Council Learns Plenty in Special Meeting
By Lynne Bronstein
The Culver City Council met twice on Monday, with a special afternoon meeting as well as its regular Monday evening meeting.
The afternoon meeting, held for the Council, the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency, the Housing Authority, and the Parking Authority, was a study session that presented proposed work plans by the city departments.
Among the proposals submitted by the departments were:
Formalize plans and obtain funding to repair/replace Fire Department training tower and facilities; develop an orientation program for the position of Battalion Chief and Fire Captain (Accreditation recommendation); exercise All Hazard Plan following Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (Accreditation recommendation); purchase and implement Real-Time Incident and Event Management System (Web-EOC) for Emergency/Disaster Operations; and work with Culver City business owners that handle hazardous materials to ensure that they have created an account with the State EPA and have uploaded their business plans and hazardous materials inventories as required by (CERS), the State mandated electronic reporting process for the hazardous materials.
Continue to implement a Parking Control Strategy with other City Departments; expansion of efforts toward Community Outreach in the form of neighborhood and business watch meetings; take measures to ensure that the Police Department is functioning at an optimum level by maintaining
response times for emergency calls of 3 minutes or less.
Install bike racks to be funded through the Bicycle Transportation Account grant secured in 2012; design new pump station and diversion pipes for consolidation of Fox Hills, Mesmer and Overland Sewer
Pump Stations; review existing preferential parking districts and consider disbanding districts that fail to meet the criteria outlined in the adopted Preferential Parking Procedures and Regulations; work with the School District and community to seek consensus on a Safe Routes to School
application(s) for Farragut Elementary, Culver City Middle School, Culver City High School and/or for La Ballona Elementary.
Continue to implement the Real-Time Bus Arrival Information System and the Bus Signal Priority system in Culver City; complete the City Auto Reservation System (CARS) and implement a cost effective pool car program; replace two CNG refueling station compressors which have reached the end of their useful life.
General Government Informational Technology:
Update the IT Department Strategic Plan to include strategies for cloud computing, virtual computing, open source software and other emerging technologies; complete upgrade of the City's Permitting System to include workflow, expanded online permitting, remote inspections, and interface to GIS.
Continue staffing of Finance Advisory Committee; undertake a process to select a consultant to update the Fee Study and Cost Allocation Plans currently utilized; update and improve written financial policies.
During the regular meeting, two public comment speakers brought up the somewhat diffused but hardly forgotten issue of the Culver City Ice Arena.
One speaker wanted more clarity from the city about the environmental problems that might exist and be created by the shutdown of the compressor.
Another speaker expressed disapproval of property owner Michael Karagozian's behavior in the matter, but she also complained of the council's behavior, saying that she saw no "vulnerability or compromise" in their attitude.
City Manager John Nachbar answered the question that council member Mehaul O' Leary voiced and that many people have: does the closing of the ice arena and shutting down the compressor mean that it will never be an ice arena again?
"The property can absolutely continue as an ice rink,"said Nachbar. He reminded the council that the variance on the property is zoned for that purpose.
"Our focus [in closing the arena] was on public safety," he added.
Two other environmental issues surfaced during the meeting.
During community announcements, Mayor Jeff Cooper noted that the city of Los Angeles had just passed a ban on hydraulic fracturing. This led council member Andrew Weissman to ask for an update on Culver City's progress in drafting an anti-fracking ordinance.
"We will come back with an update in a few weeks," replied Nachbar. He explained that while Los Angeles had directed its city attorney to draft an ordinance, "it isn't a moratorium."
"We do have a specific plan," Nachbar continued. "We will have it to introduce to you in two months." It would be an "initial plan" that would have to be vetted through public forums.
City Attorney Carol Schwab said the city has plans to coordinate with the city attorney of Los Angeles on a fracking ban because there is "more power in a joint coalition."
O' Leary, in his announcement segment, talked about his recent attendance at a meeting of the League of California Cities, where water conservation was a topic.
O' Leary had asked the attendees why California could not import water from the state of Washington and was told there is a law forbidding importation of water from the northern states. He wondered out loud why that should be but added that at least the drought crisis is "in the radar" of representatives.