FORT BRAGG – Fort Bragg City Council had a busy session on Monday that lasted well into the evening – after 10 p.m. – when it received a series of presentations and proclamations, as well as the adoption and approval of several new ordinances, directives and resolutions from the Personals heard.
The evening began with a presentation by Sheila Siemens, Executive Director of the Noyo Center for Marine Science, where she outlined the ups and downs of the pandemic’s programs and her hopes for the near future.
Then Mayor Bernie Norvell made a proclamation recognizing the week of June 14th as the celebration of June 10th and a second proclamation recognizing the following week, June 21st to 27th, as National Pollinator Week. The winners of the Dana Gray Water Conservation Poster Contest for grades 3 to 5 were also announced.
New summer program approved, questions about waste disposal answered
The council then took public comments and passed its approval calendar, which included nearly a dozen items – mostly approving the latest protocols, but also approving a contract with Therma, LLC to install, monitor, and maintain the CV Starr Community Center building automation controls for no more than $ 28,000; and approving USDA grant applications to fund a biosolids dryer and backhoe loader.
Councilors Marcia Rafanan and Jessica Morsell-Haye drew and questioned the budget allocated to a professional services agreement with a new program called Surviving the Odds Project or “STOP” for $ 40,000 for ten students.
Morsell-Haye asked to move the item to the next council meeting on June 28 to clarify the numbers, but City Manager Tabatha Miller said they could proceed with the resolution until an updated budget is in place, reflecting 10 students instead of 15 Councilors Rafanan and Tess Albin-Smith voted against, despite making sure they were speaking out not against the program, but rather against the inaccurate budget information.
Urban planner John Smith also gave an update on the town’s drying yards for biosolids which are causing a bad odor south of town where the sewerage facility is located. A new and improved method of treating the wastewater is causing more solids to be dried before they can be shipped, but the city doesn’t have a bio-solids dryer that can handle the increased pollution.
Smith said the city is trying to mitigate the odor by stop moving the solids unless they’re loaded into a truck and adding enzymes to help. The new dryer is expected to arrive in October.
City approves budgets for fiscal year 2021/2022
The proposed city budget for adoption was $ 27.4 million in revenue and $ 30.7 million in funds. The general budget includes funding for investment projects and is not an operating deficit. The General Fund budget is $ 9.97 million in revenue and $ 9.92 million in funds, representing a surplus of $ 53,000.
“We are in much better shape than we thought,” said Councilor Lindy Peters. “We’re a lot better,” confirmed Miller.
After several meetings, budget workshops and public hearings, the city of Fort Bragg’s budget for 2021/2022 was unanimously approved.
The council also unanimously approved the 2021/2022 budgets for the Fort Bragg Municipal Improvement District, the budget line and the budget for capital projects.
For more information on these budgets, please visit the city’s website at https://city.fortbragg.com.
State-prescribed “optimization” of chargers for electric vehicles
In 2015 the Assembly Bill 1256 was passed, which requires local governments to introduce an optimized process for the approval of charging stations for electric vehicles.
The intent of the legislation was to prohibit local authorities from enacting ordinances that inappropriately hinder the installation of these chargers that provide power for plug-in electric vehicles, as well as the ability of homeowners and farm / businesses to install EV inappropriately restrict chargers. The installation of the stations is also exempt from environmental testing under the California Environmental Quality Act, also known as CEQA.
A public comment called the charging station in the Boatyard shopping center “white albatrosses” and suggested that the city reject the law completely. As Councilor Albin-Smith pointed out, the council’s hands are tied by the state.
The council heard a report from Assistant City Planner Kevin Locke regarding the legislation. Although the bill was passed in 2015 and is due to come into effect in 2017, Locke said many cities and counties have not officially passed the bill yet.
City Manager Miller said Fort Bragg was brought to the attention of the legislation about a year ago and, although the city honored the intent, it waited to be full again before officially enacting the legislation.
The regulation was adopted unanimously.
City asks council to allocate $ 600,000 for drought
City officials asked the city council to provide $ 600,000 to pursue various options, including procurement and approval hurdles, during this summer’s expected drought. State emergency funds are to reimburse these costs at a later date.
The Noyo River, which is the city’s main source of water during the summer and fall months, is below the worst year of drought on records in 1977. Staff told the city council that it is not possible to use trucks to transport water from Ukiah or Willits a viable option to rent as it would take 57 loads per day to provide 200,000 gallons. This would require ten trucks in 24-hour operation. Likewise, solar dehumidifiers are costly, delivering just 30 liters of water per day at a cost of around $ 4,600 per panel.
Desalination was recommended by the staff as the best option for providing water to the city. The reverse osmosis desalination system will be installed at the water treatment plant on the coastal rock and would deliver at least 288,000 gallons per day.
The municipal council unanimously approved the budget change.
City officials are given instructions on “voluminous” public comments
City clerk June Lemos said the city recently received several public comments that exceeded 1,000 pages.
The overly long files create a problem with the legislative program that cannot be easily compiled and published for online viewing. The law requires the city to make public comments visible on paper, which the city does. The city cannot limit the total number of pages that can be submitted under state law; it’s about what to do with uploading or printing comments that are too big.
One proposed solution was to submit public comments and subsequent attachments as a link or to use another online platform.
“Publishing 1,000 pages three days before the meeting is too much to ask,” said Lemos. “It also crashes our software.”
Lemos and the city council made it clear that the call only applies to long public comments, not regular public comments.
The public comment on the subject was, perhaps unsurprisingly, very much against any kind of restriction.
The solution recommended to staff was that all comments be included in the public record the day after the meeting or as soon as possible afterwards.
The next ordinary city council meeting will take place on June 28th at 6 p.m. in hybrid format. For more information, visit the city’s website at city.fortbragg.com.