation, the City is about $409,000 in debt. The City owes that money and that is why they have to increase the rates to be able to pay the money back. Part of the increase will go towards paying the debt and in a few years we will build up a reserve of about three months of garbage payments. In a term of 5 years, we will have a reserve. If you have any questions or comments, please come up to the podium. You have three (3) minutes to make your comments”.

Mayor Espinoza opened the hearing for public comments at 8:14 p.m.

Julio Valadez, P.O. Box 701 asked how much we are in the red.

Ms. Hansford responded $409,000.

Mr. Valadez asked if anyone had considered letting Gilton do it themselves or is that an option.

City Manager Ramirez noted that there are pros and cons to that; right now the residents have a centralized location to pay their utility bill. If the City would go to that system we would have to monitor their books and we would have to do a report for their statements. There are other places that operate this way, but the visibility and people wondering if everyone is being charged the correct amount is always there. Therefore, the majority of cities currently operate the way that we do now.

Damian Ramirez, 771 Cedar Court speaking on behalf of his father, stated that it was said that back to 2008 the economy was not doing well. We have had a lot of foreclosures in town and the economy is better now. He has seen more growth and we have new businesses and they all pay, so what is the City doing with their money.

City Manager Ramirez gave an explanation of how the funds are recorded and how we have been absorbing the tipping fees.

Damian Ramirez asked why this problem was not taken care of when it first arose.

City Manager Ramirez stated that the Council back in 2009 had presented residents with an actual service fee increase and there had been a lot of dynamics since then and because of transparency and educating the public it just takes longer.

Damian Ramirez stated that he was concerned because his father was only on social security and he could not afford the increase.

Mayor Espinoza added that this fee increase does not include the County increase for the landfill and that is going up, so the actual increase may even go up another $1 or $2.

Anna Maria Galvan, P.O. Box 661 asked in Spanish why there were two increases. She has seen the proposal. The proposal says there is an increase in May and then there is another increase in January of 2014.

City Manager Ramirez, in Spanish stated, “First we need to eliminate our deficit which is $409,000. Then, after that, it is very important to have a reserve. The reserve is equal to three months of payments. We distributed the increase throughout a 5-year period so that it doesn’t hit everyone all at once. They were presented with three options and they felt this was the best option. At first, it will increase to $23.79 and then to $26.49 in 2014 and from there on, it is going to be maintained at the same cost until the end of the 5-year period”.

Ms. Galvan, in Spanish asked what percentage the company will make with the recycled goods because she knows they will make some money by recycling all the grass, paper, etc.

Mayor Espinoza explained that Ms. Galvan was asking why they have to pay that much if the City makes money on the recycling.

City Manager Ramirez, in Spanish stated, “The majority of items the people recycle don’t really have much value. The items that have some value are the aluminum cans and the plastic bottles and most of the people recycle those items on their own”.

Ms. Galvan, in Spanish asked if cardboard can also get recycled.

In Spanish, City Manager Ramirez stated, “Yes, and it’s been asked where the money comes from”.

City Manager Ramirez explained that again, Ms. Galvan is saying that Gilton should be making money in the recycled goods that are put in the cans and he explained to her that if you look at it, the majority of the high value items are actually taken out and residents recycle them on their own.

Mayor Espinoza stated in Spanish stated, “All the garbage goes to the County and they are the ones that go through the process of separating the recycled items. They make compost out of all the green waste and then they sell it, but the process of shredding and grinding all the green waste generates costs, as well”.

City Manager Ramirez, in Spanish stated, “There are state regulations. There are agencies that regulate both air and ground contamination, so they have to follow regulations to make the compost like the Mayor said, and then they sell that and it comes back to the same account to pay for the cost of that service”.

Ms. Galvan, in Spanish asked, so, if the citizens don’t approve the increase, will the deficit increase even more?

Mayor Espinoza, in Spanish, replied yes, the Council was being accused of adding more to the problem by not increasing the rates.

Ms. Galvan, in Spanish stated, “Many people are not going to be able to pay two garbage rate increases and then the water and sewer rate increases, too”.

City Manager Ramirez responded in Spanish that one of the things other communities have done, and this is basically something the Council can entertain, is that people 65 years and older can get a discount, but to be able to give the seniors a discount, the rest of the community will have to pay, so that is something difficult. I understand your situation because there are a lot of people in need, but if we don’t address the problem now, it will get much worse.

Mike Torres, 1616 Eighth Street asked regarding the recycles if they were going to pay us something back and how is our service going to improve. He added that he is comfortable with the rate going up.

City Manager Ramirez added that you are actually going to have a number of times per year to dispose of bulky items; there will be a Citywide Green Waste Program. Currently the City is spending about $30,000 to do this and now Gilton will be providing the second can so you can separate the greens and cardboards.

Rick Soria, 1526 Main Street stated that he worked for the County Landfill for 14 years and the tipping fees were at $10 and gradually they knew they needed to increase the fees. He added there were times when they had to put in a lot of overtime just to get the job done. Increases are needed with the understanding that people know that if the sanitation budget goes in the red it has to be gradual. Also there was an article on green waste and an increase to $30.50 and if we had a customer that couldn’t pay they were turned away. Also, if there was a way that we could help our seniors that would be great; at the same time it is not fair for everyone else to pay a higher rate and then the seniors a lower rate.

Brief discussion followed keeping the public hearing open.

City Attorney Sanchez added that we did not receive any additional protests; therefore, we have only received 8 which is not a majority protest.

Mayor Espinoza closed the hearing at 8:48 p.m. as there were no further public comments.

Council Member Soria stated that he understood the different economic backgrounds and if we do not adjust the rates now we will pay for it later and more. This is upkeep like an automobile; take care of it now before it is a bigger challenge.

Mayor Pro-Tem Samra stated that we only went back to 2008 for our analysis and one thing is that if we look at the sanitation expenditures in 2008 just the personnel costs were $385.000. If we are paying Gilton $644,000 for the whole year to do all the work the City is almost 50% of the costs, then something was wrong there all those years. After the personnel changes it went down to $180,000, so what happened there, was there really a deficit. Gilton charged the City $14 to pick-up the garbage can, and the City charged for the second can so we have plenty of revenue coming in. So in 7 years there was no increase to the contractor, what was the City doing adding to these expenses and some people know. In 2010, due to the changes in administration and the City Council $150,000 was removed from the cost and now this Council has to deal with the lack of oversight back then. This year without having any increases our sanitation fund is proposed for a $22,000 surplus, but that was before we had any increases.

Mayor Espinoza added that he has been asked a lot by residents as to why they need two cans when they only use half a can, but it is going to be the law that we need to recycle. Remember this does not include the fee that might be added on by MCAG.

Warren Urnberg, 1331 Eighth Street asked about the cardboard and noted that currently you put your recyclables in those bins at the yard. If we would have stayed with the rate increase and all the people that were crying and such and this is why there was a recall. The City went out for bids and they formed a committee and went out for bids for solid waste and there were five companies that came in with their bids to the committee. Then in January Gilton’s contract was up and then the City went into talks to extend the contract and that is why we are working on this right now because the committee and everyone has looked at it, the price is good and he agreed that we go along with it. He stated the rate increase would have gone up a whole lot higher under the past régime and what is going on right now is good for the community. We know this is a poor community and the committee is working on getting the lowest price and trying to get out of the hole and comparably to have a small reserve to work with.

Mike Torres, 1616 Eighth Street stated that the committee has worked hard. He thanked Mr. Samra and commented that with the City Manager when he came on board and it was said that we would have transparency. People don’t keep track of these numbers, but you let us know and it is your duty to keep this straight.

Katherine Schell Rodriquez, P.O. Box 163 was holding the 2009 rate study including draft minutes and stated that according to page 7 of the March 26, 2009 Council draft meeting minutes the City had made an effort to go out to bid for garbage rates. And that the City had been approached by garbage contractors who said they could provide service for less money. The problem was that in 1997, the City Council approved a contract with Gilton that required the City to give eight years advance notice to Gilton before it could go out to bid for a new garbage contract. As of March 2009 there were still 3 ½ years left before the City could even put the contract out to bid.

City Attorney Sanchez gave an explanation on why there was a resolution and an ordinance.

Council Member Sicairos added that he agreed with Mr. Torres and he wished there was more participation from the residents.

Motion: M/S Espinoza/Sicairos to adopt Resolution No. 2013-7 of the City Council of the City of Livingston Establishing Rates for Solid Waste Service Fees. The motion carried 5-0 by the following roll call vote:

AYES: Council Members: Samra, Soria, Mendoza, Espinoza and Sicairos

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: None

Motion: M/S Espinoza/Sicairos to waive the second reading and adopt Ordinance No. 633, an Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Establishing Rates for Solid Waste Service Fees. The motion carried 5-0 by the following roll call vote:

AYES: Council Members: Samra, Soria, Mendoza, Espinoza and Sicairos

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: None


Katherine Schell Rodriquez, P.O. Box 163 thanked the Chief of Police for the department updates that are on PowerPoint; she has them on her blog. She wanted to talk about groundwater issues.

According to various staff reports and the California Department of Health 2011 water systems inspection report, the City has about 5 wells that have historically produced water that has concentrations of 123 TCP that exceed 100 times the mollification levels established by the State. And that the City should be providing more public notification than what is just listed in the annual consumer report. At a recent water rate committee meeting one of the consultants stated that the standards for the maximum levels for a TCP are expected to be established around 2015. These standards are expected to be close to the already established notification levels, and we have already had 5 wells in danger of failing that standard and treatment for TCP is not cheap. You add to that arsenic, manganese, TCP and nitrates, you have a lot to deal with and the City does not have the money to deal with it all.

If Livingston is going to continue to meet the State and Federal drinking water standards there will be some serious issues and priorities to be discussed and set. The first decision we have to make as a community is to decide to agree that our water indeed has issues.

With that in mind she asked if staff could share more about the SCADA issues, the combined sewer and storm drain system issues and maintenance issues that were shared with the water rate committee last night. Also, item 7 having to do with the State’s water control board, how this decision might affect the water control board would have actual consequences for the actual quality of our groundwater when it comes to the constituents in the groundwater and the efforts the City would have to go through to actually treat this groundwater as our aqua continues to be first.

City Manager Ramirez responded that as part of our ongoing improvements and transparencies with trying to educate the public and businesses one of the things that we took on was a little extra. As far as our stakeholders, the committee is basically to provide information that is very valuable. Some of these things are things that we can start adding to our wish list and analyzing and finding out whether we should do them in the next few years or five years and so on. We are taking all those things into consideration especially if they relate to wastewater or water treatment. We are working aggressively to identify funds and address those things before we get penalized by the State.

Mike Torres, 1616 Eighth Street stated that he was approached by a family in town and their concern was about the gathering of men in front of the museum. What can be done about this? They also wanted to know if these men can use the restroom at City Hall.

City Manager Ramirez responded that this had been brought to his attention and we have done a few things like put a bench out there and they have been using it. Also all the shrubs and bushes have been cut back. Now we know on Sundays when the museum is open we are going to communicate to them that they move out of the area by 1:00 pm.

Mayor Espinoza added that he too has talked to them and has told them to use the City Hall restroom.

Julio Valadez, PO Box 701 suggested that the City include in the utility bills something easy to read regarding the increase, maybe even a one page ad in the Chronicle. He reminded everyone of the upcoming Kite Festival on April 14th. They are still looking for sponsors for the event. The July 4th committee is holding a McSparkle Night at McDonalds on Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The 4th of July Committee meets every third Thursday of the month. He asked if someone from the Council could come and participate. They are in need of sponsors and volunteers as well.


3.  Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 600, of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Livingston Municipal Code (LMC) Section 5-4-2(J)(1) Relating to Front Yard Setback Fence Heights.

4.  Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 601, of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Livingston Municipal Code (LMC) Section 5-6-2(B) Pertaining to Amendment or Rezoning Initiation.

5.  Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 602, of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Livingston Municipal Code (LMC) Section 5-3-15: Table 2, Table 3, Table 4, and Adding Section 5-5-12, Cultivation of Annual Crops.

6. Resolution Supporting State of California Senate Bill 391, the California Homes and Jobs Act of 2013.

7. Resolution No. 2013-10, Opposing the State Water Resources Control Board Substitute Environmental Document Regarding Potential Changes to the Water Control Board Plan for the San Francisco – Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta.

8. Resolution No. 2013-11, for the Acceptance of the “CMAQ – Purchase Four (4) Replacement Heavy Duty Vehicles for Construction Activities,” and Authorizing the City Manager to Release Performance and Material Bonds to N&S Tractor Company, Merced, CA; Holt of California, Turlock, CA; and Mission Valley Ford, San Jose, CA.

9. Resolution No. 2013-12, Ratifying Appointments to the Parks and Recreation Commission.

10. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on February 5, 2013,

11. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on February 19, 2013.

12. Approval of Warrant Register Dated March 14, 2013.

Motion: M/S Samra/Espinoza to approve consent agenda items 3,4,5,7,8,9,10,11, and 12. The motion carried 5-0 by the following roll call vote:

AYES: Council Members: Samra, Soria, Mendoza, Espinoza and Sicairos

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: None

Mayor Pro-Tem Samra pulled item 6 for separate discussion.

He questioned that this was adding a $75 fee for every transaction. He questioned what kind of guarantee is there that they are going to get a job in the City of Livingston.

City Manager Ramirez gave an explanation of Senate Bill 391.

Brief discussion followed.

The item died due to lack of a motion.


ADJOURNMENT The meeting was adjourned by consensus at 9:35 p.m.


City Clerk of the City of Livingston

APPROVED: April 16, 2013


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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