City Council: $25M Port Transfer, Seawalls & Cat Licenses • Long Beach Post

1:50pm | After being dark last week due to the general election, it was no surprise that the agenda for this week’s City Council meeting was a full one. During the nearly four hour meeting, the Council members considered nearly 50 items spread across the five main parts of the meeting: hearings, consent calendar, regular agenda, ordinances, and, new business. Here is a round-up of some of the more noteworthy items discussed Tuesday. Council member Lowenthal was absent from the meeting.

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Colorado Lagoon
The Council held two hearings during this week’s public meeting, both related to Colorado Lagoon.
In January, the city submitted the Colorado Lagoon Restoration Project to the California Coastal Commission for review. The Commission approved the project but requested that several changes be made to the the city’s Local Coastal Program of the city’s General Plan, as it relates to Colorado Lagoon.
The first hearing held Tuesday called for amendments to the city’s LCP to fulfill the Coastal Commission requests. The second hearing called for a change in the city Zoning Code to meet a Coastal Commission request that Marine Stadium, beaches and bays, and adding ponds be removed from the city’s list of facilities and/or features that fall under the definition of “passive parks.”
The Council approved both unanimously, including a motion directing the city director of Development Services to send all amended material on the Lagoon project to the California Coastal Commission.

Consent Calender
Disregarding normal procedural items, the Council on Tuesday took up about 20 items on the consent calendar. Most of these items were to provide the city manager with the power to execute contracts with various entities or accept funds from entities to keep certain city programs functioning.
These programs include the Long Beach-Wilmington Best Babies Collaborative Program; the Beach Water Quality Monitoring and Public Notification Services Program; the Beach Water Quality Monitoring and Public Notification Services Program; the Summer Food Service Program; the Community Challenge Grant Program; and, a contract with Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (ESRI) to participate in the Community Maps Program and grant ESRI permission to use and publish City of Long Beach geographic data.
The entire consent calendar, with the exception of two items, was approved unanimously with a single blanket vote by the Council.

Threatened Litigation
The first of the two pulled items from the consent calendar was a motion to continue an outside counsel contract with the law firm of Richards, Watson & Gershon. The firm has been representing the city in a case of threatened litigation over the former BKK landfill in Carson. The city is alleged by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control to have dumped environmental waste at the site. The majority of the dump is now the Victoria Golf Course off the 405 Freeway, just south of the Goodyear Blimp field.

Evo Lounge and La Palapa
The council also approved turning a possible entertainment license revocation for the Second Street eatery/bar the Evo Lounge (formerly Belmont Station) over to a hearing officer, in lieu of being heard before the Council. The hearing officer will collect information about complaints and possible violations and rule on what the best course of action for the city might be. Council member DeLong brought the item before the Council based on complaints received by his office. Council member Gabelich pointed out that this “out of the ordinary” without complaints being filed through the police department. The motion carried 6 votes to 2 with Council members Gabelich and Reyes-Uranga voting nay.
Another restaurant-related item on the consent calendar, approved with the majority of the consent items, was a lease renewal with Baja La Palapa Restaurant Group, Inc., for city-owned property located adjacent to the Belmont Olympic Pool building. The renewal covers an additional five-year term, with one, five-year option to renew, at a minimum monthly base rent of $6,400.

Parking, Park Permits and Plastic Bags
The Council also took up more than a dozen regular agenda items on Tuesday, starting with an approval of an over-night parking program for Cesar Chavez Park. The program will allow residents of he parking-impacted area around the park to obtain a special city permit to allow them to use the park’s parking lot after hours. City staff estimated that the cost of the monthly permit would be $25, which is similar to other areas of the city with overnight parking programs.
Changes to the Department of Public Works’ public permitting process for group gatherings at city parks were also approved, including: notifying the police department of any issued permit for more than 25 people; establishment of a “public safety fee” for any permit issued to groups of 25 or more (the proposed fee amount was not defined) to cover public safety and clean-up costs; and, signage in city parks reiterating that groups of 25 or more require a permit and that alcohol is not permitted.
The changes are in response to a Memorial Day shooting at Pan-American Park during a large un-permitted family gathering. Cuts in city funding have left Pan-Am Park as one of several park facilities without a regular Park Ranger presence.
Council member Gabelich raised concerns about the potential costs of signage at the city’s 150 parks and asked that the signage provisions be removed until a total cost estimate on placing the signs could be compiled. She suggested that the information be promoted instead through city newsletters and the city website to save money.
Council member Schipske countered that existing signage at the parks could be amended to include the reminders without the need for new signage. Schipske also said that “the people we need to reach are out-of-town non-residents,” who do not get city newsletters. In addition, Schipske said she understands that if the information is posted in the parks, the city can then take action against violators. “We are looking for an enforcement mechanism,” she said.
After some discussion, the motion passed unanimously as first proposed. City staff will come back with recommendations on the proposal at a future date.
The Council also unanimously approved a motion to offer official support and comments to State Assembly Bill 1998. The bill, co-sponsored by Assembly member Bonnie Lowenthal, seeks to ban single use carry-out plastic bags such as those used at supermarkets. Prior to the vote, the Sierra Club, the Heal the Bay organization, and the California Grocers Association spoke in favor of AB 1998 and the Council motion.

Port Transfer Analysis
Also adopted was a motion to receive and file the City Auditor’s recently completed analysis of the Harbor Department’s annual transfer to the city Tidelands Fund. The analysis details how the Harbor Department, which manages the Port of Long Beach, determines the 10 percent of annual port profits that are transferred to the city and what the city then spends the money on. For the 2008 fiscal year, the port transferred just over $16 million to the city.

In addition to the Tidelands transfer, the analysis found that port is also directly charged more than $21 million a year by the city for police and fire service within the port area.
City Auditor Laura Doud explained to the Council that because the 10 percent transfer is based on the port’s independently audited financial reports, there is a lag time of over a year between what the port makes in profit and the transfer to the city based on those profits. She recommended that this be changed immediately to provide the city with a more “real-time” transfer. Under her recommendation, the Harbor Department will immediately transfer about $12.4 million to the city for the port’s 2009 fiscal year. At the start of the city’s next fiscal year in October, the Harbor Department will also transfer 80 percent of the port’s unaudited 2010 fiscal year profits. The remaining 20 percent of the transfer for 2010 would be determined after the port’s finances were independently audited.
Doud also recommended that the Council request that the Harbor Department eliminate its practice of deducting the previous year’s transfer from the port’s total profits, a move Doud said has reduced the previous transfer amounts to the city by about $1 million a year.
It was also revealed during the discussion that while the city charter allows for 10 percent of the port’s “net income” to be transferred to the city each year, “net income” is a vague term that can be defined by the City Auditor.
The Council unanimously approved the motion including all of Doud’s recommendations, which must now be approved by the Harbor Commission before any transfer can occur.
The recommendations suggested by Doud would essentially boost the Tidelands Fund by $12.4 million during the current year.

Naples Seawall  

After approving the increase in port transfer to the Tidelands Fund, the Council then moved to spend nearly all of the extra funds by approving $9.5 million in Tidelands funds to repair about 20 percent of the Naples Seawall. The city has said that about 20 percent of the seawall surrounding Naples is danger of failing in the very near future and needs immediate repair.
A CityBeat column in April detailed that a parcel tax on the roughly 240 homes that abut the canal wall would cost each of these Naples residents about $40,000. If the city eventually adopts the larger $58 million plan to repair all of the deteriorating seawall, a parcel tax would cost each of the 240 canal and bay-facing property homeowners just over $240,000.

The Council approved the motion with the caveat that the $9.5 million can only be spent on the seawall repairs if the Harbor Commission approves the accelerated Tidelands transfer.

Rosie The Riveter Park
The Council also approved an authorization for an agreement between Long Beach City College, The Long Beach Rosie the Riveter Foundation, and the City of Long Beach to exhibit Rosie the Riveter memorabilia in a building adjacent to Rosie the Riveter Park at Clark and Conant Street.

Event Permits
During the ordinance portion of the meeting, the Council took up three items this week, with each being read and adopted as read.
The first concerned permits for “occasional events,” formerly known as “exclusive events.” The permits, formerly issued through the chief of police, will now be issued and overseen by the city’s Director of Financial Management. The motion also amended current ordinances regarding the number of “occasional events” allowed to a premises or location, increasing the number from the previous two per year to 24 per year, with a caveat that 10 days separate any two permitted events. The amendments also removed any mention of sidewalk entertainment permits, indicating that these may no longer be available.

Cat Licenses
The Council also approved ordinance amendments requiring cat owners to obtain a license just as dog owners currently do. Cats must either have a city-tag or city-approved microchip identifier. Requirements that cats obtain feline anti-rabies vaccine were also approved. The new ordinances take effect July 16.

Parking Meters For Shore Lot
The final ordinance item approved by the Council defined a new parking meter zone for the parking lot at 189 Park Avenue–located behind the Caffe La Strada building on the northwestern corner of Park Avenue and 2nd Street in Belmont Shore. The lot currently has a slotted-pay box to collect money for the 24 spaces available.
And that, fearless readers, is the City Council meeting in a nutshell for this week.

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