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Category Archives: City Manager’s Update

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Friday Update on March 27 2020

All,

A couple items:

  • The City has received two proposals from consulting firms for the Housing Element Update. We will begin an internal review and schedule interviews.
  • Spring means the beginning of weed season. Look for lots of preliminary spraying and soil prep. This has been such an odd “winter” we expect the year to just be a wreck as far as overall abatement and maintenance.
  • The uncertainty of the economic climate has resulted in cancellations of meetings for a couple investors who were probing Winters. Really disappointing with opportunity loss and literally over a year of effort from the Staff standpoint. Kind of a gut punch during these difficult times.

For updates on City efforts related to the Covid 19 pandemic, go to: http://www.cityofwinters.org/business-resources-for-shelter-in-place/

Finally……..

This week has been pretty quiet at City Hall but also subtly sad as we are winding down the City careers of two of the finest people I have had the pleasure to work with in my career. Both Dan Maguire, the City’s Housing and Economic Development Manager and Carol Scianna our Environmental Services Manager are moving toward retirement. This week will be their last “official” work week and they will go on extended vacation leave through June, when their actual retirement dates will take effect.

Dan and Carol are really models for the City’s efforts to be an integral part of the Winters Community. They are part of a group which I classify as “all in” for Winters with their City position being a small part of their larger participation in their lives as important citizens who make Winters the place that it is. Maybe a share on their community contributions.

Carol is a past “Citizen of the Year” whose involvement in Winters stretches from the Winters Friends of the Library (past president probably 10 times), Winters Putah Creek Committee, Putah Creek Council, a volunteer with Winters Schools and within the business community. I truly think that WFoL is one of our best community organizations and it is because of leadership like Carol’s.  During the quest for a new Winters Community Library, I cannot think of anyone who worked harder and was more influential and committed to seeing that project come to fruition. Carol gives her all, literally pulling weeds in the middle of the roundabout a couple weeks ago with the Master Gardners. Without question, her 16.5 years working for the City has been an extension of her labor of love for Winters which is 24/7/365. As she moves into retirement, we can count on her just expanding her community efforts with a reality that she is not really going anywhere!

Dan is also a past “Citizen of the Year” whose involvement with the City began as the Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce. Dan is a past President of the WJUSD Board of Trustees, a two time President of the Rotary Club of Winters and a Board Member for the Winters Education Foundation providing support for teachers and students. In his position with the City, he works to advance County-wide initiatives to address homelessness and is a key member of the Workforce Investment Board (WIB), working to create employment training and opportunities for folks.  I first met Dan at 2:00 am following the Earthquake Festival and we worked together taking down the portable light towers. He was worn and  tired, but was working tirelessly to make sure that everything was addressed before he went home. That is just the way Dan is!

I have given Dan and Carol a hard time about their well earned and justified retirements, mostly because we simply love working with people of their integrity, perseverance and commitment to our town. Both Dan and Carol have played major roles in the “Winters Renaissance” because they were the core of a group who really made it happen. There are people who you will meet in your life who leave major impressions, who accomplish amazing feats which impact many lives and leave an indelible mark on the community they selflessly serve. Dan and Carol are those people in Winters.

This pandemic will delay our party for them but the reality is that neither of them really cares about recognition, they just care about Winters and our community.

A sincere thanks to both for all the have done, do and will do in the future.

Thanks and have a nice weekend.

John


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Friday Update on March 20 2020

Click to open pdf

Winters Restaurants Open for Curb Side Pick-Up/To-Go Orders 03/20/2020 (pdf)

All,

Things are just crazy in these unprecedented times. Just some links to more information as we “shelter in place”.

A Special City Council Meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 6:30. The Council will review a single items for Business and Resident Relief- Covid 19. Staff is working the details now so stay tuned.

A couple notes:

Just a final note on the resilience of our small businesses and their commitment to our community and their employees. I am seeing the real heart from many of our businesses, their concern for their employees and attempts to maintain themselves in the most uncharted waters of our time. So many are standing amongst their staffs trying to navigate the many edicts coming down (literally many times a day) and showing the grit, strength and character which defines the renaissance which is Winters.

There are so many unknowns with all of this. The uncertainty is just maddening with peoples livelihoods on the line and real people and families affected. We have dealt with difficult times before and persevered and this is but another massive challenge. I know we will come through this because we are an amazing town and rally with each other during the toughest of times. We will never give up on each other and simply need to support the fact that we have never been just given anything, we earn it all because we are just that type of community. Winters is the best town in the region because of who we are. We are small and mighty with “grit”.

Show your business community that you stand with them by getting a take out meal from the attached list.

Buy a pizza, get Chinese and wash your hands!

John


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City Hall Closure and Response to Health Officer Order

City Hall Closure and Response to Yolo Health Officer Order

City Hall Closure and Response to Yolo Health Officer Order

Beginning 5:00 pm on March 18, 2020, Winters City Hall will be closing City run facilities in compliance with the Yolo Health Officers Order related to sheltering in place. These will include City Hall, Community Center, Public Safety Facility Reception Area and the Bobbi Greenwood Swim Center. Our closure will be in place until further notice.

Please note the following:

  • Utility Bill Payments may be dropped off in the deposit box located in front of City Hall. We will NOT have a bill payment counter.
  • The Building Permit Counter will be open 8:30 am to 12:00 pm, Monday thru Thursday. Payments by check and credit card only.
  • The Community Center will be open for the County meal distribution program only.

The City encourages folks to read the directives from the Yolo Health Officer. For detailed information about COVID-19 and further guidance regarding this order, visit the Yolo County webpage at: www.yolocounty.org/coronavirus. To see the Health Officer Order, visit: https://www.yolocounty.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=62364. The County will also be releasing a shelter in place 101 document that will be available on the webpage. Residents can also call Yolo 2-1-1 for resource information. For additional updates follow Yolo County on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/YoloCounty/ or Twitter at: https://twitter.com/YoloCountyCA.

The City will be encouraging folks to follow the order and encouraging appropriate social distancing. The Police Department will NOT be stopping people on the streets, patronizing our restaurants or those exercising in the parks who are getting fresh air and time outdoors. Please take a common sense approach to all of this.

  • If you are sick, stay home.
  • Practice social distancing.
  • Limit crowds.
  • If you are part of a vulnerable population or have underlying health conditions, stay home.
  • Practice appropriate hygiene to protect yourself and others.

Thanks,

John


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Employee/Employer Resources for Shelter in Place

Business/Employer Resources (external links)

Questions regarding SBA Loans?
Erica Johnson, HHSA Program Coordinator9871,
Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency
Erica.Johnson@yolocounty.org
Office: 916.375.6273 / Cell: 530.631.2289 


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Yolo County Issues Shelter in Place Order to Reduce Spread of COVID-19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Jenny Tan, Public Information Officer
March 18, 2020
W: (530) 666-8042 ▪ C: (530) 908-0186

Yolo County Issues Shelter in Place Order (pdf)
Final Order to Shelter in Place (pdf)

Yolo County Issues Shelter in Place Order to Reduce Spread of COVID-19

 (Woodland, CA) – On March 18, the Yolo County Public Health Officer issued a countywide health order for residents to shelter in place from March 19 to April 7, unless extended by the Public Health Officer. This order limits activity, travel and business functions to only the most essential needs and is intended to slow the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), protect those most vulnerable to the disease, and preserve local healthcare capacity.

“These are extremely difficult times. The COVID-19 virus continues to spread around the world and in our local communities,” said Yolo County Public Health Officer Dr. Ron Chapman. “We need to do everything we can to protect our most vulnerable people from the harmful impacts of the virus.”

The shelter-at-home order follows increasing transmission of COVID-19 in California counties, including four confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Yolo County to date that acquired the disease through travel and community transmission. In response, communities in Yolo County have implemented mitigation efforts to slow the spread of the disease, such as encouraging social distancing and cancelling non-essential gatherings. A similar health officer order was released among the bay area counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties as well as the City of Berkeley on March 16 and is in line with best practices seen from health officials around the world.

“The County has issued a health officer order which strengthens our social distancing efforts,” continued Dr. Chapman. “Together we can rise to the occasion to keep the people of Yolo County healthy and safe.”

The order defines essential activities as necessary for health and safety for individuals and their families. Essential Governmental Functions, Healthcare, and Infrastructure are allowed to operate, including law and safety and Essential Businesses, such as those that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life such as: fresh and non-perishable food retailers (including convenience stores); pharmacies; child care facilities; gas stations; banks; laundry businesses; restaurants and other facilities that prepare food and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out; businesses that supply other essential businesses with support or supplies necessary to operate or ship/deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residents; and any form of agricultural production and processing, including the cultivation of products for personal consumption or use through farming, ranching, livestock, and fishing, including, but not limited to, transportation, manufacturing, chemicals, equipment and services; and the services necessary for maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operation of a residence. For the full list see section 10 of the order.

“We each must do our part to slow the spread of the virus. It is our individual responsibility to care for one another and our community,” said Yolo County Board Chair Gary Sandy. “We do that by staying home, by maintaining a safe social distance from one another, by washing our hands, and by disinfecting surfaces. Our goal is to safeguard our vital healthcare system from being overwhelmed.”

The order follows the increasing emergence of COVID-19 across the world and nation. The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency on January 30, followed the next day with the declaration of a federal public health emergency by the United States. On March 6, Yolo County confirmed its first case of community transmission of COVID-19. Most recently, on March 12 Governor Gavin Newsom ordered older adults, age 65 and older, to stay home.

For detailed information about COVID-19 and further guidance regarding this order, visit the Yolo County webpage at: www.yolocounty.org/coronavirus. To see the Health Officer Order, visit: https://www.yolocounty.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=62364. The County will also be releasing a shelter in place 101 document that will be available on the webpage. Residents can also call Yolo 2-1-1 for resource information. For additional updates follow Yolo County on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/YoloCounty/ or Twitter at: https://twitter.com/YoloCountyCA.

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Friday Update on Friday March 13th 2020

Friday Update on Friday March 13th 2020

All,

Happy Triskaidekaphobia!

During one of the most extraordinary public health weeks of many of our lives, a couple items.

The City Council will hold its regular meeting on March 17th. The agenda has been set up to condense time, so no presentations and we will focus on the voting items. To watch the meeting, go here to watch the meeting. http://www.cityofwinters.org/live-city-council-meetings/

This weeks agenda includes the following:

  • Walnut Lane 10 Affordable Housing Plan
  • Water and Sewer Rate Study- Award of contract for the study.
  • Presentation on the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report
  • Historic Preservation Policy- Planning Commission Assignment
  • Annual Housing Element Progress Report
  • Appointment of Climate Action Plan Advisory Board
  • Liaison to Senior Commission on Aging
  • Car Show Permit- Holden Philbrick Memorial Car and Motorcycle Show

To view the entire City Council Agenda Packet, go to: http://www.cityofwinters.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/2020_0317CityCouncilPacket.pdf

The past week has had a lot on public health stuff:

  • Covid 19 seems to have taken over the world. For information, please go to https://www.yolocounty.org/health-human-services/adults/communicable-disease-investigation-and-control/novel-coronavirus-2019
  • The City is doing our best to monitor guidance and instructions from Yolo County and the State. Things are pretty dynamic at this point so be patient.
  • Staff has been working diligently on the Hexavalent Chromium (CR6) issue. Lots of meetings and calls with the State Water Resources Control Board, their staff and organizations to influence a process which could be a devastating financial hit to the City and our water customers.  Frankly, this is one of the largest mandates to hit Winters and it has required a very active and persistent focus on messaging and long range financial planning. Research into emerging technologies in water purification and filtering, monitoring financial markets and a constant calculation of costs of doing business are front and center. The financing of a CR6 solution will hit across all of our City operations and finances. The bond and lending markets evaluate credit across all operations and not just a single enterprise (water). They evaluate the entire community (including WJUSD debt). I would liken it to looking at every credit card in your family when someone is considering lending you money. In our case, I simply cannot fathom a private lending institution lending an enterprise our size in the range of $40 million which builds no capacity and no recoverable costs, while employing a system which will add close to 40+% to operational costs which can only be supported by challengeable rate increases.

Finally a shout out to Friday the 13th. A special day in Winters because Newt Wallace made it special.

Triskaidekaphobia is a phobia to the number “13”. For decades, Newt and the Wallace Family have made it a day to party and come together at the Winters Express Office. Over the years, it has been a chance to go to the regular, yet unannounced and no invitation needed gathering.

I always appreciated Newt sitting at the front of the office with his beer mug with the bike bell on it, greeting folks and asking for a sign-in at the registry book. Newt was a man of few words but I know he liked “Olympia Beer” and loved our little town. Traditions, fellowship and congeniality were the theme which set the tone and culture for our entire community. We live in a much different time now.

People really seem to like Winters. I am convinced that much of what is wonderful about our community came from how the Wallace Family and their Winters Express made you want to love our town. Newt, Ida, Charley and John made small town charm a reality. They made us internationally famous, recorded our history and told our story each week in a manner which became the glue which bound us as a big, dysfunctional family. I include Debra DeAngelo in all of this, because I am convinced that over the past three decades, she and Charley managed the Express in an exceptional manner of telling the story, recording the history and allowing Winters to become a must read for everyone in and out of town. In my time as City Manager, I have come to the conclusion that the Winters of today exists only because of Charley Wallace being crazy enough to save it and the Wallace Family keeping it together.

With this Covid 19 thing hitting, I am not sure if they will have the gathering, but I do suggest that you get an Olympia Beer (or any other cheap stale beer) and raise at toast to Friday the 13th and incredible people like Newt Wallace who welcome you like family, share a beer and a little fellowship and make you feel like you live in a place you love to call home.

Happy Friday the 13th.

John


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Friday Update on February 21 2020

All,

A short update in a week which has been pretty busy:

First, a recap of the City Council Meeting:

  • Look for an upcoming joint meeting of the City Council and the Winters Putah Creek Committee to determine overall direction on the future of the Committee. Over the years, the Committee has been essential in the development of the overall Putah Creek Park Master Plan, its implementation, the North Bank Trail Project, Phase’s 1-5 of the Creek Realignment and overall management of the entire park. The entire Committee has been comprised of experts in various fields who have made the park second to none. Look for something in the near future.
  • The City Council will be interviewing folks for the Climate Action Plan Development Board and to fill an expected vacancy on the Planning Commission. For the PC, a short advertisement along with previous applicants will all be considered.
  • The City is further refining the overall Community Engagement Strategy for some upcoming planning projects and beyond. Good input at the meeting and from persons who have been contributing in development of the plan.
  • First Street Parking Lot construction was accepted.

The March 3 City Council will be a short agenda with a reclassification of an Account Clerk, Downtown Car Show permit, municipal banking services and a presentation from the City’s Insurance Authority.

The Planning Commission will be considering a subdivision and affordable housing plan for the Walnut 10 Project. This is a 50 lot subdivision on Walnut Lane.

Finally, on Thursday, I attended the annual luncheon for the Solano Economic Development Corporation which provided their update on advancing the Solano economy and their overall strategies on business attraction. I would describe their efforts as “platinum” level with a highly experienced and professional management which will bring business,  jobs and vitality to the region. The have been very welcoming to the City of Winters (we are the only non-Solano County member) and the overall experience from the day was awesome.

The keynote for the luncheon is a business locating into Vacaville called “Thistle”. They are a prepackaged, plant based meal business which currently employees over 400 employees and will eventually grow to almost 800 employees with their expansion. They are the perfect business for the region and their CEO provided a very dynamic view on how they will become an important community partner. To check them out, go to www.thistle.co

Have a nice weekend.


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Friday Update on February 14 2020- Valentines Day

All,

A quick review of the City Council Agenda for February 18, 2020:

Discussion Items are mostly direction on appointments and feedback:

  • Direction on the assignments to the Putah Creek Committee
  • Climate Action Plan Development Board Appointment Process
  • Procedure for filling a Planning Commission Vacancy
  • A review of the Community Engagement Input and Options for moving forward.

The consent calendar:

  • Minutes from January 21 Workshop and Regular Meeting from February 4
  • Acceptance of the First Street Parking Lot Construction

Also presenting will be Ron Turner, representing the 100 Club of Solano & Yolo Counties presenting a donation to the Chaplaincy and Crisis Intervention Program for the Winters Police Department.

This weeks edition is just a download of things on the City Manager’s Calendar and key items on the horizon.

  • Hexavalent Chromium (CR6) and the potential for new maximum contaminant levels (MCL’s) from the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) is a big item. I will be meeting with State Board Members over the next couple weeks to discuss the economic impacts on the City and our customers. The potential would be for a significant water processing operation which may cost in the range of $40 million dollars and increase our water rates to our customers by as much as $93 to $150 per month. The current MCL in California is 50 parts per billion (ppb) and they are looking to reduce it to as low as 10 ppb. The national and basically worldwide standard is 100 ppb. CR6 is a naturally occurring element and in Winters our levels are between 17 and 22 ppb. A $40 million project would cripple the City’s capital capacity for debt for any other improvements or repairs to any of our utility systems and would place a massive burden on our utility program. Staff has talked with our water regulators and there are really no easy solutions that would satisfy compliance with the lower MCL. The SWRCB is working on an economic “white paper” which they will publish on the effects of a new MCL and I will provide our impacts for consideration in their consideration. This is a really big deal and could be a big hit on lower income residents and seniors. Stay tuned.
  • Public Employees Retirement System (PERS)- Pension liabilities and costs are amongst the highest priority items for cities. I am a part of a representative group which has been presenting to the PERS Board on the issues and impacts to local governments, our need to work with the PERS Staff on solutions and key policy issues which will help stabilize costs to member agencies. Thus far, our dealings with the PERS staff has been extremely positive and their Board has been receptive. This is actually a lot of work.
  • Staff is starting to assemble our Fiscal Years 20-21 and 21-22 City Budgets. That means a lot of up front work on financial forecasting, capital project needs, increased costs for operations and important items such as insurance and pension obligations. The last two fiscal years have been some of the tightest financially for the City and while we are forecasting some upticks in some revenues, we are extremely cautious on some increased costs, especially in our pension obligations. In April, we will move to some workshops and hearings on Council and community priorities. In total, the City spends a little over $13 million each year across our General, Capital and Utility Funds.
  • Housing Element and Planning- Staff is distributing the Request for Proposals for consultant services related to the upcoming housing element update process. We are linking and emailing the document which we hope will have us selecting someone and having them working by May. We also have other planning projects related to an SB2 Grant and a Specific Planning Process. The City will also be working on our Climate Action Plan and a programmatic environmental impact report to cover a number of key policy documents. Our community engagement strategy to maximize community input is being generated and can be accessed here: http://www.cityofwinters.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/2020_0211CommunityEngagementSummary.pdf
  • Animal Services- The Cities and Yolo County are working on a new governance strategy for how animal services are being provided which basically entails starting a new administrative structure and oversight by those previously under contract with the Yolo Sheriff for the services.
  • Automated License Plate Reader Technology- Staff will be scheduling meetings with Caltrans to discuss deployment of the ALPR technology. Within the region, Winters is one of the few which currently does not have this law enforcement tool. Each of our neighboring communities have it is a tremendous resource in investigations and early warning for potential issues. We will be seeking permission from Caltrans to mount devices on traffic signals along Grant Ave.
  • Succession Management- Within the next two months, the City will be losing two key staff members. Coordinating their work and determining a future course for some key areas is a high priority.
  • Growth and Development- Over the past few weeks, staff has had multiple meetings with persons related to the potential for a growth measure in Winters which deals primarily with the northern area of the City’s General Plan. Conversely, the key property owners in the north area have asked for a meeting and staff will meet with them. Additionally, key stakeholders such as Legal Services of Northern California and their legal allies, the State Housing and Community Development Department and regional planning will need to be talked to. The advice I have given to those concerned with growth, property rights, affordable housing and planning is that they should all be talking to each other, which is what I am going to stress emphatically. This is a really big deal and all parties need to understand each other and the ramifications of their actions.

Finally, a little bit about planning and why the City does it. I tell every councilmember and planning commissioner that the decisions we make or don’t make today will determine what we have or don’t have tomorrow. People are worried about “change”, but the reality is that Winters is changing daily and the Winters of 2020 is dramatically different than the Winters of 2000. In 2000, half of the Downtown was empty and deteriorating buildings. Preserve, Steady Eddies, Chuy’s, Turkovich Wines Spin a Yarn, Berryessa Gap, El Pueblo, Ficelle, Velo City, Winters Healthcare, Scoop, Arc Guitar, Yolo Traders all did not exist.  In 2003, we closed the old car bridge for two weeks in fear that the high creek flows would make it collapse. The Downtown “looked” very different with rusted cobra head streetlights, broken sidewalks, empty storefronts and literally a single business (Buckhorn) open on the busiest evenings. The planning for renewed vibrancy and investment, important infrastructure improvements “changed” things into what we have today.

This also has to do with the services we provide. In 2004, the swimming pool was condemned, the library was a wet, mildew filled mess on First Street and the public safety facility did not exist.

I will share a short story on where we have come from in the area of services.

In 2001, Winters Fire discontinued its basic life support (bls) ambulance services because they were unable to adequately staff the unit and adhere to the requirements of an ambulance license in California. For advanced ambulance service (like we have today from AMR), the acceptable response time for service was 20 minutes (our ambulance came from Davis then). Our current service response is under 4 minutes. When I started as the CM in Winters and they told me of the 20 minute response time, I thought they were joking. In Southern California, if you were more than 4 minutes, you lost your ambulance franchise. All I knew is that 20 minutes meant you were basically dead!

Recently, an anniversary hit on my calendar which I know has changed the lives of many people and embodies the reason why it is important to never settle for the way things are and to keep moving forward.. It also gives a perspective that some things take a lot of time.

In 2004, our Fire staff and volunteers were dispatched by these radio “pagers” which provided an audio alarm and call out for incidents. When the call was picked up by the responding unit, you could listen in on the call and what was happening.

One morning, the pager went off (I had one) for a very well known Winters resident who was “not feeling well”. Winters Fire staff responded to the call and met the person and their spouse in the dining room of their home. The call for the ambulance said they were responding from West Sacramento! They talked with the individual who was completely lucid and could talk and describe what was going on. Within seconds, the person dropped to the floor of their home in full cardiac arrest.

I listened as the ambulance was stuck in traffic on the causeway. Our staff began defibrillation procedures, then began CPR which they attempted until the ambulance arrived almost 30 minutes later. Over the radio I could hear the frustration of the ambulance crew stuck in traffic. I could hear the strain in the voice of our Fire staff (who never gave up) who would periodically come up on the radio with dispatch. I listened as they reported that the individual was deceased. All because advanced life support and medications were not available to save their life.

I immediately ran down to the Fire Station on Abbey Street and to talk with our Fire Chief Scott Dozier. Scotty was strong and stoic and basically told me “that these thing happen” in our area. I could not accept what I was being told and honestly, I cried. The result, we became an organization on a mission.

For the next 7 years, we worked to change ambulance services in Winters. This involved planning for a new public safety facility (which we moved into in 2011), gaining representation on local emergency medical response boards and mostly exploring every functional, political and administrative avenue possible to departing the then existing structure in ambulance licensing so we could improve things. As a small jurisdiction, our ability to maneuver services takes time and sometimes four times the effort.

On February 6, 2013, an ambulance drove into the first space of the apparatus bay of the City’s public safety facility where they have been stationed every 24 hours a day since.  Because of this service, we have experienced more than a dozen “life saves” and countless responses which have changed the lives of countless numbers of people and their families.

From this entire experience, I learned what heroes really look like and realized that there truly are angels amongst us. They are staff like Brad Lopez and Art Mendoza and the entire Winters Fire organization which lived in the “old world” of EMS in Winters. It is volunteers like Barb and Terry Karlen who drove the Winters Ambulance (Barb drove while Terry worked on the people in the back). It is people like Phil Hoag and the AMR Ambulance Team who bring people back to life.

Probably my biggest hero was a guy named Scotty Dozier who not only lived all of this, but was the one who produced the documents which enabled us to perform an unbelievable political power play which got us to the service we now enjoy each day. Scotts legacy will live forever in our town.

Mostly, we learned to never give up trying to make things better and advancing the community.  It may save someone’s life.

Happy Valentines Day.

John


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Friday Update on Sunday February 9 2020

All,

A super busy week when I need to attend the State City Manager’s Annual Meeting and take care of things back at home. Not easy!

A couple items:

  • Yes, we were talking “trash” at this weeks City Council Meeting. 😊 The City Council approved the increase in the trash rates which for the typical residential customer means about a $1.19 increase to reflect a consumer price index (CPI) increase to Waste Management and pass through costs associated with the landfill. Also discussed was the subject of the bulky item pickup. In 2020, we will cancel the bulky item drop off at the Corporation Yard and switch to a voucher which was recently mailed to our residents and residents still will get one pickup in front of their homes each year. We will evaluate utilization over the year and come back with recommendations on how to proceed in the future.

The bulky item cost is little over $60 a year to each residence. We keep this in the franchise as an outlet for people to get rid of excess and large trash items conveniently and with some cost controls. We also have it to help with overall code enforcement and to help prevent illegal dumping in the areas around the City. Some folks use it, some don’t and our attempts at addressing it are part of an overall management of the waste system. Stay tuned on this.

  • Also on the agenda was the City’s participation in the Yolo Animal Services Joint Powers Agency (JPA). The Cities and Yolo County currently share the costs in how animal services are provided through a contract with the Yolo Sheriff. The JPA is an avenue for a more active participation in the future of this service to address some cost escalation, a need for a more robust participation of private parties and a need to address a new shelter facility. The action of the City Council was the first step in a process which allows many “onramps and offramps” from the JPA moving forward.
  • A discussion and concerns regarding the results from the January Community Engagement Workshop and getting some of the raw data out. We have posted the raw data from the workshop here http://www.cityofwinters.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/2020_0121DraftResponsesCommunityEngagementWorkshop.pdf We are still taking in data from our Google docs form which I will link and push out in a separate format on Monday. A word of acknowledgement is that the draft responses includes some consolidation of the same responses, removal of the “snarky” and inappropriate responses. We will publish the draft work plan proposal next week.
  • Also on the agenda was an RFP for consulting services related to City’s Housing Element Update due in 2021.

Finally, this weeks meeting of City Manager’s led to a focus on the really big issues facing our nation’s most populated State. The top issues without question are the homeless, availability of affordable housing, transit and the impacts of pension costs on the future of service delivery by cities. I also attended a presentation on economic development issues in rural communities. These are all enormous issues but I will share a couple takeaways.

Homelessness is not just an urban issue, it is quickly becoming a rural reality and the rights and obligations for homeless populations will accrue to all jurisdictions will quickly come upon all of us. The need to allow homeless in parks and open space areas will become the norm and the ability to enforce loitering and even trespass will become more and more difficult. At City Hall, we get many calls and complaints regarding homeless in the creek and other locations and frankly, there is not a whole lot we can do to restrict individuals doing so. Eventually, the requirement to consider housing alternatives may become more pressing and the need to outreach into our own community to help these individuals will come upon us. Monies for affordable housing previously was facilitated through redevelopment funding which annually provided more than $2 billion to generate housing for low, very low and even very, very low income individuals. That void has not been filled in the 10 years since the dissolution of redevelopment and last years housing funding legislation (SB 5) was vetoed by the Governor. Many cities and counties are now reaching into their General Funds to address homelessness and we can eventually expect that to become a reality in Winters. California is home to more than 130,000 homeless and almost a quarter of all homeless in the US reside in the State because of our weather, social services, the cost of housing, our economy and many other factors.

Rural economic development was a session I sat in and the reality is that Winters is the exception to the rule for most rural and semi-rural communities. While we have found success in the revitalization of our Downtown, most are not experiencing the same and for most, the classic downtown will become the relic of a bygone era. The advent of online purchasing has simply flipped the paradigm for how people purchase literally every product on the market from everyday food and clothing to car parts and valentines gifts. Believe or not, that Amazon Prime delivery person will now be your new butcher for many people!

The sustainability of our Downtown needs to be a constant focus. The vitality of the business community, generating customers and attracting people offline and into our local stores is critical. As one speaker said, “there has to constantly be a there- there” so people will want to come out of their homes, get offline,  to visit, socialize and experience your downtown. Winters benefits from our proximity to urban areas but those same benefits create volatility which makes investment a risk. The ability for businesses to constantly reinvest in marketing the local “brand”, refresh themselves, make a profit, employ people and maintain themselves within a larger context is important. The job of the City in being able to shape a positive reality of the future to drive business and investment.

Winters always gets called out for our success which is mostly attributable to the fact that we have a tremendous business core and made a couple strategic investments in infrastructure. I tell people “we get more out of two blocks than most get out of 20”. In all honestly, I left the session both gratified and scared to death at the same time. Lot’s of opportunity and volatility on our horizon.

And really finally, for the folks who were upset with my prognostication misses on the Super Bowl last week need to just rest a bit and wait for next year. First, who knew both defenses would be absolutely shut down against tremendous offenses. Second, the momentum changer was the bogus pass interference call against George Kittle in the second quarter which would have put the Niners up going into the half. I also think some key players were more hurt than advertised which meant the rush against the pass just exhausted the 49er defensive line which allowed the KC come back in the fourth quarter. KC had a good game plan, mixed their overall defensive coverage and deserved the win. For the Niners, they have a very young team, room in the NFL salary cap and good leadership in their front office with John Lynch (super good guy) and Kyle Shanahan/staff.  My prediction for 2021 is the 49ers will beat the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl LV!

Have a nice week.

John


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Friday Update on January 31 2020

All,

Lot’s on the City Council Agenda for Tuesday.

Discussion Items:

  • Trash Rates
  • Senior Center Grant Application
  • Housing Management Agreement with Yolo Housing
  • Animal Services
  • Housing Element- Request for Consultant Services

Consent Items:

  • Redevelopment Agency Dissolution Schedule
  • Employee Injury and Illness Prevention Plan
  • Civic Spark Fellow Services
  • Landfill Monitoring
  • Acceptance of Phase IA Improvements- Winters Highlands

A couple items for update:

  • A Solano County Judge has ruled in favor of the various Public Agencies involved in the legal disputes surrounding the Phase 3 Putah Creek Project. This summarily ends the years of legal wrangling on the Winters Putah Creek Park Projects. Its nice to move forward!
  • Staff had a good meeting with Bob Polkinghorn from the group working on a growth referendum. Overall a very good meeting and a commitment to keeping channels of communication open. We talked about a number of subjects including traffic circulation, impacts on affordable housing, the potential for litigation from various interests, economic sustainability, fiscal impacts, the impacts on overall City planning, infrastructure and services. We are providing Bob with a considerable amount of information for him to share with his group in consideration of what they are proposing. The meeting was productive and I appreciated Bobs time.
  • Staff met with Neighborworks, a non-profit housing development firm about the possibility of a “self help” housing project to build 26 units in the Winters Highlands Subdivision. This could be an exciting project for 2020.
  • The information from the Community Engagement Workshop is still being compiled and it will be shared over the course of the next few weeks. This and next week are literally “monster” weeks for some of us, so the workload balance has many balls in the air!
  • Both the Fairfield Inn and Blue Mountain Terrace Apartments are beginning construction. Look for lots of activity during the break in the weather.
  • The Mitigated Negative Declaration on the Walnut 10 subdivision will be out for public review next week.
  • The Public Safety Recognition Dinner is scheduled for February 29 2020.

Finally, my Super Bowl LIV Prediction. I am a staunch believer that you win with Defense. The 49ers have, without question the best defensive front 7 in the NFL, rivaling even their greatest years. Kansas City is probably weaker up front on D but overall they are better against the run than the embarrassing Green Bay Packers meaning Jimmy G will need to throw the ball. KC has better coverage from their linebackers and corners than the 49ers have faced in the playoffs which will benefit in dealing with  the awesomeness of George Kittle. My favorite 49er is clearly Richard Sherman who will thrive in the Super Bowl atmosphere. Patrick Mahomes will also thrive but I really think Jimmy G who has been to multiple Super Bowls will have a better focus when it comes to the fourth quarter. My prediction is to take the “over” (the current Vegas line is only 54.5) and the 49ers will win the game behind 2 long Robbie Gould field goals, a Richard Sherman “pick 6” and Kittle shredding the weakness of the KC safeties with a couple long TD catches to become the MVP. Niners 39 KC 26

Go Niners!


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Friday Update on January 24 2020

All,

Just a few items today, but look for a very expanded update next week:

  • One of the biggest issues facing the City is the consideration by the State Water Control Board on a new drinking water standard for Hexavalent Chromium (CR6). This issue is beginning to raise its head again and it could have a massive impact on Winters and our drinking water rates. I am scheduled over the next few weeks to be a part of a group meeting with Water Board Members on this topic to talk about the projected impacts on our community. Of things which are a really big deal, this would be one of the biggest deals for us.
  • Overall a good meeting on the Community Engagement. Our expansion into streaming on Facebook Live and Youtube Live brought the meeting to more than triple the attendance at City Hall. The survey tool we used gave us some really good input which we will condense and start to weave into a draft strategy which we will take before the City Council in February. The most entertaining part of the responses was to the question of incentives to get people to be involved, and the top two responses were beer and wine!
  • Next Thursday (January 30th) is Don Saylor’s Annual Soup’s On event.  In the past 16 years this event had raised funds for various local non-profits.  This year 100% of the funds will benefit Acme Theatre company, a youth development program cleverly disguised as a theatre arts program.  The event features delicious food and beverages from throughout Yolo County.  The City of Winters is well represented with clam chowder from Councilman Wade Cowan, soup from Buckhorn Grill and Carboni’s Restaurant, and wine from Turkovich. Join this fun event and help raise funds for a good cause.

Don Saylor’s Soup’s On Event: Thursday, January 30, 2020
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
NEW LOCATION: Veterans’ Memorial Center
203 E. 14th Street, Davis
Ticket Info: https://soupsonacme.brownpapertickets.com/

Finally, Saturday night is the Winters Chamber of Commerce’s Year in Review which recognizes the Citizens of the Year, Business of the Year, Senior Citizens of the Year and the recipient of the Theodore Winters Award for recent service to the City.

Citizens of the Year are Barb and Terry Karlen. The reality is that their 35 years with Winters Fire has impacted this community in a manner which should beatify them into sainthood as they represent the many men and women who have saved lives and property in our community. From coordinating explorers to running on fires and medical emergencies, Barb and Terry’s dedication to the community continues day in and day out. One of their most important contributions was the time that they drove the Winters Ambulance. Because of their efforts, we now have paramedic level services in our town. The fraternity which are the Citizens of the Year is an amazing group and Terry and Barb will be amongst the top for their service.

Business of the Year is Turkovich Wines. Without question, Chris and Luciana have put Winters on the California wine map, but in reality they have brought so much more. Their entire team has set the bar for excellence in advancing the “Winters” brand, promoting our town to writers from throughout the world and making Winters the destination it has become. From www.Visit128.com to leadership within the Downtown on key issues and in the region, the generosity of time and commitment to raising the vitality of the business community puts them as one of the City’s biggest assets.

The Theodore Winters Award is going to Gino Mediati, the Manager of Pacific Ace Hardware. Gino does not know how to say “no” and has quietly been one of the number one benefactors to many community organizations from Project Playground to Winters High School. Gino and the entire team were honored a few years ago as a very deserving “Business of the Year”. Truthfully, it takes leadership and will at the top of the store and Gino is that guy!

Senior Citizens of the Year goes to the “Gorilla Gardener’s” who will be represented by Ellie Yeatman and Nikki Chapman. The best way to describe the Gorilla Gardener’s is that they are the ones committed to making Downtown Winters look really good. From planting flowers to just trimming everything up, they are constantly giving their time to keeping out town beautiful.

The Year in Review is really a special tradition for Winters in recognizing those who are unselfishly giving of themselves and making a positive difference in our town. Cheers to those being honored!

Have a nice weekend.

John


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Friday Update on January 17 2020

All,

An update on some key items:

City Council:

Discussion Item:

  • Joint Workshop with the Planning Commission on Community Engagement (Discussion Item)

Consent Calendar:

  • Memorandums of Understanding- Police and Fire
  • Drainage Impact Fee and Accessory Dwelling Unit Fees Consulting Agreement
  • Amendment to Teacher/Public Safety Mortgage Loan Program
  • Public Improvement Agreement- Fairfield Inn
  • Emergency Generator and Lighting Project- El Rio Villa

A couple other updates:

  • Congratulations to Winters Police Sergeants Kelly McCoy and Jose Hermosillo on achieving milestones in service. Jose hit the 6 year service mark!
  • The construction team for the Blue Mountain Terrace Apartments are beginning their move in on the site. They will utilize the future Senior Center property as a staging area for the construction of the project.
  • Staff is working on the draft of the RFP for the 2021-29 Housing Element. The plan is to put the Request for Proposals out in February and have someone on board by April.
  • The State Department of Housing and Community Development has notified staff of a preliminary approval of our SB2 Planning Grant. The next stage is they are moving it up the chain to the next level. We will see!
  • Staff met with the architect team for first two phases of Three Oaks Park. This is the 11 acre linear park to be constructed in the Stones Throw subdivision. The first phases will include picnic areas, playgrounds, a combination basketball/futsal court and two dog (small and large dog) dog parks. Look for construction to occur over the summer with a goal of completion by September or October.
  • Overall housing production in the City was below projections for 2019. Original estimates were 78 units but actual certificates of occupancy were 44, about half of the projection.
  • Congratulations to the Hotel Winters on an amazing “Grand Opening”. Extremely well done and a celebration worth waiting for, the hotel is beautiful!
  • Look for Carboni’s Restaurant to open toward the end of January/start of February. They are hiring and need staff. Go here for job opportunities https://www.olshotels.com/careers?fbclid=IwAR2XDpgZtrdH174IO4GU6MnxsrXNBvD3rQP1UkS83XdpvQT4w5XrTAhAuDE . Navigate to page 9 of the opportunities and the Winters jobs come up.

Workshop on How to do Community Engagement- Tuesday, January 21, 2020 at 6:30 p.m.

In 2020 and 2021, we will be working on a number of key planning effforts including the City’s Housing Element, SB 2 funded projects, the development of a Climate Action Plan and a City limits specific plan. The goal of the January 21 workshop is to begin the development of a community outreach and engagement strategy to help facilitate a broad crossection of community input into these important subjects.

This Joint Workshop of the City Council and the Planning Commission is to focus on the development of a Community Engagement Stratgy for the City of Winters. The workshop will NOT include or focus on any specific issues or topics other than community engagement.

We will be covering many issues over the next few years including our Housing Element, Climate Action Plan, SB 2 Planning Topics and a City Limits Specific Plan. THIS IS NOT THAT MEETING! This is an opportunity for us to get input on outreach and engagement before we begin anything specific on any topics. This is foundational and a chance for us to begin the groundwork for how we will get input on the bigger issues. How we outreach and communicate is a critical component, so we are starting now by trying to get input up front on the how we do it.

Some specifics on the goals of the meeting:

  • Why and the purpose of this meeting: To gain input on key questions which will contribute to the development of an overall community engagement plan for the City of Winters.
  • Tasks Planned: A facilitated list of questions which will allow participants to provide input on aspects of the plan.
  • Who is invited and How can people participation: Any interested persons are invited and people can participate either in person, on Facebook Live or through a Google Docs Form which will be posted both before and after the meeting.
  • Translation: All questions will be in english and spanish in person on the Facebook Live feed and on the Google Docs Form.
  • Input: This is a workshop and we will be summarizing and consolidating responses as best we can. Similar will be counted as same in some instances.

The workshop will include the following elements:

  • A series of questions posed to participants and attendees to gain input on elements of the strategy.
  • A smart phone polling feature which will allow people to submit responses to the posed questions. For those who do not wish to use the smart phone, 3X5 cards will be available.
  • Streaming on Facebook Live to allow people to watch the workshop and submit responses to the same questions.
  • A Google Docs Form will be developed and pushed on social media for responses from persons not at the meeting.

To watch the City Council Meeting on our Youtube Channel, go here: http://www.cityofwinters.org/live-city-council-meetings/

To join the meeting on Facebook Live, go here: https://www.facebook.com/City-of-Winters-CA-106291445827/


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Friday Update on January 10, 2020- Leadership Edition

All,

A busy first work week for 2020. A couple items of interest and then a little bit about some exemplary leadership occurring from the Winters Community.

A couple items of interest:

  • The Hotel Winters has their ribbon cutting on Saturday at 3:00. It’s going to be GREAT!
  • On Tuesday, a groundbreaking was held for the 73 Room Marriot Fairfield Inn which will be constructed on Matsumoto Lane just off Grant Ave. This is a really important project and will provide needed lodging for the PG&E Gas Academy and travelers. Look for a construction timeline of about 10 months.
  • The contractor for the Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Apartments picked up the approved plans and we expect a groundbreaking and construction to commence soon.
  • 2020 brings many new laws into effect which bring new requirements for our organization. Police have significant changes regarding use of force, documentation regarding contacts with the public and many new “annual reports”.  Lots of administrative burdens which just seem to be piling up.

For this update, I thought it would be nice to share a perspective on community leadership and people who have and are impacting Winters and our influence. As I sifted through my mail this week, signed various documents and attended both regional and State-wide meetings, it is apparent that Winters is influencing in ways beyond our “weight class”. Without question, we have folks demonstrating leadership which comes from within many of the values and efforts which make our community strong, vibrant and moving forward. The only way to describe it is we are defining what people call leadership:

  • Leadership is opening Comstock’s Magazine and seeing an article titled “A Cut Above” about John and Melanie Pickerel and the success of the Buckhorn Restaurant. The Buckhorn represents a level of excellence which is ingrained in how they do business every single day. They represent a level of quality which permeates their operations which sets them apart from their competition. Ironically, the magazine came out the day of the passing of Bob Taylor who served as a member of the Buckhorn Team and was a critical mentor to people like John Pickerel, Joe the Butcher, Leon Bajakian and the next generation types like Silverio Artega who now runs the Buckhorn food trucks. Joe told me that is was Bob who showed him the “steakhouse skills” which help makes him one of our nations’ top in house butchers. Silverio told me how Bob taught him how to “do things the right way” and how “not to cut corners or quality”. The quality and excellence which is the Buckhorn, Joe’s skills and Silverio’s commitment to always do things the right way is a testament to a legacy which Bob leaves us all. When people think of Winters they always bring up the Buckhorn and the reputation for simply being the best.
  • Leadership is opening Western City Magazine (the main publication for city governments) and seeing a picture of our former Mayor and now Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar Curry being recognized by the League of California Cities as the “Legislator of the Year” for her support of issues and as a champion for communities throughout our State. Who is Cecilia, she was a single mom who raised two beautiful and successful daughters working multiple jobs and juggling work and family. She was a soccer coach and active community member. On the planning commission she became an unyielding voice for universal design in construction for Winters projects. On our City Council, she got Winters “to the table” within the region and brought representation to western Yolo County. She spearheaded the Hispanic Advisory Committee, the Festival de La Communidad/Carnitas Festival. Cecilia brings inclusion and pulls people into the process and empowers them to step up and make things happen. If you are around her, she gives you a job, holds you accountable and celebrates your victory and success. Its actually pretty cool seeing a local person being recognized as the top champion for cities who you know works incredibly hard to get things done. Few care more or work harder.
  • Leadership is seeing a picture of Councilmember Jesse Loren in the same Western City Magazine being recognized for being a member of the Torch Leadership Program for the League of Cities. Jesse has brought leadership as a member of the Leagues Executive Board representing all “rural cities” in the State. She chairs the Rural Caucus, is a member of both the Women’s and Latino Caucuses and sits on key policy committees for community development and environmental quality. Winters influence on policy and legislation for key issues and support for rural and small communities is extremely high because of these efforts.
  • Leadership is Robert Duvall, the Winters Police Department Chaplain who along with K-9 “Kepi” were recently recognized by the Kaiser Foundation as “First Responders of the Year” for the Napa/Solano/Yolo Region. Robert is a “hero amongst the hero’s”, providing support to victims, families and his fellow public safety personnel in some of the toughest situations of peoples lives. In 2019, he provided over 2,000 hours of volunteer services, serving over 80 death notifications and responding to the regions biggest incidents. Robert supports our residents and public safety personnel by helping them deal with the sometimes unimaginable of tragedies. For many, Robert is the rock in the worst moments of their lives, providing strength and support to deal with the grief but also to begin the healing. He is 100% volunteer and wears a shirt that says Winters on it.
  • Leadership is Chris Kelsch, Leticia Quirarte, Irene Tweet (and the entire team) from Winters Healthcare who are taking our healthcare to a new level. The new campus, their programming and their services will lead our community to a new horizon from a livability and quality of life stand point. To walk into their new facility will give you euphoria with how nice it is. Winters is going to be healthier because of the work and leadership of these individuals who bring old fashion community values to making their home a better place.
  • Leadership is what I like to refer to as the “millennial” entrepreneurs who are creating businesses and opportunity I have never seen in my 18 years in Winters. Businesses like Flatland Construction, Josh Colter Painting, Ample Electric, Aleco, Winters Concrete, Winters Plumbing and others are hiring locally with good paying jobs, training and growing themselves to lead Winters into the future. At City Hall and throughout the community, you see these hard working, home grown entrepreneurs building their base, doing the work and supporting local families with sustainable wages. They are growing their businesses and more importantly, hiring locally to compete against the “big companies” from outside our town. To say we are proud of these businesses is an understatement. They are role models who are bringing a vitality not seen in Winters for decades!
  • Leadership is the quality which permeates the “Winters Brand” through the products which people know us for. Turkovich Wines (Chris and Luciana), Buckhorn Trucks (Silverio and Moy), Berryessa Gap Wines (Nicole and Rosendo), Steady Eddies Coffee (Karla and Mel), Pure Honey (Doniece) and Berryessa Brewing (Chris and Lori) exude that same excellence which is how Winters is viewed. These are all perfectionists who are at the top of their respective classes who settle for nothing but the best product as a reflection of themselves but also the Winters Community. Some people settle for good. Not these folks! Every drop, sip and bite are important to them as a reflection of who they are, what they stand for and a local culture which says we are going to simply be the best. They are our reputation  and they know it. You always want people who have high expectations and pride driving your reputation and nobody can doubt we have that we these folks.

Finally, Leadership are those who have taken the chances to build, resurrect and advance the Winters community to where it is today. Downtown Winters is important and represents a celebrated renaissance. In reality, Downtown essentially died in the 1970’s and 80’s when the train left and area cities blossomed. It became mostly abandoned with boarded buildings and empty storefronts. Leadership are people like Charley Wallace, John and Melanie Pickerel, Joe and Karen Ogando, Elliot Landes, Mike and Janet Kimes and John and Liz Siracusa. These are the people who did not let it die and have led the resurrection. These are people who literally have given their all, mortgaged properties and kept Winters viable during the toughest of times so that we can enjoy the best of times. These folks are “all in” for this community both emotionally and financially. In my career and life, I have never met people like them and feel privileged to know them.

I have included a photo which is probably one of my most cherished Winters memories. It was taken in 2008 at 2:00 a.m. in front of the Buckhorn during the Downtown construction Phase I project. Restaurants all over the region were closing, the economy was crashing and we decided we would dig a hole and cut off the access to the front door of the Buckhorn. John Pickerel stood eerily in shock and my only consoling words I could think of were “I hope this works?” In many ways, I think we can argue that it has.

Leadership is about many things which include motivation, discipline, taking risks, pride, making people successful and sometimes dealing with disruption (like a big hole). To quote Huell Howser, “Winters is amazing” and I think it accrues to our culture of excellence, commitment, giving and to moving forward in our quest to simply be the best.

Have a nice weekend.

John


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Friday Update on January 3, 2020

All,

Happy 2020. According to my notes, everything was supposed to be solved by 2020, but in our case, there are still a few loose ends to pick up.

The January 7 City Council Meeting will cover the following:

  • Annual Report on AB 1600 Impact Fees
  • Review of the Active Projects list
  • Second Reading of the PD Overlay for the LDS Church Subdivision
  • Transit Board Appointment
  • 2 claims against the City.

As we move into 2020, I will be presenting to the City Council an overview of our current projects. Things are really busy, so here are some of the highlights of what is being worked on:

  • Two important projects will break ground and begin construction. The Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Affordable Apartments is a 63 unit complex on East Baker Street behind the new Winters Healthcare Campus and Yolo Credit Union. The Fairfield Inn will be a 73 room hotel on Matsumoto Lane and will hold their groundbreaking on Tuesday, January 7, 2020 at 3:30. Both of these projects have been in the works for more than 8 years!
  • Housing will be working on affordable housing requirements for the current subdivisions, Blue Mountain Terrace, a 26 Unit “self help” project in the Stone’s Throw subdivision, and the LDS Subdivision.
  • Engineering will be working on subdivision capital improvements for the Stones Throw, Heartland, Farmstead, Walnut 10 and Olive Grove.
  • Capital Projects to look for in 2020 will be Three Oaks Park, a City Hall Accessibility Remodel (former police station), planning applications for the I505 Overcrossing in support of Yolo County, the Paseo Park (Downtown) connecting the Hotel Winters and Main Street, the Putah Creek Trail Extension and Phase II of the Influent Screen Project at our Wastewater Treatment Facility. Also look for street slurry seal projects at locations throughout the City.
  • The City will submit grant applications for a new Senior Center, Fire Personnel, sewer treatment facilities and roadway improvements.
  • The Fire Department will be working on overall operational planning, volunteer recruitment, fire prevention and equipment replacement.
  • Police will be adding a Police Commander position, participating in the Yolo Crime Task Force, deploying new technology to assist officers, code enforcement and continuing investigations on crimes within the community. The addition of a detective resulted in a 95 year conviction for a child molester in 2019. A major issue with public safety in Winters has been the lack of staffing to follow up on reports and criminal behavior.
  • Public Safety in general will be working with our Yolo 911 on the deployment of records management systems to enhance data management of emergency data. This will be a major initiative on a State-wide basis in 2020.
  • The City Council represents the City on more than 20 different Boards, Committees and Commission within the region and throughout the State. ALL are tremendously busy and will tackle huge issues from homelessness, housing,  groundwater sustainability, regional transportation, energy, habitat and State-wide legislation.
  • There will be lots of “planning” in 2020. The City will be developing its updated Housing Element, a “City Limits” Specific Plan will be developed, revisions to the City’s General Plan and key policies.
  • A “Climate Action Plan” will be a priority project for the beginning of 2020.
  • Economic Development efforts will be on hold from the City standpoint, pending the outcome of certain community discussions.
  • The Building Department will be busy with inspections for both new and existing residential, commercial projects including the Fairfield Inn, Blue Mountain Terrace and the never ending Chevron Project. Building will also be implementing a new building permitting software system which will allow online project submittal and permitting.
  • A major initiative for Building will be advancing a seismic retrofit ordinance which will affect properties in our Downtown.

For the full list, check out pages 69-97 of the City Council agenda packet: http://www.cityofwinters.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/2020_0107CityCouncilPacket.pdf

One of the biggest issues facing the City organization will be the departure of key personnel in our planning, housing and public works. The success which we have achieved over the years has been rooted in the continuity and long term commitment to seeing big things through. Anyone in business can tell you that long term employees are tremendous assets in achieving the most difficult and challenging projects.

A reality for a community like Winters is that gaining investment confidence with folks is not easily done. In fact, it can take years for what some communities see as simple projects. Our size, limited business climate, location and land use constraints make us a really high risk for those with money and getting some projects to fruition can take years and decades. We genuinely need business leadership to help advance the Winters economy, create jobs and vitality.

I think 2020 is going to be an interesting year!

Thanks,

John


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Friday Update on December 20 2019

All,

A couple items to wrap the 2019 calendar year.

  • The final closing documents have been signed and the escrow is expected to close today toward the construction of the Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Affordable Apartments. Construction authorization is expected to be issued Monday and look for activity to begin as the new year begins. This is a tremendous milestone and represents a very important project for seniors in our community. This has not been an easy project to get to this point and there are many who are due credit including many City Councilmembers and key staff including Dan Maguire, Shelly Gunby and a key team member, Lisa Baker the Executive Director of Yolo Housing.
  • The Third Street Storm Drain Project is completed and water is flowing. Kudo’s to the Public Works Staff for a tremendous project!
  • Public Works found a massive water leak on Third Street which we estimate was losing close to 24 million gallons of water a year. Leaks are really tough to find and this is a big deal for our public works group.

As we end 2019, some amazing projects and people have impacted the City of Winters which will make a difference for years to come. Some of the highlights include:

  • On December 19, 2019, the Winters Healthcare Foundation opened their new medical campus on Grant Ave. It cannot be understated what an important and impressive facility this is for our community. Without question, this is one of the most important facilities to ever open in Winters. It represents one of the most positive long term signs on the health of our community. Congratulations to the entire WHF team, their contractors and those who brought the vision on making this happen.
  • The Hotel Winters has been completed and represents an important catalyst project toward the long term vision for Downtown Winters. They say that patience will bring good things and the Hotel Winters is they type of lodging Winters deserves. Kudos to the entire team who made this a reality.
  • Winters has local contractors who truly represent the future of our town. They are entrepreneurs who are hiring apprentices and journey workers, paying good wages and doing the type of business to business which brings prosperity to our community. The locals include Flatline Construction, MB Construction, Neu for You, Peter Foster, Winters Concrete, Terry Smaystrala, Sira Contractors, Tim’s Custom Building Ample Electric, Wades Construction, Aleco Electric, Pearce Heating and Air, Winters Plumbing and T&K Roofing. These are our neighbors and friends who are getting things done and hiring the next generation to work locally and contribute to our community.
  • The City’s Hispanic Advisory Committee has become one of the very important groups within the City organization. Their advancement of programs and representation of the Hispanic community makes them a critical leadership forum. They were recently recognized by the Mexican Concilio for their efforts in advancing education within our community. They put on the Festival de La Communidad which is one of the top family events in Winters. I cannot say enough about this group, truly amazing people!
  • The Winters Senior Foundation is making the difference in the lives of many and will continue to do so! Their collaboration with the Winters Seniors in working toward services for residents and representing on various City and County committees is impressive. The are exceptionally well organized and there is an incredible energy and synergy with what the do. Look for really good things from these folks in the coming year.
  • The Volunteers who make the things happen in Winters from our youth organizations, schools, foundations and events all deserve medals for making Winters the community it is! For those involved, you can appreciate that pulling off the volunteer driven events is not easy!

Projects for 2020 which should be on everyone’s list:

  • Fairfield Inn- 73 hotel rooms located on Matsumoto Lane.
  • Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Affordable Apartments
  • Three Oaks Park Phase I which will become the City’s largest park!
  • Putah Creek Trail Extension
  • Hopefully the start of construction for the Senior Center on Baker Street.

Have a very merry Christmas!

John


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Friday Update for Friday the 13th of December 2019

To all, a happy Triskaidekaphobia! A couple items as we move closer to Christmas and the New Year.

The City Council Agenda for December 17 will be a holiday themed dress, so break out your best or worst sweater or holiday outfit and wear it to the meeting:

  • Public Hearing on CDBG Projects- Mostly for the Senior Center Proposal.
  • Proposed subdivision map for the LDS Property on Anderson Street
  • Water and Sewer Rate Study
  • Energy Upgrade Program Agreement for the Community Center and City Hall
  • Establishment of a Climate Action Plan Development Board
  • Animal Services Agreement with Yolo County
  • Resolution amending the City’s Pension and OPEB Policy on investment
  • Amendment to Master Plan engineering with Wood Rodgers for Flood Hazard Evaluation
  • Claim Against the City for a fall

A little insight into the item on the Climate Action Plan Development Board. This group will have two key assignments including the work on the development and recommendation of a Climate Action Plan for the City, which is a big deal. The second will be to make recommendations on the eventual make up and duties of a permanent Climate Action Commission to implement the overall plan. The interim Board will be for a pretty intensive six month period to work with staff and consultants on the development of the CAP. The Commission will be a much longer term appointment.

A couple items being worked on:

  • Working on recruitments for a Planning/Economic Development Manager, Environmental Services Manager (internal recruitment) and a Fire Engineer. Look for these to start after the first of the year.
  • Planning Commission approved the design review for the LDS subdivision project. The homes will be “affordable by design” with fewer of the façade upgrades and internal amenities. The developer has committed that these will be extremely affordable in Winters!
  • The Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Affordable Apartments are scheduled to close escrow within the next couple days. This is big news and the community should see the project begin construction right after the first of the year.
  • The Senior Commission on Aging met on Wednesday night. A really good group with a focus on organizing themselves before jumping into the many issues they will cover. A very positive meeting with the next scheduled for 5:30 pm on January 8, 2019.
  • The tractor parade had decent weather, incredible tractors and an impressive Christmas Tree. Many thanks to Chris and Sue at the Chamber, Kathy and Wade Cowan and Jose Diaz and the entire team from Ample Electric who hung all the lights on the tree. The event had a number of volunteers from Travis AFB and community members who did an outstanding job!

Finally, lots of frustration with the media, social media and some rumor mongering in regards to an incident between two students at Winters High School this week. The Winters PD and WJUSD did full investigations on the incident which were not picked up very well by the broadcast media and social media folks which was unfortunate.

Without questions, the WJUSD and Winters Police have the safety of our students and community as a number one priority. In this instance, they took measured and appropriate actions based on the reports, did investigations and opened lines of communication which resulted in a very proper response to what occurred at the school. The School and District Administration acted quickly and decisively within the context of what occurred. The Winters Police responded, did a number of interviews and contacted all parties to the incident. The City and District have a solid relationship in regard to all of this and we are confident that what happened was done correctly.

The reports from the broadcast media were just wrong, with Channel 13 not even contacting the Winters Police before their report. Social media reports were also wrong with a very counter productive result in trying sensationalize some aspects which were just not true. Unfortunately, the social media venues give a big megaphone for some folks to give opinion as fact. People need to consider the sources of information and cross check with credible venues before believing what is said in many of these forums.

The Winters Museum will host the Friday the 13th party beginning at 5.

Have a nice weekend!

John


  • -

Friday Update on December 6 2019

All,

A quick update on things from the week.

  • Staff met with Yolo County OES and representatives from PG&E regarding Public Safety Power Shutdowns (PSPS). The meeting was setup at the request of PG&E as a “listening session” and afforded us an opportunity to discuss some overarching issues regarding the PSPS events over the past few months. The main themes revolved around the concept of refinement of both shut down areas, notification, resources for persons with health issues and methods of notification for those affected both on the turn off and turn on periods. I would give PG&E an “A” for effort and their attempts at refining their overall strategy on this and I expect that we will be working closely with them to mitigate issues moving forward.
  • The larger issue involves “Tier 2 and Tier 3” fire danger areas, of which Winters has both. The City is a “tier 1” with low fire danger, while the outskirts fall into Tier 2 (moderate) and Tier 3 (extreme) levels. As we move forward, we can expect that Tiers 2 and 3 will experience regular shutdowns during extreme weather events and the overall strategy for response will be commensurate with that. Persons in these areas will need to make personal preparedness plans within the scope of a new paradigm for California as a whole. As areas are refined, we will probably see more specific shutdown areas and a reduction in the broader swath of areas left without power.
  • Staff also attended a session put on by the State Housing and Community Development Agency (HCD) regarding the requirements for the impending update of the City’s Housing Element. Lots of “new” analysis and data will be required within a scope of a heightened regulatory policy framework from the State. There are seven (7) mandatory elements of the upcoming Housing Element which will include identification of adequate sites, facilitating housing development for low and moderate income households, remove/mitigate constraints to housing, conserve/improve existing stock, preserve units which may be at risk, promote housing opportunities and further Fair Housing and Promote accessory dwelling units for lower and moderate income households. The Housing Element will be data driven and include a number of technological advances to track compliance and achievement of goals, increase availability of information and allow the public to be more fully informed.
  • The Planning Commission Meeting will include the design review of a house on Wolfskill, design review on the 18 unit subdivision adjacent to the LDS Church and Lot 18 in the Olive Grove Subdivision.
  • Public works ran the pumps in the Rancho Arroyo Detention Pond this week and everything worked fine. With coming storms, we will allow the pond to fill to allow extended run times on the pumps, so don’t panic if it looks like the pond is rising because we are doing it to test everything.
  • Tractor Parade and Tree Lighting is Saturday evening beginning at 6:30, rain or shine! This should be an amazing event with a display of both modern and classic tractors, a visit from Santa for children in the gazebo and the lighting of the City Christmas Tree. This has become one of the City’s marquee events and is sure to get everyone in the holiday spirit.

Have a nice weekend and we will see everyone out there on Saturday night.

John


  • -

Friday Update on November 21 2019

All,

This is the last update for November because of Thanksgiving.

A couple items:

  • Today, the pre-construction meeting was held for the Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Affordable Apartments. The engineering team expects work to commence in the next 3-4 weeks. This is amazing news for us!
  • Staff has revised the City’s Website and renamed the tab Current Planning. We repopulated the information a bit and have included the SB 2 Grant. Look for upcoming sections on the Regional Housing Needs Allocation and the Housing Element. We also plan to start developing some ideas on community outreach and engagement which we will seek input from folks through some simple polling to get views on various ideas. Look for a little remodeling of the planning website.
  • The Sacramento Area Council of Governments ruled on the final Regional Housing Needs Allocation and we got wacked a bit in the final formula. During the planning period, they have us down for 552 units with 125 VERY low, 75 Low, 104 moderate and 248 Above Moderate. 304 “affordable” units is a lot and will be incorporated into our new housing element. This will be a task.
  • The SB 2 Grant Application we are finalizing will put us on a path to take a balanced approach to future development and address many of the State’s growing priorities from a housing standpoint. The most important thing we will emphasize is that the project will focus within the existing City limits, look at undeveloped, unentitled and under utilized land. The process will enable us to launch a comprehensive community engagement process which will give key stakeholders within the City a chance to help plan the future. From a Staff perspective, we have taken the input from those who have participated in recent meetings and will do our best to bring opportunities for all segments to lend their voice to important issues regarding our City’s future.
  • We live in a “data” driven world and we can expect our State mandates and policies to receive significant review through a data analysis. Expect that the upcoming Housing Element will be data driven, with accountability and culpability for poor performance. As we move forward, we will need to be strategic, practical and establish programs which can be accomplished. It’s going to be great!

Finally, I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving. I always feel blessed for what we have in Winters and the wonderful community we have here. The peace and tranquility we share along with the beauty which surrounds us makes celebrating holidays even more special.

Thanks,

John


  • -

Friday Update on November 15 2019

All,

A City Council Meeting on Tuesday. One real agenda item:

  • Staff is working on an SB 2 application with a focus on the City’s General Plan, zoning, densities, our ability to meet our regional housing needs allocation and by right development. We had a consultation with representatives of the State Housing and Community Development Agency who provided advice and guidance which was very beneficial. A resolution on for the grant will be on the City Council Agenda for Tuesday.

Some of the big items from the week.

  • On Saturday, Winters PD and Fire dealt with a deceased person found in Putah Creek behind the Community Center. A really tough situation for the family but the overall collaboration between both the Police, Fire, Yolo Sheriff and the Coroners’ Office was extremely well done. Everyone involved, including our Police Chaplain Robert Duvall were extremely professional in providing counsel and information to the family and dealing with the entire situation. Seeing these people do what they do makes me honored to work with these folks.
  • The Planning Commission dealt with two development projects and handled what turned into a pretty rough night extremely well. The design and site plan request for the Olive Grove Subdivision was continued pending and engineering update and the LDS Property Project subdivision was approved, but not the design elements. Look for both to be back on upcoming PC agendas.
  • Staff had an opportunity to meet with the new Senior Commission on Aging. We conducted an orientation of some of the more mundane tasks of financial disclosure, ethics training, meeting procedures and the open meeting laws. The group is absolutely wonderful with some folks relatively new to Winters. Overall, a really good evening.
  • City Council members attended an orientation on Valley Clean Energy on Thursday. To quote one person in attendance, “it was like drinking water from a fire hose”. Both Councilmembers Cowan and Loren were sworn in as Associate Members and will be representing Winters moving forward.
  • Staff attended our first Solano Economic Development Corporation Board Meeting on Thursday. It was an amazing experience with both public and private sector businesses talking jobs, opportunity and regional vitality. The focus on jobs and creating economic advances was incredible. The business to business collaboration is incredible.
  • This week marked the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Winters Community Library. The Library sponsored a really nice reception with deserts and a mariachi band. Lots of kids, adults and many of those associated with the Winters Friends of the Library. The place really is a catalyst in our community and it was nice to celebrate the anniversary.
  • Today, our Yolo City/County Manager’s met to discuss key issues in the County. Homelessness is growing and the need to address it County-wide in multiple ways is growing rapidly and will become the highest social priority very rapidly.  The problem is growing, public acceptance is shrinking and funding is minimal in relation to the real problem. In Winters, we are beginning to see it in multiple areas and expect more.

Finally, a couple things, each related:

  • On Thursday, as I left the ATM at Eagle Drug, a woman was laying on the bench near the intersection. She asked me for some money and I stopped to talk with her. She basically said she was homeless and was in Winters because she felt safe here. She has friends in town who she was visiting. I asked her what type of help she might need and I gave her a couple suggestions on some things. A nice lady, very tired and down on her luck in need of a place to live. I gave her my business card and suggested some places for her to get assistance. I did not call the police or offer to “take her” somewhere. I talked to her a bit, bought her lunch and wished her well.
  • At the Solano EDC Meeting, the talk about housing vacancies came up. Universally, the cities in Solano said their vacancies on rental housing is below 1% (ours is zero). The availability of affordable housing is a months, if not years long waiting list. Our real estate market is Bay Area and to hear the reports from these communities put a HUGE red flag up.
  • Our Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Affordable Project is still struggling to get through the State financing hurdles. I was given 100% assurance that we would be “in the ground” on the project in October. It must be “under the ground” because I do not see it.
  • The really long item at the Planning Commission was the discussion regarding an 18 unit subdivision off Anderson Ave behind the LDS Church. The concept is for “lower cost” houses with less design and fewer frills (the jargon for this type of housing is “affordable by design”). Staff, the developer and the Planning Commission all struggled with the entire concept and ultimately, the item was continued for more vetting.

California is again the leader in a national issue, and that is the national housing crisis. Many are to blame including developers, cities with the costs of fees, the entire planning process; and yes the NIMBY’s (not in my back yard) folks who want to thwart even the discussion of growth and new housing developments. A really interesting article from Bloomberg Media from last week.

http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001G90zxhDRQzV_eACXGlCC5mxzC8ljXrvlxEohwJvoM1UjpBk80b5jg0PCCttaNg1PDb86_87-QQ9WHgL6Ir4z_klY4Xzbz6-oTvgOTqP1m3g7aro_A2X5wZiTWJ9Bn7hye4pzz5lp0szg97zbvGSFODbnQ_Fggg3qsSP6Htr8ujK7pmgF1-Mz-dZxa5zpuxPzRKNmyCDDCizJZUuLJOiApl3hWnf5Zndu3-wzLD2ONZY=&c=jKccEq9fML9UdzA-ai8lVMwotfC6GM17zQUl460FJsHt–wQJ_1ceA==&ch=CVQCO2A5nH0DTBjyHwBPdBnDDlm6jDgvjHdVZ7K80h1S0j_abPzp8Q==

Questions and food for thought:

  • Where should the young people who grow up in Winters go to live if they cannot move back to Winters? Where?
  • Where would you live if you lost your lease, a fire burned your apartment or something else happened to where you live today?
  • If you were able to get an apartment here in town (which is about $2,000 a month), do you have (first month, last month and cleaning deposit) $5,500 cash to put down on that apartment?
  • Who should determine what happens in Winters. Local control and planning, or the State of California?
  • Do you know anyone on the cusp of homelessness generated by the housing crisis? The “working homeless” are single, middle aged folks with few local family who lose a lease only to see the prospects of their monthly rent tripling. The other demographic are low income families who cannot get to the top of the list on subsidized housing or, god forbid, low income families who cannot qualify because both parents work and are trying to get ahead!

Charles Dickens wrote a book called a “Tale of Two Cities” where he  is famously quoted “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. People get mad that some of us keep bringing this up, but it is the #1 issue in California, facing millennials, families, the middle class, middle aged and seniors. We are living in one of the greatest economies of most of our lives, yet some of the most fundamental means of our existence are at the very worst of our existence. A scenario of the haves versus the have nots.

The full quote by Dickens:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

Winters Warriors are at home tonight in the first round of the playoffs. Go Warriors!

John


  • -

Friday Update on November 8 2019

All,

Just a few items this week:

  • The passage of the short term rental ordinance (Air bnb) means a couple really simple things. ADU’s are allowed to be rented, purveyors must get a business license, there are over the counter permits for the hosted units (with neighbor notification) and non-hosted will require a conditional use permit. The limit of occupants for any short term rental is 10 persons unless approved by the Planning Commission.
  • Staff is working on a $160k SB 2 Grant application which will include projects for the advancement of a Climate Action Plan and a thorough status review of the City’s General Plan. Both these are on the City’s “planning project list” and will be significant projects. We will be meeting with consultants helping the State’s Housing and Community Development Department on our application next week and a resolution will be before the City Council on November 19. The deadline for grant submittals in November 30.
  • The topic of housing is a major issue nationally and California is being called out as the worst offender in the housing crisis. Here is an interesting article from NYC media giant Bloomberg on their take on where things stand in our State.  https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2019-california-housing-crisis/?utm_source=pocket-newtab
  • Staff is working on a community outreach strategy for the many 2020 planning projects. While community meetings are nice, they are not very well attended by the younger generations who are essentially under represented on many issues involving housing and economic development. If anyone has ideas on surveys or means for community engagement outside of public meetings, I would love to hear from you. Send me an email!

Finally, today is the one year anniversary of the Camp Fire which essentially wiped out the communities of Paradise and Magalia in the Butte County hills. A day and occurrence which changed and shaped the lives of many.

What I remember most about the entire incident was that our Winters Fire Staff was on the fire less than 5 hours after it started. Their reports back were almost unbelievable as they were assigned directly into the middle of the Town of Paradise as the reported back that the “entire town was on fire”. As the night time came, I began getting calls from residents here in town who had family and friends who lived in Paradise and were curious as to whether their homes were standing. In all, I took 6 calls and asked our team to drive by the addresses. In each instance, they send back photo’s of fire places and chimney’s standing alone. It absolutely broke my heart for those folks.

During the next couple days Winters Police was deployed to the area for security as was our Police Champlain Robert Duvall and K9-Kepi. Without hesitation, our officers went to those communities to provide aid. Robert worked on some of the most heart wrenching assignments and notification.

I couldn’t have been prouder to say I was from Winters in the coming weeks as reports of the efforts of our staff came in. In total, our deployment was almost 14 days.

The next weekend, we held a fundraiser at Berryessa Brewing which raised almost $15,000 for fire victims which is pretty good for a community our size.

I have worked with the folks in Paradise on their recovery.

Thanks,

John


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