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ON THE AGENDA: CITY COUNCIL AUGUST 8, 2023
A Council meeting that may prove contentious due to a pre-meeting wastewater demonstration and resident pushback against a proposed Code of Conduct
The dog days of summer are quiet in the high desert; tourists stay away, residents take breaks by the beach, if they can manage it, and nothing much goes on at City Hall— but not this August!
Because the City Council took the month of July off, the agenda is packed. In addition, residents with strong opinions about the proposed wastewater treatment plant will rally outside of City Hall from 5 to 6 pm on Tuesday, August 8, and are likely to engage in public comment at the City Council meeting taking place starting at 6pm.
The proposed Council Code of Conduct, item 14 below, has also gained attention on social media, and public comments can also be expected about this proposal.
The public has multiple opportunities to comment at every Council meeting. Please use the opportunity of Council meetings to question your Council members on the issues affecting our City. Comments on agenda items take place prior to Council discussion on the item, comments on non-agenda items are scheduled towards the end of the meeting. The City’s agenda is here.
Public comments for all items are limited to three minutes per agenda item, but the public is entitled to fill out requests to speak on multiple items and may also speak during general public comments. To comment, pick up a green form at the desk, fill it out, and hand it to the City Clerk who is usually sitting at the desk at the front of room on the right side. The public can also send comments via email to Council members and the City Manager and cc the City Clerk requesting that comments be read at the meeting.
AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS
The City Council meeting will kick off with an invocation by the Reverend Don Thursby, Little Church of the Desert. (The Little Church, dedicated in 1940, was the first Christian Church in Twentynine Palms, according to this history.)
#1 & 2 Michelle Bergey will receive recognition and a proclamation celebrating her retirement from the District Attorney’s office. The City will introduce and welcome its newest employees.
The Consent Calendar consists of several items that can be approved with one vote. Generally they are routine, but the Council has the option to pull any item from the Consent Calendar for discussion. All public comment happens prior to the Council vote on the full list.
Waiver. Waive the Reading of Ordinance and Approve the Reading by Title Only
Minutes. Approval of Minutes of the City Council Meeting Held on June 23, 2023 (the Council took July off)..
Treasurer’s Report. The City Council approves the Treasurer's Report for the 4th quarter in Fiscal Year 2022-23.
Approve Five Year Plans. The City Council approves the Measure I Five-Year Plan for Fiscal Years 2023/2024 through 2027/2028. The plan outlines capital improvement projects funded by the Local Street Program and includes safety improvement for six high-crash, unsignalized intersections:
• Two Mile Rd & Lear Ave
• Two Mile Road & Mesquite Springs Road,
• Adobe Road & Sullivan Road,
• Adobe Road & Smith Ranch Road,
• Utah Trail & Amboy Road, and
• Utah Trail & Baseline Road.
Demolition Project. Accept the work for the 6602 Freedom Way Demolition Project as complete, for a total contract cost of $38,000.00. To prepare for future affordable housing development, the City-owned property at 6602 Freedom Way was demolished by Clemons Demolition.
Community Events Grants. As reported in the Desert Trumpet, the City had $50,000 allocated to fund community events. Nineteen proposals were submitted and the Council’s Ad Hoc Committee members (Council Members Mintz and Scott) reviewed the applications. Four grants totaling $12,000 have been awarded, and the committee is still reviewing other submissions, with the expectation that more grants will be rewarded for events taking place later in the fiscal year.
The Events Ad Hoc Committee has recommended the following events to be funded:
9. Agreement with Caroline Partamian to oversee and execute the $100,000 Creative Corps Grant awarded to the Public Arts Advisory Committee (PAAC).
10. MBTA Public Parking - Indemnification Agreement. The City Council votes to authorize the City Manager to sign the indemnification agreement with Basin Transit for the use of potential overflow parking in the downtown area.
The City and Basin Transit jointly own land located behind the Chevron station near downtown to serve as a transit transfer station. Because of grant commitments to the current station at Adobe and Cactus roads, the new station cannot be developed for about eight years. This lot may be needed for overflow parking for events, which MBTA will allow if they are indemnified for any liability.
11. I-Bank Resolution The City Council authorizes a $500,000 loan application to Infrastructure Bank to replace stadium lights at Luckie Park—identified as a top ten priority in a planning meeting in January.
12. Twentynine Palms Lighting and Landscaping Assessment District #1
This hearing explores funding public right-of-way lighting and landscaping improvements for a tract (16729) north of El Paseo Drive, west of Encelia Avenue, and the Historic Plaza (part of tract 2530). These improvements include parkway landscaping, retention basin landscaping, irrigation systems, street furniture, public art, perimeter block walls, street lighting, and other related improvements. Except for increases needed for inflation, there is no increase in assessments needed for this fiscal year.
DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS
13. Morongo Basin ARCH. The City Council will review and approve the promissory note of $20,000 to Morongo Basin ARCH for the support of the homeless in Twentynine Palms.
14. Council Code of Conduct - At the last City Council meeting, Mayor Wright requested that the Council look into adopting a Code of Conduct.
The proposal of a Council Code of Conduct has generated heated conversations on social media. Some commenters maintain that Councilman Octavious Scott is being targeted for soliciting feedback from his district constituents and expressing his own opinions about the wastewater project and other issues.
There is no question that a Code of Conduct is sorely needed. A Code of Conduct and Conflict of Interest code, including financial disclosure categories for different City positions, is required by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), which promotes the integrity of state and local government in California.
A Code of Conduct and Conflict of Interest code can help clarify and regulate questions of conflict of interest, such as the recent recusals on the Planning Commission due to STR ownership. The lack of a code resulted in Planning Commissioner Jim Krushat weighing in on STRs for several months after he applied for a STR permit, for instance. However, it can also be weaponized, as is sometimes seen in U.S. Congress.
The City has been out of compliance with the FPPC regulation for some time. At the end of 2022, new PAAC member Cindy Bernard met with a member of the FPPC regarding the level of financial disclosure the City was requiring of PAAC members and learned that the City did not have the required Conflict of Interest Code. At that time, City Manager Frank Luckino was forwarded information from the FPPC so that the City could rectify the situation. In an email exchange with Bernard at that time, Luckino wrote, “legal is reviewing for update.”
City Staff attached an example of a Code of Conduct from Capitola in Santa Cruz County to the meeting’s agenda. The code expresses core values of responsibility, integrity, respect, and accountability. The code also notes that it holds higher standards of conduct than are currently required by the state.
15. Aha Projects! Council will discuss approving the lease of a property located on 73637 Sullivan Road, next to Theatre 29, to Aha Projects!, for five years at $1/year. AHA is an acronym for Affordable Housing for Artists.
The Los Angeles based 501c3 nonprofit organization is the fiscal receiver for Mojaveland, an artist-designed miniature golf course now located at 5157 Adobe Road. A fiscal receiver is often employed by not for profit businesses which do not have 501c3 status, as it enables the receipt of charitable donations and grants.
Anna Stump, the proprietor of Mojaveland—and as chair of the Twentynine Palms Public Arts Advisory Committee, a City Official, has presented this concept to the Board of Theater 29 and has received approval.
Each hole of the golf course is designed by a different desert artist and more art experiences are planned. If it is located next to the theater, it can share infrastructure and a possible cross-over of visitors.
16. Resolution Approving Second Amendment to Franchise Agreement with Burrtec Waste and Recycling Services, LLC, to Implement Organic Waste Recycling Requirements Imposed by New State Law (SB 1383).
In 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed a law to achieve a 75% reduction in the statewide disposal of organic waste from the 2014 level by 2025. Organic waste—which is highly recyclable—includes food scraps, landscaping and pruning waste, wood and lumber, paper products, manure, biosolids, and sludge.
Burrtec will provide organic waste recycling services to all residential, multi-family properties, and commercial businesses.
FUTURE COUNCIL INITIATED ITEMS:
Seasonal banners throughout the City
Maintained vs. non-maintained roads
Discussion on partnering with nonprofit organizations to open a “Warming Shelter”
Identify ten lots to start a self-help construction program
Discussion on forming a Youth Advisory Committee
Discussion with the Homeless Committee on the possibility of hotels housing the homeless for short periods of time
Discussion on the possibility of moving the Wastewater Treatment Plant from the Desert Knoll area to the east side of the City in the Industrial zone.
Desert Trumpet writer Kat Talley-Jones is a member of the Public Arts Advisory Committee, which is a part of the City of Twentynine Palms.
The Desert Trumpet is looking for writers! If you are interested helping us cover Twentynine Palms, send us an email! email@example.com.
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