Council Meeting Recap: Mar 1 & Mar 15, 2022
Updated: Mar 24
All council members were present for the Tuesday, Mar. 1 City Council meeting. Open session started at 5:00 p.m. and ended at 9:42 p.m. Here's what you missed:
City Council Districts will remain the same. After 13 public workshops, six demographer-submitted maps, two maps drawn by the public, and countless hours collecting and subsequently studying 2020 Census data, the council voted to keep the current council district boundaries. While the vote on Mar. 1 was unanimous, Councilmembers Jim Dear and Arleen Rojas initially motioned to add more public workshops mentioning complaints of not enough public outreach and general confusion at workshops they hosted. However, the demographer felt that the City had one of the highest public participati0n he witnessed. "The city held 13 different public workshops starting in December through this last weekend. The only jurisdiction that I've worked for in this cycle that's had more public hearings than the city of Carson was the city of San Bernardino, in which they held 16", said Andrew Westall from Bear Demographics and Research, "And in general, I thought the turnout, particularly over the last two weekends, and the Carson Park one, was fantastic. You know, between all five of those public workshops, we had approximately 150 people. In the city of San Bernardino, which is a population of about 225,000, we only had 50 people over 16 workshops." Mayor Lula Davis-Holmes called for a substitute motion to keep the council districts status quo, which was seconded by Councilman Cedric Hicks mentioning that not all the current council districts have undergone an election. After Mayor Pro Tem Jawane Hilton announced that he would be voting for Davis-Holmes and Hicks' substitute motion, Rojas and Dear seemingly followed suit. After the vote, Hicks requested staff outreach to the public to inform everyone as to which district they reside in.
At the 2nd reading of the ordinance during the Mar 15 council meeting, Councilmember Jim Dear was the only one to vote against the ordinance.
Council amend ARPA funding to allocate more money for small businesses and award $12,500 in HERO's Pay to frontline City employees. Small businesses and frontline city staff in the City of Carson will receive some much needed financial aid after the council chose to distinctly allocate ARPA funding to the small business grant program and premium (Hero) pay. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which was signed by President Joe Biden earlier this month, will provide the city $17,776,763 of fiscal aid to address COVID-19 needs. The council allocated those funds during the past 2 council meetings and made sure to add $1 million to the Small Business Grant and reward frontline City staff $12,500 in HERO's Pay.
During the Mar. 1 meeting, the council decided to aid small businesses by reducing ARPA funding from other areas. Specifically, the broadband internet upgrade was reduced by $1 million, the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) budget was cut by $500,000, and wifi in City Parks project also had $500,000 slashed from it's allocation. The total ARPA funding allocated for small businesses (including the $765,000 from the original staff's proposal) ended up being $1,765,000.
On Mar. 15, staff presented to the council various amounts for premium pay at $10,000, $12,500, and $15,000 per employee. Councilmembers Jim Dear and Arleen Rojas proposed giving eligible city employees $15,000, however Dear's motion failed as Mayor Lula Davis-Holmes, Mayor Pro Tem Jawane Hilton, and Councilmember Cedric Hicks voted in opposition. "I believe that our workers; they deserve the very best. But we just can't afford the 15. I'm advocating for 12,500 for every worker," Mayor Pro Tem Hilton said, citing that wifi in the parks are also very essential to the community. According to the Mar 15 staff report, premium pay at $15,000 would not only eliminate ARPA funding for WIFI expansion in City parks but would also take away funding for Emergency Generators and the EOC upgrade. The motion to allocate $12,500 premium pay per employee ($7,956,000 altogether) was passed unanimously. Even at the lower rate, funding for emergency generators was eliminated.
According to the US Treasury's Final Rule, "essential work" is not performed while teleworking from home and involves either regular in-person interactions or regular physical handling of items that were used by the public.
Below is City staff's proposed ARPA allocations with $12,500 premium pay per eligible employee:
Level 3 Superchargers for Tesla vehicles to be built at City Hall Parking lot. The city plans to bring 20 state-of-the-line tesla vehicle fast-charging stations to the Carson Civic Center. According to Tesla's project developer David Sacci, the proposed development would bring in the fastest EV charging station in the South Bay area, at 250-kilowatt output which would fully charge a Tesla in about 30 minutes. Not only would the construction and maintenance of the station be completely covered by Tesla for a maximum of 15 years; the agreement will not cost the city any money and Sacci also claimed that during the charging period, drivers could bring extra foot traffic to local Carson businesses as they wait. Unfortunately, the charging station does not charge any other electronic vehicle and would occupy 20 parking spaces in the Civic Center for Tesla vehicles only. During the Mar 15 meeting, the City council approved the agreement 4-1 with Councilmember Jim Dear voting in opposition.
Carson Chamber of Commerce sends letter opposing potential fee increases indicated by Comprehensive User Fee Study. The city is potentially looking to recover costs for providing certain services by increasing user fees which were recommended by a Comprehensive User Fee Study, however, a letter sent by Carson Chamber of Commerce President Barry Waite during the Mar 15 meeting, calls the fee hikes "shortsighted and counterproductive". According to the comprehensive study presentation, the city could receive $903,900 annually by increasing fees to recover 100% of costs for several services provided to an individual or groups. In his letter, Waite argues that fees are a onetime bit of revenue, and may hinder the economic activity of development as an ongoing revenue stream for the entire community. He brings up several points in his letter including, "About 20 years ago, the city was in a dispute with the Los Angeles County over the cost of providing parcel data to the city. County officials wanted to charge their full cost, which they estimated at $15,000. The city was using the data for economic development and showed that if [the city] were to attract just one fast food restaurant using the data, it would bring in about $17,000 in the county's share of the sales tax alone based on low end estimates. And that is annual. The fee the county was charging was a one time amount rather than recognizing the ongoing value. The county no longer charges for this data and instead provides it for free for anyone to use. Recognizing the value of economic activity over fees as a revenue source." Mayor Lula Davis-Holmes expressed not wanting to increase fees for Parks and Recreation, leisure, transportation, and senior services and directed staff to return with how much money the City could recover without increasing fees for those services. Councilmember Cedric Hicks asked staff to research how much money the city could receive at 0%, 50%, and 75% cost recovery.
The study also indicated several fees where the city is charging more than what the actual cost for the service is and subsequently must be lowered. The $903,900 in potential recovery includes an $811,000 reduction from lowering those fees. The council motioned to immediately start the process to lower those fees to be more consistent with the actual cost of those services.
The last time the City held a Comprehensive User Fee Study was in 2008.
Council directs code enforcement to not give citations as the City gets used to green trash bins. Trash disposal laws are set to take effect in the beginning of April, but code enforcement at the City of Carson has been instructed to give out warnings rather than citations as everyone gets used to the changing laws. Due to the passage of SB 1383, Cities across the state had to pass an organic waste ordinance with the intention to reduce organic waste disposal, improve California's recycling rates, and increase edible food recovery to serve those who are food insecure. The City of Carson's ordinance goes a step further and outlines requirements for local residential and commercial waste generators. According to a presentation by Waste Resource Technologies (WRT) Michelle Nicholls during the Mar 1 meeting, green trash bins will be sent to all residential and commercial properties in the City by the end of March. Nicholls added that starting on April 1st all food scraps, food-soiled paper, and other organic waste must be placed into the green bin (after being placed in a clear transparent bag first). Councilmember Jim Dear instructed code enforcement to just give out warnings and not citations for the two years to help residents and business in the city transition to the new rules.
City decides to pay consultant $123,220 to work on potential ballot measure regarding UUT Tax Sunset Clause. The City's 2% Utility Users' Tax for gas and electricity is scheduled to sunset on July 1, 2023, however, the council seems interested in letting the voters decide whether to keep the tax around or not. During the Mar 1 meeting the council motioned to award a $123,220 contract to Tripepi Smith & Associate, Inc to begin the process of creating a ballot measure to eliminate the UUT's sunset clause. Additionally, the ballot measure may ask voters to also remove the cap of $1,000,000, and increase the tax percentage from 2% to a rate more comparable to other cities. Tripepi Smith & Associate, Inc has worked with the City on a number of major legislations including establishing (and in 2016 reauthorizing) the Utility User's Tax in 2009, establishing a City tax on petroleum businesses in 2017, adopting the City Charter in 2018, and establishing Measure K in 2020. The council has until August 12 to vote on the ballot measure placement.
AD's 64 Mike Gipson’s 2022 Legislative Package. During the March 15 meeting, Field Representative Moises "Jun" Aglipay from Mike Gipson's Assembly office presented a list of bills which the Assembly Member introduced:
AB 1621: Ban of ghost guns. Bill seeks to outright ban ghost guns in California
AB 1608: Angelo Quinto act of 2022, Independent coroner offices. This bill seeks to remove County Coroner Offices from Sheriff’s departments across all counties in CA.
AB 1864: Tax credit for small businesses for local hires. Bill implements a tax credit for small businesses to hire locally
AB 1662: Pre-occupational licensing. This bill would authorize a prospective applicant that has been convicted of a crime to submit to a board a request for a preapplication determination that includes information provided by the prospective applicant regarding their criminal conviction. The bill would require a board that receives that request to determine if the prospective applicant would be disqualified from licensure by the board based on the information submitted with the request, and deliver that determination to the prospective applicant.
AB 1794: Strengthening family connections. This bill will provide foster youth with an extension of their benefits if experiencing housing instability
AB 1969: Peer to peer mental health. This bill implements peer to peer mental health services in schools.
AB 1997: CSU’s crises response team. This bill would require CSU’s to designate a trauma informed crises response team on each campus to respond to non-criminal health and safety incidents and interpersonal conflicts.
AB 2169: Extends protections of undocumented victims of human trafficking
AB 2230: Homelesss assistance for families with children for homeless housing
The council made the following Proclamations:
Recognizing the month of March as Women's History Month
Recognizing the 30th Anniversary of the Boys and Girls Club
Tribute to Cesar Chavez - Friday Mar. 25, 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Autism Awareness 5k Run/Walk - Saturday, Apr. 2, 7:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Earth Day 2022 - Saturday, Apr 9, 12:00 p.m. @ Anderson Park