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ON THE AGENDA: CITY COUNCIL, SEPTEMBER 26, 2023
"Sewering the City" will be the hot topic at this City Council meeting.
At the Public Arts Advisory Committee meeting last week, City Planner Keith Gardner noted that City Council meetings will be monthly instead of biweekly through the end of the year. Enough was packed into the September 12 meeting and the special September 18 meeting that reversed the Tourism Board Improvement District (TBID) decision, maybe it’s a relief that this is a light agenda.
You have an opportunity to comment on agenda items and issues important to you at every City Council meeting. Please use the opportunity to question your City Council members on the issues affecting our City.
To comment, pick up a green form at the desk, fill it out, and hand it to the Clerk who is usually sitting on at the desk at the front of room on the right side. The public can also send comments via email to City Council Members and the cc Cindy Vasquez, the Council secretary. We suggest requesting that comments be read at the meeting.
The invocation will be read by Reverend Amy Miranda, lead pastor of the First Assembly of God Church.
The Consent Calendar usually consists of routine items approved with a single vote. This meetings’ calendar includes:
#2. Neighborhood Safety Project At its meeting on October 11, the Twentynine Palms City Council awarded a design contract to VSS International to begin work on the Neighborhood Safety Project, which is fully funded by the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). Select residential streets south of Two Mile Rd, north of Baseline Rd, east of Encelia Ave, and west of Elm Ave were repaired, crosswalks upgraded, and pavement re-marked.
Unless pulled from the consent calendar the project will be accepted as completed.
The Consent Calendar also includes the monthly legislative report, the Fire Department emergency response report, a second reading of the density bonus, off-street parking and loading, allowable uses, and accessory dwelling unit Development Code amendments as well as the conflict of interest code update—previously covered here.
PUBLIC HEARINGS - None
DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS
#10. Wastewater Treatment Plant Location - Future Agenda Item Request. At the September 12 Council meeting resident and Stop the Sewer founder Joseph Carder expressed frustration that a future agenda item 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 had failed to make the Council agenda. The item was initialed by Council member Octavious Scott and requested prior to the City Council’s July break. It first appeared on the August 6 Future Agenda Items list.
There has been much public discussion, some of it contentious, and mostly in Wastewater Committee meetings, about the proposed location of a future wastewater treatment plant (and the accompanying sewer system). Backing away from the original plant location at Desert Knoll Avenue and Buena Vista Drive (APN 0623-17-111), the Wastewater Committee has proposed locating the plant east of downtown at either location 1, Utah Trail and El Paseo Drive (APN 0623-17-105), or location 2, catty-corner to the first location to the southeast (APN 0623-21-129).
Discussion in the agenda packet notes that the City is moving forward with obtaining State water board funding to implement a phased approach to “sewering the City” along with a treatment plant. Although the City has requested $158 million from the State; moving the plant from its initial location near residential homes to industrial zoning is estimated to add $9 million to the project. The City Manager has said that the City is likely to receive just $50 million of the $158 million request. Because of the cost increase (and apparently lack of funding), all of the currently proposed locations are also near residential homes. Is it worth adding 5.65 percent to the project cost to relocate the plant away from residential zoning?
#11. APN 0621-051-12 - Expired land use entitlements (5074 Adobe Rd). Long a mobile home park (MHP), this property was zoned Service Commercial when Twentynine Palms incorporated, but the park was allowed to continue operation with nonconforming status—which it did until 2018.
The staff report states: “By 2018, the MHP at the Property ceased complying with all applicable laws. It became a public nuisance and was subject to abatement efforts by the City. The MHP use at the Property ultimately ceased, and the Property has not been operated as an MHP for at least twelve (12) months.”
Because the park has not operated for more than 12 months, the City has decided there are no land use entitlements in effect and all former uses are invalid. This has led to a dispute with the current owner of the property, who asserts their entitlement to continue renting residential mobile homes on the site.
The current owner, according to public records, is Venture & Sand LLC, which has owned the property since December 2022. The corporation’s principal address is the parcel on Adobe and the mailing address is in Knoxville, TN. It was the property of Joseph Grider between 2020 and 2022 and before that a consortium of owners.
The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has authority over the regulation of mobile home parks; the department has said it would respect the City’s zoning regulations but that the City Council has to rule formally that the nonconforming use of the property has expired. This resolution clarifies the status of the property.
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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