M I N U T E S
RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL
ADJOURNED REGULAR MEETING
SATURDAY, JANUARY 29, 2005
The meeting was called to order at 10:02 a.m. by Mayor Clark at the City Hall Community Room, 30940 Hawthorne Boulevard, Rancho Palos Verdes, notice having been given with affidavit thereto on file.
Roll call was answered as follows:
PRESENT: Stern, Long, Wolowicz, Gardiner, Clark
Also present were City Manager Les Evans; Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Carolynn Petru; City Attorney Carol Lynch; Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Joel Rojas; Director of Public Works Dean Allison; Director of Parks and Recreation Ron Rosenfeld; and, Minutes Reporter Debra Presutti.
The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Councilman Stern.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Councilman Gardiner moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz, to approve the Agenda.
Jim Sweeney, Rancho Palos Verdes, requested Council place consideration of speed humps in Via Rivera on an upcoming agenda. He indicated that there had been three serious accidents on his street that year; that a survey petitioning for speed humps in October 2001 received no opposition; and, that the Traffic Safety Commissionpreviously advised them that their neighborhood would be addressed after the City completed the installation of speed humps in the Basswood area. He urged the Council to take action soon to address and correct the problem of speeding in Via Rivera.
Councilman Stern, noting that it had been some time since a pilot enforcement program had been approved for Via Rivera, inquired if staff had any plans to bring this matter back for further Council consideration.
Director Allison advised that, since that pilot program was enacted and the results reported back to Council, enforcement had only been deployed by request and no other formal action was planned.
Councilman Stern recommended that the matter be revisited.
Councilman Long endorsed that sentiment.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz noted that he attended a meeting on the subject and recollected there were two distinct groups: one included a number of people from the neighborhood who were quite vocal in their opposition. He inquired if there have been subsequent homeowners association or neighborhood meetings.
Mr. Sweeney answered that to his knowledge there had been no further meeting. He stated that the majority of people opposed to speed humps fear being inconvenienced, saying that the residents on Basswood were also very opposed to speed humps in their neighborhood because they, too, did not want to be detained. He indicated that accidents had occurred in his neighborhood and opined that a very bad situation was created when people were more concerned about themselves than the neighborhoodís children.
Mayor Clark advised Mr. Sweeney that the Traffic Safety Commissionhad been reconstituted into a Traffic Safety Commission with a broader set of responsibilities, and added that he believed the new Commission would readdress this topic soon and return it to Council for further consideration.
APPROVAL OF CONSENT CALENDAR:
Councilman Gardiner moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to approve the Consent Calendar.
Councilman Long requested an update on the status and estimated costs for Item No. 2, the Repair of the Western Avenue Storm Drain.
Director Allison approximated the repairs at Westmont to total $700,000, saying that it was difficult to accurately assess since the bills were only submitted after the work had been completed. He said he was encouraged that Caltrans had stepped forward on the Summerland project, noting that, although the project was very similar to the one at Westmont, Caltransí attitude towards the problem was very different. He advised that Caltrans entered into an emergency contract with a company to perform the repairs, saying that the first item of business would be to devise a better detour accommodating one lane of traffic in each direction in the southbound lanes, then to stabilize the roadway in the northbound lanes and tunnel beneath it to install the new storm drain. He indicated it was anticipated that the repairs at Summerland will take about three months to complete, and that the northbound lanes at Westmont were expected to open in less than one week.
Councilman Long remarked that he received a number of comments thanking the City for keeping the community apprised, noting that the e-mail updates were very well written and informative.
The motion to approve the Consent Calendar carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Long, Wolowicz, Stern, Gardiner, Clark
Repair of the Tarapaca Storm Drain
Reviewed and reconfirmed a four/fifths (4/5) vote, the Councilís action on December 21, 2004, to authorize staff to conduct an informal bid process to repair the Tarapaca Storm Drain.
Repair of the Western Avenue Storm Drain
Reviewed and reconfirmed a four/fifths (4/5) vote, the Councilís action on January 4, 2005, to authorize staff to conduct an informal bid process to repair the Western Avenue Storm Drain.
Status of City Council Tactical Goals for 2004-2005
Councilman Long commented that it might be appropriate to begin with each Council member providing their views on the current goals, whether they believed they were still the right goals and whether some should be changed or re-prioritized.
Councilman Gardiner noted that the original goals had yet to be completed, making him reluctant to include anything additional.
Councilman Long suggested that new goals might be included by dropping one of the current goals.
Mayor Clark remarked that both perspectives were worthy of discussion, saying he preferred to begin with a summary status of each of the existing goals and then come back to the question of re-prioritizing and/or changing the goals.
1. Portuguese Bend Nature Preserve Acquisition
City Manager Evans provided an update on the Portuguese Bend Nature Preserve Acquisition Goals. He advised that the City was still awaiting the land appraisal, saying State funding was dependent upon that appraisal and a final determination from the State was anticipated no later than May.
Director Rojas advised that May was the target Wildlife Conservation Board meeting to confirm state funding for the Portuguese Bend Nature Preserve, saying that staff expected some negotiations to occur once the State funding numbers were presented, but that everything was expected to be in place before the May meeting.
City Manager Evans reviewed the milestones and advised the Council that the PVP Land Conservancy (PVPLC) was beginning its fundraising program to generate $6 million with two upcoming functions, a private fund-raiser on March 6th and a public one on March 13th, saying those events would hopefully be the kickoff to a very successful private fund-raising period. He noted that Mike Gin, Supervisor Knabeís District Manager, had indicated that the Supervisor was aware of the Cityís interests and was favorably inclined toward them, but no time frame or assurance of a contribution had yet been received from the County.
Director Rojas remarked that he left a recent meeting with Mr. Gin under the impression that the County was awaiting State action before making a commitment.
Councilman Wolowicz, noting staffís proposal to revise the second milestone to reflect that by July 1, 2005 the Council will have a commitment of $1 million of County funds, suggested that it might be helpful to push things along by holding a formal meeting with Supervisor Knabe once the appraisal was received. He indicated that something in writing, even an informal document, acknowledging the Countyís participation would certainly assist the PVPLCís private fundraising activities.
Director Rojas agreed, saying that staff intended to present a package to the Wildlife Conservation Board indicating dollar amounts needed to complete the property purchase, at which time staff hoped to obtain a letter from the County reflecting their commitment to the project.
Councilman Long suggested leaving the milestone more general by saying something to the effect that by July 1, 2005 the goal was to obtain at least a contingent commitment of funding from the County.
Councilman Stern felt that the County was hesitant to make a commitment without confirmation of the Stateís participation. He remarked that Council could provide directives to staff, but it really came down to the process continuing to move forward in a very logical fashion.
Councilman Gardiner commented he was not sure it advanced anything to include deadlines over which the City had no direct control, saying he would prefer making the goals event driven, rather than calendar driven.
Mayor Clark, noted that there was a fair amount of confidence the County would make a commitment once the State had agreed and agreed with Councilman Gardiner that it made sense to tie this goal to an event rather than making it date specific. He suggested that the goal relate to the sequence of events and say something to the effect that shortly after State action to commit the funding, it was anticipated that the County would commit its proportional amount.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz requested that an action item for the City be included to ensure the event takes place, saying that he did not want it to appear that the City was complacent in the process.
In response to Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz, Mayor Clark suggested adding an action item for a designated one or more members of the Council to approach Supervisor Knabe directly to solidify the Countyís financial commitment to the project.
Councilman Stern remarked that a lot of discussion was being focused on something over which the City had very little control. He recommended directing that the Committee keep Council informed on the status of each of the funding sources and when the State was ready to take action, saying at that point Council would have a better view of where things stood and what type of strategy would work best to secure the necessary funds to complete the land purchases.
Councilman Gardiner voiced his support of Councilman Sternís suggestions, saying that once the State announced its commitment, the Council should begin to receive monthly updates on the progress of the land purchases and individual Council members could approach Supervisor Knabe about the Countyís contribution to the project.
Councilman Stern suggested that the Council should not get caught up trying to refine the language of the action plan, but agreed that there was value in recognizing the fact that the current action plan includes date specific milestones that should be changed to event driven ones.
Councilmen Long and Gardiner concurred with removing specific dates and inserting events as the milestones for this goal only.
City Manager Evans explained that staff was recommending that the date associated with the fourth milestone be revised to June 1, 2005 since that logically followed the Wildlife Conservation Board meeting date in May 2005.
Mayor Clark requested an explanation of the $135,000 project budget associated with the fourth milestone.
City Manager Evans advised that the cost for the Cityís lobbyist was $5,000 per month. He indicated that the figures in the staff report should reflect that $105,000 was expended through December 31, 2004 and that Council recently approved an additional $30,000 to carry the project through to the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2005.
Councilman Gardiner suggested that it might be helpful to indicate somewhere in the action plan the date at which time the landowners could withdraw from the purchase agreement if the funds had not been secured.
City Attorney Lynch noted that the current purchase agreement would expire on August 15, 2005.
Councilman Long agreed that the expiration date should be listed in the action plan.
City Manager Evans suggested that Council consider revising the next three milestones to reflect the assumption that the State will commit its funding in May 2005; therefore, the January 1, 2005 funding completion date should be changed to July 1, 2005; the June 2005 acquisition of the properties should be changed to August 2005; and the Nature Preserve opening to the public should be changed from July 1, 2005 to September 2005.
Mayor Clark supported staffís suggestion and requested a summary of the amounts anticipated from the Wildlife Conservation Board and the Coastal Conservancy.
Director Rojas answered that staff anticipated that $10 million would come from Wildlife Conservation Board and $7 million would come from the Coastal Conservancy.
Councilman Stern supported adoption of the dates outlined by the City Manager.
Mayor Clark requested that the milestone language be changed to indicate the event versus date driven contributions.
City Attorney Lynch suggested that language be added to indicate that, "Shortly after the State WCB makes a determination regarding the level of State funding that will be allocated to the land purchase, one or more Council members will approach Supervisor Knabe to obtain a commitment of $1 million of County funds."
Mayor Clark requested that the Federal contributions also be listed to make the chart complete and questioned if that figure should be combined with the amount expected from the State or shown separately.
Councilman Stern suggested that it would be better as a separate item because two different agencies were involved.
The City Council reviewed current Portuguese Bend Nature Preserve Acquisition Tactical Planning Goals and authorized the following revisions:
City Manager Evans indicated that the crux of this goal was to develop a financing plan to fund renewal of the Cityís infrastructure, saying the only change staff was proposing was to the milestone which indicated that by July 1, 2005 the Council would approve the final renewal plan and, if required, prepare a ballot initiative for the November 2005 general election. He indicated that staff was currently working toward a proposal for a user fee validated by a mail ballot in August 2005, adding that staff recommended either including both or deleting the reference to the general election ballot initiative.
Councilman Long commented that he liked the idea of including the August date in the milestone and suggested that it might read, "By July 1, 2005 the Council will approve the final infrastructure renewal plan and, as appropriate, either place it out for approval by mail ballot in August 2005 or for approval in the November 2005 general election."
He indicated that the goal should not prejudge the matter and should be stated as generally as possible, because it was theoretically possible for the Council to decide to attempt a November 2005 parcel tax.
Councilman Gardiner indicated that he had given the matter a great deal of thought; that he was uncomfortable with the current direction being taken, and had been working to develop an alternative for Councilís consideration. He stated that the current approach was complicated and did not include a sunset provision. He noted that the proposal to use General funds to finance the sewers and a user fee to fund the storm drains could be reversed. He indicated that according to the 2000 census there were 15,669 parcels in the City, a thousand of which were on septic systems and the remainder on sewers and, by placing a $100 user fee on those connected to the sewers plus those using septic tanks, $1,500,000 a year could be collected that could be directed towards sewer maintenance. He believed that people would understand the need to address sewers because this system was used every day and everyone was aware of what happened if they were not repaired. He remarked that the $100 a year per person fee for a specified number of years would fix the sewers, connect people that were not currently connected to the system and, when those tasks were completed, the user fee could be discontinued.
He went on to say that the storm drains were a more complicated issue. Indicating his understanding that $5 million was currently available in General fund reserves which could potentially be spent at a rate of $1 million a year for five years, he remarked that there was a very high probability that revenues from the Long Point project would become available at the end of that five year period. He noted that each year the Cityís financial model generally reflected that revenues exceeded expenditures and the surplus in the General fund reserve was increasing each year, although in a relatively small amount. He stated that the only reason the forecast was trending down at the moment was because the sewer expenditures had been included in the anticipated expenses. He commented that, if that no funds were spent on sewer repairs, the surplus amount would remain about the same, barring an unforeseen event regarding State funding. He indicated that this scenario would allow the City to take $1 million a year out of the General fund reserve over the next five years to devote to storm drains, opining that this would likely be much easier for the public to accept because storm drains were only a problem when it rained and it certainly did not rain as often as the sewer system was used. He indicated that this approach seemed far easier to implement than the more complicated, open-ended user fee currently under consideration.
Mayor Clark recalled that only six percent of the Cityís sewer system had actually been surveyed, saying that while this sample was believed to be random and statistically valid, the actual condition of the entire sewer system was not really known. Although the assumption of what needed to done over the next few years and the associated costs had been extrapolated, he noted that the possibility existed that significant problems could yet be discovered.
Councilman Gardiner indicated if major problems with the sewers were encountered, the City would run out of money under the current plan, but the money would remain until the project was completed if a user fee were imposed.
Mayor Clark articulated that, if his hypothesis proved incorrect and no significant problems with the sewer system were encountered, it becomes somewhat of the elephant and the ant situation, with the elephant being the storm drains at an anticipated cost of $30 million versus $5 or $6 million for the sewer system. He opined that it would be more fruitful to get contributions from the community to renew the Cityís infrastructure where the larger problem existed, rather than the smaller one.
Councilman Long stated that he appreciated the fact that people were continuing to think creatively about this issue. He remarked that, while the idea of connecting every property with septic tanks to the sewer system was intriguing, it would substantially redefine Mayor Clarkís elephant and ant comparison because including that item would significantly increase the cost of the program. He indicated that he assumed there was a relatively high degree of confidence in the predictions about the condition of the Cityís sewer system because, by virtue of their construction (clay pipe), they were actually in very good shape. He noted that, even in a worst-case scenario, the sewers were only going to cost approximately $3 million to repair unless those residences on septic tanks were also connected to the system. One the other hand, the storm drain problem, while the public may not appreciate it as such, was extremely urgent and would possibly cost more than the estimated $30 million.
Councilman Long indicated further that he was convinced by the current timetable that the City was doing the best it could to proceed in a reasonable way, adding that he was not convinced the best that could be done -- which appeared to be continuing to not address the problems before they became emergencies -- was good enough, as was recently evidenced by the sinkhole on Western Avenue. He declared that he continued to believe infrastructure renewal should be the Cityís number one priority, saying that he did not have a problem considering other approaches or adding additional items such as how to deal with people on septic tanks, but he was very much against pushing out the final milestone on this particular goal.
Councilman Stern opined that the user fee method was not all that complicated. He expressed concern over the notion of connecting all the properties still on septic tanks to the sewer system, saying that adding a new project like this was an expense item that had not previously been considered and he would venture to say it would likely cost tens of millions of dollars.
Mayor Clark inquired whether it was the Cityís or the property ownerís responsibility to connect a property that had been on a septic tank to the public sewer system.
Director Allison advised that it would be the property ownerís responsibility to pay for the new connection to the sewer system.
Councilman Stern commented that if the City addressed the septic tank issue as part of its infrastructure renewal program, it would be undertaking an entirely new project rather that just moving money from storm drains to sewers. In addition, he did not think it made any sense to move in the direction of a tax requiring a two-thirds vote. He explained that instead of needing only one in your favor to pass, a general election ballot measure would require two votes in favor for every one against, which he opined was a death knell to any program. He stated that he also was not in favor of relying on General Fund revenue from a yet untested source. He reminded his colleagues that during his tenure there had been incidents such as San Ramon Canyon, the sinkhole on PV Drive East, and currently Western Avenue, opining that this Council cannot allow the decision to repair the Cityís storm drains to become a political issue year after year. He felt that the Council would serve its public far better by explaining the need for the storm drain repairs and having them agree to a tax in the form of a user fee. He indicated it would be a 20 year, $25 million financial undertaking, but the revenue stream would be committed to that specific purpose. He noted that, while he appreciated everything Councilman Gardiner had proposed, his approach left no margin of error. He declared that looking to future dollars to pay for projects that need to be addressed now cuts the margin of error far too thin. He concluded that he believed the user fee was the appropriate funding mechanism to address the problem at hand.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz remarked that the City actually received a windfall benefit as far as the sewers are concerned, noting that the Finance Advisory Committee (FAC) was concerned four years earlier that a parcel tax and an assessment fee would need to be implemented to fund both the storm drains and the sewers. He was very encouraged that the sewer repairs could be funded through the General funds. He stated that a report was presented to FAC which included a matrix that Council requested detailing the requirements of the two-thirds vote versus 51 percent votes as well as some of the other alternatives being discussed, noting that it contained many answers to points being raised. He recommended that a copy be provided to his colleagues to help provide them with a better understanding of those topics. He commented there was a great philosophical difference between not wanting to implement an assessment fee versus the sense of urgency to address the 56 known storm drain projects, excluding Western Avenue. He indicated that if the City were to take the $1 million per year from the General fund and compare that to the actual work flow, it would reflect that much of the work flow was actually being "front ended" because the 56 projects were expected to deplete the $5 million within a 24- to 30-month period, rather than 60 months, which translated to those dollars being spent more quickly and the City having to reach deeper into the General fund to make up the difference. He explained there was no safety net to raise that money, saying that if the Long Point hotel project produced a cash flow earlier, he would be willing to consider reducing or eliminating the fee but, if the income was not realized, there was no cushion of time.
Councilman Gardiner agreed there was a sense of urgency, but opined that any alternative was equally likely to meet that urgency. He explained his basic premise was to find the least complicated and most straightforward way to convince the public to spend their money in a community that traditionally did not approve of taxes or user fees. He said it fundamentally came down to whether it was easier to get 50 percent plus one vote on something complicated and open ended which differentially impacts various property owners, or to get public approval on something clearer which provided a fixed bill every year and ceased when the work had been completed. He indicated his personal sense was that the second scenario was easier to achieve even though it required a two-thirds majority, rather than approach that was inherently more complicated and did not have an automatic sunset provision.
Mayor Clark commented that, while he did not believe it was conceptually complicated, getting into the calculations and formulas required for a user fee may confuse many people, which was one of the reasons there was an educational program associated with this approach. He explained that a proportional assessment related to the amount of water runoff from your property that enters the Cityís storm drains was not a difficult concept to understand. He advised his colleagues that the City of Palos Verdes Estates no longer had an issue with storm drains because 20 years ago its Council brought forward a ballot initiative to address them. He stated that PVE implemented a utility tax of 10 percent, allocating 50 percent of the revenue generated over 20 years to renew the storm drains and, 20 years later, it was finished.
Councilman Gardiner argued that was a defined tax that everyone could understand, noting that he would support a utility tax to fund storm drain repairs.
Mayor Clark asked what would happen if the City went through the process of increasing the utility user tax and over half the residents agreed to the increase, but it did not achieve the required two-thirds majority. He queried if Council would be willing to accept the consequences of being in that position.
Councilman Gardiner suggested placing the issue before the voters both ways and seeing which alternative the voters favored.
Councilman Long found Councilman Gardinerís suggestion very interesting and noted that he, too, had been in the position of being a minority of one. He declared, however, that one manís arbitrariness was another manís precision. He gave the example of a property owner with a multi-acre lot in the Portuguese Bend Area that drained into a City-owned storm drain compared to a property like the one he owned, which was much smaller did not drain into a City storm drain. Under a parcel tax, it was arbitrary that he would be required to pay the same amount as the property owner in Portuguese Bend. He went on to say that a utility tax would create the interesting situation of having the people who use the most telephone, electrical, and water services pay for storm drains; so that, too, was arbitrary. He opined that essentially all taxes were arbitrary and did not believe any conclusion can be reached that would not be arbitrary in some way.
Councilman Long indicated the idea of sunset provision in this instance caused him a great deal of concern, saying that he believed whatever solution was reached should absolutely not include a sunset provision because the repair and maintenance of the Cityís storm drain system was ultimately an ongoing project. He remarked that the current proposal did not allot anything for unknown contingencies or low-priority projects. He also noted that with a sunset the City could not borrow against the user fee during an emergency. He suggested that Council might also consider incorporating some type of contingency into the user fee. He concluded by stating that he would not support a funding plan that unduly drained the General fund reserves, saying that it equated to deficit spending, which he did not endorse at any level of government.
Mayor Clark advised that the voters in the City of San Clemente had recently adopted a storm drain user fee, saying that this was a coastal community similar in many ways to RPV. Remarking that none of his colleagues had expressed an aversion to addressing revenue from the Long Point project, if and when it comes into play, he suggested structuring into the ballot initiative language requiring the Council seated at the time to hold public hearings to consider the use of that revenue as it became available to either reduce or augment the storm drain user fee.
Mayor Gardiner commented that, while he appreciated the efforts to find a mechanism that everyone was comfortable with, he would not want his colleagues to torture their alternatives to appease him. He indicated that the real goal was to determine what approach had the best chance of passing and getting the job done, saying that was essentially a judgment call. He questioned whether this Council had any authority to obligate future Councils to spend revenues in a particular way.
Mayor Clark said that future Councils could be committed in principal to hold hearings to consider the Long Point revenue stream since the underlying premise of the current argument was use of that money.
In consideration of members of the public not in favor of the approach being proposed, Councilman Gardiner commented that the City of San Clementeís demographics are not quite the same, saying the last time he was aware of the profile of RPVís voters it included a number of seniors on fixed incomes. He suggested that raising the utility fee to ten percent, saying it would probably be easier to get a simple majority of voters to agree to a utility tax than to obtain the two thirds required to impose a user fee.
Councilman Stern remarked that, obviously, no one knew what a voter thought except that individual. He opined that voters would have a much more difficult time accepting a user fee to fund a project when that money would go into the General fund and can be used for any purpose. He indicated that, as a voter, creating a specific fund to meet this defined purpose would have tremendous value. He agreed with Councilman Longís sentiment about not having a sunset, noting a project like this needed longevity to avoid the types of urgency problems currently confronting the City from recurring in the future. He remarked that, assuming at the end of 20 years all the drainage problems hade been solved and staff advised that everything was in good working order for another 20 years, the sitting Council could either accumulate a large cache of funds that cannot be used for anything else, reduce the fee or set it at zero, saying that he, as a voter, would be much more favorably inclined to pay for a project knowing the money could not be used for anything else. He agreed that Council needed to determine the easiest, most acceptable mechanism to appeal to the public, noting he believed that the user fee was the correct approach.
Councilman Long reinforced Councilman Sternís opinion by indicating that he had sent out an e-mail to his constituents on this very topic, saying that he received a number of responses, many of which indicated the respondents would be in favor of a tax if the money went into a special fund to be used only for defined projects. He indicated that the attractive quality of a user fee was the ability to review it yearly and adjust it up or down within the confines of the voterís approval, and inquired if that option was also available with a utility tax.
City Attorney Lynch advised that, depending how it was written, a utility tax can be reduced below the cap set by the voters and can be increased back up to the cap, as necessary.
City Manager Evans reminded the Council that the use of the money collected through a utility tax could not be restricted but would go into the General fund.
Councilman Long remarked that the voters would not like that.
Councilman Gardiner indicated that it was done in Palos Verdes Estates and also pointed out that the School Board was able to pass a parcel tax, even though approximately 80 percent of the residents do not have school age children. He commented further that this was a good example of a parcel tax passing for specific purposes with a specific point of expiration and allowed for the exclusion of seniors, noting that these were enormously attractive attributes.
Mayor Clark queried staff if a parcel tax could be reserved for a specific purpose or whether the revenue generated would go into the General fund.
City Attorney Lynch answered that it must be set aside into a specific fund if it is a special tax, making it the same as a tax requiring a two-thirds vote. She indicated staff was exploring this issue, noting that creating a Mello-Roos District was another mechanism analogous to a parcel tax that required a two-thirds voter approval and was included in the FACís matrix as a possible financing vehicle for storm drain repairs.
Councilman Stern indicated that the only change he believed was appropriate to make to the Cityís Infrastructure Goals was staffís recommendation to reflect the August mail ballot.
Mayor Clark disagreed with that suggestion, saying that the status box indicating the sewer investigation study was essentially complete needed to be updated, since the reality was that only the initial investigation had been completed. He indicated that he believed Councilís decision was that staff continue to investigate the entire system phased out over several years until 100 percent of the system had been investigated, saying that he would like the language in the action plan to reflect that. He inquired as to how much was being allocated per year towards that effort.
Director Allison indicated that of the $3.2 million in the Five-Year Budget model earmarked for sewers, $2.2 million was for repairs and approximately $200,000 a year was for investigation.
Councilman Gardiner remarked that this effort was a complete waste of money, saying that the system had already been characterized if the inspections had been truly random. He remarked that with the sample size taken there was no need for further investigation, noting that he would prefer to spend that money on repairs.
Councilman Stern argued that the City could not randomly repair the sewer system, noting that the City needed to continue the investigations in order to determine what to repair.
Councilman Gardiner suggested characterizing it as something other than an investigation to find out where repairs were needed.
City Manager Evans indicated that the funds were actually being used to clean, videotape, and repair the sewers, as necessary.
Councilman Long suggested rephrasing the item to say, "The preliminary sewer investigation study of a six percent sample is complete and was presented to the City Council on October 19, 2004; staff is directed to continue with further surveys as and when budgeted as part of the repair and cleaning process for the sewers."
Mayor Clark recommended changing that to say, "further surveying with the goal of inspecting, cleaning, and videotaping the entire system."
Councilman Long indicated he would adopt that change and moved that language be placed in the box.
Director Allison advised there should also be information about the need to coordinate with the County because there is an element of responsibility that will ultimately shift to them.
Mayor Clark suggested adding something in the nature of staff is concurrently working with Los Angeles County to ascertain responsibility and contributions by L.A. County. He further directed changing the status box regarding the baseline phone survey which indicates a March 2, 2004 date to reflect preliminary results in "x" time frame with final results to be presented in March or April 2005.
Councilman Long reminded his colleagues that there was discussion earlier about changing the final milestone to generically refer to by July 1, 2005, either directing a user fee be placed on a mail ballot for August or such other tax as Council may instruct for the November 2005 general election.
At this point, the Council reviewed the current Infrastructure Tactical Planning Goals and made the following revisions:
Recess and Reconvene: Mayor Clark recessed the meeting at 12:04 p.m. and reconvened the meeting at 1:37 p.m.
City Manager Evans advised Council that the first two milestones had been reached, noting that the Mira Vista residents were in the process of circulating a petition to address the Council-approved "traffic calming" program for this neighborhood.
Director Allison indicated that the petition process had been completed and it was now a matter of the petitions being completed and submitted to the City. He noted that staff had been attempting to schedule a meeting with the Mira Vista leadership to help them review and better understand the process, but their available dates had conflicted.
Mayor Clark noted his understanding was that the petitioners had received well over 60 percent approval for the "traffic calming" program and purportedly met the threshold supporting Councilís decision to move forward with the approved speed humps.
Councilman Stern remarked that because the Council established the petition process and signatures had been gathered from the public, he assumed that there was some obligation on the part of the petitioners to turn the completed petitions in to the City.
City Attorney Lynch advised that the petitioners had no obligation to submit the petitions to the City if they did not get enough signatures or if they decided not to move forward.
Councilman Long suggested deleting this item altogether as a City Council goal, saying the entire matter had become garbled between a neighborhood specific and a citywide issue and he did not believe neighborhood issues were appropriate as major Council goals. He noted that the only real portion of the goal with any citywide scope was the TEAM RPV plan, adding he had no objection to that being agendized and discussed, but that he did not see anything else for Council to address in the short to medium range that applied citywide. He opined that it was no more proper to list individual neighborhood "traffic calming" plans as City Council goals than it was to list individual land use development projects.
Councilman Stern agreed that the goal was not entirely clear nor how to go about it achieving it, saying that he believed the issue of traffic was a citywide problem even though it manifested itself in various neighborhoods. He noted that, while the solution probably was to address traffic issues in individual neighborhoods, he did not believe that meant it was not important enough to be listed as a citywide goal. He stated that TEAM RPV was a concept still worthy further discussion.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz concurred with Councilman Stern, saying that the concept of Traffic should be included as a City Council goal, but suggested that traffic calming in Mira Vista and other specific neighborhoods should be considered as subsets, rather than as distinct parts of the goal.
Councilman Gardiner indicated that he felt that speeding was a problem in RPV, saying that, while the solutions may be unique to particular areas, the biggest problems were at the major intersections such, as Hawthorne Boulevard and the area by Marymount College. He indicated that Council would be remiss if it did not address this issue and attempt to resolve it, noting there was merit to having a citywide approach to reduce speeding and within that framework sufficient flexibility so solutions could be tailored to the areas where the problems manifested.
Mayor Clark concurred with Councilman Gardiner and indicated that Councilman Long had supported the notion of Traffic being a City Council goal at the tactical planning session held a year earlier. He stated that the goal at that time was basically to control speeding and improve safety in residential neighborhoods throughout the city, which he felt made it a citywide goal. He noted that Councilís recent action to reconstitute the Traffic Safety Commissioninto a Traffic Safety Commission should be added as one of the steps taken towards reaching that goal. He maintained there was sufficient overall interest in the community for the Council to continue to address and try to resolve this issue.
Councilman Long agreed that traffic issues were important and should be taken seriously, saying that he shared Mayor Pro Tem Wolowiczís concern that it clouds the matter to discuss traffic solutions in particular neighborhoods. He indicated that despite what he may have stated in the past, he was not persuaded that speeding problems were a citywide issue because they were specific to the conditions of the neighborhoods, as was the issue of volume, and in light of that, he was not convinced it was productive to adopt citywide solutions as opposed to neighborhood specific ones. He declared that he did not find it an appropriate goal, explaining that, much as the day-to-day supervision of the Planning Commission was not a City Council goal, the day-to-day supervision of the Traffic Safety Commission should not be one either. Instead, new members should be appointed, provided with a charter, and allowed to address the issues so Council could better spend its time on other matters. He stated if for no other reason than the fact that Councilís other goals had an end point that could be articulated, i.e. trying to establish a nature preserve and trying to renew deteriorating infrastructure, this item should not be elevated to the level of a City Council goal. He challenged his colleagues to describe in 25 words or less the goal they are attempting to accomplish.
Councilman Gardiner stated that Council had made a conscious decision to shift from a piecemeal and reactive approach to a systematic and proactive one, explaining that previously the City had a Traffic Safety Commissionthat was basically reacting to complaints from neighborhoods and attempting to invent solutions on its own on a case by case basis. He indicated that, if a proactive and systematic citywide approach was adopted, with an eye towards controlling speeding and improving safety without preempting the ability to tailor solutions for specific neighborhoods, the City could develop an umbrella under which the Traffic Safety Commission could begin to devise solutions. He maintained that land use issues were much different because there was an enormous set of codified rules that guide the Planning Commissionís decisions, but that there was no equivalent guidance in the area of traffic.
Mayor Clark commented that, subsequent to adoption of this as one of Councilís four main goals, he and probably each of his colleagues received inquiries and complaints about traffic congestion and safety issues from virtually every part of the city, saying that validated in his mind the reason that it was a citywide issue worthy of maintaining as one of Councilís goals. He reminded his colleagues that a traffic calming plan was adopted several years ago which the Traffic Safety Commissionwas tasked to review and make recommendations on, saying that he did not believe that it had come back in any substantial form and it would be one of the specific tasks he would like to direct the new Traffic Safety Commission to address.
Councilman Gardiner commented that there should be a specific mechanism for the Traffic Safety Commission to look at citywide traffic statistics and, if it noticed problem areas or "hot spots" that Council may not have been aware of, the Commission should propose ways to address them, saying this was he had in mind in terms of this being proactive advisory body to the City Council.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz remarked that changing the charter from a committee to a commission was a significant accomplishment and wanted to task the new Traffic Safety Commission with reviewing the current traffic calming plan, in addition to whatever other items Council might propose, and return with a report on specific steps that might be taken to change and/or improve traffic conditions in the City.
Councilman Stern agreed with Councilman Gardinerís position on trying to be proactive but noted, generally speaking, that it was unclear how anything might be done differently in terms of identifying what issues to address. He remarked that Council could agree to be more proactive but, unless the neighborhoods were complaining, there was nothing to be proactive about. He stated he was at a loss as to what to do to improve things, noting it remained to be seen if creating a Commission would make one iota of difference because proposed solutions would still come back to the Council for a final decision. He indicated that he had a degree of frustration with this goal and remarked that he was not sure if TEAM RPV would be effective, although he was certain that it would be very expensive, adding that perhaps the answer was to ask the new Commissioners for their input on this issue.
Mayor Clark remarked that the problem was basically a societal one; noting that people drove much more aggressively than in years past, took more risks, and drove vehicles that were considerably larger than earlier models and that vehicles no longer served merely as transportation devices, but also as entertainment centers. He noted that part of the traditional approach to the Cityís traffic calming plan had been the three Eís (education, enforcement and engineering), with the preferred solutions historically favoring engineering solutions in areas where there were acute traffic problems. He opined that the rationale behind that approach was that there will never be enough enforcement to deal with the problem effectively and that education does not result in a lasting change in driving behavior. He said that he would like the new Traffic Safety Commission to look re-examine the old paradigm of enforcement, consider new technology, such as other states that have authorized radar-activated cameras in residential neighborhoods and to compile an assessment and potential advocacy position for state legislation that might allow RPV to move in that direction.
Councilman Gardiner concurred that findings show that public education makes absolutely no difference in these matters and said that it might also be helpful to have the Commission explore newer technologies and alternative engineering approaches.
Councilman Long remarked that the goal as articulated for achieving optimal traffic safety would never be achieved, but would instead be something to continually aspired towards. He stated that he would phrase the goal as attempting to empower and guide the Traffic Safety Commission to implement proactive plans to maximize traffic safety. He noted that he still did not fully appreciate why Council established the Traffic Commission and opined that in some respects he felt it was a mistake. He stated that some former members of the Traffic Safety Commissionconsidered the action by Council to disband the Committee as a punitive measure and that it unintentionally sent the message that there was a penalty for independent decision making. He maintained that Council had experienced difficulty providing policy direction to the Traffic Safety Commissionand attempted instead to micromanage it, saying that this was evidenced by the fact that the Councilís traffic goals discussed particular neighborhoods, rather than focusing on citywide objectives.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz remarked he was not satisfied that the body of information that existed regarding the land use decisions considered by the Planning Commission did not also exist for traffic safety issues, saying that he would include where appropriate in the Traffic Safety Commissionís charter the phrase "most practical possible." He stated that traffic safety goals should remain an objective of Council for at least the next year, saying that he would like to see the Traffic Safety Commission return to Council with recommendations on the Cityís existing Traffic Calming Plan, with input from staff and the Cityís consultants, as well as their own assessments of the program.
Councilman Gardiner suggested that the Traffic Safety Commission might be able to recommend a balance between enforcement, education, and engineering; be an advocate for new engineering technologies; formulate how to bring traffic speeds into conformity with posted speeds limits in the City; anticipate traffic flow problems; report on traffic safety hot spots; and, identify traffic safety hazards. He indicated these were broad assignments that could guide the Commission members without micromanaging them.
Councilman Long favored the tasks articulated by Councilman Gardiner as part of the Traffic Safety Commissionís charter.
Mayor Clark indicated that Councilís action to disband the Traffic Safety Commissionwas not a punitive measure, but rather an attempt to empower that body to have a broader reach, to more closely synchronize it with Councilís overall goal of traffic safety throughout the community, and to provide a new start in terms of moving the process forward.
Councilman Long clarified that he did not mean to attribute motives to anyone. He explained that he received communications from some former members indicating that it appeared to them that in the process of making a decision they believed was delegated to them, the rules and guidelines they thought they were dealing with were suddenly reexamined and, at the end of it all with not much fanfare and no formal thanks for the job they performed, their Committee was abolished. He noted that some members of the Traffic Safety Commission, understandably, felt that the way they were given policy directives was less than optimal, saying that Council certainly did not do as effective a job directing the Traffic Safety Commissionas it did providing policy directives to the Planning Commission.
Mayor Clark declared there was a significant distinction between a planning commission and a body such as a Traffic Safety Commission. He indicated that a planning commission was a quasi-judicial body responsible for making a variety of land use decisions that are appealable to the City Council, whereas a Traffic Safety Commissionhas no such inherent authority. He opined that some members of the Traffic Safety Commissionlost the perspective that they were constituted as an advisory body to provide input, counsel, and opinions on traffic matters that would ultimately be decided by the City Council.
Councilman Long agreed with that distinction and cautioned that Council should be mindful not to give the appearance to the newly constituted Traffic Safety Commission that it wants anything other than the Commissionís best independent advice.
Councilman Gardiner suggested adding to the Traffic Safety Commissionís charter a requirement that it provide the Council with options, with the pros and cons stated for each alternative. He felt that this way, minority opinions would be incorporated into the Commissionís findings and Council, as the decision-making body, could consider all of the options.
Councilman Stern stated his opinion that the value in having an advisory body was so it could recommend an optimal solution to the City Council, rather than only presenting the Council with a range of options.
Mayor Clark indicated he would prefer not to have one solution presented, saying that, while there might be an optimum solution and he may ultimately arrive at that, he would like to know what all the alternatives were before making a final decision.
Councilman Stern recollected that the reports presented by the previous Traffic Safety Commissiondid include discussion of the other options considered.
Councilman Gardiner recalled that the majority of material presented focused on the preferred solution with perhaps a paragraph or two on options, saying that was not what he meant by providing the pros and cons. He stated he had no problem with a recommendation being made, but he did not want the other options filtered and screened so that they unbalance the pros and cons.
Councilman Stern stated he was not certain how Council would provide guidance on where to limit the alternatives and asked who would determine which options were actually viable.
Councilman Gardiner said he would request the Commission members to use their best judgment, noting that some alternatives would clearly fall by the way side, but generally more than one option would be provided with alternative ways to proceed and specifying the pros and cons of each.
Mayor Clark remarked that if Council did not encourage options with pros and cons, matters could go to the extreme on either side, like what was experienced in the Via Rivera traffic calming matter. He maintained that some, if not all, of the Traffic Safety Commissionmembers had an expectation that Council was going to adopt their recommendation and, when that did not happen, they were very upset. He indicated that he did not want the Traffic Safety Commission to have a similar expectation, saying that Council had a responsibility to take into account the Commissionís input but, as the Cityís elected body, it was ultimately in Councilís purview to apply its judgment and thinking processes to the matter at hand. As such, he felt that it would be beneficial to have more than a single recommendation.
Councilman Long noted that these types of decisions were much different in nature than Planning Commission decisions. He ventured that in most situations dealing with traffic issues there would be more than one viable solution or option. He indicated that he would prefer to direct the Traffic Safety Commission to provide multiple solutions when they were viable, with the understanding that Council did want to hear the Commissionís recommendation, but this it did not imply that an expectation had not been fulfilled if the Council did not adopt that recommendation.
Councilman Gardiner said that it might be helpful to differentiate between mutually exclusive and exhaustive alternatives, saying that Council did not want an exhaustive list of alternatives. He explained that decision makers often trade off one consequence compared to another, noting the Traffic Safety Commission may trade off the consequences and arrive at one decision but, when the public provides testimony, Council may be persuaded to make the trade off differently, which was why it was beneficial to have the pros and cons articulated for a set of mutually exclusive alternatives.
Mayor Clark proposed that staff update the status of the Traffic Goal to include Councilís decision and action to constitute a new Traffic Safety Commission, as well as the fact that Council had also identified additional areas for the new Commission to explore.
Councilman Long agreed with the goal as phrased but reiterated his opinion that the item should be deleted as a City Council goal.
Mayor Clark indicated that the majority of the Council favored maintaining the goal.
The Council reviewed current Traffic Tactical Planning Goals and made the following revisions:
Recess and Reconvene: Mayor Clark recessed the meeting at 2:38 p.m. and reconvened the meeting at 2:46 p.m.
City Manager Evans outlined the Open Space and Recreation Task Force Goals and requested Councilís direction regarding the need to revisit some of the issues discussed in the Task Forceís Draft Strategic Plan or whether Council was satisfied with the decisions made regarding maintaining Lower Point Vicente for passive recreation, the preliminary concept for development of the Civic Center site, and pursuing providing girlsí softball fields somewhere in the City.
Councilman Gardiner indicated that the School District had made a decision to add girlsí softball fields to one of the high schools, saying that it was unclear at the moment how that would turn out, but it might have an impact on the consideration of that item.
Mayor Clark remarked that he read an article indicating there had been some discussion about providing girlsí softball fields at Malaga Cove School and that a variety of other options were also under consideration. He advised that he recently had some exploratory discussions with Jim Stahl, General Manager of the Sanitation District, regarding Eastview Park. He indicated that there was a good possibility of being able to use that site temporarily for softball fields with the understanding that the details still needed to be negotiated and at a certain point the site would have to be returned to the Sanitation District. He reminded the Council that the Sanitation District owned Eastview Park and, in the next three to five years, it would be used as a construction staging area for the installation of a new main sewage line. He maintained that Eastview Park could provide some additional athletic fields on an interim basis and at a minimal cost, and that it was well worth considering.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz declared that idea had great appeal. He said that it might not provide all the fields the City would like to have, but it would certainly indicate things were moving in the right direction. He noted that temporary aluminum stands could be put up and removed when necessary.
Councilman Stern remarked he would like to know what, if anything, the School District was doing in the area of providing additional girlsí softball fields, and expressed some surprise that it might be taking actions in this area without informing the City. He requested that staff determine whether the School District was planning to meet a portion of the need for girlsí softball fields. Indicating that he would characterize it as totally discretionary spending, he recommended addressing the topic after a more careful examination of the budget, noting that, while he favored moving forward, he would rather not spend much time discussing the matter without a better understanding of the other priorities in the next two-year budget.
Mayor Clark reminded his colleagues that the previous year he had suggested that Council should engage in a joint meeting with the School District Board.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz commented he would like to pursue the matter, saying the dollar amounts involved could be identified, the City could indicate how much it would be willing to budget toward it, and interested parties could use the opportunity to help raise the needed funds. He stated that he viewed this as a community partnership with certain expenses being incurred by the City and then the community taking the responsibility to provide the additional funds. He suggested that this might be a perfect fund-raising vehicle for the Cityís not for profit foundation.
Councilman Gardiner indicated that, if a decision was made to develop a campus of various uses on the Point Vicente Civic Center site rather than dedicating it to a single use, Council needed to determine an orderly way to proceed. He suggested that the City should design the campus, determine how it will look upon completion, and then invite people and organizations who wanted to participate in developing structures and uses to donate funds so the City could develop the site in phases as money becomes available. He stated that he did not see the City putting much money into this project until the infrastructure renewal issues had been addressed.
Councilman Long indicated that he favored Councilman Gardinerís suggestion, adding that it was likely that some interested parties might be looking for the dedication of particular pieces of land to specific projects. He stated that the City would not necessarily need to prioritize those designations because it may ultimately be decided by the timing of the funding that comes forward. He stated that the City could lay out the site plan and, as part of that, designate locations for other recreational facilities elsewhere in the community, indicating that there would be opportunities to publicly fund and develop some of these things but, in the medium to short range, the City would most likely be funding few, if any, of these projects.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz asked if it might be possible to identify those minimal costs, i.e. design features, leveling of fields, brush clearance, et cetera, that the City would be prepared to incur, and then actively participate in arranging fund-raising efforts for those people interested in providing funding to move specific project forward.
City Manager Evans indicated that staff could identify costs but would first need a list of preferred uses for the property and a site plan in order to move forward.
Mayor Clark directed staff to agendize for further Council discussion the Cityís vision for the Upper Point Vicente Civic Center property and potential locations for other facilities and activities. He reminded the Council that a great deal of time and effort had already been put into a conceptual site plan by the Open Space Task Force in conjunction with staff and consultants two years ago, saying that it would be a disservice if Council did not start with that effort as a point of departure. He noted that his colleagues were requesting that staff focus on what the Councilís ultimate vision was for a new Civic Center at Upper Point Vicente, what reasonable approach could be taken to achieve that, what the components might be in the central campus and elsewhere, and what could be pursued in the near, mid, and far terms.
Councilman Gardiner suggested taking the results of the Open Space Task Forceís work and compiling a list of items to be included, present the idea to various architectural firms and request them to develop a design for the campus at no cost to the City. He said that the incentive for these firms to participate would be that whichever one provided the chosen design would be designated the official architect for the project.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz inquired if staff could arrive at some preliminary cost estimates for the individual conceptual components, so that approximations could be provided to those groups interested in obtaining and providing funding to construct these facilities.
City Manager Evans stated staff would hire a consultant to determine those costs.
Returning to Councilman Gardinerís idea, Councilman Long inquired if there might be problems associated with designating one architect for a project on public land that could involve a number of third parties and be phased out over a number of years.
City Attorney Lynch indicated that she was concerned that the CEQA process would need to be included in the process if Council decided to move forward with a development plan for the Upper Point Vicente property, which would add another cost item. In terms of selecting a single architect to design every building on the campus, she advised that Council could not make decisions to bind future Councils, which would create some risk for the chosen architect.
Mayor Clark indicated that the milestone regarding the Civic Center Master Plan needed to be revised to indicate that, upon review of this goal, Council had directed staff to return to Council after the completion of this yearís budget process with a for a plan to prepare a Master Plan focusing on the Upper Point Vicente property and to bring back the Open Space Task Forceís draft Strategic Plan as soon as feasible for Councilís consideration.
Councilman Long said that as part of this he would also like to investigate the Cityís underutilized parks. He noted that on a recent visit to Grandview Park he was struck by the fact that it was currently nothing more than a field of weeds and, understanding that the neighbors did not want a high-intensity use that required a lot of parking, like softball, he stated that there must be some way to make that location more useful to the rest of the community. He said that he was not prejudging what that use should be and recommended getting input from the neighborhood on their preferences.
The Council reviewed current Open Space Task Force Tactical Planning Goals and made the following revisions:
Proposed Budget Policy Issues
City Manager Evans presented the staff report and requested Councilís input on whether any of the listed items required further discussion before the two-year budget process commenced.
Councilman Gardiner indicated he would like to see more of an inertial budget. He requested that the baseline budget be presented on a spreadsheet, absent of any expenditure that required a policy decision by the Council, and including revenues and expenses similar to what was presented at the previous two-year budget workshop. He stated that he could not determine the magnitude of any of the items listed in the format in which they were presented.
Councilman Stern agreed that it would be helpful to know if a particular item would cost $10,000 or $100,000. He inquired if it was still necessary to maintain a City lobbyist, saying that the matters requiring lobbying efforts had essentially been completed.
Mayor Clark indicated he saw no reason to spend money for a lobbyist, saying that Council members were certainly able to effectively articulate and advocate the Cityís position if there was a need to pursue matters further.
Councilman Long agreed with his colleagues the previous statements regarding the lobbyist and indicated he that saw no reason to spend any more time or money on increased traffic enforcement until the Cityís revenue picture changes significantly.
City Manager Evans advised that, based on Councilís direction, increased traffic enforcement and the Master Plan for Upper Point Vicente would both come back as separate issues, not as budget policy issues.
Councilman Long also questioned the propriety of installing a shade structure at Eastview Park if the improvement would be torn down in five years when the Sanitation District uses the site as a construction staging area.
City Manager Evans stated that he did not believe that the existing rest rooms or the proposed shade structures would be removed as a result of the Sanitation Districtís use of the property during construction.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz indicated there were certain issues somewhat peripheral to the budget that the City might not have funds to address and asked if staff had any thoughts on making the public aware of them to assist in the funding process.
City Manager Evans noted he was aware of other jurisdictions using not-for-profit sources to fund certain items and agreed that public awareness of specific funding needs might encourage people to donate to those specific items. He advised the Council that staff would arrange a meeting with the Council subcommittee to address this matter.
The following actions were taken by Council: 1) Reviewed the list of proposed budget policy issues for FY 05-06; 2) Directed staff to provide Council with a baseline budget model similar to what was done for the FY 03-04 budget workshops; and, 3) Directed staff to remove the Washington D.C. Lobbyist, Civic Center Master Plan and Increased Traffic Enforcement from the list of budget policy issues.
Future Agenda Items
City Manager Evans presented the staff report and asked for Council input on the list of future agenda items compiled from the suggestions and requests of individual Council members.
Councilman Long indicated he was no longer proposing most of the items that he had previously requested to be included on the agenda since the items had either already been addressed or he had withdrawn them. He said that the only item he still had an interest in pursuing was consideration of a No Smoking Ordinance on the Cityís beaches and he endorsed the idea advanced by Councilman Wolowicz to consider implementing an Automatic Emergency Phone Dialing System.
City Manager Evans recommended that the Council members prioritize their requested agenda items, indicating that he would summarize their choices and then redistribute the list to them.
Councilman Wolowicz maintained that developing an economic strategy to promote businesses in the City was important and requested that staff do some fact gathering regarding the emergency phone dialing mechanism and wireless Internet service.
Councilman Gardiner indicated that he was not opposed to helping anyone, but that developing an economic strategy to him equated to bringing businesses into the City that generated large sales tax revenues for the City, saying that he was not particularly interested in hearing a briefing by the Chamber of Commerce, but would be interested in hearing what the Council could do to make the Cityís businesses more productive in terms of producing more sales tax revenue. He suggested changing the phrase "emergency phone dialing system" to "emergency communication" or "emergency calling system," saying that the current terminology was incorrect. He indicated that he found the wireless Internet concept very interesting, adding that, although the topography of the Peninsula might impair its operation, it would put more pressure on the local cable operator, Cox Communications, to be more cooperative in dealing with the City.
Mayor Clark recommended that the Council direct the Emergency Preparedness Committee to review and provide input to the Council on the emergency communication system and advised that the South Bay Cities Council of Governmentsí Board of Directors recently discussed whether the South Bay as a whole should address the idea of providing wireless Internet. He also requested that Council consider a policy regarding public health issues associated with the operation of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, saying that there were serious health consequences to residents on the Peninsula associated with the activities at the ports, including increased incidents of unique cancers.
Councilman Gardiner provided some data on diesel emissions emanating from the ports that were linked to increased cancer rates and concurred that the topic should be addressed, saying it was a significant problem.
Councilman Long indicated that Council generally did not have good control over its meeting agendas and requested that his colleagues attempt to distinguish between Council action items and those items that were intended to simply inform the public. He suggested that informational items would be more appropriate as topics for future episodes of RPV City Talk or some other type of presentation on Channel 33 when the new City channel was operational.
Councilman Gardiner withdrew his request to agendize the item regarding proclamations and awards.
The following action was taken: Each Council member would rank the list of future agenda items and provide this input to the City Manager.
Agenda Format and Procedures Issues
City Manager Evans provided the staff report, seeking input from the Council on amendments to the City Council Rules of Procedure.
Councilman Long commented that there were a couple of places in the Council Rules of Procedure where a super majority requirement of a four fifths (4/5) vote was required and other portions where the rules could be suspended by a simple majority, saying that it equated to having a super majority requirement that could be suspended at any time by a simple majority. He suggested changing the rule to require a super majority only in those instances where such a vote was required in order to comply with State Law, opining that to suspend the rules at a Council meeting should require a super majority.
Councilman Stern indicated that he would like the rule relating to oral staff reports to default to a staff report being provided unless the Council specifically waived it. He believed that the oral staff report performed a very important public function because in addition to being a decision-making body, Council also had an obligation to help its residents understand the issues. He opined that the Council should be required to actively decide that a certain item was of little public interest before waiving the oral staff report.
Mayor Clark advised that in practice the majority of items usually had an oral staff report provided for them.
Councilman Stern explained that he was looking to how other Councils would handle the matter in the future.
Mayor Clark responded that future Councils would have the opportunity to revise these procedures as it saw fit.
Councilman Gardiner declared that oral staff reports generally extend the length of the meetings by 45 minutes to an hour, noting that he had never been asked by a resident why an oral report had not been provided on a particular item. He maintained that an oral report was typically requested when there was an item of particular interest to Council or the community as a whole.
Councilman Long agreed with Councilman Stern, saying that Council should be required to take the responsibility to consciously waive the oral staff report.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to revise Rule 8.2 (Staff and Written Material Presentation) subparagraph 3 to indicate that an oral staff report would be given by default, unless waived by the City Council.
The motion carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Long, Stern
NOES: Gardiner, Wolowicz
Mayor Clark exercised Rule 11.3 and remained silent, which denoted an affirmative vote.
Addressing Councilman Longís comments regarding suspension of the Rules, City Attorney Lynch advised that staff would amend the language in Rule 10.1 (Suspension) to read as follows: "Except as required by State Law, any provision of these rules may be temporarily suspended by a majority vote by the Council present."
Councilman Long moved to change the reference to a majority to a four-fifths vote, but to otherwise adopt staffís recommendation. The motion did not receive a second.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz, to adopt all of the other changes suggested by staff in the strike out and underline version of the Rules presented to Council.
Councilman Long requested adding the language to Rule 10.1 just articulated by the City Attorney.
Councilman Stern and Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz agreed to the proposed amendment to the motion. The amended motion passed by acclamation.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz requested clarification as to where presentations, such as the ones the Council had recently heard from the Trump Golf Course and the California Water Service Company, fit into the agenda when there was no Council action taken on them and concerned items over which the Council ultimately had no control.
City Manager Evans advised that this type of item would typically be placed under Regular Business and would only come earlier on the agenda if the Mayor or another Council member moved the item up.
Mayor Clark agreed with Councilman Sternís position that Council was not merely a decision-making body, but the leadership of the City with a duty to provide items of informational value to the community, saying that one could argue that some items could be addressed on the Cityís educational channel or some other medium, but that there were other topics that needed to be presented directly to the community through the City Council meetings.
Councilman Gardiner noted that Council had a fixed amount of time for its members to focus their energies on making good decisions but as the length of the meetings grew longer and longer, one could debate the merits and quality of those decisions or the need to hold a second meeting. He opined that, given the fixed amount of time that Council could reasonably be expected to conduct the publicís business, the public should come first, saying that he had no objection to public announcements and special presentations that are of interest when time permitted.
Councilman Wolowicz suggested that, if Council were focused on the length and efficiency of its meetings, the members minimizing their own comments would provide the most dramatic results. He indicated that, when he ran meetings that were interrupted by someone who consumed a great deal of time, he was inclined to inform the person that they had five minutes and hold them to that limit. He expressed interest in finding a mechanism to get information from the ad hoc committees, saying that there should be a point on the agenda where Council was apprised of what is taking place on those committees.
Councilman Gardiner noted that there was an actual section of the agenda called Committee Reports, which staff was proposing to eliminate, and suggested it might be useful to retain it in the Councilís Rules.
Mayor Clark indicated that this type of information was typically presented during City Council Reports.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner, to strike Committee Reports in Rule 5.1, but to include them under City Council Reports in subparagraph 9. The motion passed by acclamation.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz voiced concern that the sentence in Rule 7 (Ordinances, Resolutions and Contracts), subparagraph 1 (Document Preparation) which states, "All ordinances and resolutions shall be approved by the City Attorney", seems innocuous enough, but could be interpreted to mean that the City Attorney had the ultimate decision-making power over the documents the Council passed.
City Attorney Lynch suggested adding the language "The form of Ö" to the beginning of the first sentence in Rule 7.1 to clarify the issue.
Mayor Clark indicated that he did not believe State law required members of the public to provide their address, as stated in Rule 8.3 (Public Testimony), subparagraph 2(b).
City Attorney Lynch suggested changing it to indicate speakers are requested rather than required.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner, to accept the amendments suggested by the City Attorney. The motion was approved by acclamation.
CLOSED SESSION REPORT:
City Attorney Lynch indicated that no action was taken on the items presented in closed session.
Mayor Clark adjourned the meeting at 4:29 p.m.