All council members were present for both the Sep. 19 & Oct. 3, City Council meetings. Open session for both meetings started near 5:40 p.m. and ended before 9 p.m. Here's what you missed:
Assemblymember Josh Lowenthal presents $2 million towards reconstruction of Lomita Boulevard. Assemblymember Josh Lowenthal of the 69th district arrived at the Oct 3, City Council meeting with a giant check for $2 million granted through the State’s Budget Act of 2023 to fund the reconstruction of Lomita Boulevard. AB 102 (Ting) implements a budget plan for California for 2023-24 and revises the spending plan for the previous two years.
Acquiring funds from this year’s state budget should be lauded as California experienced a significant decline in revenues following two years of General Fund growth. At the meeting Lowenthal hinted that the state may experience a budget deficit for the next few years, “It's a tough budget cycle: a state with short money. We had a deficit. I'm actually expecting us to have a deficit for a few years to come potentially. And so, you know, for us to be able to secure this for the city of Carson is a great win for all of us and for the residents of Carson.”
Furthermore Lowenthal discussed bills he brought forward to the Governor recently, “A lot of them. So, you know, have to do with girls and women. I'm very shamelessly proud girl dad. And so much of my legislation has to do with young women and the world they are growing up into.”
Recently signed AB 10 addresses body shaming by making sure that public schools have policy and curricula to combat social media and deal with body shaming. Also recently signed AB 1013 addresses the date rape drug known as roofie by requiring Bars and Night Club establishments to offer drink-spiking drug tests.
Carson Accountability and Transparency (CAT) recently spoke with Assemblymember Lowenthal about these bills and more on the Carson Observer Podcast, available on YouTube and wherever you get your podcasts. Listen to the latest episode to hear about the bills he’s authored in his first year that affect you, how his office is working for Carson residents, and how you can stay in contact with him.
Newly adopted Economic Development Strategic Plan will guide City’s economic policies for the next 5-10 years. The council passed the City’s very first Economic Development Strategic Plan (EDSP) on Sep 19, which lays out the ‘big-picture’ blueprint on City’s future economic policies and programs over the next decade. The plan’s goal is to reshape the City’s image to a place ‘Where Creativity Comes to Live, Work, and Play.’ Several multi-disciplinary firms worked on the EDSP to provide a SWOT analysis of the City based on comprehensive research of the city’s key features and stakeholder input. The SWOT study was then utilized to form the EDSP Action Plan.
The EDSP Action Plan is a list of both short and long term implementation steps and includes 8 key focuses (‘Gamechangers’) and 21 strategies/programs:
Gamechanger #1: Marketing/branding initiative to position Carson as a center of innovation, creativity, and resilience leveraging Carson’s rich industrial legacy and unmatched location in Southern California.
Strategy #1: Design and implement comprehensive economic development marketing program.
Strategy #2: Promote expanded tourism/visitation ("Stay Carson" program), leveraging regional attractions and tourism-promotion organizations and building on existing, unique assets.
Gamechanger #1 is a marketing and branding initiative focusing on the overall positioning of the City’s Economic Development Program and tries to create a more positive label by rebranding the City as “a center of innovation, creativity, and resilience” by advertising opportunities that exist in the City as well as key amenities.
The main strategy under this gamechanger include designing and implementing comprehensive economic development marketing program by upgrading the economic development website and social media strategy, promoting specific development sites, and incentivizing development opportunities. It also includes a business attraction component with a specific ask by the City Council to specifically focus on retail and restaurant recruitment.
The 2nd strategy would focus on tourism and visitation promotion by implementing the “Stay Carson” program which addresses visitors who come to the City but don’t stay long by leveraging regional attractions and tourism-promotion organizations and building on existing, unique assets.
The next three Gamechangers aims to improve the City’s ‘Visitor Economy’.
Gamechanger #2: Create "destination worthy" downtown.
Strategy #3: Promote Events Center reinvestment/rebranding.
Strategy #4: Pursue placemaking investments in Downtown Carson and connecting corridors (Carson Street and Avalon Boulevard).
Gamechanger #2 calls for the establishment of a destination worthy downtown by renovating and rebranding key structures (the Carson Events Center and City Hall) and attract place making investments to revitalize major corridors (Carson Street and Avalon Boulevard).
Actions include attracting a new hotel adjacent to the events center and developing high caliber housing projects specific to the downtown, linking Avalon Corridor to Downtown by design standards and with a potential shuttle system.
Gamechanger #3: Create live entertainment district(s) to fully capture the potential economic value of Carson’s visitor venues.
Strategy #5: Create live entertainment district (restaurant, retail, hotel, mixed-use housing).
Gamechanger #3 aims to create one or more live entertainment districts to accompany the activity generators: DHSP, CSUDH, the Porsche Experience Center, and the Carson Events Center. Entertainment Districts could include restaurants, retail, hotel, and/or mixed-use housing; all preferably walking distance away from the City’s key visitor generators. According to the consultant this would be a private developer investment/developer driven process while the city would recruit a master developer and market sites for development of entertainment districts.
Gamechanger #4: "Reinvigorate Retail" initiative.
Strategy #6: Implement "Reinvigorate Retail" initiative.
Strategy #7: Implement retail/restaurant tenant recruitment campaign (part of Strategy #1: ‘Design and implement comprehensive economic development marketing program.)
Gamechanger #4 is the ‘Reinvigorate Retail’ initiative. This includes a retail/restaurant tenant recruitment campaign where the City would contribute marketing funds towards recruitment of tenants to incentivize the property owners to build a retail space and help existing retail centers fill in vacancies. The City would need to coordinate with owners of major retail properties to determine what new land uses could generate more activity around them or help property owners transition to other land uses. This initiative would likely expand the City’s Façade Improvement Program.
Gamechanger 5 and 6 both focus on business.
Gamechanger #5: Transform Carson into “the most business and development friendly” city in Los Angeles County by streamlining all its development, permitting and entitlement processes.
Strategy #8: Establish comprehensive business retention and expansion (“BRE”) program including direct outreach, contact management and linkages to business assistance resources.
Strategy #9: Establish branded development streamlining program ("Streamline Carson").
Strategy #10: Focus law enforcement resources including cameras, automated license plate readers, and officers in neighborhoods/corridors/districts where most needed.
Strategy #11: Focus City resources and coordinate with partners to prioritize infrastructure investments (including broadband) that support targeted economic development.
The goal for gamechanger #5 is to transform Carson into the most business and development friendly in Los Angeles County by streamlining all development permitting and entitlement processes. According to the consultant, City stakeholders were the most concern about the way this process currently happens in the city. The game changer calls on the City to show it’s “open for business” with an increase in business outreach and assistance by establishing a comprehensive business retention and expansion (“BRE”) program with direct outreach, contact management and linkages to business assistance resources.
Gamechanger #5 also establishes “Streamline Carson” a branded development streamlining program which according to the consultant “needs to be comprehensive and cut across all development review and approval processes.”
Gamechanger #6: Focus City policies, resources and partnerships to incentivize land uses with high job-creation and placemaking value.
Strategy #12: Pursue Dominguez Channel improvement concepts with focus on adjacent development.
Strategy #13: Determine the potential for The Links at Victoria Golf Course redevelopment (with possible recreation/open space uses plus nonrecreational uses including housing).
Strategy #14: Identify opportunity sites for professional office development and implement policies/incentives to attract office development.
Strategy #15: Support recruitment of manufacturing tenants and provide incentives to maximize creation of quality jobs in existing and future industrial buildings.
Strategy #16: Partner with property owners to assess, investigate, and clean-up contaminated sites, establishing Carson as a "national best-practices leader" in brownfield remediation and redevelopment.
Gamechanger #6 would incentivize land uses with high job creation and placemaking value. One strategy for this includes investing along the Dominguez Channel, for recreational use, as well as making the properties more attractive from a development standpoint. The gamechanger would also look at options for redevelopment of the links of Victoria Golf Course
This gamechanger would in the near-term look at recruitment of manufacturing and or Research & Development type firms as industrial tenants. According to the plan “The intent of this strategy is not to limit future industrial occupancies by logistics firms, but to create a market environment in which industrial property owners will in some cases have viable alternatives to logistics when determining the highest and best use of their properties.”
Further down the line the game changer would seek opportunities for professional office development district as well as set policies to designate the City as a national best practices leader for brownfield remediation.
Gamechangers 7 and 8 focus on the City’s interest in becoming a tech focused economy.
Gamechanger #7: Position Carson as a technology startup leader and a partner with established technology companies.
Strategy #17: Address entrepreneurial/small business development either locally (in house) or with linkages to regional business assistance and small business lending resources.
Strategy #18: Strengthen linkages to innovation (e.g., through collaboration with CSUDH).
Strategy #19: Launch public/private industry cluster initiative.
Gamechanger #7’s goal is to position Carson as a technology startup leader with a focus on clean tech and the transitioning of the legacy energy industries. The consultant recommended utilizing entrepreneurial development programs and partnerships with CSUDH; and coordinating with existing legacy oil and energy firms to identify what their plans are for branding/transitioning clean tech through state and federal funding. The gamechanger would also emphasize the City’s close location to Silicon Beach and the coast to attract firms.
Gamechanger #8: Position Carson as a "training center of excellence”.
Strategy #20: Coordinate workforce development through linkages to available local and regional partner assets, augmenting as appropriate.
Strategy #21: Establish "showcase" workforce development program focused on employment opportunities in construction and related industries.
The final gamechanger would position the City as a training center of excellence with a workforce development related training focus to be provided through partnerships. This gamechanger calls for a showcase program that links the City’s construction industry to training and career development for residents who are in the construction trades.
The EDSP also calls for the City to create 2 new staff positions: an Economic Development Manager and an Administrative Specialist for the Community Development Department.
The entire EDSP including the Executive Summary, SWOT analysis, and Action Plan can be viewed by clicking on the following link: https://carson.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=12289986&GUID=CB2A06A9-BB33-45C6-990E-B48B1AD5FB1F
Council allocates more ARPA funds from other projects to the Small Business Grant Program. The City’s Small Business Grant Program now has the funding to approve an additional 52 applicants from this year’s application pool after the Council approved transferring $900,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) financing from other ARPA funded projects during the Sep 19 meeting. Successful applicants of the Small Business Grant Program, who have been negatively impacted financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, can receive grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. Out of the 127 applications received, the City has already approved 46 and issued a total of $875,000 grant funds. The new resolution includes a $900,000 transfer from the City’s General Fund to cover the programs which lost their ARPA funding through this decision. City Council directed staff to bring back a separate resolution if the Small Business Grant Program needs additional funds, expressing the council’s commitment to helping smaller enterprises, “We are going to help our small businesses, it’s the bottom line” said Mayor Lula Davis-Holmes.
Council approve increasing stipends for Planning Commissioners. City planning commissioners will now earn double in stipends per meeting under a newly passed resolution. The new resolution doubles the stipends paid per meeting from $50 to $100 and increases monthly stipend limits from $200 to $400. On the Oct 3rd City Council meeting, Mayor Pro Tem. Jawane Hilton explained that the new law should help attract younger individuals to the position and recalled the amount of work he had to do as a planning commissioner at such a meager pay, “I think this ordinance actually opens the door for more younger people to serve in our community. Most people cannot serve in our community with small stipends like this. When I first attempted to run for the city council, if we averaged it out, we were making $3 an hour and we would be in meetings almost 25 hours for the whole month. So that's nothing to be able to serve your family and make anything.”
City employee Salary discrepancies dating back from 2021 costs General Fund $200,000. The City will have to retroactively pay City employees who experienced wage loss from June 25, 2021 through June 22, 2023 due to ‘data entry errors and inaccuracies in hourly staff rates’. $189,984.30 will be taken from the City’s General fund to correct salary wages and $2,397.80 of overpayments will be waived off. According to newly hired Finance Director William Jefferson during the Oct 3 City Council meeting, “For previous years we had some miscalculations in our way we calculated our salary. We should have been using rounding rates, but we were using hourly rates.”
While the City will retroactively correct pay discrepancies beginning on June 25, 2021, the Finance Director could not answer exactly how long the payroll miscalculations have been affecting City employees as the City switched to its current payroll system back in 2021.
The council made the following Proclamations:
Recognizing the month of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Recognizing the month of October as Filipino-American History Month.
Recognizing the month of October as Bullying Prevention Month.
Recognizing the month of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Senior Information & Resource Fair: Wednesday, Oct 18 9 - 11 a.m., Carson Events Center
E-Waste Recycling, Paper Shredding & Dump Day: Saturday, Oct 21 8 a.m. - 12 p.m., Carson City Hall Parking Lot
Trunk or Treat: hosted by the Carson Sheriff's Station Friday, Oct 27 3 - 6 p.m., Carson Sheriff's Station
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day: hosted by the Carson Sheriff's Station Saturday, Oct 28 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., Carson Sheriff's Station
Halloween Carnival: Tuesday, Oct 31 5 - 8 p.m., Carson Event Center