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City Manager's Weekly Report

February 27th, 2009 by Temple City Tribune

City Manager’s Weekly Report
For the Week Ending Noon on Thursday January 29, 2009

http://www.templecity.us

TO: The Honorable City Council DATE: January 29, 2009

FROM: Charles R. Martin, City Manager
cmartin@templecity.us

SUBJECT: CITY MANAGER’S REPORT

Charlie’s Bon Mot
If everything seems
to be going really well,
you obviously must have
overlooked something. &
Nature will always side
with the hidden flaw.
-Murphy’s laws
Highlights
● Budget time again.
● East end of Las Tunas Commercial to receive special study
● Council Members named by Wang have a rough time.
● Temple City crime rate remains surprisingly low.
● Recent court cases that could impact city operations.

GENERAL COUNCIL INFORMATION

1. Monica and I are now underway with the formulation of the 2009-10 budget. We expect that there will be a serious reduction in revenues including losses in interest rates, rebates from the County of non-city property taxes, and additional losses in sales tax receipts.

a) As your City Manager, it is my responsibility to project a percentage estimate for the amount of the losses over the next some 18 months – a herculean task.

b) Using my crystal ball (together with 55 years of experience), I am estimating a reduction in revenues of seven percent for the ensuing year. Seven percent of $12 million represents a anticipated reduction of $700,000 in revenues.

c) Accordingly, we will have to try to reduce expenses by that same seven percent. Such a reduction will not be easy, but hopefully all departments will cooperate so that we do not engage in deficit financing.

d) My experience is that once we start deficit financing, it becomes progressively more and more difficult to reverse the trend – the best course of action is not to start.

2. Community Development Manager, Joe Lambert, Public Services Manager Chuck Erickson and I met yesterday with the representative from Congressman Adam Schiff’s office, Haig Kartounian, to talk about the federal stimulus package. Mr. Kartounian was very supportive, and urged us to file for “shovel-ready projects” ASAP.

There are apparently three criteria for priority acceptance: 1) needed infrastructure projects serving an emergency situation, 2) projects ready to go, and 3) projects with some local matching funds.

Projects we have most likely to meet these criteria are the Green Street drainage problem, the Longden Avenue sewer problems, and portions of the Rosemead Blvd. project. If there is any objection to submitting these projects on a priority basis, please let me know.

3. The terms and provisions of the Stimulus Bill have not yet been settled. There has been some indication that the moneys doled out for immediate infrastructure projects may not be gifts at all, but to some extent will be classified as loans to be repaid with minimal interest. We will clarify this before applying.

Administration (CRM)

1. The crime rate in Temple City remains remarkably low – as it has been for the last six months.

The rate is especially notable in these difficult economic times. The most prevalent crime these days is burglary, but even that is down. There have been no reportable sex crimes

As a precaution relating to burglaries: whenever you go to a bank for a financial transaction or to visit your safety deposit box, you should be aware to watch and make sure you are not being followed home.

2. Our cash reserves remain at a high level, but litigation expenses are beginning to mount, and are now nearly at $150,000. Our contract with the Piazza developer does provide that if we finally win a judgment against him, we will be entitled to recover most of these expenses.

Community Redevelopment Agency (CRM)

1. We have received no follow-up from the Piazza developer, Randy Wang, regarding our request to keep political advertising off of the Piazza property.
Again, because he has authorized the signs that are there now, we will not be able to enforce the removal of any other signs that may be put up there.

2. Mr. Wang has now indicated that he will file his application for his revised Piazza Project to the Planning Commission by mid-February.

Community Development & Housing Authority (CRM)

1. The Planning Commission has agreed to re-study the Specific Plan for the east end of Las Tunas Drive as to what commercial uses will be permitted.

As you know, the zoning along Las Tunas Drive is divided into four portions: the gateway commercial district, the west commercial district, the city center commercial district, and the east commercial district. Each zone has specific permitted uses in each and a prohibition in each as to any non-permitted uses.

The east end has proven particularly difficult, particularly in these economic times, because the permitted uses relate primarily to food establishments and professional offices. The Planning Commission will attempt to ascertain whether more commercial uses should be allowed.

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 Parks & Recreation (Director, Cathy Burroughs)

1. The Lunar New Year Celebration, co-sponsored by the City and the Temple City Chinese American Association is this Saturday, January 31st in Temple City Park. Festivities will be held from 1 – 4 p.m. and will feature entertainment, food, and the traditional Lion Dance.

2. The coronation for the 2009 Camellia Festival Royal Court will be held at the Live Oak Park Community Center next Friday, February 6th. If you plan to attend and have not yet done so, please RSVP to Festival Director Nanette Fish.

3. Construction on the renovation and expansion of the concession stand is winding down. We are still having issues with the County Health Department which continues to result in change orders. The contractor expects completion by mid-February, followed by the maintenance period.

Department of Community Development (Manager, Joe Lambert)

1. The Planning Commission met on January 27, 2009, on considered two public hearings, and had a discussion under Matters from City Officials:

a. The Planning Commission voted on the case that was continued at the last meeting: Conditional Use Permit 08-1726 and Zone Variance 08-1727. The applicant’s request was to allow the establishment of a pastry shop/coffee house with outside dining along with wine and cheese sampling at 9153 Las Tunas Drive.
After much discussion and deliberation on January 13, it seemed that the Planning Commission wanted to approve this request 4-1 even though Staff recommended denial. However, the Commission was unable to do so, as the findings to approve the Zone Variance were not yet drafted. The draft resolution for approval went before the Planning Commission on January 27, and the request was approved by the same 4-1 margin.

b. The Planning Commission considered a request by the owner of the existing donut shop at 9475 Las Tunas Drive to modify their Conditional Use Permit (CUP 76-483) to convert the donut shop to a bakery and yogurt shop.

c. Staff supported this request as the Downtown Specific Plan conditionally permits the use, and the site provides adequate onsite parking. The planning Commission approved the request 5-0. I understand that this was a Winchell’s Donuts in 1976, after Winchell’s moved from their original location (which was the first Winchell’s ever) on the corner of Hart and Las Tunas.

d. Staff brought up a few recent instances in which certain businesses were denied licenses in the East commercial (EC) District of the Downtown Specific Plan.

e. The Planning Commission directed Staff to study the East Commercial District of the Downtown Specific Plan area to possibly allow more uses, as there have been two requests to modify the zoning standards in the East Commercial District recently.

One was a request to expand the use of a tutoring business, and another was to allow a hair salon. The tutoring school is a non-conforming use, therefore any expansion to that use is currently not allowable, and a hair salon is not allowed in this particular area, however, a hair salon is allowable everywhere else within the Downtown Specific Plan area.

Department of Public Services (Manager, Chuck Erickson)

1. The California Integrated Waste Management Board has approved the 2005-06 AB 939 waste reduction and recycling program . The City achieved a 67% recycling rate for 2005-06, for which the residents of Temple City should be proud of their efforts .

2. Staff met with Haig Kartounian from Congressman Adam Schiff office, and staff will be submitting projects for the stimulus plan to the State and through Congressman Adam Schiff office. Staff will bring these projects to the City Council for approval.

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

1. I have found over the years, that most litigation can be avoided if the City Attorney works diligently to effect a settlement or takes a little time to convince the other attorney in advance that the suit has no merit, may be frivolous, and may call for sanctions.

The occasional suit that cannot be settled is best handled by outside counsel who, in effect, work for the City attorney, and operate on the principle that if they overcharge, they are not likely to get another case from him. In these instances, the City Attorney oversees and serves as a check and balance on their fees.

Also, in most city litigation, the City Attorney is a witness, and court proceedings eschew situations where the lead attorney calls himself or is called by the other side as a witness

This policy has worked for Temple City in that our legal fees over the past ten years have been lower (much lower) than in any comparable city.

2. Cases of the week:

Sherman v. Illinois (on Google): “A moment of silence” may be construed as religious, and therefore improper for a municipal meeting.

Agular v. SupCt DAR 889: Ordinance requiring contractors who contract with city to pay “a living wage” (as determined by the Council) is valid to the employee who works on the city project – and requires payment of such wages for all hours (40 hour week) regardless of the limited hours spent on the city project.

Shaw v. Co. Santa Cruz MN 349: a refusal to issue a e.g. building permit based on the fear that applicant might in the future use it to violate a zoning ordinance may be mandate-able, but if taken by the city in good faith to protect the city, would not constitute a taking or make for damages.

Galbiso v. Orosi 84 CR3d 788: denying a resident the right of making a relevant comment to a pending issue at a council meeting within the time limits prescribed may be a violation of the Brown Act, and attorney fees will be awarded.

Council Calendar

Disclaimer

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 from the City Manager, 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. This particularly the case in the following Exhibit #1.

Exhibit #1

By CRM: Thinking aloud where I am allowed to think aloud: Certain members of the City
Council remain in an unenviable status. When the City Council filed suit against Randy Wang for a declaration that he was in anticipatory breach of his obligation to perform his contract with the City and RDA , Wang retorted by accusing certain Councilmembers with numerous crimes.

Wang says he has incriminating tapes, but the District Attorney investigating Wang’s allegations which were brought to the District Attorney’s attention by the City, has sequestered all copies of these tapes and the accused Councilmembers have been precluded from reviewing the tapes or being able to respond to their alleged contents.

The newspapers and media pick up the allegations and repeat them – again without any proof – making life for your Councilmembers (all of whom maintain their innocence) very difficult.

All Councilmembers can do for now is make general denials, and hope that their friends and constituents will “keep the faith” until more information is available to them.

Those of us who work professionally in city government understand that we must take the “slings and arrows” of public criticism, but at least we know exactly what we are being criticized for – in this case Councilmembers have not been provided the evidence or the facts, and as a result have to defend against the unknown and endure the attendant suspicion and invective.

This will all end one way or the other; please try to keep an open mind, and not prejudge.

Exhibit #2

THE GAS COMPANY URGES CUSTOMERS
TO ENROLL IN ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 28, 2009 – As working families struggle to make ends meet due to the current economic downturn, Southern California Gas Co. (The Gas Company) is urging customers to take advantage of the utility’s assistance programs — programs that can help reduce winter heating bills and increase energy efficiency.
“I was really excited when I discovered The Gas Company’s CARE program and how they are reaching out to people that are in need of help,” said Reola Robinson, an Inglewood resident. “I am grateful for the assistance that we’ve received because we can now make our budget.”
Robinson qualified for the California Alternate Rate for Energy (CARE) program, which provides a 20-percent rate discount on the monthly gas bill for eligible households. Customers may be automatically eligible if they currently receive benefits from the Women, Infants and Children, Healthy Families, Medi-Cal, Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or LIHEAP programs.
“We strongly encourage customers to call us, especially if they’re having trouble paying their bill by the payment deadline,” said Michelle M. Mueller, vice president of customer operations. “We are here to help.”

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