May 20, 2013
MAY 13 COUNCIL MEETING: AGENDA ITEMS 12 & 13
Agenda Item 12: Adoption of Multi-Year Rate for Sewer Services
Administrative Services Director Ann Ritzma provided the staff report which detailed a proposed series of rate increases set to take place over the next four years. This year, in an effort to save money on mailings, the City has issued residents a single notification. This will be the only notification of sewer rate increases residents will receive over the next four years--a method of Proposition 218 notification made possible via the 2008 passage of AB 3030.
Pacifica residents were allowed to record their protests to the fee hikes in writing with 50%+1 of city parcel owners required to block adoption. By evening’s end, the City had received a mere 33 protests, falling far short of the necessary 6,461 required. And so, four years’ worth of sewer rates were adopted in a 5-0 vote of council.
FISCAL YEAR MINIMUM RATE RATE INCREASE
13/14 $567.18 (actual) no increase
14/15 $612.92 3.08% ($18.30/year)
15/16 $640.36 4.48% ($27.44/year)
16/17 $667.82 4.29% ($27.46/year)
Though the rates were adopted, they are not set in stone, however. The rates may be amended and may be reduced without notification, though an upward revision would trigger the Prop. 218 notification requirement.
Council indicated they may be interested in a closer examination into rate calculations at the prompting of David Ahlquist who addressed the councilmembers to point out discrepancies in water consumption measurements. The City currently measures individual household water consumption using the lower of the two following measurements: (1) average water use during a twelve-month cycle; or (2) November/December, “wet month” usage.
Because the intent is to obtain a true measurement of water that enters the sewer system (as opposed to water used for landscaping), the November/December measurement typically provides the lowest totals. Quite simply, people use more water during the summer months to wash cars and water plants.
Mr. Ahlquist correctly pointed out that half of Pacifica’s residents are disqualified from the “wet month” measurements and instead are measured using the twelve-month average--which indicates higher usage, and which, in the end, results in higher sewer rates for these households.
This occurs because the North Coast County Water District measures and bills Pacifica residents on two staggered, two-month cycles. That is, while one household may be measured and billed on an November/December cycle (then January/February, etc.), a residence across town may find itself billed on an alternating October/November cycle (then December/January). In other words, half of Pacifica doesn’t have a November/December billing cycle to take measurements from. For these households, the twelve-month measurement--reflecting increased usage--is the only option from which to calculate sewer rates.
Agenda Item 13: Changes to Commissions (terms, reporting, etc.); Creation of a Natural and Other Areas Advisory Committee
As Council had previously devoted an entire study session to commission changes with regards to terms and reporting requirements, little was said about this portion of the Agenda. Instead, discussion was dominated by concerns from the community about the proposed merging of the function of the Open Space Committee and GGNRA Advisory Committee into a single entity named: the Natural and Other Areas Advisory Committee.
The many residents who addressed Council about this agenda item supported the general concept of a unification of the two previous committees, but were dismayed by the language of the proposed resolution which appeared to address only those functions previously performed by the GGNRA Advisory Committee and excluded any direction for objectives under the traditional purview of the Open Space Committee.
Although Mayor Stone and Mayor pro Tem Nihart--members of the Council subcommittee on Committees and Commissions --both took pains to assure the public that no slight was intended and that the work of the Open Space Committee performed over the years was valued, they also recognized that its history ought to be included within the new entity in a more formalized manner.
To this end, the creation of the new Natural and Other Areas Advisory Committee was tabled for additional subcommittee discussion to include greater Open Space Committee representation in future policy. And, perhaps, to consider changing the name of the new committee while they’re at it.
* * *
May 16, 2013
A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR & PUBLISHER
Although I have continued to track and update city council, departmental, committee, commission and task force developments on a daily basis during the last month, regular visitors to the Pacifica Index may have noticed a slowdown in the number of articles that have appeared during this time-frame. To put it simply: there haven’t been any since mid-April.
There are a number of reasons for this, but most are related to the website being the work of a single person, with updates and additions done when I find the time. Between family, a “real job,” and other responsibilities, I haven’t had many of these spare moments lately. But again, agendas, minutes and other municipal or legislative announcements from the City of Pacifica and its departments have been--and will continue to be--carried by Pacifica Index almost immediately.
With regards to the coverage that has typically appeared on this particular page, I’m working on bringing about some exciting changes which will allow me to continue producing articles while reaching a larger audience. Please bear with the website during this transition period. And stay tuned.
Thank you for stopping by and feel free to drop me a line if you you’d like.
Editor & Publisher
* * *
April 16, 2013
BEACH PARKING Q&A
When will the City of Pacifica begin charging for parking at the beach?
Paid beach parking is slated to begin on Friday, July 12, 2013.
How much will the City charge for parking at the paid beach lots?
$3 for a four-hour pass
$6 for an all-day pass
$50 for an annual pass (available through the City)
Which lots will charge for beach parking?
Three lots will charge for parking:
1) South Linda Mar State Beach lot
2) North Linda Mar State Beach lot
3) Crespi lot
How may I pay for parking?
The automated pay stations will accept cash or credit/debit cards.
I'm a senior citizen, is there anything special I should know about?
If you are a "Seniors in Action" member, you will receive a placard that allows you to park for free in the Crespi pay lot (#3 on map above)
How will parking be enforced in the paid lots?
Each lot will have automated pay stations that will issue parking receipts to be placed on your vehicle's dash. Rangers will periodically check these receipts and issue citations to violators. The amount of the fine has not yet been determined.
What happens if I park on adjacent side streets and walk to the beach?
Nothing will happen as long as you are parked legally on a public street in compliance with all posted signs. The City has taken steps to monitor and assess the impact of increases in side-street parking.
What happens if I park in adjacent shopping center lots and walk to the beach?
The City has been speaking with shopping center owners about the possible impact paid parking will have upon their lots. The shopping center parking lots are private property and your car may be towed away.
How much money will paid parking bring in to the City of Pacifica and what will the City do with it?
The projected annual cost of the program is $379,000 which includes the hiring of an additional two (2) Rangers to patrol the beach (for a total of three (3) Rangers). The City has conservatively estimated that the program will bring in $308,809 in annual revenue.
Although this represents an annual shortfall of $67,191, the City currently spends $160,000 annually to help operate the beach with the assistance of only one (1) Ranger. In essence, the City will be reducing its expenditures on beach operations by $92,809 while gaining two (2) additional Rangers in the process.
The City's Operating Agreement restricts the use of the funds generated by the paid parking for the sole purpose of beach operation.
Why has it taken so long for the City to start charging for parking?
In short, the City has needed the time in order to comply with various California Coastal Commission and California Department of Parks and Recreation requirements.
The City of Pacifica has made numerous and varied attempts to work with the California Coastal Commission on the issue of paid parking since 2005. At that time, the City began the process of implementing paid parking at Linda Mar Beach by installing swing-arm gates and requesting bids for ticket machines. Shortly thereafter the program was halted when the Coastal Commission issued an enforcement letter stating that the gates must be immediately removed and the project terminated due to lack of a Coastal Development Permit.
In 2007 the City of Pacifica prepared a Coastal Development Permit application for paid parking which would implement a multi-tiered parking rate structure. The California Department of Parks and Recreation stated that the City's proposed parking rate structure was inconsistent with existing State Park rate structures (under the Beach Operating Agreement, the City of Pacifica must maintain and operate the beach in a manner consistent with all other California State Parks).
In 2009, Pacifica's Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission began work on a new parking program and rate structure.
In 2010 the City contacted the California Department of Parks and Recreation about Pacifica's revised parking rate proposal.
Work on the Coastal Development Permit was put on hold until the fate of November 2010 ballot initiative establishing an $18 State Parks Access Pass Surcharge on vehicle license fees could be determined. The ballot initiative did not pass and the City resubmitted its information.
In 2011 the California Department of Parks and Recreation approved the proposed parking fee structure and information was sent to the California Coastal Commission in order to complete the Coastal Development Permit application. The application was accepted and placed on the Coastal Commission's agenda.
A copy of the staff report to be presented at the Commission Meeting sought to impose extremely restrictive monitoring conditions upon Pacifica as a condition of approval and a postponement was therefore requested. After several unsuccessful attempts to negotiate with the Commission over these restrictions, the City of Pacifica withdrew its application in early 2012.
During an update on the paid parking program to Pacifica's City Council, Council urged the City Manager to make another attempt at negotiations and facilitated a meeting with the Commission's Deputy Director. The meeting was productive and a set of conditions were developed which were acceptable to both parties and the City's Coastal Development Permit application was reactivated.
In April 2013 the Coastal Development Permit application is approved and the permit is issued.
* * *
April 9, 2013
CONSULTANTS, PART II
After a list was provided to Pacifica Index detailing the consultants used by the City of Pacifica from 2008-2012, a subsequent request was placed with the City Clerk for a brief description of the work done by those consultants as well as the funds drawn upon for payment.
The information provided also notes the instances when a consultant performed services required by law and when their costs were reimbursed by an outside individual or agency and otherwise not borne by the City.
* * *
March 26, 2013
NO ACTION FROM COUNCIL
CITY COUNCIL MEETING OF MARCH 25, 2013
Two-and-a-half hours spent on a single agenda item on Monday night ended in frustration as Pacifica's City Council failed to agree upon the wording of a motion necessary in order to advance the matter to a council vote. Many of those in the gallery who witnessed the proceedings left chambers dejected at Council's inability to move the item to a vote and several loudly voiced their disapproval as they exited.
The parliamentary breakdown occurred before a standing-room-only crowd as Council took up Agenda Item 7 introduced by Councilmember Digre, which proposed that the City sponsor a public forum for discussion of Caltrans' Highway 1 widening project prior to the issuance of the agency's Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR). This would represent a change in previously stated Council policy which had foreseen such a meeting occurring after release of the FEIR.
The FEIR is slated for completion in late May or early June.
Opponents of the proposed highway widening project made the argument that City has a duty to weigh in on a variety of alternatives currently being examined in the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) before Caltrans settles on a final selection to address commute hour congestion, imagined to be a $50 million, multi-lane widening project.
Indeed, once the FEIR is completed and presented, the City's choices will be limited to applying to the San Mateo County Transportation Authority for Measure A funding for the widening project -- or not. Essentially, once the FEIR is complete, the City can either approve the project (by applying for funding) or kill the project completely (by not acting to fund the project).
What will not be available to the City at that time are any options which might contemplate sending Caltrans back to amend the project in favor of an alternative to the wider roadway approach. As the FEIR is due in a three months' time, those who support the pursuit of alternatives are urging the City to weigh in and act quickly.
The City has never taken a much of a public role in the Calera Creek Project; prior to this evening's agenda item, the subject has only appeared before Council twice -- both times in 2012. It seems odd to some that city leaders would not have taken more of an interest in soliciting community input during the development phase of a project of this magnitude, scope and impact, which runs straight through the heart of town.
Those who wish to see the Caltrans widening plan proceed on schedule disagree with this assessment and point to the City's recent insistence on an extension of the public comment period from Caltrans as but one example of the City's advocacy.
Others point to the many opportunities afforded to residents to register their views about the proposed project over the years, including 2010's Scoping Meeting and 2011's Open House, as additional reasons against further delay.
And delay appears to be the project's Achilles' heel; City Manager Steve Rhodes suggested that each additional delay increased the likelihood of the Transportation Authority's releasing earmarked Calera Creek Project funds to other cities.
Thirty-two individuals approached the podium to speak to Council during the public comment portion of the agenda item on Monday evening. Eight of those individuals (seven Pacifica Chamber of Commerce members and one San Mateo County Association of Realtors representative) expressed their support of the widening project and encouraged Council to vote against any meeting prior to release of the Final Environmental Impact Report.
In the end, there was no vote and no action on the matter when Council found itself struggling to craft a motion.
Councilmember O'Neill was the first to introduce a motion which was seconded by Councilmember Digre until, upon clarification, she withdrew her motion when she learned that O'Neill's meeting proposal would include a Transportation Authority slide-show.
Digre tried her hand at offering a motion and presented one describing an open meeting to be facilitated by either the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center or by Tim Dunkin of DunkinWorks (Mr. Dunkin is currently the facilitator of the Fireworks Task Force and has facilitated the City Council's 2012 and 2013 goal-setting workshops). Mayor pro Tem Nihart, who had initially seconded this motion, balked during a subsequent and confusing discussion over the nature and purpose of the mediation, and withdrew her motion as well.
As no other Councilmember would offer a second to Digre's motion, and no Councilmember attempted another initial motion, Mayor Stone declared that no action would be taken and the matter was adjourned.
* * *
March 25, 2013
In response to a request from Therese Dyer (who provided a copy to Pacifica Index), the City of Pacifica prepared a list of consultants retained by the City during the five-year period of 2008-2012.
The list indicates that during these five years, the City spent a total of $3,607,247 on services performed by consultants of various stripes.
Here are the amounts spent by the City, per year, on consultants:
The City of Pacifica has already entered into consultancy agreements totaling $329,641 for calendar year 2013 according to our reading of City Council agendas.
It should be noted that some consultants are required according to Federal/state statute and regulation, and a number of these services are reimbursed by outside agencies.
To assist in a better understanding of the nature of the work consultants have been performing for the City, Pacifica Index examined city documents for greater details into the work done during 2012.
*does not include payment of $20,000 to Management Partners for evaluation of police outsourcing proposals -- approved by City Council on May 14, 2012 and missing from list provided by City.
Assisted the Climate Action Plan Task Force in the preparation of the Draft Climate Action Plan. The Plan was presented to City Council during a study session on August 1, 2012.
Source: see linked plan, above.
Provides pension plan and post-retirement benefits consulting.
Aided the City Council in evaluating the Assisted Living Center EIR in conjunction with the appeal of the Planning Commission's approval of the project.
Preparation of claims for state mandated services and cost reimbursements (SB90).
Preparation of a Comprehensive Citywide Fees and Charges Rate Study and Update of Cost Allocation Plan
Work in connection with the 2010 CalEMA 500 Esplanade Storm Drain Outfall Project and the continuing local emergency there.
Storm drainage master plan project
Tanaka Design Group (Robert Tanaka)
Delivered engineering design services in connection with the Palmetto Avenue Streetscape Project.
Retained by Pacifica to operate as the City's auditor and for CAFR preparation.
Performs the annual reviews of Recology’s rate increase applications.
Hired to perform “Redevelopment Strategy” work on the Beach Boulevard Redevelopment project.
Assisted with the Beach Boulevard Redevelopment Project's CEQA Review and related environmental review services.
Kermani Consulting Group (Masoud Kermani)
Assisted the City with processing disaster applications and damage survey reports in order to obtain state & Federal funding (related to Esplanade Ave. storm damage).
City staff sought assistance from RMC on the Proposed Basin Plan Amendment to Establish a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for Bacteria in San Pedro Creek and at Pacifica State Beach. Also assisted on various aspects of the Sewer Master Plan and in negotiating a new discharge permit for the wastewater treatment facility.
Assistance with "Advanced Planning Analysis and Plan Drafting Services" related to the General Plan Update Project utilizing new C/CAG Traffic Model
$994 TANKO STREETLIGHT SERVICES
$5,400 MAXIMUS, INC
$9,203 KERMANI CONSULTING GROUP
$9,627 BOB MURRAY AND ASSOCIATES
$10,000 TBWB STRATEGIES
$21,240 KEMA, INC
$32,833 COTTON SHIRES AND ASSOCIATES, INC.
$31,249 EMC PLANNING GROUP INC
$37,896 TELECOMMUNICATIONS ENGINEERING ASSOCIATES
$38,736 HF&H CONSULTANTS LLC
$41,920 MOSS LEVY & HARTZHEIM LLP
$64,265 WILDAN FINANCIAL SERVICES
$66,670 DYETT & BHATIA
$84,603 CAROLLO ENGINEERS
$97,660 TANAKA ROBERT TANKA DESIGN GROUP
$147,100 LELAND CONSULTING GROUP
$355,193 RMC WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL
$3,260 TANKO STREETLIGHTING SRVCS
$8,820 MAXIMUS, INC
$10,497 BOB MURRAY AND ASSOCIATES
$16,827 BAY POWER
$19,032 TELECOMMUNICATIONS ENGINEERING ASSOCIATE
$29,888 TRA ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES, INC
$43,640 MOSS LEVY & HARTZHEIM LLP
$50,987 KERMANI CONSULTING GROUP
$68,315 DYETT & BHATIA
$89,174 HILTON FARNKOPF & HOBSON
$103,419 COTTON SHIRES AND ASSOCIATES, INC.
$209,089 RMC WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL
$2,494 BELDEN CONSULTING SERVICES
$2,700 ERPELDING COMPUTER CONSULTING
$2,953 TANKO STREETLIGHTING SERVICES
$4,050 ANDERSON BRULE ARCHITECTS, INC
$4,752 PARSONS & ASSOCIATES
$8,472 MAXIMUS, INC
$8,036 PECKHAM & MCKENNY
$17,447 HILTON FARNKOPF & HOBSON
$22,214 TRA ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES, INC
$23,598 TANAKA DESIGN GROUP
$37,917 MOSS LEVY & HARTZHEIM, LLP
$48,626 COTTON SHIRES AND ASSOCIATES, INC
$50,486 KERMANI CONSULTING GROUP
$259,047 DYETT & BHATIA
$2,399 EMERGENCY SERVICES CONSULTING INC
$2,674 PECKHAM & MCKENNY
$3,328 MAXIMUS, INC
$4,956 CLEARY CONSULTANTS
$7,173 ANDERSON BRULE ARCHITECTS, INC
$7,644 BELDEN CONSULTING SERVICES
$12,748 PARSONS & ASSOCIATES
$18,599 SCOTT CAMPBELL BAY POWER
$24,800 FAIRBANKS, MASLIN, MAULLIN & ASSC, INC
$26,637 TANAKA DESIGN GROUP
$29,765 TRA ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES, INC
$35,693 HILTON FARNKOPF & HOBSON
$36,926 KERMANI CONSULTING GROUP
$41,163 MOSS, LEVY & HARTZHEIM LLP
$53,540 DYETT & BHATIA
$163,387 COTTON, SHIRES AND ASSOCIATES, INC.
* * *
March 13, 2013
SEWER CHARGES, RECOLOGY AGREEMENT, AND POLICE CONTRACTS
CITY COUNCIL MEETING OF MARCH 11, 2013
Sewer charges and the rate notification process were both adjusted during Monday's City Council Meeting, Agenda Item #6.
As a condition of an April 2011 settlement with the Regional Water Quality Control Board, the City of Pacifica must complete a comprehensive capital improvement program. This program is part of the City's Sewer Collection System Master Plan, which over the next twenty years is projected to add $50 million to the wastewater budget to repair/replace the aging collection system and create a new equalization basin for overflow storage.
In order to comply with the projected 20-year Budget, a revenue increase of 6.13% is necessary for FY 13/14; however, due to increased water use ( "flow") by customers, the revenue increase has been achieved through this greater water usage and therefore a rate increase is not necessary.
Projected rate increases for customers during the following years remain projected at:
13/14 No Increase
14/15 3.08% or $18.30/yr Increase
15/16 4.48% or $27.44/yr Increase
16/17 4.29% or $27.46/yr Increase
17/18 1.62% or $10.80/yr Increase
California's Proposition 218 requires the City to notify residents of rate increases and to provide a means of protesting them. The City is taking the position that it can alert residents to the next four years' worth of rate increases with a single notification and still meet 218's requirements.
This means that, barring any further adjustments to the proposed rate increase structure, residents will only be notified a single time and given a single opportunity to protest all pending rate increases through 2016/17. Councilmember Nihart noted that in doing so, the City saves approximately $15,000 in notification costs (advertising, mailers, etc.), but there is a political dimension to be considered as well.
* * *
The Franchise Agreement between the City of Pacifica and Recology of the Coast, originally signed in early 2010, was amended as part of Agenda Item #7.
The amendments are mostly minor in scope, with the curious exception of a new requirement that Recology make annual payments of $27,280 -- adjusted for inflation -- to the City for "tree maintenance costs." During the public comments portion of the agenda item, Pacifica Index asked Council about the recoverability of this fee; it is not considered recoverable and will not be included in the year-end HF&H audit as a "cost" to be passed on to customers.
Councilmember O'Neill asked why an adjustment to the franchise agreement was being done at this point in time. Finance Director Ritzma replied that there was "necessity for some clean-up language."
* * *
Council approved contracts with the three labor units representing Pacifica's police officers, police sergeants and police captains which achieve approximately 3% in reductions through modified benefits and/or salaries.
Each of the three contracts run until December 31, 2013 and total annual savings are:
Police Officers $91,507 (3.03%)
Police Supervisors $38,792 (3.05%)
Police Management $12,836 (2.99%)
The contracts were adopted in a 4-1 vote with O'Neill voting against. The Councilmember stated that he had a problem with a certain provision of the contracts but otherwise couldn't comment per the City Attorney.
* * *
- wanted to acknowledge and restate her commitment as a public voice of the community to advocate for whatever issues the public is interested
- reported on Pacifica Beach Coalition and noted that Earth Day is on April 20
- the Pacifica Tribune is starting a new product which will be delivered to every mailbox in Pacifica and communities south of the Slide
- reported on FogFest Board retirements and new members
- partnering with the Chamber of Commerce for the first Mayor's Walk (Fairmont area at 11:00 am)
- will be giving State of the City address at Chamber event on March 22; additional one to follow in May at Pacifica Democrats Club
* * *
Former Pacifica Police Captain Fernando Realyvasquez was honored by the City of Pacifica with a proclamation commending him on his 28 years of service to the City.
Captain Realyvasquez began in Pacifica as a reserve officer in 1984 and was hired by the City as a full-time employee on June 22, 1987.
The former Captain is now a Patrol Officer for the San Mateo County Sheriff.
* * *
FEBRUARY 26, 2013
A BRIEF COUNCIL MEETING, BRIEFLY
MEETING OF FEBRUARY 25, 2013
Only three items were considered during a brief City Council meeting that wrapped up just shy of 8:30 pm on Monday, February 25. Mayor Stone was absent (excused) from the evening's proceedings.
* * *
Council Subcommittee on Reporting Requirements for Non-Governmental Organizations that Receive City Funding
Council sought to form a subcommittee that would be tasked with discussing the reporting requirements and expectations of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive City funding.
Councilmember O'Neill wondered what might constitute 'support' from the City and imagined things such as subsidized rent or use of facilities and/or equipment might fall within the discussion, stating that "It can't be business as usual given the financial situation the city is in. We need to examine everything."
City Manager Steve Rhodes replied that determining what is "receiving funding' or 'receiving support' needs to be examined by the subcommittee.
Councilmember Ervin wondered that if the subcommittee was going to involve itself in suggesting working hours for the Chamber of Commerce Visitors' Center (currently the Chamber receives $10,000 from the City towards the operation of the Center), were they obligated to do the same for other entities that receive City funding?
Mayor pro Tem Nihart suggested that while Council might not have the right to tell an organization what do with their money, the City did have a right to know how the money was spent. Councilmember Digre agreed that when money was given, it should be honored.
Digre and O'Neill were appointed to the subcommittee.
* * *
Resolution of the City Council of the City of Pacifica Amending Resolution No. 58-2012 Creating the Beautification Advisory Committee
At Mayor pro Tem Nihart's suggestion, the resolution which created the Beautification Advisory Committee was amended to include the addition of a City Councilmember to act as a liaison to the group.
Nihart was appointed liaison to the committee.
* * *
Selection of Search Firm for City Manager Recruitment
A subcommittee comprised of Mayor Stone and Mayor pro Tem Nihart sent out letters requesting proposals from executive search firms who will assist the City in the selection of a replacement for outgoing City Manager Steve Rhodes who retires in July.
The subcommittee received, reviewed, and summarized proposals from:
* Alliance Resource Consulting, Inc.
* Avery Associates
* Mathis Consulting Group
* Bob Murray & Associates
* Peckham & McKenney
The subcommittee's findings were presented to Council which decided to proceed with interviews with three firms:
* Alliance Resource Consulting, Inc.
* Avery Associates
* Bob Murray & Associates
The interviews will take place on Thursday, March 7 beginning at 6:00 pm in Council Chambers. The public is invited to attend and will be given the opportunity to address Council, though not to participate in the actual questioning of the search firms.
* * *
FEBRUARY 15, 2013
CITY COUNCIL STUDY SESSION #2
DEVELOPING A FIVE YEAR FINANCIAL PLAN
Council met for a second time on February 13 for a financial plan study session which provided greater detail into the various options available to stem the City's financial problems. Without any action from Council, Pacifica's current financial trajectory sees the City's reserve disappearing and its balance sheet dropping below zero for projected Fiscal Year 2015/2016.
With an optimistic forecast anticipating incoming revenue from a completed Beach Boulevard Redevelopment beginning in FY 16/17 -- and even then only $500,000 annually -- the City has no realistic hope for an increased revenue stream in the short term. Council must choose from a set of grim prospects comprised of cuts, taxes, or outsourcing in order to right its financial course.
BASELINE OPTION A OPTION B OPTION C OPTION D OPTION E
Mayor Stone openly worried about what he described as "the political implications of their decisions" and Mayor pro Tem Nihart noted that of all the tax measures proposed or contemplated during the last five years, only the Transit Occupancy Tax was approved by voters.
The Councilmembers realize that any proposed tax measure would necessitate an educational and outreach campaign to engender public support. To this end, Councilmember Digre suggested public forums as "the best way to go," adding, "We need a lot more."
Nihart raised the possibility of flat, across-the-board wage reductions throughout the City, but acknowledged the difficulties involved. Such a process would take two years of negotiating through nine separate bargaining units in the City.
Councilmember O'Neill asked the City Manager about other departments that could be looked at for outsourcing. Mr. Rhodes stated that there simply was not much left to outsource, noting that City already contracts out the following services:
* city attorney
* tree trimming
* street sweeping
* street lighting
* fire (consolidated with JPA)
When queried about operation of the sewer plant, Mr. Rhodes pointed to a recent court ruling involving the City of Costa Mesa that restricts the ways in which cities may outsource their services; notably that -- with narrow exceptions -- city services may only be contracted to other public entities, not private ones.
* * *
FEBRUARY 14, 2012
THE $20K POWERPOINT PRESENTATION
According to a February 13 press release sent out by the City of Pacifica, the outside consultant retained by the City Attorney to assess police outsourcing options in May 2012 produced no written document, but instead made a verbal report to Council with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation.
The press release states that City Council has decided that the information presented by Management Partners at that meeting should become a public document and has directed staff to provide a written version of the consultant's verbal report for distribution. The City estimates this will be completed on or about March 20, 2013.
Pacifica Index contacted City Manager Steve Rhodes to determine if the PowerPoint presentation itself would be included in the City's report. Mr. Rhodes stated that the City was not in possession of the PowerPoint file and that the reason would be clear when the City provided its information on March 20.
Mr. Rhodes would not comment when pressed as to whether Management Partners was specifically directed by the City to provide a verbal report and to avoid providing their findings in a hard-copy format. It should be noted, however, that many decisions related to the outside consultant's report were made during private, closed sessions of City Council, which legally restricts what may be publicly discussed.
Here is the City's press release:
* * *
FEBRUARY 12, 2013
CITY COUNCIL MEETING OF FEBRUARY 11, 2013
Mid-Year Budget Report and Resolution Amending the FY 2012-2013 Budget (adopted 5-0)
Pacifica's General Fund contingency/operating reserve which until recently had been projected to be $1,467,138, has plunged to an amount less than half that -- $685,968.
The dramatic drop is due to loss of anticipated excess ERAF revenue from the State (see previous coverage) as well as City Council's approval of a 2012-2013 Mid-Year Budget Adjustment during its February 11, 2013 Council meeting. $135,983 in additional expenditures were placed on the City's balance sheet with the adoption of the Adjustment, securing an additional six months of funding for community groups:
• Resource Center $41,500
• Visitors Center $5,000
• Pacifica Community Television $24,792
• Additional Library Hours $37,500
Additional City Expenditures $27,191
At the time the original FY 2012/13 Budget had been adopted, Council had recommended only a six-month, partial funding for these community groups. Council's actions on February 11 restored the remaining six months of funding for the groups during this fiscal year.
City leaders find themselves in a bind, facing the multi-year prospect of a flat revenue stream from local tax monies, combined with a State that is taking increasing amounts of property taxes and other funding sources from municipalities in order to address its own budget woes.
Mayor Stone noted that revenue generated by the types of businesses in Pacifica fluctuates very little during good -- or bad -- years, "Even if the economy goes gangbusters, we are not going to be a part of that." This is due to the type of businesses in Pacifica, which are not the 'big box' type, but generally those providing staples, services, or commodity retail largely unaffected by changes in the economy.
The Councilmembers were struck by the gravity of the budget situation they faced. Mayor Pro Tem Nihart worried about the City's finances, "We have to, as a community, grapple with who we are."
Mayor Stone flatly stated, "We are on a razor's edge financially here." Indeed, it appears that one major emergency -- such as a particularly vicious storm, for example -- could wipe out the City's paltry reserve in short order.
With hoped-for revenue generating projects such as the Palmetto Streetscape Project and Beach Boulevard Redevelopment many years from completion, the City must turn to immediate remedies during the upcoming budget cycles for needed revenue. The available options can be broken out into three broad categories: (1) increased taxes/fees/assessments; (2) reducing employee costs; (3) outsourcing police services (please see previous coverage for more detail about these options).
All Councilmembers urged residents to participate in upcoming budget Study Sessions to discuss these options and their effect upon the community. The first of the three scheduled Study Sessions is Wednesday, February 13.
* * *
Authorization for PG&E to Remove Palm Tree at the Corner of Ramona and Reina Del Mar Avenues (adopted 5-0)
Several residents of Pacifica's Vallemar District addressed Council to urge the City to seek alternatives to a proposed removal and replacement of a Canary Island Palm tree that has encroached upon a PG&E power line. PG&E vegetation crews had stepped up their trimming of the tree in an effort to secure additional time for residents to explore their options, but the tree can no longer be trimmed without mortally wounding it.
PG&E had first approached the City in 2007 to request removal of four palms in Vallemar that had grown too close to wires. At that time, Vallemar residents formed a committee and a working group in order to explore options for saving the trees which included:
• Undergrounding the utility wires
• Relocating the utility poles
• Installing extensions to the existing poles in order to lift the wires
• Using ally arms on the existing poles to move the wires to the side
• Moving the Palm trees
Due to strict funding rules and restrictions, the cost of undergrounding utilities would have to be assumed by homeowners in Vallemar at an estimated cost of $35,000-$50,000 per household -- a cost that proved prohibitively expensive.
Pole extensions would run approximately $47,000 per affected pole; however, those improvements would take 3-5 years to implement, during which the affected trees would grow beyond the point which they could be trimmed, and would require removal.
Councilmembers voted unanimously to proceed with the tree removal, but urged PG&E representatives to continue to work with the Vallemar community in exploring options which may save the remaining palms.
* * *
20 Year Financial Plan for Wastewater/Sewer (adopted 5-0)
Council approved a Wastewater Enterprise 20 Year Financial Plan which had been developed in order to finance a 20 Year Master Plan for construction of wastewater system improvements, necessary to comply with an April 2011 settlement with the Regional Water Quality Control Board. The RWQCB imposed a Sanitary Sewer Order (SSO) as a result of an investigation into a January 2008 event during which approximately 7,000,000 gallons of partially treated sewage entered the ocean in Pacifica.
The Financial Plan identifies three phases of capital costs totaling $30,550,000. In order to minimize the effect upon rate-payers, efforts were made to "smooth out" the debt service costs over the 20-year reporting period mandated by the SSO. These efforts involve the restructuring of existing debt, borrowing from the plant depreciation fund, and additional bond sales in the future.
Rates are projected to increase for Pacifica residents by the following amounts (all numbers are 'minimum sewer rates'):
FY 12/13 current baseline amount Total=$567.18
FY 13/14 4.84% ($27.44/year) Total=$594.62
FY 14/15 3.08% ($18.30/year) Total=$612.92
FY 15/16 4.48% ($27.44/year) Total=$640.36
FY 16/17 4.29% ($27.46/year) Total=$667.82
FY 17/18 1.62% ($10.80/year) Total=$678.62
* * *
Resolution Creating a Fireworks Task Force and Appointment of Task Force Members (adopted 3-0; two recusals)
Council approved the formation of a Fireworks Task Force and appointed two community-at-large members from among three applicants interviewed by Councilmembers on February 6.
Council selected Tom Dennison and Chris Fogel to join seven others on the Task Force:
Jim Poket (alternate)
Pacifica Beach Coalition:
Council sought to create the Task Force in order to address concerns expressed by Pacifica residents who had approached the Council about fireworks use on the beach and in neighborhoods.
The Resolution which creates the Task Force lays out six options for the group to consider:
1) Ban the use of fireworks on Linda Mar Beach and designate an alternate location for their use
2) Ban them on the beach without designating an alternate site
3) Begin a strong proactive campaign to promote people cleaning up the litter created
4) Make a greater effort to assure that the cleanup of the beach is organized and effective in removing the litter left behind
5) Organize a community celebration which would include fireworks
6) Some combination of the alternatives listed above
During debate and discussion, Council sought to change the scope of the Fireworks Task Force. Councilmember Ervin floated the idea of striking the 'neighborhood' portion from the fireworks dialogue to focus solely on beach activities, but this restriction was not adopted.
Councilmember Digre successfully lobbied for the inclusion of a 'community celebration' option, while Mayor Stone took the lead in striking a proposed option from the resolution which would have allowed the Task Force to recommend a city-wide, blanket ban on safe-and-sane fireworks use in the City.
* * *
Appointment of Citizens to the Beautification Advisory Committee (tabled)
Five community members applied and were interviewed on February 6 for five positions on the newly-created Beautification Advisory Committee. The Committee will be tasked with implementation of the Beautification Task Force's Beautification Plan.
Mayor Pro Tem Nihart thought the Committee should have a councilmember liaison, so the resolution forming the committee will be reintroduced to Council at the next meeting to reflect this change.
* * *
FEBRUARY 9, 2013
TOUGH DECISIONS AHEAD FOR COUNCIL
FEBRUARY 7 JOINT STUDY SESSION
Members of the Financing City Services Task Force (FCSTF) and City Staff presented a grim picture of Pacifica's finances to City Council during a special study session on February 7. The study session was convened after it was discovered that excess Educational Revenue Augmentation Funding (ERAF), expected to have been received from the State, would be reduced by $686,300 in FY13/14, $662,060 in FY14/15, and by $815,000 in FY16/17 and FY17/18.
The reduction in revenue from budget projections represents a financial crisis for the City. With only $1.4 million in reserves set aside, should no action be taken, the City's balance will be reduced to zero by FY14/15 and quickly plunge into large, negative numbers thereafter.
As the State of California struggles with its own budget, the refunding of excess ERAF to municipalities -- known as 'backfilling' -- is no longer occurring as the State uses the funds to pay for bond obligations normally satisfied via vehicle licensing fees (please see the October 25, 2012 Agenda Packet of the FCSTF for an in-depth overview of this process).
City Manager Steve Rhodes stated at Thursday's study session that while a lot of cities had the ability to adjust to this development, having put aside their ERAF funding over the years -- into reserves, for example -- Pacifica did not have this opportunity due to its lack of revenue. The excess ERAF was relied upon to balance the budget and for the day-to-day operations of the City.
Faced with an imminent -- and substantial -- budget shortfall beginning with the next budget cycle, Councilmembers took stock of the grim choices available to them to bridge the City's funding gap.
The Financing City Services Task Force presented the following revenue and expenditure options to Council:
When asked by Councilmember Digre about priorities with regards to the above options, the members of the Task Force each voiced their opinions -- the consensus was for placing a 1/2 cent transactions tax before Pacifica voters, with outsourcing the police to the San Mateo County Sheriff a fall-back, "Plan B."
While the Task Force members unanimously urged Council to seek revenue solutions rather than expenditure options, Pete Shoemaker broke ranks with his fellow task force members and thought that outsourcing Pacifica's police department would be the best solution to the impending budget crisis.
Should the City go ahead with placing a sales transaction tax on the ballot, the administrative cost to do so would be an estimated $120,000, while handing over police services to the Sheriff would involve a $500,000-$600,000 initial start-up cost.
The City Manager cautioned Councilmembers that they must rapidly decide what avenue to pursue, as the deadline for final adjustments to the upcoming budget cycle is March 6.
Councilmembers are calendared to meet and discuss their options on February 13, February 20, and March 6.
The meetings will begin at 6:00pm during which Council in the words of Bruce Banco -- will wrestle with "a math equation with human consequences."
A TIMELINE OF FINANCING CITY SERVICES TASK FORCE ACTION
• July 2008
City Council forms the Financing City Services Task Force to identify funding to replace the Fire Assessment which expires on June 30, 2009.
• January 2009
Financing City Services Task Force recommends submitting a one-cent Sales Tax to the voters in June 2009.
• February 2009
City Council places the Sales Tax measure on the June 2009 Ballot. It is later moved to May 2009 to consolidate with State election.
• May 2009
Sales Tax measure is not approved by the voters.
• June 2009
Fire Assessment expires and City Budget is reduced by $1,000,000.
• July 2009
City Council directs Task Force to develop a Five Year Financial Plan that brings financial stability to the City.
• January 2010
Task Force recommends a Five Year Plan that includes new revenues that require voter approval and union-negotiated reductions in employee costs.
• June 2010
City Council adopts the 2010/2011 Budget based on the Five Year Financial Plan and submits an increase in the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) to the voters. City budget adopted utilizing reserves to address structural deficit until the changes included in the Five Year Plan occur.
• November 2010
Voters approve the increase in the TOT, the first of the proposed revenue measures.
• December 2010
Public Safety Bargaining units' contracts complete and include reductions in costs for salary and benefits.
• April 2011
New Fire Suppression Assessment revenue measure submitted to property owners. The assessment is not supported by the property owners.
• June 2011
With the failure of the Fire Suppression Assessment, Council reduces 2011/2012 Budget by $1,500,000. Cuts are made to City services to achieve the reduction.
• July 2011
Council directs Financing City Services Task Force to develop a new Financial Plan in light of the defeat of the Fire Assessment.
• December 2011
City concludes bargaining with non-safety units and achieves reductions in costs for salaries and benefits in the same manner as the Public Safety units.
• September 2011 — December 2011
The Task Force developed a series of revenue and expenditure options that were presented to the community in an Open House at the Community Center on January 11, 2012. Several hundred residents attended the Open House and listened to presentations on the various options, completed surveys regarding the options, and, for those not able to attend, provided an on-line survey for additional input.
• February 2012
The Task Force met to consider the public input, both from the Open House and the extensive survey data. The Task Force recommended to the City Council that a 1/2 cent sales tax (transaction tax) with a five year sunset clause be placed on the June 5, 2012 ballot. Concurrently, the Task Force recommended, should the City Council not consider the sales tax option, that alternative options be considered, including reductions in the City's contributions to community organizations, maximizing revenue by reviewing fees and charges and exploring options for contracting out police services. The City Council decided not to place the sales tax measure on the ballot.
• March 2012 — July 2012
The City Council: 1) reduced 50% of the funding for community groups in the FY 12/13 budget; and 2) continued to implement, through ongoing labor negotiations, reductions in salary and benefit expenditures. The Council concurrently continued to explore options for contracting out police services and ultimately decided not contract services for FY12/13.
• October 2012
In October, the Task Force reconvened to revise the Five-Year Financial Plan. The group once again reviewed the City's financial status, taking into account the potential reduction in excess Educational Revenue Augmentation Funding (ERAF), new revenues from fees and charges, and ongoing savings through labor contracts.
• November/December 2012
The Task Force reviewed the prior Five-Year Financial Plan and strategized approaches for developing a new plan.
• January 2013
The Task Force reviewed and revised Revenue and Expenditure Options to be considered as part of the new plan. At the January 30, 2013 Task Force meeting, it was determined that the next step was a joint City Council and Task Force study session on February 7, 2013 for the purpose of discussing the Five Year Financial Plan with the City Council.
* * *
FEBRUARY 1, 2013
JANUARY 28 CITY COUNCIL MEETING
City Council voted 4-1 (Stone, nay) during its January 28 meeting to confirm the Staff Recommendations for Western Snowy Plover Protections at Pacifica State Beach submitted to US Fish & Wildlife on May 31, 2012 -- with one major change: the inclusion of "symbolic fencing" on the west side of the protection zone (denoted in pink, below).
City Staff had originally proposed that the west boundary be delineated through the use of a "symbolic boundary," formed by informational signage placed 75 feet apart; however, over a lengthy series of discussions and correspondence, USFW staff did not concur with the City's proposal and repeatedly suggested the use of a symbolic fence.
The symbolic fence would consist of approximately 3-foot high posts topped by eyelets through which a single length of vinyl-coated cable would drape between.
Although the City could have pressed the boundary issue in further negotiations, there were a number of factors which led Council to ultimately adopt the USFW plan for symbolic fencing, including: (1) the need for available USFW Coastal Program grant money (estimated at $32,903) to assist with the implementation and maintenance of the Snowy Plover Protections; and (2) the dune protection/monitoring plan that is a special condition of the parking program permit recently approved by the Coastal Commission.
The Western Snowy Plover Protections at Pacifica State Beach to be implemented includes the following (with changes to #10 to reflect symbolic fencing rather than a symbolic boundary formed by signage):
1. The Crespi Drive path from the Community Center parking lot passes through the area frequented by the plovers. Use fencing along the path to point foot traffic directly out toward the area to the south.
2. Install and maintain low but impassable fencing along the beach side of the bicycle path to discourage entry to the beach away from the primary beach access point and place educational/regulatory signage on the fence. (From the dry creek bed, north of Crespi, to the north beach parking lot).
3. Continue to enforce regulations prohibiting off-leash dogs, drinking, littering, fires, overnight camping, etc., and discourage the feeding of wildlife on the beach and provide predator-proof trash receptacles.
4 Develop and implement training programs for enforcement personnel and other employees who access beach. Include a section on “take” as defined in the Act (i.e. prohibitions under section 9 of the act). In order to present a consistent and unified set of behavior to the public and to avoid disturbing plovers, all employees accessing the beach should be trained similarly.
5. Provide informational signage and public outreach (flyer similar to GGNRA’s) to discourage human behavior that creates excessive disturbance.
6. Encourage the continued work of volunteer groups in the efforts to remove invasive non-native beach plants and to replant native plant species of the upper beach and coastal strand plant community.
7. Provide informational signage at the north parking lot and the Crespi entrance as well as other appropriate areas regarding plovers (including identifying the plover habitat and reflecting the importance of winter roosting areas to the recovery of the species) and provide information on what the public can do to reduce actual and potential impacts to the local plover population.
8. Post clear signage at access points on Pacifica State Beach about dog regulations and fencing and prohibiting littering or feeding of wildlife.
9. Establish a local working group, which could create a docent program for plover protection. Ensure that docents are versed in changes to beach management, regulations and plover natural history.
10. Place educational and regulatory signs, with penalties for violations listed, on the west side of the dunes to designate the sensitive plover area to form a symbolic boundary and demark the snowy plover area (up to 10 signs, 75ft apart).
11. Monitor signs placed on or near the beach to detect their use by avian plover predators. If avian predators are documented, consult with experts regarding potential actions to reduce this usage (including removing or relocating signs and/or installing anti-perching devices).
12. Strict enforcement of leash law.
13. Continue regulating of special events through the existing permit process, highlighting the protection of the plovers. In addition:
a. Contest tents, booths and structures must be set up from north to south, parallel to the water, in a linear fashion. The contest “footprint”
should be a minimum of 50 feet from the established plover signage boundary on the west side base of the dunes.
b. Vehicles used for set-up must also adhere to a minimum of 50 feet from the established plover signage boundary on the west side base of
the dunes. When vehicles for the event are parked, they should be parked in line with event structures in order to maintain the largest
possible between the event and roosting plovers. Vehicles accessing the beach will be limited to a speed of 5 miles per hour and be
restricted to wetted sand in the intertidal zone.
c. Beach permitting will include training for staff regarding basics of plover biology, habitat and the effects of disturbance; disturbance buffer
requirements; and “take” as defined in the Act).
14. Restrict fireworks from the snowy plover area; and encourage activities that include kites, Frisbees and ball throwing to be done away from the snowy plover area. Enforce a minimum 100 meter buffer from plover area for small fireworks legally available to the general public. – Pacifica does not sponsor or allow “large” fireworks displays of any kind, and strictly enforces illegal fireworks laws on Pacifica State Beach.
15. Monitoring – Review (proposed every 6 months for first two years) effectiveness of recommendations. Track beach violations, collect feedback from volunteers (docents) and staff to determine how regulations are working, and include input from local group(s) and state agencies.
Both Councilmember Ervin and Mayor Stone had concerns over the boundary area's impact upon beach use. Ervin expressed her concern about the size of the delineated area and stated that she was "trying to determine if this is too restrictive on such a narrow strip of beach."
__ . __
The Mayor, who cast the sole "no" vote against the agenda item, spoke about his recent visit to the area where he noted that the high-tide line would come up against the western demarcation line, introducing safety issues and possibly denying public access to the north end of the beach.
Stone, who stated he was "trying to find a balanced solution," thought that the signage program, rangers, and eastern fencing would offer huge improvements for the well-being of plovers at Linda Mar Beach, but felt that the western symbolic fencing portion of the Protection was "a step too far" and he ultimately voted against the proposal upon those grounds.
Other Council Actions
Council was slated to take up the authorization for PG&E to remove a palm tree located at the corner of Ramona and Reina Del Mar in Pacifica's Vallemar district, but tabled the decision until the next council meeting on February 11. Despite routine trimming and maintenance, the particular tree in question is posing an electrical and fire hazard by encroaching upon PG&E's power lines. Further trimming is no longer possible without damaging -- and killing -- the tree.
PG&E has offered to remove the tree and replace it with another palm more compatible with proximity near a power line.
Given the long history of community involvement and activism generated by PG&E's desire to remove approximately a dozen Canary Island Palm Trees growing into power-lines along Reina Del Mar, Councilmembers thought it prudent to postpone the decision in order to allow for door-to-door notification of all residents within 300 feet of the tree at issue.
In connection with past efforts by PG&E to remove the Canary Palms, Vallemar residents' efforts to relocate the utility poles, install extensions to the poles, move the trees, or form an assessment district in order to underground utilities, have all proved unsuccessful.
JANUARY 27, 2013
COUNCIL MAKES ADJUSTMENTS TO GOALS & OBJECTIVES
Pacifica's City Council met on Saturday, January 26, to have an open conversation about the key issues and challenges facing the City.
The five councilmembers, along with City Manager Steve Rhodes, were guided by facilitator Tim Duncan through a five-hour, public review of Council's Goals & Objectives, using the 2012 Strategic Plan Tracking Tool as a framework. The Strategic Plan had been developed during a similar workshop held on July 22, 2012.
The development of the Tracking Tool has made it easier for the City to measure the progress of several projects and initiatives aligned with the following Key Strategies developed during the 2012 workshop:
* Financial Management: Revenue Generation & Fiscal Integrity
* Community Values: Key Dynamics between City and Its People
* Responsive Government: Positive Interface between City and Its People
* Infrastructure: Ensuring the Critical Services & Support
* Public Safety: Ensuring Critical Services
In addition to reviewing and benchmarking the substantial progress made towards existing tasks, Council adopted and incorporated several additional projects into its Strategic Plan during the Goal Setting Workshop. The projects were then categorized according to availability of resources:
A -- Top priority; City committing time and/or resources
B -- Next in line and to be done when time and/or resources become available
C -- To be tracked in the event that resources should become available
"A" Projects Adopted
Ongoing Budget Management
* Matching up City's Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to outside funding sources and incorporating into budget process
* Short-term financial stability
Environmental Awareness & Integration
* Install trash capture devices at stormwater inflow points
* Relabeling storm drains and increase public awareness about inflow
* Linda Mar Beach stewardship
* Education/Public Awareness into the General Plan and Affordable Housing Element
Community Image & Appearance
* Implementation of the Beautification Plan
Streamline the Planning/Development System
* Online tracking system
* Geographic Information System (GIS)
* Municipal Regional Permit Process
* Palmetto Streetscape
* Ongoing maintenance of existing Plan
Maintenance of Safety Standards
* Ongoing maintenance of current standards
* Safe Routes to Schools
"B" Projects Adopted
Pacifica: A Desirable Place to Work
* Staff Retention & Development Plan
* Customer Relations Management (CRM) System
* Utility undergrounding at Highway One between Fassler & Reina Del Mar (only if Caltrans highway widening project occurs)
* Street Repaving Plan
Maintenance of Safety Standards
* School Resource Officer (SRO) in schools
"C" Projects Adopted
The new projects will be incorporated into the existing Strategic Plan Tracking Tool and the updated Council Goals & Objectives will be presented to Council for adoption during the first City Council Meeting in March.
* * *
JANUARY 25, 2013
PACIFICA'S FIRST ASPIRING ENTREPRENEUR MIXER
Pacifica's budding business-owners gathered at Linda Mar Shopping Center on the evening of January 25 to attend Pacifica's first Aspiring Entrepreneur Mixer. Approximately thirty-five attendees were on hand at the event, hosted by the Pacifica Economic Development Committee. Committee members Mary Brown and Victor Spano, made brief comments to open and close the meeting, respectively.
Also on hand were a variety of Pacifica representatives, including Councilmembers Digre, Ervin and O'Neill; City Manager Steve Rhodes; Economic Development Committee member Mike Ervin; and Chamber of Commerce members Courtney Conlon and Pat Carroll.
Presenters (pictured above) included Rick Turner, KIMCO Realty Corporation; John Quinn, Small Business Administration; and Tom McGraw and Cassandra Monteith, First National Bank of Northern California. The four outlined the services their organizations provided and offered guidance to those seeking to open their first brick-and-mortar storefronts in Pacifica.
Mr. Turner spoke about KIMCO's "KEYS" (KIMCO Entrepreneurial Year Start) program which offers free and subsidized rents to first time store owners who qualify. KIMCO has signed six such agreements so far and, according to Turner, the successful program is expanding to other states.
Mr. Quinn outlined the assistance that the Small Business Administration provides, including: 1) helping with the start and growth of new businesses; 2) ensuring compliance with Federal, state, and local laws & procedures; and 3) small business financing.
Because it is difficult for a first-time business owner to obtain an initial loan, much of the SBA's assistance is in the form of loan guarantees . The agency typically assists small business start-ups attain their first financing by working with local banks and guaranteeing up to 70-75% of the amount of these loans.
The representatives of First National Bank of Northern California -- an SBA preferred lender -- addressed subsequent rounds of financing which usually occur several years after the start, when businesses typically begin to expand or make substantial investments in other improvements. As part of this process, Ms. Monteith repeatedly emphasized the importance of a business plan.
In order to obtain this type of business expansion loan via conventional financing, First National Bank looks for a well-researched, comprehensive plan that takes into account the possibility of both positive and negative business climates. In addition, the applicant must have been in business for a minimum of five years, with the last three producing a profit.
The meeting adjourned at 8:00pm whereupon the networking portion began and Pacifica's young entrepreneurs had the opportunity to speak to representatives on hand from several support agencies.
Among the ideas for new businesses from those in attendance were:
* Photography Studio
* Yoga / Pilates Studio
* Computer Repair Shop
* Guitar Shop
* Weight Loss / Wellness Center
* * *
JANUARY 23, 2013
STUDY SESSION ABOUT STUDY
Representatives of Willdan Financial Services, Habib Issac and Tony Thrasher, appeared before the Pacifica City Council to provide an overview of their ongoing Comprehensive User Fee Study during a January 23 study session.
The meeting, held in Council Chambers and open to the public, was originally slated to include a review of commissions and committees, but that portion of the agenda was tabled for future discussion in February or March, according to Mayor Len Stone.
Mr. Isaac began the presentation of the Study with a discussion of its objectives, methodology and scope. Mr. Thrasher took over for the later portion which focused upon the process by which the report would be generated.
The City Council initially sought to retain a consultant in connection with a comprehensive review of user fees and charges for City services during its February 27, 2012 meeting and ultimately awarded a $27,680 contract to Willdan on August 13, 2012.
Pacifica annually reviews its fee structure as part of the budget process, but engages in a comprehensive review of these services and fees once over five to seven years. The Financing City Services Task Force has also recommended a review as part of revising cost recovery strategies in the City’s Five Year Financial Plan.
The evening’s status update on the User Fee Study comes during the early stages of the survey. Although two months has been spent on preparation so far, most of the work has focused on service and cost evaluations. Mr. Isaac estimated that another one to two months of additional work would be needed before the Study is complete.
During this time, the consultant will meet individually with departments to determine the actual costs for services the City provides -- comprehensive costs involving not only materials and labor, but costs incurred by third party and other support departments as well. Once all-inclusive costs for specific services are determined, Willdan will work with each City department to determine what percentage of those costs to recover via fees.
The Comprehensive User Fee Study, when completed, will provide City Council with fee recommendations based upon a number of factors such as
* departmental policy
* costs/fees of comparable cities
* whether the service in question offers a public or private benefit
City Council will then take the Study recommendations, use it to determine policy and any adjustments to current fee structures would be enacted through adoption of an ordinance.
* * *
JANUARY 15, 2013
AN ENERGIZED COUNCIL
Pacifica's City Council met for the first time in 2013 on Monday, January 14, in a gathering notable for its energy and changes in protocol.
Several Consideration Items on the evening's agenda prompted vigorous debate, with Councilmembers eager to comment on a variety of issues. The level of participation was such that Mayor Len Stone found it difficult to keep his fellow Councilmembers' responses queued up and orderly at times.
For his part, Mayor Stone spoke at the evening's outset about instituting two parliamentary changes designed to streamline Council meetings: 1) holding the public to a strict three-minute time limit while addressing Council; and 2) requesting that Council Communications focus almost exclusively upon activities within liaison and committee assignments.
With Stone's preliminary comments out of the way, the meeting began in earnest with a procedural twist related to approval of the Consent Calendar. One of the items on the Calendar, the approval of the City Council's December 10, 2012 minutes, could not be adopted due to lack of quorum; O'Neill and Ervin were not on Council at the time and Digre was absent on that date.
City Attorney Kenyon advised Council to approve the Calendar -- with the exception of Item 2 -- and to take up approval of the minutes during a future meeting under a "rule of necessity." Invoking this rule would allow a Councilmember to participate in a vote which otherwise could not occur due to lack of quorum.
7. City Council 2012 Goals Update
The City Manager provided a staff report on updates and progress being made with regards to goals established by the Council during its Goal Setting Session of July 22, 2012.
Goal: Maximizing Cost Recovery (fee structures and systems)
Project: Staff Analysis Report of fees and charges
Of particular focus will be the new implementation of the Fire Inspection Fee
Goal: Transparency in Local Government
Project: Meeting Management System
Status: Use policies will be presented to Council in January
Goal: Enhancing Council Leadership Capacity
Project: Council Member Cost Reimbursement Report
Status: Planned to start in April 2013 and be complete in June 2013
The April date marks the beginning of discussion surrounding the policies of this goal. It is imagined at this time that $1,000 would be
allocated to each Councilmember for purposes of attending seminars and meetings.
Goal: Relationships with the General Community
Project: Communications Plan, including key messages, formats & mediums
Status: Subcommittee has been meeting and putting together a strategy for use in Council Goal Setting
Goal: Economic Development
Project: Economic Development Plan, including staff resources, 1-Stop permitting, code enforcement, tourism & destination options, and working
with shop centers
Status: Consultant contract approved by Council on 12/10/12. Plan development work to begin in January
Goal: Local Property Improvement Process
Project: Home Rehabilitation Process
Status: Work has commenced on reviewing existing processes. Task 2 to begin in January.
On track to be completed in July.
A Council Goal Setting Workshop is scheduled for January 26 which will focus on establishing a set of goals for 2013.
* * *
Councilmember Digre expressed her displeasure about the locations of the Council's study sessions generally, and the upcoming Goal Setting Workshop in particular, citing concerns about lack of parking and PCT-26 television coverage at these events.
Mayor Stone thought that the study sessions that have been arranged have marked a more open, participatory process that represent a pleasant departure from the more regimented procedures that occur during typical council meetings.
8. City Manager Recruitment -- Appointment of City Council Subcommittee
Ann Ritzma, Administrative Services Director, provided the staff report outlining a number of choices available to Council for selecting a replacement for City Manager Steve Rhodes, due to retire in July 2013.
This agenda item put the following question before Council: Shall the City Council appoint a Subcommittee to establish the replacement process and what shall the process be?
The question provoked a lively discussion and divergent responses from all Councilmembers. O'Neill and Digre appeared to prefer greater involvement from all five Councilmembers, while Ervin, Nihart and Stone made the case for a subcommittee which would handle the day-to-day work of the selection process. Both Ervin and O'Neill's School Board experience came into play as they shared the process they went through during a recent hiring of a District Superintendent.
Nihart was very concerned about involving the full Council in all matters and felt the process would be unnecessarily burdensome. There are, too, confidentiality issues as it is probable a number of candidates may wish to apply without their employers knowledge. Should the recruitment and interview process be conducted before the full Council, these meetings would be agendized and public -- subcommittee meetings, however, would not.
After all was said and done, Council voted 5-0 in support of the formation of a Subcommittee -- comprised of Stone and Nihart -- tasked with screening a number of recruiting firms. The screened recruiting firms would then be presented to the full Council for a final selection. At that time, the Subcommittee will be given further direction by Council.
Despite this reporter's careful observations, the methods by which nominations were made to this Subcommittee were unclear. Mayor Stone appointed himself, stating that "the presiding officer has the opportunity to appoint themselves to a subcommittee," but Nihart's name didn't appear to come up during the agenda item's lengthy discussion.
Also noted at the time was that despite Digre's seeming to hint at a greater level of involvement ("It's too important a decision for everyone not to be involved"), she neither nominated herself for the subcommittee nor stated her interest outright, and ultimately voted for the subcommittee as presented.
9. Award of Contract for an Organizational Effectiveness and Efficiency Study of the Pacifica Police Department
During the November 13, 2012 City Council Meeting, the Council authorized an RFP for an Efficiency Study of Pacifica's Police Department.
A number of proposals were screened by a group that included the City Manager, Police Chief Tasa, Sergeant Steidle and Corporal Glasgo. On the basis of their observations, Matrix Consulting Group was recommended.
The study by the group will take approximately three months to complete at a cost not to exceed $34,500. Funding would be accomplished by savings achieved in suspending General Fund contributions to the Motor Pool Replacement Fund during fiscal year 2012-13.
First to comment was Councilmember O'Neill, stating that he was reluctant to spend the money on this project and that he was going to vote no.
Ervin said that she "hopes to garner more money than we are spending by generating savings," also noting that as one-third of the City's budget is spent on Police Services, she thought the Study a good investment.
Councilmember Nihart made several comments regarding the City's illustrating to the public that Pacifica's police force has been operating very leanly and concluded that it was "good to have an outside look."
Stone stuck to his previous position, though he appeared to be pained by his decision; reiterating that he felt that the Police Chief was in a good position to evaluate his own department.
The motion passed 3-2 (Stone and O'Neill voting no).
10. Resolution Approving Tablet Computer Use Policy for City Council Members and an Electronic Communications and Data
In line with Council Goals, the City Clerk is implementing new technology allowing for paperless staff report and agenda creation which could be accessed and annotated by Councilmembers via tablets (iPads).
This item was a discussion of the proposed policy to be put in place governing the use of City-provided tablets.
The policy was adopted 5-0 as presented after some discussion clarifying the finer points surrounding the conduct of City business using privately-owned tablets..
11. Selection of City Council Liaison and Committee Assignments for 2013
The divvying up of approximately thirty Council Liaison and Committee assignments among five Councilmembers was handled differently than in years past with Mayor Stone presenting Council with a set of assignment suggestions. This was in contrast to previous years, when each individual councilmember would indicate their own preference.
The Mayor's suggestions offered a starting point with which to discuss the year's assignments which sought to give the two newer Councilmembers, Ervin and O'Neill, the chance to participate on county-wide committees, while balancing the ability of returning Councilmembers to leverage established networking opportunities. The new process was also meant to invigorate and renew participation by rotating Councilmembers out of some long-held seats.
Councilmember Digre went on record expressing her displeasure with the suggestion that she be reassigned from Economic Development Committee responsibilities.
Due to some changes during discussion and deliberation, a list of the new committee assignments are not yet available, but will be on the City's website shortly. Pacifica Index will announce and post this list when it is made public.
* * *
JANUARY 10, 2013
"A VERDICT FOR PLAINTIFFS COULD POTENTIALLY BANKRUPT THE CITY"
*** JANUARY 14 UPDATE -- JUDGE RULES ON MOTION IN CITY'S FAVOR ***
The hearing regarding the City's Motion for Summary Judgment has concluded and the Motion has been granted.
Judge Swope has ruled in the City's favor, declaring that
The drainage easements that the v-ditch areas are [...] part of [are not] any drainage easements
dedicated to the City. Nor is there any legal basis for finding that the City has an implied drainage
easement in the v-ditch areas.
The ruling continues
Plaintiffs have submitted no evidence that actually raises a material factual issue.
Please refer to the January 14, 2013 entry within the docket for a summary of the hearing minutes. Barring some extraordinary evidence surfacing within the next week, it appears this lawsuit is well on its way to wrapping up.
"Given the scope of the drainage easements that Plaintiffs ask the Court to force the City to maintain
(miles of drainage swales on private property thoughout the Linda Mar Valley), a verdict for Plaintiffs
could potentially bankrupt the City."
-- Matthew D. Visick, attorney for the City of Pacifica, October 16, 2012
"If Plaintiffs can show that the City has an obligation to maintain the drainage improvements at issue, and the Court
thereafter enjoins the City to maintain those improvements, the cost of that maintenance would have
catastrophic implications for the City's budget."
-- J. Leah Castella and Matthew D. Visick, attorneys for the City of Pacifica, October 16, 2012
A lawsuit has been winding its way through San Mateo County Superior Court since November 7, 2011 when Pacifica residents Dennis Fuente and Phil D'India filed a complaint with the Court, asking that it direct the City to clean and maintain the drainage culvert systems adjacent to their homes.
The City of Pacifica is adamant that the culverts are on private property and are the responsibility of the homeowners themselves. Fuente and D'India disagree and argue that the drainage system exists within a public drainage easement and that the City is liable for their upkeep.
As attorneys state in their Joint Ex Parte Application of October 16, 2012, "The outcome of this case could have significant ramifications for the City."
The attorneys from the law firm of Burke, Williams & Sorensen, who represent the City of Pacifica are concerned. Very concerned. And rightly so, because the Plaintiffs are essentially claiming that the City is responsible for the cleaning, repair and maintenance of literally miles of drainage culvert systems that heretofore have been ignored -- and more importantly -- not been budgeted for by the City.
On November 7, 2011, Dennis Fuente and Phil D'India ("Plaintiffs"), homeowners on Banyan Way, served the City of Pacifica with a complaint asking the Court to order the City to clean and maintain the system of drainage pipes, ditches, culverts and swales running through and about the residential subdivisions of Linda Mar. The Plaintiffs claim that on or about 1961, the developers of the Linda Mar area granted a drainage easement to the City to allow City workers access to private property in order to maintain and repair drainage areas.
The suit is motivated by the Plaintiff's concern for the well-being of their homes as well as their personal safety, citing the January 4, 1982 incident during which four members of the Velez family were killed when the hillside behind their Linda Mar home slid down upon it during a severe winter storm. Plaintiffs also seek reimbursement for the cost of repairs they have made to the portion of the drainage system that is sited on their property.
The City responded to the initial complaint and, for its part, claims that, yes, while there are records which show there are public drainage easements on private property that the City is responsible for, the Plaintiffs' drainage culverts are not among those and thus are the sole responsibility of the homeowners.
Not long after answering the complaint, members of the City visited the site in question with the aim of better understanding the issues at hand and to assist in subsequent negotiations which aimed for a settlement of the Plaintiff's claims. Settlement negotiations were unsuccessful at that time.
During a Case Management Conference in March 2012, the Court ordered the parties to mediate through the Court's Alternative Dispute Resolution program. This mediation took place in June 2012 and, again, both parties were unable to resolve the matter.
The City of Pacifica then filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in July 2012, asking the Court to dismiss the case -- without the need for a trial -- outlining the contention that the City is not responsible for the drainage system in question, never has been responsible for it, and that no public drainage easement exists within this particular subdivision (such easements do exist within other subdivisions and the City does maintain and assume responsibility for those).
In response to this Motion, the Plaintiffs provided evidence of their own, seeking to establish that City workers had in fact accessed their properties numerous times over the years to perform routine maintenance on culverts situated on private land. In addition, Plaintiffs also submitted documents discovered via title searches which indicate the existence of covenants running with the land incorporated in CC&Rs that pertain to the homes.
Plaintiffs also seek to demonstrate that records relied upon by the City (with regards to public drainage easements) are incomplete and/or incorrect and, additionally, that the City currently performs routine maintenance on drainage swales and culverts in adjacent areas of the subdivision which are of the exact structure and layout as those on Plaintiffs' property.
A hearing on the Motion for Summary Judgment is scheduled for January 14, 2013 with a Mandatory Settlement Conference set for April 17, 2013 and ultimately, a trial date of May 6, 2013, if necessary.
Dennis Fuente et al vs. City of Pacifica
Filing Date: 11/07/2011 (OPEN)
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