Key items as we head toward Easter and Passover:
City Council Agendas:
April 3, 2018
April 17, 2018
A couple notes on some items coming up:
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.
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.
Today is a long one:
City Council Agendas:
April 3, 2018
April 17, 2018
Public Works Activities:
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.
Customer Service – 530-795-1201
Please note Palm Fronds Leaves and Stumps are no longer acceptable as green waste.
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!
A couple items of note from this week:
City Council Agendas:
March 6, 2018
March 20, 2018
Some notes on City operations:
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!!
The City of Winters will be conducting an election on June 5, 2018
The offices to be filled are as follows:
Three (3) Council Member Seats – Four (4) Year Terms (Anderson, Cowan, and
City Clerk – Four Year Term (Mills)
City Treasurer – four Year Term (Sebastian)
If no one, or only one person is nominated for each office the council may
appoint someone to fill the office.
February 12th – March 9th, 2018 is the filing period for nomination papers. If
nomination papers for an incumbent of the city are not filed by March 9, 2018 the
filing period will be extended to March 14, 2018. No incumbent may file during
the extended period of time.
Nomination papers must be filed with the City Clerk during normal office hours
If anyone wishes for more information, please call Nanci Mills, City Clerk, City of
Winters at 530-794-6701.
A couple items from a very good meeting on parking the other evening:
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.
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:
City Council Agendas:
February 20, 2018
February 21, 2018
March 6, 2018
March 20, 2018
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
A perspective on the Winters real estate market is as follows:
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!
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:
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.
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.