ON THE AGENDA: CITY COUNCIL JUNE 27
Affordable housing and wastewater are two big themes of this month's meeting
There will not be any City Council Meetings in July, so bring any concerns you have to this meeting, because you won’t have another chance until later in the summer.
As is our usual, we will be pointing to City Council agenda highlights but encourage Twentynine Palms residents to read the full agenda here.
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 nonagenda items are scheduled towards the end of the meeting.
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
This meeting’s invocation is by Pastor Lolila Faaaliga, Born Again Ministries, which doesn’t seem to have a church or storefront in Twentynine Palms, but does have a modest online presence.
Public Arts Advisory Committee member (and Desert Trumpet editor) Cindy Bernard is in conversation with City Manager Frank Luckino about forming a committee for organizing invocations representing a broader range of City residents. Readers can comment on this thread if they’d like to be involved.
The Council will make a presentation to Boy Scout Troop 77 for their participation in the Cash for Trash and Recycling Program.
What are self-help programs? According to the CVHC, families form an informal association and agree to help each other build their homes with technical assistance provided by the CVHC. Participant(s) contribute a minimum of 40 hours of labor per week toward the construction of all the houses in the group, including their own. Generally, the CVHC reports, about 1,500 hours of labor per participant household are required, which seems like a pretty high bar. Since 1987, the CVHC claims to have helped 1,600 low-income households “achieve their dream of home ownership.”
Karalee Hargrove will give an update on the Wastewater Committee, which convened last week in a contentious, standing-room only meeting. The Desert Trumpet was there and will file a report this week.
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.
#4. Waive the Reading of Ordinance and Approve the Reading by Title Only.
This appears to be an error in the agenda. We have contacted City Manager Luckino for clarification.
#5. Defense Communities Infrastructure Program (DCIP) This program addresses deficiencies in communities that host and support military installations. The City and the County are requesting a grant for $4.4 million from the Department of Defense to resurface the Lear Road approach to the Marine base (and as most of us know, Lear has some epic potholes). City Manager Luckino will conduct all negotiations for the completion of this project. The grant deadline for 2023 was June 23, 2023, so presumably this grant has already been submitted or the City is preparing to submit it in 2024.
#6. Corrective Change Order No. 1 for the Community Development Department Tenant Improvement Project Improvements to the City-owned building at 73660 Civic Center Dr. have gone over budget and the budget’s 10% contingency. This structure is around the corner from City Hall and will soon house several City offices, including the Planning Department. During construction, awarded to KNC Construction, City staff identified additional electrical, plumbing, and demolition improvements—and staff believe the additional $7,608 fees are reasonable. The total contract is now for $152,152. The Council can accept or reject the change order.
#7 & #8, Second readings of DCA Temporary Use Permits and DCA Film Permits Ordinance changes and addition At the June 13, 2023, Council meeting, Council approved separating temporary use permits and film permits in the development code 5-0.
#9. Fire Department Emergency Response Report, May 2023 The Council includes the San Bernardino County Fire Area Incident Report for last May, which reports 307 incidents, most of which (258) were responses to medical calls.
#10. Legislative Report May 2023 Attached to the agenda is California State Assembly lobbyist Joe Gonsalve’s report on his interactions with assembly and senate committees and members. (As a reminder, our assembly reps are Tom Lackey (R-assembly) and Melissa Hurtado (R-senate.)
#11. Visit 29 Palms Civitas Contract Services for TBID Conversion City Manager Luckino recommends that the Council approve $26,170 in TBID spending for phase two of Civitas Advisors’ contract service, ostensibly to professionalize the Tourism Board’s services to bring them more in line with other cities in California. This would convert 29’s TBID from its current formation, an advisory board appointed by the City Council, to a separate non-profit corporation which is not considered a public entity, although it’s organized by the stakeholders and approved by Council. According to the staff report, “the TBID is looking to follow course of the majority of other TBID’s across California and convert” to this type of non-profit. Will a structural change like this calm the TBID brouhaha 29 has endured in the last year? Stay tuned.
#12. Amendments to the City’s Master Fee Schedule for FY 2023-24 The City charges fees for services that it provides, such as planning applications and approvals and animal control costs (see this week’s agenda for the long list of the City’s fees). The most recent increase in fees was in May 2020, and the City now proposes a 4.6% increase in many but not all fees tied to the Consumer Price Index, a measure developed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The State and the County set other fees.
Among the biggest changes are dropping the cost of the animal disposal fee to $26 (the actual cost is $31.37) and raising the cost of Administrative Use Permits in the Planning Department. The fee for these permits, which are needed for multi-family developments over 10 units and other large projects, is now $554.81, and the City proposes to increase this to $2,000 (the cost of these fees is $3,865.79). Costs cover staff time to review projects. Some fees have been removed, including the Regional Traffic Impact Fee, Park Impact Fee, and the Daily Rental Fee for multiple housing units.
DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS
#13. Reject All Bids for the Project Phoenix – Treatment System Improvements In May the City solicited bids for Project Phoenix wastewater treatment and four were received, ranging from $1,415,524 to $2,834,250. The low bid from the Van Dyke Corporation appears not to meet the requirements, and City staff propose going back to bid. After another review of the contract documents, Staff recommends soliciting new bids. It’s unexplained what specifically went awry here in the original solicitation for bids.
#14. Affordable Housing IIG Application Since 1969, the state of California has required that all local governments have a plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community—this is included in our City’s General Plan. Twentynine Palms hasn’t met its housing obligation for decades (nor have many other cities), and the State hasn’t enforced it.
On the agenda are early steps toward meeting housing needs, in the form of affordable housing for some low income residents. The City Council will be voting to purchase property with Milestone Housing Group LLC, selling the land (which it owns), and committing $1 million from Housing Funds.
In September 2021, the City awarded the development of housing to Milestone, located in Los Gatos near San Jose. The plan is for 91 affordable multi-family units to be built on 3+ acres near City Hall, at Civic Center Drive and Split Rock (APN 0618-262-05).
Committing to build affordable housing is a huge and much-needed step from the City, although some might say a drop in the bucket to replace the residences removed from the housing market by short-term rentals.
The first phase include 59 units that will cost about $345,000 per unit, funded by a combination of grants from the Southern California Association of Governments, State Housing and Community Development Funds, Federal Tax Credits from Tax Credit Allocation Committee, and a loan much like a conventional mortgage.
#15. Reserve Policy The City plans to pay $473,853 of its financial reserve to pay off a portion of the Fire Safety Plan in FY 2023-24. Hiring a sheriff’s detective has also drawn down the City’s reserve. These will reduce the City’s reserve from 60-65% to 50-55% of operating expenditures. The City plans to replenish the reserve with the payment of lease of the fire station payment received from San Bernardino County. The lease is $35,000, and it will take 14 years to replenish the reserve.
FUTURE COUNCIL INITIATED ITEMS:
Exploring seasonal banners throughout the City
Maintained vs. non-maintained roads
Discussing working with nonprofit organizations to establishing a heating shelter during the winter
Reviewing materials that can be used for commercial driveways
Identify ten lots to start a self-help construction program
Discussion on forming a Youth Advisory Council
Discussion with the Homeless Committee on the possibility of hotels housing the homeless for short periods of time
Discussion on Code of Conduct for Council members
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.
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