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Category Archives: City Manager’s Update

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Friday Update on May 18 2018

All,

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.

John


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Friday Update on May 10, 2018

All,

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!

John


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Friday Update on May 4 2018

All,

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!

Thanks,

John


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Friday Update on April 27 2018

All,

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!

John


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Winters Nominated for Best Small Town Food Scene- Please vote

All,

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!

http://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-small-town-food-scene-2018/

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

All,

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!

John


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Friday Update of Friday the 13th of April 2018

All,

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.

John


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Friday Update on April 6 2018

All,

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.

John


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Friday Update on Good Friday and the start of Passover 2018

All,

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.

John


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Friday Update on March 23 2018

All,

Today is a long one:

City Council Agendas:

April 3, 2018

  • Starbucks Final Acceptance & Notice of Completion
  • Youth Day Parade Permit, Amplified Sound & Request for Annual Donation
  • Nature Park Extension Project Approval
  • Budget Discussion
  • 2nd Year Submittal for SB1 2018/2019 Project List

April 17, 2018

  • Homeless Coordination Project 3-Year Contract
  • Public Works Presentation
  • Budget Discussion

Department Updates:

 

Public Works Activities:

  • Backflow testing is occurring City-wide and affects most businesses. This is a requirement of our water utility and is a foundational element of insuring public health.
  • Four electric vehicles (2 GEMS and 2 Miles Electric cars) are going to auction next week.
  • The Toddler play structure (formerly at City Park) is being installed at Valley Oak Park on 3/29-3/30.
  • Finishing pulling wire for new lights inside the playground area at City Park.
  • Staff is spraying weeds, replacing street signs, repairing sidewalks, installing (2) ADA ramps.
  • SB1 Street Projects are going out to bid in the next 2 months.
  • The State of California has a new item for maximum contaminants- 1,2,3,-TCP Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL) has been issued by the State Water Board.  The MCL is 3 per 1 trillion parts. The City had a positive hit at one of our wells (which had recent maintenance and replacement of parts) resulting in a re-sample, which will be taken on Monday and inspected by the engineers at the Department of Drinking Water (DDW).
  • The Waste Water Treatment Facility Master Plan will go to the Planning Commission in April, then on to the Council.
  • Staff met with the Green River Tap Room Partners about water and sidewalk improvements.
  • A new  soil cap, monitoring plan, and annual funding for the Old City Landfill are now being required by the State for the landfill.  A public hearing at the Water Board is scheduled for the end of May.
  • Staff will be meeting with the Yolo County Consortium proposing a energy purchasing alliance called Community Choice Aggregation.

 

Economic Development/Housing:

  • Staff met with our consultant for the Winters Older Adult Programs and Services to receive an update on her progress.
  • Staff will attend a Homeless and HPAC meeting in Davis.
  • Staff will be presenting an update on the senior center to the Winters Senior Foundation Board meeting next Wednesday.
  • Finalizing the Prop. 84 grant for the construction of Walnut Park.
  • A commercial broker for a national auto parts firm is interested in coming to Winters.
  • TCAC (Tax Credit Allocation Committee) is recommending the award of a 4% tax credit for the Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Apartments.

Planning:

  • 11 sets of plans for the Callahan Estates models have been received in Building office.

Police:

  • Both Police and Fire met with the WJUSD in regards to their emergency operation planning and will move forward with a tabletop exercise in the next year.
  • An agreement has been established with the WJUSD regarding nonstudent crossing guards has been signed.  Police Department will provide training and will then be able to enforce any vehicle code violations.
  • Officer Jose Hermosillo was recognized and honored as Officer of the Year at the American Legion Post in Woodland.
  • March training for the Police Department includes defense tactics and active shooter training.
  • As part of department outreach, Community Services has given two senior fraud presentations and upcoming events include Burger-with-a-Cop, Youth Day, WMS Popsicle-with-a-Cop in conjunction with
  • Officers are wearing mourning bands for two officers killed in the line of duty in Pomona and Marin County.

Fire:

  • The Yolo County Fire Chief’s dinner, hosted by Winters Fire on March 13th, was well represented and a big thanks to all staff members involved in putting this event together.
  • The annual Public Safety Awards dinner will take place on April 7th.
  • Staff read to kids at the Winters Community Library yesterday and had a good turnout.
  • Captain Matt Scheckla will be working through this year and next year to receive his Chief Officer Fire Certification by attending (4) week-long classes and initiating a task book.
  • Consortium meeting to be held at the Yoche de He Fire Department to determine training.
  • At the Fire District Board meeting last week, Don Rominger, who has served nearly 50 years, submitted his resignation letter. He will be honored at the annual Fire Appreciation Dinner and by the City Council.
  • Expanding skills in EMS services and what EMT’s are allowed to do re: patient assessment.  Department now has a glucometer to check blood sugar levels in patients, EPI pens and can administer Narcan, which is also on board the ambulance.
  • A grant has provided for two mass casualty rescue task force/trauma kits which are now deployed on board the service engine and the squad.
  • Dana Carey, Yolo County OES and Cal Fire representatives held a community meeting last week to talk with property owners along Hwy. 128 about mitigation efforts and to get permission to work on their property.  The meeting was well-received.
  • Winters Fire will be coordinating a regional training program in water, high angle, search and rescue called the Monticello Drill which has been scheduled for April 22-23.  Staff are working with Yolo County Sheriff’s Office regarding off-road, horseback and aircraft rescues.  Staff continues to move forward in planning this multi-jurisdictional exercise.

City Manager:

  • Staff is working on means for updating portions of the City’s General Plan. At the City Council Meeting, Staff was asked to research resources through the State which was done this week. Lot’s of resources are available for some pretty complex issues.
  • Staff is evaluating various elements of the general plan guidelines and will work some update elements into the upcoming budget and work plans. Kind of a general plan update “light” to make sure we are in a good position.

General Plans are essentially, the goals and vision for a community and represent the overall “business plan” or “blue print” for how a City will evolve and develop itself.

Staff spent a number of hours this week going through the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) Website which has many tools and resources for updating general plan documents. It’s a pretty good website with lots of information and suggestions on policies and formats for document preparation. The “guides” are very well written, mostly by researchers and law schools with addendums which refer you to other websites, the government codes and more documents. It is the proverbial trying to get a drink of water from a fire hydrant. If you are into the malaise of bureaucratic speak, policy nuances and legal ease, this is cyber nirvana!

While the City’s current general plan policies are pretty solid vision statements for the wants and desires of the City, there is a direct conflict between some of the service, park, jobs and amenity goals and the sustainability aspects of the land uses permitted in the City. Kind of like having a goal for an Olympic swimming pool only allowing for a 5 gallon bucket of water to fill it.

General Plans are individually unique and complicated. They work to implement the goals of many stakeholders into one plan. Many of the State requirements are heavily politically motivated and try to meet the very diverse needs of jobs, housing, industry, the environment and politics within the realm of a single planning document for each community.

They are extremely expensive! Every aspect of a general plan is required to be studied, justified and legally worded which means lots of consultants and attorneys who charge extremely high rates. The development of these plans is governed by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Government Code and many aspects of legislation. The key is the constant threat of litigation from any number of sources, many of whom have very little stake in a local community, except for the general plan process. Planning (not necessarily doing) is a massive industry which is fed by the requirements of the State.

In many respects, general plans become a self fulfilling prophecy for the industry it feeds. One thing I have learned about California is that the way you become wealthy is to have legislation passed which makes people (especially government and taxpayers) buy your services or product.

See everyone at Coffee Fest this Saturday.

John


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Friday Update on March 16 2018

All,

A couple items this week:

· City Council Meeting will include the Project Acceptance for the Starbucks right of way improvements, Housing Element Progress Report, Olive Grove Subdivision Map Approval, a Fire Department Presentation, Recognition of Gwen Pisani as a State-wide Woman of Distinction and an Update on the General Plan Update.
· The Callahan Estates Subdivision Builder, Crowne Communities submitted 11 plan models for plan check in the Building Department. They are getting ready for construction once we pass winter.
· Staff is working diligently on the undergrounding of the utilities in Newt’s Expressway which service the north side of Main Street in Downtown. The project will include the formation of an assessment district for the Downtown property owners to do some needed utility upgrades for their buildings. This is a significant development and hopefully something the property owners will take advantage of.
· Winters Police had a VERY successful “range day” this week. All reports say that it was a good week of training and coordination for the Department.
· The dedication of the Playground at City Park has been moved to May 17, 2018. The time is from 3:00 to 5:30.
· Things are looking up on the Downtown Hotel. The second story is rapidly rising. The mass of the structure will soon become evident to folks as the third story and the parapet walls take shape.
· Staff has received interest in the construction of a skilled nursing facility in town!

Happy St. Patricks Day!

John


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Friday Update on March 9 2018

All,

A couple items of note from this week:

  • The really big news was with the Winters Senior Foundation and their qualification as a 501-C- 3 “non-profit” organization. This is a big accomplishment and one which positions them to move forward in a very positive manner. Congratulations to Karen May and the entire Board of Directors for their hard work in getting this major milestone completed. The Senior Foundation is an incredible organization, doing some very good things. They have a very bright future moving forward!
  • Yolo Bus is reviewing proposals for a new contract with various transit providers. I participated in the proposal review and the interviews of the prospective operators. A very good process which should be completed sometime in April.
  • Car break-ins are continuing in town and people need to lock their vehicles. Winters Police are doing an incredible job of catching the people and recovering stolen property. Folks need to realize that car break-ins and  theft are no longer serious crimes and those caught are only given a misdemeanor citation, thus not jail or real trouble. Lock your vehicles and do what you need to secure your property.
  • The City received our Sales Tax Report for the third quarter of 2017. Winters receipts from July through September were 10.7% above the same period in 2016. Service stations posted a 14.7% increase as gas and oil priced increased prices at the pump. Restaurants and quick serve restaurants were up 5.7%.

Thanks,

John


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Friday Update on March 2 2018

All,

City Council Agendas:

March 6, 2018

  • Support of SB5, California Clean Water & Safe Parks Act
  • Economic Development Composition – 2 At-Large Members
  • Public Works Projects List and Review of Capital Projects – FY 18-19 and 19-20
  • Support of Reducing Crime in Keeping California Safe Act of 2018

March 20, 2018

  • Final Acceptance of Starbucks
  • Public Improvement Agreement & Final Map for Olive Grove Phase 1 Project
  • Fire Department Presentation
  • Presentation by the League of California Cities Women’s Caucus’s Woman of Distinction- Gwen Pisani

Some notes on City operations:

  • Water Well 2 is under rehabilitation. The Well casing is being scrubbed and cleaned.
  • The expansion of Putah Creek Park is in the planning stages. The Winters Putah Creek Committee, Putah Creek Council and others will lead the way on this project.
  • Year end reporting is under way for both Water and Wastewater with State regulators.
  • Public Works removed the tot lot from Valley Oak Park and will relocated the relatively new structure previously installed at City Park to this location. This will be a really nice project!
  • Walnut Park will soon have new park signs which will close the project out.
  • Senior Task Force will be headed to Woodland next week to look at services and facilities.
  • PG&E is adding buildings to the Utility Village.
  • Police will be training at the PG&E Training Academy next week on an active shooter scenario.
  • Fire is joining the West Valley Training Consortium which will greatly expand our training resources for both full time and volunteer/reserve staff.
  • Planning is under way for the Monticello Dam Drill annually put on by Winters Fire. This year will include helicopters, water rescue, confined space, rappelling down the Dam face and search and rescue. Essentially everything which can go wrong at the Dam, will go wrong!

Local note, the Winters Friends of the Library Fruit Tree Sale is 8:30 (WFOL Members) and 9:00 to 11:00ish this Saturday in the Mariani Parking Lot on Railroad Ave. WFOL members get in at 8:30 and others at 9:00.

Finally, national politics and some irresponsibility by some folks are causing challenges to local law enforcement.

The demonization of federal law enforcement agencies in recent weeks has a trickle down effect on the ability of local police to do their jobs. The trust, goodwill and outreach campaigns from our public safety agencies can be immediately dashed when fear of law enforcement is used and people are told to “not open your doors” if law enforcement come to your homes as a means of advancing political agendas. A basic premise is that if someone has not done anything wrong they have nothing to worry about.

“Police” is a universal identification for local, State and Federal agencies. It is a term people know and understand. Few people will differentiate between a uniformed local or federal agent with a badge and vest who is knocking on their door.

At the local level, our Police Department respond to all calls and are not agents for federal agencies, including ICE. In California, SB 54 strictly prohibits our Police from asking for immigration forms or status. No matter the call, local law enforcement are there to protect and serve persons, regardless of documentation status. Period.

Some of the greatest targets and victims of crime are recent immigrants. These folks should not fear law enforcement but know that they can and will be protected and they should report crimes which happen to them. Police are here to help them and should not have any reservations on calling for our help.

I really feel for the men and women in the FBI and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) who are getting a really raw deal in the current political climate. Both are very important agencies (with incredible people working for them) with core missions which protect us all. These law enforcement agents have taken oaths to uphold and defend laws and our constitution. They are sworn protectors who risk their lives in the same vein as our local police officers and public safety personnel. They can be put in some of the most dangerous situations in law enforcement.

You just wish all this madness would stop!!

Thanks,

John


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Friday Update on February 23 2018- Parking Information Edition

All,

A couple items from a very good meeting on parking the other evening:

  • The Parking Committee held a joint workshop with the City Council and Planning Commission to review the draft Parking Plan and Recommendations. Click HERE to go to the draft plan which includes the recommendations. Attached to this update is a table summarizing all of the recommendations (HERE/PDF).
  • To view some of the key statistics on parking demand within the Downtown, click HERE to see the parking utilization between 7 AM and 5:00 PM and click Here to see the demand between 5:00-9:00 PM. The survey was done on a busy Friday with an event at the Community Center and the Buckhorn Devillibis Room reserved. Click HERE to go to the presentation which includes information on total parking demand (70%) and includes data on employee parking. Overall, some really good stuff!
  • To view information regarding the estimated impact of the new Downtown Hotel, go to slides 30 and 31 in this presentation. Click HERE. To understand the concept behind “shared parking” which was adopted for the Downtown Master Plan, look at slides 9-12. Slide 12,  the “unshared” side shows a compounding when cities use a “fixed” system, versus the shared concept which factors in the actual need based on fluctuations in demand based on time of day. In total, it shows a 38% overage of parking supply which is both expensive and unsightly! The effect is lots of empty parking lots throughout the day.

All of the information is included on the City’s Website page for the Parking Committee located HERE.

Lots of information but important from a big picture standpoint.

John


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Friday Update for February 16 2018

All,

This weeks update is an overview of the items we discussed at our weekly staff meeting this week.

Meetings Next Week:

Downtown Parking Report- Public Workshop

Topics to include:

  • Paid Parking
  • Parking Enforcement
  • Business Improvement District and Assessments
  • Lighting
  • Employee Parking restrictions
  • Zoning and Urban Design
  • Others

City Council Agendas:

February 20, 2018

  • Street Closure Request for Coffee Festival, Saturday, March 24
  • Presentation by Yolo Emergency Communications Agency
  • Budget Discussion and Department Reorganization of Admin. Services, Human Resources, and City Clerk Functions
  • Staff Promotion to Mid-Management Position
  • Final Acceptance of Public Improvements for Roundabout on Grant Ave. (SR 128) at Walnut Lane
  • Resolution in Recognition of Putah Creek Council’s 30 Year Anniversary

February 21, 2018

  • City Council and Planning Commission Joint Workshop for the Winters Downtown Parking Plan; September 2017 Draft Report being presented by Kimley Horn.

March 6, 2018

  • Street Closure Request for Monthly Car Shows Sponsored by The Buckhorn Steakhouse
  • Public Improvement Agreement & Final Map for Olive Grove Phase 1 Project

March 20, 2018

  • Final Acceptance of Starbucks?

Department Updates:

 

Public Works:

  • Repaired sewer main line on E. Edwards and sewer lateral on Edwards due to root invasion.  Would like to budget to camera the mainline prior to slurry sealing.
  • Tony is changing registers on meters.
  • 24 yards of DG delivered to finish the area between the futsal court and the play structure at City Park.  Irrigation is being re-routed due to the futsal court.
  • Staff is working on graffiti removal, starting at the trail.  Also watering elderberry bushes, cleaning any debris along the trail, and removing gravel and debris along the sidewalk and edges of the car bridge and along the edge of the roundabout.
  • Will rent lift next week to trim trees.
  • Staff is spraying weeds along the highway 128 and will finish on the west side of town.
  • Meeting today with Alan regarding Rule 20A.
  • Working on the projects list and scheduling a date for the piano drop.
  • Will submit comments to SACOG for MTIP (Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program) projects that include the I-505 overpass.
  • A draft amending the Martinez Putah Creek Farms agreement has been sent to Ethan for review.
  • Yolo Resiliency Workshop scheduled for 2/23, 8am-12pm, to look at big climate issues, ie: heat and heat-related emergencies and how departments can work together.
  • Residents on Hillview want an extra street light.
  • Talking with the folks from the cat trap/neuter/release program, who would like to provide this service free of charge to the residents at Yolo Housing and are looking for ways to transport the cats and their owners to receive this service.
  • Ice pigging is scheduled for March 28th to clean the water lines.

 

Planning:

  • Meeting today with a representative of the Valadez property.
  • Signed off on Starbuck’s for now until new construction begins on the Chevron station.
  • Working on a staff report for the 2/27 Planning Commission meeting regarding a monument sign for Chevron, Starbucks and Fairfield Inn that is similar to the ARCO, Burger King, Taco Bell sign; will check the sight distance.

 

Police:

  • 30 people attended Movie Night last weekend; it was a good joint group effort with the Fire Department.
  • The PD may receive $1,500 back from the probation department from the Kershner DUI cost recovery.
  • In the past, the PD has been reimbursed by the State for training, but this isn’t the case anymore.  POST requires that officers stay current on their training and one solution is to hold POST trainings in the EOC/Training Room at the Public Safety Facility, where two officers will be able to attend at no cost.  Some classes have already been scheduled, including Interview & Interrogation and Taser classes.  CHP also offers several free training opportunities at their facility in W. Sacramento.
  • In response to the shooting at a Florida high school, CSO/Detective Gonzalez emailed the Winters Superintendent and principals to let them know the department is available for anything they may need.  Gonzalez was present at the high school and McCoy distributed stickers at Waggoner today.
  • PD is working with schools to provide a teacher guide that includes red and green pages to display in their window to indicate to those outside whether a classroom is safe or not.

 

Fire:

  • The FD is using lunchtime recess out on the playground to interact and re-engage with the kids.  It is the desire of the FD to provide public safety within the community, but regarding the school shooting scenario, they have to be prepared for not if, but when.
  • FISH FRY IS TONIGHT!!!
  • Engine 26 is back in service and is doing well.
  • An OES standard annual inspection will take place on 3/13.
  • Fire Management meeting is being moved to once a month instead of bi-weekly.  Brad will send John an invite to the next meeting.
  • Fire Commissioner Jack Thomas passed away on February 9th.  Services will be held at St. Anthony’s on February 20th.

 

City Engineer:

  • Callahan (Crown Homes) is calling for a meeting to coordinate the infrastructure with Winters Highlands (Homes by Town).  The Main Street Pump Station is being built by Homes by Town, so Crown Homes is waiting.
  • Working with CalTrans on a possible u-turn at Grant & Matsumoto to access Starbucks.  A median will be installed on Grant to prevent left turns other than the left turn lane.  Drivers will be able to enter Starbucks drive-through from Matsumoto once the Chevron construction begins.
  • The Winters Starbucks location has just been added to the Starbucks app.

City Manager:

  • Working on budget items.
  • Will review the Capital Projects section of the upcoming Fiscal Year Budgets with the City Council at the March 6 Council Meeting.

Finally, a couple comments on the school shooting in Florida.

The need for the City and School District to coordinate on active shooter scenerio’s is critical and needs to be ongoing. The City and WJUSD went through a comprehensive planning and scenario exercise in 2014 but the reality is that most in that training have moved on. Time for another training.

The situations of active shooting events are almost unfathomable from a tragedy standpoint. Both victims and first responders are affected for their lifetimes. How we deal with the situations needs to be planned and calculated so as to effectively deal with those affected. It is a delicate balance and a part of the business we are in as a City.

Over the years, Winters has seen many tragedy’s on the small scale, yet very similar in nature, whether it be shootings, car crashes or drowning. The effects on our personnel are often traumatic and we have mechanisms in place to respond to the tragedy to counsel both families and our first responders. I will share that there are some folks who have moved on after some incidents, choosing other careers.

Emotion, empathy, shock and sadness are absolutely critical elements of dealing with the worst situations. They are signs of strength which need release during incidents. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a very real thing, which needs to be dealt with immediately to help the psyche of those who have found themselves in horrible situations. Trying to internalize or be callus simply does not work and is something which we avoid.

At the City, we have multiple levels of address for various situations. Our leadership promotes an active debrief for all moderate and major incidents; we have our Chaplain Program (with K9 Kepi who is trained to sense PTSD); we have a professional psychiatric firm on 24 hour call to meet with our staff. We have learned to not take any situations lightly.

I will share that my instruction to our Chief’s is that in the event of a traumatic situation, once stabilized and secured, that we limit the exposure of our personnel to traumatic scenes. I have a very firm belief that “not everyone needs to see the crime scene”.

Without question, the tragedy in Florida has rocked that entire community beyond measure. We need to keep those families and first responders in all of our thoughts. There were many hero’s on Wednesday and I know so many of them drove vehicles with light bars and sirens. I give thanks every day for those who have taken the call of public service who sometimes find themselves in the worst situations imaginable. I am grateful for those who risk lives and save lives.

John


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Downtown Before and After

Downtown Before and After (pdf)

A little perspective on the evolution of Downtown Winters through capital projects done through our revitalization efforts. The goals of the Downtown Master Plan were to provide for a more pedestrian orientation, with people having an opportunity to walk through the core and experience the charm. Parking has been viewed to be on the periphery and improvements were made to create a sense of arrival and “place” for people and cars. Kind of a fun look at the evolution.


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Friday Update on February 9 2018

All,

Last week, I attended the State-wide City Manager’s Department Meeting which gives me a chance to get up to date on critical issues and items affecting cities and  the State. Here is a review of some of the key issues and a brief sense where the City of Winters is affected for each.

Some of the major topics hitting California cities include pension costs, housing, transportation and homelessness.

Pension:

Unquestionably, the ballooning deficit for the funding of public employee pensions is an issue which stands to cripple municipal services in the coming years. The combination of reduced investment earnings at PERS, the increased contributions needed to fund pensions from member cities and the long term sustainability of employee pensions will become an enormous impact to how services are provided to the communities in California.

As forecasted, the incremental increase of PERS contributions for cities and counties will see median increases of almost 89% over the next 7 years with a typical city in California seeing an median dollar increase of near $2.3m per year in contributions. The percentage of pension costs to payroll shows that the median is almost 42%. In Yolo County, both Davis and Woodland will see over 50% of their payroll cost being pension related and Yolo County- 38% and West Sacramento seeing 39%.

For Winters, we are forecasting that our pension costs will increase from the current 22% of payroll to 27% in FY 24/25, an increase of almost $400k annually. To address this, Staff is looking at assigning a dedicated funding line item in our budget which is strictly pension related. Over time, the amounts will incrementally increase over time to develop a funding source to eliminate future increases so as no one year of shifts in pension costs will cause. The goal is sustainability for pension obligations, a smoothing mechanism to alleviate the peaks and valleys and a solid plan which will help the City over the next 30 years deal with this issue.

Housing:

 

Without question, the California housing market has become unaffordable for many folks, especially young families and persons seeking rental housing in both metropolitan and rental areas. The California Legislature and the Governor have made the “streamlining” of permitting a priority in many of their policy prognostications, but the reality is that they are doing very little to move the ball on helping address the situation, especially when it comes to affordable housing.

A perspective– Two summers ago, someone associated with Winters City Hall found himself between rental housing, downsizing into his own apartment from a shared one. As he left one, waiting for the word on another, he found himself on the verge of becoming homeless and needing to live in his car. Anyone with a millennial child can absolutely relate to this situation because of the tight supply of rental properties everywhere.

Some key factors inhibiting housing production include:

  • Environmental Review- The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is a complicated, process driven morass of consultants, attorneys and advocates which by its nature is meant to slow and discourage development. It adds huge costs to projects and makes even the most positive and desirable projects subject to litigation and outright extortion from many groups. Neither the Governor nor Legislature, which control the elements of CEQA have taken any steps to cure some of the reforms needed and it is nowhere on their radar. The facts are that powerful groups which profit immensely from CEQA (attorneys, consultants, environmental groups and unions) stand in the way of any types of reforms. Don’t look for anything soon.
  • Labor Supply- The economic downturn and recession of 2008 significantly reduced the number of contractors and skilled carpenters, electricians, etc. The construction industry has literally become an enormously tight scheduling exercise where subcontractors and the various trades are lined up to build. Any deviation from the scheduling “window” for a trade whether it be weather, supply or any number of variables can result in significant delays if that window is missed. The ability to get any contractors for even home renovation projects can be difficult.
  • Approvals- Cities can be extremely slow to review and approve projects, taking months, if not, years to consider even the most basic subdivisions (see CEQA above). The 2008 downturn witnessed a huge reduction in planning professionals who help process applications dwindle and the many consultants (traffic, environmental review, habitat, etc) also has been reduced. It is tough to find qualified professionals and it may take years for the supply to return.
  • Financing- The loose lending of the early 2000’s which gave rise to the 2008 “mortgage” crisis has resulted in extremely tight lending criteria from underwriters. This means that even the most successful builders in the hottest markets can typically only get funding for a handful of units (5-10) at a time. Combined with the shortage of contractors and labor/material supply, it really slows things down.

A perspective on the Winters real estate market is as follows:

  • The supply of available units for sale or rent is practically non-existent. There are very few units and those that hit the market are purchased immediately.
  • As of today, we have close to 550 units approved and entitled to build and we will see two of those subdivisions (Stone’s Throw and Callahan Estates) under construction now with the first units for sale beginning the summer of 2018. We expect the construction timeline for these units to be 6-7 years.
  • Winters desperately needs rental housing. The need for quality, market rate apartments in town is huge.
  • Senior Assisted- Older folks hit that point where they need assisted living arrangements and we currently have zero. Some of our longest term residents live out the last days of their lives in Woodland, Davis or other points east and west. Population often dictates the development of assisted living facilities, so we will need to see an increase in population to make this side of the of the housing market work.
  • Affordable Housing—The lion share of housing production in Winters over the past 10 years has been affordable. The Orchard Village, Winters Apartments II and rehabilitation to Winters I and Almondwood have all been positive!
  • Senior Housing—The proposed and approved Blue Mountain Terrace Apartments will be 63 Senior Affordable Units on East Baker Street behind the Yolo Credit Union. This project has been stalled for almost 2 years as we work on gaining funding.

Winters falls into the region controlled by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) which serves as the regional transportation and planning agency. Each “planning area” like SACOG has a requirement to develop a “regional housing needs allocation (RHNA)” which essentially established housing development goals and estimates for each city and county. Also known as the RHNA number, it is very controversial and draws the ire of many people, especially the slow to no growth community. The California Department of Housing and Community Development recently released a report “grading” communities on their housing availability and production in direct relation to meeting the RHNA “goals”. Good news for Winters, where we received a passing grade while some other communities did not fare as well.

Bottom line, we have single family housing production in our future but we still have a need for rental, affordable, senior and assisted living. We will see!

Transportation:

Anyone travelling in metropolitan or toward even the most remote suburbs can relate to the growing traffic congestion which is engulfing our roadways. As the supply and availability of housing has been pushed into remote areas without a correlary of jobs in the same areas, commutes are longer and gridlock is occurring for extended durations.

Amongst cities in metropolitan California both north and south, the issues are chronic.

How is this affecting Winters:

  • From a traffic count perspective, we know that the vast majority of working Winters leaves the City between 6:30 and 7:00 am each weekday. We know that the majority of folks return home sometime between 6-6:30 pm. The vast majority of folks go south toward the Bay Area. We also know that the commutes are starting earlier (morning rush hour in Winters used to begin closer to 7:15) , meaning that can surmise that as people head to work, they need more time for travel due to traffic.
  • Our evening traffic on Grant Ave is increasing on evenings. These are not people from Winters or Lake Berryessa, they are Sacramento bound commuters seeking relief from the congestion of Highway 80. A key factor are our “smart phones” with both “Maps” and “Ways” guiding people off of Highway 80 to 128 which guides them through Davis to save some time. Next time you are at Berryessa Brewing on a Friday night, watch the traffic passing going east. It is an eye opener!
  • Smart technology is completely changing traffic patterns. The algorithms of Ways and Maps are sending cars through residential and rural areas versus the previous highways and arterial roads. In metropolitan areas, once quiet residential streets are effectively becoming cut thru’s for persons leaving congested arterials.

While Winters does not have congestion and our biggest issue seems to be people trying to figure out how to negotiate the new “roundabout”, we can still expect to collectively experience what is rapidly becoming one of our State’s largest issues.

Homelessness:

I shared last week my shock at the number of homeless I saw in Southern California. It was an absolute disaster and something which seems to be spinning out of control. The largest attended session at the City Manager’s Conference was the Homeless Session and there was standing room only to get in.

I grew up in the Los Angeles area (Pico Rivera) and lived in Orange and San Bernardino Counties. The amount of homeless “everywhere” was stunning.  I was personally shocked by the numbers of people literally living on, under and around bridges as we drove through the region.

As I visited with my peers from many cities, it is clear that some level of collective intervention is needed. Law enforcement personnel have become mostly social workers and psudo-psychologists in dealing with persons living on the streets whose biggest crime seems to be simply trying to live in an untenable situation. The police and sheriff deputies have few resources at their disposal except to just push folks from one location to the next. Most have a shopping cart and a dog with all their belongings just piled in a heap.

Who are the homeless- literally every demographic……. from young to old, male and female, families, they are all there. Homeless are not just people with “issues”, they are people with no way to find housing

A noted urbanist and someone I have worked with in the past is Chapman University Professor Joel Kotkin the often controversial urbanist who once predicted that Los Angeles would become the “Calcutta” of the United States” based on the broadening income and economic disparity which will ultimately divide the classes. He points to the reduction in certain safety net programs (mental health is one) as fueling the divide. His prediction seems to be materializing.

In Yolo County, the problem is becoming pervasive. I will share that our Yolo Manager’s Group (Each City Manager and the County Manager), homeless are a regular topic. Woodland, Davis and West Sacramento all have HUGE issues with very little relief or answers in sight. Caltrans will tell you that their facilities are becoming extremely impacted by homeless seeking shelter. Because of climate, northern California issues pale in comparison to Southern California, but they are still very real.

For Winters, our homeless population is practically non-existent. This is mostly due to the lack of shelter and social services due to our very rural nature and population size. Our homeless population is either very temporary and is transient or they are the offshoot of family problems which have people more kicked out of homes for various durations.

A lot of heavy issues with no immediate or easy answers.

John


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Friday Update on February 2 2018

All,

A couple items for the week.

·         A very light City Council Agenda with two presentations. The First will be on the Yolo County Emergency Medical Services Agency Annual Report (these are the folks who bring us ambulance services) and Yolo Transportation will be discussing the County Wide Capital Improvement Program. Short and easy!

·         The Winters Police Department released a couple press releases this week on a couple issues. The first included a juvenile arrest regarding the break in at Berryessa Sporting Goods. The second involved a alert citizen who reported some strange folks dumping a stolen car in a neighborhood (both were arrested on car theft charges). The Police also arrested a suspect who was found with stolen items from a car burglary. In each case, information was reported by alert citizens.

·         PG&E is installing the utilities to Starbucks, so that double macchiato latte is just around the corner for some lucky person!

·         I attended the State-wide City Manager’s Conference this week in Southern California. The consensus on the top issues facing cities are Pension Liabilities, Housing, Transportation and Homelessness. The State is an absolute wreck in each of these areas and there does not seem to be a clear path on any of it.

·         The State Department of Housing and Community Development has released its report card on affordable housing production for cities. In Yolo County, both Winters and West Sacramento received passing grades while Davis and Woodland landed on the naughty list. A good sign for us with pending legislation coming down which will result in State mandates for those not meeting certain housing goals.

A big take away from the City Manager’s Conference was the struggle that many communities are facing with homelessness and vagrancy in their communities. In many places it is epidemic and in Southern California it is everywhere. Downtown Los Angeles is practically one giant 10 block homeless encampment and the freeway overpasses literally have folks living on them.

The problem has many causes which need address. These include but are not limited to the following:

·         Lack of affordable housing in the urban and suburban areas. People in need and on the streets will congregate near social and safety net services, which means the more populated zones. When affordable housing is not present, they simply live on the streets, inside storm culverts, under/on bridges or any place they can find.

·         Mental health help in California is really under-funded. Many of those on the streets are dealing with mental and substance issues. Many of these folks used to be housed in prisons and were released under AB109 with the promise that there would be increased funding toward mental and health programs. The State has not followed through on these safety net assistance programs and these people are left to fend for themselves.

·         Basic economics and a vast divide in income levels. There really are the haves and have not’s in our society and those who cannot afford housing are fending for themselves. Many families end up living in their cars which includes children.

There are many contributing factors including the shear lack of housing production following in the economic collapse of 2008 and the end of programs such as community redevelopment agencies which were the key production vehicles for local affordable projects.

It was a very eye opening topic for me at this conference and a struggle which California will be dealing with for some time.

John


  • -

Friday Update on January 19 2018

All.

A couple project updates:

·         Staff is working with Caltrans to add signage along I505 to encourage visitors to exit Putah Creek Road to come straight into Downtown. Both Ways and Maps already direct people off at this location, but we are looking to bolster additional advertising for Downtown. When you put in $5m in creek improvements, build a new $15m bridge and have a vibrant Downtown it is nice to be able to show it off. This is a very impressive gateway into our town.

·         The Planning Commission will be reviewing modifications to the setback requirements for the Callahan Estates subdivision at their Tuesday, January 23 meeting beginning at 6:30.

·         The Downtown Hotel is going “vertical” which is a really good sign for things. The construction management seems to be dialing things in and hopefully we will see a busy construction season.

·         Starbucks is still waiting for PG&E to install the utilities for their Grant Ave location. The anticipated opening date is still early February.

·         Plans and a deposit have been brought in for the Marriot Fairfield Inn at the freeway. Very good news!

·         Project Playground is back at City Park installing the final slide, fence posts and the zip line. Things look absolutely amazing out there and it is worth it to stop by for a look! The zip line should be in operation in about a week.

·         Supervisor Don Saylor is hosting his annual Soup’s On event to benefit a local charity. The event is next Thursday, January 25th from 6-8pm at St. James Church in Davis. Winters will be well represented with Mayor Wade Cowan’s mouth-watering famous clam chowder, German Potato soup from Buckhorn, wine from Turkovich at the event, and Berryessa Gap wine tasting in the silent auction. 100% of the funds this year benefit Family Hui, a non-profit that has served families in Winters and throughout the County.

·         Winters made the front page of the Los Angeles Times on Thursday in regards to our rural connections program and partnership with the WJUSD, Yocha de He and many parents. The Program was spearheaded by then Mayor Cecilia Aguiar Curry (now Assemblymember) who was relentless in helping close the digital divide. Click HERE to go to the article. As someone who was front and center for all of this, I will tell you that it is something our community can be extremely proud of and it is making a huge difference for our students and families.

·         Winters Police have released the attached press release (pdf) with an image of someone wanted for breaking into vehicles in our town. Take a look at the photo and if your recognize the person, please contact the Winters Police Department.

Have a nice weekend.

John


  • -

Friday Update on January 12 2018

All,

A super busy week but really quiet:

  • City Council agenda for January 16 includes a number of items including Flood Safety Planning, Putah Creek Phase 3, Electric Car Charging Stations, Call for the Consolidated Election in June, Building Inspection Services Contracts, Animal Services and Crossing Guards.
  • Also on the Agenda is a swearing in ceremony for new Sergeant Kelly McCoy, recognition for outgoing Sergeant Kelly Schroeder, a presentation by Police Chaplain Robert Duvall and a Senior Services Update.
  • The Winters History Committee will also be at the meeting to discuss their vision for a Winters Museum. Past Mayor Woody Fridae will return to talk about a very ambitious concept to keep the History of Winters alive!
  • Look for upcoming announcements regarding the Downtown Parking Study and Report. We are working to reschedule the cancelled December meeting. This meeting will be a joint workshop with the City Council and Planning Commission along with the members of the Parking Committee.
  • Look for the Economic Development Committee to be re-established and operating in February!
  • January 1 kicked off a year long Interim Fire Chief Program which will allow our current captains to serve in four (4) month rotations as Interim Fire Chief. This is meant as a professional development program for the leadership of Winters Fire. In the past two weeks, it has proven to be one of the best decisions I have made as City Manager in Winters. The leadership throughout the organization is blossoming and we can expect some amazing results throughout the organization!
  • Congratulations to Chief Brad Lopez who will serve as Chief through April.
  • If you are on Facebook, hopefully you are following all three of our social network sites- City of Winters, Winters Fire and Winters Police. We really work to be informative and include pertinent information. Special recognition to CSO Gail Jimenez from our Winters Police Department who does an amazing job with the site. Really good stuff.

Have a nice weekend.

John


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