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City Manager’s Weekly Report For the Week Ending Noon on Thursday January 8, 2009

January 12th, 2009 by Temple City Tribune

http://www.templecity.us

TO: The Honorable City Council DATE: January 8, 2009
FROM: Charles R. Martin, City Manager
SUBJECT: CITY MANAGER’S REPORT

Charlie’s Bon Mot
I wouldn’t join any club that would have me as a member. – Groucho

Highlights

– Park and Recreation projects move ahead
– Piazza has not yet signed on for Planning Commission review
– Interest income for the City
– Street tree policies
– Joint meeting with TCUSD next Thursday
– Exhibits#1 and #2: Cities are facing a financial crunch
– Historic structures and the law
– Recent court cases that could impact city operations

GENERAL COUNCIL INFORMATION

1 Reminder: There is a joint meeting with the TCUSD Board, next Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at the District Offices to discuss claimed imbalances in the reciprocal programs by both agencies for community benefit.

Administration (CRM)

1. We continue to receive occasional complaints about some of trees in the City. Temple City has an excellent tree maintenance program, and has been designated a “Tree City – USA,” by the National Arbor Day Association.

a) As a result, Temple City has planted thousands of trees of various varieties on most parkways within the City. We have tried to mix the types of trees, as we learn over time which trees produce the most beauty with a minimum of care as to roots, branches, view obstruction, and shedding.

b) On the other hand while most of the residents enjoy their street trees, there are those that don’t like them for one reason or another – some real, some imagined, and some cultural. The most often expressed criticism relates to view, roots, sewer problems, birds (parrots), droppings, cultural beliefs, etc.

c) The likes and dislikes of street trees are probably no different in Temple City than it is in other cities. While the street trees produce “green,” oxygen, beauty and amenities, there are some minor negatives to some people.

d) Until the City Council decides to modify the street tree program, the few complaints that we do get, and the even fewer demands for tree removal will have to give way to the benefits that the tree program produces for the entire city.

e) Of course when a single tree becomes a public nuisance (for one reason or another), we will remove that tree and plant another. We will not, however, remove blocks of healthy trees, because the neighbors (for the moment) do not like them.

f) Our ordinances also provide that residents are not permitted self-help in dealing with the street trees. This protects the taxpayers against liability for poor pruning or other accidents, etc.

2 One of the principle sources of revenue received by the City is the interest earned on our substantial reserves. A year ago when interest rates were ± 5%, our interest income was very high, but now the interest rate in down closer to 2%.

a) We have two main sources of interest income:
1) From LAIF (Local Agency Investment Fund) a pooled account of the
reserves from many cities, now paying about 2%; and
2) CDs from Wells Fargo and other banks, now paying about 2.5%.

(The relative value of these two sources varies: CDs are more mobile than LAIF, and move up or down as to interest rates faster. Thus, when rates are rising, CDs are a better investment than LAIF, and when rates are descending, LAIF is the better investment.)

b) While in recent years we have placed most of our reserves with LAIF, this is to advise you that the Financial Services Manager and I are switching now to more of the Wells Fargo’s CDs for a maximum of two years (“laddered”) in the total amount of $300,000. We will be watchful as to the appropriate time to switch back to LAIF.

c) With other revenues falling, it is important to keep our interest income as high as possible, because interest produces somewhere between 10-15% of our General Fund Revenues – and for a City such as TC that has no property tax, no utility tax, no bonds, no indebtedness, and very low sales tax – interest income is vital.

Community Redevelopment Agency (CRM)

1. Although the Piazza developer, Randy Wang, alleges in his Chamber of Commerce newspaper article this month that he intends to submit his revised plans to the Planning Commission and to build a commercial center at the Piazza site, the fact is—Mr. Wang has had the application to start the revisions for almost one month, and he has not yet returned the signed application so that the requisite hearings could be held. This is another delay caused by the developer.

Community Development & Housing Authority (CRM)

1. The City Council will discuss plans and programs for the former Alpha Beta site at its next City Council meeting on January 20.

2. On January 20, Council will consider the contractual retention of an economic advisor to help bring into Temple City new sales tax producing businesses. This may be worth a try, although the economic conditions mitigate against new start-ups for right now.

The indicated writers have submitted the following items. All have been reviewed and approved (but may have been edited) by the City Manager.

Department of Management Services (Assist. to the City Manager Gary Flod)

1. Even with the recent rains, the California Department of Water Resources is reporting the State’s snow pack is currently 83% of normal. This year may end up being the third year in a row of below normal rainfall. At this time last year, the snow pack was at 60% normal; however last year was one of the driest years on record! Cities are now being asked to cut water demand by 20 percent. If rainfall doesn’t increase in the next couple of months, some form of water rationing may have to be implemented throughout Southern California. There are several local cities that have already passed strict water conservation ordinances.

Dept. of Parks & Recreation (Dir. of Parks & Recreation Cathy Burroughs)

1. The Concession Stand renovation and expansion project is ahead of schedule. The contractor expects construction to be completed by mid-February followed by the 30-day maintenance period. The newly renovated concession stand will be a tremendous improvement for that area of the park.

2. Six bids were received for the construction of the new multipurpose/office facility at the northwest corner of Live Oak Park. All six bids were again over the Council’s approved budget amount of $877,500 ($1,000,000 minus the architect’s fee of $122,500).

The bids were comparable to the bids received in October for this project. A recommendation from staff to award the contract to the low bidder will be on the January 20th Council agenda.

At that time, the Council will need to decide if they want to move forward with the project and amend the budget, reduce the scope of the project (which will cost additional architectural fees and may limit the use of the facility), or abandon the project altogether.

{CRM comment: it seems to me that an architect should be able to estimate the costs of a project with more success than to fail twice on the same project}

3. RFPs (Request for Proposals) have been sent out this week for the new outdoor fitness course at Live Oak Park. As you recall, the City received a grant from the Los Angeles County 5th Supervisorial District (Supervisor Michael Antonovich) for this project.

4. The City’s Lunar New Year Celebration will be held on Saturday, January 31st from 1 – 4 p.m. in Temple City Park. The Temple City Chinese American Association is coordinating the event with assistance from City staff.

Department of Community Development (Manager Joe Lambert)

1. Late last year, a Request for Proposal (RFP) was sent to several economic development consultants, we now have proposals from at least four companies: Keyser Marston Associates, JWA Urban Consultants Inc., Avant-Garde, Inc., and Urban Futures.

It should be noted that Keyser Marston Associates and Urban Futures were the only consultants that included a firm price. Keyser Marston Associates’ price for economic development analysis is $28,800, and Urban Futures has broken down their fee in the following way: “Phase One Redevelopment Plan Analysis” – $20,000 for minimum review and $70,000 for complete review. “Phase Two Economic Development Implementation Plan” – $35,000. All RFPs are in my office for your review.

In addition, Mayor Wilson asked that this item be placed on the January 20 City council Agenda. Staff will prepare a report and will attach the RFPs for your review with the next Agenda packet.

2. The next Planning Commission meeting will be held on January 13, 2009, at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers.

The lone public hearing item on the Agenda will be regarding a proposed coffee house/pastry café named “Café Roule” located at 9153 Las Tunas Drive. The proposed project requires a Conditional Use Permit for food service and a Zone Variance because of a parking deficiency. It should be noted that Staff has noticed a surge in interest for coffee houses, small cafes, and yogurt shops on Las Tunas drive since the latter half of 2008.

Dept. of Public Services (Manager Chuck Erickson)

1. Elie Farah, the engineer working on the Rosemead Blvd. Improvement project, will give a presentation to City Council at the February 17th City Council meeting.

The plans and specifications are now complete, and we will be able to go out for bids if the City Council approves the design.

2. The trash enclosure in the Bank of America parking lot will be repaired this week due to a car accident that damaged the block wall.

Division of Public Safety (Public Safety Officer Bryan Ariizumi)

1. The Crime Statistics Report for December 21, 2008 – January 3, 2009, is included with this Manager’s Report.

Office of the City Attorney (Charlie Martin, City Attorney)

1. The most recent edition of the Temple City Tribune headlines that Temple City gets an “F” in “conservation of historical structures”, as rated by the Los Angeles Conservancy.

a) Under recent case law, I have to challenge that rating. In particular, there is a July 2008 decision that significantly broadened the protection of historic structures regardless of local ordinances, and validates the procedures that Temple City has been following for years:

Valley v. Fresno 74 CR3d 151 (72 CR3d 690): If there is a claim that a 90 year old building might be historical (even though not on – nor even eligible to be on) the conservation list, there is a procedure that must be gone through under CEQA before the City may rule that it is not historical, Uphold v. Woodside 54 CR3d 366.*
Other factors: CO2 and “green factors: Natural v. Klempthorne 506 F3d 322; Adequate water: Santa Clara v. COLA 66 CR3d 559, Guzman v. Co. Monterey 66 CR3d 258; alternatives Save Rounds v. Co. Inyo 70 CR3d 59; affect on other areas Canyon v. American 52 CR3d 312; traffic Woodward v. Fresno 58 CR3d102; Description San Joaquin v. Merced 57 CR3d 663
The court explained how the initial determination of whether a resource is a significant historical resource should be made, depending upon which of the following three categories applies:
Mandatory: A lead agency must find a resource is a significant historical resource if it has been listed on or determined eligible for listing on the California Register of Historical Resources. The court explained that it is only an official determination by the State Historical Resources Commission that triggers this mandatory determination.
Presumptive: A lead agency must presume a resource is a significant historical resource if it has been listed on a local register or included in a local survey that meets specified criteria, unless the preponderance of evidence demonstrates otherwise.
Discretionary: A lead agency may determine that a resource is a significant historical resource if it does not fit within the mandatory or presumptive categories, as long as the determination is supported by substantial evidence in the record. When such a determination is made, the criteria to be applied are the criteria for listing on the California Register of Historical Resources.

b) Under the Fresno case, as supplemented by Uphold v. Woodside 54 Cal Rptr 3d 366, all any claimant regarding historical protection has to do is make the claim at the appropriate hearing, and the full historical protection process must be completed just the same as if the City had a full historical ordinance, listing the property as historic.

c) As to any specific structure, the law and process is exactly the same in either case. Under the ordinances adopted by other cities, the decision as to which structures are historical is made beforehand usually in group fashion, and without neighborhood participation or involvement.

d) In the several times this issue has come up over the years, the Council has indicated it prefers the Fresno case approach of considering a specific property and the issues involved upon the basis of a complaint, rather than trying to categorize many structures before there is a request for preservation.

e) In this connection, the case of Porterville Citizens 2008 69 Cal Rptr 3d105 holds that vague concerns by an opponent about aesthetics or monetary depreciation of their property values are economic, not environmental issues, and don’t require CEQA compliance.

2. Cases of the week:

McCown v. Fontana (9) DAR 18783: In a civil rights case against a city where the Plaintiff wins only a few of his many claims and even those few relate more to his personal benefit than to the public at large, the 1988 attorneys fees should be lowered below the norm

Patel v. Liebermensch 2008 WL 5273686: Option agreements to buy real property are valid, and should be upheld even if the specific terms of payment or other vital information is missing – such blanks can be filled-in according to general practices.

Metro Lights v. L.A. 2009 WL 22922: a city may ban (for aesthetic and traffic hazard reasons) both commercial and non-commercial billboards, and may except from the ban specialized locations (such as transit stops)

Council Calendar

*These City Manager’s Reports are compiled each week by the City Manager as a Report to the City Council of the week’s activities.. It is intended to be a fair report of the prior week, but is not intended to bind the City Council or any of its members to any particular statement or report. Opinions (in italics) are those of the City Manager or staff, and are not intended to reflect any position on the part of the City Council or any of its members.

Exhibit #1
“Lincoln city employees, including police and firefighters, were notified Monday there will be layoff announcements as early as Friday.
“There is no question there will be layoffs, but how deep the cuts will be and what the service levels will be remains undetermined,” said Jill Thompson, city spokeswoman.
Thompson said public safety personnel would be among those affected, but details would not be available until Friday at the earliest.
On Thursday, City Manager Jim Estep will meet in closed session with the City Council to decide how many employees will get layoff notices, Thompson said.
The layoffs are the result of a $1.5 million shortfall in this year’s $121 million budget.
During the past eight years, Lincoln’s population grew from 9,000 to nearly 40,000. But like other area cities, growth has slowed sharply in the past year, biting into development fees and sales tax revenue.
Since late November, the city manager has been looking for ways to balance the budget without layoffs. Estep has met with the city’s labor groups for their input. The city employs 230 people, including part-time workers.
Back in November the council had hoped it could avoid layoffs by imposing work furloughs. The plan would have reduced salaries by leaving employees with 10 to 12 unpaid days annually.
The city already has dipped into its savings. The reserve has been reduced from $3.8 million to $1.6 million to cover the shortfalls so far.
Exhibit #2
“Skyrocketing health care costs, crumbling infrastructure and failing schools are taking their toll on local governments across the U.S., according to a new survey of municipal officials released by the National League of Cities.
The report, 2008 State of America’s Cities: Annual Opinion Survey of Municipal Officials, was compiled by NLC from a survey of nearly 400 municipal officials.
Some highlights of the report:
• Six in 10 (62 percent) of city officials report that overall economic conditions have worsened during the last year, and seven in 10 (69 percent) report that overall economic conditions are either a major (19 percent) or moderate (50 percent) problem for their city.
• City officials from all parts of metropolitan areas — core cities in larger (78 percent) and smaller-mid-sized (54 percent) regions, inner ring suburbs (68 percent) and developing suburbs (57 percent) — are more likely to say that foreclosures have worsened over the past year, than to report that they have improved or not changed.
• City relations with federal (21 percent) and state (32 percent) partners have worsened over the past year, while relations with regional (35 percent) and business and civic (42 percent) partners have improved.
• One in two (54 percent) city officials say that their ability to finance city services is either a major (36 percent) or moderate (18 percent) problem for their city; a problem exacerbated by negative impacts of volatile fuel and energy costs.” -CaliforniaCityNews.org
Exhibit #3
“NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The U.S. economy is likely to deteriorate further this year and unemployment will rise into 2010, according to the latest forecasts from the staff of the Federal Reserve.
This bleak forecast was presented to Fed policymakers when they met last month and lowered interest rates to near zero. Low interest rates are one key tool the central bank uses to try to spur economic activity.
“I think that the Fed is really very scared right now — like everybody else — and they want to pull out all the stops,” said David Wyss, chief economist for Standard & Poor’s.
The Fed indicated that most members at its meeting expected a slow recovery to begin in the second half of the year, but that unemployment would still rise “significantly” into 2010.
Employers cut 1.9 million jobs over the first 11 months of 2008, which took the unemployment rate up to 6.7%. The December report will be released by the Labor Department Friday and economists surveyed by Briefing.com expect a loss of 475,000 jobs and that the unemployment rate will rise to 7%, which would mark a 15-year high.
In addition, some members of the Fed expressed concerns that the economy could worsen even more than currently expected.
“Meeting participants generally agreed that the uncertainty surrounding the outlook was considerable and that downside risks to even this weak trajectory for economic activity were a serious concern,” the Fed said in the minutes.
If the current recession, which began in December 2007, lasts throughout 2009, that would make it the longest U.S. economic downturn since the Great Depression.
The minutes also showed that some Fed members are now more worried about the threat posed by deflation, or falling prices, than they are about inflation. Deflation can slow economic activity dramatically since it could lead to businesses to cut their production plans in the wake of lower prices”. – Google 1/6/09

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