A Lingering Lawsuit, Another Canceled Contract, A Couple Marijuana Plants, and a Draft Tax Measure

It’s a shame the way we’ve been going through City Managers: Warren Urnberg – excerpted from Public Comments – 01/05/16 City Council Meeting

“I don’t think our Community needs it.” Councilmember Jim Soria – 01/05/16 Council Meeting. Excerpted from Medical Marijuana Ordinance Discussion

I’d like to approve what we have here (and) make adjustments – Councilmember Alex McCabe – 01/05/16 Council Meeting. Excerpted from Medical Marijuana Ordinance Discussion

“How do we take care of people with legitimate needs?” Mayor ProTemp Gurpal Samra – 01/05/16 Council Meeting. Excerpted from Medical Marijuana Ordinance Discussion

“…The California Transportation Commission…has removed the Livingston Widening Northbound and also the Livingston Widening Southbound from your projects list. You now have no Regional Projects” – Mike Valata – Mayor of Los Banos. Excerpted from Public Comment – 03/01/16 City Council Meeting

Perry is charged with assaulting Dwight Larks, a 39-year-old real estate agent living in Livingston at the time, during a supervised handover of Lark’s child as part of a custody arrangement with the child’s mother….According to a civil lawsuit filed by Larks, he and the child’s mother had a disagreement over the details of the exchange. Excerpted from Judge dismisses one of three charges against Livingston police officer – Merced Sun Star – 03/10/16

Livingston, CA 04/18/2016

So…there was a disagreement over the details of a Custody Exchange. That’s putting it mildly. More on that a little later. But first.

MAYOR RODRIGO ESPINOZA has decided to try to displace John Pedrozo as District 1 County Supervisor. As of the date of this posting, I’ve seen several large Pedrozo campaign signs around town. But, only a couple so far for Espinoza. And although John Pedrozo has gone on the record as agreeing that Public Safety is of the uttermost importance in Merced County, I’m not so sure Mr. Espinoza’s stated opinion of the Sherriff’s Department would be earning him any “favorability points” with law enforcement.

THE MERCED COUNTY ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENTS (MCAT) is floating the ides of a 1/2 cent SALES TAX  ballot measure to be placed on the November Ballot: with the proceeds used for “transportation” related projects. Some members of local government are concerned that most of the proceeds from such a measure would not stay in the Local Jurisdiction in which they were raised. There is also the concern that the draft, as currently written, does not include a guaranteed list of local projects.

EX: The following two items were provided to me by the Mayor of Los Banos

  • Draft 1/2 Cent Transportation Sales Tax Measure Expenditure Plan  – This includes language that was eliminated from the current draft being pitched to local leaders and the public. According to the mayor, the language in black is the MCAG approved language. The red language includes the modifications Los Banos proposed (and was denied by the MCAG Board) to protect the Westside/Eastside share.  Please pay close attention to page 12, “Amendments To The Expenditure Plan”, this section allows MCAG to change the funding allocations. Note the red language under that section. It would have protected the original amounts for the Westside/Eastside by stating that it would have to go back to the voters for any changes. This 30 year tax measure will be on the November 2016 ballot and needs a 66 2/3 voter approval rate for it to pass.

  • Deletion of Livingston HWY 99 Widening Projects

THE LAST STOP? OR JUST A REST STOP? Those of you have been following the goings on in Livingston have already noticed there seems to be a problem attracting and KEEPING qualified staff in certain positions. For some reason, some people just don’t stick around for very long: they’re gone before the ink has barely dried on their contracts.

The latest to “pass through” Livingston on the way to Other Things was Gabriel Gonzalez:  who entered into an interim short-term professional services agreement with the Acting City Manager on January 19, 2016: For an amount not to exceed $10,000. According to the February 02, 2016 Staff Report, this was necessary because:

Due to recent transition in management position(s), there is a significant need for temporary administrative support in public works, finance/accounting and in general City management functions until such positions are addressed. This temporary support is much needed to fulfill the upcoming deadlines and priorities.

At the February 02, 2016 City Council Meeting, an Amendment to that agreement was approved by Council which converted the agreement into a

temporary (6 months to 1 year) administrative support in the following areas: oversight of public works; general administrative support to interim city manager. General functions will include assistance with general operations, annual budget, contract and policy review, organizational and functional analysis…..with option to extend another six (6) months, at the City Manager/Interim City Manager’s discretion

compensation under the amended agreement shall be at an hourly rate of $80 and the total contract amount shall not exceed $135,000.

Mr. Gonzales was hired by the City of Gilroy as their City Manager barely over a month later.

And another one gone after a short stop in Livingston…..

While he was here, Mr. Gonzalez advised the City Council that they should consider creating a new position at City Hall: just for the sole purpose of keeping up with State Storm Water Regulations.

Click on the following link to see Mr. Gonzalez’s Municipal Separate storm Sewer System (MS4) INFORMATIONAL update–And Proposed Administrative Position.

MARIJUANA ORDINANCE adopted.

In December of Last Year, the Planning Commission discussed a Proposed Ordinance which would do the following:

  • allow cultivation of up to six plants of marijuana.

  • ban indoor cultivation.

  • eliminate the size requirement for a detached structure and to allow green houses. 

  • Prohibit gas products, including without limitation, C02, butane, propane and natural gas or generators within the structure."

  • delete a setback requirement.

  • to allow deliveries

AT THE CITY COUNCIL MEETING on January 5, 2016.

  • The city attorney “announced that current State legislation has a deadline of March 1, 2016, for cities to establish a land use policy for cannabis activities. If cities do not meet this deadline, they will defer to the State’s regulations and policies”

  • “Merced County Fire Marshall Morgan noted that there are some safety concerns with the code… The Fire Department recommends that indoor grows in detached structures require an electrical permit and maintain minimum set-backs of either 10 or 15-feet (to prevent fires from spreading from one structure to the other).”

  • Merced County Sheriff’s Department representative Ray Framstad gave a PowerPoint presentation on cannabis activities (mainly large grows) and discussed some of the challenges that it posses on law enforcement (such as electrical fires, vandalisms, burglaries, shootings, etc).

COUNCIL MEMBER’S OPINIONS ranged from Council Member Jim Soria: who favored a complete ban to Council Member Alex McCabe: who made a motion banning all commercial cannabis activities, but giving residents (with proper medical approval) the right to grow six cannabis plants outdoors. Mr. McCabe’s motion failed for lack of support.

A second Motion was made by Mayor Pro-Temp Gurpal Samra: which would ban all commercial activities but allow Qualified Patients and Primary Caregivers to grow a maximum of two plants. This motion passed 3-2. Council Members Soria and McCabe both voted “no” but for different reasons.

Community Development Block Grant ApplicationTHERE WAS A PUBLIC HEARING – at City Hall on March 29, 2016 and lasted from about 11am to nearly 1pm. The purpose of the Hearing/meeting was to Brainstorm Ideas for the next Community Development Block Grant Application.

The Initial list of projects to be recommended include the following:

  • Planning Activity Projects–

    • Policy Updates to the General Plan that would facilitate Walkable Communities.

    • A Wastewater percolation study.

    • Water Studies

  • Public Improvement Activities

    • Finish the Pipeline Replacement Project

    • Refurbish/Repair the City’s Water Storage Tank

    • Construction of a Dewatering Facility at the Domestic WasteWater Treatment Plant

  • Public Facility Projects Fire Station –

    • Living Quarters and possible expansion of the facility

  • Public Service Part Time

    • Code Enforcement Officer: Focusing on Health and Safety issues such as Weed Abatement, Watering Restrictions, and Zoning and Building Issues.

ALSO ON THE AGENDA FOR JANUARY – MARCH, 2016

January 05, 2016

Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on January 5, 2016. (Amended)

1 Resolution Approving Site Plan / Design Review 2015-3 to Construct a Building Containing an Office, Dressing Room, and an Apartment at the Guru Nanak Sikh Mission, 884 “B” Street, Livingston, CA.

2 Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Title 5, Chapters 2, 3, 5 and 7 of the Livingston Municipal Code Prohibiting Commercial Marijuana ( Cannabis) Activities, Regulating Delivery of Medical Marijuana, and Regulating the Cultivation of Medical Marijuana Including Establishing Exemptions for Cultivation by Qualified Patients and Primary Caregivers.

3 Approval of Warrant Register Dated December 10, 2015

4 Approval of Warrant Register Dated December 23, 2015.

5 City Council to Provide Direction for Appointment to the Planning Commission.

JANUARY 19, 2016

(Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on January 19, 2016.)

1 Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 626 of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Title 5, Chapters 2, 3, 5 and 7 of the Livingston Municipal Code Prohibiting Commercial Marijuana (Cannabis) Activities and Regulating the Cultivation of Medical Marijuana Including Establishing an Exemption for Cultivation by Qualified Patients and Primary Caregivers.

2 Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Authorizing Delegation of Authority to the Interim City Manager Regarding Industrial Disability Retirement Applications.

5 Approval of Warrant Register dated January 13, 2016.

6 Appointment of City Representative to the Merced County Mosquito Abatement District Board of Trustees.

7 Resolution Appointing Odilon Ortiz as Interim City Manager and Approving a Fourth Amendment to the Employment Agreement between the City of Livingston and Odilon Ortiz.

8 Downtown Beautification Project/Street Improvements.

FEBRUARY 02, 2016

2 Resolution Rescinding Resolution No. 2015-10 and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute Documents, Approve Claims for Reimbursement and Represent the City as Required by the State Water Resources Control Board as Part of the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) Application.

3 Approval of Warrant Register Dated January 27, 2016.

4 Resolution of the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Livingston Approving the Recognized Obligation Payment Schedule (ROPS 16-17 A & B) Pursuant to Health and Safety Code Section 34177 for the Period of July 2016 through June 30, 2017

5 Resolution Approving a First Amendment to the Professional Services Agreement with Gabriel A. Gonzalez and Authorizing the Interim City Manager to Execute Amendment.

FEBRUARY 16, 2016

6 Approval of Warrant Register Dated February 11, 2016.

Municipal Separate storm Sewer System (MS4) INFORMATIONAL update–And Proposed Administrative Position

7 Resolution Approving a Rental Agreement for Sludge Dewatering Equipment.

8 Resolution Approving Emergency Purchase of New Police Facility HVAC Unit.

9 Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Approving the Recommended 2015-16 City of Livingston Mid-Year Budget Revisions.

10 City Council to Provide Staff Direction on Creation of a New Corporate Seal (Logo).

FEBRUARY 23, 2016 JOINT MEETING BETWEEN THE CITY COUNCIL AND PLANNING COMMISSION SPECIAL MEETING

MARCH 01, 2016

1 Introduce and Waive the First Reading of Ordinance No.___, of the City Council of the City of Livingston, Amending Title 5, Chapters 3, 6 and 7 of the Livingston Municipal Code Relating to Housing.

2 Approval of Warrant Register Dated February 24, 2016.

3 Request to Join an Amicus Brief to the U.S. Supreme Court Supporting the President’s Executive Action on Immigration (Texas v. United States).

4 City Council to Provide Direction for Appointment to the Planning Commission.

The MARCH 15, 2016 Council Meeting was canceled at the last minute because too many Council Members were “ill”. Had the meeting gone forward as originally scheduled, these are some of the topics that would have been discussed.

1 Presentation – Representatives of the Modesto Chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby, Kathy Conroto, Bill Anelli, Jerry Jackman, Jody Strait, Richard Anderson and David Rivada will give a slide show they presented at the February 2nd Modesto City Council meeting at which the Council voted for a Resolution endorsing a federal revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend legislation. This fee increases the cost of fossil fuels, but then returns those fees to American households as a dividend, and therefore, favors a national shift to non-greenhouse gas emitting renewable energy sources.

3 Presentation: Marjorie Kirn, Executive Director of the Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) on the proposed Transportation Expenditure Plan which outlines a flexible approach to spending more than $450 million of new revenue to address the region’s transportation needs over three decades. Half of the funding will go directly to our local governments for local transpiration needs. The remaining funds will be used for funding for projects of regional benefit, as well as transit.

The following two items were not included in the Council’s Agenda Packets. They were sent to me by the Mayor of Los Banos and are included here for those of you who are interested in more information on the subject)

4 Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 627, of the City Council of the City of Livingston, Amending Title 5, Chapters 3, 6 and 7 of the Livingston Municipal Code Relating to Housing.

7 Approval of Warrant Register Dated March 11, 2016.

8 Resolution Approving a Professional Services Agreement between the City of Livingston and Patti Dossetti, Dossetti Consulting.

10 City Council to Consider Adoption of a Resolution Making an Appointment to Fill the Vacancy on the Planning Commission.

11 Council Direction to Consider Supporting the Regional Efforts via a Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding within the Merced Groundwater Sub-Basin to Comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

12 Resolution Declaring that One Council Office Subject to Election at the November 2016 General Election Shall Only Serve a Two Year Term in Order to Evenly Stagger City Council Seats Subject to Election in the Future (California Government Code Section 34906).

IT’S NEARLY 4 YEARS AND COUNTING since a dispute over a Custody Exchange began a chain of events resulting in Felony Charges against a Police Officer and a Lawsuit against the City.

According to the Complaint for Damages and Demand for Jury trial filed on behalf of Dwight Larks, on or about May 21, 2012, the mother of Lark’s child, and two members of the Livingston Police Department showed up at Mr. Larks residence and

“permitted (the) mother to unlawfully enter and trespass upon the residence of Plaintiff and she removed (the child) from the custody of the Plaintive in a manner not authorized by any Order of the Court” Case No CVM014537, P.5 – lines 3-5

The Complaint For Damages also states that, the actions of the the officers involved resulted in Mr. Larks sustaining

“among other injuries, laceration of his head, concussion, injury to his left shoulder, left wrist, neck and right leg, and has suffered pain in all those areas…..P7 – lines 13-15

The Claim for Damages also states that, on the day of the incident, Mr. Larks had turned on the recorder of his cell phone and that the terms of a prior court order included the following:

“a court order requires that all custody exchanges take place at a neutral, public location, specifically identified in bold print as: Livingston Police Department” Governmental Claim of Dwight L. Larks, P.3

The Complaint for Damages and Demand for Jury Trial was filed with the Merced County Superior Court on March 19, 2013. (Yes, I do have a copy.)

According to reports in the Sun Star, Mr. Larks was initially cited for resisting arrest and violating a court order. But, no case against him was ever filed “for lack of evidence”. However, the felony case against one of the Officers involved in that 2012 Custody Exchange continues.

I’m betting the Civil Case against the City will also continue to drag on in some kind of “legal limbo” until well after the legal wrangling over the Felony Case is settled.

A “Lost” City Manager, A Blocked off Parking Lot, An Ordinance About Marijuana and a City Council Agenda

Mayor Pro-Tem Gurpal Samra said the resignation came “out of the blue” and he’s sad to see Ramirez go. From  Livingston city manager to resign Jan. 31, Thaddeus Mill, The Merced Sun Star – 12/24/2014

Councilman Gurpal Samra said he was not aware of any conflicts between Duque and the council or city employees. He echoed the city attorney, saying Duque said he wanted to pursue another job. “He didn’t give any reasons,” Samra said. Excerpted from:  Livingston city manager resigns after two months – Thaddeus Miller, The Merced Sun Star, 12/21/2015

Livingston, CA 01/05/2016

Looks like we lost two (2) City Managers in less than the space of about a year or so: both resignations coming as a “surprise” to members of the City Council.  More on that a little later, but first….

I was taking a walk about town the other day, when I noticed a “traffic jam” of sorts in the parking lot in front of True-Value. A Gilton truck was trying to back up from behind the Fiesta Market. But he had to wait for the Delivery Truck behind him to back up. But the Delivery Truck behind the Gilton Truck had another Delivery Truck behind him. So the First Delivery Truck had to wait for the Second Delivery Truck to back up. And the Gilton Truck was stuck until the other trucks backed up. And Not even the smallest of cars could in until the trucks got out of the way.

Parking LotWhat .. a..mess..It might not have been quite as much of a mess if half the Parking Lot had not been blocked off.

Why, you might wonder, was half the parking lot blocked off? If you have lived here as long as I have, you know that the parking situation in the Downtown was already a mess of sorts before these spaces were blocked off.

Downtown Livingston MapBut we’ve gotten used to it. More or less. I bet many of you hardly even notice anymore that the Parking Lot to the left of Dollar Mart is blocked off. (That’s about 24 spaces. Right?) If the parallel parking in the Downtown is full, most people seem to adapt by parking in the Rite Aide parking lot or the Parking Lot in front of Mountain Mikes and Liberty Market.

I am now going to invoke The Story Teller’s License. (Since I don’t know all the Legal Technicalities Involved.) I do have a General Idea of What Happened. And the story goes something like this…

Building next to Fiesta MktONCE UPON A TIME….A few months or so ago, while my husband and I were out and about, I noticed the Jewelry Store that had occupied the (now empty) building next to the Fiesta Mkt. had been replaced by a business called Novedades. At the time, my husband told me some people he knew had bought the building and the parking lot at an auction. He wasn’t sure of all the details: just that they had bought the building so they could open their own business.

NovedadesIt only seemed like a few short months later when Novedades moved to a different building. (Previously occupied by the Third Street Armory) And not too terribly long after that, the piece of the parking lot that was attached to the building Novedades had moved from, was closed off.

I asked my husband if he knew anything. He didn’t seem to know much, except there had been some kind of “mistake” and the owners of Novedades were really mad about it.

I did a little more asking around, and from what I understand, a mistake was made by the Title Company involved with the Building/Parking Lot purchase. The owners of Fiesta Mkt. had actually bought the Building Next Door. The owners of Novedades had bought the portion of the parking lot that was associated with that building.

And (according to the story) the owners of Fiesta wanted the owners of Novedades to pay rent for the use of the building.

Now, at this point, some of you are already thinking, “Um..wouldn’t it make sense for the Owners of Fiesta and the Owners of Novedades to work out some kind of “rent swap” arrangement? So that Novedades would continue to have the use of the building and Fiesta would continue to benefit from access to the parking lot.”

HOWEVER (as the story goes) the owners of Fiesta eventually evicted Novedades from the building for non payment of rent. And did not want to pay the owners of the parking lot any kind of rent for access to the parking lot.

So, the owners of Novedades responded by closing off the Parking Lot.

What a mess.

THE RESIGNATION OF CITY MANAGER, Jose Antonio Ramirez became final the end of January 2015. As I mentioned a bit earlier, his resignation took the City Council by surprise (seriously?). During the January 06th and January 20th City Council meetings, he presented a List of Items the City Council would need to address some time in the future.

Now that we are back to “square one” in the search for a New City Manager, (If I had the time, I could do a whole post just on the “revolving door” City Hall has been over the last few years: when you consider ALL the staff who left or were let go.)let’s take another look at that original list and see what has been “resolved, and what may still be “pending”.

  1. Amending the Watering Ordinance – ADOPTED May, 2014

  2. Repairs needed to be done to the City’s Water Storage Tank . According to the California Department of Health: City of Livingston 2013 Water System Inspection Report“The interior coating (walls, floor , and interior support column) is in overall poor condition. There is a large amount of blistering, cracking, and pinholes in the coating. It is recommended to blast and recoat the interior of the tank .” 

    1. When the New Water Rates were adopted in 2014,  $30,000 was to be spent on Tank Repairs in 2014-2015, $400,000 to be spent on Tank Repairs in 2018-2019: for a total of $430,000

  3. Planning Fees Increases – PENDING

    1. According to the Asst City Manager internal fee studies were started and may have been completed but not fully reviewed. ….city’s general fund continues to subsidize such functions. Its highly recommended to hire an independent consultant to perform a professional fee study for city wide services. Recent law changes call for a public hearing when fee increases are being implemented.

  4. Well Deconstruction Fees. The City will have to start issuing Well Deconstruction Permits.  – PENDING

  5. Master Plans for Sewer, Water, and Storm Drains need to be updated – IN PROCESS – According to the City Engineer,

    1. The Urban Water Master Plan Update is in progress:funded by a Community Development Block Grant grant.

    2. The City would have to identify funding sources to entertain the sewer and storm drain master plans.  Most likely these two areas will be visited during the mid-year budget review to obtain cost estimates and discuss the possibility of addressing those in 2015-16.  The City will be looking for new feasibility study grants that could fund those areas.

  6. The 4th of July Committee would like to come under the umbrella of the City – STATUS UNCLEAR – To the best of my knowledge, there has been no movement on this item.

  7. Sunvalley Estates and Well #17  improvements – IN PROCESS

    1. Contract to Conco West, Inc. awarded on September 15, 2015

    2. Project Scheduled to have begun on November 16

  8. Devante Villas project: haven’t heard from them in a while. But sure they will be coming back – STATUS UNCLEAR – I have not heard back from anyone at the City about this yet.

  9. Kera (?) Fernandez Reimbursement issue: Staff is working with legal council on this issue – Went to court. Settlement agreement reached.

  10. AB1600 Draft:

    1. According to the Asst. City Manager, the Final draft is ready and Staff is working with legal council to move foreword with the adoption – –  An internal fee study was performed, however, there were some “legal” concerns applicable to the current general plan….It was decided to put a hold on fee study until the general plan update issues are addressed.

  11. Tree Grant: the city still has trees to plant.

    1. Per the Asst. City Manager The Tree grant was successful and it’s 100% closed, the City received about $20K.

  12. Winton Parkway Development: Mr. Javier Galvan is very interested in moving that project forward with his partners. He mentioned he had a letter from the City from some years ago promising funding for the Winton Parkway street.

    1. The Asst. City Manager personally requested a copy of such commitment and to date has not received it.

  13. New WCIII Proposed Fees Schedule as part of the Building Services Department

    1. The City switched to 4Leaf on June 02, 2015. See Item 3

  14. Pipeline from Well #14 to Well #8 currently being designed and going out to bid in early spring. – IN PROCESS

    1. According to the City Engineer, it is Still under engineering review and is expected to start in Spring 2016 or sooner

  15. Well #17 CBDG Grant Project.

    1. The City received an Award of a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) in the amount of $1,600.000 for Water Well #17

    2. In December 2014 a contract was  Awarded to Loprest Treatment Company to Supply Three Complete Water Filtration Systems for the Removal of Arsenic and Manganese at Wells #13, #17, and #15.

    3. In September 2015 was the the Resolution Accepting Bid and Awarding Contract to Conco West, Inc. for Well #17 Improvements and Wellhead Treatment

  16. Well #13 Project Design complete and going out to bid in February. (California Department of Public Health Grant) – NEARING COMPLETION

    1. According to the City Engineer:  This project is at its final stage, its expected was expected to be completed by end of November and taken to council for approval/acceptance in December.

  17. Well #15 Project should either be a grant or a 0% loan – No Updates Yet

  18. Groundwater Levels have dropped and monitoring needs to continue. 35 to 40 foot drop last year. Levels have risen about a foot this year.

    1. Exact Current Water Level data not available.

  19. Self Monitoring for ADA Requirements. As the City has been replacing curbs, gutters, and sidewalks, issues are being addressed.

    1. I have noticed cracks being filled in various places throughout the City.

    2. There has been 1 claim filed against the city that I know of.

  20. Community Facility District Formation in the Winton Parkway area. Once the Gallo Subdivision takes place, make sure that goes forward.

    1. Since everything seems to be still “in the planning and review stage, this may take a while.

  21. National Endowment for the Arts Grant has been applied for, in conjunction with the Merced Arts Council: Start a Mural Project in the Down Town, beginning with the City Owned Building next to the Council Chambers.

    1. No info on this yet

  22. Tax Sharing Agreement with the County has yet to be finalized– STILL IN PROCESS – Some of you may remember that the County revoked the previous Tax Sharing Agreement with the City as of July 1, 2009. The County had disagreed strongly with portions of the City’s 2025 General Plan Update and wanted substantial changes. When the City refused to make those changes, the County revoked the 2004 Tax Sharing Agreement that had been in place.

    1. I’ve been to several Council Meetings at which I heard it said it was still “under discussion”

  23. Cal Trans Campbell Project Properties: They are trying to come up with the cost of those odd shaped properties so they can tell the City what they want for them.

    1. Per Asst. City Manager – No recent activity nor City interest

  24. Health Insurance: There had only been 1 response to the Request for Proposals. Council might want to extend the request period.

    1. At the May 26, 2015 Special City Council Meeting, the Council voted to select the current PACE program with the Anthem Blue Cross $1300 deductible PPO plan and Anthem Blue Cross $25 copayment HMO plan.

In addition to the above

Downtown Beautification Project

  • Per City Engineer, the final modifications to the design by engineers is expected to go back to council for final review and comments shortly.

  • Expected construction in early 2016

Recruitment of a New Public Works Director – ON HOLD

  • Originally – Until the New City Manager did an evaluation of work loads – Now its on hold for the next City Manager

Amending the RTIF – so projects like the Motel 6 will be excluded from paying those fees when they pull their permits?

  • Per Asst. City Manager – No need to amend the RTIF at this point.

Decommissioning the ponds at the old (Foster Farms) IWWTP

  • According to the City Manager. Per discussion with Foster Farms about 3-4 months ago, they were on schedule.

Winton Parkway Development Projects: Motel 6 and any others

  • Per City Engineer, these are in process: Under review and discussion

YEP. WE “LOST” TWO CITY MANAGERS THIS YEAR – Both resignations were a “surprise” to members of the Council and Both left on “good terms”. Although the First-T0-Go, Jose Antonio Ramirez managed to stick around for over three years, the Second, Eddie Duque didn’t even manage to make it three months.

The Story Goes that he resigned “of his own accord.” I have a hard time believing that. Given Livingston’s History, there MUST be more to his story than the City Council is willing to divulge.

Why do I feel this way?

Because if you read Pages 3, 4, and 5 of the Employment Agreement, under the heading “Termination of Employment and Severance” you will see that:

If MR. DUQUE was to decide to terminate the Agreement: (Translation..”Resign of his own accord)

THEN he was to give 60 days WRITTEN notice AND he would get NOTHING

If the CITY COUNCIL decided to terminate the Agreement “without cause”, during the first year of employment

THEN Mr. Duque would be entitled to 4 months Base Salary as Severance PLUS Health Care Coverage for 2 months.

{($140,000 Annual/12months)x4months} + $2,636 in Health Benefits

Works out to about $49,302

…AND nothing is to be said to the public or Press except for in a Mutually Agreed Upon Joint Press Release ULESS they cannot agree as to the content. In that event, the City is to simply say he is no longer employed by the City.

IF the CITY COUNCIL decided to terminate the Agreement “for cause”

THEN Mr. Duque would get NOTHING

THEREFORE….Given WHAT he got + WHEN he got it + This City’s history of chewing through Staff = There Just Has To Be More to the story.

IT TOOK THE PLANNING COMMISSION 3 (THREE) HOURS to come to an agreement on how to phrase a Zoning Text Amendment which would allow Qualified Patients and their Primary Care Givers to cultivate Medical Marijuana within the City of Livingston. While the Planning Commission Chair favored a total ban, the rest of the Commissioners felt some kind of allowance should be made for Private Grows by Qualified Patients and their Primary Care Givers.

The Resolution the Commission sent to the Council had the following intent

  • Prohibit Commercial Grows

  • Allow Deliveries to Qualified Patients by Licensed Dispensaries (subject to certain restrictions)

  • A Primary Care Giver bringing Medical Marijuana to the Qualified Patient would not be regulated as a Delivery and would be exempt from Licensing Requirements.

  • Allow for a Qualified Patients and their Primary Care Givers to grow up to 6 plants

    • outside of the Residence (if the plants are grown in some kind of structure, the structure would be subject to Building Code. However, structures less than 120 sq. ft. are not subject to Code.

    • subject to certain other restrictions

For more details, CLICK HERE to read the entire Resolution

CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

JANUARY 5, 2016

CLOSED SESSION: 6:00 P.M.

OPEN SESSION: 7:00 P.M.

 

Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Regular Meeting on January 5, 2016, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in accordance with state law prior to the Open Session beginning at 6:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held at the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street. The agenda shall be as follows:

 

Closed Session

 

1. Call to Order.

2. Roll Call.

CLOSED SESSION

 

A “Closed” or “Executive” Session of the City Council or the Successor Agency may be held in accordance with state law which may include, but is not limited to, the following types of items: personnel matters, labor negotiations, security matters, providing instructions to real property negotiators, conference with legal counsel regarding pending litigation. The Closed Session will be held in the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Any public comment on Closed Session items will be taken before the Closed Session. Any required announcements or discussion of Closed Session items or actions following the Closed Session will be made in the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California.

3. Public Employee Appointment

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: Interim City Manager

4. Conference with Labor Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Agency Negotiator: City Attorney Jose M. Sanchez

Unrepresented Employee: Interim City Manager

5. Public Employee Appointment

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: City Manager Recruitment

6. Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

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

Number of Cases: 1

 

Regular Meeting

 

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2016-01

Next Ordinance Number: 626

 

Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Closed Session Announcements.

Changes to the Agenda.

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

 

Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

City Staff Announcements and Reports.

City Manager Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

 

1. Resolution Approving Site Plan / Design Review 2015-3 to Construct a Building Containing an Office, Dressing Room, and an Apartment at the Guru Nanak Sikh Mission, 884 “B” Street, Livingston, CA.

 

2.   Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Title 5, Chapters 2, 3, 5 and 7 of the Livingston Municipal Code Prohibiting Commercial Marijuana ( Cannabis) Activities, Regulating Delivery of Medical Marijuana, and Regulating the Cultivation of Medical Marijuana Including Establishing Exemptions for Cultivation by Qualified Patients and Primary Caregivers.

 

CITIZEN COMMENTS

This section of the agenda allows members of the public to address the City Council on any item NOT otherwise on the agenda. Members of the public, when recognized by the Mayor, should come forward to the lectern, and identify themselves. Comments are normally limited to three (3) minutes. In accordance with State Open Meeting Laws, no action will be taken by the City Council this evening. For items which are on the agenda this evening members of the public will be provided an opportunity to address the City Council as each item is brought up for discussion.

 

CONSENT CALENDAR

 

Items on the Consent Calendar are considered routine or non-controversial and will be enacted by one vote, unless separate action is requested by the City Manager or City Council Member. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless members of the City Council or City Manager request that specific items be removed.

 

3. Approval of Warrant Register Dated December 10, 2015.

4. Approval of Warrant Register Dated December 23, 2015.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

5. City Council to Provide Direction for Appointment to the Planning Commission.

Cockroaches, Arsenic, and TCP; A Requiem for the Court Theater and a Planning Commission Agenda

LIVINGSTON, CALIFORNIA 01/13/2014

Tainted water disrupted poultry production at Foster Farms last week, and city officials are trying to find out what caused it. Mike North, Merced Sun Star Discolored water disrupts production at Foster Farms, February 27, 2013

Among 403 persons for whom information is available, illness onset dates range from March 1, 2013 to December 1, 2013…. Thirteen percent of ill persons have developed blood infections as a result of their illness. Typically, approximately 5% of persons ill with Salmonella infections develop blood infections. No deaths have been reported. Center for Disease Control – http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/heidelberg-10-13/

If the city loses one of its existing wells, Samra said, it would have to implement severe conservation efforts, such as restricting residents from watering their lawns or asking Foster Farms to alter its production, Ramona Giwargis, Merced Sun Star Livingston gets water project grant amid struggle to pass balanced budget – September 16, 2013

As of December 18, 2013, a total of 416 individuals infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 23 states and Puerto Rico…. Center for Disease Control http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/heidelberg-10-13

“USDA has said they did not have the authority to shut down Foster Farms, despite repeated outbreaks,”…“We are exploring options to ensure they have clear authority to do so, instead of hoping they find filth before they can shut down a plant they already know is a problem,”…“Change must be made to protect Americans.” Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro – former chairman, and current ranking member, of the U.S. House subcommittee responsible for funding the federal Agriculture Department, DeLauro reacts to closing of chicken plant due to roachesShelton Herald – January 10, 2014 (ht Mike McMguire)

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Foster Farms released a statement Sunday saying it has voluntarily put operations on hold at its Livingston facility. …The company says it is taking extra time to expand safe manufacturing procedures and monitoring systems. The move comes after U.S. Department of Agriculture suspended operations on Wednesday because of a cockroach infestationABC 30– Breaking News, January 12, 2014 (ht Belinda Silva)

In my Last Post, I talked about the sometimes turbulent, sometimes antagonistic Symbiotic Relationship between The City of Livingston and the City’s largest employer: Foster Farms and how most of the turbulence and antagonism centers around Livingston’s Water, Water Quality, and Foster Farm’s use of that water. We’ll talk a little more about how recent events may continue to impact both Foster Farms and the City of Livingston. But First…

~~~~~~~~~~

Preparing to take down the MarqueeTHE DEMOLITION OF THE COURT THEATER has been rescheduled to begin January 14, 2013. As reported in the Merced Sun Star, demolition was originally to have begun a weak earlier, but was postponed while the demolition company waits for some required equipment.

The Staff Report for the Demolition Contract tells the Court Theater Story this way…

The "Court" Theater was designed in August 1945 and built soon thereafter by the Court Family to replace a 200-seat theater that had burned to the ground…. It was used extensively over the subsequent years and used primarily for movie viewing. The theater is reported to have closed in 1977 and has remained vacant since then.

The property was purchased by David and Judith Theodore in November 1987.

On February 5, 2002, the Livingston City Council approved a motion to buy the theater for $115,000.

In April 2002, the City purchased the property from the Theodore family in hopes of restoring it to its former glory.

On January 15, 2002, the City Council established the Livingston Court Theater Committee and appointed Committee members on February 5, 2002.

In 2004, the building was evaluated by a structural engineer (Pelton Engineering) which determined, at that time, that the building structure was in general good condition, but the interior needed "proper rehabilitation."

The planned renovation efforts involved six phases: 1) roof repair, 2) clean up, 3) interior demolition, 4) refurbishment, 5) new construction and expansion of north side 6) new construction and expansion of south side. The architects estimated costs totaled $2,350,000.00.

In 2004, the City applied for four grant applications (CDBG Planning and Technical Assistance Grant, California Cultural and Historical Endowment, and Roberti-Z’Berg­ Harris Nonurbanized Open Space and Recreation Grant Program) to assist the City with design and renovation costs associated with the Court Theater Renovation Project.

In July 2005, the City was awarded a Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $500,000.00 from the State of California Housing and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) General/Native American Allocation Program.

The Marquee is downI’m going to interrupt the Staff Report at this point to add a few more details. ….In Fiscal Year 2008, the City used its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)  to complete the architectural drawings for the Court Theater renovation. It also applied for another $1 million Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and a low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help provide funds for the Court Theater Restoration Project. Total cost of the Court Theater restoration was estimated at that time to be $7,652,672. (2008-2009 Budget p. 344)

By February, 2010, the Court Theater Project had become caught up in the turbulent politics of “Run Up to the Recall About Water Rates”: with the accusation being that $1 million dollars had been cut from the Police and Fire Department Budget in order to finance the Project.

By May of 2011, the Court Theater Committee did not feel that they had the Council’s support for the project when they went out to do fundraisers and they  just wanted to know if this project was something the Council wished to continue and asked for an official Resolution of Support. During the City Council discussions, the Committee was taken to task by Mayor Pro-Temp Margarita Aguilar for the “perks” the Committee was receiving: Thing like, being referenced on the City’s Web Page. Having Published Agendas and meetings in the City conference Chamber. Things of that sort.

In contrast, Council Member Samra stated the intent of this resolution was to give moral support. He went on to state the Council needed to make a decision on what to do with the project and not place the blame on the committee and suggested that if the Council’s desire was to eliminate the project, then they should deny the resolution and bring back the project for a decision on what to do with the building.

A Motion to Deny Approval of the Resolution of Support was made by Council Members Land and Aguilar: and failed by a 2-3 vote. A Motion to Approve the Resolution of Support was made by Council Members Samra and Vierra: and passed 3-2.

By December 2011 there were discussions about changing the scope of the project, because finding sources of funding was becoming increasingly difficult.

On January 17, 2012, the City Council unanimously adopted a Resolution Accepting Submittal of a Proposition 84 Grant Application to Construct the New Court Theater, Office Buildings and Downtown Parking Structure; Prepare a Downtown Master Plan and Form-Based Zoning Code; and Provide Passive Recreation Activities at the Merced River. 

I also remember the City hiring a Professional crews to clean up the Pigeon droppings and cover the roof with a tarp in an effort to stave off more damage. (I don’t remember exactly when. I just remember seeing the workers dressed up in white Hazmat type suits)

Returning to the Staff Report, we find

The City spent some of this money on permits and design work but was unable to start the work.

The State has since asked for reimbursement of grant proceeds. The City entered into a repayment plan to pay back $147,000 per year for three consecutive years.

The Livingston Court Theater is in a state of disrepair and is no longer structurally sound. The building appears to be in imminent threat of falling and is considered unsafe. The building now serves as a nesting area for pigeons and has now accumulated a significant amount of pigeon waste.

In the City’s efforts to look ahead and examine downtown revitalization efforts, it is considering various options to restoring a vibrant downtown. One option is deconstruct the theater to make room for other possible options, including a new theater project that preserves the integrity of the old architecture design and integrates new technologies available for a theater and auditorium use.

Will they be able to save the ticket boothFrom what I understand, the City planned to save the marquee, ticket booth, and Court Sign. I went out the day the marquee came down and was informed that because of corrosion and other structural issues with the sign, City workers would be unable to take the sign down. …It is still hoped that the sign can still be saved….

American FlagTHE LIVINGSTON-DELHI VFW AND LADIES AUXILIARY are very proud to announce that their entry into the Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest not only won first place at the District level but has gone on to win first at the State Level.  ….Lenna Foster is a sixth grade student at St. Anthony’s school in Atwater California.  We are very proud of Lenna and look forward to seeing her in Sacramento at the Voice of Democracy Banquet on Friday, January 18th. 

We wish to thank the three teachers for encouraging their students to enter the contest and for their promotion of patriotism in their students. 

Our thanks also go to the parents of the students for all of the encouragement they gave to all of those who entered the contest.  Each of the students are winners in our opinion.  The judging was very difficult with so many excellent essays to read.

HamburgerVFW FAMILY HAMBURGER NIGHT….. Join us for the VFW Hamburger Night, Thursday, January 30, 2014, from 5-7 pm at the Livingston Veterans Memorial Building, 1605 7th Street, in Livingston. The public is invited, and you do not have to be a member to attend.

You will be able to enjoy hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fish sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs and chili. The sandwiches include your choice of homemade salads. Price ranges from $2.00 to $4.50 per meal. All proceeds go to help support our community programs.

If you need more information on any of our events, contact Denis Wells at (209) 394-2059 or visit our website at www.vfwlivingston.com.

“CAN FOSTER FARMS OVERCOME COCKROACH CONTROVERSY?” Was a question posed in the Modesto Bee recently.

You might have already read about the Livingston Plant being shut down for a couple of days while Management devised a plan to rid of the little pests.

You might already know about the Outbreaks of Salmonella that the Centers for Disease Control have attributed to Foster Farms.

You may have heard about how this series of events has attracted the attention and ire of  “Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro – former chairman, and current ranking member, of the U.S. House subcommittee responsible for funding the federal Agriculture Department.” 

And you may have already heard the news that Foster Farms “voluntarily” “shut down its largest poultry plant in Central California on Sunday, two days after federal inspectors lifted a suspension for cockroach infestation.The company (saying) fresh chicken production at the Livingston facility was put on hold for several days to expand safety procedures.” (ht Mike McGuire)

Foster Farms’ Salmonella and Cockroach Problems are big ones to be sure: problems that have made national headlines and have surely damaged Foster Farms “bottom line”.  But in my view, foster Farms has an ever bigger problem to deal with, if it is going to survive and thrive in Livingston.

And that problem has to do with Livingston’s Water

Because without enough Water that meets Drinking Water Standards, Foster Farms cannot process chickens, and Clean/Sanitize the processing plant.

The Foster Farms Plant in Livingston uses 65%-to 66% of the water produced by The City of Livingston’s wells.

Anyone who has been following Livingston’s Water Quality Issues over the last few years KNOWS there are problems with the Groundwater and Water Delivery System which must be addressed or companies like Foster Farms, or that brand new Motel 6 and Restaurant that’s supposed to be coming, are going to end up NOT HAVING ENOUGH OF THE WATER they want/need to operate at peak efficiency.

I only conclude that if Foster Farms cannot get enough water that meets State/Federal Drinking Water Standards than Foster Farms Production and Sanitization Procedures will suffer.

As will the residents of the City of Livingston

But, the Livingston just does not have enough money to fix all the known problems with the Water Delivery System by itself.

And a part of that reason is, since the last time Water Rates were raised in 1995,  City Councils Past did not raise them again Incrementally-Over-the-Years so the City could properly address issues with the Water System as they came up. (Either because they could not understand the issues, or for Political Reasons did not want to understand. IMHO)

So when Water Rates WERE finally raised in 2009, the amount was such a shock to residents that some of them mounted a Recall Effort. They believed that Water Rates shouldn’t be raised “that much”:  because there were No-Real-Problems-To-Fix, therefore, there was no real need for those increases.

((By the way, the Recall Proponents also said the Rates were raised “the wrong way”: by a 3/2 vote of the council instead of at least a 4/1 Supermajority.))

And some residents sued because they believed that Water Rates shouldn’t be raised that much because there were No-Real-Problems-To-Fix. Therefore there was no real need for those increases.

((By the way, the residents who sued said Rates were raised the wrong way: by a 3/2 vote of the council instead of at least a 4/1 Supermajority.))

And Foster Farms also sued because they said "The increased rates cannot be justified because they are intended to pay for unrelated city activities to generate unlawful surpluses, not to provide water service to the city’s residents." And “the company will be negatively impacted by the city’s July 7 resolution”

((By the way, Foster Farms said the Rates were raised the wrong way: by a 3/2 vote of the council instead of at least a 4/1 Supermajority.))

And after that, Foster Farms Sued AGAIN alleging (among other things) “… that to fill deficits (in the Water Enterprise Fund, the City Manager), commingled restricted funds meant for specific uses, such as water services, and failed to inform citizens of this fact, in violation of state law”

(Translation: “you weren’t collecting enough in rates – so you took money from other funds to cover the deficit in the Water Enterprise Fund”)

And yes..a whole bunch of money got spent in litigation

(A little side note here. When the City of Atwater raised it’s Water Rates a few months back: it did so by a 3/2 vote of the City Council. Go figure…)

After the Recall Effort was successful in 2010, those “illegal”, “unwarranted”, and “unnecessary” Water Rates were rolled back to 1995 levels.

So…what came next…after that long period of time in which There-Were-No-Real-Problems-To-Fix?

For one thing, control of the whole “raising water rates” process ended up firmly in the hands of Recall Proponents: some of whom now sit on Livingston’s Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee, the Planning Commission and City Council.

And…. since then, Foster Farms has had to shut down at least one shift because of Water Quality Problems. 

And the California Department of Health has given Livingston a long list of stuff it says needs fixing. 

(Translation: You have several problems and potential problems you need to address)

And after THAT, The California Department of Health gave Livingston a COMPLIANCE ORDER for failing the Maximum Contaminant Level for ARSENIC! 

(Translation: You have too much Arsenic in your water. That is a problem you must address)

The Kenedy Jenks Report, commissioned by the City Council, was released. It states in part, “The combination of challenges leaves the City exposed to water rationing if existing demands repeat the 2010 and 2011 water use levels. Loss of Wells 12 and 14 would be catastrophic and without Well 16 operating the City would be unable to meet existing water commitments without implementation of water conservation measures”. “City of Livingston Feasibility Analysis for a Sustainable Water Treatment Strategy”, Executive Summary, Page V, Kennedy Jenks Consultants, July 12, 2013

(Translation: There are Problems with the Water and Water Delivery System that must be addressed)

Livingston’s Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee, which has the task of advising the City Council about Things-That-Affect-Water-Rates has been informed that “there is no available water for future growth, and that Livingston is “out of compliance for (water) capacity”. 08-19-2013 Utility Rate Stakeholders Committee Meeting , 12-02-2013 Utility Rate Stakeholders Committee Meeting 

(Translation: There are BIG Problems with the Water and Water Delivery System that must be addressed)

But now… unless the City can now pull off some kind of miracle, pay off the deficit in the Water Enterprise Fund, and get a whole lot of Grant and Low Interest Loan Money from the State/Feds, there will not be enough money to fix all the Arsenic, Manganese, and TCP-1,2,3 problems the City must address.

And if Foster Farms would have been “negatively impacted” by “Higher Water Rates”, just how “negatively impacted” will they be when the water they pull from Livingston’s Water System NO LONGER MEETS STATE/FEDERAL DRINKING WATER STANDARDS?

And THAT news goes National.

Then what?

Especially given Ritchie King, a VP at Foster Farms, is a “voting member” of Livingston’s Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee. (Signed copy of actual Resolution available upon request)

And Now On To The

LIVINGSTON PLANNING COMMISSION REGULAR MEETING AGENDA TUESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2014 7:00 P.M.

CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS, 1416 C STREET, LIVINGSTON

Members of the public are advised that all pagers, cellular telephones and any other communication devices be put on vibrate mode or turned off during the Planning Commission meeting.

Call to Order: 7:00 PM

Roll Call – Chairperson/Commissioners Pledge of Allegiance

Item No. 1- Consent Agenda

All matters listed under the Consent Agenda are considered routine by the Planning Commission and will be adopted by one action of the Commission unless any member of the Commission wishes to remove an item for separate consideration.

a. Action Meeting Minutes from the December 10, 20 13, Planning Commission Regular Meeting.

Item No. 2 – Public Comment

a. Members of the Audience – At this time, any person may comment on any item that is NOT on the Agenda. PLEASE STATE YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS FOR THE RECORD. While the Planning Commission encourages participation from the audience, no more than five (5) minutes are allowed per discussion item. Topics not considered urgency matters may be referred to City Staff and/or placed on the next agenda for consideration and/or action by the Planning Commission.

Item No. 3 – Public Heariugs

a. Site Plan/Design Review 2013-04. Motel 6 has applied for a Site Plan/Design Review application to develop a 27,852 sq. ft. 75-room, 3-story motel and pad for a proposed future restaurant on a 2.43 acre parcel located at 100 N. Del Rio Avenue and 110 N. Del Rio Avenue, Livingston, generally located on the north side of Joseph Gallo Drive, west of Winton Parkway on property zoned Highway Service Commercial (C-3), APN 022-010-016.

b. Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 2014-0 l , Various clarifications and corrections to the Livingston Municipal Code, Title 5, Zoning Regulations. Review and approve clarifications to various references in the Livingston Zoning Regulations.

Item No. 4 – Reports

a. Planning Commission

b. City Staff

Item No. 5 -Adjournment to regular meeting on February 11, 2014.

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, if you need special assistance to participate in this meeting, please contact the Community Development Department at (209) 394-8041,

Ext. 112. Notification 48 hours prior to the meeting will enable the City to make reasonable arrangements to assure accessibility to this meeting.

Members of the public who have questions regarding any agenda item may comment on that item before and during consideration of that item when called upon by the Planning Commission Chairperson.

All actions of the Livingston Planning Commission can be appealed to the Livingston City Council by filing an appeal, in writing and paying the appropriate fees, with the City Clerk.

TCP, TCB, and a City Council Agenda

Often used in the production of pesticides, TCP is a man-made chemical that can cause cancer, kidney failure and tumors, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Livingston awarded $9 million settlement, Mike North, Merced Sun Star

"The good thing is the people of Livingston won’t pay for contaminant removal that is not their cause," he said. "If the result hadn’t been favorable to Livingston, our rate payers would have had to come up with $9 million." – Gurpal Samra, ibid

 

12192012 Why NOT Spend the TCP Settlement elsewhereLivingston faces discrimination claim from former development director, Merced Sun Star, Comment Section 

Ah Karma, Karma, Karma, Why NOT?  Why not spend the TCP Settlement Money on other things and have the Rate Payers come up with the money for TCP Clean Up?

Are. You. KIDDING me?

More on that a little later, but first

 

1234

Yep. There’s Strange and then there is Army Strange. Courtesy of Damon Shackelford: furious scribbler of military cartoons.

LOCAL LIVINGSTON KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS Council 9363 to Sponsor Youth Free Throw Championship

01272013 Knights of Columbus Free Throw Contest All boys and girls ages 10-14 are invited to participate in the local level of competition for the 2113 Knights of Columbus Free Throw Championship. The local competition will be held on January 27, 2013 at 1:00pm at The Livingston High School Gymnasium.

All boys and girls 10 to 14-years-old are eligible to participate and will compete in their respective age divisions.

All contestants on the local level are recognized for their participation in the event.  Participants are required to furnish proof of age and written parental consent. For entry forms or additional information contact: Ramon D. Avila 209-394-3169.

LIVINGSTON/DELHI VFW Breakfast in January      

pancakesThe Livingston/Delhi Veterans of Foreign Wars and Ladies Auxiliary Breakfast will be served on January 27, 2013, at the Livingston Veterans Memorial Hall, located at 1605 7th Street, in Livingston.

This will be our first Breakfast of 2013. Adults can eat for $7.00, and the children under 12 for eat for $5.00. Breakfast consists of Pancakes, French Toast or Biscuits and Gravy; served with Eggs cooked to order, Hash Browns, Sausage or Ham and Coffee and Juice. Breakfast will be served from 8 am to 11 am.

If you need more information on the Breakfast, Family Hamburger Night, or if you would like to become a member of the Post or Auxiliary, contact Denis or Sue Wells at (209) 394-2059.

FAMILY HAMBURGHER NIGHT AT THE LIVINGSTON VFW

HamburgerJoin us for the VFW Hamburger Night, January 31, 2013, from 5-7 pm at the Livingston Veterans Memorial Building, 1605 7th Street, in Livingston.

The public is invited, and you do not have to be a member to attend.

This will be our first hamburger night of 2013.You will be able to enjoy hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fish sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs and chili.  The sandwiches include your choice of homemade salads.

Price ranges from $2.00 to 4.00 per meal.

All proceeds go to help support our community programs.

If you need more information on any of our events, contact Denis or Sue Wells at  (209) 394-2059

or visit our website at http://www.vfwlivingston.com.

BUILDING MATERIALS SALE

ConsttructionThe Livingston-Delhi Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8327 will be holding a huge Building Materials Sale at the Veterans Memorial Hall, located at 9799 Stephens Street, Delhi California.

All new merchandise, priced twenty five cents on the dollar. We have electrical, plumbing, lawn & garden, flooring, windows, doors and many other items, too numerous to mention.

Thursday, February 7ththrough Saturday, February 9th. We will open at 9am and close at 5pm.

All Sales are Final with no Warranties. Contractors Welcome. We accept cash or checks only, no Credit Cards.

All proceeds will go to the California Veterans Service Program. If you have any questions call Denis Wells at 209-394-2059 or visit our website at www.vfwlivingston.com.

MARK YOUR CALANDAR!

2013 Kite Festival

And don’t forget to go “Like” their Facebook Page!

REMEMBER THAT TCP SETTLEMENT I mentioned earlier? The over $9 million the City received from Dow Chemical Company because of the TCP contamination in Livingston’s Groundwater? At the time, some members of the Council crowed about how helpful that money would be towards cleaning up Livingston’s Groundwater Contamination.

And how much the Water Rate Payers of Livingston would be helped out by this: because it would mean that much less to come out of their pockets in the future.

To refresh everyone’s memory, According to the Merced Sun Star,"…the settlement (Livingston Received in September 2011)totaled $13 million, with $3.5 million going to pay attorney fees and nearly $500,000 going toward litigation expenses

Note: This Money was not placed into 1  single bank or investment labeled “TCP Money Account” This money was deposited into a series of Different Banks and Investments that are related to the Water Capital Account. We may talk more about that later in another post. But for now, the main Topic of Discussion is “How Should The TCP Settlement Money be spent?”

It would seem to me that if the groundwater contamination was serious enough to justify all the staff time, and Legal Expenses of suing Dow Chemical, than any settlement monies received should be used to clean up that TCP Contamination in the ground water.

But not everyone on the City Council seems to feel the same way about it now.

At the December 04, 2012 City Council meeting, it was actually suggested that the City use that Settlement Money for things other than TCP Cleanup: like…paying down other debt maybe.

SO WHY DOES THAT CONCERN ME Dear Karma? Dear Karma? As I wrote in my response to Karma’s comment in the Sun Star

Why not?

Because long term exposure to TCP 1,2,3 is considered by the State of California to be a human carcinogen. (cancer causing agent)

Because TCP has been detected in every well

Because the amount of TCP in all wells exceed the currently established Public Health Goal and "will require treatment when resources become available." (I would call $9 million dollars stuck in various Bank Accounts as "funds available)

Because the amount of TCP detected in the wells is as much as 100 times the Notification Level established by the State.

Because in 2005, the City Sued Dow Chemical because of the amount of TCP in the groundwater and how expensive it would be to remove.

Because one major company in the City of Livingston must have been concerned about the level TCP in (well #8 I believe)that it was willing to "lend" the City the money to get the Filtration Project started until other funding became available.

Because the Engineers and Consultants doing the City’s Water Feasibility Study are projecting costs between $20 million to $30 million dollars in order to address all of the Groundwater Issues Livingston faces.

Because Livingston has already failed to receive Grant Monies in the amount it has asked for Water System Upgrades because Livingston’s Water Rates were considered "to low" by the agency evaluating the Grant Request.

Because $9 million dollars used for Cleaning up the TCP is $9 million dollars LESS that would need to be factored into any Future Rate Increases.

References, including Newspaper Articles, Staff Reports, Water Quality Reports, Reports to the Utility Rate Stakeholders Committee, and Water System Inspection Report upon request

And if that money is used “somewhere else”: like paying down other debt, doesn’t that mean that Rate Payers will eventually have to make up for that in Higher Water Rates?

Just something to think about

And yes, References, including Newspaper Articles, Staff Reports, Water Quality Reports, Reports to the Utility Rate Stakeholders Committee, and Water System Inspection Report are still available upon request for those of you who might want to see them.

ONE MORE THING, DEAR KARMA, while I am thinking about it. If I am a worm, I am THE GREAT WORM! Shai-Hulud! Winking smile Get it right my dear Karma. Get it right.

Summon the Worms

And now on to the

 

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CONCURRENT MEETING

CITY COUNCIL AND SUCCESSOR AGENCY TO THE REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY OF THE

CITY OF LIVINGSTON

REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

JANUARY 15, 2013

CLOSED SESSION: 6:00 P.M.

OPEN SESSION: 7:00 P.M.

Notice is hereby given that the City Council and Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency will hold a Regular Meeting on January 15, 2013, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in accordance with state law prior to the Open Session beginning at 6:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held at the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street. The agenda shall be as follows:

Closed Session

1. Call to Order.

2. Roll Call.CLOSED SESSION

A “Closed” or “Executive” Session of the City Council or the Livingston Redevelopment Agency may be held in accordance with state law which may include, but is not limited to, the following types of items: personnel matters, labor negotiations, security matters, providing instructions to real property negotiators, conference with legal counsel regarding pending litigation. The Closed Session will be held in the City Hall Conference Room located at 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Any public comment on Closed Session items will be taken before the Closed Session. Any required announcements or discussion of Closed Session items or actions following the Closed Session will be made in the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California.

3. Successor Agency

Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

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

4. Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

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

Number of Cases: 3

5. Conference with Labor Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Labor Negotiator: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez

Employee Organizations: All Represented City Employees

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2013-1

Next Ordinance Number: 600

Pledge of Allegiance. Next Successor Agency

Resolution Number: 2013-1

Roll Call.

Closed Session Announcements.

Changes to the Agenda.

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

1. Presentation by Council Member Jim Soria – Introduction and Recognition of Junior Football All Star Team Members.

GRANT ANNOUNCEMENTSANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

City Staff Announcements and Reports.

City Manager Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

CITY COUNCIL FUTURE AGENDA ITEM REQUESTS

PUBLIC HEARINGS

CITIZEN COMMENTS

This section of the agenda allows members of the public to address the City Council on any item NOT otherwise on the agenda. Members of the public, when recognized by the Mayor, should come forward to the lectern, and identify themselves. Comments are normally limited to three (3) minutes. In accordance with State Open Meeting Laws, no action will be taken by the City Council this evening. For items which are on the agenda this evening members of the public will be provided an opportunity to address the City Council as each item is brought up for discussion.

CONSENT CALENDAR

Items on the Consent Calendar are considered routine or non-controversial and will be enacted by one vote, unless separate action is requested by the City Manager or City Council Member. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless members of the City Council or City Manager request that specific items be removed.

2. Resolution Authorizing Submittal of an Application to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s “Green Trees for the Golden State” Grant Program.

3. Minutes of Meeting Held on October 16, 2012.

4. Minutes of Meeting Held on November 8, 2012.

5. Minutes of Meeting Held on November 20, 2012.

6. Minutes of Meeting Held on December 11, 2012.

7. Approval of Warrant Register Dated January 9, 2013.

SUCCESSOR AGENCY DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

8. Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Adopting Guidelines for the Submission and Tabulation of Protests Pursuant to Article XIIID of the California Constitution (Proposition 218).

9. Resolution Authorizing the Purchase of a Security Surveillance Camera System That Implements High-End Video Analytics and a License Plate Recognition System.

10. Extend Deadline for Parks and Recreation Commission Applications.

ADJOURNMENT

A New City Council, A Philosophical Rant, A Rate Increase, and a City Council Agenda.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" Galations 5:22,23 NIV

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these’.’ Matthew 19:14 NIV

"And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me" Matthew 18:5 NIV "

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to” Matthew 23:13 NIV

"A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit."…."Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them"|

"Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?".."Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" Matthew 7:18, 20, 22, 23 NIV 

This is one of those few “different kinds of posts” where I rant about something other than Local Politics.

Most of you have already heard of the terrible events that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  So, I’m not going to go into the details, or talk about about the debates going on in other forums about Mental Health Services or Gun Control.

Westboro Baptist ChurchBUT I HEARD SOME ADDITIONAL  NEWS OVER THE WEEKEND that frankly, has me feeling like spouting some fire and brimstone of my own. The Westboro (so called) Baptist Church and it’s plans to “picket Sandy Hook Elementary School to sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment” 

Now, Having grown up as a Free Will Baptist Deacon’s Kid, I went to a whole lot of Sunday School, and did a whole lot of Bible Study in my youth, and for the life of me, I don’t recall any scripture (especially in the New Testament) that would even remotely justify causing the kind of ruckus that seems to be the Westboro (so called) Baptist Church’s stock in trade.

I mean really…. Could you really see Jesus picketing or otherwise trying to disrupt funerals?

Or endorsing those who would do such a thing?

Especially children’s funerals?

I can’t…

I don’t think I’m going out too far on a scriptural limb to say that just because a family of lawyers calls themselves a "church", does not make them part of "The Church": which is the "body of Christ"

After all,  those of you who have actually read through the New Testament already know that Jesus focused his most scathing condemnations for those Religious Teachers of the Law who were in his view, just a bunch of dressed up tombs full of rotting corpses.

The kind that would cross every legal "t" and dot every legal "i" but who really didn’t give a rats rear end about the welfare of people’s souls.

By their fruits ye shall know them

Seems to me "Westboro’s" fruits reek of sulfur

And I don’t think I’m the only person smelling smoke.

On a more positive note

A FEW WEEKS AGO a group of dedicated volunteers came out on a cold rainy Saturday to lay sod at that vacant lot next to the Lil Guys and Gals Ball Park. I’d like to take this opportunity to say a big THANK YOU to the folks who were willing to help out: even in cold rainy weather.

 

 

THE NEW MEMBERS OF LIVINGSTON’S CITY COUNCIL were sworn in earlier this month. The addition of some brand new members to the Council also meant some City Council reorganization.

Mayor Pro-Tempore: Gurpal Samra

Member/Alternate – Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) Governing Board.

  • Rodrigo Espinoza /Arturo Sicairos

Representative/Alternate – Central Valley Division League of California Cities.

  • Jim Soria/David Mendoza

Representative/Alternate – Special City Selection Committee of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control Board.

  • Rodrigo Espinoza/

City Council Liaison – Livingston Planning Commission.

  • Arturo Sicairos

City Council Liaison – Livingston Parks and Recreation Commission.

  • Jim Soria

City Council Liaisons – Utility Rate Stakeholders Committee

  • Gurpal Samra / David Mendoza

As Reported in the Merced Sun Star, former Mayor Pro Tem Margarita Aguilar plans to return in two years. This could make for some interesting politics.

The way I understand it, there are only two positions on the council that would be up in two years: Mayor – currently occupied by Rodrigo Espinoza and City Council Member/Mayor Pro Tem – currently occupied by Gurpal Samra.

This would also put a run for Council about a few months to a year after the City of Livingston plans to “finish” with its latest attempt at Water, Sewer, and Garbage Rate increases.

Speaking of Rate Increases

THE NEWLY ELECTED ATWATER CITY COUNCIL passed an increase to their Water Rates, by Resolution and a 3-2 vote.

As reported in the Merced Sun Star A recent report by a financial consultant showed the water fund has been struggling and had a negative balance of about $1.1 million at the end of the 2011-12 fiscal year.”

So…why should Atwater’s Financial Problems mean anything to us? you might be asking. Well, to begin with, like Atwater, the City of Livingston currently has deficits in all three of it’s Enterprise Funds to deal with: Water, Waste Water (Sewer) and Sanitation (Garbage)

However, unlike Atwater, during the Run Up to the Recall Election of 2010 in Livingston, a big deal was made about Livingston’s City Council “needing” at least a 4-1 Vote to “legally” pass Rate Increases. It will be interesting to hear what our newest City Attorney has to say about such things when the time comes.

And now on to the

 

CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

DECEMBER 18, 2012

7:00 P.M.

Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Regular Meeting on December 18, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m. The agenda shall be as follows:

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2012-80

Next Ordinance Number: 600

Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Changes to the Agenda.

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

GRANT ANNOUNCEMENTS

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

City Staff Announcements and Reports.

City Manager Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

CITY COUNCIL FUTURE AGENDA ITEM REQUESTS.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

CITIZEN COMMENTS

This section of the agenda allows members of the public to address the City Council on any item NOT otherwise on the agenda. Members of the public, when recognized by the Mayor, should come forward to the lectern, and identify themselves. Comments are normally limited to three (3) minutes. In accordance with State Open Meeting Laws, no action will be taken by the City Council this evening. For items which are on the agenda this evening members of the public will be provided an opportunity to address the City Council as each item is brought up for discussion.

CONSENT CALENDAR

Items on the Consent Calendar are considered routine or non-controversial and will be enacted by one vote, unless separate action is requested by the City Manager or City Council Member. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless members of the City Council or City Manager request that specific items be removed.

1. Resolution Awarding Construction Contract to Hobbs Construction, Inc. of Fresno, CA, Approving the Expenditure of Construction Funds for the Wireless Lighted Crosswalk Warning System – “F” Street at Hilltop Avenue Project, and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute a Construction Contract and Any Change Orders Thereto with Hobbs Construction, Inc.

2. Resolution Authorizing Submittal of WaterSMART Grant Application to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for Automated Meter Reading System Technology.

3. Resolution Authorizing the Retention of Bicycles to be Donated to Local Families Through Various Police Programs.

4. Resolution Authorizing the Sale of Indoor Grow Lights and Associated Equipment to University of California, Merced.

5. Resolution Designating Certain Signatures for City Bank Accounts with WestAmerica Bank.

6. Denial of Claim for Damages from Donna Kenney.

7. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on October 2, 2012.

8. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on October 30, 2012.

9. Approval of Warrant Register Dated December 14, 2012.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

10. Resolution Appointing a Candidate to the Governing Board of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District – City Seat for Merced County.

11. Authorize the City Manager to Enter into A Professional Services Agreement for Planning Services in a Form Approved by the City Attorney.

12. Extend Deadline for Planning Commission Applications.

ADJOURNMENT

L is for Livingston and yet another Lawsuit; and a City Council Agenda

In Lieu Parking Fee

Council Member Espinoza stated that he tried to help Mr. Fuentes’ project because it was located in the downtown.  He recommended that we help Dr. Singh and that he pay only half the cost for parking.  This will attract more businesses to Livingston, especially in the downtown. We are trying to encourage people to locate in the downtown...(He) said he tried to reduce the parking fees in half for Mr. Fuentes’ project.  Those were better times.  Now is a hardship. – Excerpts from December 1, 2009 City Council Meeting Minutes.

Mayor Varela said we have to prepare for the future.  He said that we do not have a lot of people knocking on our door, and so we have to be willing to work with the people that want to come in… downtown parking is something that we will have to look at in the future.  Those issues can be negotiated and discussed.  Policy changes can be made – Ibid

Based on all the research that we have done in-house, In Lieu Parking Fees were never collected. – Jose Ramirez, City Manager: City of Livingston, personal interview, week of 3/4/12

Brandon Friesen (said).…With the building vacant for seven years, no business in there will ever meet the current parking requirements. The City might as well change or modify the parking ordinance. As for the type of business, he would be more concerned about the aesthetics than about it being a bar. That’s freedom of choice. He hopes the Planning Commission does due diligence and review the CUP for security, but not so much parking. Excerpted from April 12, 2011 Planning Commission Draft Minutes

4. Conference with Legal Counsel – Existing Litigation – [(Government Code Section 54956.9(a)] – Michael Sperry vs. City of Livingston, et al, – Merced County Superior Court Case No. CV002762 – July 17, 2012 City Council Agenda 

Sperry contracted..to own and operate a bar at 444 Main Street..there was an existing and valid CUP to permit the operation of a bar at the Premises…The City initially contended that Sperry could not operate the bar at the Premises without complying with current parking requirements of the City for new construction…After some time the City conceded that the parking requirements do not apply to existing buildings. Excerpted from: Case No CVoo2762, Petitioner’s Verified Petition for Writ of Mandamus: Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support Thereof, pgs. 2 & 3

 

WELL..IF THE CITY COUNCIL EXPECTED Mike Sperry to just dry up and blow away when they revoked the Conditional Use Permit the Planning Commission had granted for 444 Main St….

They were sure proven wrong when his attorney filed a lawsuit in Superior Court a couple of days ago.

More on that a little later, but first…we haven’t checked in on Delta Bravo Sierra Land in a while.Panel 1Panel 2Panel 3Panel 4Panel 5 March 07 2012

Think you know there this is going? Maybe. Maybe not. You never know in Delta Bravo Sierra Land. There’s Strange and then there is Army Strange. Courtesy of Damon Shackelford: furious scribbler of military cartoons.

Family Hamburger Night at the VFW

HamburgerJoin us for the VFW Hamburger Night, July 26, 2012, from 5-7 pm at the Livingston Veterans Memorial Building, 1605 7th Street, in Livingston. The public is invited, and you do not have to be a member to attend.

You will be able to enjoy hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fish sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs and chili. The sandwiches include your choice of homemade salads. Price ranges from $2.00 to 4.00 per meal. All proceeds go to help support our community programs.

If you need more information on any of our events, contact Denis or Sue Wells at (209) 394-2059 or visit our website at www.vfwlivingston.com.

RUMMAGE SALE

Rummage SaleThe Livingston/Delhi Ladies Auxiliary VFW #8327 will be holding a Gigantic Rummage Sale on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, August 2nd, 3rd and 4th, at the Delhi Veterans Hall, Located at 9799 Stephens Street in Delhi.

We have items too numerous to mention here, come by and see us. The sale hours will be 8-5 on Thursday and Friday and 8-2 on Saturday. Everything on Saturday will be $1.00 per bag (we furnish the bag) or half price if it is too big to fit in a bag.

If you have any questions or any donations, please call Sue Wells at 394-2059. All proceeds from the sale will go to fund our many programs. All monies will stay within our own community.

IN CASE YOU HAVEN’T HEARD ALREADY

MC900323159

PD’s Out and Roamin’ The Town

(To the Tune of Santa Clause is Comin’ to Town)

Take Care of your Car

With a Good Wash & Dry

Don’t Wait Till Tomorrow

I’m Tellin’ You Why

PD’s Out and

Roamin’ The Town

They’re Ticketing

O-sten-si-bly

The Cars That

Should be Junk’d

But Even If Its

Run-ing Still

Your Car Might End Up Punk’d

Ohhhhhhhh

Take Care of your Car

With a Good Wash & Dry

Don’t Wait Till Tomorrow

I’m Tellin You Why

PD’s Out and

Roamin’ The Town

A FEW DAYS AGO, the Livingston Police Department mailed out between 100-120 Car Abatement Notices to residents in just one part of Livingston. And though the idea behind this push is supposed to be to get rid of all the Abandoned Cars left on streets around Livingston, from what I am hearing, not all of the Cars being noticed are truly “abandoned” in the way most lay people would think “abandoned”

Some of these cars are actually Registered, and being driven on a daily basis…

Something to think about…for each “abandoned” car “abated”, the PD gets money from the County.

And if I’m understanding correctly, the PD actually receives MORE than what it “costs” them to abate a car.

Some people would call that “making a profit” on Abating Cars….

Wouldn’t that only increase the temptation to “abate” every car they “can”, instead of every car they “should”…especially as budgets get ever tighter?

Just sayin….

IN A PREVIOUS POST, I talked a little bit about how Mike Sperry had been granted a Modified Conditional Use Permit for 444 Main St; how Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza appealed the decision because it was “interesting”, and how the City Council eventually Voted to Revoke the Conditional Use Permit.

Now..I’m no Lawyer..while I can’t state for certain what all the legal wrangling about what the meaning of “is” is, when it comes to the Municipal Code and Zoning and All That… about, I think I have a pretty good idea of what the fight is all about – in Common Sense Layman’s Terms that is…

Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong…but from all the meetings I’ve been to, and all the Sun Star Articles I’ve read..it can be boiled down to this…

Mr. Sperry’s position is:

  • The building at 444 Main St. was built to be a bar/club

  • According to the Municipal Code, a Bar/Club is allowed at that location with a Conditional Use Permit

  • There was already a Valid Conditional Use Permit in effect for that location

  • He’s not erecting a new building

  • He’s not enlarging an existing building

  • He’s not changing the use of the existing building

Therefore, he should be able to open a Bar/Club at that location without paying a boat load of money for in-lieu parking fees

The City Council’s position is

  • We don’t care what the Municipal Code says, we don’t want a Bar/Club at that location so kiss the Conditional Use Permit Goodbye.

Now I know what some of you are thinking. You are thinking

“But Council Person Samra said that all that Mr. Sperry had to do was resolve the Parking Issue and Mr. Sperry would be able to get his Conditional Use Permit and open his Club.”

OK…let’s consider a couple of things…First thing being that Council Person Samra is only 1 of 5 members of the City Council. He can TALK all he wants to. But unless he has 2 other Council Members willing to vote the same way, all that talk means nothing.

And its pretty clear to anyone who has been following this issue that it would be a cold day in Hell before Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar, Council Person Land and Council Person Vierra would vote in favor of allowing Mr. Sperry to have his Conditional Use Permit for that location. (References and Citations upon request)

And remember, it was Mayor Espinoza who appealed the Planning Commission’s Decision in the first place.

As for “resolving the parking issue”, you might be thinking

“But other people had to pay in-lieu parking fees. Why not Mr. Sperry.”

Well..to begin with, there is no proof whatsoever that anyone ever paid the City a dime in In-Lieu fees. Ever.

And the Municipal Code talks about In-Lieu fees for “new construction”, and “enlarging” and “change of use”. Not for using a building for the use for which it was already built.

AND it’s pretty clear from “Council History” that the number of parking spaces, and/or amount in In-Lieu fees charged to a project can be “flexible”, depending upon who is in office at the time.

Let’s use the Sing Mixed Use Project as just one example shall we.  According to the record, in-lieu parking fees are “determined at the discretion of the the City Council”.

City Manager Warne….said the City Council has to make a decision on the in-lieu parking fee because this fee is determined at the discretion of the City Council. (He) stated that the City Council set the fee at $1,000 per parking space for a previous development.

Council Member Espinoza commented that at the last City Council meeting Mr. Singh said that he was willing to pay $500 per parking space….  He would rather have a new building in the downtown than an empty lot. Council Member Espinoza said this would be his motion unless you want him to wait for closing comments. – Excerpts from January 5, 2012 Draft Meeting Minutes

So, seems to me one of the questions before the house (and why the lawyers make the Big Bucks) is: Are these fees really required, and if so, how much?

Or is the whole thing about “in lieu” parking fee requirements just a pretext: A way of preventing the issuance of a Conditional Use Permit for a Bar/Club at 444 Main St………Guess that’s up to the lawyers to figure out now

And now on to the

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CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

JULY 17, 2012

CLOSED SESSION: 6:00 P.M.

OPEN SESSION: 7:00 P.M.

Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Regular Meeting on July 17, 2012, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in accordance with state law prior to the Open Session beginning at 6:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held at the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street. The agenda shall be as follows:

Closed Session

1. Call to Order.

2. Roll Call.

CLOSED SESSION

A “Closed” or “Executive” Session of the City Council or the Livingston Redevelopment Agency may be held in accordance with state law which may include, but is not limited to, the following types of items: personnel matters, labor negotiations, security matters, providing instructions to real property negotiators, conference with legal counsel regarding pending litigation. The Closed Session will be held in the City Hall Conference Room located at 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Any public comment on Closed Session items will be taken before the Closed Session. Any required announcements or discussion of Closed Session items or actions following the Closed Session will be made in the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California.

3. Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

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

Number of Cases: 2

4. Conference with Legal Counsel – Existing Litigation

[(Government Code Section 54956.9(a)] – Michael Sperry vs. City of Livingston, et al,

Merced County Superior Court Case No. CV002762

5. Conference with Labor Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Agency Negotiator: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez

Employee Organizations: All Represented City Employees

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2012-50

Next Ordinance Number: 600

Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Closed Session Announcements.

Changes to the Agenda.

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

1. Presentation by Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza of Recognition Certificates to Police Explorer Post Volunteers at Sweet Potato Festival.

GRANT ANNOUNCEMENTS

2. USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Grant Program for funding year 2012-2013 in the amount of $30,000 for the purchase of two police patrol vehicles.

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

City Staff Announcements and Reports.

City Manager Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

3. Proceedings under the 1972 Landscape and Lighting Act, California Streets and Highways Code 22500 , et seq.: for the Approval to Levy Annual Assessments fot the Citywide Consolidated Landscape Maintenance Assessment District No. 1, Confirming Assessments for Fiscal Year 2012/2013.

4. Proceedings under the Benefit Assessment Act of 1982, Government Code Section 54717, et. seq.: for the Approval to Levy Annual Assessments for the Livingston Benefit Assessments Districts, Confirming Assessments for Fiscal Year 2012/2013.

CITIZEN COMMENTS

This section of the agenda allows members of the public to address the City Council on any item NOT otherwise on the agenda. Members of the public, when recognized by the Mayor, should come forward to the lectern, and identify themselves. Comments are normally limited to three (3) minutes. In accordance with State Open Meeting Laws, no action will be taken by the City Council this evening. For items which are on the agenda this evening members of the public will be provided an opportunity to address the City Council as each item is brought up for discussion.

CONSENT CALENDAR

Items on the Consent Calendar are considered routine or non-controversial and will be enacted by one vote, unless separate action is requested by the City Manager or City Council Member. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless members of the City Council or City Manager request that specific items be removed.

5. Resolution for the Acceptance of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) – Grant No. CBG-09-093- “Replacement of Motors at Water Wells 8,9,11 and 13”, and “Citywide Streetlight Retrofit Project”, Authorizing the City Clerk to Record Notices of Completion with Merced County and Authorizing the City Manager to Release Performance and Material Bonds and to Make Final Payment of Retention Monies to Shannon Pump Company and to Tennyson Electric, Inc.

6. Adopt Resolution Authorizing the City Manager to Execute Agreements with the Stewardship Council for a Grant Application.

7. Resolution Approving a Two (2) Year Memorandum of Understanding Between the City of Livingston and the AFSCME Public Works and Parks Employees Unit.

8. Approval of Warrant Register Dated July 13, 2012.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

9. Approval of Investment Grade Audit Contract with Schneider Electric, Inc.

10. Rental of Max Foster Sports Complex Picnic Shelter.

ADJOURNMENT

A Claim for Damages, and a City Council Special Meeting Agenda

All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others. Animal Farm, George Orwell

Based on all the research that we have done in-house, In Lieu Parking Fees were never collected. – Jose Ramirez, City Manager: City of Livingston, personal interview, week of 3/4/12

Brandon Friesen (said).…With the building vacant for seven years, no business in there will ever meet the current parking requirements. The City might as well change or modify the parking ordinance. As for the type of business, he would be more concerned about the aesthetics than about it being a bar. That’s freedom of choice. He hopes the Planning Commission does due diligence and review the CUP for security, but not so much parking. Excerpted from April 12, 2011 Planning Commission Draft Minutes

Since When Do We Appeal Something Because the Original Decision was Interesting

Council Member Vierra commented that if the Mayor hadn’t filed the appeal he would have. Excerpted from March 6, 2012 City Council Draft Minutes

Council Member Land agreed that she too was going to appeal this to the City Council. ….. She does not have an issue with a bar as a business; her issue is the placement of the bar in the downtown area. Ibid

Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar commented on safety issues and the children coming and going to school…. anyone who comes out of the bar and say that they are not driving are lying…putting a bar there is an extra way for drunk drivers to be in our community. Ibid

No one is saying that we shouldn’t have that project there. We should, but if we don’t have certain reasons: I mean. What is the City asking. Hey..take care of the parking. I think if the parking issue is resolved, I don’t see why anybody would oppose it. Give the man an opportunity. Give everyone an opportunity. I’m all for that too. Gurpal Samra, Video City Council Meeting, April 03, 2012, 3:14:32 – 3:14:59

So….No one is saying that there shouldn’t be a club at 444 Main Street?

No one is saying that.

Really? Interesting…

Because, from what I’ve been hearing at Council Meetings over the past couple of months, it seems pretty plain to me that at least 3 (maybe 4) members of the Council made up their minds quite a while ago that under no circumstances will a Bar or Club be allowed at 444 Main St.

Ever.

Even though the Municipal Code states plainly that a Bar/Club is a permitted use in the Downtown Commercial District (with a Conditional Use Permit) More on recent developments later…

But first..It’s been a while since we’ve peeked into Delta Bravo Sierra Land.

Panel 1Panel 2Panel 3Panel 4

Uh Oh! Looks like Lucky is just digging himself in deeper and deeper. This story may end up going down a rabbit trail or two before it’s all over.

There’s strange, than there is “Army Strange” out there in Delta Bravo Sierra Land: courtesy of Damon Shackelford: furious scribbler of military cartoons

Thursday’s Special City Council Meeting Agenda includes a Claim for Damages by Mike Sperry Against the City of Livingston. According to his lawyer:

The City Council caused injury to Mike Sperry when on April 3, 2012 it passed a Resolution revoking Condition Use Permit 2001-05, by approving a purported administrative appeal referred to as 2012-1 of a January 10, 2012 Planning Decision to modify Conditional Use Permit for the Tequila Club located at 444 Main Street, Livingston, California. The revocation was an abuse of discretion because many of the findings contained in the Resolution of revocation was an abuse of discretion because many of the findings contained in the Resolution of revocation were not findings made or heard at any public hearing before the City Council. Further, the "administrative appeal" was not timely filed with the City Clerk as contended by the language of the Resolution. No appeal form accepted by the City Clerk was introduced into evidence at any public hearing for the administrative appeal. The appeal filed by the mayor is not authorized by the Livingston Municipal Code. Further, no appeal fee was paid. Excerpted from: Denial of Claim for Damages from Mike Sperry, June o7, 2012 City Council Special Meeting Agenda

Now, I’ve talked about the “bar and parking issue” in depth at least once, or twice already…so… just a few things this time around. For instance…

1)Are you surprised? I mean, do you think the Council expected Mike Sperry to just "dry up and blow away"? After all, the majority of the Council did go on the record as being unwilling to allow a Bar or Club at 444 Main Street. Period.

2)Do you think the Council really expects Mr. Sperry to pony up several thousand dollars for In-Lieu Parking fees when there is no proof whatsoever that the City ever collected a dime in In-Lieu fees from anybody else in the past? Ever.

3)Do you really think the real issue is really truly,just about Parking Spaces? (See question 1)

4)I heard that someone is interested in buying the Court Theater Building and doing something with it. Would "they" have to abide by the "new strict interpretation" on Parking Spaces and In-Lieu fees? Or will they expect to be "cut a little slack" that other folks (like Mr. Sperry) might not get…

5) And if “other projects” do get “cut a little slack” when it comes to things like Parking Space Requirements and In-Lieu Parking Fees, wouldn’t that be like saying that all businesses in the Downtown Commercial District have to follow the “parking rules”, but some have to do a better job of it than the others……

Just sayin

And Now On To The

CITY COUNCIL SPECIAL MEETING AGENDA

JUNE 7, 2012

CLOSED SESSION: 6:00 P.M.

OPEN SESSION: 7:00 P.M.

Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Special Meeting on June 7, 2012, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an open session item provided to a majority of the members of flue legislative body less than 24 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Special Meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. Members of the public may address the City Council concerning any item described in this notice and agenda before consideration of’that item. No City business other than that described in this notice and agenda shall be considered by the City Council.

Closed Session

1 . Call to Order.

2. Roll Call.

CLOSED SESSION

A "Closed" or "Executive" Session of the City Council or the Livingston Redevelopment Agency may be held in accordance with state law which may include, but is not limited to, the following types of items: personnel matters, labor negotiations, security matters, providing instructions to real property negotiators, conference with legal counsel regarding pending litigation. The Closed Session will be held in the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Any public comment on Closed Session items will be taken before the Closed Session. Any required announcements or discussion of Closed Session items or actions following the Closed Session will be made in the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California.

3. Public Employee Performance Evaluation

(Government Code Section 54957

Title: City Manager

4. Public Employee Performance Evaluation

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: City Attorney

5. Conference with Legal Counsel-Potential Litigation

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

Number of Cases: 3

6. Conference with Labor Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Agency Negotiator: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez

Employee Organizations: All Represented City Employees

Special Meeting

CALL TO ORDER

Pledge of Allegiance. Next Resolution No. 2012-41

Next Ordinance No. 599

Roll Call.

Closed Session Announcements.

Changes to the Agenda.

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

GRANT ANNOUNCEMENTS

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports. City Staff Announcements and Reports.

City Manager Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

1. Resolution Conditionally Approving Site Plan/Design Review 2012-01 for the Metro PCS Antenna Project.

2. Resolution Conditionally Approving Site Plan/Design Review 2012-02 for the AT&T Antenna Project.

CITIZEN COMMENTS

This section of ‘the Special Meeting agenda allows members of the public to address the City Council on any item on the agenda. Members of the public, when recognized by the Mayor, should come forward to the lectern, and identify themselves. Comments are normally limited to three (3) minutes. In accordance with State Open Meeting Laws, the City Council is prohibited from taking action on any item not on the agenda.

Please note that under California Government Code section 54954.3(a) (The Brown Act), Special Meeting agendas need only provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body concerning any item that has been described in the meeting agenda before or during consideration of the item. The public will have an opportunity to comment on matters not on the agenda at regularly scheduled Council Meetings.

CONSENT AGENDA

3. Denial of Claim for Damages from Mike Sperry.

4. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on April 3, 2012.

5. Approval of Warrant Register Dated June 1, 2012.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

b. Continuation of Closed Session if Necessary.

ADJOURNMENT

And for those of you who want to immerse yourself in even more Livingston’s Political History

A FEW FORM 700’S ABOUT WHO OWNS WHAT AND WHERE IN LIVINGSTON

2012 CITY COUNCIL Agendas and Meeting Minutes If you click on this link, you will be taken to a page where not only can you access the Agenda Packed, but also individual pages on each Agenda Item

2011 CITY COUNCIL Agendas and Meeting Minutes (I’ve got a few more things “linked up” since my last post. Might want to check and see if there is anything in the History that interests you.)

POLICE CHIEF RECRUITMENT CITY OF LIVINGSTON

2012-2012 City of Livingston Draft Budget

The “Mission of the Utility Rate Stakeholders Committee” Series

February 15, 2011 Discussion: Utility Rate Stakeholders Committee In Which the idea was first proposed for a Stakeholders Committee in which members would work with City Staff and Consultants

  • APRIL 05, 2011: DISCUSSION OF UTILITY RATE STAKEHOLDER COMMITTEE MEMBER APPOINTMENTS IN WHICH THE PEOPLE WHO WOULD BE WORKING WITH CITY STAFF AND CONSULTANTS WERE CHOSEN

  • JUNE 07, 2011 DISCUSSION OF UTILITY RATE COMMITTEE MEETING IN WHICH IT WAS REVEALED THAT THE PEOPLE WHO WOULD BE WORKING WITH CITY STAFF AND CONSULTANTS ALREADY HAD THEIR FIRST  “GET TOGETHER”. BUT THE PUBLIC WAS NOT INVITED.

  • DECEMBER 06, 2011 CHANGE OF UTILITY RATE STUDY CONSULTANT DISCUSSION IN WHICH IT WAS REVEALED THE CITY MANAGER ENDED THE CONTRACT WITH THE “COUNCIL APPROVED” CONSULTANT AND SENT OUT A REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL TO LOOK FOR A BRAND NEW ONE.

  • JANUARY 24, 2012 UTILITY RATE STAKEHOLDERS COMMITTEE MEETING – AT WHICH THE COMMITTEE POSTPONED THE SELECTION OF A NEW UTILITY RATE STUDY CONSULTANT.

  • OUT WITH THE “CONSULTANT #3, IN WITH CONSULTANT #4” SERIES

        THE “BRIEF HISTORY OF HOW WE GOT INTO THIS MESS” SERIES

            A FEW LETTERS, SUN-STAR & AND MIKE MCGUIRE ARTICLES ABOUT LIVINGSTON POLITICS (AND A FEW OTHER THINGS WORTHY OF NOTE)(THE LINKS HERE GO ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE 2008 ELECTION CYCLE)

            THE 1995 WATER RATE RESOLUTION(DO YOU SEE ANYTHING IN THERE THAT SAYS “INDUSTRIAL”?)

            CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SEPT. 2010 LETTER ON WATER SYSTEM FUNDING

            WELL #15 ENFORCEMENT LETTER & STAFF REPORT

            WELL #15 MANGANESE ENFORCEMENT LETTER DISCUSSIONS

            HOW THEY VOTED IN 2011

          • HOW THEY VOTED IN 2010

          • HOW THEY VOTED IN 2009

          • HOW THEY VOTED IN 2008

          • HOW THEY VOTED IN 2007

          • HOW THEY VOTED IN 2006.

            CITY COUNCIL DRAFT MEETING MINUTES FOR 2010

            CITY COUNCIL DRAFT MEETING MINUTES FOR 2009

            CITY COUNCIL DRAFT MEETING MINUTES FOR 2008

            CITY COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES FOR 2007

            CITY COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES FOR 2006

            CITY COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES FOR 2005

            CITY COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES FOR 2004

            2010-2011 MERCED COUNTY GRAND JURY FINAL REPORT

            2009-2010 MERCED COUNTY GRAND JURY FINAL REPORT

            2008-2009 INTERIM REPORTS MERCED COUNTY CIVIL GRAND JURY POSTSCRIPT TO FY2007/2008 GRAND JURY’S REPORT ON THE CITY OF LIVINGSTON

            2007 2008 MERCED COUNTY GRAND JURY FINAL REPORT

            2006-2007 MERCED COUNTY GRAND JURY FINAL REPORT

          •