Council Meeting Recap: Feb 7, 2022
Updated: Feb 13
All council members were present for the Tuesday, Feb. 7 City Council meeting. Open session started at 6:07 p.m. and ended at 9:25 p.m. Here's what you missed:
Assemblymember Josh Lowenthal of the newly created 69th district pledges to be a faithful representative for the City. Recently elected Assemblymember Josh Lowenthal of the newly created 69th district made his first Carson City Council meeting appearance to establish a relationship with the City. The 69th assembly district encompasses the lower half of the City and includes Long Beach, Avalon, and Signal Hill. Lowenthal introduced himself, sharing his personal background, along with his top priorities, and promised to connect with all aspects of the community. “I pledge to you all to spend an extraordinary amount of time here in Carson, because it is the part of the district that I am personally the least familiar with and to that end, my pledge is to really get to know this community, the leaders, the staff, the community members, the activists, the business owners, the education leaders, public safety and so forth,” the assemblyman vowed, “And to lay out what your vision is for this city. I'm here to support you in the state of California and be your representative in the state of California, in the legislature.”
Josh Lowenthal is a business owner with over 25 years of telecommunication experience, prior to that he worked as a schoolteacher in the Long Beach Unified School District. He comes from a family of public service; his mother currently serving on the Harbor Commission in Long Beach and his father is retiring Congressman Alan Lowenthal. As a former school teacher, public education is very dear to the 69th district Assemblymember and he promised to make sure public schools in Carson receive their fair share of funding. After being officially sworn in, Lowenthal introduced his first bill requiring school districts throughout the state of California to have policies and curriculum around body shaming. “It's a priority for me to work on legislation that protects girls and women, young women in this state, and opportunities for girls and young women in the state of California.” said Lowenthal.
Lowenthal warned of the state’s $25 billion budget shortfall projected to be announced this year. Mayor Lula Davis-Holmes implored that the City’s priority is the remediation of the Dominguez Channel and that the assemblyman could help open doors she cannot. Lowenthal agreed and proclaimed “What happened can never happen again. You can count on me to collaborate with you fully and we need to have just deep, substantive plan and make sure we're aligned on what we're asking for and what sort of results and what needs to be measured going forward and who's accountable.”
Mayor Pro Tem Jawane Hilton urges Economic Development Strategic Plan be developed in-sync with General Plan. A consulting firm presented an update on the progress of the City’s Economic Development strategic plan and heard one main concern voiced by members of the council and public alike: align the plan so that it goes hand-in-hand with the General Plan. “I think in order for us to have an economic plan, it must be baked into the general plan as well,” suggested Mayor Pro Tem. Jawane Hilton, “because if we do certain things in the general plan, that may hurt our economy or hurt some stakeholders, it will be a failed plan instead of a general plan [...] We could shoot ourselves in the foot.” HEG Trustee and Carson stakeholder, Loren Miles, gave a public comment echoing Mayor Pro Tem. Hilton’s concern, adding that many target industries highlighted in the Economic Development Strategic Plan’s presentation was not supported by the General Plan, “[Mayor Pro Tem.] Hilton very aptly put, right on the pinpoint, that if the general plan does not meet the objectives of your economic development plan, they will crash and burn together.”
The economic development strategic plan’s goal, according to the Natelson Dale Group, is to create prosperity for the community and to attract investment in terms of new/better paying job opportunities. The presentation included an analysis of the City’s economic strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) and recommended focusing on six industries which are in a good position to grow in Carson (Visitor Economy, Clean Tech, Manufacturing, Logistics, Professional/Creative, and Construction-related).
City of Carson Economic SWOT Analysis key highlights as per the Natelson Dale Group:
Strengths internal to the City:
Carson has a strategic location not only being surrounded by 4 major freeways but also its proximity to ports and airports.
California State University, Dominguez Hills is a key partner and tremendous strength to the City.
Carson contains major Sports/Entertainment destinations.
Carson houses a strong base for some key industries for California (Logistics and Manufacturing).
Carson has strong training resources producing a skilled workforce.
Weaknesses internal to the City:
Concerns on the City’s processes of permitting fees, taxes, regulations and other uncertainties on business friendliness.
Homelessness and crime issues.
Understaffed City Departments.
Lack of amenities for the younger demographic.
Lack of a ‘destination worthy’ downtown.
Limited ‘greenfield’ land.
Opportunities external to the City:
Clean up or re-use of brownfield sites.
Improving Dominguez Channel as an amenity.
Leveraging investments towards the 2028 Olympics.
Replacing regulatory messaging to businesses with positive messaging.
Building on core business strength which distinguishes Carson from its neighbors.
Threats external to the City:
Anti-Business ordinances and moratoriums of key industries in Carson (Ex: moratorium on warehouse development).
Rise in working remotely resulting in less need for office/retail space.
Pressure to convert industrial zoning to other/mixed land use types.
Visually unattractive gateways into the City and other poor optics.
Limited affordable and mid-level housing.
'Bedroom Community’ mindset/NIMBYism.
Money in the bank - Council celebrates healthy $108 million in coffers. The city’s finance team received a round of applause and much gratitude from the Councilmembers after an audit of the financial statement for fiscal year 2021-2022 revealed that the total fund balance of the City’s General Fund was $107.9 million as of the end of June 2022. As per the staff report, the general fund increased $48.5 million from the previous year. $90.7 million is available to use upon the council’s discretion. “It's the first time in the history of the city, Carson, that we have a budget surplus of 108 million” praised Mayor Lula Davis-Holmes, “So staff, you're doing an excellent job.” City Manager David Roberts, Jr. beckoned the finance staff to stand before the cameras saying, “I'd love for them to stand and be able to be recognized because they all put in the work, they all put in the effort, and it's all been a collective effort from that team to really bring to you this healthy, healthy budget and a strong financial city.”
According to the staff report, the audit was completed by the City’s independent auditor, Vasquez & Company LLP.
$100,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of driver of the second vehicle responsible for Jamaal Freeman’s death. 34-year-old Carson resident Jamaal Freeman lost his life after he was hit by two vehicles while crossing the street on Jan. 3. The council established a $100,000 reward for key information leading to the arrest of the driver of the second vehicle. According to the staff report, the reward will only be paid if the information leads to a capture, arrest, and conviction. The driver of the first vehicle has turned himself over to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
City’s 55th Anniversary Ad-Hoc Committee Raises over $100,000 to offset events cost. Councilmember Cedric Hicks revealed a general timeline of the City’s 55th Anniversary events and announced that over $100,000 has been raised to offset costs. “I'm one of the co-chairs for the ad hoc committee, along with my colleague, Councilwoman Arlene Rojas,” explained Hicks, “and one of the key areas I want it as a goal to raise about $100,000 towards the offset cost for this upcoming celebration for the entire year. As of to date we have $118,730[…] and we are continuing to receive funds as we speak today.” The council previously allocated $257,000 of general funds for the anniversary celebrations.
For the City’s 55th anniversary, the ad-hoc committee has several events scheduled throughout the year. The Gala Ball, which is set for Saturday, Feb 25 at the Carson Event Center, has already sold out. A 5k walk will be held on Saturday, May 6th in tandem with Carson High School’s 60th anniversary. The Lakewood Country Club will be hosting a golf tournament for the City’s birthday on May 19. Carson street between Bonita and Avalon Blvd will be shut down on July 29 for the 55th anniversary street fair, where the City will be looking to break the Guinness Book of World Records with the largest line dance of over 600 people. Finally, on August 12, the City will be holding Tour de Carson, a 19 mile ride throughout the City.
The council made the following Proclamations:
Recognizing the month of February as Black History Month.
Recognizing the month of February as American Heart Month.
City of Carson 55th Anniversary Celebration Community Planning Meetings. Volunteers needed - Every third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m.
City of Carson 55th Anniversary Gala Ball - Feb 25, at the Carson Event Center
City of Carson 55th Anniversary Street Fair - Jul 29, on Carson Street
City of Carson 55th Anniversary Tour De Carson - Aug 12
Tour the Pure Water Southern California Demonstration Plant - Feb 11, at 10 a.m.
Free Pet Wellness Clinic - Sunday, Mar. 26, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.