All council members were present for the Tuesday, Oct. 18 & Nov. 1 City Council meetings. Here's what you missed:
Council reluctantly approve revisions to Housing Element. The council unanimously and reluctantly approved amendments to the City’s 6th Cycle Housing Element aiming to bring low/medium housing types to high-resource areas in the City. Frustrated at the State's Department of Housing and Community Development for requesting the changes to the draft housing element only four days prior to the submission deadline, the City's elected body echoed each other's sentiments of being forced to allow the state to depreciate affluent minority communities in the City. "The HCD will not approve our housing element and we cannot move forward with our General Plan." said Mayor Pro Tem. Jawane Hilton. "But I want to put on the record that they are proposing to do is redline communities. I want to put on the record that this is race baiting and I want to also put on the record that they are targeting African American communities as well as Latino Communities. The places they are proposing to break up for housing are predominantly in black communities."
Primarily HCD's revisions to the Housing element focuses on adding stipulations on the City's proposed zoning ordinance update for residential developments:
Zoning for Non-Vacant Sites may need to be changed if current development standards do not allow maximum densities.
Remove requirement of conditional use permit for multi-family uses/duplexes in single-family zones to allow zoning for more variety of housing types.
Promote higher densities and housing mix by designating a part of north Carson by CSUDH and a section southwest of the City by Sepulveda Blvd and Main St as a new Low Medium Mix zones.
HCD also added terms for the state's expectation of Project Homekey in its edit, stating Los Angeles County's interest in acquiring the Hampton Inn. The project will convert a 136-unit motel to permanent supportive housing for the City's homeless population. But HCD's revision includes a provision that if the project is not competed within 18 months, the City will have to find other Project Homekey opportunities.
Alameda Street repairs incoming as City approves MOU for project with Caltrans. Alameda Street will have its asphalt surface replaced and potholes repaired “at the State’s sole cost and expense.” During the Oct. 18 meeting, the council approved a memorandum of understanding for a one-time maintenance project of the roadway on Caltrans’ dime, as the City works on transferring Alameda Street to the state highway system. After the project’s completion, the City of Carson would be responsible for further maintenance to the road until Alameda Street’s new designation as State Route 47 is approved by the California Transportation Commission which according to the staff report could take up to 24 months. However, Assistant City Manager John Raymond explained that maintenance of a newly fixed street would be less draining of City coffers.
Resolution supporting the gender equality movement in Iran passes. The City of Carson is joining Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, in formally supporting the Iranian people and their fight for gender equality. This move follows a heart-breaking announcement by City Attorney Sunni Soltani during memorial adjournments of the Sep. 20 meeting, reporting on the slaughter or 22-year-old Mahsa Amini who died from skull/brain trauma while in the custody of Iran’s ‘morality-police’ for not wearing a hijab. “It really makes me so grateful to be living in this great country of ours, where people can freely go into the streets, protest police brutality, and change can happen, slowly, but it does happen, and people have freedom of speech.” Amini’s death sparked protests and rallies across Iran, seeking accountability and removal of the theocratic government, and demanding equal rights for women. Authorities in Iran have responded to the protests by violently killing over 185 people and arresting thousands according to the staff report. The approved resolution sends letters to California’s State Senate and Assembly urging them to take a formal position on the matter.
Planning Commission’s recommendation to completely remove/alter two murals falls flat after public response. Two local murals have been saved thanks in large part to public outcry urging the City Council to keep the murals as is. During the Oct. 18 meeting the council reviewed the Planning Commission’s decision to disapprove two existing murals without modifications at S. Avalon Blvd. Specifically, the commission designated one of the murals depicting a man holding onto a telephone wire as a public nuisance (calling it graffiti), and approved the ‘FAB’ mural with the condition that a large chunk in the center of the painting be removed.
Several individuals submitted public comments, arguing that both murals are predominantly art and insisted the council keep both murals without any modifications. Amongst the commenters showing strong support for keeping the murals was Carson Chamber of Commerce President Barry Waite who said, “Not only are these murals are a positive force for the business, but they are also good for the surrounding community. They add to the revitalization of property and are very attractive[…] The Planning Commission errored in its decision by viewing the murals as signs.” Waite included that the planning commission misunderstood the goal of its meeting which was to figure out a solution to businesses simply drawing signs on the side of a building.
Councilmember Jim Dear motioned to approve the telephone-wire mural while Mayor Lula Davis-Holmes argued that the mural should be removed as no permits were given for the murals establishment. Dear’s motion passed 3-2 with Davis-Holmes and Councilmember Cedric Hicks voting in opposition.
Dear made a second motion to table the decision on the ‘FAB’ mural for City staff to provide the council with a comprehensive review of the City’s sign ordinance.
Series of resolutions passes increasing several City Staff salaries. Unclassified, non-representative employees will have their salaries boosted by applying a 10% step separation of pay between department directors and managers. Formally the step separation of pay was set at 20%. The City Council also passed a resolution to compensate department directors due to compaction issues from prior administration not adhering to 20% separation of pay. A General Fund budget amendment will need to be made in the amount of $511,305. Additionally, the city also approved MOU agreements with Labor Organizations for Cost-of-Living Adjustment, full family HMO premiums from Kaiser Permanente, and reimbursements for staff attending CSUDH. The total cost per the MOU agreements is over $8 million and City staff is recommending a General Fund amendment of $5,794,883.
ARPA First Quarter Spending Report. City staff provided a brief report on the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) during the Oct. 18 meeting to inform the public the amount of funds that have been allocated so far, what programs those allocations have been used, and how much money is left. The City of Carson received $17.8 million through ARPA in March 2022 which must be allocated by the end of 2024. According to the report, the City has allocated $8.9 million to the following:
Premium Pay: $8.1 Million
City-wide Slurry Seal: $3.5 Million
Tyler Munis ERP Upgrade: $2.1 Million
Small Business Grants: $1 Million
Small Business Loan Forgiveness: $764,000
Non Capital Items for Community Services: $758,000
Broadband RFP: $500,000
Wi-Fi at City Parks: $350,000
EOC Upgrade: $330,000
Community Engagement (PIO/Carson Event Center): $183,000
$8.8 million of ARPA funds is still available for the City to use.
The council made the following Proclamations:
Recognizing Nov 26th as Small Business Saturday
Recognizing the month of November as Diabetes Awareness Month
Recognizing the month of November as Indigenous People Month
Recognizing the month of November as National Prematurity Awareness Month
*Note: Mayor Lula Davis-Holmes informed the public to expect live in-person council meetings starting, Tuesday November 15.
Veterans Day Celebration: Nov. 11, 10:00 a.m. @ Veterans Park
Country Western Fair: Nov. 19, 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. @ Dominguez Park