CITY COUNCIL MEETING RECAP — 10/18/2022
This summary covers Fall and Winter Community Events, Bullying Awareness, Purchase of a new Fire Engine, Marine Safety Vehicles, Financing of the purchase of St. Catherine’s School, and a Discussion of the merits of combining the City’s Water Quality Dept. into the Laguna Beach Water District. Just to break up the monotony I am going to take the last item first after this first one.
Bullying Awareness Month: This Topic was brought up during public comments.
George Weiss: October was first declared as National Bullying Prevention Month in 2006. Since then, October has been a time to acknowledge that bullying has devastating effects on children and families such as school avoidance, loss of self-esteem, increased anxiety, and depression. Bullying can occur in multiple ways. It can be verbal, physical, through social exclusion, or via digital sources like email, texts, or social media.
Over the last four years Councilman Blake has engaged in bullying behavior at every City Council without real consequences. I hold the officers of the City Council accountable as they failed in their duty to uphold the Rules of Decorum passed by the Council in 2020. See this article or attached document:
Many women testified to being bullied by Councilman Blake to which he replied that they were at fault, not him. He was the victim not the bully. It is a shame that Council meeting always break down. We have the means to address this problem by using Robert’s Rules of Order provisions for enforcing discipline, but Council leadership lacks the will. Read that document here: https://www.kidlink.org/docs/RobertRules/chap15.html
Read that document here:
Councilmember Item – 16: Councilmember Weiss Request to Initiate a Discussion on the Benefits of Merging the City’s Water Quality Department into the Laguna Beach County Water District (LBCWD) and Consider Making it a Public Agency. It is now a Subsidiary of the City.
Until 2000 the Laguna Beach Water District was a public agency. Since then it has been a subsidiary of the City. The Board of Directors are the 5 City Council members. We wear two hats. The given reason for making this change was to protect the agency from being swallowed up by a larger one. At that time LAFCO, (see below) recommended that small districts should consider a merger. It has been 22 years and it is time to consider merging the sewer services that the City provides as a Department into LBCWD. Most agencies in California provide both water and sewer services.
There was no vote taken but it makes sense to investigate the benefits of a merger so one entity provides both. It is clean water in, dirty water out, it is about pumping, and from an infrastructure, skillset, and management standpoint, considerable overlap in functional responsibilities. I also believe that the combined entity should become a public agency or consider a merger with a larger agency like South Coast Water District. We should look at multiple options.
This change would make the agency more responsive as RESIDENTS decide who serves as a Director rather than this decision being made through the election of council members, who are already taxed with many responsibilities.
Your feedback on this topic is welcome.
(LAFCO is “governed by State law, the Commission oversees proposed changes to local agency and county unincorporated boundaries and prepares special studies to encourage the orderly and efficient delivery of public services to Orange County residential and business communities.”)
Regular Agenda Item – 15: Approval of Lease/Finance Agreement for Purchase of St. Catherine’s Catholic School, 30516 Coast Highway.
George Weiss: The City produced $11.5 million from internal funds to pay half of the cost of acquiring this property. This item provided the platform to secure the other half of the funding needed to close the sale. It’s a complicated financial structure so those who want to learn more please read the Staff Report. Just to inform those not familiar with this site, it sits on ½ usable acreage with a soccer field, large gym, (with performance stage) classrooms, offices, a chapel, pre-school facilities and even a small library. (44,000 sq. ft. of floor space)
It is a major purchase and there is both excitement regarding ultimate use and concern for the costs for modifications, and ongoing maintenance. The question is what is the best use of the facility for RESIDENTS and how will we pay for the improvements and maintenance costs.
In a recent review of the purchase required by law for compatibility with the City’s General Plan, one of the uses listed was for City offices. I would support this only if there are demonstrable benefits to S. Laguna and all Laguna residents.
Consent Calendar – Item 12: Resolution Ratifying Side Letter Agreements with Four Labor Associations For A Holiday Closure Pilot Program: Passed 5-0
George Weiss: The City Manager has proposed providing 4 days of holiday vacation time as a trial for this year. Timing of Christmas, New Year, and scheduled Friday’s off make this less inconvenient for residents seeking services. It is a trial and therefore I voted for it. Let us see if it improves employee morale or has other noticeable impacts.
Consent Item 9: Purchase of Two Replacement Marine Safety Rescue Vehicles: Passed with modifications 4-1
George Weiss: Two Toyota 4Runners need to be replaced at a total cost of $110,400. Council agreed but wanted City Staff to compare the total cost of ownership for this and a hybrid type of the same make. The City is required to evaluate changing from gas powered to all electric or hybrid vehicles. City Staff will come back at a subsequent meeting to provide these cost comparisons.
Note: In July of 2021 at City Council, a vote of 4-1 appropriated funding to hire a consultant who would provide a database of our vehicle fleet and help evaluate how the City might best transition to an all-electric fleet and install charging stations. The consultant is in the 4th step of a 7-stage process. Public Works said it will be March 2023 when this is brought before City Council.
At that same meeting Council also appropriated $100,000 for a solar study that would show the cost savings if the City installed solar panels on City owned building rooftops. Staff initially reported that one consultant’s report stated that the City could save $400,000., over 30 years. No news since this happened but I have made inquiries and will report back.
Consent Item – 8: Purchase of Replacement Type 1 Fire Engine, Passed 5-0
George Weiss: The current engine has been in operation for 17 years, so I agreed that it is time to replace it. The new engine will cost a total of $1,010,000.00. and be in operation in 2025. It takes that long to build these. The engine is being built by Pierce Manufacturing (see URL below) and sourced for us by Sourcewell.
It was a bit disconcerting to learn that the City Manager, and Public Works Director did not know anything about Sourcewell. I asked questions concerning its sourcing role. Does it act as a distributor, or an agent? How does Sourcewell get paid? Asst. City Manager, Ken Domer looked up Sourcewell on his laptop at the meeting. It is a non-profit member organization serving local governments, agencies and other not for profit entities. Based on the domain attribute “mn.gov” they are affiliated with the Minnesota’s state government but offer services nationwide to their members.
Consent Item – 5: Fall and Winter Community Events: Passed 5-0
Here are some events you may want to consider attending. I have always attended Hospitality night as it is an elixir for getting into Holiday spirit and a fun night for hearing seasonal music, visiting Santa and meeting up with friends and those you lost touch with. See you there.
30th Anniversary of the Dog Park in Laguna Canyon Road, Saturday, October 22nd. The event starts at 10:30AM. Bring your dog, this is, by far, the largest dog park in Laguna Beach so have your pet enjoy the company of his four-legged friends in a large park.
George Weiss: I will miss event, but I do have a dog, and he is one of the seven great dogs. If you believe the movie, Dean Spanley, only seven great dogs can co-exist in the world at any one time. Is yours one of them? Maybe. If you have not seen this classic dog movie you should. It combines Buddhism, reincarnation, and the deep and special relationship one has with a dog. (or cat). Cast includes Sam Neill, Jeremy Northam, Peter O’Toole (in his last role), Brian Brown, Wags the dog, and two other doggie friends.
World Kindness Day, Saturday, November 12th, 10AM to 5PM at Main Beach
First Annual “LOVE LAGUNA” event on Saturday November 19th, 2022, at the Community Room at Suzie Q.
Hospitality Night this year is scheduled for Friday, December 2nd, 2022, on Forest Avenue and environs.
Ethnic Diversity and Black History Month lecture at the Suzie Q, no dates given.