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Category Archives: City Manager’s Update

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Friday Update on Friday, July 27, 2018


Just a few items this week:

  • A really good meeting of the Economic Development Advisory Committee. This weeks theme was “collaboration” and we had presentatitions from Celia Esposito Noy, President of Solano Community College and Robert Burress the President and CEO of the Solano Economic Development Corporation. The Committee went through a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analsysis of the Winters economy with a lot of interesting views. The next meeting will be August 9 with a theme on Future Development which will include presentations from LAFCO and north area landowners.
  • Winters Police and Fire, Yolo 911, in cooperation with the Winters JUSD held an“active shooter” training on Tuesday at Shirley Rominger Intermediate School. This was a full/functional drill with radio calls, shots fired and a combination of assailants, victims and even the press. Many thanks to the City and District personnel who participated in a drill which we hope we will never have to deal with in real life.
  • The Planning Commission met on some key items, and approved a revised map for the Creekside Estates Subdivision and held workshops on both Air BnB and Food Trucks. Look for policies on both the short term rentals and Food Trucks to come back at the August meetings.
  • The Planning Commission will hold a Public Hearing on the Downtown Parking Master Plan and will receive an overview report on the City’s General Plan on August 14.
  • Winters Fire on OES Truck 333 is on the Carr Fire in Redding.
  • If you have time, check out the new mural at Lorenzo’s Market. An amazing tribute to the greater Winters area. A special thanks to the Winters History Committee and the Participation Arts for their sponsorship.

Finally, this was a really good week for Winters Fire, Police and AMR ambulance in that we had a “field save” of a life of a Winters resident. The law prohibits release of details, but I can share with you that we responded to a situation where we brought someone back from death. A combination of quick action, support from a bystander and the absolute professional acumen of the Winters team realized someone coming back to life and consciousness in an ambulance on the way to a trauma center. Amazing!

Our entire public safety team is a group of professionals who stand ready to respond at a moment’s notice, arrive on a scene with very few details, assess a situation, then make instant and critical decisions on care to implement life saving procedures. In this case, their fast action, professionalism and training helped bring someone back to life.

We are blessed to have these hero’s amongst us who can do what they do. I tell folks that our public safety personnel get to see people in the worst and most critical moments of their lives. In many (and most), the results are not as positive and the staff are often burdened in dealing with those outcomes. In this case, they saved the life of a someone who we know is important to both family and friends.

I am really proud of our team and grateful that I get to work with such stellar members of the City team. Good job!!


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Friday Update on Friday, July 20, 2018


A couple things this week:

  • The Economic Development Advisory Committee will meet on Thursday, July 26, 2018 at 5:30 in the downstairs conference room at City Hall. The theme for this week will be “Collaboration” and the speakers will be representatives from the Solano Economic Development Corporation and Solano College. The session will also include a review of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats Analysis which is under way, along with a discussion of regional contacts for economic collaboration. This is going to be a really good meeting.
  • Street parking in town is limited to 72 continuous hours in any one location. In response to numerous complaints received city-wide, the Winters Police Department will begin proactively enforcing Municipal Code 10.16.050, which prohibits leaving unattached trailers on any street or alley for any period of time as well as parking any vehicle or recreational vehicle for more than (72) hour consecutive hours.

Citing and/or removing vehicles and unattached trailers pursuant to this section has historically been undertaken by the Police Department only in response to specific complaints. Unfortunately, the issues with these vehicles and trailers have increased around town and decreased the quality of life for many residents. In most cases, the Police Department will issue warnings to vehicles and trailers in violation of the Municipal Code prior to taking enforcement action. Vehicles that are clearly inoperable or have expired registration for more than 6 months may be towed immediately.

A permit can be obtained from the Winters Police Department to temporarily store a recreational vehicles or unattached trailer on the street for up to 5 days at a time. Please see Winters Municipal Code 10.16.270 “Exemptions—Issuance of permits,” the Winters Police Department website at http://www.winterspolice.org/records-services/, or call the Winters Police Department for further information.

  • The Planning Commission will have meetings on July 24 and August 14. On July 24, the Commission will hold a public hearing regarding the Creekside Estates Subdivision located on the corner of Grant Ave/Main Street. The Commission will also hold study sessions on Food Trucks and AirBnbs.
  • The August 14 Meeting will include a Public Hearing on a proposed Downtown Parking Master Plan and a presentation regarding the status of the City’s General Plan.
  • Staff is expecting a re-submittal of the plans for the proposed Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suiteswithin the next few weeks.
  • Homelessness is becoming a pervasive issue in Yolo County with impacts occurring county-wide, including in Winters. Look for an increased discussion by cities in the upcoming weeks and months. It’s a HUGE problem.
  • The Heartland Subdivision has paved a number of streets and is preparing for the construction of models. The project is starting to shape up!
  • Winters Police conducted a sweep of encampments in Putah Creek. A noticing procedure and trespass information is being provided to property owners along the creek.
  • The City Council has authorized the City Attorney to defend the City and respond to an suit brought against the City by the Friends of Putah Creek.


Finally, the City transitioned with the swearing in of recently elected City Council members and the selection of Bill Biasi as Mayor. Also sworn in were Tracy Jensen as City Clerk and Shelly Gunby as City Treasurer.

An issue covered in a couple letters to the editor, articles in the newspaper and on social media has been the passage of Measure G calling for the appointment of the City Clerk and Treasurer positions. A little more background:

Measure G was advanced under the notion that both the City Clerk and Treasurer positions had evolved into more professional and qualified positions versus purely representative positions. In order for the City Clerk to carry out the full range of duties, the person should become a certified municipal clerk requiring considerable advanced training and certification. Similarly, the City Treasurer requires professional training and acumen to fulfill the required duties and provide the necessary fiduciary financial responsibilities implied in the title and spirit of the position. Thus the concept of appointment of persons into these jobs has become necessary.

In 2004, the Department of Financial Management was established within the City based on the elevation of the complexity of many efforts being undertaken by the City. The City reformatted our financial management procedures, advanced the complexity of our budgeting and financial reporting along with preparation to issue debt financing for both redevelopment and water/sewer improvements. Part of the evaluation of the fiscal qualification of a community by rating agencies and underwriters is a consideration of the professional management structure of the City organization and the capacity of the financial management to fulfill long term obligations. Thus we created the Department of Financial Management which summarily absorbed the duties of the Treasurer.

The decision to move forward with Measure G was facilitated with the announced retirement of long time City Clerk. Nanci was the consummate professional and recognized the evolution of the position (she was a certified municipal clerk) and the importance of having a qualified professional in the position to protect the interests of the City. Because the duties of the Treasurer were now with the Department of Financial Management, it became only natural that we would advance a measure for the appointment of both.

Mike Sebastian who has served as the City Treasurer has provided incredible volunteer service to our community. The sole responsibility of his job the past 12 years has been that of an emergency check signer, a role he will continue to do. It is our full intent to recognize Mike’s service at an upcoming Council Meeting.

Have a nice weekend.


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Friday Update on Friday the 13th of July 2018


Happy Friday the 13th! A very busy City Council Agenda on July 17:

July 17, 2018

  • Second Reading of the First Amendment to the Restated and Amended Development Agreement for Callahan Estates
  • Second Reading and Adoption of Ordinance 2018-03 Approving Various Zoning Text Amendments to Title 17 (Zoning Ordinance) Re: Non-Conforming Uses, Structures and Lots
  • Street Closure Requests for Earthquake Festival & Monthly Downtown Street Meat Event
  • Two Claims Against the City of Winters – Barbara Meyer and Maribel Alexis
  • East St. Pump Station – Control Panel Upgrades
  • Appointment of Primary and Alternate Representatives on the Yolo County Public Agency Risk Management Insurance Agency (YCPARMIA)
  • Certify Election Results & Swear In Council Members
  • Resolutions to Appoint the Positions of City Clerk and City Treasurer
  • Designation of Mayor and Mayor Pro Tempore
  • Public Hearing and Approval of the Engineer’s Report and Ordering the Levy and Collection of Assessments within the City of Winters City-Wide Maintenance Assessment Dist. FY 2018/2019
  • TEFRA Public Hearing to Approve the Conduit Financing for the Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Apartments Affordable Housing Project
  • Debt Issuance and Management Policy
  • Wastewater Treatment Facility Influent Screening Improvements, Project No. 16-03
  • Updates to Winters Municipal Code Related to Green Waste & Garbage Services
  • Designation of a Voting Delegate and Alternates for the League of California Cities Annual Conference
  • City Council Liaison Assignments

For the “summer swoon”, lots of activities going on around the City.

  • The Economic Development Advisory Committee held an organizational meeting on July 12. We essentially reviewed information about the economics of the City, went over some key documents which affect the City and set future meetings. Beginning on July 26, the Committee will meet on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays beginning at 5:30 in the Downstairs Conference Room at City Hall. Good stuff!!
  • The City welcomed our new Human Resources Manager Crystal Zaragoza on Monday. Crystal will be managing the human resources, risk management, training and benefits for the City. Crystal and her family live in Winters.
  • The Police Department is dealing with a multitude of homeless and transiency issue in Putah Creek. The plan is to work with the property owners and the transients to determine a course of action. Issues include fires, trespassing, health and sanitation matters and dumping. This is not an easy situation and we will work to find some common ground.

This week, I received a bunch of questions from a resident in relation to the notice which was mailed this week on water and sewer rates. Some really good questions and my attempts at answering them. Here is the Q and A:

  1. Who is responsible for managing the day to day of the water/sewer utility and what is the structure of the management? Is it City of Winters public works? City Council? Do we contract it out to a management company? Is it a single person? Is there a board of directors?…
    • Answer: The utilities are City operated. In 2013, we brought wastewater services in house (from a private contractor) and saved a considerable amount. The City Council is the “Board of Directors” and it is City managed and operated.
  2. Is the utility run as a for profit entity or is the goal net zero revenues?
    • Answer: The City is non-profit and the system is built to charge the service rates along with capital replacement for infrastructure. We are prohibited by California laws to charge beyond the costs of providing the service.
  3. When was the last time Winters Water/Sewer ran a annual surplus and what was it?
    • Answer:  Typically, any surplus is directed back into the capital funds for repairs (thus lowering future costs). When there are deficits, funds have been taken with a reduction of capital funds. Any or all excess revenues must remain in the Water/Sewer enterprises, they cannot be directed to other services within the City. Both Propositions 218 and 26 strictly prohibit fees from becoming general use taxes. The enterprises are meant to only benefit the system for which the rates are paid.
  4. What was the reason for the bond in 2007?
    • Answer: Extensive repairs to both water and sewer infrastructure. Specifically, we re-lined almost 40% of the wastewater collection system, replaced 100 year old water lines, rehabilitated two water wells and did extensive repairs to the wastewater processing system.
  5. How many customers (parcels) does the utility currently have?
    • Answer: Approximately 2,000 customers.
  6. At the current water rates how many more customers would the utility need to meet its revenue requirements?
    • Answer: Rate projections are based on the existing number of customers. Spreading costs across a broader base would ultimately lower rate increases, especially on the “fixed” portion of the rate.
  7. Would it be possible to get a copy of the financial statements for the past 5 years for the utility? (Income Statement, Balance Sheet, and Statement of cash Flows)
    • Answer: Here is a link to the City’s comprehensive financial report which details the financial position of the utilities. Click HERE.  Go HERE for a link to a bunch of our online financial documents.
  8. As I understand it from the letter, the rate increase is required to keep the debt service coverage ratio in compliance with the terms of the bond and to fund current necessary capital infrastructure improvements and repairs. Is this a correct summary of the issue?
    • Answer: That is one of the key issues. The reduction in revenues has caused us not to be able to keep the debt service ratio of our bond covenants. The combination of costs along with lower water utilization (which means less revenue) is driving the deficits. It’s been 5 years since the last increases in utility rates and the proposed increases and refinancing of the existing bonds are meant to lower costs and a slight increase in revenues for the debt coverage and operations.

Have a nice weekend.


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Friday Update on July 6 2018


For the fifth year in a row, Winters witnessed a devastating wildfire which is close to 90,000 acres in size, the largest area we have experienced. This week was mostly dedicated to dealing with the ramifications of the County Fire and its impacts on the Greater Winters Area. The following is a synopsis and chronology of the events of the first couple days of the fire and some insight into our approach to response.

  • The actual fire began in Guinda on Saturday and quickly in the evening, we were being warned that conditions were ripe for a significant spread through the Capay Valley, into Indian Valley and along the ridge. By 4:00 on Saturday, we had “spotting” in key spots meaning the fire was headed south.
  • Sunday, July 1 9:00 a.m.- My phone starts blowing up with calls from the Fire Department, Yolo Office of Emergency Services and the Mass Care Coordinator for Yolo County.  By that morning, CalFire had already moved an “Incident Management Team” into Yolo County and was assembling at the Yolo Fairgrounds. By 9:00 am, we were given an estimate that the fire would possibly reach the outskirts of Golden Bear Estates and the Positas Road residential area. We were told that “mandatory evacuations” were being implemented with the prospect that the fire would reach the area within the next 6 hours. We were asked to activate our Emergency Operations Center and begin pushing information and notification to residents.
  • Sunday, July 1 9:30-Yolo County OES sent out a mass notification for key areas, including all properties “west of Road 89” from Madison to Winters. Unfortunately, the computer grab for the area included the City of Winters proper and more than half of the City residents were incorrectly notified to evacuate. We quickly worked to send a second call throughout the City cancelling the evacuation order and focusing it on the County areas outside the City and west of 87D.
  • By 10:30 we were setting up our EOC and many of our partners were arriving. The Yolo Sheriff’s Office arrived, City Staff, our Police and Fire Departments and our goal was to begin implementation of evacuation orders for Golden Bear and Positas.

Given that we have done evacuations and dealt with large fires previously, we knew we would run into some issues. First was skepticism from residents on evacuation. Golden Bear has about 50 residences and about 15 on Positas Rd. Over the past four previous events, the number of people actually evacuating has diminished significantly because of restrictions on re-entry even when the fire is out. People essentially choose to stay, which is their choice. We visited every residence in both locations with Sheriff Deputies.

  • By noon on Sunday, only a single confirmation of an evacuation had been confirmed from Golden Bear and 2 from Positas. The residents were staying put and we basically mapped the locations of those staying .

Our main goal at this point was to push information via our social media (mostly Facebook) and respond to “rumors” circulating about the fire. The Yolo Sheriff and OES did an amazing job of keeping the City in the loop on activities, as did the CalFire Incident Management Team. Regular briefings were scheduled we were represented at each.

  • We opened the Community Center as an “Information Center” to essentially gauge the evacuation of folks and to answer questions. No evacuees showed up but we did have some folks interested in coming in and talking about the fire. After 3 hours, we closed the Community Center and began directing persons needing shelter to the Esparto Boy Scout Cabin which had been set up as a shelter by the Yolo County Mass Care Coordinator. In total, only two people from the Capay Valley showed up for a single night.

Our experience with evacuations has taught us that most people are not interested in sleeping in a shelter. Many people have pets (which are typically prohibited) and most find a place to stay with friends. The Community Center does not have television, showers or internet which are now the basics of a good shelter. In the previous 4 years when we established shelters, we have never housed a single evacuee from Golden Bear or Positas. Most either do not evacuate or choose a hotel or stay with friends. The number one requested resource preferred during our previous evacuations was the availability and phone numbers for local hotels. Thus, when the evacuation order came forward, we immediately began calling hotels for availability and pushed that through our contacts and social media.

  • By the afternoon on Sunday, we closed the Community Center and made available the Boy Scout Cabin for persons changing their minds.

Some of the basic comments from folks was “why didn’t the City open a shelter”. The reason is rooted in our history of not having local evacuees and the amount of resources needed to staff a shelter. In this case, if we had requested the establishment of a shelter, they would have divided the resources from Esparto and sent them to Winters. In a shelter you also need to provide security and privacy. There is a system for persons coming to a shelter which is pretty labor intensive. Additionally, food, hygiene and things like television and internet are critical elements. Finally, we simply know our constituency for this situation.

In next weeks segment, I will cover the workings with CalFire and Incident Management Team 3.

Have a nice weekend.


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July 3 City Fireworks Show Cancelled


With 44,000 acres burned, 3% containment (as of this morning), a mandatory evacuation in effect, poor air quality and smoke covering the town, we have made the decision to cancel the July 3 Fireworks Show. We will re-schedule for another date.

We also want to emphasize caution for all folks using fireworks during a very delicate time for our community.


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Friday Update on June 29 2018

Updates on some items before the Planning Commission on June 26 and upcoming City Council Meeting on July 17.

The Planning Commission considered design review and site plans for two properties and Phase I of the Olive Grove subdivision.

  • 800 Hemenway provides for a new 983 square foot single family residence on the property.
  • 508 Abbey includes a 933 square foot second story addition to the existing house.
  • The review for Olive Grove approved two separate plans for 5 homes on Hemenway Street. The plans include both single and two story residences.

The Planning Commission also heard updates on work being done regarding a new food truck ordinance and the creation of a regulatory framework for temporary rentals via Air BnB, VRBO and others. The Commission provide some really insightful input with both issues scheduled to come to their next meeting on July 24.

The July 17 City Council Meeting will have a pretty substantial agenda, including:

  • Certification of the June 5 Election Results which will include swearing in newly elected members.
  • Selection of the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem.
  • Appointment and Swearing in of the City Clerk.
  • Recommendation on designation of City Treasurer.
  • Two Public Hearings including the Engineers Report for the City-wide Assessment District and a Tax Allocation Hearing regarding financing for the Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Affordable Housing Project.
  • Second readings for ordinances related to  the Zoning Text Amendment regarding setbacks for non-conforming structures and the Callahan Estates Development Agreement which were heard on June 19.
  • Street Closure Request for the Earthquake Festival.
  • A revised fiscal policy regarding City debt.
  • Authorization for construction for a bar screen at the Wastewater Treatment Facility.
  • Update on issues concerning City collected green waste and garbage services.
  • A revised lease agreement with American Tower Company for the cell tower located at the East Street Pump Station.
  • Appointment of a City representative to the Yolo County Public Agency Risk Management and Insurance Agency.
  • Designation of City Council voting member for the upcoming League of California Cities Annual Conference.
  • City Council liaison and committee assignments.

A couple of other notes:

  • Fees for trash service will increase based on the cost of living index starting July 1. The typical house will see their bill increase by about $2 per month.
  • Staff met with the City consultant on Senior Services and we expect that a report and recommendations will be coming by September.
  • The Police Canine Program is stalled and probably will be terminated, with funds raised being either returned to the major donors or transferred to the chaplaincy program and our K9- Kepi.
  • Fire and Police are working with other Yolo County public safety agencies on procedures for mass casualty incidents. A drill is scheduled for City personnel on July 24.
  • New body worn cameras for the Police Department will go into use in August.
  • Staff has submitted a grant application for funding toward a “refresh” of the City’s General Plan and the creation of a “sustainability element” to the Sacramento Council of Governments.

City Hall will be closed on July 4 in observance of Independence Day.

Have a nice weekend.

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Friday Update on June 22 2018


A really big City Council Agenda, so I thought a Cliff’s Note Summary of some really important things which were covered is in order:

The consent calendar included:

  • The final map for Phase I of the Winters Highlands (now called Stone’s Throw) was approved. This includes the lot and subdivision which is recorded with Yolo County. The project has a development agreement and some of the provisions were modified to reflect some modifications to the conditions of approval in relation to public improvements and the timing of a number of things. The developer is also required to provide an irrevocable offer of dedication for all the the public improvements which includes the property, streets and various improvements being installed.
  • A contract with Vintage Paving was approved which will provide for street repairs to Edwards Street, East Main, Almond and Orchard Streets. The repairs will include spot repairs and paving.
  • An authorization was given for repairs to the Carter Ranch Sewer Lift Station to fix issues with the impellers and pumps in the well.
  • New salary ranges and revised job descriptions for City Employees were adopted.

The discussion agenda included five (5) public hearings and the City Budget.

The public hearings included and adopted the following:

  • The Yolo Habitat Conservation Program (HCP) and the Natural Communities Conservation Plan (NCCP) were adopted as part of the City’s participation in the Yolo Conservancy. In general, this is a 50 year plan to advance conservation of protected species and streamline mitigation programs for developers and the cities in Yolo County.
  • The establishment of a utility undergrounding district for Newt’s Expressway in the Downtown to deal with power and utility lines.
  • A hearing for all property owners to provide input in regards to weed abatement notices mailed within the past few weeks.
  • A zoning text amendment which allows existing/non-conforming properties which may encroach into setbacks to expand structures already in the setback which does not increase the current encroachment. This issue relates to many properties along Dry Creek which encroach into the top of the bank setback. In many cases, property owners can expand their homes “up” but not into the setback area.
  • The Callahan Estates Subdivision (now called “Heartland”) owned by Crowne Communities received approvals for their final map for Phase I, an amendment to the development agreement, an irrevocable offer of dedication for public improvements and the Public Improvement Agreement for the property. The amendment to the development agreement and the map involves turning one of three (3) small parcels designated as mini-parks into an additional buildable lot in exchange for a $90,000 toward park improvements.

Non-public hearing items included:

  • A review and adoption of an update to the City’s Wastewater Treatment Facility Master Plan which covers the main processing facility for all wastewater. The City Council selected option 2A which will add a future 50 acre storage pond, increased recycling/re-use of water and the continuation of secondary level treatment. Part of the discussion included that the City consider addition recycling options which might include wetlands uses near the current facility.
  • A review of increased rates for both water and sewer. The City Council was presented with three (3) options, and selected the lowest rate increase available which would provide for a $8.41 increase per month in the first year and an additional $1.99 in the second year for a total monthly increase of $10.41 per month over two years. The City will mail notices to all customer by July for a public hearing on the rates in August. The Council also authorized the refinancing of water and sewer bonds to take advantage of improved interest rates and lower the overall cost of debt on the monthly rates.
  • The Fiscal Year 2018-19 and 2019-20 Budgets were adopted. These provide for General Fund Budgets of $5.6m and $5.9m in each of the fiscal years which go towards parks, public safety and general operations of the City. All funds including water, sewer, capital projects and the general fund will include spending of $11.9 in FY 2018-19 and $15.4m in 2019-20. The budget include capital projects for street repairs from SB 1 funds, the addition of an additional police officer in 2019-20 and the expansion of facilities at the wastewater treatment facility. Also included is funding toward the design of a new community center and a sports park which will be contingent on whether the WJUSD pursues an additional facilities bond in November 2018.

The Planning Commission has a number of items this week including site plan and design review for homes on Hemenway and Abbey Streets as well as consideration of the first five lots of the Olive Grove Subdivision. Also, brief updates on the food truck and Air BnB regulations will be presented.

Finally, the last official full City Council meeting for long time City Clerk and Director of Administrative Services Nanci Mills was on Tuesday. There are few in the history of Winters who have provided a steady and impactful influence on the administration of the City of Winters as Nanci has!

During her tenure, Nanci has worked with four (4) City Managers, almost 40 different City Council members and has attended more than 900 City Council Meetings. In her position of Director of Administrative Services, she has hired all City  employees for the last 32 years, coordinated all labor relations, managed all recreation programs and facilities and overseen both risk management and the City’s records management system. In the absence of the City Manager, she has routinely served as the Acting City Manager. Her service to the City has been stellar!

Nanci has played a significant role in practically every major initiative of the City. The renovation of City Hall, revitalization of Downtown, the new library and swimming pool, major upgrades in water and wastewater utilities, the construction of bridges and the restoration of Putah Creek. Internally, Winters administration is as modern and professional as any in the area. Regionally, Nanci has served as the chairperson of the Yolo Public Risk Management Authority and is viewed and respected as a key leader in covering the liability and interests of the County of Yolo and the cities and special districts.

Most importantly, Nanci has served as a steady influence on the tone and demeanor of how the City organization works with our constituents. Her focus on helping folks and customer service has defined City Hall as an important resource in aiding those who come seeking assistance. Her ethics and moral compass has provided supervision and mentorship to many who have worked for the City over the past four decades. Without question, she has put Winters and our service before her own interests over the years.

Nanci is an irreplaceable member of our staff. I will share that those who will take some of her responsibilities come into a well run and professional operation that will continue the legacy of quality and thoroughness which defines Nanci.

As she moves into her “next phase”, Nanci will always remain a member of the City family and her influence will remain for years to come. She has a beautiful family and is a true friend to so many. While we will dearly miss her but we will quietly celebrate for her in retirement.

Have a nice weekend!

John W. Donlevy, Jr., City Manager

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Friday Update on June 15 2018

VSRP: No data available
VSRP: No data available


Lot’s happening and ramping up for a new fiscal year with many projects.

City Council Agendas:

June 19, 2018

  • Winters Highlands (Stone’s Throw) Phase 1 Subdivision – Approval of Final Map #4507, Development Agreement and Conditions of Approval, Irrevocable Offer of Dedication of Right of Way and Public Utility Easement
  • Street Maintenance Agreement with Vintage Paving
  • Repairs to damaged impellers at Carter Ranch Lift Station
  • Labor Agreements (MOU’s), Job Descriptions, and Salary Schedules
  • Recognizing Rebecca Fridae for Serving 30 Years on the Yolo County Library Advisory Board on Behalf of the Winters Friends of the Library
  • Recognizing Nanci Mills for Serving 32 Years as City Clerk and Director of Administrative Services for the City of Winters
  • Adoption of Ordinance 2018-02 for Implementation of the Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan  (HCP/NCCP)
  • Approval of Newt’s Expressway Rule 20A Utility Underground District
  • Public Hearing to receive Input from Specific Property Owners Regarding Implementation of Weed Abatement
  • Introduction of Ord. 2018-03 to Consider Various Zoning Text Amendments Regarding Properties along Dry Creek with Nonconforming Uses, Structures and Lots in regards to creek banks and setbacks.
  • Proposed First Amendment to the Amended and Restated Development Agreement and Amended Tentative Subdivision Map for Callahan Estates Subdivision
  • Public Improvement Agreement and Subdivision Final Map for Callahan Estates Phase 1
  • Draft Wastewater Treatment Facility Master Plan
  • 2018 Water and Sewer Rate Increase
  • Proposed 2018 Water and Sewer Revenue Refunding Bonds for the 2007 Financing
  • Adoption of the 2018-2019/2019-2020 Budget

July 17, 2018

  • Second Reading of the First Amendment to the Restated and Amended Development Agreement for Callahan Estates
  • Approval of the Engineer’s Report and Ordering the Levy and Collection of Assessments within the City of Winters City-Wide Maintenance Assessment District, FY 2018/2019
  • TEFRA Public Hearing to Approve the Conduit Financing for the Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Apartments Affordable Housing Project
  • Debt Policy
  • Project Budget and Bid Authorization for Manual Bar Screen at Wastewater Treatment Facility
  • Updates to Muni Code Related to Green Waste & Garbage Services
  • American Tower Lease update for the existing cellular tower along Putah Creek

Some notes on things happening in the City:

  • Election results from Yolo County Elections are delayed, thus certification of the June 5 Election will not come before the City Council until July 17, 2018.
  • Staff held a pre-construction meeting with the development team for the Olive Grove Subdivision in regards to utilities and major infrastructure. Look for that project to get moving.
  • The update to the City’s development Impact fees is moving along. Staff will be meeting with the consultant on the project and should receive an update within the coming weeks. Look for this to move forward this summer.
  • Things are extremely busy at the Community Pool. Lot’s of swim lessons and we have added two more slots into the previous schedule.
  • The Blue Mountain Terrace Affordable Senior Apartments Project is in negotiation with the developer. One part of the project will be for the City to “disencumber” (give back) a $1m grant to the State and for us to reapply for a higher amount of funding. The projected costs for the Senior Center are around $2m. The previous grant limit on capital construction was a maximum of $1m. The upcoming grant process will allow construction costs of up to $5m and there is no penalty if we give the current grant back.
  • City is working with a number of groups, including the Winters Joint Unified School District on a career academy and job readiness program for high school students, focusing on the hospitality industry.
  • Emergency Management Training for City Staff and volunteers will happen on June 27 at the Public Safety Facility.
  • The July 24 Planning Commission Meetingwill include a revised tentative map for the Creekside Estates Development and the Downtown Parking Plan,
  • The Parking Committee has met and developed a final draft of the Downtown Parking Master Plan. The plan is in the final stages of editing and will go to the Planning Commission on July 24.
  • Lot’s of project plans are under building review including Winters Healthcare Campus, Stone’s Throw and Heartland model homes.
  • Winters Police have responded to a rash of calls related to fights and other domestic disagreements. We suspect that heat and alcohol may be contributing factors.
  • Police will be working with the WJUSD on an active shooter simulation at one of the schools during the summer break.
  • Chief Miller will be participating in a “School Safety Meeting” with parents and administrators.
  • The prescriptive burning along Highway 128has concluded. We are hoping this will reduce the prospects for another summer of wildfires in our local hills.
  • Public Works repaired the damage to the median portion of the roundabout. We suspect the damage was vandalism and have established measures to hopefully prevent similar incidents in the future.
  • Economic Development Committee will hold its first meeting on July 12, 2018 at City Hall beginning at 6:00.
  • The 2018 Management Internship Program is under way. Interns will be working on City Projects as well as getting exposure to outside agencies including Yolo County, LAFCO, Yolo Communications and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, ride alongs with the Police, drill nights with Winters Fire and inspections for both building and public works. A good group working on big projects.

The most controversial items on the upcoming agenda’s will be a discussion regarding water and sewer rates. Under considerations are increases in the $5-11 per month range for both bills. The call for an increase is simple, decreasing revenues are putting both utilities into the red.

The primary reason for the decrease in revenues is due to water conservation measures undertaken by the residents in response to the State of California’s mandatory 25% reduction in water use called for by the Governor and the Legislature during the drought. Our customers responded accordingly, reaching 30% reduction in water use when compared to pre-drought (2013) levels. The result of the conservation has significantly reduced water rate revenues to operate the system. More than 50% of the revenues for the Water Fund are based on volumetric (usage) portion of the water rate, which is comprised of a fixed fee based on the size of the water meter erving the property and a volumetric charge based upon the water used per month. The City’s current rate structure is generally allocated as follows- 40% Fixed/60% Volumetric Rate Revenue.

In June, 2018, the Legislature passed and the Governor has signed a bill making the conservation levels permanent and City revenue projections are tracking that the conservation will be sustained with the new regulations.

Similarly, the Sewer Fund also had a reduction in revenues. Like the water rates, the City’s sewer rate consists of a fixed monthly charge and a volumetric charge. Reduced water consumption has also resulted in reduced sewer revenues.

While water and sewer use has declined, the costs of operating the systems has only increased including electricity, maintenance, permits and personnel to operate the system leaving both funds unable to meet the cost of current year operations from current year revenues. Essentially both operations are running in a deficit position. The proposed increases are to the “fixed” portion of customer’s bills.  In 2007, the City issued bonds to do significant repairs on water and sewer lines throughout the City and the current revenues are positioning the City in a negative position to meet our bond debt service ratios which impacts the credit rating of the City and our ability to pay the financing costs.

Water and sewer bills are the toughest discussion within how the City does business. It hits literally every customer in the City. In this case, the cause is the State’s new conservation requirements and the worst part is, that it has the potential to get worse with the new regulations and building code requirements. The idea of paying more for a lot less does not sit well with anyone and we cannot agree more. The problem is we cannot just get rid of the operational aspects of the system, we need to pay the permits, electricity is constantly going up in cost and the cost of equipment just keeps going up and up.

The process for raising rates includes a mailer to all of our customers as required under Proposition 218.

John W. Donlevy, Jr., City Manager

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Friday Update on June 8 2018


A bunch of items:

Here are the items on the June 19, 2018 Preliminary City Council Agenda:

June 19, 2018 City Council Meeting

  • Irrevocable Offer of Dedication of Right of Way and Public Utility Easement for Winters Highlands (Stone’s Throw) Phase 1 Subdivision
  • Final Map #4507 for Winters Highlands (Stone’s Throw) Phase 1 Subdivision
  • Adoption of the Ordinance for Implementation of the Yolo HCP/NCCP
  • American Tower Lease Extension
  • Certification of Election Results & Swearing in of New Council Members
  • Proclamation Recognizing Rebecca Fridae for Serving 30 Years on the Yolo County Library Advisory Board on Behalf of the Winters Friends of the Library
  • Public Hearing and Approval of the Engineer’s Report and Ordering the Levy & Collection of Assessments for the City-Wide Maintenance Assessment District, FY 2018/2019
  • Public Hearing for Weed Abatement
  • Public Hearing and Approval of Newt’s Expressway Rule 20A Utility Underground District
  • Consideration of Ordinance Regarding the Expansion of a Non-Conforming Building or Structure
  • Callahan Estates First Amendment to the Restated and Amended Development Agreement, the Tentative Map Amendment, and the Phase 1 Final Map
  • Waste Water Master Plan
  • Water & Sewer Rates
  • Refunding of Water & Sewer Bonds
  • Adoption of the 2018-2019/2019-2020 Budget
  • Full and Part-Time Salary Schedules

Items from a couple of the City Departments:

Public Works:

  • Rehabbing the North field spray heads – one line that hasn’t been operational has been finished and underground lines are being repaired.
  • Well #2 rehab is on video and the efficiency test will be next.
  • A new electric car charger has been installed and bricks are being replaced around the flowerbeds at the Community Center
  • Landfill has raised tipping fees due to State regulations and Waste Management wants to raise rates but will be required to go through the Prop 218 notification requirements.
  • Met with Cal Trans to discuss the Active Transportation Program and the funding of overpass improvements and the potential funding of projects along Grant Ave, including a second roundabout.
  • Planning: Received an e-mail of interest from Dutch Bros.


  • Posted three stop-work notices over the weekend.
  • Will be doing the first under floor inspection at Chevron and will schedule a pre-construction meeting with the general contractor.
  • Winters Healthcare re-submitted their plans yesterday.
  • Received complaints regarding an on-going yard sale on Emery Street.


  • Chief Miller is at Command College this week.
  • Cueto is attending critical incident training.
  • The department will be undergoing range qualifications.
  • There was a good police presence at graduation last week.
  • Gonzalez, McCoy & Ferguson attended a report writing demo.
  • New YECA dispatchers recently toured the facility.
  • Winters and Woodland Police Departments are two of the first agencies in the State to have dispatchers go on a ride-along with officers.  The officers will also sit in with the dispatchers.
  • Structure on Wolfskill has been red-tagged, which gives City representatives the right to go in unannounced.
  • There is a homeless population down in the creek.  While walking the creek from Wolfskill to I-505, 6 camps were found with multiple people in each camp.  Advised those folks to pack up and move elsewhere.


  • An 83-year old hiker was rescued  in Cold Canyon via helicopter.  There is currently signage on the trail about fatigue, and the question of establishing a rescue fee for these types of rescues came up again.  The trail is technically on the Solano County side and falls under the Vacaville Fire Agency, but Winters F.D. is normally called because we are more familiar with the trail and its terrain. It was 96 degrees up on the trail and none of the hikers had water with them!
  • Received paperwork for fireworks on July 3rd and will put together a plan to cover the event.
  • Will be conducting two training burns, one being on the Hwy. 128 corridor.
  • Ignitions class burned off 15 acres on Wednesday.’
  • Putting together job description for seasonal firefighters as we are expected to lose 12-15 firefighters to Cal Fire.

Monday will begin the City’s 2018 Intern Program with three graduate level students in the program. Lot’s of assignments will be worked on over the summer, including:

  • Comprehensive Affordable Housing Report-This will include an inventory of all affordable housing in the City, mapping, an issues review of housing issues both within the City and throughout the State and finally an opportunities/constraints analysis which will evaluate both Federal and State legislation, financing and initiatives.
  • General Plan Sustainability Element-Working on the development of a new “General Plan Element” on sustainability topics and policies including energy, air quality, recycling, transportation and housing. This will include both policy and implementation program development. (Group Project)
  • Economic Development issues including our Ag Economy, Economic Contacts and Programs in the regions and a summary of the Brookings Report Study on the Sacramento Regions strengths and weaknesses.
  • Police projects will include a Creek Nuisance ordinance and dealing with property owners, False Alarm Ordinance, Parking fines update, Emergency Business Contacts Update and a grant proposal for a mobile field force grant.
  • Planning projects will include Air BnB regulations, Food Trucks and a review of transit alternatives through YCTD in Winters.
  • Public Works will include inventory and GIS coordination of City assets, Wastewater System Maintenance Program, Climate Action Plan and new State Water Conservation Regulations which will limit water consumption starting in 2020.
  • Emergency Services basic training for both Federal and State programs.
  • Fire will include an update to the Active 911 Program, Pre Plan Survey’s of Commercial structures and Lexipol Policy implementation.
  • In Financial Management, Interns will be generating Pension Rate Sheet Analysis, doing a business license survey of the region and the development of a template for our Annual Impact Fee Report.

Finally, our local elections are completed with the retention of the three incumbent Council Members and the passage of Measure G which makes the City Clerk and City Treasurer appointed position.

A common question asked by a lot of folks is “what does it entail being on the City Council?” The answer is revealed each City Council Meeting during the Council Comments section.

About 7 years ago, the City Council began going through their calendars and announcing their appointments and meetings which have occurred between each City Council Meeting. They report out their attendance at City events, Board and Commission Meetings, State-wide events, educational seminars and even their individual meetings with Staff and the City Manager. Each will recite the number of commitments required often without any explanation of their need for preparation, exhaustive reading and follow up with the staff from the outside agencies for which they represent the City. The typical member probably describes a minimum of 12-20 meetings and obligations each month, depending on the season. This is done for transparency and disclosure.

In a small town, the participation and due diligence of the City Council is a critical role. On major issues like the Yolo Conservancy Plan, they are often required to read thousands of pages of narrative and technical reports before attending 3-4 hour meetings with more homework following that meeting. Representation is critical, because their votes and attention to detail can represent thousands and at times, millions of dollars to the City.

The reporting out also understates their own personal knowledge which is required to be on the City Council. “Getting up to speed” on issues, especially land use can take years! “Routine” items like understanding the City-wide assessment district, the City’s debt limit report (Gann Limit), Weed Abatement Ordinance are no simple tasks. These folks work hard at what they do.

Mostly, being on the Council takes a pretty firm commitment to becoming a knowledgeable representative of the entire community and making votes and decisions which represent a very long view for City residents. When the Council votes, we often remind them that they don’t represent just the folks who show up at the meeting, they represent every resident and business member not in the room, which can make for a very unpleasant evening on controversial issues.

Winters has been blessed with City Council members who really care and take their roles seriously. They evolve into visionaries, seeking to make an impact both within and beyond the City’s borders. They have made Winters a regional “leader” on many issues, taking the local community interests and values and translating those regionally. They “represent” and extend the reputation of Winters in how they conduct themselves and ultimately, they are the one’s “at the table” when it is time for allocations of funding for City needs with their influence making the difference in how monies are distributed.

The City Council are developing and cultivating future leaders in a very unselfish manner. They develop opportunities for folks to “engage” with the City on committees like the Parking , Hispanic Advisory and  Economic Development Committee’s. Eventually folks rise to appointments on the Planning Commission which is a strong foundation for moving to higher levels.

I genuinely feel blessed with those I have worked with. Dedicated folks, who generously commit themselves (hundreds if not thousands of hours annually) to representing our community and take on leadership roles which eventually evolves into becoming mentors and cultivators of future leaders.

Have a nice weekend.


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Friday Update on June 1 2018


First, a major omission in recognizing a major contributor to the City Park Playground Build and that is the Mariani Nut Company Foundation who was a top donor to the project. Without question, Mariani Nut is a major contributor to our community in many ways. They were a major donor to the first playground build in 1989 and their generosity was one of the key elements to spearheading the 2017 build. They are a major benefactor to the Winters community through grants and scholarships to graduates from Winters High School. From a corporate generosity standpoint, they are a model in Winters!

Lots of other stuff this week:

  • City Council Meeting has a very full consent calendar with City Wide Assessment District, Weed Abatement, Street Closure for the July 3rdparty, a Proclamation for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Environmental Monitoring Services for the Elderberry Conservation Easement, the Habitat Conservation Plan and the City’s Appropriation Limit.
  • City Staff met with representatives of the Bellvue North Group who own 400+ acres in the north part of the City and our General Plan area. Overall, a really good meeting regarding the area.
  • The Downtown Hotel is looking up! We are in full inspection on the project and so far, so good.
  • The Winters Police Department will now be carrying Nalaxone in all of our Police vehicles to help potential overdoses of persons with overdoses. Click HERE for the full story.
  • Slow down on Railroad Ave both coming into town and out. The speed limits have been adjusted and Police will begin enforcement.
  • Staff is working to address issues regarding vandalism in the City Park Restrooms. The reality is people do some pretty awful things in public restrooms which children and other visitors are being subjected to when they visit the park. It’s a persistent issue which is probably one of the most frustrating we deal with at the City. For people who see issues in the restrooms, before putting pictures up on social media and complaining, give City Hall a call so we can get someone out there to address the issue.
  • A little insight into our public restrooms! We expect that the restrooms (City and Rotary Parks) will be vandalized every day! Also, we do not lock the restrooms over night, because if they are locked, people will ultimately relieve themselves elsewhere in the park, most likely directly outside the restroom or in areas where children play. We have a professional company do a sanitizing clean three days and our staff cleans them on the weekends. There are two restrooms a side and we keep one locked each day and one open so 7 days a week we start with a clean restroom. Unfortunately, we have no power over when people will do disgusting things and it never fails that it is when a bunch of parents and children are on their way to the park. Like I said, if you see something, give us a call.
  • June 2 is Elder Day in Winters. The community will recognize John Barbee age 97, Helen Hosier age 90, Evelyne David age 99, Mary Jean Vaughan  01/11/192, Ben Shimomura  age 98, Brigita Alarcon 10/08/1928, Jose Diaz   09/26/1928. The program is at the Community Center and begins 2:00.

Finally, being the City Manager of a small town involves some highs and lows. In less than a 24 hour period this week I got to experience both in very dramatic ways.

On Memorial Day, I attended the services held at the Winters Cemetery which was sponsored by the Winters Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Cemetery District. It was our hometown at its best, with the Boy Scouts conducting a flag ceremony, the Brownies and Girl Scouts  doing the flag salute and the Star Spangled Banner. Mayor Wade Cowen gave an incredible speech on the meaning and history of Memorial Day and the day was culminated with the ceremonial wreath laying by Kimi Kato, the widow of Winters resident Pete Kato who went from a Japanese Internment Camp to a part of the most decorated division in the United States Military in World War II. Music was provided by ARC Guitar owner Al Calderon. The day was a little windy, but one of the most patriotic and beautiful ceremonies I have ever experienced. It never amazes me how folks coming together in our town can top anything you may see at any of the major events anywhere. It was just beautiful!

On the following Tuesday morning, I received notice from our Police Department that Robert Duvall, our Police Chaplain had been dispatched to give a death notification due to an auto accident. The name was Julia Millon. I almost fell down!!

Julia was a Winter High Valedictorian in 2008 and was a rising star with the Winters Express as the associate editor. I had considerable interaction with Julia in her coverage of the City and she had recently interviewed us about the demise of our redevelopment agency. She was bright, articulate and someone who certainly was a star in our community.

The thought of her passing was an absolute tragedy. All you can say about potential, future and loss can be attributed to her sudden death. Without question, she will be missed by many and her friends. We at City Hall have been especially sad!

Being a small town City Manager is an absolute blessing but the times when you are privy to bad news is the absolute worst. You get to know so many people, their families, kids, co-workers and the people. You lose a lot because the small town brings us all together and when one is taken, it’s a time of sadness.

I count my blessings for the times we all come together as well as the times where we mourn.


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Friday Update on May 24 2018


A couple items before the Memorial Day weekend:

  • The Planning Commission took on a number of issues the other night involving food trucks (sent back to staff for more research), elimination of a park parcel in a new subdivision (approved) and an interpretation regarding vertical development along Dry Creek (approved). The City has an exceptionally good Planning Commission with thorough insight and they are doing their homework. Well done this week.
  • Staff and Main Street Property Owners met to discuss the undergrounding of utilities in Newt’s Expressway. Overall a good meeting with more work to do!
  • Interviews for a new Human Resources Manager will happen next week.
  • Congratulations to the Winters High School Varsity Baseball Team for a 30-1 record and another Northern Section Title for WHS. A championship group with an amazing coach in Jeff Ingles. Coach Ingles has more than 500 career victories and has coached 29 playoff teams, 20 league champions and 13 section champions in 20 title-game appearances. Players and parents alike with agree that Jeff Ingles teaches the players more about success in life than just the baseball field. Winters is blessed to have someone like Coach Ingles guiding our varsity program!

Finally, Memorial Day is a chance for us to remember and honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in defense of liberty and freedom in our Armed Forces. Services will be held at the Winters Cemetery on Monday, May 25 at 10 am.

A couple years ago, I was at a presentation by a representative of the “Gold Star Mothers”, a support group which helps families who have lost loved ones in military service. The presentation was absolutely riveting because most cases involve relatively young service members who had died in battle. The “mother” who spoke to our group lost a 21 year old son in Afghanistan two years prior. My heart absolutely dropped when I considered that my own son was the exact same age.

Her story told about a motivated young man who joined the service following a cadet program in high school and his desire to find and take advantage of the many opportunities available in our armed services.  He was a star high school athlete who wanted to serve his country while trying to figure out what he wanted to do in his life. A close family which was heartbroken at his passing, yet proud of his service and conviction.

You can imagine over the time of humanity, the individuals who have given their lives in defense of a cause. The families and friends who are impacted along with the potential loss with the passing. Both heroic and tragic at the same time.

In the United States and elsewhere, those who have given their lives so others may live in liberty and freedom are true hero’s. We can all feel blessed for the service and sacrifice for these men and women.

Hopefully people will take a moment on Memorial Day to remember those who have died in service of us all along with their families and friends who have sacrificed their loved ones.


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Friday Update on May 18 2018


A really good week:

·         Today, the Central Valley Flood Protection Board in a unanimous vote, granted permits for the Phase 3 Putah Creek Restoration Project. This was a four year effort which entailed considerable technical and legal review and it was through the efforts of the staff from the Flood Board, the Attorney General’s Office and the tenacity of the folks from the Solano County Water Agency for finally getting the permit. Concurrently, the Army Corps of Engineers also issued their permits on the project this morning. This means the project will move forward in the fall.

·         Special recognition on this needs to go to many folks, but especially the Solano County Water Agency (Roland Sanford, Thomas Pate and Chris Lee), the entire Winters Putah Creek Committee, the amazing folks from the Putah Creek Council, the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee and Putah Creek Trout. Special thanks to both Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar Curry and Senator Bill Dodd for their support on the project.

·         A busy Planning Commission this week with a Food Truck Application for Grant/Railroad, a solar project at the WJUSD Office and the Wastewater Treatment Facility Master Plan.

·         Staff has approved a sales trailer for the Callahan Estates Subdivision. Looks like things are ramping up for new home sales.

·         A meeting of Downtown Property Owners will occur next Thursday to discuss the undergrounding of utilities in Newt’s Expressway.

·         The dedication of the City Park Playground from the Project Playground Team was an amazing day. This is a very special group which did a project with will benefit our town for many generations.

·         A special thanks to the key contributors including the Rotary Club of Winters, Winters Friends of the Library, Russ and Kathy Lester, Craig and Julie McNamara and the Yocha de He Wintun Nation.

Have a nice weekend.


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Friday Update on May 10, 2018


A couple items this week:

  • The May 15 City Council Meeting will focus on the Yolo County Habitat Conservation Plan as a discussion item and presentation. Additionally, the consent calendar will include a Lease with American Tower, State Mandated Claims Reimbursement, Design Services for a parking lot and alley improvements for the Downtown Hotel, Amplified Sound Permits for weddings in May and a party on Ivy Loop.
  • Yolo County has permitted an outdoor/indoor marijuana grow and manufacturing facility on the Winters border, literally a couple hundred feet from a future street. We will see how the facility impacts the City and hopefully the County will establish some form of regulations regarding such facilities.
  • The arrest of a suspect in a sex trafficking case involving a Winters youth is a major accomplishment for the Winters Police Department. Excellent detective and police work, along with coordination with neighboring jurisdictions and the District Attorney’s Office. Kudo’s to all in the Police Department for their work!
  • Condolences to the folks at Steady Eddies on the demise of their house cat Eddy. A really sad situation for all involved!
  • The Munchkin Summer Camp Program is fundraising. To donate, please contact Nicole Halley at jordanhalley@cityofwinters.org . This is an incredible help for Winters youth during the summer recess with outstanding programs, field trips and enrichment.

Finally, I ran my first marathon on Sunday, May 6 through the Avenue of the Giants up in Humboldt County and the redwood forest. It was an amazing experience and the most physically demanding effort I have ever attempted in my life.

The “process” was an 18 week training program in preparation for the marathon. I trained with an incredible group of coaches and motivated individuals who ran over 700 miles over the entire period leading up to the race. The reality was a complete fitness, nutrition and commitment makeover.

The marathon runners were a pretty elite group because it was a “championship” for a key running association and it also qualifies people for running in the Boston Marathon. 400 in the group, with me having a goal of competing with a decent time and enjoying the experience. I did both!

I will confess that at Mile 23, I hit the proverbial “wall” where both mentally and physically, I reached my maximum limits. My realization was that I was in the middle of a forest, with nobody to help, so I needed to reach down deep both physically and mentally to finish the 26.2 miles. I consider that to be a major accomplishment of that day, as I just started running and finished strong.

After the race, our group took photo’s and cheered our accomplishment. Two folks from my training group qualified for the Boston Marathon and one person achieved a personal record for a marathon. I will share that once my adrenaline went down, I literally passed out, ended up at the ER and took two IV bags (which I totally recommend if you are not feeling well) to get my hydration back up. Not the way I wanted my quest to end, but it “is what it is” and I don’t think it takes away from the training and completion of the race.

My second marathon will be the California International Marathon in Sacramento (December).  I am running in the Memorial Day “Armed Forces” Half Marathon where I will try for a personal best!

Overall, a pretty good week.

Happy Mother’s Day!


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Friday Update on May 4 2018


A couple items this week:

  • Most importantly, the new Downtown Piano has arrived and is ready for its first concert in the Main Street Mini Park. Head on down and play a tune!
  • Staff is working on a status update on the City’s General Plan. Originally adopted in 1992, the plan is a very dynamic document with many components. A full status report will be going to the Planning Commission in June and then on to the City Council in July.
  • The City Budget was the main topic at this week’s City Council Meeting. While there is a lot going on, the City finances are extremely tight going into our next two year financial cycle. The good news is the budgets presented are budget, but we are making some assumptions on the hotels and some development activity which need to come through!
  • The preliminary agenda for the May 15 City Council Meeting includes State Reimbursement Requests, Engineering work for the Downtown Hotel Parking Lot and Alley Improvements, the Yolo Habitat Conservation Program and a cooperative agreement on Animal Services.
  • This week Staff met with a major union organization looking to build a facility similar to the PG&E Gas Academy but for other vocational training. It was a GREAT meeting! We will see….
  • PG&E is hosting an equipment rodeo at the Gas Training Academy on Saturday, May 5. Stop on by and check it out!!
  • The Winters Garage Sale is scheduled for Satuday, May 12. This year has two themes: “Better stuff than last year” and “From collecting dust in your garage to mine”. Clear out that closet and garage, find someone in the core area to put your stuff on their lawn and make some money. Spaces (on an assigned basis only) are available at City Park for those out of towners. For more information or a space at City Park call 530-795-4919.

Finally, City-wide, we have people who are going into cars and stealing contents. The Police Department has done a good job of warning folks to “lock your vehicles” but sometimes breaking the old thinking that this is Winters and people just do not do such things gets by you. The other night, after working late, I went out to my vehicle parked behind City Hall and found the door open and that someone had gone through the unlocked vehicle. They took some change from the drink holder and that was about it. Like Dorothy, I found “I was not in Kansas anymore”. I didn’t report it because I know it is a waste of time.

At City Hall, we know the individuals who are essentially checking cars and casing the downtown area to steal items. One day we saw one individual looking inside one of our conference rooms, obviously looking for something to grab and steal.

The reality is that California (under Proposition 47) has essentially legalized theft and there is practically nothing which can be done to people who are stealing from you. As I have discussed this incident with folks, they suggest confronting the people, but the facts are that if you do that, you actually get in more trouble for confronting the thief than from them stealing from you. Imagine stopping someone in the act of stealing your property and going to jail because your stopping them was the crime and not the theft.

California seems to be changing how it deals with people who commit crimes to the detriment of those who do not. Pretty amazing and really sad.

Moral to the story- Lock your car!



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Friday Update on April 27 2018


A couple items for this week:

First, this is Youth Day weekend. Things kick off Friday night Downtown with the Duck Race and Fourth Friday Festival! Then Saturday begins with the Rotary Pancake Breakfast at the Community Center, the Parade at 10 then a day long festival at City Park. The evening is capped with a concert at City Park!

City Council Meeting highlights for next Tuesday include:

  • Budget Workshop for the Fiscal Years 2018-19 and 2019-20
  • Second Reading of the speed ordinance of Railroad Ave.
  • Budget Adjustment for Water Well Repairs
  • Lease agreement for agricultural operations on wastewater fields.

A couple notes on the proposed budgets:

  • Both budgets in their preliminary form are balanced for the first time in almost 4 years. Overall good news and a sign that some of the economic growth and development are kicking in! This is good news for the economics of the City in the long run.
  • From a revenue standpoint, we are projecting both hotels will go online by 2019 and that we will see almost 300 residential permits over the course of the next two years. Residential housing demand is high in town and we expect to see lots of new homes to meet that demand.
  • Capital projects includes significant street maintenance throughout key streets in town. This is very good news for many reasons.
  • The budgets include funds to pursue designs for a new sports park and a new community center in the Downtown.
  • In 2019-20, we are projecting adding positions in both the Police and Fire Departments.

Staff views 2018-19 as a “very tight” budget year with revenues starting to move up in the first quarter of 2019.

Some other notes:

  • Sales tax numbers are in for the fourth quarter of 2017 and we saw an increase of almost 12%. The report has only one month of the new Starbucks and some late reporting from some key businesses in the quarter under review. Overall, the Winters business community seems to be doing well!!
  • The new Roundabout was damaged in the past few days. Not a good thing and you wonder what some people are thinking. We are increasing security measures as we speak and hope to catch the person who did the damage. Someone on a backhoe.
  • Winters is in the running for a USA Today contest as the “Best Small Town Food Scene” in America. To vote, please go to http://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-small-town-food-scene-2018/ .

Finally, the Winters Joint Unified School District honored four Winters residents in their first “Hall of Fame” induction ceremony. It was really nice!

Those honored included:

  • Long time Winters art teacher Sally Paul who taught in the District for over 30 years and inspired an impressive number of students to follow their passions in creativity. She recounted some fun stories about the enlightenment of some students through art projects and research.
  • Richard Rominger both a student and later a trustee for the District. Rich shared a story about being a sophomore at WHS when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and President Franklin Roosevelt declared war in what became World War II. He also recounted the great fire which burned down WHS and how he finished his high school education in random buildings and rooms around town.
  • Bobbie Rominger, long time community member and swim icon in the City.
  • Jack Graf who graduated from Winters High, was a student,  teacher, principal, WJUSD superintendent and then County Superintendent of Schools. The best story was from Jack’s son John who told the story about the time as a Principal Jack caught a kid who had set a trash can on fire in the school quad. Jack called the student into the office and sent him home with the trash can and made him clean it to shiny new! The kids parent called Jack and home and thanked him for teaching his child an important lesson. In today’s world, Jack would probably be hung in the local media for being insensitive to the student and we would be dealing with a nation-wide student walkout against punishing students without first letting them express themselves.

The evening was hosted by Superintendent Todd Cutler and the Board of Trustees. It was a first class event and one which they plan to perpetuate.

Happy Youth Day!


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Winters Nominated for Best Small Town Food Scene- Please vote


Winters is nominated for the “Best Small Town Food Scene in America” on the USA Today website!  We have until May 14th to vote and keep the recognition and publicity for our town! 

Rules say we can Vote once a day!

We started at 19th and went to 11th overnight.
Now, we’re at 7th in the NATION! In two days!!!
It’s working!  The rules say you can vote once a day.
Try to vote every day until May 14th!

Here’s the link:

  1. Click on the link below
  2. Click on Browse Current Contests, (right under the USA Today Readers’ Choice circle)
  3. Click on Best Small town Food Scene
  4. Click on Winters (at the very bottom, left side) and press the blue “VOTE” bar.
  5. Repeat tomorrow!


Or here to get the direct link to vote for Winters:  http://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-small-town-food-scene-2018/winters-california/

Spread the word. Vote every day. We have until May 14th!

–John W. Donlevy, Jr., City Manager

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Friday Update on 4-20


A couple notes:

City Council Agendas:

May 1, 2018

  • Second Reading & Adoption of Traffic Survey Ordinance
  • Budget Workshop
  • Well 2 Rehabilitation/Upgrades
  • Amendment to Martinez Agriculture Lease

May 15, 2018

  •      Final Map Callahan
  • Final Map Winters Highlands – Phase 1
  •      HCP – Yolo Conservancy

A couple updates:

Overall a really good City Council Meeting on Tuesday. A couple highlights included:

  • Putah Creek Park Expansion behind the PG&E Facility.  The $250k improvement will be lead by our partners at the Putah Creek Council (PCC) who presented an overall planting and restoration plan along the drainage canal and both above and below the bank to make the area a “woodland”. The proposal is an amazing accomplishment for the Winters Putah Creek Committee and a testament to having exceptional partnership with groups like the PCC, the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee and the Solano County Water Agency. Kudos to our Creek Committee,  Environmental Services Manager Carol Scianna and PCC Projects Coordinator Amy Williams for an incredible proposal.
  • We received a nice update on our Comprehensive Annual Financing Report from our Director of Financial Management, Shelly Gunby. Not all good news but if you really want to know about our finances, Click HERE.

One more item of interest:

  • Staff participated in a meeting today with the staff from Yolo County Health Office regarding Cannabis and health issues. A very productive meeting regarding some health facts and key issues. For more information on the health effects, they suggest going to the State Cannabis Website for information. Click HERE to learn more about the health impacts of cannabis.

Have a nice weekend!


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Friday Update of Friday the 13th of April 2018


Just a couple items on the City Council Agenda’s as an update:

April 17, 2018

  • Homeless Coordination Project 3-Year Contract- this is an extension of the existing contract and program through a consortium of the cities and Yolo County.
  • Starbucks Final Acceptance & Notice of Completion– all the improvements for this project are completed.
  • Nature Park Extension Project Approval- An ambitious project proposal from the Winters Putah Creek Committee and the Putah Creek Council. Absolutely worth attending the meeting to see some amazing planning in the transformation of this segment of the creek trail.
  • CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report)- the good bad and ugly of City finances. To see the entire report, click HERE.
  • Traffic Survey Ordinance- Revised survey for Railroad Ave mainly. The Grant Ave segment is awaiting Caltrans approval which will occur during the summer. Then, radar enforcement will begin.
  • Police Department’s Revised Axon Quote for the Purchase of Body Worn Cameras (BWC)- This purchase is a significant upgrade of the body camera’s used by our Police personnel. A necessary investment which will coordinate with our in car systems and technology.
  • Public Works Presentation- Guaranteed to be very interesting!
  • Proclamation Honoring May 3rd as Big Day of Giving Led by the Sacramento Region Community Foundation
  • Amend 18/19 Budget and Landfill Monitoring Services Contract w/Wallace Kuhl- This is to facilitate a response and coordination with the Regional Water Quality Control Board and install additional wells for monitoring.
  • Street Closure/Amplified Sound permit for “Youth Day Friday Festival”- The new fourth Friday!

May 1, 2018

  • Second Reading & Adoption of Traffic Survey Ordinance
  • MOU’s (Memorandums of Understanding)
  • Budget Workshop

Have a nice weekend.


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Friday Update on April 6 2018


A couple items this week:


City Council Agendas:

April 17, 2018

  • Homeless Coordination Project 3-Year Contract
  • Starbucks Final Acceptance & Notice of Completion
  • Nature Park Extension Project Approval
  • CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report)
  • Traffic Survey Ordinance
  • Police Department’s Revised Axon Quote for the Purchase of Body Worn Cameras (BWC)
  • Public Works Presentation
  • Proclamation Honoring May 3rd as Big Day of Giving Led by the Sacramento Region Community Foundation

May 1, 2018

  • Second Reading & Adoption of Traffic Survey Ordinance
  • MOU’s (Memorandums of Understanding)
  • Budget Workshop

Some notes:

  • Staff met on Thursday with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board staff regarding a permit filing they are moving on regarding the City’s former landfill on Moody Slough Road. Overall, a pretty good meeting. The bottom line is they have a charge for all closed landfills to implement Title 27 of the Government Code on environmental regulation which means they will not move off of the permit. The big item of concern for the City was the potential requirement for us to add a soil cap on to the 8 acre piece which we estimate would cost almost $2 million. In the end, we agreed to enhance our overall groundwater monitoring program, establish a monitoring plan and have a step by step work program which would be implemented based on performance issues of the test results. I would give our overall team an “A” for preparation for the meeting and having the right people in the room. Our environmental consultant for hydrology and permitting on the project is Winters own Kurt Balasak with Wallace & Kuhl Associates and our staff team leader is our environmental services manager Carol Scianna. Both just hit it our of the park in the meeting on their overall effectiveness in working with the regulators! Its always a great day when you have really talented people with their expertise and acumen on display!
  • Winters continues to have people roaming the town trying to get into unlocked cars. People need to lock their vehicles or risk losing the stuff. The Police Department is doing an excellent job in trying to keep up with many KNOWN individuals who are robbing peoples cars. Unfortunately, there is little justice in California for people who steal from others.
  • In 2014, California Voters passed Proposition 47 which requires misdemeanor sentencing for any theft of under $950. This means that if someone steals items under that value that they basically get a citation for the theft and basically there are no real ramifications for the offense. Thus, if someone steals your lawn mower, a box of tools from the back or your truck or your bike and you catch them, the limit of the Police authority is to simply give them a ticket and they just walk away. People need to understand this and lock your stuff up.
  • Our Police and Fire Chiefs attended a meeting with the WJUSD regarding campus safety at a special District Meeting. Overall a good meeting and many concerns raised. Not an easy topic for the WJUSD.
  • Our Public Safety has offered to participate in training on the WJUSD Emergency Response Plan and work toward a training drill in the fall.
  • The July 3 Fireworks Display will be held at Shirley Rominger Intermediate School instead of Winters High School due to construction of the new Soccer/Football/Track Stadium thus summer.

Finally, they City lost one of the most impactful people in its history with the passing of Newt Wallace on Easter Sunder.

Without question, the Winters Express under the ownership of Newt Wallace has been the defining influence for the City of Winters over the past almost 70 years. Newt as the publisher made a weekly publication which has told the story of our community and the generations of people who make it special.

Newt, Ida and the entire Wallace Family have given Winters the gift of recording our history. They have also helped set the tone and culture of a very civil town where everyone knows each other and are proud to call Winters their home. People know each other because the Winters Express lets us know about each other.

Newt was an incredible gentleman who opened up the Winters Express each Friday the 13th for everyone from the most politically connected to any subscriber to share a drink and feel at home. He was the guy who delivered not only all of the Downtown papers, but also the obituary notices for each resident. From the Yesteryear column to the weather, Newt reminded us of our past, our present and the future. The Express was Winters “social media” 6 decades early!

Few people in town can special order their favorite cheap beer and they have it on hand in our local establishments. I tried to order one of his Olympia beers one time and was denied because there were only two left and the establishment wanted to get their paper that week.

Newt may have been the oldest paperboy in the world, but more importantly he was the patriarch of a family which has helped make Winters the incredible community it is. The Wallace’s and the Winters Express are the glue which binds us in words, memories and most importantly as a community.

The Wallaces have given to this community like few others have. Besides the Winters Express,  I am convinced that Charley along with a number of others saved the Downtown. John has been the local attorney and the involvement of their entire family has been nothing short of a lifelong commitment to this small town! It all started with Newt taking a train to Davis, walking the 15 miles to Winters and purchasing a small newspaper…………. The rest is certainly our history!

If there is a heaven, I hope Ida and Newt are reunited in all their glory and that they publish a weekly publication which will undoubtedly make heaven a little smaller and kinder place.

Have a nice weekend.


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Friday Update on Good Friday and the start of Passover 2018


Key items as we head toward Easter and Passover:

City Council Agendas:

April 3, 2018

  • Youth Day Parade Permit, Amplified Sound & Request for Annual Donation
  • Nature Park Extension Project Approval
  • 2018-2019 Project List Funded by SB1, Road Repair & Accountability Act
  • Downtown Hotel Development Impact Fee Payment Agreement
  • Proclamation Honoring Retiring Winters Fire Protection District Commissioner Donald A. Rominger
  • Proclamation Honoring National Library Week, April 8-14, 2018

April 17, 2018

  • Homeless Coordination Project 3-Year Contract
  • Starbucks Final Acceptance & Notice of Completion
  • Nature Park Extension Project Approval
  • CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report)
  • Traffic Survey Ordinance
  • Public Works Presentation

A couple notes on some items coming up:

  • The State has modified drinking water standards, again, with a new MCL (maximum contaminant limit). “TCB 123” is found in most common products from fertilizers, solvents, pesticides and cleaning products. The MCL is 3 Parts Per Trillion! Well 5 has tested at an MCL for TCB 123 at an MCL of 5 ppt. This triggers a notification requirement for our residents which will go out in our next utility bill notifying them of the contaminant. We have taken Well 5 off line and will keep it off until we no longer have detection.

All testing is done at the Well. ONLY Well 5 had a positive hit for TCB 123 (Wells 2,4,6 and 7 all are negative). In the past month, we did some maintenance and repairs on Well 5 and we suspect that some of the products used are causing the positive hit. We are also looking at external environmental sources. Our plan is to do an extensive cleaning and flush of the well  The State Department of Drinking Water (DDW) is requiring the notification and we will comply.

  • Thefts from cars has begun again. Thursday night, a number of cars were robbed, most likely from the same group who has been robbing from cars throughout the town. Literally, we have a number of people walking through town, looking in cars and checking the doors. If they are unlocked they go into the vehicles and steal what they can find. Even if they are caught, they only get a misdemeanor citation which means basically nothing.
  • Car burglary is not just a Winters issue, it is happening everywhere. There are groups of persons who now know that stealing is no longer a crime in California and are perpetrating theft in every community. Police are immensely frustrated because people who are losing hundreds of dollars in personal possessions are left empty which they call the police to report the crime and are basically told that theft is no longer a serious offense in the California. The bottom line is we need folks to lock their doors and secure their possessions if they want to keep them.
  • Applicants are being sought for an Economic Development Advisory Committee- The City is seeking interest from residents who are interested in serving on the upcoming Economic Development Advisory Committee. The Committee will begin meeting during the second week of May and will continue for approximately four (4) months with a total of 8 meetings. The Committee will be working on the development of recommendations to formulate plans for improving the overall Winters economy and generating a quality business environment. To apply, go to http://www.cityofwinters.org/…/…/11/App_Int_Appt_Pos2013.pdf and complete the application. For questions, contact donlevy@cityofwinters.org. Submit applications no later than April 13. 2018 to tracy.jensen@cityofwinters.org.
  • The City Budget is in preparation phase with each of the City Departments submitting their proposals to our Finance Department. We are putting together budgets for Fiscal Years 2018-19 and 2019-20. Our anticipation is that FY 2018-19 will be a tight year and we should see the Winters economy begin to percolate in the second quarter of 2019 and into the balance of the year.
  • The Creek is running higher!! All through Putah Creek, people will notice higher flows, bleeding into the flood planes and more current over the next few weeks. The dam is releasing pulse flows of higher volume which will be beneficial to fish in the creek. Right now is a beautiful time to take a look as the creek come to life!

Have a Happy Easter and Passover. As we move toward spring, a great time for family, friends and a chance to enjoy the beautiful area we live in.



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