City Council Minutes - 10/02/2007back
REGULAR MEETING OF THECITY COUNCIL OF THE
CITY OF CORONADOCoronado City Hall
1825 Strand Way
Coronado, CA 92118
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Mayor Smisek called the meeting to order at 3:00 p.m.
1. ROLL CALL:
Present: Councilmembers Downey, Monroe, Ovrom, Tanaka and
Also Present: City Manager Mark Ochenduszko
City Attorney Morgan Foley
City Clerk Linda Hascup
2. INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE. Ann Rebufattee provided the invocation and Mayor Smisek led the Pledge of Allegiance.
3. MINUTES: Approval of the minutes of the Regular Meeting of September 18, 2007, were approved as submitted. The reading of the minutes in their entirety was unanimously waived.
MSUC (Tanaka/Monroe) moved that the City Council approve minutes of the Regular Meeting of September 18, 2007, a copy having been provided Council prior to the meeting, as submitted.
AYES: Downey, Monroe, Ovrom, Tanaka and Smisek
4. CEREMONIAL PRESENTATIONS:
4a. Proclamation: Rideshare Week 2007. Mayor Smisek presented the proclamation to Charles "Muggs" Stoll, TransNet Program Manager for SANDAG after an introduction by Councilmember Monroe.
5. CONSENT CALENDAR: The City Council approved, adopted and/or accepted as one item of business Consent Agenda Items 5a through 5g, with the addition of Item 11b.
MSUC (Downey/Monroe) moved that the City Council approve the Consent Calendar Items 5a through 5g, with the addition of Item 11b - Consideration of City Council Meeting Schedule for January 2008.
AYES: Downey, Monroe, Ovrom, Tanaka and Smisek
5a. Approval of Reading by Title and Waiver of Reading in Full of Ordinances on this Agenda. The City Council waived the reading of the full text and approved the reading of the title only.
5b. Approval of Warrants. The City Council ratified payment of warrants Nos. 10060819 thru 10061082 audited and approved by the Audit Committee, provided there are sufficient funds on hand.
5c. Filing of the Quarterly Treasurer's Report on Investments with the City of Coronado City Council for the Quarter Ending June 30, 2007. The submitted report is for the three-month period April 1, 2007 through June 30, 2007, respectively and identifies all investments including those not under management with PFM. These include LAIF, Union Bank, and Camp funds. This report also highlights the year to date interest earned relative to budget. For the quarter ending June 30, 2007, the City's investment portfolio has earned $3,119,920 in investment earnings compared to an annual budget of $1,514,800. The portfolio earnings have exceeded budget by 106%, which reflects the longer duration of the portfolio and the rise in interest rates.
Also included is a quarterly Investment Performance Review prepared by the City's investment manager, PFM Asset Management. The review contains two sections. The first section is a market update discussing the market, interest rate trends, the economy, etc. There is also a discussion of the strategy that City and PFM staff have used in setting up the portfolio structure and a comparison to several benchmarks that are consistent with the City's investment strategy. The City Council examined the quarterly Report on Investments and ordered it filed.
5d. Request for an Increase in the FY 07/08 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Budget for the Design of the Sixth Street and Orange Avenue Drainage Improvement Project. In the Capital Improvement Program approved on June 19, 2007, the Council appropriated $70,000 for the design of the Sixth and Orange Drainage Improvements. Staff has since negotiated the scope of services and design fees with RBF Consultants. The fees, based on the scope of work, were agreed upon not to exceed $120,000 which will require an infusion of $50,000 to move forward with the design as proposed. Staff is also advocating the use of RBF as the design consultant based upon their familiarity with the project, having prepared the previous drainage report for the area. The City Council increased the project's design budget in the Storm Drain Fund Account number 530783-9867-04502 and increased the SR-75/282 Transportation Corridor Project Account number 410735-9867-04502 (toll revenue) by $25,000 each for a total of $50,000.
5e. Adoption of a Resolution Authorizing the Destruction of Documents in the Custody of the Firm Worden Williams APC, Related to a Federal Trash Litigation Matter Closed on September 27, 1996. According to the City of Coronado Retention Schedule, this type of file can be destroyed upon resolution of the litigation if it is no longer necessary. In compliance with Gov. C. Section 34090, it is not believed that these records have a lasting administrative, legal, fiscal, historical, or research value. These records have been identified by record type, date of the record, and retention period as listed on the Record Destruction Lists attached as Exhibit A of the Resolution. Destruction of these records complies with the provisions of the City's Records Retention Policy. The City Attorney has reviewed the records and destruction list and has indicated his approval of the destruction. The City Council approved A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF CORONADO AUTHORIZING THE DESTRUCTION OF DOCUMENTS IN THE CUSTODY OF THE FIRM WORDEN WILLIAMS APC, RELATED TO A FEDERAL TRASH LITIGATION MATTER CLOSED ON SEPTEMBER 27, 1996. The Resolution was read by Title, the reading in its entirety unanimously waived and adopted by Council as RESOLUTION NO. 8243.
5f. Consideration of the Adoption of a Resolution Authorizing the Fire Chief to Enter into a Memorandum of Understanding for Zone 4 (East County and South Bay) Joint Emergency Responses for Fire and Rescue Resources. The South Bay and East County fire agencies (Zone 4) wish to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Member Cities and Fire Protection Districts for the purpose of addressing the roles and responsibilities of all parties regarding the joint emergency responses for fire and rescue resources within Zone 4 (East County and South Bay). The purpose of the MOU is to reduce response time and increase the level of service by dispatching the closest fire units to emergency incidents.
The cities of Coronado, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, National City, Santee, El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove; and the Fire Protection Districts of Lakeside, San Miguel Consolidated, East County, Alpine, Bonita-Sunnyside, the Barona Band of Mission Indians, and the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians are the primary firefighting agencies for Zone 4 (South Bay and East County). The City Council adopted A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF CORONADO AUTHORIZING THE FIRE CHIEF TO ENTER INTO A MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING FOR ZONE 4 (EAST COUNTY AND SOUTH BAY) JOINT EMERGENCY RESPONSES FOR FIRE AND RESCUE RESOURCES. The Resolution was read by Title, the reading in its entirety unanimously waived and adopted by Council as RESOLUTION NO. 8244.
5g. Consideration of a Proposal to Transfer Ownership and the Underlying Lease of the County Interpretive Observation Deck Area (Overlooking the Salt Pond South of the Coronado Cays) from the County of San Diego to the City of Coronado. City staff has offered a proposal wherein the City would repair the deck using a combination of in-house staff and contractors for an estimated cost of $22,000. The railing would be made of corten steel (instead of brass), and stainless steel cabling would be replaced as originally constructed. The only change is that the top handrail would be a one-inch thick stainless steel cable instead of brass. As part of the discussions with the County of San Diego, it was suggested that if the County funds the repair of the deck, the City of Coronado would be interested in taking over the ownership of the improvements and the underlying 23-acre lease. Staff believes that taking ownership of the deck and the 23-acre lease would enable the City to exercise greater control over this area.
Coordination between the City of Coronado and the County of San Diego regarding repairs and maintenance of this area has been problematic, resulting in a level of service to the community that is lower than expected. The proposed transfer of the Interpretive Observation Deck and ownership of the lease would allow the City to exercise greater control over this area, which in turn would enable regulation of the activities in the parking lot and control over the aesthetic condition of the deck.
The City provides limited litter and graffiti clean up services to this area as well as street sweeping. It is estimated that maintenance costs for this area would increase by approximately $10,000 annually, which would include sealing the parking lot as needed. Staff will take these increased costs into account when working with the County on the transfer. However, staff believes that the benefit to the community outweighs the anticipated increase in maintenance costs. The City Council authorized the City Manager to take the appropriate action to facilitate the transfer of the Interpretive Observation Deck Area to the City of Coronado.
6. ORAL COMMUNICATIONS:
a. Councilmember Downey offered a clarification regarding the Rotary Plaza item from the previous meeting where the traffic pattern and the configuration of the park between Isabella and Park Place was discussed. The City Council agreed to the traffic plan as proposed, which is two-way traffic coming in and out of Isabella and one way traffic onto Park Place with one park area. That is all that has been agreed to at this point. She said there will be ample opportunity for the public to participate in further discussions of the design and the amenities/facilities that would be placed in the park and encouraged the public to participate.
7. CITY MANAGER:
7a. Update on Council Directed Actions and Citizen Inquiries. No report.
8. PUBLIC HEARINGS: None.
9. ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS: None.
10. COMMISSION AND COMMITTEE REPORTS:
10a. Report from the Port Commissioner Concerning Port Activities. No report.
11. CITY COUNCIL BUSINESS:
11a. Council Reports on Inter-Agency Committee and Board Assignments.
Councilmember Monroe, as a representative of the SANDAG Transportation Committee, went to the North County Transit District for a public hearing on a fare increase, attended the Elected Officials Reception put on by the South County Economic Development Council, three meetings at SANDAG: a Transportation Committee meeting; a SANDAG Board meeting; and, the Borders Committee meeting. At the Borders Committee meeting there was a presentation by the Customs Agency where they showed the design of their new building. Their proposed location is a significant issue for MTS's recently completed transit station. The proposed location of the new building will add about a mile to the commute of the 16,000 to 20,000 people who come through the transit station each day to go over the border. He attended the MTS Board meeting and reported that due to $9 million in funding being taken away by the State they are going from having an almost balanced budget to now having to face more difficult meetings to make additional service changes. He attended a celebration for Gary Bonelli, formerly the Public Affairs Officer at SANDAG, who is back on active Navy service and has recently been promoted to Admiral. Mr. Monroe attended the court hearing on Prop J and praised the City Attorney for doing a fine job of thinking on his feet. There were some surprises that were not disclosed in advance that the City Attorney capably responded to. He reported that Proposition J was declared by the Judge to be invalid. The petition was not in accordance with California Law.
Councilmember Tanaka attended the Burn Institute Dinner at the Fire Station, met with Coronado golfers to hear their views on how tournaments are being run and how the increasing number of tournaments being held is getting in the way of morning tee times.
Councilmember Ovrom attended a CDA Citizens' Advisory Committee housing subcommittee meeting where they are working on adding to the number of affordable housing units on Orange Avenue, a Metro Wastewater JPA monthly meeting, the Finance Subcommittee of the JPA where they are talking about a rate increase, went to a meeting with the City Manager and Navy representatives regarding transportation issues, attended the South County Economic Development Council Annual Meeting at the San Diego Convention Center. Mr. Ovrom flew to Washington, D.C. to join with other members of the San Diego Greater Chamber of Commerce to attend meetings focusing on issues with transportation across the border, transportation of goods and people and near the airport, meetings with the Secretary of the Navy to show that San Diego really does want the Navy here and appreciates that they are here. Councilmember Ovrom and San Diego Mayor Sanders opened the meeting with the Secretary of the Navy. Mr. Ovrom thanked the Secretary for taking the time to visit Coronado's City Hall and for meeting with Mayor Smisek and the City Manager. Mayor Cox of Chula Vista, Supervisor Cox, Councilmember Madaffer from San Diego, Mayor Pfeiffer and Mayor Janey of Imperial Beach were of one accord about the fact that they want the Navy in San Diego but also recognize that they bring some transportation problems. He also attended the South County Economic Development Board meeting.
Councilmember Downey joined Mr. Tanaka at the Burn Institute Dinner, with Councilmember Monroe attended the congratulatory affair with Admiral Bonelli, met with Ed Walton, Jim Benson and staff this morning regarding the Council's decision on Rotary Park. She added that she looks forward to coming discussions on what will go in the park. She thanked Mr. Monroe for proposing wi-fi in the park.
Mayor Smisek attended the Coronado Historic Association Board meeting where they introduced their new board, headed this year by Whitney Benzian, attended the South Bay Mayors meeting in Chula Vista to discuss the transfer of the interpretive deck on the Strand from the County to the City, and attended a MainStreet meeting this morning where Rotary Plaza was a hot topic. MainStreet members voted unanimously that they would recommend to staff that there not be any permanent structures with roofs in that park. He also met with the Chamber of Commerce Executive Director this morning and reported on the Proposition J and TOT measures.
11b. Consideration of City Council Meeting Schedule for January 2008. The regular City Council meeting dates of December 4 and 18, 2007 do not appear to conflict with the holiday time this year; however, the first meeting in January falls on New Year's Day. If the City Council decides to cancel this meeting, it will be four weeks from the December 18 meeting until the meeting on January 15. State Law does allow the City to reschedule a regular meeting to the next available day if the regularly scheduled meeting falls on a holiday and it would not be considered a special meeting. Staff is not aware, at this time, of any items of City business that need to be handled early in January; however, a special meeting can be called if necessary. Under Consent, the City Council cancel the January 1, 2007 City Council meeting.
11c. Authorization to Send a Letter from Mayor Smisek to the California Department of Parks and Recreation and the San Diego Region's State Legislative Delegation in Opposition to a Proposed Project to Place 10 to 24 Cabins on the Parking Lot of the Silver Strand State Beach. Tony Pena, Director of Community Development, provided the staff report. He said that staff has had one meeting with State Park staff and there has been a public workshop on site hosted by the State Park system. Even though this is a conceptual proposal at this time, based upon what staff has been able to glean from these meetings and from the information provided, it appears that it is inconsistent with enough goals and objectives of the City to take a position of opposition to the proposal. These 10 to 24 cabins have been characterized as cottages, lodging, and a variety of terms, because there is not sufficient detail as to what they are going to look like, how they will be configured, etc. Staff's recommendation is that the City Council send a letter to the appropriate officials voicing opposition to the project because it seems to be so counter to goals of the Scenic Highway and other objectives of the City. He introduced Clay Phillips from the State Park system to make a presentation.
Clay Phillips, Superintendent, Silver Strand State Beach, explained that his department is considering the concept of placing 10 cottages on the paved area of Lot #3 at Silver Strand. Each cottage, a new, prefabricated structure, will likely have a restroom, a deck, and will hold 4 people approximately. This project is being considered by the Executive Staff at California State Parks in their commitment to expand recreational opportunities to a broad range of California citizens. They are looking for unique locations throughout the State Park system for alternate, overnight accommodations such as cottages and cabins. This is because aging baby boomers and single parent families are looking for convenience and comfort but still want to have an outdoor recreational experience. Many people cannot afford a recreational vehicle. There are few opportunities for an affordable beach front stay in southern California. For much of the year Silver Strand is underutilized. This site provides a beautiful, beach level experience, especially for people with disabilities. The Park is conveniently located for many southern Californians. In addition, since the cottages will be placed on the pavement, there is a relatively low installation cost, currently estimated at $400,000 for the entire project. He stressed that it is very important for California State Parks that they remain a good neighbor to the residents of Coronado and maintain a good partnership with the City. Coronado is a special, very beautiful place and they want to be an asset to this very special place. Mr. Clay said that over the past two years they have worked very hard to update the appearance of the State Beach - they have increased painting cycles, added maintenance staff, remodeled three of the restrooms and replaced a fourth one. They are far from being finished. They are actively seeking funding to replace the deteriorated fence, improve the appearance of the RV campground and even replace the entire 1950s era headquarters complex. They have been committed to explore this cottage concept with the participation of the neighbors and local partners. There have been three meetings so far - a brief presentation before the Executive Board of the Coronado Cays HOA, a meeting with the City Manager and staff, and an informal campfire on the beach with over 90 participants, most of whom were from the Cays. They now know that there is very strong local opposition to this project. As he looks at the draft letters before the City Council today he recognizes many of the same concerns they have heard at these meetings. Rather than see these as justification to unilaterally oppose this concept, he hopes that the City Council will see them as opportunities to shape the project. Over the past few weeks they have been considering how to address these concerns. For example, they believe there may be ways to increase the parking capacity within the park, even beyond what currently exists now. They believe there are ways to increase the law enforcement presence and to reduce some of the vehicles parking in the Cays community. In both site planning and cottage selection, they are looking for ways to make the project look good and not be intrusive. He asked that everyone remain patient as this continues to be explored. In addition, they welcome the City's input regarding fire and safety and trust their judgment. He expects that this proposal will follow a very high level of environmental compliance, beyond a categorical exemption. However, State Parks alone cannot solve all the problems inherent with general public use along this section of the coast. They understand that all municipalities that are near beaches face difficult challenges in managing visitor parking on public streets. It is important to point out that the mission of these two organizations is different. The City Council and its staff are charged to serve the residents of Coronado, to protect them and to create a terrific living environment. The mission of his department is to serve the people of California. Based on the public's use of cottages elsewhere in the State, they are confident that these would be very popular. Over the next few months they will be working with the region's elected officials, City staff, local residents, and park users as they continue to explore this concept. They have set up a public meeting for October 15 at the Silver Strand Elementary School at 6:30 pm. There will be additional opportunities for public input beyond that meeting.
Councilmember Tanaka asked questions regarding how reservations would be made, the rules for reservations, how much it would cost, the number of lost parking spaces, the number of camp staff, etc. He questioned whether tent camping might be a better use of spaces.
Mr. Phillips responded that it will be reserved like any other campsite in the State Park system, through Reserve America. Reservations can be made by phone or on the web seven months in advance. The fee will probably be around $150 during peak season and under $100 off season. Currently only self contained, recreational vehicles are allowed for overnight camping. For special groups, like Boy Scouts, there is tent camping on the Bay side of the Strand. There is tent camping at both San Elijo State Beach and South Carlsbad State Beach. If the striping is reconfigured in the parking lot, there is a good chance that the number of spaces will be increased, even after the cottages.
Mr. Tanaka agrees that spaces could be added but feels that parking will be taken away with these structures and there will then be a new parking need for the cottages. Mr. Phillips clarified that each cottage would have parking on its own site and renters will only be allowed that number of vehicles, so that will not be an add to the number of spaces required.
Mr. Tanaka asked what a normal day of staffing is like in that area. Mr. Phillips responded by saying that, on a normal weekend day, during mid afternoon, there are probably two peace officers and two to three maintenance staff, plus lifeguards. There are already 132 RV camp spaces. This will create ten more, not a dramatic increase from what exists right now. They will be looking at ways to increase their response during the normal off hours. One of the major concerns that has been brought up is what kind of people will rent these cottages. They will watch that very carefully and if needed, they will adjust their law enforcement.
Councilmember Monroe disclosed that he had attended the campfire meeting where there were close to 100 people. Of the 70 people who voted, there were only 3 in favor of the proposal and 67 opposed. There was significant concern about big parties in the cabins. He said that people can rent RV's to stay at the beach for less than what a cabin would rent for. Mr. Monroe added that at least the RV's go away as opposed to cabins that stay in place. He noted that the park gate seems to be closed too much. He added that this project will reverse what the Silver Strand Committee has done over the last several years and asked what had happened to the State Park's earlier plans of enhancing the State Beach areas. Mr. Monroe offered that the City could possibly partner to improve the facilities and the beauty of the State Beach. He thinks that should be focused on to make it a better experience and forget the cabins. Mr. Phillips agreed that the RV area is ugly and they will look into some ideas mentioned by Mr. Monroe. .
Councilmember Ovrom stated that he was having trouble understanding the logic of saying that few outdoor overnight recreational opportunities exist yet the park is underutilized. It seems that the less expensive solution is tent camping if in fact the goal is more utilization. RV's are expensive. He is not going anywhere with this unless the Park system goes other ways.
Mr. Phillips responded that there is an aging baby boomer population that doesn't want tent camping any more. This is not just to find cheap overnight accommodations. Mr. Ovrom took from that comment that there is a part of the population that they don't care to serve. Usually that same part of the population has enough money to rent an RV. Mr. Phillips explained that they have over 100 campsites on the beach already. That opportunity exists. The opportunity for someone to stay for $90 to $150 a night right on the beach virtually does not exist along the Southern California coast. It is a unique opportunity.
Councilmember Downey asked about the potential for 24 cabins and where they would go. Mr. Phillips explained that the reason they are going with 10 is it was felt to be the minimum number to have a viable operation. They want to see what this is like as a test. If this proves to be a really bad idea, there are other places where these can be moved to, so the only loss would be the infrastructure to place them on the site. If it goes well the other 14 would probably be added - 4 more in the front row and 10 in a second row. There would be additional parking lost if that is done, but if they restripe lots 1, 2 & 3 there will still be a surplus of parking spaces. Ms. Downey asked if they have had any discussions with the Coastal Commission. Mr. Phillips explained that they met with Coastal Commission staff. They are concerned about view shed and storm effects. They feel that what would likely be required would be a wave up rush study, a visual analysis, and a traffic study. However, state wide, the State Coastal Commission is very concerned about the paucity of economical overnight accommodations along the coast. Ms. Downey asked if there was any way to provide unrestricted parking and if it was staffed 24 hours a day so that people could park. She asked if there is the possibility that could be studied in this proposal. Mr. Phillips explained that there are fewer permanent staff in this park now than in the 1990s. This is not a unique situation. They have to operate under those kinds of constraints. Anything is possible with additional staff. What is most realistic is that sometimes these kinds of projects generate interest and the viability to get the kind of help that is needed.
Larry Peterson, Coronado Cays Homeowners Association General Manager, said that he also attended the campfire meeting. He referred to the letter from CCHOA in the agenda packet. It seems that the cabins have raised several issues that have been smoldering for several years, most of which center around the RV park. There have been promises made in the past about improvements in the RV park area and adding electricity and other amenities, and to clean it up, but that has never materialized. There are problems with the parking issue continually. On holidays the CCHOA continually has to make special requests to see if the gates can be opened earlier. He would think that the Parks Dept. would want to take the time now to improve those types of things before they would come forward with another plan such as the cabins.
Mayor Smisek commented that the 'cart before the horse' is a very appropriate metaphor in this case. The City is looking for the upgrades to the RV park that were promised years ago that would bring that whole park up to Coronado standards. If that requires a partnership, that is fine. To add new services with no guarantee of increased staffing or improving the rest of the park, appears to be a moneymaking venture to help with park expenses. Mayor Smisek admitted that he is still a tenter who uses the county parks, and this affordability issue doesn't resonate with him. If the Parks system wants to increase revenue, they should open up an area for tents. He doesn't feel that the proper amount of work has been done although he understands that it is in the preliminary stages. The City is going to respond in the same way this was presented and in essence state that we are not pleased with the way this is going. We have concerns and would like definitive answers to those concerns and we would like a better product presented to us.
Mr. Monroe commented on the information presented. He said that when questioned why the cabins are on wheels he heard that it makes them easier to get in there, but also could also be easily removed if a hurricane was approaching. He feels that this would not work well with the City's emergency evacuation plans. He could imagine the cabins lined up and going through Imperial Beach during an evacuation. Mr. Monroe commented that he would like to see wording added to the letter that says the City does not agree with the Park Service's major premise that the only way to make the experience available to other Californians is to have cabins. He would like to introduce the idea of RV rentals as an economical option. That can be married with the idea of upgrading the RV park and put out the olive branch of partnering with them on that issue.
MSUC (Monroe/Ovrom) moved that the City Council authorize sending letters to the California Department of Parks and Recreation and the San Diego region's state legislative delegation to express strong opposition to the proposed project that would place overnight beachfront rental cabins on the parking lot of the Silver Strand State Beach.
Mr. Tanaka hopes that Mr. Phillips is hearing what the Council is saying. If the City is truly narrow minded it would say that camping is not appropriate here; that this is not an appropriate location. But the council members have all said we understand that RV's are there now and we want to improve that experience. The state park is an under utilized, under planned resource. We've tried to get improvements there and we would consider a partnering relationship, but not under the current circumstances. He agrees with Mr. Ovrom and the Mayor who said that the Park Service should not count out the people who camp the traditional way in tents. He said the Park Service should also consider the expectations of different users. It isn't common sense to cater to a group that would pay $75 to $150 for beach access. The cabin renters will want a higher level of service, want more staff, have the trash picked up more often, etc. It's a real shame to not consider camping. A tent camper is more self reliant. Because they carry with them everything they need they won't be as demanding, and probably won't need as much policing. Regarding public access, he never goes to the state beach because he'd have to pay $4 to get in. The drive past there is one of the prettiest places along the Strand. There isn't anywhere convenient for him to park his car and enjoy that stretch of beach. Why are you thinking of renting out a stretch of land for cabins and not for more accessible, less expensive parking for people who want to enjoy the beach. He also thinks access should be more user friendly, not require booking on an internet site, just let people go there and get in.
AYES: Downey, Monroe, Ovrom, Tanaka and Smisek
12. CITY ATTORNEY:
12a. Report from the City Attorney: Analysis of Initiative to Increase Transient Occupancy Tax. Mayor Smisek asked City Attorney to provide the official report on Proposition J legal proceedings prior to giving his analysis of the topic initiative.
City Attorney, Morgan Foley, advised that Judge Prager, the Superior Court judge handling the law suit against our City Clerk and real parties in interest regarding Proposition J conducted a hearing on September 21st. He took under submission the arguments of all of the parties as to whether the issue itself was valid or invalid based on whether it was consistent or inconsistent with the City's General Plan. Earlier the court had agreed to bifurcate the issue of whether there was a consistency with the General Plan and the other remaining issues with respect to the proposition because this issue by itself if ruled in favor of the City would end the litigation. Last Friday Judge Prager filed his ruling that he agreed with our position that Proposition J was invalid as it was inconsistent with the City's General Plan. What that means that the City must have zoning ordinances that are consistent with the General Plan. The Supreme Court has ruled some time ago that if an initiative measure is passed and it is inconsistent with the general plan, and it is a zoning ordinance, then it is void at its inception. That means that at the point the vote is approved and certified that inconsistency creates an invalidity. That means that Proposition J is a completely invalid initiative measure. We will clean up the rest of it, get this judgment entered, and do whatever it takes to get it moved on in the system. Whether the real parties in interest will appeal this decision at this time is unknown.
Mayor Smisek explained that he requested that the City Council look at this new and potential initiative because of what happened on Proposition J. On Proposition J, the City Council had a feeling that there was something wrong with it. As it was investigated further, it seemed that it was not a valid issue. Once it came to the City Council with the signatures the City Attorney made the same assumption. The problem that occurs when initiatives are brought forward that are not legal is that it unnecessarily causes division in the City. Then when there is a vote the City Council is forced to challenge the initiative. He advised that he has now asked the City Attorney to analyze these initiatives to see if there is validity to them, as they are sent to him for a title and summary, to get out in front of this whole issue. The City can't fix the initiative for the proponents, but recommendations can be made as to constitutionality and how it fits with the City's ordinances. Mayor Smisek's hope is to avoid these situations in the future.
City Attorney Morgan Foley explained that this proposed initiative, which may or may not be out for signatures at this point, seeks to increase the City's Transient Occupancy Tax from 8% to 11%. The initiative purports to give the additional 3% to the Coronado Hospital Foundation to support the Sharp Coronado Hospital in its efforts. His analysis, which has been presented to the City Council, states that the measure itself would be invalid. It is unconstitutional because it constitutes a gift of public funds. Once the TOT is imposed and collected, it becomes public monies of the City of Coronado which normally would go to the General Fund. If there was an increase in TOT for a specific purpose it would go to a particular use and would be considered a special tax, but right now the TOT is considered a General Fund money revenue source and would continue to be public monies notwithstanding its special tax or general tax designation. While the initiative powers are reserved to the people of Coronado, it means that the City can only adopt an initiative by vote that is within the powers of the legislative body, the City Council. Under Article 16, Section 6, the City Council is not allowed, under the constitution, to give money to private individuals or lend credit of the City to private corporations or individuals. There are exceptions, with the main exception being if there is a valid public purpose for the gift of the monies. In this case, it would be a rather sizeable contribution of money to a non profit organization and there doesn't seem to be any public purpose stated in the initiative or found to support that type of gift of monies. Another issue is where Article 11, Section 11 of the Constitution provides that it is illegal to delegate the control or appropriation powers of public monies or property. This initiative appears to violate that section of the Constitution as well because it provides a way to give money directly to the foundation, outside the control of the City, and would unlawfully delegate that power to the Foundation, taking away the taxpayers' rights to control, through elected officials, what the City is going to do with its money. Mr. Foley also believes the initiative violates Article 2, Section 11 of the Initiative Powers because the initiative identifies appropriation to perform public functions, i.e. to assist in the development of health care services in the City of Coronado. Essentially, while the initiative is well meaning, is ill advised and would not be defensible if someone wanted to challenge it. If the City Council wanted to challenge it, it would be in a very good position of prevailing in this type of litigation.
Mayor Smisek thinks that one of the lessons learned is if the City Council could use General Fund money to help pay the hospital to keep it going, it would probably consider doing something like that. But because of this interpretation, the City Council doesn't even have that option. He mentioned that with Proposition J there were questions about its validity and the City did prevail. He hopes that the proponents of this will take this information into consideration and, in the future, when initiatives are put on the street, they will be put them together in such a way that there is no question about the validity. Mayor Smisek suggested that one of the other ways to do this the right would be to approach the City Council to see if there is something we can do to help the hospital out if they need the assistance. The hospital has not approached us in that manner.
Councilmember Ovrom commented that the input he is getting shows that there is a concern among the citizens. Coronado loves its hospital and everyone wants to keep it. Being only one of two hospitals in the region of this size it is very difficult to sustain a hospital such as this in current environment. He learned during his campaign that there are different ways of supporting hospitals that are used in the State of California that are legal. He said he would like to learn more about this and would recommend tasking the City Manager and staff to do research the options, to see what exists out there, so that the City can go to the public with a possible solution.
Councilmember Tanaka agreed with Mayor Smisek's suggestion of getting in front of this issue. One of the lessons everyone has learned from Prop J is that it is very awkward to pursue a legal remedy after everyone has voted. He added that if the City Attorney feels strongly in this analysis, it should be followed up on immediately. He agreed with the idea of alternate solutions, such as a hospital district, that Mr. Ovrom referred to. One of his concerns in general about this initiative is that he doesn't like voting until he knows what the problem is, what the magnitude of the problem is, and how the solution will help address that problem. Mr. Ovrom's suggestion is the more logical way to approach this in terms of addressing what the problems really are, what the dollars involved are, and then a range of solutions. Then this is not adversarial and we don't have to divide the town in half over it. Everyone is concerned about the hospital and we are all interested in finding ways to bolster it.
Councilmember Monroe thinks that doing whatever can be done to prevent what happened with Prop J is a good idea. He urged that if we can do anything to prevent that again, if we are on a road that is not valid, it is important to avoid it. He reiterated that everyone supports the hospital and wants the hospital to remain open and in Coronado. The question is not whether we are against the hospital. Not being for the hospital is sort of like being against motherhood. It is important to get the word out that the City Attorney has a very strong opinion indicating that this is not legal. He admitted that he was confused by the point that it doesn't meet a valid public purpose. It doesn't seem logical to him that having the hospital in Coronado doesn't have a valid public purpose.
Mr. Foley explained that the prohibition is against a gift of any public funds so that would invalidate the Council's decision to give money to the Coronado Historical Association or the Coronado Chamber of Commerce or MainStreet, but if there is a valid public purpose being served by the expenditure of funds it is no longer a gift and is considered a part of the City's public purpose of doing business. If the City wanted to start a municipal hospital and then operate it with a private operator, the fact that the City is giving money to a private operator doesn't make it invalid - it is a public purpose being served in running and operating that hospital. A good example of that is Grossmont Local Health Care District. They actually own the hospital but they are under contract with Sharp to manage and operate that hospital. They are giving taxpayer money and facilities to them to operate this hospital. There is a valid public purpose in doing that for that Local Health Care District. If one is simply giving money to someone without achieving that public purpose, that is illegal and unconstitutional.
Mr. Monroe still thinks that a valid public purpose would be to have the Coronado Hospital operating in the green.
Mr. Foley responded that the City could take over the operation of the hospital and run it as a City enterprise.
Mr. Monroe agrees with Mr. Tanaka that if this opinion holds and as soon as the initiative qualifies, if it qualifies, that is the time the City should be in court. Hopefully there can be a decision by the judge before an election.
Mr. Ovrom reiterated that the City Council needs to task staff to come back with possibilities.
Mayor Smisek asked the City Manager to review options in line with Mr. Ovrom's comments and bring this back to the City Council at a later date.
13. COMMUNICATIONS - WRITTEN: None.
The City Council recessed to Closed Session at 4:43 p.m.
14. CLOSED SESSION:
14a. CLOSED SESSION: CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL - EXISTING LITIGATION
AUTHORITY: Government Code §54956.9(a)
NAME OF CASE: James Scott and JoAnne Scott v City of Coronado, et al. (Joe Pinsonneault and Caylee Pinsonneault Real Parties in Interest)
Case No. 37-2007-00068318-CU-WM-CTL
The City Council resumed the regular meeting at 5:06 p.m.
City Attorney Morgan Foley advised that there was no action taken.
15. ADJOURNMENT: The meeting was adjourned at 5:07 p.m.
Approved: October 16, 2007
Tom Smisek, Mayor
City of Coronado
Linda K. Hascup
MINUTES OF THE
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AGENCYCITY OF CORONADO City Hall Council Chambers Coronado, CA 92118
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
The Community Development Agency regular meeting was called to order at 4:43 p.m.
1. ROLL CALL:
Present: Members Downey, Monroe, Ovrom, Tanaka and Smisek
Also Present: Agency Executive Director Mark Ochenduszko
Agency Attorney Morgan Foley
Agency Secretary Linda Hascup
2. MINUTES: The minutes of the Regular Meeting of September 18, 2007, copies having been delivered to each member of the Community Development Agency prior to the meeting, the reading in its entirety unanimously waived, were approved as submitted.
3. ORAL COMMUNICATIONS: None
a. Executive Director: No report.
b. Agency Secretary: No report.
c. Agency Treasurer: Approval of Warrants - The Agency approved Warrants No. 90003601 through 90003615 as audited and approved by the Audit Committee, provided there are sufficient funds on hand.
d. Agency Attorney: No report.
5. AGENCY BUSINESS:
a. Consideration of a Request from the Coronado Unified School District to Adjust Fund 493750 (Coronado Unified School District Capital Projects Development Fund) of the Community Development Agency of the City of Coronado Fiscal Years 2006/07 and 2007/08 Budgets. The CUSD recently submitted a reimbursement request for expenditures that occurred in FY 2006/07. The reimbursement request must be recorded to the prior fiscal year and since the budget was exhausted, an adjustment is requested from FY 2007/08.
MSUC (Downey/Ovrom) upon consent approved the requested adjustments to the FY 2006/07 budget and reduce the FY 2007/08 budget accordingly in fund 493750.
AYES: Downey, Monroe, Ovrom, Tanaka, and Smisek
b. Filing of the Quarterly Treasurer's Report on Investments with the Community Development Agency of the City of Coronado Board of Directors (Agency) for the Quarter Ending June 30, 2007. The reporting period is for the three-month period April 1, 2007 through June 30, 2007, respectively.
MSUC (Downey/Ovrom) upon consent examined the quarterly Report on Investments and order it filed.
AYES: Downey, Monroe, Ovrom, Tanaka, and Smisek
The Agency recessed into Closed Session at 4:43 p.m.
6. CLOSED SESSION:
a. CLOSED SESSION: CONFERENCE WITH REAL PROPERTY NEGOTIATOR
AUTHORITY: Government Code §54956.8
PROPERTY: 820 Orange Avenue, Coronado
AGENCY NEGOTIATORS: Mark Ochenduszko, Executive Director, Jim Benson, Assistant City Manager, Andrew Potter, Senior Administrative Analyst, and Morgan Foley, Agency Attorney
NEGOTIATING PARTIES: John Siegel and Robert Siegel
UNDER NEGOTIATION: Price and Terms
The CDA resumed the regular meeting at 5:06 p.m.
The Agency Attorney reported that direction was given to the Agency's negotiator.
7. ADJOURNMENT: The Agency adjourned at 5:07 p.m.
Approved: October 16, 2007
Tom Smisek, Chair
Linda K. Hascup, Agency Secretary