All council members were present for the Tuesday, May 17 City Council meeting. Open session started at 5:02 p.m. and ended at 11:01 p.m. Here's what you missed:
Third Budget Workshop reveals City looking to invest around $162.6 million over the next two years. The city held it’s third budget workshop for the fiscal year 2022-2023 which reviewed the City’s financial standings as well as the budgets for special events and the capital improvement program. Finance Director Tarik Rahmani emphasized that the City Council is looking at investing about $162.6 million in the next two years by using $40 million from the general fund surplus, $104.9 million from general fund revenues and $17.7 million received through the American Rescue Plan Allocation (ARPA) funding. According to Rahmani the current general fund reserve is the most it has been in the past 5 years almost reaching $60 million which led to the Mayor announcing the decision to reinvest around $40 million during her state of the City address. For this fiscal year not only did the City create a balanced budget, it did so without the help of using “one-time-funds” which the City had utilized in the past to create a balanced budget. This means that the entire expenditures of the year at $103.6 million was completely covered by the City’s general fund revenues at $104.9 million and the ‘one-time-monies’ that the City intends on receiving such as the $8 million sale of the project on 223rd st. According to the City Manager David Roberts, these ‘one-time-money’ will go straight into the reserve, raising it by an extra $20 million.
The City Council approved allocations of the $17.7 million ARPA funds to the following:
Premium Pay for employees ($7.9 million)
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) upgrade for Business License, Online Payments, Permit Issuance and Public Safety online portal ($2.2 million)
Street Maintenance and Rodway Repairs ($3.5 million)
Negative Leave Accrual ($165,365)
Small Business Loan relief ($765,000)
Broadband Improvement ($500,000)
Emergency Operations Center upgrade ($330,000)
Wi-Fi in the Parks ($350,000)
Small Business Grant Program ($1.0 million)
Non-Capitalized Equipment ($760,000)
Community Engagement Strategic Plan ($245,763)
The City will invest $1 million of the City’s General Fund Reserve to establish a Façade Improvement Program, which local businesses can use to have the City match 50% of the costs to improve a building’s exterior and beatify the surrounding area.
The council approved a motion to increase their travel budget from $25,000 to $55,000. Originally, the travel budget accommodated $5,000 per councilmember to use on travel expenses however after discussions of inflation raising prices around 8% the council decided to double their travel budget.
The proposed budget includes the first phase of the City’s personnel restructuring which recommends reclassifications, transfers, and budget neutral classifications of personnel. According to the staff report the proposed restructuring will allow more efficient and effective municipal governance by proposing specialized services as the City continues to rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic and address new technology needs. Additionally, the establishment of an Innovation, Sustainability and Performance Management Department will be implemented in the budget according to the staff report, ‘The Innovation, Sustainability and Performance Management (ISPM) department will take the lead in the development and implementation of the City’s Strategic Plan with the goal of Effective and Sustainable Government through innovative practices and a culture of data-driven decision making. The Deputy City Manager and ISPM department role is to ensure that the City’s operations and capital projects are on track with the use of data analytics and technology to meet those challenges.’
Mayor Lula Davis-Holmes questioned the franchise tax revenue only accumulating 10% of the City’s general fund revenues claiming that it is not a good reflection of what the City of Carson should be getting. According to the Finance Director, the City Attorney has given staff directions to look at all of the City’s franchise ordinance/agreements and review them for any consumer price index or resolution updates.
Director of Community Services Mike Whittiker shared a budget for the City’s special events as last year the council approved a resolution to approve better accounting practices related to special events. The proposed budget of $574,059 allocates for 15 special events throughout the year. Whittiker also presented a budget for the City of Carson’s 55th Anniversary events. The anniversary budget of $257,050 includes three events beginning next year.
Public Works Director Eliza Jane Whitman concluded the workshop by presenting the proposed FY 2022-2023 five-year plan of the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP). The proposed budget for the City’s CIP for this fiscal year is $79.5 million, a $12 million increase from last year’s adopted CIP budget. However, Whitman announced that over 75% of the $79.5 million proposed budget will be covered through special revenues and grants, not from the general fund. The entire five-year CIP total project value currently stands at $452 million
Storefront Brick-and-Mortar Small Businesses with no prior COVID relief to be prioritized in Small Business Grant Program. The Council began discussions on what criteria would make businesses eligible for the City’s new Small Business Grant Program but had to continue the item to Monday May 23rd as no motion was made to extend the council meeting and the session had to adjourn at 11 p.m. However, in the last minute the council established two tiers where applicants landing in the first tier would be given priority. The council agreed that the goal of the program is to stop vacant storefronts and ultimately decided that independently-owned small brick and mortar/storefront businesses located in a commercial zone in the City of Carson with one or more employees would be the criteria for tier 1. Additionally, these businesses cannot be corporations or franchises nor can they have received prior COVID financial aid from the City or the federal government. The City’s new small business grant program was established during the previous city council meeting and was allocated $1 million through ARPA funding.
SD. 35 Steven Bradford stops by to introduce senate bills. Senator Steven Bradford announced he is authoring 20 bills this legislative year and shared some he wishes to pass through the senate:
SB 1401: Continuation of SB 209 AKA Fair Play to Play. This bill seeks to allow colleges to set up an annuity to set aside 50% of profits for athletes. It would only effect those sports that generate a profit and incentivizes players to graduate 6 years after completion of play.
SB 1273: Allows school administrators and teachers greater discretion on when to call law enforcement. This bill plans to reduce the school to prison pipeline.
SB 1389: Prevents law enforcement stopping cars for minor infractions. Senator Bradford suggests the bill will allow law officers to concentrate on more serious crimes.
SB 1293: This bill would give a credit to a cannabis equity applicant or licensee, reducing the excise tax from 15% to 5%, hopefully encouraging greater participation and greater diversity in this space.
SB 777 The California Jumpstart Act: Incentivizes investment of capital in small minority and women own businesses to provide a tax credit.
SB 1469: Decoupling water rates - Pay what you use vs a flat rate. Hopefully should incentivize water conservation.
SB 1334: Meal breaks for hospital employees. Nurses were over worked during the pandemic and Senator Bradford is advocating for proper meal breaks.
SB 1371: Fair and Just wages for incarcerated workers. Most incarcerated workers make $.03 an hour. Senator Bradford wishes to raise their pay to $2 an hour which should help with child support and purchasing food and toiletries.
SB 1348: License removal denial. This bill aims to prevent the loss of a license from cannabis consumption citations.
SB 1021: Authorize DUI misdemeanor diversion programs. The bill would limit diversion to persons who have no prior DUI convictions, and who have not completed DUI diversion within the past 10 years. Upon successful completion of program drivers will get a first strike removed from their record.
Congresswoman Barragan Legislative Update. Representing California’s 44th congressional district, Congresswoman Nanette Barragán provided an update with the legislative ongoings in Washington D.C.:
As of last year Congress restarted community funded projects of which the Congresswoman was able to secure $7.5 million for CD 44. Out of which, Barragán gave California State University, Dominguez Hills $700,00 to enhance the nursing program through the purchase of new equipment, supplies and medical stimulation. The City of Carson submitted an application requesting $2 million for the Veterans Park and Sports Complex Energy Solar Panel and battery installation.
Barragán ensures that the Biden administration is working around the clock to address the nation’s baby formula shortage. Outside imports have been increased to make up for the lack of production and the Federal Trade Commission is looking on cracking down on price gouging. Congress is also working on a series of legislations to reduce the shortage including a bill to contract other formula makers.
The Congresswoman addressed the Supreme Court's leaked opinion to abolish Roe v Wade. Should the decision become final, women's reproductive rights and abortion would be going to the states to decide.
The President signed a bill authored by the congresswoman. The John Lewis NIMHD Research Endowment Revitalization Act of 2021 provides endowment funding for schools of excellence, which are historically black colleges and minority serving institutions across the country.
Barragán continues to advocate for the President to write off at least $10,000 of student loan debt however she had no indication of what Biden intends to do.
Barragán ended her presentation announcing having submitted a request to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to fund the Dominguez Channel Water Quality Infrastructure Project Study in the Water Resources Development Act of 2022.
Pavement Management Program reveals City’s streets condition score borderline ‘poor’. Public Works and representatives at NCE presented the results of the Pavement Management Program which provided information on the condition of the city’s streets and how much funding it would take to make repairs and keep up maintenance. The PMP indicated that city streets scored a 56 on the Pavement Condition Index (PCI) this year narrowly avoiding the ‘poor’ condition category ending at 50 PCI. In 2017, only five years prior, the city’s PCI was 72. Representatives at NCE suggested that $16.35 million per year would be needed to improve City streets back to the same condition they were in 2017. NCE warned the council that the current budget for street maintenance is insufficient at $3.5 million per year and continuing funding at that rate would result in an estimated PCI of 41 by 2031, which would then cost the city $259 million in deferred maintenance. The council suggested bringing an action item forward at a future city council meeting to increase the budget for street maintenance to $16.35 million.
Ordinances passed to regulate establishment of accessory dwelling units and lot splits in accordance with SB 9. The council unanimously passed a set of ordinances, updating the City’s regulations to set new lot splits, accessory dwelling units (ADU’s), and junior accessory dwelling units (JADU’s) standards as the City’s current code was not in compliance with state law and SB 9. Community Development Director Saied Naaseh explained that SB 9 and ADU laws are somewhat interconnected as both result in additional residential units and create options for development of residential properties. ADU’s can be attached or detached residential units that provide complete independent living facilities for one or more persons with kitchen and bathroom. JADU’s cannot be detached, are limited to 500 square feet, and can share a bathroom with the primary unit. The ordinance allows, the City to add additional standards for anyone trying to make an ADU/JADU or a lot spit through SB 9 in the city:
Limits detached ADUs to 1,200 square feet. Limits attached ADUs to 850 square feet for studio/one-bedroom units and 1,000 square feet for units with two or more bedroom, or 50% of floor area of the primary dwelling, whichever is less (but in no event less than 800 square feet);
Limits detached ADUs to 16 feet in height, allows ADUs to be constructed above detached garages to the underlying zoning height;
Design of ADUs must be similar to primary unit with respect to architectural style, roof pitch, color, and materials;
ADUs and JADUs cannot be used for short-term rentals (less than 31 days); and
Requires ADUs as well as JADUs to record a covenant on property giving future buyers notice of development standards and limitations imposed on ADUs.
City will mail a courtesy notice to the owner(s) of each property immediately adjacent to the property where the proposed SB 9 lot split will be located informing the owner(s) of the submitted application;
If an urban SB 9 lot split results in the creation of a vacant parcel, the only permitted use of such parcel shall be a two-unit development - namely, development of two SB 9 units subject to all requirements applicable to such units; and units; and;
The owner of the parcel to be divided by SB 9 must execute a deed restriction, which will be recorded on each of the resulting parcels, at the property owner’s cost, and will limit the use of each parcel in accordance with the standards in the City’s ordinance; and
Parcels resulting from a lot split under SB 9 must be at least 20 feet wide and have at least 20 feet of street frontage.
The council made the following Proclamations:
Recognizing the month of May as Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Recognizing the month of May as Mental Health Awareness Month.
Recognizing May 15-21, 2022 as National Public Works Week “Ready & Resilient”.
*Note: The rest of the meeting was adjourned to May 23rd.
Memorial Day Tribute 2002 - Thursday 5/26, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m., @ Veterans Sports Complex
Philippine Independence Day Celebration - Saturday, 6/4, 7:30 a.m. - 6 p.m., @ Veterans Park
Dump Day at no charge - Saturday, 6/18, 8 a.m. - 1 p.m., @City Hall Parking Lot