Approval of Minutes of Regular Meeting of May 21, 2013.


LIVINGSTON CA / June 17, 2013 —

Approval of Minutes of Regular Meeting of May 21, 2013.




MAY 21, 2013

A Closed Session/Regular Meeting of the Livingston City Council was held on May 21, 2013, in the City Council Chambers with Mayor Espinoza presiding.



The meeting was called to order by Mayor Espinoza at 6:01 p.m.


Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza

Mayor Pro-Tem Gurpal Samra (Excused)

Council Member Jim Soria

Council Member Arturo Sicairos

Council Member David Mendoza (Excused)

Mayor Espinoza opened and closed the meeting for public comments at 6:03 p.m. as there were no comments received. The Council subsequently adjourned to Closed Session immediately after to discuss the following matters:

1. 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 7:03 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 (Excused)




City Manager Jose Ramirez continued the public hearing for Motel 6 to a future Council meeting. Conditions for the project were not fully completed.


1. Presentation by Christopher Jensen, Alcohol and Drug Prevention Specialist, Merced County Department of Mental Health and Livingston Roadmap Team, to present on the “Tot Lot Law”

Mr. Jensen has created an after school club called the Livingston Roadmap Team. The Road Map Team explores tobacco related policies, regulations, and enforcement. After doing some research, the Road Map Team found that the “Tot Lot Law” (a State law which prohibits tobacco use within 25 feet of playgrounds) was not being enforced in Livingston. On one occasion the Roadmap Team found over 125 cigarette butts within 25 feet of a playground. The Roadmap Team asked Council to enforce the “Tot Lot Law” and to help create policies that discourage smoking near City playgrounds.

Mayor Pro-Tem Samra commended the Roadmap Team for their efforts and stated that the City will put more effort in enforcing the “Tot Lot Law”. He asked at what time the Roadmap Team meets.

Mr. Jensen stated that the Roadmap Team meets every Monday after school.

Mayor Espinoza thanked the Road Map Team for their presentation.

City Manager Ramirez thanked the Roadmap Team for coming to this Council meeting. He stated that Livingston supports their efforts and that there are three important pieces of information that should be announced in regards to tobacco: 1) The Police Department and the California Health Collaborative are working closely to eliminate teenage tobacco use, 2) The City will do an inventory on “Tot Lot Law” signs, and if needed the City will order more signs, 3) City staff will gladly attend a Roadmap Team meeting to talk about establishing a policy.

Mr. Jensen thanked the City Council for giving the Roadmap Team the opportunity to share their research.


Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

Supervisor was not in attendance.

City Staff Announcements and Reports

Assistant City Manager/Finance Director Odi Ortiz announced that Livingston will be audited, in regards to gas tax, the week of June 10th.

City Manager Ramirez added that this audit is ongoing and that it happens to all municipalities every 6 years, roughly.

Police Chief Ruben Chavez thanked Christopher Jensen and the Roadmap Team for their excellent work. He then gave a PowerPoint presentation updating the City Council and community on the following items; burglary rates, National Drug Take Back Day held on April 27th, animal control statistics, animal shelter price changes ($92 per animal), traffic enforcement campaign ( May 20th through June 2nd), an ongoing investigation at the Internet Café which has resulted in a search warrant and a homicide investigation which began on April 25th. Chief Chavez thanked the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple for donating money to the Bicycle Rodeo and stated that the Police Explorers Post 518 received top honors for their work in Rio Del Oro and will be competing in a countywide competition on August 10th.

Council Member Soria asked at what time the Explorers competition begins.

Chief Chavez said the competition begins around 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. The event is open to the community. Chief Chavez then thanked the Sheriff’s Department for doing a tremendous job assisting the Police Department during the homicide investigation.

Public Works Director Humberto Molina gave a PowerPoint presentation showing Public Works’ recent activities which include; setting up barricades for the Sikh parade, tree removals, graffiti removals, water line repairs, clean up on Campbell Boulevard, Sun Valley estates weed control, planting trees at Memorial Park, and sidewalk repairs.

Mayor Pro-Tem Samra stated that adding trees to Memorial Park was a pleasant experience. He especially enjoyed the company of people who adopted the trees and their commitment to protect their trees.

Mayor Espinoza asked if the electrical boxes at Memorial Park have been fixed.

City Manager Ramirez replied that the electrical lines need to be upgraded, along with the breakers.

Director Molina said that the electrical system at Memorial Park doesn’t work on the 4th of July because the system is overloaded with plugs. Director Molina showed photographs of Public Works’ new battery operated equipment (which was purchased through a grant). Director Molina stated that Public Works is working hard to remove graffiti.

City Manager Ramirez asked Chief Chavez if officers are taking pictures of the graffiti and working with local schools to identify the taggers.

Chief Chavez said that Sergeant Ray Fong is working closely with the schools to identify the violators.

Mayor Espinoza thanked Public Works for all their hard work. He expressed gratitude for their efforts.

Director Molina said he is proud of his employees’ cooperation during this period of limited staff.

Contract Associate Planner Miguel Galvez reported on the following items that were discussed at the

Regular Planning Commission Meeting of May 14, 2013. The first three items are for Conditional

Use Permits (CUPs) and the final item is a Site Plan/Design Review application.

The first CUP allows the cultivation of sweet potatoes on a 5.6 acre property zoned R-1 and located east of the Livingston Middle School. The applicant is Fabian Maldonado.

The second CUP is to allow a 100-person capacity church in the former movie rental store in the

Liberty Shopping Center, in a Downtown Commercial Zone. The applicant is Zeke Nelson.

The third CUP is to allow a private, non-profit youth sports club at the northeast corner of B and Main Street with off-street parking provided by the applicant’s own property in the immediate vicinity.

The final item has been approved in concept only, a 75-unit motel on the north side of Joseph Gallo Drive, west of Winton Parkway next to the Taco Bell fast food restaurant. A final Site Plan/Design Review is to come back to the Planning Commission for review and approval.

In addition Planner Galvez stated that the Minor Subdivision Committee considered and approved a two-lot parcel map dividing a 124,500 square foot parcel into two commercial parcels in the Livingston Commons development located at the corner of Winton Parkway and B Street.

Planner Galvez stated that he recently met with the Area Transit Manager to consider additional bus stops in Livingston. He said he would be happy to relay any suggested bus stop locations to the Transit Manager.

Recreation Superintendent Jacquie Benoit announced that the pool opens June 3rd, soccer registrations are currently going on, a recreation meeting will be held this Thursday night, that no changes have been made to the Fireworks Ordinance, and that firework permits are currently getting turned in to City Hall.

City Engineer Nanda Gottiparthy reported that the water line project is currently in Phase II. He added that Well #8 TCP design is approaching the final stages and he hopes to present this project to the City Council in the next few weeks. City Engineer Gottiparthy announced that the CMAC grant project to improve sidewalks is currently being drafted.

City Manager Ramirez announced that the community charrette will begin June 22nd through June 25th with locations and exact times to be determined. There will be a pre-charrette meeting taking place on June 7th and will be hosted by the California Chapter of Congress for New Urbanism and the Local Government Commission. At a subsequent date the American Institute of Architects will come into town to launch an independent project.

City Manager Ramirez also discussed the current status of the Court Theater. Apparently several health problems have emerged from the theater and this includes a roach issue and equally as important, a structural issue. In addition, City staff is being exposed to Obama Care; its logistics and how it’s going to impact the employees and the City as a whole.

City Manager Ramirez added that the City recently received a letter regarding Well #13, discussing the arsenic levels (10). The City is working hard to compile this information by June 30th.

Furthermore, the League of California Cities Conference is being held September 18th through September 20th in Sacramento. If any City Council Members are in interested in attending this event, feel free to contact City Staff. City Manager Ramirez added that the City is in the process of engaging in the California Main Street Alliance and actively searching for grant opportunities to fund this.

In addition, the Sweet Potato Festival is taking place September 20th through the 22nd. The City welcomes everyone to participate. The City is searching for a diverse set of booths ranging from informational booths, crafts, and food booths. Food vendors must incorporate sweet potatoes into their food. City Manager Ramirez noted that Planning Commission member Alicia Estrada submitted her letter of resignation. She is moving to Turlock and the City will need to find a replacement.

City Council Member’s Announcements and Reports

Council Member Sicairos

Commended Jacquie Benoit and City Staff for their outstanding work.

Council Member Soria

Thanked City Staff for doing a great job. He can see that the quality of the town has improved. In particular, he would like to thank the Recreation Department for having a successful baseball season; his daughter enjoyed it.

He added that he recently attended the funeral for his former baseball coach and long-time friend, Joe Soto. Mr. Soto left an impressive legacy, earning a Purple Heart in the military along with other accolades. Mr. Soto will be missed, but not forgotten.

Mayor Pro-Tem Samra

Nothing to report.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports

He recently attended the Downtown Open Market and is happy with the event. He thanked City Planning Intern Francisco Mendoza for doing a great job organizing and expanding the event. Nevertheless, there is always for improvement. Mayor Espinoza welcomes the community to come out to enjoy the festivities. Also, if anyone knows someone who sells fruits and vegetables, please contact City Hall.

Furthermore, Mayor Espinoza reported that the trip to Washington D.C. went very well. The City united with Merced County representatives to form the “One Voice” movement. They met with congressmen and department heads from across the state and country. The objective of this trip was to ensure that UC, Merced is well funded and that smaller cities like Livingston are not being neglected. In particular, the City expressed the water quality challenges they are currently facing. Overall, the City representatives were well received by federal and state officials attending the event.


1. Introduce and Waive the First Reading of Ordinance No___, of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Title 5, Chapter 3 of the Livingston Municipal Code, Lot Development Standards, Setbacks, Setback Exceptions, Maximum Site Coverage and Maximum Floor Area Ratio Concerning Residential Rear Yards in the R-1 Zoning District (Low Density Residential).

Associate Planner Galvez introduced the item.

Mr. Galvez announced that over the last year, the Planning Department has received several requests from residents to build within their 15 feet rear yard setback. Items of interest to be built include; patios, granny flats, and additions. Staff anticipates more requests this year. Proposed amendments will be made to Section 5-3-16 of the Municipal Code and will amend rear yard setback requirements from 15 feet to 5 feet and increase the floor area ratio from 50% to 60%. The previous Council denied the amendment.

Mayor Espinoza stated that over the last 7 years a lot of residents have approached him in the hopes of building within the 15 foot rear yard setback requirements. He added that the Planning Commission is doing a great job, but they are out of touch with residents and unaware of what the public demands. This becomes apparent during the summers when residents want to build a patio to stay cool. Mayor Espinoza added that anyone should be able to build a patio and a 5 foot setback is reasonable.

Council Member Soria concurs with Mayor Espinoza. It’s common for a municipality to have a 5 foot rear yard setback requirement.

Mayor Pro-Tem Samra stated that elected officials constantly hear residents complain about this topic. Often times, residents want to add an extra room, but they can’t because of the rear yard setback requirements. Neighboring communities like Turlock and Atwater already have smaller rear yard setback requirements. It’s a good way to preserve agriculture. And population density makes it easier for a city to provide services. In the past, the City has increased the rear yard setback requirements and this has contributed to some of the water challenges that the City is currently facing because people would have bigger back yards and this would require higher volumes of water to water their lawns.

Council Member Sicairos agrees on changing the rear yard setback requirements.

Mayor Espinoza opened the Public Hearing at 8:27 p.m.

Mike Torres, 1616 8th Street said that this change to the ordinance has been denied three times by the Planning Commission. He said that if it’s not broken, why fix it?

Mr. Torres added that the problem with this amendment is that a new contractor could come into town and build homes with a 5 foot rear yard. If that happens, residents won’t be able to put a tool shed or pool in their back yard.

Also, the Brown Act says that he can ask any questions on this agenda item. He wants to know who is leading this movement. He is limited in time, legally only three minutes to speak on this item, so he does not have enough time to thoroughly explain why modifying this amendment is bad for Livingston. Logically it doesn’t make sense to change the rear yard setback requirements when you can change the front yard setback requirements, which are currently 20 feet. The City has evolved from streets, to alleys, to cul-de-sacs. Some people have small lots. If this amendment passes, families won’t have space to throw parties in their back yards. Mr. Torres continued, asking if the City Council could tell him who is leading this movement.

Mr. Torres stated that this amendment is for everything – storages, carports, tool sheds, and more. And that people have the ability to apply for a variance as has been done in the past.

Mayor Pro-Tem Samra commented that it is not a Brown Act violation if residents speak with officials. Residents have the right to reach out to Council Members. As long as Council Members don’t talk to each other it is not a violation of the Brown Act. Mayor Pro-Tem Samra added that this change won’t force developers to build a 5 foot back yard.

Luis Flores, 707 Almondwood Drive believes that a 5 foot backyard is not big enough to attain privacy. Moreover, if he remembers correctly, staff reports brought to the Planning Commission stated that only two residents have requested to build within the 15 foot setback requirements, not several people as Council has indicated. He wants clarification as to how many people have requested these changes.

Mr. Flores also wants to debunk one of Council’s statements by saying that Planning Commissioners are constantly communicating with residents. Residents approach them and express their concerns just like they do with elected officials. He added that Council Member Sicairos mentioned that he agreed with the proposed change. According to Mr. Flores, declaring a stance in front of the public before a motion has been carried may be illegal.

Mayor Espinoza replied that Council Member Sicairos is simply stating his opinion during an open meeting.

Warren Urnberg, 1331 8th Street agrees with his comrades. Leave the amendment like it is. This is the third time this issue has been presented to the Planning Commission and it has been denied every time.

Alicia Estrada, 283 Paradise Court believes that Livingston should support changing this amendment because it embraces different lifestyles. Ms. Estrada believes that Livingston should provide a variety of homes tailored to the variety of lifestyles that we see in these modern times. Small backyards would encourage homeowners to go to parks and socialize with residents. Thus, enabling an interactive community.

Mayor Espinoza closed the hearing at 8:44 p.m. as there were no further public comments.

City Manager Ramirez stepped out of the building to call the City Attorney.

City Manager Ramirez commented that it is not illegal for Council Members to take a stance.

Mayor Pro-Tem Samra said this is strictly voluntary. Residents don’t have to expand if they don’t want to. Everyone has life experiences that allow them to have preconceived notions about items in our agenda, and this is what happened to Council Member Sicairos.

Mayor Espinoza stated that one of the reasons that he moved across town is because he wanted a big backyard and not a big home. He agrees with Ms. Estrada, the market will decide if homes with small back yards are appealing. He does not support amending the rear yard setback requirements because of personal benefits, but because it benefits the community.

Mayor Pro-Tem Samra commented this is strictly voluntary. Residents don’t have to expand if they don’t want to.

Council Member Sicairos thinks that people with small back yards should be able to construct a patio. People buy homes in Livingston and become disappointed when they find out that they can’t develop their backyard like they had envisioned.

Mayor Espinoza stated the Planning Commission is going to face some lot size challenges in the near future. Developers are pressuring communities to produce smaller lots somewhere in the range of 3,000 or 4,000 square feet.

Mayor Pro-Tem Samra noted that developers will do what people demand. They want to build what people want to buy.

Motion: M/S Espinoza/Sicairos to waive the second reading and adopt Ordinance No. 605 as presented. The motion carried 4-0 by the following roll call vote:

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

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: Mendoza


Luis Flores, 707 Almondwood Drive, Livingston

· Asked about watering days and when they are going to be put into effect. Flores invited everyone to come out to the Riverdance Festival, June 1st and June 2nd at Livingston-Cressey Road.

Mike Torres, 1616 8th Street, Livingston

· Adding business to Winton Parkway is going to create serious problems on Winton Parkway. This will be clear after the Motel 6 comes in. How will the City address future traffic congestion problems?

· Also, Mr. Torres didn’t get an answer on the Brown Act. He wants the attorney to clarify his question.

Katherine Schell-Rodriguez, P.O. Box 163, Livingston

· Had six questions that she would like answered:

1. Why isn’t the City Attorney here?

2. How much is Well 16 projected to cost, $250,000 per year to run the Arsenic treatment?

And why?

3. Future maximum contaminant standards for Chromium 6 and TCP costs for running system?

4. Well 13. Why is it important to pay attention to arsenic? And the implication of a second well

5. Received a letter from the state about Well #15 near Winton Parkway that has high levels of manganese and arsenic. How is that going to be addressed?

6. Is it true that Livingston is looking for another police officer?

City Manager Ramirez responded:

· The City Attorney is not here today because staff can handle any questions or concerns that the community might have. Another benefit is that Livingston saves a lot of money from not having an attorney present.

· Well # 16 stakeholders are receiving information. Cost depends on the PH Level of the system, its capacity, and how much it’s used. Chrome 6 and Chrome 3 is a constituent or contaminant in our water whose maximum contaminant level is going to be regulated in the future.

· Compliance order for Well #13, maximum contaminant level for arsenic is 10 parts per billion. The well is over the maximum allowed by a little bit. The City needs to send out notices to inform residents what is going on there. By June 30th their needs to be a plan in place.

· Well #15 is below the maximum contaminant level allowed on arsenic but not on Manganese.

· City Manager Ramirez asked Chief Chavez to answer Ms. Schell-Rodriguez’ last question.

Chief of Police Chavez explained that:

· Livingston currently has 16 officers. The City lost one officer and needs to hire a new one as soon as possible.


4. Resolution No. 2013-21 Amending the Professional Engineering Services Contract with AECOM, Fresno, CA, for Additional Design and Construction Support Services for the 1,2,3 Trichloropropane (TCP) Treatment at the City Water Supply Well No. 8 and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute the Amendment.

5. Resolution No. 2013-22 Authorizing Award of Contract/Purchase Order to Crafco, Inc., Chandler, Arizona for the Purchase of a Fifty (50) Gallon Melter Applicator.

6. City Council Authorization to Purchase Four Laptop Computers for Police Vehicles through the 2012 State Homeland Security Grant Program.

7. Council Designation of Equipment/Property as Surplus and Authorizing Staff to Dispose of Property Appropriately.

8. Denial of Claim for Damages from Jorge Guillen.

9. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on April 2, 2013.

10. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on April 16, 2013.

11. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on May 1, 2013.

12. Approval of Warrant Register Dated May 8, 2013.

13. Approval of Warrant Register Dated May 17, 2013.

Motion: M/S Samra/Sicairos to approve the consent calendar. The motion carried 4-0 by the following roll call vote:

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

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: Mendoza


14. Resolution Authorizing the Purchase of Land Needed for the Installation of Water Treatment Facilities at the City Water Supply Well No. 8, Approval of the Appraisal Report Prepared by The Thomas Wilkins Company and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute the Agreement with Foster Farms for the Purchase of the Land.

City Engineer Gottiparthy introduced the item.

The item was opened to the public at 9:12 p.m.

City Engineer Gottiparthy said there have been some minor changes in the layout of the design as illustrated on Exhibit B2.

Mike Torres, 1616 8th Street asked if land that was just purchased is adjacent to the pump.

Mayor Pro-Tem Samra replied that it’s around the site.

Mr. Torres asked if the City could utilize the 5 acres that were donated by Foster Farms.

Mayor Pro-Tem Samra replied that Foster Farms donated 2-3 acres. He added that this land is too far from the well, which is why the City purchased land adjacent to the well.

Mr. Torres asked if there’s a plan on the 2-3 acre land.

Mayor Pro-Tem Samra said the City is focusing on more important issues at the moment.

Mayor Espinoza agrees with Mayor Pro-Tem Samra.

Katherine Schell-Rodriguez, P.O. Box 163 added that this is not the only well in Livingston that has high concentrations of TCP. She said that Livingston has several wells that are in danger of being in compliance. This project will cost over $200,400.00 invested in this project prior to construction. The Council should learn from this and realize that that several wells need to be addressed, $9 million dollars could be spent quickly if this is not done correctly the first time. Regulations are getting more expensive. As a City we need to agree that improving water quality should be a priority.

Mayor Espinoza replied that improving water quality is a common challenge throughout California.

The comment period was closed to the public at 9:18 p.m.

Mayor Pro-Term Samra said that fixing the first well will be the most challenging. After experiencing the process involved in improving the first well, the City should be able to improve other wells much more quickly.

Motion: MS Samra/Soria to adopt Resolution No. 2012-23 authorizing the purchase of land. The motion carried 4-0 by the following roll call vote:

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

NOES: Council Members: None

ABSENT: Council Members: Mendoza

Mayor Espinoza thanked Alicia Estrada for her time on the Planning Commission.

Council Member Soria announced that Livingston Youth football is seeking donations for players that cannot pay for uniforms. Any assistance would be appreciated. This is a non-profit organization. Donors’ names will get mentioned in the yearbook.


The meeting was adjourned by consensus at 9:23 p.m.


City Clerk of the City of Livingston

APPROVED: June 18,


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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