Friday Update on September 14, 2018
A busy City Council Meeting:
- Executive Session: Public Employee Performance Evaluation-City Manager, Conference with Joint Powers Agency-Insurance Liability
- (2) Final Acceptance & Notice of Completions for Well #6 Rehab and Futsal Court
- Sacramento Yolo Mosquito Vector Control District Appointment
- Proclamation Recognizing 9/22-9/29 as Falls Prevention Awareness Week
- Street Closure & Amplified Sound Permits for PorchFest Winters Music Stroll (9/23) and the WHS Homecoming Rally (9/28)
- Public Hearing and Resolution Authorizing Additional Funding from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and from HOME Program Income for the Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Housing Program
- Public Hearing to Consider the Proposed Downtown Parking Master Plan
- Golden State Finance Authority PACE Programs
- Additional Funding from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and from HOME Program Income for the Domus Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Housing Project
A couple notes on things:
- City Staff held a “rating call” with representatives from Standard and Poors (S&P) to gain a credit rating on the upcoming refinancing of water and sewer bonds. The presentation included a comprehensive review of our utilities, discussion regarding water utilization, regulatory issues and extensive talk about the City in general. The City has regular calls with S&P each year but this was a marathon with over 50 slides in the presentation and lots of questions surrounding being a city in California. The S&P reps on the phone were from New York and Denver and they seem to be amused at what happens in California in terms of regulation. Overall, a good call! S&P give single letter ratings (A, B,C) in difference to Moody’s who gives three letter ratings (AAA, BBB,CCC). We have consistently rated high (A-) with our size and small customer base being the negatives.
- The Putah Creek Phase III is well under way and the overall project is proceeding extremely well! The heavy tractor work will continue for the next week or so, followed by some plantings and erosion control to prepare for winter. We walked the flood planes today and the wildlife viewing is amazing as is the new channel and the backwater pond. For those worried about the otters, beavers and turtles, you can stop worrying, all is fine in their world and their presence is all over the place!
- Putah Creek Clean-up Day is this Saturday, 9/15 from 9am-12pm (lunch is provided.) Meet at the Rotary Gazebo.
- Staff met with a representative from the Bellvue North group which owns the 400 acres in the north part of the City. We discussed some procedural and planning topics in anticipation of moving forward with a process which will ultimately result in the annexation of approximately 250 acres and a specific plan for the property. In the meeting, Staff emphasized that the annexation and planning will need to include all properties within the City’s General Plan area. Bellvue indicated that their desire is to mitigate agricultural land directly to the north of the properties which are currently within their farming operation. Also discussed was the importance of a comprehensive solution to flood issues. Generally, a really good meeting.
- Kudos to Councilmember Jesse Loren who is representing the City this week at the League of California Cities meeting being held in Long Beach. During the meeting, Jesse is being sworn in as a “Director” on the Board of Directors (a really big deal) and she has been working on the formation of a “rural communities working group” to bring better representation and focus to issues to smaller communities outside the urban core. On Thursday she facilitated a meeting of small communities advocating for the rural communities working group. Jesse has brought a significant level of leadership and is an important voice on issues for communities like Winters. Her selection as a Director on the League Executive Board is a reflection of her accomplishments within the City and Sacramento Valley Region along with her being recognized as a successful collaborator and knowledgeable elected representative. Well done, Jesse!
- The focus of the Economic Development Committee this week was land use. We reviewed the zoning plan for the City, provided an update on the Flood Overlay Zone and identified a number of areas which might generate job producing projects. A really good group!
Finally, a court hearing was held on Monday regarding the Putah Creek Phase III project where an “emergency injunction” had been filed seeking to stop construction on the project. The request for an injunction was denied and the project is proceeding.
Phase III will provide enhanced access to the creek along with restoration of the area once the City sewer ponds. The collaborators on the project include the Putah Creek Council, leading UC Davis biologists and scientists, Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee and both State and Federal Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The permits for the project are numerous and from literally the most judicious agencies any permittee may need to face. The ecological and biological review has been extensive. There have literally been hundreds of meetings and thousands of hours spent working with key stakeholders.
Yes, part of the view shed along the creek is being removed, but it will be replaced with incredible direct access to the waters edge along with what will become a marquee nature park. It will take some time for plantings to grow, but the reality is that in 5-10 years, the place will be amazing.
The critics will be critical of the project and that is their prerogative, but the reality has been seen for years with salmon spawning, children swimming and people reconnecting with a creek once inundated by arrundo, blackberry and almost completely inaccessible.
If you have a chance, head down the north bank trail to seek things starting to shape up. Access to the new areas will be available once the construction is completed and planting have a chance to mature.
Have a nice weekend.