YOLO SUN OPINION :

Coincident with planned renovation and expansion of State Theatre, the City of Woodland is moving forward a “preliminary feasibility study” for using $1.4 million (about one-third) of reaquired redevelopment funds to improve Main Street and its sidewalks proximate to this project, as well as to install a palm-tree studded traffic median between Walnut and Elm Streets, purportedly to calm traffic and establish a “sense of place / entry” for this project and the western edge of downtown Woodland.

The city council took action on November 4 to allocate about 10% of these funds ($130,000) for developing a specific scope, design and extent of such proposed improvements.  Council consideration of these improvements will then occur on the basis of this preliminary assessment and presentation.

Improved Sidewalks, Parking Are Good; Median Is Doubly Problematic

Sidewalks on Main Street between Elm and Cleveland, especially on the northern side, certainly must be replaced / improved to complement the new State Theatre complex.  Parking is unavailable on the northern side, due to an abundance of driveways associated with historical use of adjacent property as motor-vehicle dealerships.  Dave Hoblit (who now owns this huge property) has, according to city staff, recently accepted removal of all but one of these several driveways, making parking possible on the northern side of this block.

Planting a row of full-sized palm trees in the middle of Main Street, though, clearly is not so dire a need, as improving this block’s sidelined sidewalks.

The notion of lodging palm trees in Main Street references existing palm trees near East and Main Streets, which “sort of frame the eastern gateway[, by now] attempting to create a compatible and complementary entry feature” at the western gateway of downtown, suggests city staff.

Thus, two basic reasons are being suggested for justifying construction of this palm-tree containing center island, traffic calming and various forms of locational identity.

This notion is to combine (purported) traffic calming effects with a western, downtown gateway / boundary feature, reflective of existing palm trees at its eastern fringe.

Neither of these basic premises withstands actual scrutiny.

Palm trees, while relatively decorative and attractive in certain settings, are non-native to Woodland.  They are not historically authentic as any proper symbol of the City’s identity, or that of its downtown, which should eventually be provided with appropriate gateway features.

That these palm trees are being donated by the railroad, is no justification for their unwise / unwieldy use.

Is Median Effective At Slowing Traffic?

Traffic calming is clearly needed upon all of downtown Main Street, much more so than simply a block-long median could ever deliver.  It’s not at all clear, as well, that such a median would even slow traffic stubbornly barreling down what used to be a state highway.

Council member Sean Denny excitedly describes that, when he is visiting his bank between Walnut and Cleveland Streets, “people are going by at 35 and 40 MPH” on Main Street.

Denny strongly believes that Main Street traffic “need[s] to be slowed down before [it] hits Cleveland and Walnut; otherwise, they’re still going too fast before they get to” Main Street having only two lanes, rather than four lanes available west of Cleveland Street.

Tenacious traffic must be greatly slowed / calmed, according to Denny, prior to arriving at the proposed, tree-stippled center-island, purported to accomplish such calming.

This needs to be “looked at hard,” he exclaims.

And well it should be examined; with the obvious solution being installation of stop signs, instead of palm trees.

Stop signs are the original traffic-calming device, genuinely devoted to pedestrian convenience and safety.

Denny Seems Confused

Denny heralds “public safety” associated with the proposed tree-spiked median; yet, he insists that traffic be calmed before this median serves such a purpose.  Something is awry with his contradictory view.

Correct about the urgency of slowing downtown traffic, Denny confusedly applauds this proposed median as the answer, while at the same time contending that the actual slowing of traffic must be done elsewhere.

The city is planning to station a new traffic signal (acquired with federal money) at Cleveland and Main Streets, intending to promote use of Cleveland as an optional traffic diversion from Main Street.  This plan is based on commercial (rather than residential) properties predominating there, while Walnut has more residential uses between Main and Lincoln Streets.

Stop signs at Walnut and Elm Streets (as well as on through downtown to Fourth Street) would surely augment this planned traffic signal at Cleveland, by ultimately resolving the problem of calming / slowing easterly traffic entering downtown.

Council member Jim Hilliard expressed an endorsement of the overall proposal, including the palm tree filled median, despite his occasional statements in support of replacing traffic signals with stop signs upon downtown Main Street.  Such replacement, especially in concert with diagonal parking, would eliminate traffic calming as a justification for this median.

Parking Doubled With Diagonal Use

Increased parking on Main Street, between Elm and Walnut, was also mentioned by Denny as a benefit of these various improvements; however, inclusion of a center median disallows diagonal parking from this key, lengthy block.

Diagonal parking would double available parking, hugely aiding the new State Theatre complex, whose patrons would realize an important “sense of place,” by more easily and conveniently parking their vehicles.

So, it seems quite evident that best serving public safety and improving parking, means eschewing the proposed tree-laden median and instead, relying on standard stop signs to control traffic flow, as well as using diagonal parking to best supply such space and convenience.

Council member Bill Marble indicated, during consideration of this “preliminary feasibility study,” that:  “As we look at the ultimate objectives that we’re trying to accomplish, there may emerge other ideas, and we should look at them all; making sure that, moving toward a final decision, the process has included all of the input that we welcome and we so much need.”

On that basis, perhaps Woodland’s downtown may yet receive the nature of traffic calming and parking which has long been demanded, in order to properly elevate pedestrian values, essential for a flourishing downtown.

YOLO SUN NEWS REPORT :

Alongside considerable political drama related to proposed (30 year) property tax measures, S & T, representing $97 million for school repairs and improvements, the local 2014 general election ballot contains a fascinating contest for Woodland Joint Unified School District (WJUSD) trustee in District One, encompassing Woodland’s northern edge (from Beamer Street) and stretching northwesterly into the rural county.

The Candidates

Two-term Woodland Mayor, Art Pimentel, appointed by WJUSD trustees to fill a vacancy created by recent election of former trustee Angel Barajas to City Council, is being challenged by Tania Tafoya, who had sought that same trustee appointment, a former substitute teacher, coordinator of an elementary-level after-school program (2003-07) and speech pathologist, motivated to yet again seek this trustee seat by having parents who were educators and her recent participation on a committee at the middle school attended by her step-daughter, where she “saw the board opening as an opportunity to give back to my community.”

Tafoya seems quite determined to obtain this seat as WJUSD trustee; while, Pimentel has declared that, had he not received this appointment, he wouldn’t seek the seat only a few months later, through election.

Tafoya has since 2007 been employed by Cache Creek Casino, initially as a human resources representative, later promoted to a position of certified training specialist in the gaming / resort industry.  Pimentel directed a wide variety of student support services (academic tutoring, career counseling, etc.) at Woodland Community College for more than six years before becoming Executive Dean at the Clear Lake campus of Yuba College and most recently, Dean of West Sacramento Center of Sacramento City College.

“In all my [educational] experiences I was directly involved in supporting students of diverse backgrounds, supervised faculty and staff, managed a budget, and implemented local, state, and federal regulations governing the community college systems,” expresses Pimentel. “I worked very closely with all the high schools in our service areas to provide information about the programs offered by our institution in basic skills, career technical assistance and general education.  I have worked in higher education for the last nine years and I am the only candidate who currently works in an educational setting.”

Pimentel, thus familiar with access requirements for higher education, “applied for the position because I feel I can make a real difference in increasing the schools district’s partnerships with city, county and other educational agencies.  Public education is one of the most important issues facing our communities and society.  Access to high quality education is absolutely critical for us to build healthy communities.”

Tafoya indicates that “as a board member I want to make sure all students have the opportunity to learn and excel by providing them current instructional materials, safe facilities and highly qualified teachers.  [Our] challenges are to increase communication and information between board, parents, schools and the community, providing students the best learning environments for student success.”  Tafoya also emphasizes transparency as a goal of her candidacy.

Addressing these challenges, Tafoya suggests “informal meetings in my neighborhood schools, rotating board meetings to different trustee areas within the district and finally including board action items and proposals in school newsletters sent home to parents.”

Pimentel believes “there are many challenges to fully prepare ALL of our students to be work or college ready[;] involving parents by reaching out to them and visiting our sites on a regular basis will also be important and is something I am already doing as a trustee.”

Both candidates were asked the question:  If Measures S & T were to fail voter adoption, how (specifically) would you respond?

Tafoya states that:  “We as a board and administration would look for federal and state grants, community partnerships with City and County agencies and would review and prioritize building and maintenance budgets.”  Pimentel states that:  “If the bond measures fail then we are going to have to continue to place band-aids on the multiple facility problems all our schools are facing.  It will also be important for the Board of Trustees to make every effort to communicate the needs and develop a more collaborative relationship with our City, County and local community organizations.”

Both candidates favor intense and comprehensive implementation of the new “Common Core,” curriculum, designed to help create educational progress among K – 12 students.

Candidate Qualifications Controversy

Tafoya’s candidacy emphasizes that she “is not a career politician and her motives are sincere[;] what sets her apart from her competitor is her experience in the schools and classrooms of our community[;] Tania is one of us,” implying that Pimentel is “a career politician,” perhaps with insincere motives, who lacks direct classroom experience.  Attempting to distinguish herself from Pimentel, Tafoya states that her “work and volunteer experiences in our schools has prepared me to make a real difference in our schools and community.”

Pimentel’s resume, however, includes more than six years of directly managing provision of a comprehensive scope of basic educational curriculum, especially related to student retention and graduation.  He has earned a M. A. in Educational Leadership from CSUS.  On the basis of his performance within this continuous educational foundation, he has been twice appointed to a position of Dean, lately for the campus of Sacramento City College in West Sacramento.

By contrast, Tafoya’s professional experience in local “schools and classrooms” ended in 2007, when she accepted a position in human resources and eventually as a certified training specialist for Cache Creek Casino.  Her ballot designation describes Tafoya as an “educator / training specialist,” based on her current occupation in the gaming industry, because she teaches what she refers to as “Hotel English” to employees of the Casino.

Tafoya has earned a B. S. in Speech Pathology and Audiology, as well as being a certified trainer in what she describes as “Emotional Intelligence, Hotel English and Franklin Covey courses.”  The Daily Democrat has wrongly reported that she has a M. S. degree in Speech Pathology.

Tafoya intends to portray herself as an “educator,” while portraying Pimentel as a perhaps insincere “career politician,” not “one of us,” seemingly attempting to deny him the (decade-long) credibility he surely deserves as an educator.

“Career politician” is an easy accusation to recklessly fling, in an attempt to entice knee-jerk voter reactions; but factually, no local-level politician could ever base a career on such prospects.  Woodland City Council membership pays only $250/mo. and county supervisors most usually have a career separate from their elected office.

Added Aspects Of Interest

Another strange aspect of this contest is the local, political currency of the name:  Tafoya.  Tafoya’s Market (once near East and Main Streets) was for generations a local Latino landmark and Xavier Tafoya was the first Latino elected to serve on Woodland City Council, during the mid-1980s, when few folk thought such political success was possible.

The Tafoya name evokes a long heritage in Woodland, clearly one of political value.  Xavier is presently the most senior trustee at Yuba / Woodland Community College.  Many persons may have an impression that Tania is perhaps Xavier’s niece, etc.; however, despite her carrying the Tafoya name by recent marriage, Xavier is strongly supporting, walking precincts for, and endorsing Pimentel.

“Art has demonstrated his commitment to our diverse community,” announces Xavier Tafoya, “He deserves to continue to represent our children, parents, and community on the school board.”

Tafoya (Tania) also has very deep community relations, a daughter of teachers / educators, for instance, Evelia Genera, her mother, recently retired as principal of Woodland High School and heavily involved in Tafoya’s campaign, which is headquartered at Genera’s home.  Genera’s name appears regularly within Tafoya’s campaign filings and anecdotal information describes her as vigorously active in this campaign.

Genera has been, though, conspicuously unable to persuade very many of her friends and associates within local educational / political circles, to back / endorse Tafoya.

Even Genera’s neighbor, Carol Souza-Cole, Yolo County Office of Education, Trustee-Elect, is supporting and endorsing Pimentel:  “Art’s leadership and experience on the City Council along with his demonstrated skill in finding effective solutions to community issues will be a benefit for the students, parents, teachers and staff of the Woodland Joint Unified School District.”

By contrast, Pimentel wields endorsements from a very long series of elected / appointed officials, retired educators and both current and former WJUSD trustees.

Apparently, county supervisor Duane Chamberlain is the only elected official to endorse Tafoya, as well as donating to her campaign.

Yet another novelty of Tafoya’s campaign is that her lawn-signs are showing up a lot outside of the district, especially in southern Woodland.

Stark Difference In Anonymous Campaign Contributions

Quite interestingly, Tafoya reports receiving more than 72% of contributions ($4305 of $5955) as being anonymous and under $100 (the contribution amount at which public disclosure is legally required).

No other campaign on the relevant ballot has anywhere near this sky-high proportion of low-level, anonymous donation.  Pimentel reports $1183 of $9508 being in this contribution category; while Yes on S&T, which has raised more than $50,000, shows only $372 in this category, and No on S&T lists only $1075 of about $20,000 raised from such sources.

Tafoya has sparked a truly remarkable and unprecedented outpouring of small donations, or else her campaign contribution filing is fraudulent.

Queried about this rather odd circumstance and asked for some estimate of the number of small donations that amounted to $4305, more than 72% of her campaign contributions, Tafoya responded:  “As this is my first campaign all I can say is that I reached out to my community and they contributed what they were able.  I am very grateful and I continue to be humbled by the level of support I have received from throughout our community, city and rural.”

YOLO SUN NEWS REPORT :

The development agreement between City of Woodland and Paul Petrovich, related to Gateway Center (~sixty-acre commercial project at City’s eastern edge), may soon be amended by the City Council to extend its deadline for his construction of $3 million of assessed property value within the City’s downtown area — or else pay the City a penalty of slightly more than $1 million.

The relevant provision of Gateway Center’s development agreement is intended to help mitigate this peripheral project’s adverse impacts upon the downtown area; the downtown is prioritized by basic municipal policy to remain the city’s “central business district.”

The city council originally gave Petrovich quite a long time, eight and a half years from the opening date of Gateway Center, to accomplish something toward such civic balance.  That ample amount of time runs out at the end of 2016.

On July 18, 2014, Petrovich renewed his prior (2006-08) goal of building a suburban-style, single-story (fake two-story) structure at the northwest corner of East and Main Streets.  His new planning application (obviously intending to satisfy his obligation under the development agreement) proposes stationing a gussied-up back-end of a suburban strip-mall, absent pedestrian entryways, along uniquely crucial Main Street frontage.

Entrances to commercial space of this project would be only through its parking lot, located between Main and Court Streets.

As well, Petrovich’s (initial) planning application ignored long-standing commitments of any such project, under the California Environmental Quality Act, to restore the Keehn House, an historic Victorian dwelling previously moved to East and Court Streets, making possible a development project at this location.

Petrovich’s Application Conflicts With Downtown Specific Plan

The City’s Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) plainly states its basic “vision” for the key element of a: “Primary gateway” at East and Main Streets.  Downtown Woodland is the urban heart of Yolo County and its “Primary gateway” should capably display such identity, evoking urban, not suburban, heritage, contemplates the DSP.

The DSP’s vision is of: “[C]ontinuation of the old Rice Mill design, carrying the agricultural heritage reflected in this design directly onto Main Street.”

The DSP’s clear policy is that: “The City shall continue to support mixed-use developments” on this specific location, “with a similar style and scale of the historic rice mill building.”

The three-story Rice Mill building extends between North and Court Streets along East Street. It was renovated in the early 1990s as mixed-use and was recently purchased and modernized by local developer Jeff Morgan.

Oddly, several city council members have recently expressed their unawareness of these key provisions of the DSP, combined (of course) with their willingness to review this fundamental policy document.

Petrovich Agrees To Consider Withdrawing Application

Reliable sources indicate that Petrovich was approached by city staff, several weeks ago, in an attempt to discover if he would be open to withdrawing his current application in return for an extension of the present development-agreement deadline, which was apparently motivating his determination to  move forward this application.

Petrovich responded in the affirmative, according to these sources, stating that he would consider accepting suitable language for amending the development agreement, which would then be adopted by the city council.

These sources described Petrovich as being somewhat surprised at such cooperation by the city.

Such amendment language is apparently now being prepared by the city attorney, with Petrovich soon to receive it.  Speculation exists that Petrovich will be given an extra two years (until late 2018) to satisfy this obligation under the Gateway Center development agreement.

City staff has been requested by Yolo Sun to provide a statement regarding this situation and related reasoning / predication.

Expectations are that the city council will have this item on its agenda before the end of 2014.

 

 

YOLO SUN OPINION :

What does it mean when Woodland City Council is in utter denial about the community planning disaster of its Gateway 2 project?  It means that the City is so politically weak and civically disoriented that really — anything still goes — in terms of future failures of project management and resulting legal predicaments.

Woodland Mayor Tom Stallard has often been heard to exclaim that he doesn’t like to make excuses.

As the City Council rescinded its approval of Paul Petrovich’s Gateway 2 project, however, Stallard’s comments launched into a bizarre legend of lame excuses for this project’s judicial annulment: Maligning the Third District Court of Appeal, Denying that the City was blameworthy for this community planning fiasco, Ignoring more than five years of staff time and resources meaningfully diverted to it (even if Petrovich was billed for related City expenses, City staff time and resources were expansively used for this very badly managed project, thus unavailable for well managed projects).

Petrovich submitted an obtusely crafted letter to the city council on the occasion of this project annulment, indicating that he has lost about eight years of effort and $2 million over this failed deal, while Stallard expressed his “personal regret at the [  ] unfortunate waste of such a significant amount of money [which] produced a lot of frustration.”

Gateway 2 Anew?

Commiserating with councilmember Sean Denny over Petrovich and the city suffering such a sound defeat and Denny’s view that the city should again “get the ball rolling” for another Gateway 2 project, Stallard responded that  he shares Denny’s view and that:  “We’d like to get it right next time.  But, that isn’t to say that I’m blaming the city for this; it’s just one of those unfortunate things.”

Stallard went on to relate that: “Courts can do what courts will do. litigants are free to bring lawsuits and they do.”

“It’s very hard to predict the outcome of environmental lawsuits; it’s very difficult, and sometimes it’s a matter of which judges you get assigned,” opined Stallard, implying that some other distinguished and unanimous three-judge panel of the appeal court may have somehow vindicated the city in this case.

“[It’s a] matter of which judges you get assigned[;] I’m not blaming the city for this; it’s just one of those unfortunate things[;]” all together, starkly display a municipal attitude of blunt denial by the mayor, about the circumstances and consequences of this community planning calamity.

One may suppose that catering to local chamber-of-commerce atmosphere is one crass predication for Stallard’s inability to express any form or manner of municipal responsibility for the city’s variously unlawful actions related to the Gateway 2 project.

How is our community character exhibited by the city council’s flat refusal to publicly recognize its prior (judicially affirmed) relinquishment of civic interests and values by using a series of unlawful environmental processes?  It rescinded this project amidst a dense cloud of denial, hiding its guilty head in the sand, while flinging frivolous objections and politically self-serving distortions in an effort to deflect its lonesome blame.

Petrovich’s Letter To City Council, Cozy Council Response

Petrovich’s letter to the city council is an undaunted, vitriolic rant against the legal process, made by a person clearly familiar with only what they want to know, spewing an enormous fountain of legal gibberish and preposterous distortions of this situation.  He complains about the prevailing counsel (for California Clean Energy Committee) being on “a crusade under a misrepresentation of environmental correctness[;] he saw an activist judge at the Appellate Court level as an opportunity to impose his will on the project and the City through a misuse of the CEQA process.”

Petrovich also mounts a spectacular attack against one of the justices (Hogue) on the appeal court panel in this case, claiming raw nepotism surrounding their seat on the court.

Petrovich indicates that:  “Looking forward, the one major point I want to make is the three issues the court ruled on are easily addressed in the General Plan update . . .”  Judging from the reception by the city council of his relevant letter, a new Gateway 2 project is soon to be undertaken.

City officials are in such a condition of denial, seemingly no one is able to rebut this letter’s vast mountain of drivel.  Combined with an intention to renew Gateway 2, there exists a profound potential for further developmental shenanigans to ensue.

Petrovich’s letter, his bombastic effort to deny his own and the city’s blame for the debacle of Gateway 2, while advancing his intention to proceed amidst the city council’s plainly favorable response, adds up to trouble, but more trouble than Petrovich or the city expect.  His letter vividly demonstrates the need for continued judicial monitoring regarding compliance with CEQA and the opinion of the appeal court in this matter.  Reliable sources suggest that this is precisely what should now occur, any future development projects resembling Gateway 2 must proceed only under court supervision.

YOLO SUN OPINION :

Woodland City Council on September 16 is expected to formally annul its various approvals of the Gateway 2 project, facing a judicial writ of mandate after being soundly thrashed by a precedential, published opinion of the Third District Appellate Court.

Gateway 2’s environmental processes were comprehensively rigged for Paul Petrovich’s benefit, using a half-dozen serious violations of law.  Inadequate, unreliable and improper mitigation for Gateway 2’s impacts upon Downtown Woodland was a prominent violation.  Only decisive intervention by California Clean Energy Committee as a plaintiff repelled this compound assault upon state and local environmental protections.

Clearly, Woodland City Council was simply hoping that no lawsuit would challenge such subversion, a monstrous and perpetual sell-out of this community’s interest, heritage and values.

Despite councilmembers Marble and Stallard voting against Gateway 2, neither of them stated any form of legal concern or relevant and sound basis for their votes.  Marble was incensed that Petrovich had welched on his promise to build a downtown movie house, while Stallard complained that it was just “too much too soon.”

No city councilmember properly analyzed and understood this development plan, identifying its obvious and severe flaws. Collegiality, it seems, in this fashion got in the way of our civic interest.  Since there was a council majority in favor of a detrimental, injurious Gateway 2, why become incisive or robust in its criticism?

That’s the pandering, political shadow-play which unfolded for this key matter, risking huge and permanent impacts on this community, only avoided through timely and meritorious litigation.

The appellate court’s opinion continuously upbraided the city and its attorney, Whitman Manley, for a “troubling” presentation of the administrative record in this case, revealing the city’s desperate need and desire to obstruct its prosecution.

Councilmember Hilliard was heard to remark about Gateway 2, prior to the appellate court’s opinion, that the city would “get’er done.”  Well, the city got done, alright.

What future contexts of such pandering to Petrovich are now lurking within the City’s planning processes?  For one matter, there is his recent application for development of the key site which is the northern leg of Downtown Woodland’s Primary Gateway, at East and Main Streets.

YOLO SUN NEWS REPORT :

During the August edition of the regular, city-county (2+2) meeting, Yolo County Supervisors Matt Rexroad and Duane Chamberlain, plus Woodland Mayor Tom Stallard, began engaging extraordinary (and, as it turns out, fiscally compelling) new policy of the federal government about homelessness issues, referred to as: “Housing First.”

The most recent (January, 2013), reliable estimate of the number of homeless persons in Yolo County is: 474.

Housing First is concisely described as: “[A]n approach that emphasizes stable, permanent housing as a primary strategy for ending homelessness,” at a related website,  http://endhomelessness.org, which further articulates these matters in detail :

“Housing First is an approach to ending homelessness that centers on providing people experiencing homelessness with housing as quickly as possible – and then providing services as needed. This approach has the benefit of being consistent with what most people experiencing homelessness want and seek help to achieve.

“Housing First programs share critical elements:

  • A focus on helping individuals and families access and sustain permanent rental housing as quickly as possible without time limits;
  • A variety of services delivered to promote housing stability and individual well-being on an as-needed basis; and
  • A standard lease agreement to housing – as opposed to mandated therapy or services compliance.

“While all Housing First programs share these critical elements, program models vary significantly depending upon the population served. For people who have experienced chronic homelessness, there is an expectation that intensive (and often specialized) services will be needed indefinitely.

“For most people experiencing homelessness, however, such intensive services are not necessary. The vast majority of homeless individuals and families fall into homelessness after a housing or personal crisis that led them to seek help from the homeless assistance system. For these families and individuals, the Housing First approach is ideal, as it provides them with assistance to find permanent housing quickly and without conditions. In turn, such clients of the homeless assistance networks need surprisingly little support or assistance to achieve independence, saving the system considerable costs.”

Yolo County Supervisors will begin to consider this new federal (Housing First) policy during their October 7 meeting.

___ A “Sea Change” In Yolo County Policy ___

Supervisor Rexroad expresses that: “The county is [now] figuring out how to implement the Housing First programs.  It is a sea change in many ways for the way we do business and the way our non-profits operate.”

Rexroad continues: “Right now, all we have is a general agreement that this is the way we want to go from Oscar [Villegas, supervisor from W. Sac.] and me.  We have not really discussed it with the full board.  This is still in flux right now.

“I can tell you that it was made very clear to me that the federal government is going down this road… and if locals are not on board, then funding is not available.  They seem absolutely convinced it works.   I am working to understand this but probably agree with their conclusion.”

Rexroad explains, when asked, “How much federal funding is (generally, in future) involved with these matters?” :

“Could be quite a bit.  Don’t know exact numbers but I can tell you that if we don’t go that route… our number will be zero.”

Asked about timing of such policy implementation, Rexroad adds that: “We will get some board guidance this year.  I don’t know if we will have any units in place this year.  We have to change the way we think about this issue.”

___ National Alliance To End Homelessness ___

The National Alliance to End Homelessness, a non-profit organization representing this new federal policy, conveys that:

“The Alliance has devised best practices for approaching homelessness for families, veterans, and youth, as well as for those experiencing chronic homelessness[,]” and that, “[t]he Alliance works toward ending homelessness by improving homelessness policy, building on-the-ground capacity, and educating opinion leaders.”

Villegas, Rexroad and five relevant county staff members attended the predicative, Washington, D.C., symposium for this remarkable new federal plan, The National Conference On Ending Homelessness, held on July 29 – 31.

Rexroad indicates that: “The group us that went to DC met a couple of weeks ago to outline the presentation to the board[,]” that will occur on October 7.

Yolo County recently (June, 2014) released the report, “Homelessness in Yolo County, Strengthening the Community-Wide Homeless System (please see:   http://www.yolocounty.org/home/showdocument?id=26136 ), which relates :

“In Yolo County, many jurisdictions, organizations, and residents are showing a renewed interest in addressing issue of homelessness. In response to this interest, this report identifies best practices in the homeless field, discusses the prevalence of homelessness in Yolo County, describes the community’s existing system of care, and makes recommendations for strengthening the system of care for the homeless in Yolo County at both the County and community-wide levels.

“National homeless organizations have recently begun advocating for a new approach to addressing homelessness, which couples strategic and efficient local response with use of the Housing First model. This approach was developed using a growing pool of national data on the issue, which indicates that it reduces the prevalence of homelessness, improves quality of lives and communities, and results in net savings for service providers and jurisdictions.

“Nationwide best practices suggest that the communities most successful at significantly reducing the number of people experiencing homelessness engage in several essential steps or behaviors as a part of the new approach.”

Such “essential steps” will apparently soon be the subject of key implementation decisions by the Yolo County Board of Supervisors.

YOLO SUN NEWS REPORT :

At its meeting on August 20, the Board of Trustees for Woodland Public Library and Library Services Director, Greta Galindo, discussed plans for using funds from Measure J, a quarter-cent sales tax adopted in the June election.

Measure J is expected to annually raise about $2 million, 20% of which (~$400,000) is anticipated to be allocated to the library.

Library service priorities for Measure J money are determined to be access hours, alongside programming and collections for children and teenagers.  The library is currently open 44 hours weekly, closed on Fridays and Sundays, with a half day on Saturdays.

On January 1, 2015, the library will begin opening 51 hours weekly: Monday – Thursday, 9 am to 7 pm; Friday, 12 pm to 4 pm; Saturday, 9 am to 4 pm.

Mondays and Saturdays are usually the busiest days for the library, indicates Galindo.

Children’s programming will: increase weekly storytime offerings; add a baby / early literacy storytime; engage parents through early literacy education; book clubs, lego clubs and special events; literacy based activity play groups for babies and toddlers school-age reading programs and outreach for every second-grader to have a library card.

Teenagers’ programming will present events and opportunities to engage the library and community, through: book clubs, a Teen Library Council, volunteering, SAT and ACT preparatory workshops, the Summer Reading Program, and outreach efforts with schools and parents to educate about library resources.

Collection materials and books focusing on both of these demographic groups will significantly increase, according to Galindo.

Homework and research help, as well as writing assistance and test-related preparation, will be other focuses of the library’s enhanced programming.

Added staffing to support increased library open-hours and enhanced programming will include: a Teen Services Librarian, two Library Technical Assistants, a Literacy Coordinator and expanded temporary and seasonal staff, annually accounting for about $300,000 in personnel expenses.  Budgeting for an estimated $420,000 in Measure J funds, Galindo and the trustees will also allocate $50,000 each for databases and books, with $10,000 for programming support and the same amount for operational and maintenance expenses.

For contrast with the present situation, the recent fiscal year (2013-14) had Young Adult Collection spending at only about $7,000, while Children’s Collection spending was more than $37,000 and Adult Collection spending was almost $56,000.  Teenager demographic needs have for many years been the weakest portion of library services.  Measure J, now in place for eight  years, should create an enormous growth and upgrade of such services.

Various furniture, several computers in the Children’s Area and updated circulation desks will be one-time expenses related to library improvements.

Galindo expresses that she is investigating possibilities for replacing the library’s well aged carpet, but isn’t yet able to discover funding for this purpose.

Recent quarterly statistics for the library reveal that being closed two weeks last August for re-painting and having its elevator disabled for four and a half months (August – December) had an impact, with library visitors diminishing by 13%.  However, materials circulation showed only a 1% decline, indicating an increased usage rate for library resources.  There are now nearly 28,600 library card holders, of which about 8,300 are juveniles.

Already, the library has demonstrated important attention to these two (juvenile) demographic groups.  Annual increases in school-age, family programs are 311% for events being held and 66% for attendance (~4000, up from ~2400); while, programs for teenagers increased 80%, with attendance up 121%.

Measure J money should provide key support for further improvements in library services, building upon these recent advances, believes Galindo and library trustees.

YOLO SUN OPINION :

It’s time for Woodland City Council to begin grappling with issues related to the City’s Downtown Specific Plan (DSP); for example, upholding the DSP’s basic “vision” for its key element of a: “Primary gateway.”  Downtown Woodland is the urban heart of Yolo County and its “Primary gateway” must capably display such identity, evoking urban, not suburban, heritage.

Yet, in 2007 the City approved a project recklessly disregarding this key DSP vision: Paul Petrovich’s Rite Aid proposal to install a one-story, suburban strip-mall type of building as one leg of our Downtown ‘Primary gateway” (northwest corner of East and Main Streets). The economy went wrong side up, though, and Rite Aid cancelled the project.

City council members incorrectly argued that there was “nothing we could do,” because of their impression of an unusual loophole in the DSP, through which Petrovich could slyly drive this adverse, cookie-cutter building, replacing the DSP’s vision of: “[C]ontinuation of the old Rice Mill design, carrying the agricultural heritage reflected in this design directly onto Main Street.,” despite the DSP’s clear policy that: “The City shall continue to support mixed-use developments” on this specific location, “with a similar style and scale of the historic rice mill building.”

The three-story Rice Mill building extends between North and Court Streets along East Street.  It was renovated in the early 1990s as mixed-use and was recently purchased and modernized by local developer Jeff Morgan, owner of Maria’s Cantina and the nearby vacant lot on Sixth Street, as well as the Meier building (former auto dealership) at Bush and College Streets, the former bank building on the corner of College and Main Streets and the Barth building near Bush on First Street.

On July 18, 2014, Petrovich renewed his goal of staging a similar, suburban-style, single-story structure at this fundamentally important location.  This new planning application proposes stationing a gussied-up back-end of a suburban strip-mall, absent pedestrian entryways, along uniquely crucial Main Street frontage.

As well, Petrovich’s new planning application ignores long-standing commitments of any such project, under the California Environmental Quality Act, to restore the Keehn House, an historic Victorian dwelling previously moved to East and Court Streets, making possible a development project at this location.

Woodland City Council has authority to interpret the DSP in defense of its key “vision,” by requiring a conditional-use-permit (CUP) based planning process for development proposals at this site.  The question is, will it exercise this authority?

Yolo Sun strongly believes that Woodland City Council must insist upon a CUP-based planning process regarding Petrovich’s renewed development proposal at East and Main Streets, in order to realize basic purposes of the City’s DSP.

The Wiseman building serves as one leg of Downtown Woodland’s “Primary gateway;” let’s not have a stupid-man building as the other leg.

YOLO SUN NEWS REPORT :

In early 2013, Paul Petrovich decided to try to shoehorn the Starbucks now located at Raley’s into his small lot between Rite Aid and Burger King near Ashley and Main Streets.  His plan would have worked (and according to Petrovich this move was urgent on the risk of losing this western location of Starbucks), except Petrovich was determined to add to this deal an additional, adjacent retail space of about 1100 square feet.

Reliable sources indicated that, although several Starbucks drive-thru locations dominate this coffee-to-go market in eastern Woodland, Dutch Bros.’ several mid-town locations were eating Starbucks’ lunch within the rest of the City.  Starbucks wanted to expand its market share by opening a new location on Petrovich’s Ashley & Main parcel, abandoning its Raley’s relationship. Petrovich argued that its lease was up and there was urgency to have this project swiftly expedited by the City.

Already, though, squeezing a 1700 square foot, 36 seat Starbucks into this small lot, creating three (3) drive-thru businesses on only about an acre (quite a planning novelty, according to file records) was going to be pretty tough, especially since Petrovich had promised not to construct a second fast-food restaurant upon this site (he claims that Starbucks is not really a restaurant, despite seating 36 persons).

Insistence On Added Retail Space Was Problem

Petrovich’s determination to include a second retail space, however, made the resulting, overall site plan unacceptable to Burger King, which argued that motor-vehicle parking and movement were unreasonably impeded.

On April 25 of 2013, Woodland Planning Commission rubber-stamped approval of Petrovich’s Starbucks plan, in violation of state environmental law regarding use of mitigation measures in cases of claimed categorical exemption from such jurisdiction and over numerous objections from Burger King.

Incredibly, the city at one point even paid $5000 for a traffic study regarding Petrovich’s plan, because he complained that the cost would “kill” it. On the very day that the planning commission met to consider his project, however, Petrovich paid back this money.

Ostensibly, the reason for initial city payment of the cost of Petrovich’s traffic study, was to make him friendlier regarding his various other projects in town.

At this April 25 planning commission hearing, Petrovich claimed he is prepared to — “pay $100,000” — to defend his project in court, but until then had adamantly refused to pay even the minor cost of his required traffic study.

Appeal of this planning commission decision by Burger King, to Woodland City Council, was promptly denied, with the Mayor (Skip Davies) oddly saying that the parties should work this out among themselves.

Lawsuit Resulted

In July of 2013, Burger King filed a lawsuit against Petrovich and obtained a restraining order from Judge Daniel Maguire against project construction pending litigation

Petrovich has recently received what he was preparing for: He has now paid about $100,000 in legal fees to Burger King to defend his initial project, and also been forced to modify his project to eliminate the 1100 square foot retail space he had insisted upon.

Reliable sources indicate that Burger King is settling its lawsuit against City of Woodland and Petrovich on this basis: Removal of this 1100 square foot retail space, providing an acceptable site plan, plus their cost of the needed lawsuit.

[Editor’s note: Please see the following Yolo Sun articles, for a detailed description of this matter (just copy and paste into Google)] :

(a)   Fast-Food Feud Erupts On Woodland Main Street; City Minimizes, Funds Project Analysis – Part One

(b)   Fast-Food Feud Erupts On Woodland Main St.; City Of Woodland Accused Of Unlawful Conduct By Giving Public Funds For Petrovich Project – Part Two

(c)   Fast-Food Feud Erupts On Woodland Main St.; Planning Commission Fails To Grapple With Environmental, Political Issues, Rubberstamps Staff Report, As Petrovich Pays Back City Gift – Part Three

(d)   Fast-Food Feud Erupts On Woodland Main St.; Yolo Superior Court Issues Temporary Restraining Order Against Petrovich’s Starbucks Project – Part Four

(e)   Fast-Food Feud Erupts On Woodland Main St,; Distorted City Planning Displayed By Petrovich’s Starbucks Project, City Manager Spills Beans — Part Five

 

 

YOLO SUN OPINION :

Sponsorship has recently been achieved for a municipal ballot initiative to require Woodland City Council elections be conducted at general elections in November of even-numbered years, beginning in 2016.  Reasoning for such a shift is based on democratic principles of maximizing voter participation.

Turnout in city council elections held at primary elections is less than half of voter turnout at general elections.  There is no legal or practical reason for using primary elections as venue for city council elections; the reason for doing so is purely political, to advantage conservatives on the basis of clear historical imperative: most voters prefer to vote in general elections and conservatives would rather avoid their participation.

This perverse political dynamic is on stark display within the recent primary election, where voter participation was sharply slanted toward the southwestern (wealthier, increasingly more conservative) portion of Woodland.

Of course, city council composition reflects this primary-election slant and will do so even more once municipal district-based elections are conducted in 2016.

Woodland must shift its municipal elections to general elections in November.  Democratic values insist upon it; only tired conservative rhetoric resists it.

This ballot initiative should be filed with the city during June, with circulation from July to January (six months from date of city issuance of ballot title and summary, which is no more than 15 days from filing date).

[Editor’s note:  These two ballot initiatives (see second just below) are now being delayed until September, since they are intended to concurrently proceed, and the second ballot initiative is still in a process of final refinement.]

Persons wanting to help with this effort should email:  yolosun@gmail.com

Circulation (jointly) of a second ballot initative is also being planned, with sponsorship remaining to be achieved for reason of its nature, based on a ballot initiative filed with the city in February, 2012.  Circulation of this ballot initiative was subverted by the city refusing to issue a proper (lawful) title and summary.  The city demanded that it be titled a downtown traffic “prohibition” ordinance and refused to include the initiative’s purposes in its summary.

Informal appeal to city council members for a just correction of these problems was to no avail.  Seemingly, obstructing circulation of this initiative was the intent behind such an absence of city cooperation.  Court action would have been needed to correct this unjust obstruction.

Comments are now being solicited regarding this second ballot initiative (below), in order that some form of basic consensus be attempted related to its details (whether to include mid-block crosswalks, how soon this proposed transition should occur, etc.), prior to achieving sponsorship.

Comments will be received at:  yolosun@gmail.com  or by posting a regular comment on this blog.

 

NOTICE OF INTENTION TO CIRCULATE INITIATIVE PETITION

(Pursuant to California Elections Code, Section 9200, et seq.)

Notice is hereby given by the person whose name appears hereon of their intention to circulate this petition within the City of Woodland for the purpose of enacting amendment of Chapter 14 (Motor Vehicles and Traffic) of the City of Woodland Municipal Code and amendment of the Woodland Downtown Specific Plan, Chapter 8.2, Specific Plan Policies — Circulation.

A statement of the reasons of the proposed action as contemplated in this petition is as follows:

Woodlanders:  Our Downtown Specific Plan should be amended to help evolve community efforts for downtown revitalization.

With all its historic attributes, Woodland lacks an absolutely essential element of a successfully functioning small town: a city square.

Envision Woodland’s future with a multi-block long city square:  Historic Main Street — where pedestrian values are elevated and motor-vehicles subordinated, creating an atmosphere and gravity of public attraction. Several times during most months, various portions of Main Street are occupied only by pedestrians involved with civic / cultural events.

Music and entertainment regularly stretch-out into common space of closed portions of Main Street, merchants’ doors are usually open; sidewalk dining is thriving; human conversations have equity with subdued motor-vehicle noise and pace; a festive atmosphere prevails; pedestrians have priority.

People confidently step into the street at intersections and crosswalks without awaiting permission from automated contraptions. Pedestrians possess priority, using it to inhabit downtown, its closest neighborhoods (in old town, at walking distance), Gibson Road to Kentucky Avenue, becoming the vanguard of a vigorous revitalization of our urban core, reclaiming municipal space as cultural conduit, as imperative, vibrant venue, our versatile and celebrated civic square.

Woodland’s (2009) Street Master Plan indicates viable options exist for re-routing motor-vehicle traffic, so that downtown Main Street might become transformed into an authentically pedestrian-friendly zone, with: 4-way stop signs, mid-block crosswalks, diagonal parking.

Downtown Woodland, with its historical proximity to residential land-uses and former state-highway route, became concentrated primarily along Main Street, less traveled Court and Lincoln Streets aside it.

Woodland’s Downtown Specific Plan — five years out of date — contains conflicting goals of enhancing pedestrian values and efficiently moving as much traffic as possible up and down Main Street, recently measured at 1370 daily trips, while Court Street carries only about 1000, both Streets being projected for declining usage.

Traffic on Gibson, Kentucky and East Main Street’s freeway interchanges will dwarf that on Main Street, now designated: “minor arterial” roadway.

Downtown is the only platform through which to achieve this essential identity of small town culture: a functional city square.

Traffic conditions on downtown Main Street, however, are incompatible with true pedestrian values, essential for our downtown to become a general public destination point, where people feel a natural gravity, key attractions, customary, commonly prevailing and comfortable access. Pedestrians then rule, with genuine downtown Renaissance as result.

For municipal policy, this challenge means:  How is dynamic synergy between people, private commerce and public space to be optimized?  The most powerful tool available for policy-making is design and use of our public space, Main Street, through establishment of downtown streetscape that also capably functions as our city square.

Downtown revitalization moves on its feet. Since pedestrian values and interests don’t yet flourish, neither does Woodland’s historic downtown, for decades in a chronic condition of blight. Atrophy of Woodland’s once proud downtown pedestrian scene clearly has occurred, fashioned by a modern history of unmitigated retail sprawl. Evolution of Woodland’s downtown is necessary for fulfillment of community values and destiny.

I hereby request the City of Woodland to prepare and issue a ballot title and summary for this proposed initiative measure.

Woodland Citizens’ Initiative Measure Text:

This citizens’ initiative measure is submitted to the people of the City of Woodland in accordance with the California Elections Code.

This citizens’ initiative measure adds an ordinance article to Chapter 14 (Vehicles and Traffic) of the City of Woodland Municipal Code and adds amendments to the Downtown Specific Plan of the City of Woodland.

SECTION 1.  Article 16 is added to Chapter 14 (Motor Vehicles and Traffic) of the City of Woodland Municipal Code to read:

Article 16.  Section 14 – 16 – 1(a) This citizens’ initiative ordinance shall be known and may be cited as the Woodland Downtown Traffic Circulation Ordinance (WDTCO).

(b)(1) The people of the City of Woodland hereby find and declare the purposes of WDTCO as being to:

(A) Evolve community efforts of downtown revitalization by optimizing dynamic synergy between people, private commerce and public space;

(B) Restore community engagement with the downtown area, reversing atrophy of its once proud pedestrian scene, adversely fashioned by a modern history of community development of unmitigated retail sprawl;

(C) Provide this community with an essential element of small-town culture and identity: a versatile and capably functioning city square;

(D) Elevate pedestrian values within this community’s downtown area, optimizing design and use of public space for downtown revitalization;

(E) Create enhanced community venues and proper access for civic and cultural events within the downtown area, to establish and promote it as a community and regional destination point.

(b)(2) Within 30 days of the date that WDTCO is legally effective, the City of Woodland shall initiate a comprehensive study to determine optimum means and methods of successful WDTCO implementation. This study shall be completed and its final report adopted by Woodland City Council within 120 days of the date of legally effective adoption of WDTCO.

(b)(3) The study and report completed and adopted under section (b)(2) shall be the basis of an implementation program of the City to ensure the performance and effectiveness of all amendment by WDTCO of the Downtown Specific Plan of the City of Woodland. Woodland City Council shall annually review and, if needed, revise this program, consistent with WDTCO, to ensure full and continued effectiveness of such amendment of the Downtown Specific Plan and the WDTCO implementation program.

(b)(4) The study and report completed and adopted under section (b)(2) and annual reviews by Woodland City Council pursuant to section (b)(3) shall establish and maintain within the WDTCO implementation program an effective plan to optimize permit-applicant accessibility and practical efficiency for temporary road closures consistent with amendment (CIR-2.5) by WDTCO of the Downtown Specific Plan of City of Woodland.

(b)(5) The study and report completed and adopted under section (b)(2) and annual reviews by Woodland City Council pursuant to section (b)(3) shall establish and maintain within the WDTCO implementation program an effective plan to optimize means and methods for instituting viable options of voluntary diversion of motor-vehicle traffic from downtown Main Street consistent with amendment (CIR-1.6) by WDTCO of the Downtown Specific Plan of the City of Woodland.

(b)(6) City of Woodland shall remove all traffic control systems existing prior to the date WDTCO is legally effective from all downtown intersections identified within CIR-1.5 of the Downtown Specific Plan of the City of Woodland as amended by WDTCO.

(b)(7) City of Woodland shall by relevant evaluations and actions reuse, recycle or dispose of all traffic control systems, existing prior to the date WDTCO is legally effective, from all downtown intersections identified within CIR-1.5 of the Downtown Specific Plan of the City of Woodland as amended by WDTCO, as directed by section (b)(6) to be removed from Main Street intersections identified within CIR-1.5 of the Downtown Specific Plan of the City of Woodland as amended by WDTCO.

(b)(8) City of Woodland shall remove all street paint and associated roadway detailing material, existing upon Main Street prior to the date WDTCO is legally effective, except pedestrian crosswalk paint consistent with amendment by WDTCO of the Downtown Specific Plan of the City of Woodland, from Main Street between and including its intersections with Fourth and Cleveland Streets and from downtown intersections identified within CIR-1.5 of the Downtown Specific Plan as amended by WDTCO.

(b)(9) City of Woodland shall install all stop signs, street paint and associated roadway detailing material consistent with amendment by WDTCO of the Downtown Specific Plan of the City of Woodland.

(b)(10) Woodland City Council shall prioritize and expend all needed General Fund resources within the Roads category of the Rehabilitation, Renovation and Improvements components of the City funding allocation schedule for (sales tax, ballot) Measure E and Measure B of 2006, for use within the processes of WDTCO implementation, including all municipal processes needed for amendment by WDTCO of the Downtown Specific Plan of the City of Woodland and the WDTCO implementation program.

(c) On the date one year after the date WDTCO becomes legally effective, all physical modifications, implementation program activities and municipal actions required either directly or indirectly by sections (b)(2) through (b)(10) having been fully accomplished by the City of Woodland, Chapter 8.2, Specific Plan Policies, of the Downtown Specific Plan of the City of Woodland is hereby amended to add:

CIR-1.5   Traffic Control

Four-way stop signs shall exist as exclusive traffic control system at Main Street intersections with: Fourth Street, Third Street, Second Street, First Street, College Street, Elm Street, Walnut Street and Cleveland Street.

CIR-1.6   Traffic Diversion

Means and methods, as well as informational programs, shall be used by the City to provide viable options and opportunities for voluntary diversion of motor-vehicle traffic from downtown Main Street.

CIR-2.5   Temporary Roadway Closures

The City shall establish and maintain an effective plan to perform temporary closures, based upon: fair, timely, economical process of permit application and consideration, of all and portions of downtown Main Street.

CIR-3.5   Traffic Lanes

Main Street between Fourth and Cleveland Streets shall contain one traffic lane in each direction and shall not contain a center, left-turn lane.

CIR-4.5   Mid-Block Crosswalks

Mid-block crosswalks, equivalently distanced from Street intersections, shall exist upon Main Street within each block between Fourth and Cleveland Streets.

CIR-7.5   Diagonal Parking Pattern

Diagonal parking (at 45 degrees) shall exist as exclusive motor-vehicle parking pattern upon Main Street between Fourth and Cleveland Streets.

SECTION 2. If any provision of this measure or application thereof to any person or circumstances is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of this measure that can be given effect without the invalid provisions or applications, and to this end the provisions of this measure are severable.

 

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