A couple things:
- Permits are being issued for both the Stones Throw and Heartland Generally, things are looking really good for both, the units are in line with approvals and we can expect to see some new homes going up over the course of the next couple of years.
- Solar seems to be a big emphasis with the Heartland Project. Each of the units issued permits will be fully solar making this an exceptionally energy efficient project. Each of the new subdivisions will be covered under the “California Green” building code. This means from construction methods to the actual structures and landscaping will use very little energy. Stones Throw will also offer solar on each of their models.
- The Downtown Parking Master Plan will go before the City Council on September 18. Initially, the big emphasis of the plan will include striping, signage for time limits, enforcement throughout the core area and the establishment of a “Winters Business Association”.
- Staff is working on an ordinance to provide regulations for food trucks throughout the City. Some basics of the plan include that they can be located on private properties in zones which allow retail food sales, all must be permitted through Yolo Health, during special events they will be allowed in public rights of way and the direction is to avoid permits which allow for them to cluster.
- Winters Fire has transitioned to Art Mendoza as Interim Fire Chief for the next four months. Chief Mendoza relieves Captain Matt Schechla who has served since May. The interim fire chief assignment has been a boon for Winters Fire, allowing for considerable professional development for the full time staff in the role of Fire Chief along with the “Acting Captain” position which has allowed a number of our reserve staff to see promotions on an interim basis. Overall, the programs have allowed for professional development and made Winters Fire a stronger organization.
- Staff and the Mayor met with some key representatives from our playground community to discuss maintenance and future issues regarding the quality of experiences in our parks. The discussion included upkeep of playground structures, vandalism, trash and the decorum for renting park facilities for private parties. We kicked around the idea of the formation of some type of advisory group for parks as well as financing options and sources for facilities and maintenance. A really good meeting!
- The Affordable Housing Steering Committee met to consider additional financing for the Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Affordable Housing Project. Staff presented an option to loan approximately $700,000 to the developer to help assist the project move forward. The Committee’s recommendation will move to the City Council in September 18.
- Staff is working with the Winters Express on a means for getting the Police Report out to residents. The issue has been the deadline for the newspaper (Tuesdays) and the ability of Police Department Staff to come in on a Monday and gather the information for the paper along with the many other duties required. Frankly, its tough coming in on a Monday and trying to get many reports input into State criminal data bases, address weekend issues (there are more on the weekends than weekdays) and meet the deadline for the newspaper. One option is publishing the report on the Police Department Facebook page during the midweek and sending the information to the press concurrently. The issue is that it misses the print newspaper or the information there is almost a week old. We will find a solution!
Finally, this week has a call to talk about the importance of newspapers and the free press. Unquestionably, the viability of print media is under enormous stress with the many sources available through the internet and other media. Personally, I prefer the local print newspaper versus the online versions. Given what social media has become, it is hard to find reliable sources for information out there, but one common and key resource is the printed newspaper.
The Winters Express has seen a transition in the past number of months. The passing of Newt Wallace, retirement of Charley Wallace, the departure of Debra DeAngelo and the tragic passing of Julia Millon has brought us a new publisher in Taylor Buley and an almost entirely new set of reporters. Taylor has changed the format and many aspects of the newspaper. Some support them and others not so much. The most important thing for which we need to count our blessings is that we have a weekly local print newspaper.
Whether someone agrees with the format or opinions of the newspaper, I would argue that Taylor is working diligently to make the paper sustainable. Without question, the Winters Express Staff are working hard, being creative and walking a balance between old school print journalism and bringing local reporting into the online era. Newspapers across America are folding due to the shrinking bottom lines. When that happens, an important part of the soul of those communities leaves and is gone forever.
As someone who is a frequent topic and sometimes a target of criticism and critique in the paper, I find the transparency and accountability that City Hall is held to as an important part of our democracy. Journalism plays an important role in both informing people and keeping those of us who hold key positions accountable for actions and recommendations. I tell people that my chubby demeanor is not what you think, I am actually all skin and bones, my skin is just really thick! The Winters Express is what provides this in our town.
Whether people agree or don’t agree with some of the stuff in the paper, we need to rally and support this critical resource. The Winters Express is an amazing institution of our town, recording our history and telling our stories on a weekly basis. The Winters Express is important, as is the free press. Be grateful and support what we have.
Thanks and have a nice weekend.