A City Council Meeting on Tuesday. One real agenda item:
- Staff is working on an SB 2 application with a focus on the City’s General Plan, zoning, densities, our ability to meet our regional housing needs allocation and by right development. We had a consultation with representatives of the State Housing and Community Development Agency who provided advice and guidance which was very beneficial. A resolution on for the grant will be on the City Council Agenda for Tuesday.
Some of the big items from the week.
- On Saturday, Winters PD and Fire dealt with a deceased person found in Putah Creek behind the Community Center. A really tough situation for the family but the overall collaboration between both the Police, Fire, Yolo Sheriff and the Coroners’ Office was extremely well done. Everyone involved, including our Police Chaplain Robert Duvall were extremely professional in providing counsel and information to the family and dealing with the entire situation. Seeing these people do what they do makes me honored to work with these folks.
- The Planning Commission dealt with two development projects and handled what turned into a pretty rough night extremely well. The design and site plan request for the Olive Grove Subdivision was continued pending and engineering update and the LDS Property Project subdivision was approved, but not the design elements. Look for both to be back on upcoming PC agendas.
- Staff had an opportunity to meet with the new Senior Commission on Aging. We conducted an orientation of some of the more mundane tasks of financial disclosure, ethics training, meeting procedures and the open meeting laws. The group is absolutely wonderful with some folks relatively new to Winters. Overall, a really good evening.
- City Council members attended an orientation on Valley Clean Energy on Thursday. To quote one person in attendance, “it was like drinking water from a fire hose”. Both Councilmembers Cowan and Loren were sworn in as Associate Members and will be representing Winters moving forward.
- Staff attended our first Solano Economic Development Corporation Board Meeting on Thursday. It was an amazing experience with both public and private sector businesses talking jobs, opportunity and regional vitality. The focus on jobs and creating economic advances was incredible. The business to business collaboration is incredible.
- This week marked the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Winters Community Library. The Library sponsored a really nice reception with deserts and a mariachi band. Lots of kids, adults and many of those associated with the Winters Friends of the Library. The place really is a catalyst in our community and it was nice to celebrate the anniversary.
- Today, our Yolo City/County Manager’s met to discuss key issues in the County. Homelessness is growing and the need to address it County-wide in multiple ways is growing rapidly and will become the highest social priority very rapidly. The problem is growing, public acceptance is shrinking and funding is minimal in relation to the real problem. In Winters, we are beginning to see it in multiple areas and expect more.
Finally, a couple things, each related:
- On Thursday, as I left the ATM at Eagle Drug, a woman was laying on the bench near the intersection. She asked me for some money and I stopped to talk with her. She basically said she was homeless and was in Winters because she felt safe here. She has friends in town who she was visiting. I asked her what type of help she might need and I gave her a couple suggestions on some things. A nice lady, very tired and down on her luck in need of a place to live. I gave her my business card and suggested some places for her to get assistance. I did not call the police or offer to “take her” somewhere. I talked to her a bit, bought her lunch and wished her well.
- At the Solano EDC Meeting, the talk about housing vacancies came up. Universally, the cities in Solano said their vacancies on rental housing is below 1% (ours is zero). The availability of affordable housing is a months, if not years long waiting list. Our real estate market is Bay Area and to hear the reports from these communities put a HUGE red flag up.
- Our Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Affordable Project is still struggling to get through the State financing hurdles. I was given 100% assurance that we would be “in the ground” on the project in October. It must be “under the ground” because I do not see it.
- The really long item at the Planning Commission was the discussion regarding an 18 unit subdivision off Anderson Ave behind the LDS Church. The concept is for “lower cost” houses with less design and fewer frills (the jargon for this type of housing is “affordable by design”). Staff, the developer and the Planning Commission all struggled with the entire concept and ultimately, the item was continued for more vetting.
California is again the leader in a national issue, and that is the national housing crisis. Many are to blame including developers, cities with the costs of fees, the entire planning process; and yes the NIMBY’s (not in my back yard) folks who want to thwart even the discussion of growth and new housing developments. A really interesting article from Bloomberg Media from last week.
Questions and food for thought:
- Where should the young people who grow up in Winters go to live if they cannot move back to Winters? Where?
- Where would you live if you lost your lease, a fire burned your apartment or something else happened to where you live today?
- If you were able to get an apartment here in town (which is about $2,000 a month), do you have (first month, last month and cleaning deposit) $5,500 cash to put down on that apartment?
- Who should determine what happens in Winters. Local control and planning, or the State of California?
- Do you know anyone on the cusp of homelessness generated by the housing crisis? The “working homeless” are single, middle aged folks with few local family who lose a lease only to see the prospects of their monthly rent tripling. The other demographic are low income families who cannot get to the top of the list on subsidized housing or, god forbid, low income families who cannot qualify because both parents work and are trying to get ahead!
Charles Dickens wrote a book called a “Tale of Two Cities” where he is famously quoted “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. People get mad that some of us keep bringing this up, but it is the #1 issue in California, facing millennials, families, the middle class, middle aged and seniors. We are living in one of the greatest economies of most of our lives, yet some of the most fundamental means of our existence are at the very worst of our existence. A scenario of the haves versus the have nots.
The full quote by Dickens:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
Winters Warriors are at home tonight in the first round of the playoffs. Go Warriors!