A super busy week when I need to attend the State City Manager’s Annual Meeting and take care of things back at home. Not easy!
A couple items:
- Yes, we were talking “trash” at this weeks City Council Meeting. ???? The City Council approved the increase in the trash rates which for the typical residential customer means about a $1.19 increase to reflect a consumer price index (CPI) increase to Waste Management and pass through costs associated with the landfill. Also discussed was the subject of the bulky item pickup. In 2020, we will cancel the bulky item drop off at the Corporation Yard and switch to a voucher which was recently mailed to our residents and residents still will get one pickup in front of their homes each year. We will evaluate utilization over the year and come back with recommendations on how to proceed in the future.
The bulky item cost is little over $60 a year to each residence. We keep this in the franchise as an outlet for people to get rid of excess and large trash items conveniently and with some cost controls. We also have it to help with overall code enforcement and to help prevent illegal dumping in the areas around the City. Some folks use it, some don’t and our attempts at addressing it are part of an overall management of the waste system. Stay tuned on this.
- Also on the agenda was the City’s participation in the Yolo Animal Services Joint Powers Agency (JPA). The Cities and Yolo County currently share the costs in how animal services are provided through a contract with the Yolo Sheriff. The JPA is an avenue for a more active participation in the future of this service to address some cost escalation, a need for a more robust participation of private parties and a need to address a new shelter facility. The action of the City Council was the first step in a process which allows many “onramps and offramps” from the JPA moving forward.
- A discussion and concerns regarding the results from the January Community Engagement Workshop and getting some of the raw data out. We have posted the raw data from the workshop here http://www.cityofwinters.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/2020_0121DraftResponsesCommunityEngagementWorkshop.pdf We are still taking in data from our Google docs form which I will link and push out in a separate format on Monday. A word of acknowledgement is that the draft responses includes some consolidation of the same responses, removal of the “snarky” and inappropriate responses. We will publish the draft work plan proposal next week.
- Also on the agenda was an RFP for consulting services related to City’s Housing Element Update due in 2021.
Finally, this weeks meeting of City Manager’s led to a focus on the really big issues facing our nation’s most populated State. The top issues without question are the homeless, availability of affordable housing, transit and the impacts of pension costs on the future of service delivery by cities. I also attended a presentation on economic development issues in rural communities. These are all enormous issues but I will share a couple takeaways.
Homelessness is not just an urban issue, it is quickly becoming a rural reality and the rights and obligations for homeless populations will accrue to all jurisdictions will quickly come upon all of us. The need to allow homeless in parks and open space areas will become the norm and the ability to enforce loitering and even trespass will become more and more difficult. At City Hall, we get many calls and complaints regarding homeless in the creek and other locations and frankly, there is not a whole lot we can do to restrict individuals doing so. Eventually, the requirement to consider housing alternatives may become more pressing and the need to outreach into our own community to help these individuals will come upon us. Monies for affordable housing previously was facilitated through redevelopment funding which annually provided more than $2 billion to generate housing for low, very low and even very, very low income individuals. That void has not been filled in the 10 years since the dissolution of redevelopment and last years housing funding legislation (SB 5) was vetoed by the Governor. Many cities and counties are now reaching into their General Funds to address homelessness and we can eventually expect that to become a reality in Winters. California is home to more than 130,000 homeless and almost a quarter of all homeless in the US reside in the State because of our weather, social services, the cost of housing, our economy and many other factors.
Rural economic development was a session I sat in and the reality is that Winters is the exception to the rule for most rural and semi-rural communities. While we have found success in the revitalization of our Downtown, most are not experiencing the same and for most, the classic downtown will become the relic of a bygone era. The advent of online purchasing has simply flipped the paradigm for how people purchase literally every product on the market from everyday food and clothing to car parts and valentines gifts. Believe or not, that Amazon Prime delivery person will now be your new butcher for many people!
The sustainability of our Downtown needs to be a constant focus. The vitality of the business community, generating customers and attracting people offline and into our local stores is critical. As one speaker said, “there has to constantly be a there- there” so people will want to come out of their homes, get offline, to visit, socialize and experience your downtown. Winters benefits from our proximity to urban areas but those same benefits create volatility which makes investment a risk. The ability for businesses to constantly reinvest in marketing the local “brand”, refresh themselves, make a profit, employ people and maintain themselves within a larger context is important. The job of the City in being able to shape a positive reality of the future to drive business and investment.
Winters always gets called out for our success which is mostly attributable to the fact that we have a tremendous business core and made a couple strategic investments in infrastructure. I tell people “we get more out of two blocks than most get out of 20”. In all honestly, I left the session both gratified and scared to death at the same time. Lot’s of opportunity and volatility on our horizon.
And really finally, for the folks who were upset with my prognostication misses on the Super Bowl last week need to just rest a bit and wait for next year. First, who knew both defenses would be absolutely shut down against tremendous offenses. Second, the momentum changer was the bogus pass interference call against George Kittle in the second quarter which would have put the Niners up going into the half. I also think some key players were more hurt than advertised which meant the rush against the pass just exhausted the 49er defensive line which allowed the KC come back in the fourth quarter. KC had a good game plan, mixed their overall defensive coverage and deserved the win. For the Niners, they have a very young team, room in the NFL salary cap and good leadership in their front office with John Lynch (super good guy) and Kyle Shanahan/staff. My prediction for 2021 is the 49ers will beat the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl LV!
Have a nice week.