For those of us who love to be informed about our local government but are unable to attend the meetings, involvement is just a click away on Channel 20. Thanks to AGV for making this viewing possible.
June 8 Meeting
The discussion with the greatest differing of opinions was, of course, whether to approve the proposed budget. Two plans were submitted by the staff, but neither was accepted by the council. In these times of limited funds, the majority of the council (3-2 vote) wanted to see approximately $200,000 more cut from expenditures. To accomplish this, both staff and Council have to make some unpopular decisions about which items will be eliminated. A budget workshop will be held at 5pm on June 29th for further discussion.
During the public comment period, Chamber CEO Peter Candela discussed the changes for this Fourth of July celebration. I, for one, have always loved fireworks. However, when we moved here a decade ago I was stunned to see hundreds of petrified birds fleeing with the first explosions. It was such a horrific experience I stopped attending and contributing financially. I know there are many, like myself, who will miss the fireworks display. However, we can still enjoy the laser light show while knowing that Morro Bay is leading the Central Coast in environmental responsibility.
Other items on the docket that were approved were a resolution adopting the Identity Theft Prevention Program, a revision to the Water System supervisor’s job description, the approval of an application to the State Community Development Block Grant Program for public services, and agreement for continuing the moratorium on accepting applications for wireless communications facilities.
There was also a lengthy discussion regarding changes to the Draft Housing Element. In addition, a resolution was approved that would prevent the State from overriding the city’s rent control law for mobile home parks. Unanimous approval was given to allocating $2500 (over a period of 2 years) from the Housing in Lieu fund for the Executive Director of the County’s program to eliminate homelessness in the next 10 years. The Council did vote 4-1 not to contribute to the county’s vector control program.
During the discussion of the Sewer System Management Plan I learned a number of things. There are 60 miles of sewer line in Morro Bay and 4 miles get foamed out each year. Most of the line is old, made of clay, and in need of repair. Less than one mile has been renewed. The hope is to replace lift stations three and four this year. A video inspection of the entire system is currently underway and is approximately about 35% finished. A plan of priorities will be made from what is found in this study. I’ll now consider this when I use my sink or flush my toilet.
June 22 Meeting
The theme of raising revenue continued at the June 22nd meeting of the City Council. The Master Fee Schedule was revisited. The Harbor Board had approved a fee of $10 to park in one of the 48 double stalls at the boat ramp at Tidelands Park. This fee would apply only to vehicles pulling a trailer or towing a boat. However, the City Council had received input from the public that the fee would be a hardship for those who frequently park there. A proposal to charge only $5 was discussed. Two of the council members (Grantham and Winholtz) felt strongly that $5 will not bring in enough revenue to cover the various costs of implementation. Also, a yearly pass of some sort was brought up, but that was seen as too difficult to execute. After a lengthy discussion the fee was reduced to $5 with a vote of 3-2. There will be one iron ranger and tickets will be issued to violators.
The other revenue source that was deliberated was the installation of parking meters. A 2007 study concluded that the cost of installing and maintaining them would not be enough to justify parking meters. The Mayor suggested that they begin by putting them in the city parking lot on the Embarcadero to test their effectiveness in raising revenue. However, the vote was 3-2 to not install them. One member (Smukler) mentioned that the lack of meters is a positive reason to visit Morro Bay and not having them encourages shopping longer since visitors don’t have to rush back to their cars.
The business featured at this meeting was The Beach House Bistro. The owners, both trained chefs, will be holding a drive-thru barbeque on July 4th from 12 to 4 with all the proceeds benefiting Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Tickets are available now at the restaurant or can be purchased at the time of the event. It is located at 2770 Main Street – a block beyond Spencer’s. Their number is 771-2770
As many of you know, consideration is being given to shutting down all their state parks in our area. The Council voted to send a letter supporting keeping them open; including that a fee of $15 a year be added to the car registration fee. This was passed 4-1 with Mayor Peters dissenting, feeling this fee was unfair to those who do not use the parks.
Finally, a discussion of extending the hiring freeze was held. This was approved but exceptions were made for those in Public Safety – firemen, police officers, and dispatchers. This will apply only to replacements and not to new positions. In addition, to comply with requirements from the state, it was approved (4-1) that the Water Systems Supervisor replacement hiring goes forth.
So that is what I saw and heard from my couch this month. An informed public can make better decisions for our city so join me next time. There is plenty of room for all.
Since 2000 Sandra & Curt Beebe have installed 36 Mutt Mitt dispensers in and around Morro Bay. The Mitts are funded by donations from individuals, organizations, and grants. Make the checks out to “The Bay Foundation” for a tax deduction. Be sure to note “Mutt Mitts” on the front of the check. The Bay Foundation is a 501(c)(3) and is administer by the National Estuary Program. For more information about this "Mutt Mitt" Program, contact Sandra at email email@example.com.