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Category Archives: City Manager’s Update

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Friday Update on June 21 2019

Friday Update on June 21 2019 City Manager’s Update
All,

Just a quick few notes:

  • First Street Parking Lot and Alley Improvements are well under way! Vintage Paving of Winters, CA is the contractor and they are doing an amazing job and we expect an amazing result on schedule!
  • Staff is working on outreach with folks concerned with some of the North Area Planning. I will be meeting with some folks next week!
  • Next weeks Planning Commission will have a recap of the Economic Development Committee Report and Air B&B.
  • Look for letters to go out to folks with Air B&B’s regarding payment of past due transient occupancy taxes. The issue has certainly made us aware of some folks and we will be in contact.
  • Winters Police will be participating in the Special Olympics Torch Run tonight at UC Davis!

Finally, the murder of Sacramento Police Officer Tara O’Sullivan is a tragedy of incredible magnitude. Officer O’Sullivan was less than six months past her academy graduation and was cowardly gunned down as she attempted to help a domestic violence victim simply get some personal effects. The blow to the law enforcement community gives that sobering reminder of what being a police officer entails and the dangers which exist at practically every moment of their day.

Sacramento Police Department is an incredible organization with committed officers and solid leadership. Light a candle and show support for them and all officers during this incredible time.

John


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Friday Update for June 14 2019

Friday Update for June 14 2019, City Manager's Update
All,

A quick overview on the City Council Agenda then just a list of the projects which are on my desk and will be of particularly high attention over the next 12-18 months.

City Council Agenda for June 18, 2019:

  • Public Hearing on Weed Abatement
  • Planning Commission Appointments
  • Pension and Other Post Employment (OPEB) Policy
  • Amplified sound permit for Summer Concert Series (WFoL)
  • El Rio Villa Sewer Agreement Renewal
  • Olive Grove Subdivision Improvement Agreement for Phase 1
  • Swearing in of Police Reserve Officer Charlie Kharsa

Now the list of projects which are on my desk and will encompass a good part of my workload for the coming months and year:

  • Moving policy direction and review of the Economic Development Committee Report and Recommendations. The report will be back before the Planning Commission on June 25 for additional input, then to the City Council for more direction.
  • Not so “fun fact” on City Sales Tax. For the Fourth Quarter of 2018, sales taxes per capita for the City were $1,809, 2.5% below the same reporting period in 2017. The per capita average for the rest of Yolo County was $4,963, up 10.5% from the 2017 reporting period. This means that on average we are receiving $3,154 less per resident per quarter. This indicates dramatic “loss” of spending within our own economy and our own residents.  A perspective is that if we received the “average” of what Yolo County is getting, we would receive over $900k in general fund revenues to support parks, public safety and general City services.
  • Staff has been contacted and will set a meeting with the Solano Economic Development Corporation (EDC) about potential membership. This would be a really important collaboration to generate opportunities for jobs and industry expansion in the City.
  • Develop an overall strategy on integrating the Draft Climate Action Plan and a draft Implementation Strategy. Climate is an important part of both future land use and economic development which will help address the City’s number one green house gas (GHG) issue- reduction of vehicle miles travelled.
  • The Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) process with SACOG is heating up and I will be engaging in the process which will lead to the release of the housing numbers and formula’s which are anticipated to be released in late summer.
  • The release of the RHNA numbers will trigger the process for an update of the City’s Housing Element. This will include the hire of a consultant, format, analysis, public outreach and working with both SACOG and the State Department of Housing and Community Development. This is a really BIG deal and will be a major effort.
  • The recent uproar and concern over the Bellevue North Property has triggered concerns over planning and overall direction. I plan to meet with people concerned with the issue to gain perspectives and input. A need for public outreach and information is definitely there and I will be working to provide all of that. Look for items before both the Planning Commission and City Council in the coming months. For information on the North Area Planning, click HERE for a website we have set up with the applicable information.
  • Succession Planning for some key retirements in Public Works and Housing/Economic Development/Planning is a big load. We are losing almost 30 years of experience/service with these retirements. When high caliber employees leave you lose quite a bit of institutional knowledge and capacity. Not looking forward to this at all.
  • Preparation for the Fiscal Year 20-21 and 21-22 budgets will be on us as early as the fall. Capital Projects, Public Safety and Utilities are all big topics. When it comes to government regulation, nobody gets is worst that local government. Looks for new regulations for water, wastewater and storm water which will be significant and cost a lot!
  • A needed remodel of the former Police Department will move Financial and Human Resources functions for better accessibility and functionality. This project will move into the next years budget but planning needs to begin now.
  • The Fairfield Inn is moving along but there are details on my desk which need work.
  • The Senior Center and Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Apartments will shift to my plate for completion.
  • The Senior Commission on Aging will begin to take shape and my guess is that they will be active.

A couple areas which may be of interest:

  • Staff has been researching Air B&B’s in town and frankly, we are surprised by the number in our town. The interesting thing is that, except for the month of February, none have been submitting transient occupancy taxes. We are generating the lists of addresses to contact the proprietors and gain compliance. The good news is that Air B&B and VRBO provide 1099 tax forms for easy auditing to gain compliance with the tax requirements. It certainly looks like some of our “hosts” have been very successful.
  • I am expanding my “Ask the City Manager” to a City Council Briefing video which I will debut Monday on our Facebook page and Youtube Channel. Look for the posting as I will provide the same briefing given to City Council for the General Public.
  • Look for a re-look at turning Abbey Street into a One Way with diagonal parking. The street construction is showing the potential for this project to generate a high quality entry for the Downtown Hotel. Better preparation and getting folks out onto the street will help for a better evaluation.
  • A Job Fair for the Hotel Winters will be held on Wednesday, June 19 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at City Hall in the Downstairs Conference Room off of Abbey Street. To get started in applying, people can go to olshotels.com/careers

Have a nice Fathers Day Weekend!

John


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Friday Update on Thursday June 6 2019

City Manager Update, Friday Update on Thursday June 6 2019
All,

A week which has just flown by and my Friday is an absolute monster so the update will be a day early!!

  • Staff attended the Governor’s Emergency Management Preparedness Summit in Sacramento on Monday. The session included a presentations from Governor Gavin Newsom, State Director of the Office of Emergency Services Mark Ghilarducci and panels which included executives from many areas impacted by wildfire over the past year. I would give the Summit 10 out of 10 Stars for effort by the Governor and his entire team in raising awareness and the need for collaboration in preparation, response and recovery.

I will admit that I had never seen the Governor in person and my impression of him was quite a bit different than the typical sound bites and media presentations. Frankly, I was impressed with his grasp of the issues, he was very articulate and well informed on emergency management needs and realities. He was quite magnanimous in his appreciation for his emergency management executive team and the efforts of those throughout the emergency management field. His grasp on the need for collaboration and the need for reform of government regulation to enable fire prevention was commendable. I left impressed with his sincerity and demonstration of leadership on the issues. Overall, well done and worth attending.

  • One major takeaway from the Summit was an appreciation for the preparation and collaboration we have in Yolo County. County OES Manager Dana Carey and the Yolo Cities are extremely well prepared and could have been highlighted as a model for much of what they were talking about.
  • A key concern for the coming summer will the potential for power outages which could last for up to 5 days in the event that transmission lines are turned off. A reality is that a need to turn off transmission lines in Butte County could result in outages as far as Yolo County, essentially shutting down business and operations in communities for hundreds of miles. Getting information to businesses and residents will be critical in the coming weeks. People, especially those from vulnerable groups (elderly, sick, persons on oxygen) who need power need to begin making preparations in the event of extended periods without power.
  • City Staff met today to discuss the potential for a relocation of City Hall operations and maintaining our utilities and public safety capabilities. Generators, fueling contracts, maintenance of both water and wastewater operations and pumps all were topics. Key plans and assignments are going to be put in place to insure a continuity of operations in the event of an extended power outage. We all left the meeting with assignments to start things in motion to be ready in case the power goes out.
  • Winters Fire this week has been busy on two structure fires, one at Burger King and the other at a residence on Hill view Lane. Quick action in both were critical in preventing spread and preventing injuries to people and pets. A special thanks to Winters Police who were quick to the scene on Hillview, helping the residents and protecting the community.
  • On Tuesday, a combined meeting of the City Council and the Planning Commission was held to discuss the Economic Development Committee’s Report and recommendations. A good meeting with a nice turnout and lots of really good questions. You can access the report HERE.
  • The City received its first transient occupancy check from Air B&B for the months of February and March. Something close to $20,000!

Have a nice weekend!

 

John


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Friday Update on May 31 2019

All,

A couple items for this week:

  • It is with a lot of regret that we have made the decision to cancel the 2019 Independence Week Fireworks Display. The need to relocate, logistics issues, the potential for fire and the reduction in overall quality just make shooting the show a bad idea. Winters High School will be available in 2020 so we will move any donations received into that show. Shooting the show at Shirley Rominger Intermediate School would require extensive weed abatement, closing Main Street, a buffer putting people in a detention area, a traffic/parking nightmare and shooting 3” and 4” fireworks versus the crowd pleasing 5” and 6” variety. Shooting a mediocre show over a dry grassy area is just silly and would be disappointing.
  • The Economic Development Advisory Committee Report will be presented in a joint meeting before the City Council and Planning Commission at 4:00 in the EOC Conference Room at the Public Safety Facility, 700 Main Street. HERE is a link to the report and recommendations. HERE is a link to a page with the background information, meeting agendas and other information.
  • Construction of the First Street Parking Lot will commence beginning the week of June 10. Look for preliminary work to begin within the next week then a full construction effort over a 2-3 week period in June.
  • Congrats to the Downtown Merchants on a final location and strategy for waste/trash removal and the beginning of alley activation. The future of Downtown is extremely bright with a very dynamic group leading the way. Pretty exciting!
  • The Senior Commission on Aging is on the June 4 City Council Meeting. An application process, interviews and appointment will follow.
  • Planning Commission allowed additional input in the Air BnB Look for it to be back on the June 25 Agenda.
  • Housing is a critical issue in Winters and throughout the State. Governor Gavin Newsom has listed it as a “crisis” and one of his highest priorities. Staff provided updates on key policies and issues at meetings in the month of May. Click HERE for the report provided which includes key links on policies, issues and resources.
  • A really cool event on June 12 will be a “Pop Up Garden Dinner” hosted by the Putah Creek Café featuring a four course family style dinner paired with Turkovich Wines. Sounds like an absolutely awesome event which will sell out fast. To make a reservation, you can purchase tickets here

Finally, the Memorial Day Weekend is the Davis World Cup Soccer Tournament where Winters AYSO sent 8 teams to compete against teams from throughout California. Soccer is pretty competitive and the Davis World Cup is a pretty prestigious tournament which closes the 2019-20 season.

Of the 8 teams, Winters walked away with 2 second place and 3 third place finishes, meaning each made the semi final games amongst elite teams in five brackets. Simply amazing!!!!

I referee the tournament and have an opportunity to meet and ref with folks from throughout the western states. People always ask me where I am from, with many assuming I am from Davis because I am “local”. When I tell them I am from “Winters”, literally every ref will comment “hey, I reffed a game with a Winters team and they played hard yet fair”. It’s always, “you have incredible players, coaches and teams”.

Saying I am from Winters is a real pride thing! Each of our teams become ambassadors representing the quality of play, competitiveness, the attitudes of our players/coaches/parents and they help define the impression people walk away with about our community. Most have never even heard of Winters but once they meet our teams on the field, they never forget! Our players and teams can compete with anyone on any field at any time and when the game is over, they know where we are from.

I tell our players that soccer is really a metaphor for life and that being from a small, yet mighty town gives them a huge advantage. They grow up challenged, supported and they have the opportunity to show they are second to none. Our kids compete on the same fields as teams from larger communities and leave victorious. They can do the same in life!  It doesn’t matter who they are competing against, in the end, you play with the same ball, on the same field and its more about determination.

I am always proud to say I am from Winters.

Have a nice weekend!

John


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Friday Update on May 24 2019

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City Manager Update Friday, May 24, 2019
All:

Just a couple items this week:

  • Parking Enforcement in the Downtown will see us moving from warnings to actual tickets. Citations are $30. Lot’s of reasons to enjoy our Downtown and this is definitely not the ticket you want to get, so encourage folks to park in the City lots for extended periods to avoid the fine.
  • The City Council approved street work and the construction of the Downtown Parking Lot at the City Council meeting on Tuesday. Look for lots of paving and work to commence sometime in June.
  • Things are beginning to take shape on the Hotelwinters.com  . Street work, alleys and some nice finishing touches are starting to get done toward a summer opening! Exciting.
  • Staff participated in an important meeting between the League of California Cities and the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC). The goal is to work towards a “rural summit” combining cities and counties to work on issues which are distinctly unique to those in the smaller less urban areas. Councilmember Jesse Loren has been a key State-wide leader and advocate to advance issues for rural cities and things are starting to come together like never before. Really good stuff!!
  • Some of the common issues being discussed are access to Broadband, impacts of State Legislation on smaller jurisdictions, Infrastructure and affordable housing.
  • This weekend is the Davis World Cup Soccer Tournament and Winters is sending four, very competitive teams. Keep them in your thoughts as they play over the weekend toward the championships! Really proud of our kids in these competitions with quality coaches and really good players who represent our community well.

Finally, today, I attended the funeral mass and services for Don Rominger who passed away last week at age 89. He lived and farmed in Winters for 87 years and made a huge impact on the lives of many and was active in the Winters Community. Shirley Rominger Intermediate School is named for his wife who passed away almost 20 years prior. Don served on the Winters Fire District Board for 50 years and was honored last year by the District.

The services were a catholic mass followed by eulogies from two of his grandchildren, Cody Rominger and Julia Harder. The entire Rominger Family and its extensions all played a role in the services which were simply a beautiful tribute to an incredible man of faith, family, hard work, farming and commitment to the Winters Community. The services and eulogies paid a deserving tribute and celebration to family and a moral and committed life.

I personally met Don in October, 2001 when I attended my first Winters Fire District Board Meeting. Don’s first questions to me were “Where are you from” and “how long are you going to stick around”? My first impression was of a man who spoke with little to no filter in how he talked with you and he was the type of person willing to ask questions and say things that others typically kept to themselves. I absolutely loved the directness of his approach and quickly learned that many of his seemingly outrageous assertions about the District/City business relations on fire services in the past were 100% accurate. Don was a real character.

In my first few interactions with Don, he gave me some of the best advice for being City Manager in Winters: Understand that everybody knows or is related to everybody, be straight forward and don’t play politics, come straight at people on the issues. I have cherished that advice and respect and am grateful to Don immensely for giving it to me.

A common thread in today’s service was the word “commitment” which seemed to embody Don’s life. Family, faith, community, farming and a focused life are what made up Don Rominger.

Winters is blessed with a number Don Rominger’s who have made lifelong “commitments” to making this a special place. The culture, the multiple generations and the selflessness which embody the spirit of those who are “all in” are what makes Winters the community it is.  As I looked around the church today, I saw many faces of those who have given their lives to the Winters community. Funerals and weddings are special because they bring a lot of people who have shared common life interests together. Sad and good at the same time!

Don Rominger was a very blessed man with a beautiful family, leaving an incredible legacy and a community who is grateful for his lifelong contributions. Godspeed to Don!

John


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Friday Update on May 17 2019

Friday Update on May 17 2019

All,

Just a quick overview of the City Council Agenda for this week:

  • Consent Calendar has the City Wide Assessment Levy for FY 2019-20, an Amendment to the City Agreement with Solano Water for monitoring wells along Putah Creek, a contract to move forward with the application to PG&E to underground utilities on Newt’s Expressway, an agreement for leak detection services for the City’s water system, paving services for Newt’s Expressway and the First Street Parking Lot and the setting of the City’s Gann Spending Limit for the upcoming Fiscal Year Budget.
  • Two Presentations: the first will recognize “Elder Day on June 1st and the second will be a presentation from the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District.
  • Discussion items include Overage and Contamination in the City’s Waste Management Program, the Downtown Trash Enclosure Proposal and an overview on City/State Housing Issues.

A pretty full agenda!

Have a nice weekend.

John


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Friday Update on May 10 2019

All,

A couple items:

  • The Stone’s Throw Housing Development will be holding a ribbon cutting and open house on Saturday, May 11 from 11:00 to 1:00. Take Neimann west, past SRIS, through the roundabout to Wyatt Street and look for the balloons. Tours of the models and food!
  • Saturday is the Winters Garage Sale. This year’s theme is “Only Really Good Stuff”. Expect sales throughout the core area of town and I am told there will be excellent prices and nothing but absolute treasures!
  • City Staff met with property owners on Grant Ave to discuss zoning and exchange contact information.
  • Mark your calendars for May 23 from 4:00 to 5:30 for the next “Ask the City Manager” segment. I ran into some folks at Berryessa Brewing and they told me they would bring tougher questions next time. Bring it!
  • June 4 starting at 4:00 will be a joint meeting of the City Council and Planning Commission will be held at City Hall to review the Economic Development Advisory Committee’s Report and Recommendations. HERE is a copy of the report and HERE is a website with the background information from the report and information about the Committee.
  • Today, I attended the groundbreaking for the new campus for the Center for Land Based Learning who has called “The Farm” on Putah Creek its home for the past 25 years. With very mixed emotions, I watched as they unveiled a $4.5 million plan for new classrooms, farm fields an event center and partnerships in Woodland as they work to move their headquarters out of Winters and toward a very bright future. Their project will be amazing in advancing farming education for farmers, students and the world through their Student and Landowner Education and Watershed Stewardship (SLEWS) Program, FARMS Leadership and Watershed Programs. The Center is a visionary and they will continue as a  world leader in farming education and stewardship. Their new location looks amazing! Kudos to the entire Center for Land Based Learning organization, their Board and leadership.

Finally, a word used quite a bit today at the Center for Land Based Learning event was “Vision”. The idea of picturing the future in your mind and steering yourself to making it a reality. Without question, they are doing that with their project in Woodland to lead their organization for the next 25 years!

With our City Staff, we talk about setting goals and I often paint the concept of “giving a diamond ring to the love of your life on the second deck of the Eiffel Tower at sunset of Valentine’s Day”. Some view it as a “Disney Dream”, but I would argue that it is something anyone can do if you just plan to do it.

Vision requires a very soulful introspection of where you want to get to and your overall commitment to seriously making something happen. It’s the idea of setting big goals and then establishing then executing a plan. It takes discipline, commitment and the ability to maintain focus and hope in even the most challenging circumstances. It means collaboration, partnerships and establishing relationships which generate the force multiplier that carry the vision to the heights that no one person could attain. In the end, I have learned that everything is a “team” sport and the greatest satisfaction is celebrating hitting key milestones surrounded by those who all made it happen.

Great vision is the ability to seek extra ordinary results and outcomes. I am convinced that any vision is possible and the difference is the amount of desire and commitment to reach the achievement. To have vision requires courage and the ability to transcend the cynicism and skepticism you will encounter. Its easy to be against something and hard to be a champion for something some may think is unimaginable or may seem inconvenient.

Life is a series of events and ultimately moving yourself forward. Reality will tell you that if you are not moving forward, you are moving backward. A vision forward brings an opportunity for adventure and achievement, while sitting still means you are going nowhere and will ultimately get bed sores. Vision establishes the “future” for more people than just yourself and in many ways is a part of your “stewardship” for the possibilities and opportunities which will exist for others. When I talk to City Council Members about “leadership”, I often stress that the decisions we make or fail to make today will determine what will be or not be tomorrow. Vision is important because it really does determine tomorrow!

In Winters, we have many visionary people like Julie and Craig McNamara, Mary Kimball and the Center for Land Based Learning folks. Of late, people like Moyra Barsotti and Emarie VanGalio and the entire Project Playground Team who gave us all a lifetime opportunity to build the greatest playground of our time!

In a city, vision involves looking forward towards the interests of the entire population, both current and future. Where will people live, work and how will the community sustain a quality of life? What happens when you don’t execute the plan or it is left half done? How will we make great things happen which will positively affect people’s lives?

Vision is a collaboration of unique, diverse and talented people coming together to make something that some people feel is a “dream” a reality! Not easy.

Have a nice weekend!

John


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Big Day of Giving is Important to Winters! May 2, 2019

All,

May 2 is the Big Day of Giving and the opportunity to support some of those organization who make Winters a special place to live. Here are some of the organizations serving our community who are participating.

  • The Winters Friends of the Library (WFoL) is a preeminent organization for Winters. Through the years, they have funded many tens of thousands of dollars toward expanded library hours, programming, furniture, speakers forums and were the leaders in getting the Winters Community Library to where it is today!
  • Putah Creek Council is the organization which has led the way to the ecological restoration of the creek. They were the ones who led the fight for water flows in the early 1990’s and continue the efforts today with incredible restoration work, enhancement of fish habitat and educational programming.
  • Winters Education Foundation supports Winters teachers and students through grants and programming which gets right into the classroom. WEF helps bring opportunity and quality programs in support of the WJUSD.
  • Center for Land Based Learning is one of those organizations which has put Winters on the world food map. From farm based educational programs for urban youth to community farming initiatives, the Center for Land Based Learning is setting an incredible standard in educating people about food and farming.
  • Winters Farm to School helps provide fresh food and nutrition education to students in Winters schools. They bring the bounty of our area to our children through a farmers market, education and the idea of building good life long eating habits from an early age.
  • Winters Museum, founded in 2018 is committed to the preservation and display of the heritage of the Winters Community. Photo’s, artifacts and themed displays make it the go to place in Downtown.
  • Winters Community Theatre not only entertains us, but they give back through renovations at the Community Center and enhanced opportunities for people of all ages.
  • The New Hope Community Development Corporation (CDC) Yolo County Housing is the non-profit arm for Yolo Housing. This incredible organization has brought a renaissance to public housing in Yolo/Solano Counties and continues to seek new and innovative solutions to many of the issues facing people in need of affordable and available housing.

Get out there and support our town!

John


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Friday Update on April 26 2019

All,

First, a HUGE shout out to Project Playground. They are paying for Josh Coulter Painting to re-stain the City Park Playground. It looks beyond amazing and (in my opinion) better than new. We have some talented contractors in our town (Josh’s crew) and the folks from Project Playground are the gift that keeps on giving. Well Done and people can see the work this weekend!

Yesterday was the inaugural of my “Ask the City Manager” program which will be held the fourth Thursday of each month in the City Council Chamber and can be viewed on the City’s Youtube Channel. For those wanting a replay, you can go HERE to view it.

Here is the written/Cliff’s Notes Version of my initial briefing of some hot topics this week:

  1. Fire on Edwards Street– Contained to a shed on the property. No injuries.
  2. Blue Mountain Terrace Apartments: this is a 63 unit senior affordable project with income restrictions for people living there. The project will be a combination of 1 and 2 bedroom units, not assisted living, but the second units can accommodate a caregiver if needed. The project is in the process of closing the many funding sources during the month of April, and we expect that the 18 month construction period will commence during the summer. They will have an application process for those wanting apartments there and when that arises, we will do our best to get the word out.
  3. Subdivisions: Stones Throw and  Heartland are under construction for their first phases. Heartland is expected to have final inspections on up to five (5) of their units this week. Stones Throw are about still weeks out on the finals for their first units. The projects are starting to take shape and will look nice.
    1. Summary of Units per year: A big question is how many units have been built in Winters in the past few years and how fast are we growing. If you measure growth by how many single family units receive their certificates of occupancy, in 2016 38 units, 2017 34 units and 2018 2 units. We expect that construction will pick up in the coming years with between 65 and 75 units a year for all subdivisions. The total units for Stone’s Throw is 395 and Heartland is 107. Our assumption is that each unit will bring 2.71 people.
  4. Improvement s to look for this summer:
    1. Moody Slough- Construction of the roadway from Rd 88 along the north boundary of the development area.
    2. Stones Throw Phase II- This will include additional grading and utilities for the second phase. Basically the north west corner of the project.
    3. Road 88 Paving- The road will be repaired from last years construction of the force main with a well needed reconstruction of the roadway.
    4. Influent Screen Project- WWTF- An $800,000 capital project to add a filtering screen in the aeration ponds.
  5. Public Safety-
    1. Downtown Parking Enforcement- Starting May 1, the chalk stick will be out and we will begin parking enforcement in the Downtown. Look for some warnings at the start, then citations to follow.
    2. Grant Ave Speed Zones- It’s time to slow down on Grant Ave as we dust off the radar devices and begin speed enforcement. Caltrans has certified the “speed zones” allowing for the radar enforcement.
    3. Car Thefts- 6 stolen cars in the past few weeks. Mostly from people leaving their cars unlocked with the keys in them. The tip of the week is to lock your car and pocket your keys to better improve not getting your car taken.
    4. Domestic violence cases- three felony domestic violence case in the past weeks. We can tell if it’s the weather or what but this trend needs to end.
    5. Molestation conviction- Winters Police brought a molestation case which has been in trial for the past couple weeks. The person was convicted of multiple molestations to multiple vicitims over a ten year period. Kudo’s and excellent work done by Winters PD on piecing the case together and their efforts in working with the Yolo DA.
  6. Fire Staffing- Summer 2019– Fire Season is now year round! Get ready for a hot summer and hopefully we will break out string of annual fires along the Berryessa Ridge.
  7. Planning Topics:
  8. General Plan Refresh- This is a FY 2019-20 Project for the City. We will begin working on an outline as other key projects take shape including the upcoming Regional Housing Needs Allocation Process takes shape, we prepare for the update of the City’s Housing Element and we have a clear view on our overall work load for the upcoming years.
  9. Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA)- The Sacramento Region in conjunction with the State Department of Housing/Community Development develops an economic forecasting method which allocates housing growth through a process known as the Regional Housing Needs Allocation. Each city is then required to develop their General Plan Housing Element to attain those units within its planning period. In our case, our certified housing element is for 8 years. This is a very controversial process and is sure to bring all the no/slow growth folks out to City Council Meetings. Governor Gavin Newsom has established a goal to build 3.5 million new housing units in the coming years. A perspective is that the current annual rate has been in the 200,000’s each year. I see pitchforks, torches and ropes in our future! Like they say, don’t blame the messenger and go to the source.
  10. Climate Action Strategy/Climate Action Plan– Through the Yolo Climate Compact, the City received a grant to update our carbon numbers and review key impacts the Winters Community has on climate. Staff has been working with Ascent Environmental on running numbers and they will be presenting an overall strategy which can be incorporated into our draft Climate Action Plan which will then be adopted. Look for these things to come forward something in the late summer.
  11. Civic Spark Fellowship– The City has received a grant to hire a fellow to help with implementation of key elements of our Climate Action Plan and Strategy.
  12. Preparation for the 2021 Housing Element Update– With the anticipated RHNA numbers coming out this summer, we will then begin formulating a strategy on the development of an updated Housing Element. This will be a 2020 project which will begin taking shape with the RHNA numbers.

North Area Planning- Nothing new to report on this topic. Still no application. The only recent discussions was a call to Bellevue North to get their permission to release some draft planning comments.

This weekend is Youth Day which is the reunion weekend for our community. Start it off with the Rotary Pancake Breakfast, the parade begins at 10 then time at the park. For those feeling they need to take their best shot at the City Manager, I will be sitting in the dunk tank at 2:00 at City Park.

Have a nice weekend!

John


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Friday Update on April 12 2019

All,

The City Council on April 16 will include the following:

April 16, 2019

  • Presentation by Yolo County Office of Emergency Services – Winters Evacuation Plan and Community Outreach Meetings in May
  • Planning Commission Vacancies- Three positions terms are up for renewal.
  • Reduction in City Impact Fees and Housing Trust Fund Loan Authority for Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Apartments Project
  • SB1 Road Rehabilitation Presentation – Fiscal Years 2019/2020
  • Downtown Merchants Trash Enclosure Proposal
  • Purchase of Recycled Content Patio Furniture for Library Garden Project
  • Amplified Sound Permit Application – Liliana Bermudez
  • Climate Action Plan and Resiliency Update

A busy week on a number of key projects:

  • The City engineering project team met with representatives from the Stone’s Throw subdivision to discuss a number of infrastructure issues including the Rancho Arroyo Detention Pond, the linear park and the West Main Wastewater Pump Station. The developer has also prepared plans for the public improvements on “Phase II” of the project which will facilitate the need for construction of a number of improvements including the completion of the Moody Slough roadway, two phases of the linear park and mediation for storm drainage issues.
  • Phase 1A of the Stones Throw development will include a smaller lot/home product to be built by KHonanian Homes. They were at the Planning Commission in February and should begin construction in June. Once we have information of their sales, we will let people know.
  • Electricity has been pulled and is operational in both the Stone’s Throw and Heartland subdivisions.
  • The City and Yolo County will have a “2X2 meeting” on Tuesday, April 16 starting at 4:00 in the City Hall Downstairs Conference Room. The 2X2 is an information sharing meeting with 2 City Council Members and 2 members of the Board of Supervisors on issues of mutual interest. The agenda will include discussion of the I-505 Overcrossing Pedestrian Improvements, Mattress Recycling, County Annexation Procedures and the Fires at Hay Kingdom.
  • Staff is working on scheduling the presentation of the Economic Development Advisory Committee’s Report and Recommendations for late April. Look for an announcement next week.

Specific Plan Overview:

From last week’s update, I have received a number of questions about “what is a specific plan”, how does it play a role in relation to the City’s General Plan, annexation and eventual development. Here is an overview.

The purpose of a Specific Plan is to provide a vehicle for implementing the City’s General Plan on an area-specific basis. A Specific Plan is both a policy and regulatory document. It must be consistent with the City’s General Plan.

The most important aspects of a specific planning process includes:

  • public outreach/engagement and participation in the development of the plan
  • scoping to ensure conformance with existing plans
  • environmental review
  • economic and fiscal review analysis and consistency with community goals and visions.

The following framework is a draft guide the City Staff has developed with the goal of creating effective, efficient, and statutorily complete documents that share a common outline countywide. The content of a Specific Plan must meet the requirements of California Government Code Section 65451.

Here are some of the key components of a specific plan document:

  • Introduction and Summary: This would include a summary of the plan, key features, the background and history of its generation, the community involvement program, legal authority references, any related documents- specifically the relationships between the General Plan, Master plans, zoning, development standards, environmental documents, financial analysis and design standards. The plan must show consistency with the General Plan.
  • Project Visioning and Setting: The plan must outline a vision for the area including the purposes for the plan, desired outcomes and key principles to be implemented. The Plan must establish the setting for consistency with the region, site characteristics, surrounding land uses, the boundary and acreage and any off-site components (if any).
  • Land Use and Community Character: The plan outlines the overall goals and defines the land use through maps, descriptions and tables. This section also coordinates with other City land use documents like the form based codes, master plans and design standards. The plan outlines things like parks, open space, public facilities and schools.
  • Circulation: The plan defines and establishes circulation and traffic goals and design standards for the planned area along with key amenities such as the street cross sections, bike and pedestrian models, trails and walking areas, traffic calming and bus service.
  • Public Utilities: The plan includes updates to key master plans to outline the utility requirements for key areas such as water, sewer, storm drainage, energy, broadband and flood control. The plan also updates and forecasts for financing and funding mechanisms for the implementation of utility plans.
  • Public  Services: The plan identifies the key goals and implementation for the development of parks, schools, public safety and other key government services. It sets benchmarks along with funding concepts for accomplishing the goals.
  • Jobs and Housing: A key element is coordinating how jobs will accompany the housing which is proposed. The Plan merges with Economic Development and Affordable Housing Strategies. The plan expands on how to target key industries, local versus regional businesses, incentives for attraction and a focused plan and strategy. The affordable housing component includes an overall implementation plan, inclusionary housing and income eligibility.
  • Environmental Resources and Open Space: The establishment of goals and policies regarding Environmental Resources, Climate Change, Biotic Conservation, Agricultural Land Mitigation/HCP Coordination and general standards for insuring maximum environmental compliance.
  • Sustainability: Insuring that the building and construction will maximize benefits to the environment including water conservation, energy efficiency, green building, VMT Reduction, recycling, food miles, GHG reduction and other.
  • Implementation and Financing: The Specific Plan will include a plan for phasing and sequencing the overall development, market absorption, fiscal impacts and facility financing and an overall capital improvement program.
  • Administration: The plan will include an overall implementation program to include administration, compliance with the overall plan along with benchmarks and key milestones.

Thanks and have a nice weekend.

John


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Friday Update on April 5 2019

All,

A very busy and active week.

  • Congratulations to Winters Fire Chief Brad Lopez on his official appointment and swearing in. Winters Fire has probably the strongest team in its history led by Chief Lopez now coordinating Administration and Operations, Captain Art Mendoza who oversees prevention and is the Fire Marshall and Captain Matt Schechla who oversees Facilities, Training and Medical Operations. Their leadership is amazing and our public safety has never been stronger.
  • The street lights in the roundabout are taking a beating! We lost the second one from someone missing a turn and driving up onto the sidewalk. The jinx on the situation is that we had on that very day received the replacement for the other light taken out about a month ago.
  • Staff met with Yolo County representatives to discuss fire issues at Hay Kingdom. The fires over the past few weeks have created issues which need to be remedied. I think I speak for a lot of folks who agree that the City routinely smelling like a bad ashtray.
  • Staff has been working with the Downtown Property Owners and businesses on a project to consolidate their trash operations into a single location to beautify the Newt’s Expressway Alley and begin the Alley Activation Master Plan.  The merchants have brought a request to locate the trash enclosure on the new parking lot location on First Street and the alley (which would take out a couple parking spaces) This will come before the City Council on April 16 2019 for a decision on the location of the enclosure.

We had a very busy City Council Meeting with public input regarding concerns on development, planning and annexation which are related to a possible request for a Specific Planning Process for the most northerly properties in the City. Lots of issues and questions came up, so I thought it might be beneficial to clarify some things and answer some of the questions directly.

Questions:

  1. What proposals have been received by the City from the property owners and what is their request from the City?

The representatives from Bellvue North who owns the majority of the property in the north part of the City’s planning area have not submitted any plans or official requests to the City as of today. Staff has been in  discussions with them  regarding the potential for a long range Specific Plan for their property. Discussions have predominantly focused on the area where the planning would occur, the process and scope of the work which would be undertaken, reimbursement of costs incurred by the City to be paid by the applicant and the need for extensive public engagement, environmental review and planning.

Staff has specifically told Bellvue North that any specific plan must include a planning process which includes all land both inside the City Limits and within the current planning area which are outside the limits which would need to be annexed. We put it on Bellvue North to work with the remaining property owners (there are three others) to participate in the planning effort, which they have said they have done. The reason for including the remaining properties if so the final plan will have complete continuity for the entire area.

  1. What land are we talking about, how much is in the current City limits, how much is in the planning area, how much land would be annexed?

A simple geographic reference and roughly speaking it is for the properties located just north of Niemann Street and Moody Slough (not including those properties on Niemann). Bellvue North owns 183 acres which are currently within the City limits, 210 acres which are within the City’s planning area but not in the City limits (the acreage which would need to be annexed) for a total of 393 acres. There are approximately 130 acres owned by other property owners which are in the planning area but not in the limits which are owned by others (and would need to be annexed at a later time). In conversations with Bellvue North, they have discussed the idea of possibly expanding the City’s planning area by approximately 270 acres on additional land they own north of the City’s General Plan area. They have also suggested they are interested in establishing a 480 acre agricultural mitigation area just north of the City.

The numbers included here are directly from the Bellvue North. In meetings, they have shown maps and photo’s but not submitted or given anything for the City to keep. I would venture to guess that over the years, we have seen no fewer than 6 versions, all different with very little specificity on ultimate land uses.

  1. Has the City Staff and City Council been meeting with the north area property owners and what has been the context of those conversations?

Yes. Over the years, we have met with representatives of Bellvue North, their owner Greg Hostetler, their engineers and environmental consultants on numerous occasions regarding multiple topics including flood control and drainage, Moody Slough, the prospect of creating public access for bike and walking trails, water, wastewater re-use, environmental projects, economic development opportunities and planning. In total (both in and out of the City) they own literally thousands of acres and are a major land concern so without question, Staff talks with them.

As Staff discussions with Bellvue North moved toward  the potential for a request coming to the City, their representative, Jeff Roberts requested  to meet with the City Council Members in February for an opportunity to introduce himself, talk about the prospects of a specific planning process and the overall process for public engagement, plan development and environmental review. The Council Members met individually(so as to avoid a violation of the Brown Act) with Mr. Roberts, he brought in some large photo’s of the properties and talked about the concept of the specific plan, possible expansion of the planning area and agricultural mitigation area. Staff (me) sat in on each meeting to assure continuity of information delivered to the Council and to answer any questions or provide clarification on issues which might arise, especially on process. One City Council Member met with Mr. Roberts on a second occasion and Staff participated in that meeting also.

In the past, Mr Roberts has inquired about the prospect of submitting a subdivision map for the 183 acres already in the City limits for development (which they can do at any time). Staff has suggested that a more comprehensive planning effort, such as a specific plan would be more beneficial to the City. The logic behind this position is that a broader planning area gives greater opportunities for a cohesive long term outcomes which would benefit the City.

As part of the Economic Development Advisory Committee Meetings (EDAC in 2018), Jeff Roberts representing the property owner came in as a guest speaker to answer questions regarding potential economic development opportunities on their property. The EDAC has included extensive recommendations on land use and flood control in their report. Because many recommendations were specific to Bellvue North land, Staff provided drafts of the report to Mr. Roberts so their group would not be surprised or unaware of the discussions. As Mr. Roberts was considering submitting a planning request, Staff repeatedly suggested that they wait to allow public discussions to occur (through the Strategic Planning Workshops) so they could hear public input outside of their request before submitting and starting another process.

As an aside, Staff meets constantly with property owners, businesses and prospective property owners about land use. At the City of Winters, we work to maintain optimum transparency and customer service for people who own property, businesses or are looking to invest in the City. Its simply what we do both big and small! The biggest complaint about government is people’s inability to “get answers” so we work to keep an open door and be accessible.

  1. Has a request for proposal (RFP) been released for planning firms to assist the property owners in the development of a specific plan?

The City Staff is unaware of any RFP by Bellvue North for planning services. We have told them and they have acknowledged that they want to bring a quality planning organization as part of any application to work with the City on such a project, so it would not be out of the ordinary for them to look to hire someone. This is no different than a property owner who hires an architect to help them design a home. In this case, Bellvue North will have a large group of planners, engineers, environmental consultants, etc within their team and doing an RFP is how you get proposals.

  1. Has the City entered into a reimbursement agreement with the developer to cover costs to pay the City for services associated with working with the developer?

Before considering or working on any submittal by Bellvue North (or any applicant), the City has provided our standard form “reimbursement agreement” which provides for the applicant to cover all City costs in the consideration of their application. In this case, we requested a $20,000 deposit and they have executed and sent the agreement it back.  We do this for all projects to insure that the City costs are covered.

As a perspective, the City hires and pays all consultants associated with processing an application by any developer. This includes the project manager, environmental consultants, engineers, traffic engineers, financial consultants, etc as well as City Staff. The City team works independently of the applicant, reporting only to the City and not the applicant. This is done to avoid any conflicts. It is through the reimbursement agreement that the City receives the funds to pay the consultants.

  1. Has the City been in contact with the Yolo Local Agency Formation Commission regarding annexation information?

Yes. LAFCO is the agency responsible for all annexations and it is logical to contact them on process and law. Our discussions are also a courtesy to keep them in the loop that something might be on the horizon. We have been talking with them about annexation issues for probably the past 5 years!

  1. When will the City be moving forward on an update of its General Plan, doing a General Plan “Refresh” or additional  planning work?

General Plans are extremely expensive and the City still owes almost $400,0000 from the 1992 plan. Timing on this depends on whether a planning application is submitted by Bellvue North which would essentially do a comprehensive update on all of our planning documents and in essence, an updated General Plan. The City has received a $100,000 grant towards a “refresh” of our documents to make them more user friendly and in line with State goals for how planning documents look. A refresh would most likely occur in our 2019-20 Fiscal Year.

Tuesday night was an active discussion with lots of issues.

Have a nice weekend!

John


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Friday Update on March 29 2019

All,

A couple items this week:

  • The Planning Commission Meeting included an overview and consideration of an ordinance regulating temporary rentals better known as the “AirBnB Ordinance”. The Commission had a very in depth discussion of the various aspects of the ordinance which would allow a combination of streamlining, public input/review and the ability of the City to condition various aspects of this part of the new economy. Frankly, it was one of the best discussions the Commission has had in many years. The Commisioners were absolutely exceptional in their review of the materials. Perspective on concerns for those wanting the permits as well as neighbors. Look for the final recommendation on an ordinance to be before the Planning Commission either late April or early May. Kudos on a job done well by the PC!
  • The City Council Meeting will have the Second Reading of the PD Overlay for the property on Second Street, Senior Advisory, Acceptance of the radar/speed zone survey along Grant Ave and an overview of the Land Use Element of the City’s General Plan.
  • Staff will be meeting with the folks from the Stone’s Throw Subdivision to discuss a number of issues, including construction of the Three Oaks Linear Park, Moody Slough Improvements, Storm Drainage and Phase II of their project.
  • The Economic Development Advisory Committee will release its final report which will be posted on Monday morning .  Key recommendations include expanding light industrial zoning, planning for the north area of the City, addressing flood zone issues and collaboration with neighboring regions and with the local business community.
  • Staff is tracking two key legislative and regulatory issues. One includes a statewide tax on water services and the return of Hexavalent Chromium 6 with the SWRCB Division of Drinking Water. Not like we don’t have better things to work on!

Today, I attended the Sacramento Valley City Manager’s Group at the City of Davis Police Department. To begin the meeting, we heard from Chief Darren Pytel who gave us an overview of dealing with the murder of Police Officer Natalie Corona. To say it was riveting would be an understatement as the Chief gave a summary of the incident along with the ramifications it has had on the Davis Police Department. Simply unfathomable and much respect to the men and women of the Davis Police Department for their professionalism and humanity in dealing with the situation then and now moving forward.

One of my biggest takeaways from the event was the Chief describing how fast social media took the situation. He described the need to provide notification to the family of Officer Corona’s passing and how social media beat him to getting back into the Police Station to get a phone number before the family and friends were alerted to the situation from media and the social media system. Imagine the idea of being alerted of the death of a loved one on Facebook?

Without question, technology has expedited things but at some point, we need to question the veracity of spreading this type of information outside the human interaction and dignity which notification of such an issue deserves. People post information without even questioning or considering the impacts on the sensitivity on those with the greatest impact, such as family members. Just a takeaway.

Finally, Chief Pytel shared a quiet tribute paid to Officer Corona. In the early morning of January 11th  following her passing, the body of Natalie Corona was transferred from the UC Davis Medical Center to the Yolo County Morgue. He described a procession which left the Medical Center at 3:30 am with literally hundreds of police officers and family in tow behind the hearse. On virtually every overpass between the Medical Center and Woodland there were fire trucks and ordinary folks with lights and candles paying honor to the fallen officer. The community coming together in those moments was the start of the healing for the family, Davis PD and the greater public from a very tragic and heart wrenching event.

Chief Pytel and his entire team are outstanding representatives of what is really important about leadership in law enforcement, especially when they are forced into critical incidents like the murder of a fellow officer. Humanity, professionalism, the rule of law, compassion and dignity were all in play on the evening of January 10 and Davis PD made the law enforcement community and Officer Natalie Corona proud.

Have a nice weekend.

John


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Friday Update on March 22 2019

All,

  • For those interested in getting a reservation or making plans for the Hotel Winters, go to hotelwinters.com to make those big plans.
  • The swearing in ceremony for new Fire Chief Brad Lopez will be at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday April 4 at the Fire Station. All are invited and it will be a very important day for Winters Fire.
  • The property owners for the most northern properties in the City’s planning area are expected to be submitting a proposal for the development of a specific plan to cover the future land uses. Staff has been working with representatives on an overall outline of the planning process, a work plan, a reimbursement of costs agreement and an overall strategy for the public process. The meetings have been extremely positive and will be a significant effort for the City which will help cast the future build out of  Winters. So far, so good!
  • Staff is working with the Winters Chamber on a new event for the community called the “Hispanic Music Festival”. Lots of details to work through and we will be holding a meeting on this next week.
  • The Economic Development Advisory Committee’s Report is now in the formatting stage for final publication. Overall, the report is an impressive, insightful set a of recommendation beyond the scope of many of the past reports. Look for the report to come out within the next two weeks!
  • Storm and Pond Update: New containment levy’s have been installed near the Highland Canal to capture some of the water which was inundating the Rancho Arroyo Detention Pond and causing the January overflow. The pumps in the detention pond have been tested and are operational with auxiliary power. PG&E has begun pulling the final power into the new subdivisions and when people see the street lights go on to the north, the detention pond pumps will be fully operational and we should be back to normal.
  • The Marriot Fairfield Inn is still working through final financing. Staff is working with more banking people than we should legally be required to talk to. The permit on this project has already been issued, so hopefully construction will start during the summer!

Finally, I had an opportunity to participate in the Youth Empowerment Seminar which was hosted by Yolo Auditor-Controller-Elections Officer Jesse Salinas. The program is designed to educate high school students on local government and allow them to discuss issues important to them. It was an amazing program!

The first thing you realize is the local government is just not taught in our schools in really any form. It was surprising what some clearly well informed students simply did not know about how their communities operate in relation to local services, including their own education through the school districts.

The most important thing you realize is what a promising future we have with these students. The students were extremely sharp and passionate on a variety of the top issues of today from health care, food, water and housing. I will share that when it comes to housing and development, the students understand the crisis in housing costs and availability probably better than most adults. Sustainability to them falls into where they live in proximity to jobs, entertainment and amenities. It was refreshing to hear them taking a much longer view on the future than I expected.

The “ah ha” moment for me was sitting with two students from Winters High, one of which I have known literally her entire life (she is my neighbor) and the other is the cadet sergeant with our Police Department Cadet Program. The poise and confidence of these young women was impressive. Articulate, sharp and very capable of taking on the assignments being given by the YES coordinator. They took on a couple pretty complex issues and just knocked them out of the park! I was proud to be from Winters as they showed leadership at the table with students from other schools.

One thing I have learned about students from Winters High (both of my kids are Winters High grads) is that small town school avails a very quiet confidence because there are few places for them to hide. The engagement they get compared to students in the larger high schools is evident. We are blessed with some really good teachers throughout the WJUSD and it shows. Our students represented well at the YES conference!

Have a nice weekend.

John

 


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Friday Update on March 1 2019

All,

Just a couple announcements:

  • Rain or shine, the Winters Friends of the Library Fruit Tree Sale is tomorrow (March 2) on Railroad Ave. Trees are $10 and the sale is from 9 a.m. until noon (or they run out of trees). WFoL is one of Winters best organizations, providing support to the Community Library with hours, programming and many other community benefits. I have 10 fruit trees in my yard, all from this sale and I totally recommend!
  • Tickets for the Friday March 8, 2019 Winters Fire Fish Fry are now on sale. Click Here to go to their link where you can purchase tickets.

A quick storm update:

  • Winter storms continue to bring an incredible amount of rain and water into our area, creating significant runoff from already saturated hillsides, fields and farm lands.
  • The issues with the detention pond seem to have been solved with the pumping schedule and the closure of the canal breach making things manageable. For all intents and purposes, the pond has been almost empty even with 3-4 inches of rain over two day periods. The permanent pumps with temporary power are scheduled to  be put into operation on March 7.
  • Those affected by the January 16/17 storm are working with insurance companies to resolve claims and get repairs completed.

On social media a main question has been “why did the City not know the canal was breached”. In 2018, we had significant rains and not a single issue with the detention pond. In 2019, The most significant rains occurred during evenings which created runoff and frankly, the water just begins to rush, similar to a flash flood. The rains on the week of February 18 gave us an opportunity to track the water in the daylight which led us to the canal  breach. Once found, we were able to close the breach and get things back to normal. When water which is supposed to flow into different drainage systems flows in a different direction it can cause issues. The fact that the pond was not drained sufficiently and external water rushing into the system is what caused the overflow. We are confident we have resolved the issues and the fact that we have had 2 100 year events in the past 3 weeks with no additional flooding is testament that things are under control.

Finally, Winters lost a very important member of our community with the passing of Don Frisbee on Wednesday evening at home. The Frisbee Family is a long time business in town and they ran “Frisbee Motors” on Railroad Ave for many years as one of our City’s main car dealerships in the 1940, 50’s and 60’s.. Don was a Winters High School Graduate, went on to Stanford University then into the United States Air Force where he retired at the rank of Lt. Coronel and worked in the Intellegence Section during the Vietnam War. He later become an aerospace executive, working for Northrup Gruman and the development of the B-2 Bomber. He was a Charter Member of the Rotary Club of Winters and a really great guy. He is survived by his wife Betty and a wonderful family. He will be missed.

Have a nice weekend.

John


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Friday Update on February 22, 2019

All,

A couple items this week:

  • Interviews for Winters Fire Chief were held this week. Final interviews will be held over the next week and a decision will occur in the next 10 days. The three (3) internal candidates who interviewed did an amazing job and frankly any of they would be an amazing Chief for the Department. The best news is we get to have all three in our organization to move Winters Fire forward. It was one of the proudest and most satisfying weeks of my professional career. The City is blessed with some extraordinary people serving our community and this week it shined even brighter.
  • Planning Commission this week includes Design and Site Plan Review for 100 homes, a lot split on Second Street and an Expansion of the Berryessa Gap Tasting Room.
  • Staff took a financial group which is considering investment opportunities and financing for the Freeway Hotel Project on a tour of the PG&E Gas Operations Academy on Tuesday. It was an amazing tour to see the quality of the facility and the various classes being offered to the Gas Operations Employees. The City is really fortunate to have PG&E in our town and see their commitment to providing some of the best vocational training for utility employees in the world. The facility is first class and the tour by Saul Martinez from the Academy was very well done. Many thanks to Andrea Coker, the Academy Manager for helping set the tour up on short notice.
  • The Economic Development Advisory Committee has finalized its draft recommendations and will be setting a date to present it in a workshop with the City Council. A really good group and a very far reaching report. Good Stuff!
  • Last week, I had some Questions and Answers regarding the overage and contamination charges being assessed by Waste Management. In some responses on social media and in the press, a key issue maybe could have been emphasized a little better (on my part) regarding some background:

The residential waste management program from the City has six main components involving trash, recycling, containerized green waste and organics, street collection of green waste, household hazardous waste and bulky item pick-up.  For commercial and industrial accounts, there is a wider spectrum of services which includes mostly containerized waste, recycling, organics and a variety of other services.

Contamination is a significant issue, because it can literally spoil 3-5 tons of material which increases costs, change an entire days schedule for pick-up and nullify key diversion programs meant to help the environmental side of our waste programs. Not all contamination is done on purpose, but some is pretty obvious. Green/Organics containers with trash hidden in the bottom is a good example. A “contaminated load” cannot be delivered to the green waste facility and is thus diverted to the landfill instead. The cost of higher dumping fees, fuel and employee time, along with lost diversion is expensive and adds up.

The contamination of recycling can nullify the efforts of a hundred houses when people put paint, household hazardous waste or food products into the recycling container. The best purposeful example is someone hiding paint or motor oil in the container. The spillage instantly ruins the load which is then put into the landfill. If the driver misses the contamination and delivers the load to the recycling facility and dumps the load only to find the contamination then, the hauler is then cited by the facility, the truck must be reloaded (at a  cost) then diverted to the landfill. Some residents come home wondering why their container was missed and these are some of the reasons why.

Overages are another issue. If someone is generating excessive refuse at their property, there are many alternatives to simply overloading the container. The residential program has 3 different size refuse containers. If someone has a lot of refuse, that also means lots of opportunity for recycling and additional recycling containers can be obtained at no additional cost. The same for green waste with the availability of additional containers. For commercial accounts, Waste Management has an audit service for a customer service representative to come to the business and help find solutions to reducing waste.

The reason for discussing the technology is just to highlight how some issues are discovered. A common response to someone receiving an additional charge is “how do you know it was my home or business that contaminated the load”. This is the 21st century and the use of cameras, GPS and computers are in our pockets daily and aid in the investigation.

The idea that assessing “fault” on this was not meant in the slightest in the Q&A. In most cases it means a need for education or assistance from our waste management personnel so the person can avoid a penalty (which is 9 out of 10 people) in the future. Are there some which are done on purpose? Without casting judgment, some are pretty obvious.

Waste management requires a lot of time for the City because the demands of regulations, new programs mandated by the State and our attempts to meet diversion goals are ever increasing. A little education can go a long way is resolving these issues.

Have a nice weekend

John


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Friday Update on February 15 2019

This weeks update in the rain and trash edition!

First, the saga of the rain and the detention pond:

  • Over about a 36 hour period, we experienced almost 3.5 inches of rain.
  • Fun Fact- A hundred year storm in one which brings 5” of rain in a 24 hour period! So, we have basically been pretty close and on January 16/17 we received almost 3 inches in 3 hours.
  • We have brought in four (4) additional pumps and were successful in keeping the pond at a manageable level, even with periods of heavy flow overnight. The pond is now drained and we have turned all of the pumps off and have placed a huge 8” pump next to the cemetery if we ever need to really move some water. We will monitor the pond through the weekend and we can immediately turn the pumps back on when needed.
  • City Staff worked 36 hours straight moving water, sandbagging and operating equipment around to prevent issues in the area with this weeks storm.
  • “The good news” of Wednesdays rain is that we were able to see the flows in the daylight and found a breach in a canal which is supposed to flow into Dry Creek but was literally flooding into the detention pond at a rate of thousands of gallons a minute. With the assist of an excavator and sandbagging, we have been able to close the canal breach which enabled us to draw the pond down to a point where we can stop/limit pumping operations. We have also found an additional external source (not supposed to go into the pond) sending approximately 1,000 gallons per minute into the pond but do not have a solution for that area. A major frustration was the fact that we could not seem to catch up with all the pumping. Hopefully fixing the breach will allow us to catch up.

The discovery of the canal breach answers a lot of questions for us. Knowing that an external source was pouring thousands of gallons into the pond which are not supposed to go into the pond is a big piece of information. The breach, combined with the non-operation of the facility are at the root of the issues we are dealing with.

  • We were notified today about an additional delay in getting the pond pumping system online. Our engineering staff is working to find a solution. I will keep people in the loop in the developments regarding this.
  • We have tried to avoid pumping into the streets, but bringing in the additional pumps has facilitated a need to do so. You can only put so many pumps on to one pipe!
  • Kudos to the Public Works Crew led by Eric Lucero and the entire Winters Fire Team who have been working tirelessly to protect everyone’s homes.
  • Thank you for the understanding of the neighbors and folks on Foxglove, Main and Ivy Loop. Lot’s of understandable frustration by a lot of people.

Trash, overages and penalties:

Question 1- Why am I now being billed by Waste Management for over filling my trash container.

Waste Management has been notifying residents about overages (trash spilling beyond the capacity of the containers and contamination on the trash system. Warnings and additional fees are now being assessed which is allowed for under their contract agreement.

We have had a number of commercial and residential customers call City Hall regarding getting bills for overages from WM. Essentially folks are mad that they have been doing this for a while and are now getting charged.  In regard to this (and overloading the containers), there is a common sense component which needs to be applied. A lot like rolling stop signs and driving 70 mph on CR 31 to DAVIS, you know you are supposed to stop and drive slower, then getting pulled over and being upset for the ticket. Not much we can say about that.

Question 2- I am mad at WM for the additional charge and want to hire another trash company to pick up my trash. Why does the City give them the exclusive business for the entire City?

The exclusive franchise for waste pickup brings an enormous benefit of economy of scale, convenience and a lack of a chaotic enterprise to a community. The waste industry is a little more complicated than it seems and is highly regulated. Imagine having 3-4 different haulers picking up on different days of the week, with different equipment and different methods (imagine having trash containers on the streets every day). Also, imagine not being able to get a pickup, especially in the County areas which are essentially a loser financially for the franchised hauler for those areas. The waste management of refuse in a community is a big deal which requires uniformity and consistency in its operation. Similar to having one water and sewer system.

Question 3- How are they determining that it was me that contaminated the load or I exceeded the capacity of my trash container and am charged for an overage?

Smart technology and computers on each trash truck is now allowing the drivers to explain and document issues on their routes. There are now multiple cameras on the trucks allowing the driver to identify contamination, overages and other issues. Contamination is a huge issue because one stop can determine the difference between a load going to the recycling facility versus the landfill which has significantly higher costs and lost opportunity for diversion. Recycling and green waste/organic programs save resources, capacity in our landfills and ultimately reduce costs to the consumer (the economic component is a huge consideration).

Have a nice weekend!

John


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Friday Update on February 8 2019

All,

First, some announcements:

  • Congratulations to both the Boys and Girls Soccer Teams from Winters High on their combined League Championships for the Sierra View League. Really proud of these students and players who represent our town well throughout greater Northern California. Now on to the Northern Section Championships. Many of us have seen these players literally their entire lives and to see them become the champions they are on the field and in life is absolutely amazing! Go Warriors!
  • On Sunday, February 10 at 2:00, the City will host an information briefing for those affected and interested in the overflow of the detention pond behind Foxglove Street near Ivy Loop. We will give an overview of the cause of the overflow, information about the operation of the pond and moving forward. The meeting will be in the driveway at 620 Foxglove so bring a soccer chair. If it is raining, we will move down the street a bit to the Public Safety Facility, 700 Main Street in the Emergency Operations Center Conference Room.
  • The Buckhorn Food Truck is now on the corner of Railroad and Grant Ave. A chance to get your tri-tip sandwich fix and support a really good local business! Congrats to Silverio and the entire team on going through the process and getting this going!
  • On Friday (today) at 4:00 at the NE corner of Railroad and Main, the “Before I Die” public art wall will be unveiled. The project is sponsored by Yolo Hospice, Winters Participation Art, Winters High School Art Students and the Winters Healthcare Foundation. The wall will be up for about 6 weeks. Pretty cool project!
  • Movie Night with the “Night Shift” and Winters PD and Fire will be on Saturday, February 16 in the apparatus bay at the Fire Department. They will be showing “The Grinch” and provide snacks. Admission is Free. All are invited!

A few notes:

  • Today is Karla Sanders final day with the City of Winters in our receptions area in the Finance Department. We wish her the best with her future endeavors and thank her for her services with the City of Winters! Good job, Karla!
  • Congratulations to recently promoted Sergeant Jose Hermosillo on his swearing in at the City Council Meeting surrounded by his fellow officers, family and friends. Sergeant Hermosillo is a testament to hard work, professionalism and will represent the Police Department well in his new position.
  • Staff is working with the WJUSD and the Department of Industrial Relations in the development of apprenticeship programs within the Winters Community. Dan Maguire is the lead on this and advancing opportunities for WHS students. Well done.
  • Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Apartments are working toward the start of construction with a final financing call and readiness for a March groundbreaking.
  • Staff is working with State Parks to position the City for some Prop 84 Grant Funds.
  • Both Winters Fire and Police have started fitness challenges over the next month. When you see them out and about, give a cheer for getting healthier.
  • The Police Department will be limited operation next week as Karla Fergeson is on vacation for a week!
  • Winters Fire will be advancing the final draft of the Community Wildfire Protection Program before the Winters Fire District Board, City Council and the County Board of Supervisors over the next month. A real collaboration and a good start on shoring up the interface areas of the Greater Winters jurisdictions! Kudos to Art Mendoza for his work on this.

Finally, the past few years has seen leadership of our Police and Fire Departments within the region through training, mutual aid and our collaboration with our neighboring jurisdictions. The emergence of the influence of our staff within the region has become a hallmark of the pride and professionalism with pulses through our organization. I have learned that it really is all about the “people” of the organization who extend our reputation. I cannot adequately express the feeling of being at a meeting when someone from another agency tells me they are “working with” someone from our team on a very meaningful project or effort which advances the profession.

As one of the smallest agencies, I will profess that it is tough living within the limited resources. The adage of having to do “so much with so little” gives me even more motivation when I see our staff giving the extra effort to keep up with our neighboring jurisdiction which have resources beyond our comprehension. It means we are working hard!

Hard work is one of the character traits which defines Winters. Our agricultural roots help establish the benchmark for accepting the effort it takes to achieve the excellence which is embodied and permeates through the Winters community. Our kids are champions on the playing fields, classroom and FFA, our environmental projects make salmon spawn in our creek, we produce the best food in the world, we are the home to a world class vocational training academy with the PG&E Gas Safety facility and our City Staff are second to none in the professional fields. Our Downtown is best in the region and people want to be here because of an incredible vibe. None of this just happens. It really comes down to a culture of hard work and commitment to being the best.

Really proud of some of our recent achievements and how we set the bar for other communities. Small yet mighty!

No Friday Update next week.

Have a good weekend and go Warriors Soccer in the North Section Soccer Championships!

John


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Strategic Planning Workshops Postponed

Strategic Planning Workshops Postponed- Stay tuned!

All,

The previously scheduled community workshops on strategic planning, community facility, etc are postponed pending the development of a new calendar. We have 22 people on our “must attend” list and unfortunately the schedules with many of our other regional evening commitments and meetings has developed many conflicts.

We are working a revamp of the schedule, so stay tuned for a new schedule.

Thanks,

John


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Friday Update on February 1 2019

All,

Some quick points from the week:

First, the items on this weeks City Council Agenda:

February 5, 2019

  • Final Acceptance of Well 2 Rehabilitation Project
  • Resolution 2019-02, Approving Certain Errata to the Implementing Agreement for the Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan
  • Promotional Swearing-In of Sergeant Jose Hermosillo
  • Request for Matching Funds for Vehicle Purchase
  • Animal Services Joint Powers Agency – Agreement Development
  • Informational Item:  General Plan Health and Safety Element
  • The “Before I Die Wall” Presentation by Liz Romero, Gerontological Specialist and Community Ambassador from Yolo Hospice

Now the notes:

  • The City will be contacting homeowners affected by the flooding in the Dry Creek Meadows Subdivision on Monday.
  • Hooby’s Brewing received their final building inspection approvals today. Look for them to open around the third weekend of February.
  • City Staff successfully completed the “tie in” of the West Main Sewer Pump Station. The project was a big step for our wastewater system which will eventually result is the diversion of almost 30% of the flow from the East Street Pump Station, increasing the efficiency and capacity of our wastewater system.

We are in full implementation mode of the Downtown Parking Master Plan. A couple key points:

  • Parking Regulation: All ordinances have been revised and will be in full effect within the next few weeks. Enforcement times, fines and posting of signs, striping of curbs are all on the cusp of completion.
  • Enforcement: Staff has been trained, citations ordered and delivered and the chalk stick is ready. We will begin with a process of warnings then move into citations in February.
  • Striping: the entire Downtown has been re-painted. Additional diagonal spaces have been added on Abbey and Main. In the end, we will net in excess of 20 additional spaces from the striping. The last striping will occur on First Street, Edwards and Baker in the coming months. We have focused on the enforcement areas first then will move to the rest of the core area.
  • First Street Parking Lot: The Winters Hotel construction will move off the property where the parking lot will be constructed in March. The lot will bring 38 parking spaces and a new alley. This should be a big deal for those along Central Main Street who will see almost a doubling in spaces,  a lighted parking lot, paseo parkway onto the mid block and added convenience for many. We expect the parking lot to be done in May/June and ready when the hotel opens.

Combined new spaces from both striping and the new parking lot will be somewhere near 68 spaces.

  • Waste Management has hired a new contractor to take over street sweeping, beginning in March.  Also discussed compacting for recycling & trash, and front loaders will still be needed for compost.  Contamination and overage fines for commercial accounts have begun ($150/overage, $50 contamination).  Also, recycling can’t include plastic bags.
  • Staff has been working on finalizing the City’s Climate Action Plan. The document will cover a six (6) year period to 2025 and include a revised implementation program which provides for public education, adoption of some key programs meant to reduce greenhouse gases. Look for the plan to go before the City Council in May.
  • Staff will be working with Yolo Housing on a new service agreement. Our partnership has resulted in some cost savings and efficiency which may result in a reduction in the rate portion dedicated to capital equipment replacement. Good stuff!
  • Staff is working with the Putah Creek Council on the installation of interpretive signs on the creek trail portion next to the PG&E Facility.
  • A tour of the new Yolo Food Bank on Wednesday showed the advancement of this critical service in Yolo County.
  • 3rd Annual Movie Night with the night shift will be held on March 16th at 5:30 p.m. in the Public Safety Facility’s fire bay – “The Grinch” will be featured.
  • The Community Wildfire Protection Plan Draft is almost ready for public viewing. Look for a release prior to the upcoming meeting of the Winters Fire District Board Meeting.
  • Attended a great SACOG Regional Manager’s meeting; SACOG rep said Winters was the perfect city for the “Green Means Go” pilot program that includes infill projects, travel options and EV options to decrease gas emissions in the region.
  • For all the no growthers out there, its time to get a refill on the big bottle of tums and the Costco size Excedrin because the State is ready to release the new Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) numbers with direct correlation to transportation and road funding. Staff attended a RHNA meeting with SACOG and although the City will be receiving $125K, these funds can’t be used to update the housing element.  Staff will look for an alternate way to utilize these funds within the context of RHNA and affordable housing.
  • The EDAC report will be re-written, and based on the recommendations from the EDAC, it’s a good time to go to the Planning Commission and City Council about the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) process as everyone’s numbers are going up.
  • Regarding transit, the City pays a large amount of money for Yolo Bus.   Micro transit models may be explored.  We need to look at the needs for seniors.  An app on a phone could enable someone to be picked up along the scheduled route.  There is a lot of potential here.

Getting ready for the Super Bowl. My recommendation is two growlers from Berryessa Brewing, including their new Couch Potato IPA. My prediction on the Super Bowl is to take the OVER on the parlay card and look for Tom Brady to get ring #6- Patriots 36 Rams 21

Have a safe weekend.

 

John


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Friday Update on January 25, 2019

All,

A quick update on the many initiatives and projects I have on my desk:

  • Interview and Selection for Fire Chief: We have decided to conduct formal interviews with internal candidates to fill the job of Fire Chief for Winters Fire. The process will include a dual interview panel including a “Technical Interview” with Fire and City Management professionals and a “Community Panel” which will include persons from the community who do business with Winters Fire. This will occur in mid February and we will plan on an appointment by early March.
  • Economic Development Committee Report and Recommendations: The draft is in circulation with the Economic Committee and we should have the report completed within the next 10 working days. We will then schedule a workshop for presentation in February.
  • Winters Housing Element Update: The City’s General Plan Housing Element expires in October of 2020, thus we need to begin the process for the update. This will include the hire of a consultant and a process of preparation. We will work toward having the request for proposals for a consultant out by April of 2019.
  • Greater Winters Community Wildfire Protections Plan: Through a grant with CalFire, Winters Fire has been working with residents of Golden Bear Estates, Positas Rd and other key stakeholders such as Audubon California on a wildfire protection plan. So far, the process has been exceptional and they are working toward a draft which should be ready for public review in March.
  • General Plan “refresh”: A key goal for 2019 is to take the City’s General Plan and update various sections to make it easier to read, include more graphics and goals and to essentially make it a more transparent document in compliance with State goals for General Plans. The City has received a $100k grant and will look to hire a consultant to facilitate a “refresh” of our overall plan. To see our overview and status on the City website, click HERE.
  • Monthly General Plan Updates: Starting on February 5, the City Council will be getting a monthly update on each of the City’s nine (9) General Plan Elements. February will include an overview of the Health and Safety Element.
  • Succession Planning: The City has some key retirements on the horizon. This means the need to hire and replace some key personnel. Look for an extensive discussion of this topic at one of the upcoming Strategic Planning Workshops.

A quick status on some key projects coming soon:

  • First Street Parking Lot: A new Downtown Parking Lot will be constructed to support the Downtown Hotel and increase public access. The City calendar has us starting on this project in March and it will bring an additional 38 spaces.
  • Flood Plan Update: An update to the flood master plans covering the north area of the City is in development.
  • Three Oaks Park: As part of the new housing projects being developed, an 11 acre linear park will be developed named “Three Oaks Park”. The project will be developed in three phases and will include picnic areas, playgrounds, grass play areas, dog parks and a community garden. Infrastructure plans are due in 2019 with construction beginning in 2020.
  • City Hall Annex Remodel: A key project at City Hall will be to make it more accessible to residents. In 2017, half of the former fire/police station was remodeled to include a new conference room. Staff is currently working on plans to add additional office space into the other half of the building and move certain administrative offices into that location to ease the ability of folks to do business with the City. Look for this project in 2020.

Have a nice weekend.

John


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