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February 27th, 2009 by Temple City Tribune
Charlie’s Bon Mot
If your plan seems to be going well, You are probably walking into an ambush.
● Some gas stations may have to close.
● New multi-purpose facility for Live Oak Park.
● Water supplies dwindle.
● Willmonte Avenue wants street lights.
● Recent court cases that could impact city operations.
GENERAL COUNCIL INFORMATION
1. As I have mentioned several times, the gas stations in town make up a substantial portion of what little sales tax we receive. The enclosed article may impact that portion in a negative manner, because of the high costs of mandated corrections.
2. Enclosed is a copy of a letter from the San Gabriel Basin Water Quality Authority regarding the quantity and quality of basin’s water supply. (FYI)
a) As to quantity: the indications are that rationing is not far away;
b) As to quality: it seems some of our underground supplies may have been tainted with chlorates, etc.
3. Enclosed is a petition from residents on Willmonte Ave. requesting street lights. We have asked the Edison Co. to comply. Public Services Manager Erickson is the point man on this project. We have contacted Edison, and the project is underway. Edison will install the lights, however the City will have to pay for the power used.
1. In Exhibit #1 below, some of the problems facing the City of Monrovia have been outlined.
a) How many times have speakers at Council meetings asked us to emulate Monrovia, that Monrovia knows how to do things right?
b) Now Monrovia is facing loss of businesses, loss of sales tax, lay-offs, furloughs and deficits. Monrovia (and most full service cities) spends almost $800 per resident; contract cities average about $500 per capita; and Temple City spends only $350 of its General Fund per resident.
c) The point is . . all cities are facing financial crisis troubles. Only the City Council of Temple City saw this recession coming, and built its cash reserves so that no deficit financing or personnel actions are necessary at this time. It’s a shame that the Pasadena Star-News can only find fault.
2. L.A. County Sheriff Captain Shaw of the Temple Station reports to us the crime index recorded for Temple City last year at Temple Station, which also provides police services for Rosemead, Duarte, and South El Monte, was the lowest among the cities it services with the rate in Temple City being approximately one-third that of Rosemead’ s index.
a) We have been reporting to you now for several years that the index of crime in Temple City is extremely low. I hope we can keep it that way.
b) Sheriff Baca is so proud of the low crime figures from Temple Station that he has called a press conference tomorrow to highlight the accomplishment !
3, No new retail business licenses issued last week nor this week. It appears that it will take some time before retail investments come back to Temple City or to any of the San Gabriel Valley cities.
Community Redevelopment Agency (CRM)
1. No news from the Courts or prosecutors on the Piazza Project.
Community Development & Housing Authority (CRM)
1. We are still waiting for the State Department of Housing to approve of our new Housing Element.
As soon as the Housing Element is completed, we will start on the Task Force recommendations, including the commercial and park studies.
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 pre-construction meeting for the new multipurpose facility at Live Oak Park is scheduled for February 10th.
a) All required documents have been submitted by the contractor and approved by the City. We expect construction to begin in mid-February and continue until the end of summer.
b) During this time, Teen Zone will relocate to the front office building located at the City yard. The Drill Team will also conduct their practices from this location.
2. Approximately three months ago, the City Council directed staff to pursue the feasibility of constructing a gymnasium at Live Oak Park.
a) Staff has been in contact with several firms regarding the cost of constructing a gymnasium. We will be presenting an item to the City Council at your next meeting regarding the gymnasium.
b) Staff believes there are three possibilities at this time. The first is to hire a firm to conduct a feasibility study of the two possible locations discussed at the Council meeting on November 4, 2008 (eastern most tennis courts or adjacent to the new restroom facility at the location of the current outdoor basketball courts).
c) The study would include the pros and cons of each location, an estimate of probable costs and a schematic diagram of the facility.
d) The second option is to direct staff to proceed with the design and construction of a gymnasium at one of the two locations and budget funds in the current year’s adopted budget. At this time, the initial estimates are $4-$5 million (including design and construction).
e) The third option is to abandon the project.
f) Staff believes a City-owned gymnasium would be extremely beneficial to the community. The outdoor courts at Live Oak Park are heavily used in the afternoons, evenings, and on weekends.
g) The City’s youth basketball program continues to grow with 460 children from 4 years – 9th grade participating. We are currently using Oak Avenue gymnasium three nights each week as well as all day on Saturday for our basketball league. Temple City High School gymnasium is also being used on Saturdays.
Department of Community Development (Manager, Joe Lambert)
1. At the City Council meeting of January 20, the Council tentatively selected Avant Garde for consulting services regarding Redevelopment and Economic Development in the Las Tunas Drive Corridor.
2. Avant Garde was asked to bring a more detailed proposal to the City Council in approximately 30 days. Since the City Council meeting of March 3 has been cancelled, it is anticipated that the proposal will be on the March 17 City Council Agenda unless directed otherwise.
3. At their last meeting, the Planning Commission directed Staff to study the East Commercial (EC) District of the Downtown Specific Plan area to determine if the matrix of permitted uses should be amended to allow more uses. This is in response to recent requests by applicants to modify the zoning standards in the East Commercial District.
a) 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.
b) We will be exploring these issues at the Planning commission meeting of February 24, 2009.
4. Regarding the Housing Element: we have received preliminary comments from the State regarding our first draft and I attached a copy of the State’s letter and the related appendix for your information.
a) We have been in contact with the State reviewers to address their concerns, and I am awaiting clarification so we can finalize our responses to the State. After we discuss the revisions, we will incorporate the changes into the Housing Element, and then proceed with the Task Force recommendations.
b) Our strategy is to re-send the Housing element to HCD for another review, at which time they will have another 60 days to review the amended draft.
Department of Public Services (Manager Chuck Erickson)
1. On Wednesday, staff and the city’s engineer meet with Edison to go over the streetlight plans that Edison is designing for the Rosemead Blvd. improvement project. The plans will be complete within the next 30 days.
Elie Farah will be at the February 17th City Council meeting to do a presentation on the design that is proposed for Rosemead Blvd. improvement project
Division of Public Safety (Public Safety Officer Ariizumi)
1. The Crime Statistics Report for January 18 – 31, 2009, is included with this Manager’s Report.
Office of the City Attorney (Charlie Martin, City Attorney)
1. Cases of the week:
Shaw v. Co. Santa Cruz MN 349: a refusal to issue a permit based on the fear that applicant may in the future use it to violate a zoning ordinance may be mandate-able, but if taken to protect the city would not constitute a taking or subject the City to damages.
Stearn v. Co. San Bernardino 2009 WL 19174: A rezoning of non-commercial land to allow billboards by a CUP would be unjustified because the findings would have to be that the land is suitable for business generally. CCP1094.8 to determine the validity of a 1st amendment use (billboard) must be by mandate, not declaratory relief.
Davis v. Mason County (9) 927 F.2d 1473: The decision to eliminate training programs or reduce the amount of training, based upon the lack of finances or loss of reimbursement sources, would most likely be viewed, by a court, as deliberate indifference to the rights of others, and damages would be payable.
Riverwatch v. Olivenhain DAR 1570: If a water provider promises to deliver water to a project for 20 years so that the development (a landfill) can obtain a city permit, then that promise is itself subject to prior CEQA compliance.
People v. Fishett MN 670: before a red-light traffic camera may be enforced, there must first have been a 30-day warning period at each separate location.
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.
“Monrovia is Rocked in the Recession.
Boxx Jewelers, part of Monrovia memories since 1921 and an Old Town icon, is apparently going out of business. A flock of banners and signs declaring “Liquidating” and “Going out of Business Forever” went up on Super Bowl Sunday (we think… didn’t notice ‘em yesterday). There seem to be some great deals, with discounts of 70% announced.
Since January 1, Monrovia has suffered a practical tsunami of financial hits. Consider the list:
– Boxx Jewelers
– Circuit City
– The Expo (just announced last week and already clearing inventory today)
– The Christian Book store on Myrtle.
– Foothill Cleaners, open barely a year after forcing out half of a local merchant.
– Nummy Nums, the high-end baby food store on Myrtle (which, frankly this writer never thought had a chance).
Add to this list (and a few I know I’m missing): Mervyns, which locked up just before the New Year and Vromans, which bailed out of talks to open on Myrtle just before Christmas.” -CaliforniaCityNews.org
Escondido mulls over cuts to pension benefits — By Angela Lau
“ESCONDIDO — The cash-strapped city is considering cutting pension benefits and reducing overtime pay to close a budget gap that is projected to widen as the economy worsens.
The council agreed to explore those options in an informal goal-setting session yesterday. The council has made extensive cuts in services and employee salaries and benefits to close a $7.4 million deficit this fiscal year, but more cuts are needed.
Some council members now want to reduce the cost of pensions for new employees. The city, which has a general fund budget of about $82 million, spent about $13.9 million last fiscal year on pensions.
Diaz also suggested reducing the amount of employee overtime. The city spent about $4.5 million on overtime last fiscal year, most of that for police officers and firefighters.” -CaliforniaCityNews.org
Thinking aloud where I am allowed to think aloud – by CRM:
It is noted that a recent Star News editorial comment states that (because tradition says so) one person should not serve as both City Manager and City Attorney – let me respond:
1. Just because city government has always done things one way, does not mean that things could not be done another way, especially if the changes work to advantage as in my opinion they have here in Temple City. “Change” is the order of the day, and we are trying to find new, different and less expensive ways of operating local government. The cities that can find new ways to economize will make it through the recession; those that cannot, will not. Not every experiment will be successful, but all of us should continue to try.
2. The present Council and management have over 100 years of experience in municipal government, the editor of the Star News has none – this does not mean that the newspaper doesn’t have the right to its opinion (it certainly has that right), but the readers should recognize that with the 100 years of experience, the Council and management should have (at least) the benefit of the doubt.
3. Temple City is better off financially than any of our neighboring cities, no lay-offs. no furloughs, no deficits, no property tax, no bonds or other indebtedness, low crime rate; and with a surplus of $35 million. in addition. The dual position has saved the City some $200K over the last 4 years in unpaid perks, and would have saved even more if the dual position were paid as much as those two positions in other cities.
4. Temple City has adequate infrastructure, its streets are well paved, its storm drains and sanitary sewers are in great shape; its property values are holding up better than most cities, crime is extremely low, and city park and parade events are doing very well.
5. Yes, 25 years ago, the then City Council with the then City Manager failed to recognize that this city could not remain forever as a residential “Mayberry”, and that it had to compete with other cities in the building of bigger and better commercial centers to gain the ever increasing sales tax purchases. Unfortunately, the Piazza development has reached limbo stage because the developer has been unable to meet the terms of the agreement he signed, even after he requested and received some 10 changes.
6. However, the current City Council is trying very hard to correct the situation. Unfortunately, the contract to build a first class mall at Rosemead and Las Tunas has not come to fruition, primarily because the developer has not been able to fulfill his obligations.
7. The Star News claims that prior Councils have done better in bringing in new business, but those businesses were brought in with millions of taxpayer funds as a lure by grants and loans, and they have really not done well.
a) One has already folded (and would have cost the city its loan, if the new City Council had not insisted on repayment rather than a subordination);
b) a second has given notice that it intends to forfeit and if that comes to pass the City’s $850K will be lost; and
c) the third is marginally functioning with no guarantee of the repayment, This former “buy-a-business” formula has not brought success – and huge losses are in the offing.
8. All in all, the City is currently at a high point, and should not be denigrated by a local resident who serves as one of the editors of a local newspaper which itself is having problems far more severe than any of his imagined problems of ours.