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Friday Update on January 29 2016

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Friday Update on January 29 2016

All,

This week, the Department Heads and key personnel for each division met to begin discussions on the development of the upcoming City Budget. We will put together a two fiscal year spending plan beginning in late February. My direction to the staff is a very cautious message that revenues will not see significant increases until early 2018, so the theme of these budgets will be “meat and potatoes” (let’s stick to basics)!

Here is a listing of the key items which came from the meeting and will be happening over the next two years.

  • Hexavalent Chromium 6: Changes in State Guidelines on acceptable levels of naturally occurring Chromium 6 will put the City on course to the largest capital expenditure and operations expansion in the City’s history. Essentially, we will be required to re-engineer our drinking water system to add a treatment operation which will include the re-routing of lines, development of storage and treatment. The impacts to water bills will be significant and costly, hitting low income and seniors really hard. Our battle cry as mobs show up at the City Council meetings will be “no the water quality has not changed, just the State of California regulation”. Stay tuned, it is going to get really ugly at some point! L
  • General Plan Update: The City’s General Plan sunsets in 2018 and we will need to do some updating of various “elements” to remain compliant with State planning guidelines. The overall plan is not in bad shape, with most of our key “elements” (Housing, Water, Sewer, Wastewater, Circulation) having been updated in the past few years and they are current. The City most likely will be considering an annexation request for acreage to the north which may soften the blow. In the meantime, we may need to dig up $500k which we do not really have at this point.
  • Community Center Planning: The next BIG project for the City will include looking toward a new Community Center and Theatre for Downtown (probably in the same location). It probably will not be build by 2018, but we need to start moving towards a project.
  • Well 8: Where does water come from???? From the tap, right!!!! Not really, it is pumped out of the ground and the need for additional well capacity may require a new well in the north area of the City. Watch for this!
  • Hotels: Yes, there is an s on the end of that. Look for the Downtown Hotel (which has begun) and a proposal for something out by the freeway. Timing will put the Downtown project way ahead of the freeway, but look for the City to go from zero to two during the next two years. Not a bad thing!!
  • PERS: Pension obligations will play an important role in our budget and financial planning. This is a reality of City business and something we will plan for and begin funding.
  • Fiscal Sustainability. The reality is that most of the current projects which are occurring will not bring revenue up ticks for the City until the first quarter of 2018. We will be re-working our fiscal and financial forecasting models and how we project revenues into the future. Nerds of the world can unite on this, we will be pulling out our notes from grad school and beginning to update our regression analysis and spreadsheet formula’s. It is going to get exciting around the computer, so stay tuned!!
  • Economic Development: The PG&E Project, hotels and infrastructure work will be catalysts to future economic activity on many levels. Look for a combination of staff, City Council and the business community to begin attracting job producing development to town.

The City will begin budget workshops with the City Council and the community beginning in March, so stay tuned.

Some good news on the Senior front!!

  • Key funding approvals for the Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Affordable Apartments was approved this morning!! The project is a go and we should see movement, if not construction beginning in 2016. This is HUGE!! A big congratulations to our team on this led by Domus Development and our Economic Development and Housing Manager, Dan Maguire.
  • Winters Senior Foundation are planning a Reno gambling and party trip for March 16/17. The trip will include a train trip from Davis and a nights stay at Harrah’s Reno. The train trip will be $79.90 pp and the hotel room (double occupancy) is $81.96. This sounds like a really fun trip! If you are interested in going, Click HERE to email Joe Tramontana and let him know your interest. They need a minimum of 10 rooms to make the deal happen, so contact him soon.

Finally, congratulations to those being honored with the Year in Review dinner this weekend:

  • Rebecca and Woody Fridae- Citizens of the Year
  • Jill Aguiar- Theodore Winters Award
  • Barbara Greenwood- Senior Citizen of the Year
  • Rootstock- Chamber Business of the Year.

Have a nice weekend.

John


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Special Planning Commission Meeting 02/02/16

Special Planning Commission Meeting (pdf)   Agenda / Packet


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01/25/16 Oversight Board Meeting

January 25, 2016 Oversight Board Meeting (Packet)


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Friday Update on January 22 2016

All,

Just a few items on a really rainy week.

• The Planning Commission will have two items, including an extension of the design review for the Downtown Hotel and design review for a home remodel on Almond Drive. The original design review on the hotel expires in the next 30 days and requires an extension.
• Lot’s of downed trees this week and our Public Works Crew did an awesome job. Tuesday morning saw 3 enormous trees fall on Grant Ave., Main St and Russell St. It is clear that some of the effects of the drought are catching up with these trees and causing them to fail. This is the third consecutive year where we have seen drought impacts on trees and it is tragic. Some of these are absolutely beautiful and tall. To see them just collapse is sad.
• Putah Creek is seeing some incredible surges of water and Dry Creek is not so dry. This is great news for the restoration work we have been doing. Saturation of the flood planes, the pushing of gravel into the river bottom and the cleaning of the banks is all good for the biology and ecology.

A quick bio on our interim Police Chief Joseph Kriens. Chief is a “retired chief” who has never really retired!

In total, Chief Kriens has about 37 years in law enforcement. He began his career and Concord as a police officer and moved to Sausalito PD where he eventually became its chief. He was later recruited to Novato where he was the Chief. In 2014, he “retired”, but he was immediately asked to take on the herculean task of being the Interim Chief in Vallejo during the bankruptcy and some pretty chaotic times. After 2 years, Vallejo recruited the Police Chief from neighboring Benicia and Joe was asked to be the Interim Chief there while they searched for a new Chief. He took about 6 months off and is now in Winters, where we are blessed with his extensive experience and perspective.

Chief Kriens brings not only an impressive background in law enforcement, but also some incredible credentials in fostering leadership and team building within organizations. His references call him a “cops cop” and you can tell that he loves what he does and is very good at it.

Have a nice weekend!

John


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Planning Commission Meeting – 01/26/16

01/26/16 Planning Commission Meeting (Agenda) (Packet)


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AREA FLOOD ADVISORY – JANUARY 19, 2016

Issued at: 5:10 am PST on January 19, 2016, expires at: 4:00 PM PST on January 19, 2016
The National Weather Service in Sacramento has issued an Urban and Small Stream Flood Advisory for... southwestern Placer County in central California... Solano County in central California... San Joaquin County in central California... southwestern El Dorado County in northern California... southern Sutter County in central California... southwestern Tuolumne County in northern California... Amador County in northern California... Calaveras County in northern California... Sacramento County in central California... Yolo County in central California... Stanislaus County in central California...
until 400 PM PST Tuesday at 505 am PST...Doppler radar indicated moderate to heavy rain that will cause Urban and Small Stream flooding in the advisory area.
Areas of flooding will develop this morning along area creeks and small streams, as well as in urban areas as rain increases.
Morning commuters are advised to slow down! Allow extra time to reach your destination.
Be alert for mud and rock slides if driving in the foothills. Precautionary/preparedness actions... Do not drive your vehicle into areas where the water covers the roadway. The water depth may be too great to allow your car to cross safely. Move to higher ground.

WIND ADVISORY:
Issued at: 3:30 am PST on January 19, 2016, expires at: 1:00 PM PST on January 19, 2016 ...Wind Advisory remains in effect from 6 am this morning to 1 PM PST this afternoon... timing...through early this afternoon.
Winds...south wind gusts 40 to 50 mph with locally higher gusts possible.
Impacts...possible power outages and tree damage. Precautionary/preparedness actions... A Wind Advisory means that wind gusts of 40 mph or stronger are expected. Winds this strong can make driving difficult, especially for small cars and high profile vehicles. Use extra caution. Interact with US via social media www.Facebook.Com/NWS.Sacramento www.Twitter.Com/nwssacramento


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Friday Update on January 15 2016

All,

Well, the City Hall Lottery Group did not win the Powerball Lotto so everyone showed up for work on Thursday. We will be hosting a gamblers anonymous group soon, so stay tuned.

A couple items this week in the update.….

· City Council Agenda for Tuesday has a bunch of items including Retail Tobacco Licensing, Inclusion of Vaper Products same as tobacco, hire of an executive search firm to assist in the hire of a new police chief, discussion of the Field and Pond Project on Road 29 and a proclamation recognizing recently retired police chief Sergio Gutierrez.

· The Parking Committee looking at Downtown issues met on Thursday. Some of the items they are developing include the development of a 5 and 10 year “parking plan” for Downtown, the scope of work to hire a parking consultant and working with the City on some short term improvements. This is a real dedicated group seeking both long and short term benefits to help the Downtown.

· The Putah Creek Car Bridge is entering the home stretch. Some of the last items include the installation of lights, detail work for some of the concrete, new sidewalks near the Trestle Bridge and completing roadway work on the south side of the bridge. Weather will mostly dictate completion at this point.

· A retirement dinner for retiring Police Chief Sergio Gutierrez is on Friday January 29, 2016 at the Public Safety Facility. If you are interested in attending, contact Karla.Ferguson@winterspolice.org . Cost is $20 per person and includes dinner and the gift.

Monday is a national holiday in recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King, one of the most significant leaders of the 20th century. His message of freedom, equality and non-violence put him amongst the most influence people in the history of our great country. His ability to empower the masses, to speak for the common man and to create a peaceful revolution which dug at the core of hate, racial segregation and injustice which stained the basic principles upon which our nation was founded.

Some know that I attended Whittier College, a small liberal arts school in Southern California. The school was founded by the Friends Church (Quakers) and its foundational beliefs of pacifism, equality and their fervent support of abolition and the civil rights movement was rooted in the academic curriculum. While not religious, the foundational tenants of freedom, humanity and equality was an important thread of the basic education.

As Americans and Californian’s we are immensely blessed not only with the freedoms elicited in our laws, but the great minds and character which our citizens who contribute to making our nation great. From our founding fathers to people like Dr. King and Californians like Cesar Chavez, the many sacrifices and commitments to making our democracy and the American dream a reality are unequaled in human kind. We are not a perfect place, but the evolution of our freedom because of people like Dr. King should be celebrated.

Many will have Monday off, so in between the ski run or whatever you are doing, give a thought and a prayer of thanks for what Dr. King represents.

Thanks,

John


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January 19, 2016, City Council Meeting

January 19, 2016, City Council Meeting (pdf) Agenda / Packet


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Friday Update on January 8, 2016

All,

Happy New Year and 2016. I thought I would start the year will a preview of some of the coming BIG issues and the things we will be focusing on.

· City Budget- Staff has started working on our 2 year municipal budget which will cover the 2016-17 and 2017-18 Fiscal Years (the budget is really two one year budgets). In this, we will begin developing funding plans for coming major capital projects, service elements and overall spending in each of our water and sewer enterprises. Preliminary estimates of our revenues show that even with some of the big projects occurring in town, revenues will not begin to recur until 2018, so we will ease into any major spending until then. Look for budget workshops in the coming months, with adoption occurring either in May or June.

The municipal budget is THE main policy document and activity which the City Council does in defining the activities of the City. In December, the City Council gave me my performance evaluation. During my review, I ask for direction and priorities on the key activities which they want the City to focus on as I develop a proposed budget. Key elements (highly condensed) include pursuit of a new community center, economic development, sports park, senior services, broadband, streets and roads, support of the business community. Lots of other stuff which will be included and I will highlight in future updates.

· Chromium 6- The new State guidelines on Hexavalent Chromium 6 will represent one of the most significant capital and operational expenditures in the history of the City. Literally, the City will be required to re configure a considerable portion of our water system and add a treatment operation which will most likely surpass the cost of our existing operations. We are looking at significant increases in the cost of the water bills in town which may be unsustainable for many of our older and lower income residents. Stay tuned.
· Roundabout on Grant Ave./Walnut Lane- Caltrans gave us 11 pages of comments on this project and has totally blown the engineering design budget on this project. We are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel for a project which should have gone to construction two years ago. Plan on this going in 2016.
· Senior Housing and Senior Center- The 60 unit affordable senior project is in the last phases of financing and we anticipate seeing this project go to construction this year. Included in the project will be a senior citizens center. As the funding is completed, look for more information to come out.
· Construction- The PG&E Gas Operations Technical Training Center, Downtown Hotel, Winters Ranch Subdivision, Yolo Federal Credit Union are all in some phase of construction. These all will be a nice perk for the economy.
· Freeway Projects- Staff is anticipating projects moving along the freeway including a significant remodel to the Chevron, a major coffee retailer and possibly a hotel. The City did a considerable amount of planning, public hearings and outreach, but I still anticipate a little controversy. The goal of Staff will be to make sure the projects conform to the design guidelines and are well executed. The projects which we anticipate will require very few entitlements, mostly just site plan and design review. The height limits for the freeway zones are restrictive (30 feet), so we anticipate that they may ask for a plan development overlay to allow for a higher building height for the hotel (which will Staff would agree with to make a nicer product).

One of the key issues about the freeway projects has been the potential conflict with the Downtown and impacts on merchants. Based on our sales tax numbers, the reality is that the freeway businesses have actually added business revenue and we have not seen any major drop to any existing business revenues (except due to gas prices). I am prohibited from releaseing specific data on businesses by the State Board of Equalization, but we have generalized reports which confirm this. The proverb about the rising tide floating boats has been a reality in our recent economic revitalization.

· Marijuana- The State is enacting new laws and regulations regarding marijuana dispensaries in cities which will open up some conflicts which could pose issues. Look for the City Attorney to bring to the City Council some ordinance revisions to maintain our regulatory rights and jurisdiction in regards to dispensaries and the sale within Winters.

I won’t argue either side of the medicinal value of Marijuana but the growth and cultivation is a real issue in Winters. Under the law, persons with permits are allowed to grow and propagate a limited number plants on their private property. The reality is that during the prime growing periods, the plants become fragrant and they stink (hence “skunk weed”). We have visited a number of properties with neighbors growing marijuana and it is a genuine nuisance which needs to be dealt with. It is like having a neighbor with a bunch of pet skunks living next door and you cannot use your patio or go outside your home. Stay tuned, as we will be dealing with this subject.

· Putah Creek Restoration- Phase III of the Putah Creek project will be a hot topic in the coming months. Just so that everyone knows, I am good on stuffed beavers, beaver books, beaver pelts and traps, photoshop photo’s of me holding beavers and website locations to buy beaver products.

Get ready for a really good year in 2016!

John


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Friday Update on December 18, 2015

All,

Who can believe that Christmas is in one week. I am in complete denial! A couple items as we get ready to end the year.

  • Grading and earthwork for the Downtown Winters Hotel is being completed. Look for an official groundbreaking and the start of construction just after the first of the year. Construction plans are in plan check now and will be ready in early January.
  • The schedule has the Putah Creek Car Bridge being completed the second week of January. Cross your fingers!
  • The Parking Committee gave a really good report and update on their efforts to review issues in our downtown. Click HERE to watch a video of parking evolution during a busy Saturday night. It shows things coming to life. Kudos to Chris Turkovich, Gino Mediati, Sandy Vickrey and Devon Vickrey for their work on the report. Extremely well done.
  • Time to confirm and dispel some rumors. Yes, Chevron is looking to do a significant remodel/renovation (new store building and expansion of pumps); and Yes, a  major coffee chain is looking at locating at the freeway. No, the fast food chain with the golden arches has NOT brought in plans. Yes, a major hotel is considering a future move to Winters.
  • The Salmon count in our stretch of the creek has exceeded 500. Given the reports on issues with declining salmon in Northern California, it looks like we have done something special!
  • If you are worried about flooding from coming storms, sand and bags are available at the City Corporation Yard on East Street in the dead end. Come and help yourself but please take only what you need. If you need an entire pile of sand, get it from Winters Aggregate and not by taking our entire pile!
  • City Hall will be closed December 24-January 4.

No updates over the holiday week. I send this update to a lot of people. Many of you will put your out of office auto reply and when I send it, I will see 1,000 reply’s which ruins our server. Hence, look for a comprehensive update on everything happening the first week of January.

Merry Christmas to all and we will see most of you next year!   ~   John


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01/05/16 City Council Meeting

January 5, 2016 City Council Meeting – Agenda (pdf) / Packet (pdf)


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Friday Update on December 11 2015


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Friday Update on December 4, 2015

All,

A couple items as we roll into the holidays.

  • The Putah Creek Car Bridge will re-open to one way traffic on Monday. They will have one of those traffic lights to control traffic to allow both north and south traffic. The intersection of Russell Street and Railroad is now open.
  • Salmon are back in Putah Creek and it is absolutely magical. The many restoration projects are beginning to show results and the estimates are that we have in excess of 400 at last count spawning west of the trestle bridge. Click HERE for a view of the salmon from above the water and click HERE for a video below the water. Both are my amateur attempts at cinematography so forgive the quality.
  • Saturday is the Downtown Christmas Tree Lighting and this year has a lighted Tractor Parade. The Parade begins at 5:30 and the tree lighting will follow. Kudo’s to the Chamber for their efforts and to Councilmember Wade Cowan and Kathy Cowan (and crew) for putting the lights on the tree and the candy canes throughout the town. Things look GREAT!!
  • With the upcoming retirement of our Police Chief Sergio Gutierrez, I will be assuming the City’s seat on the Yolo Emergency Communications Agency (YECA). They are the agency which provides 911 service to our community.
  • Saturday, the 2015 Downtown Piano will host its last concert behind the Community Center beginning at 3:00. Music and fun for the entire family. Following the concert, the piano will be dropped off the Trestle Bridge on to a pile of rocks to make way for the 2016 piano. Click HERE for a video of last years’ final piano concert and drop.
  • The Winters Fire Department’s Toys for Tots is going strong. They are seeking donations of new, unwrapped toys from the community. Drop off locations are around town and always at the Fire Station.

On a sobering and sad note this week is the terrorism which occurred in San Bernardino. Before coming to Winters, I lived and worked less than 5 minutes away from where this occurred. An absolutely senseless act which will affect hundreds of lives forever.

The San Bernardino first responders are no different than the staff we have working for the City of Winters in our public safety. Winters Police, Winters Fire, Yolo 911 and AMR Ambulance personnel are trained and operate no differently than those who responded in San Bernardino. They faced an unthinkable scenario on Wednesday and saved lives and potentially more bloodshed by acts of pure heroism. As a City Manager, the thoughts of these things happening on both large and small scales are what keep me awake nights. The task of keeping people safe and dealing with violence is a dangerous job and enough cannot be said for those who dedicate their lives to keeping all of us with a sense peace in our community.

Over the past 18 months, our Police personnel have been training in “active shooter” scenario’s and response. I can only pray that we will never have to use those skills for what is a horrific situation.

I feel privileged to know and work with the men and women who serve our public safety. We really count on them and they deserve our gratitude as they serve our communities.

Words are rather hollow, but the senseless acts of terrorists against innocent people throughout the world in numbing. Every reason why it is essential that we need to squeeze and love our families and friends a little more often, show kindness and appreciate the fact that we live in the greatest country in the world. Light a candle for the families and souls of those affected throughout the world by these senseless acts of violence and give thanks for those who have taken the challenge of protecting us. Most importantly, show more love and peace!

John


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