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Cerritos City Council Meeting Minutes

MINUTES OF A REGULAR MEETING OF THE
CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF CERRITOS
HELD OCTOBER 23, 2008

CALL TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Cerritos City Hall, 18125 Bloomfield Avenue, Cerritos, California.

INVOCATION

Reverend Dr. Brian Suk-Boo Lee with the Artesia-Cerritos United Methodist Church offered the invocation.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

Girl Scout, Daisies, Brownies and Junior Troop 767 led the assembly in the salute to the flag.

ROLL CALL

The following Members of the City Council were in attendance:

Councilman Joseph Cho, Ph.D.
Councilwoman Laura Lee
Mayor Pro Tem Bruce W. Barrows
Mayor Jim Edwards

MOTION:  It was noted that Councilwoman Chen's mother was hospitalized and Mayor Pro Tem Barrows moved to excuse the absence of Councilwoman Chen.  The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Lee and carried.

PUBLIC COMMENTS AND SUGGESTIONS

Ram Kakkar, Cerritos resident, commented on his hearing impairment, asserting that the hearing assisted device provided by the City is insufficient, and commented on his inability to fully participate in the Council meeting from the Council Chamber because he must observe the meeting from the lobby area television, which provides a better accommodation for the hearing impaired.  Mr. Kakkar added that being able to observe the faces of City staff while reports are presented would be helpful to the audience, particularly to those with a hearing disability who are required to track sounds, opining that some avoid attending Council meetings for lack of accommodation.  He referenced his e-mail to this effect to the City and submitted a request to address his concerns in this regard as an agenda item.

Steve Stallings, Cerritos resident, commented on the intent of Proposition 218 as it relates to arterial block wall rehabilitation, asserting that the program must define special classes and identify the cost and benefit to those special classes individually and the general population as well.  He added that residents expect to understand costs and benefits of arterial block wall rehabilitation before a program is enacted.

Alon Barlevy, Cerritos resident, reported that the Artesia City Council had changed its City Council election date from March of odd-numbered years to November of odd-numbered years to consolidate with the School Board and College Board elections, and he asked the City Council to take a similar action.  He opined that consolidating City elections with County elections would save the City about 50% of the election costs, increase voter turnout, and relieve the burden on voters to vote in two elections rather than one.  He added that the recent June 3, 2008 special City election was consolidated with the County to save money.

It was noted that the City Attorney would report back to the City Council regarding changing election dates as it relates to the City Charter.

Paul Bellenbaum, Cerritos resident, expressed that the City Council missed an opportunity for the upcoming Rose Parade Float by not selecting the Ben Hur inspired float for the City.

CONSENT CALENDAR

Approval of Register of Demands

MOTION:  It was moved by Councilwoman Lee and seconded by Councilman Cho to approve the Register of Demands dated October 23, 2008, Checks 103375 through 103797, in the total amount of $2,773,763.60.  The motion carried, with Councilwoman Chen absent.

Approval of Minutes

MOTION:  It was moved by Councilwoman Lee and seconded by Councilman Cho to approve the Minutes of the Regular Meeting of October 9, 2008.  The motion carried, with Councilwoman Chen absent.

The following item was taken out of order.

NEW AND OLD BUSINESS

Review and consideration of possible alternatives for the rehabilitation of arterial block walls and review and consideration of possible wall extension alternatives.

Advance Planning/Redevelopment Manager Lopez provided an overview of arterial block wall rehabilitation as well as block wall extension alternatives, as outlined in the staff report dated October 23, 2008.  The specific locations of arterial block wall rehabilitation in the first five years of a program were identified by Mr. Lopez.  In referencing block wall extensions, Mr. Lopez identified the rear yards that abut Shoemaker Avenue between 183rd Street and Droxford Street as one specific location.

Andrea Prudencio, Cerritos resident, commented on her parents' concern regarding the cost of replacing their arterial block wall and the possibility of having to relocate from the City.

Phoebe Prudencio, Cerritos resident, indicated that her parents are considering relocating from the City in the event they are required to replace their arterial block wall.

Gordon Hom, Cerritos resident, opined with regard to moisture deterioration of the arterial block walls, noting that colored cement Fog Coat at less than $1,000 would provide a solution to the problem.

Dr. A. R. Jha, Cerritos resident, indicated the City should have three estimates from qualified and independent block wall contractors before proceeding; asserted the footings required by the City would be costly and placed significantly deeper than those required in Fullerton, Anaheim and Garden Grove; stated the City should pay at least 50% of the cost of the construction of arterial block wall rehabilitation, and requested the Council take a reasonable approach to this proposal.

Federico Quinto, Cerritos resident, commented that the City Council and homeowners should work together.  He expressed a preference for a benefit assessment district to address the cost of arterial block wall rehabilitation.

Paul Hatanaka, Cerritos resident, observed that the City or County originally gave instructions to the subdivider who constructed the arterial block walls; noted the City should be a good neighbor and share in the cost of constructing the arterial block walls; indicated the timing is bad for this proposal particularly for those on fixed incomes; and asked that the City look at options that are more reasonable for the homeowner.

Chris Tierheimer, Cerritos resident, asserted that when the arterial block walls were built the City dictated the type of wall to be constructed and the materials used and should bear responsibility for replacing them.  He noted the benefit of a consistent block wall appearance throughout the City, adding that in fairness all residents should bear part of the responsibility for wall replacement, should a block wall replacement program be implemented.

Ram Kakkar, Cerritos resident, expressed that the Shoemaker Avenue block wall issues brought to the City Council over the past three months have been ignored in the staff report.  He added the City has apparently lost the original petition in this regard and that he would provide a duplicate petition to the City Clerk with comments made over the last several meetings with respect to this matter.  Mr. Kakkar opined that although the City has made an underlying assumption that it is not obligated to raise the height of the block wall, exceptions were made when the City raised the wall along 183rd Street and provided a new block wall on the Shoemaker Avenue overpass when the Towne Center was built.  He referenced Option A, noting it would be impossible for residents to collectively agree to raise the wall height, and that visual screens would not address noise, trash, vandalism, and security concerns of the residents.  He asserted the City created a problem by converting a residential street from a handful of cars to more than 10,000 cars daily.  With regard to Option B, Mr. Kakkar expressed his agreement with uniformity, but disagreed with the expense, arguing that the City, beyond the control of the residents, has developed and transformed the area, which has benefited the City while resulting in suffering for residents in this location, and that the cost of extending the block wall height should be borne by the City, not the residents.

Steve Stallings, Cerritos resident, noted his complaint that 5 minutes is inadequate to respond to the staff report; asserted the City Attorney's analysis of the wall ownership issue was not on point; opined that the City must establish classes of residents to address this matter; expressed that the 8-foot deep footings are a one size fits all approach not necessary for these circumstances and were recommended to avoid the cost of cutting sidewalks to install the footings.  He commented on extensive temporary easements that would be required on residential properties to install the footings and noted the City's responsibility for:  resident walkways, sprinkler systems, planters, and other items, the provision of temporary housing for residents during wall replacement, and any attractive nuisance that may be created by the holes for the footings.  Mr. Stallings added that according to his calculations the walls would be moved further onto residential property to allow for a planter area for vines, which would mean eminent domain procedures, and cost excessively more than if the walls were repaired or replaced, including the residents' attorneys cost that would result from the City not working with the residents.

Dale Runge indicated he is not a resident of the City, but owns property in the City, and noted that his residential property is on a cul-de-sac with a 98-foot retaining wall that would cost approximately $33,000 to replace, which he does not have because he is semi-retired living on a fixed income.  He added that wall replacement would be problematic because his pool decking is close to the wall in addition to a barbeque gas line and a tree, and there is no evidence of wall deterioration in his case because the pool decking in that area requires no watering.  Mr. Runge noted further that the project is poorly timed given the state of the economy; commented that each wall should be addressed individually; and suggested appointing a committee of affected residents to arrive at a solution to this problem.

Nelson Chou, Cerritos resident, observed that since the block wall upgrade would benefit the entire City, the cost of the improvement should be borne by all of the citizens of Cerritos.  He opined that requiring only affected homeowners to pay for the wall is an unfair practice and urged the Council to find a justifiable solution to this problem.

Cerritos resident Janice Igarashi noted that due to illness her neighbor Bharat Amin was unable to attend the meeting.  She read his comments and questions:  can walls be sandblasted or repainted, what happens to walls covered by creeping plantings, will block walls be knocked out and rebuilt every thirty years or so, were arterial wall upgrade requirements spelled out when originally built, are homeowners alerted when impacted property changes hands, sharing arterial walls will become less desirable with an upgrade stipulation, is there a Councilmember approving this project impacted by this project, the timing is wrong for this project due to the economic environment, and he cannot manage this extra financial burden.

Paul Bellenbaum, Cerritos resident, suggested utilizing Fog Coat and consider reconstructing the walls after the next earthquake because replacement costs are prohibitive.

Randy Economy, Cerritos resident, indicated that the arterial block wall issue should not be considered at this time given the state of the economy, adding that if the matter moves forward it should be decided by the voters at a regular election.

Jay Gray, Cerritos resident, indicated that security is the main concern related to the Shoemaker Avenue block wall, noting the City caused the problem by constructing the Towne Center resulting in increased traffic on Shoemaker Avenue and the City should remedy the problem.  With regard to arterial block wall rehabilitation, Mr. Gray indicated that some residents may prefer no vines on the walls; questioned the voluntary aspects of the rehabilitation; and asserted that the cost estimates referenced by residents were much lower than the anticipated cost calculated by the City, asking where the difference was going.  He also referenced a possible Proposition 218 election, cautioning the City Council to be careful what they ask for because there could be a few more items on the ballot that may mean tying the Council's hands for the future.

Evonne Cashman, Cerritos resident, noted that although there is some deterioration of the arterial block walls they have remained viable for over 40 years.  She inquired if the City was aware of current codes, noting that this could make a difference in the cost estimates; asked where the cost estimates come from; and expressed that the cost estimate to replace the wall would present an economic hardship for her. 

A brief discussion was held regarding maintenance issues as the City ages, and in response to Council inquiry, City Manager Gallucci indicated that arterial block wall rehabilitation was a proposal at this point and that neighborhood meetings would be held pending the outcome of this meeting and further direction from the City Council. 

In response to further Council inquiry regarding the possibility of repairing the bottom portion of the walls, Herman Montoya, structural engineer from Willdan Engineering, indicated he had not seen the walls, however, based on the photographs it appears the arterial block wall problem is not cosmetic, noting that if the rebar is corroded or damaged the wall integrity has been affected and the wall must be replaced.  He added that he was not sure if the bottom portion of the wall could remain intact, and if the foundation is in good condition segments of the wall can be removed and replaced.

Sally Driggs, Cerritos resident, indicated that the wall in the photograph shown by staff was her wall and that it had been repaired at a cost of $1,200 for a 55-foot wall, noting that the repair included new rebar and cement and the wall was structurally sound.  She commented that the wall had not been painted pending the outcome of these proceedings.

In response to additional inquiry of the Council, City Manager Gallucci indicated that the walls could be repaired or replaced by the residents to ensure wall integrity and prevent the wall from falling down, noting that the Norwalk Boulevard walls would require more immediate attention due to their condition.  He added that Option 1 provides that the Council not implement a City-administered block wall replacement program to address deteriorating privately-owned arterial block walls.

Discussion ensued and at the request of the Council Public Works Director Arbogast discussed the rationale in utilizing a four-foot wide footing design for the arterial block wall rehabilitation to minimize the disruption on the homeowner side of the wall, which is provided for under the Los Angeles County modification to the Uniform Building Code.

Steve Stallings, Cerritos resident, asserted that the proposed arterial block wall rehabilitation design requires an 8-foot deep L footing, which is typically required in hilly areas like Yorba Linda or Anaheim Hills, and that the L footing configuration is not part of the City's code.  He continued that all options provided by the City force the location of the fence off of the residents' property line.

Discussion followed regarding the purpose of block wall landscaping vines to beautify as well as deter graffiti; the need for more study before considering the possibility of a Proposition 218 benefit assessment election; the possibility of abandoning the arterial block wall rehabilitation by the City in favor of allowing the residents to address repair or replacement of their walls themselves on an individual basis and the availability of grants or loans for this purpose; clarification that the rehabilitation was voluntary with the City attempting to coordinate the efforts of property owners to work together for visual consistency and cost savings; and the downturn in the economy on the timing of such a program or any type of benefit assessment or special tax.

City Attorney Steres pointed out that the question of whether or not property owners could undertake the suggestion of Mr. Hom as a fix to the wall is not within the purview of the City Council, but rather a matter for the contractor and the City Planning Department on what the proper fix would be if there were a problem with the wall.  Mr. Steres indicated the City Council is not picking any particular way to repair or fix a wall that may have problems.

It was pointed out during Council comment that the arterial block walls are located on private property and owned by private property owners who have the sole responsibility to address wall repair or reconstruction.  A recommendation was offered that staff research how to fix just the bottom portion of the wall.

It was pointed out by Community Development Director Contreras that the arterial block wall rehabilitation details were intended for this specific program and if the program is not implemented, residents would have the option of retaining their own licensed engineer and submit drawings to the Building Department for review and approval at their own expense.

Following discussion, and in response to additional Council inquiry, Herman Montoya, structural engineer from Willdan Engineering, offered that the regular, garden variety wall footing would be approximately 2 feet, 6 inches in width, however, the wall footing criteria for this arterial block wall rehabilitation program took into consideration the seismic acceleration for the area; the highest wind, and worst soil conditions because it was not for a particular site, but for a wall that would be used throughout the city many times, and anything less would be a piecemeal design and not intended for this program.

MOTION:  It was then moved by Councilwoman Lee and seconded by Councilman Cho that the City Council take the following action as contained on Page 13 of the staff report dated October 23, 2008:  Staff recommendation 1a:  to select Option 1 to not implement a City-administered block wall replacement program to address deteriorating privately-owned arterial block walls; Staff recommendation 2a: to authorize the waiver of building permit fees and plan check fees for arterial block wall replacement; and Staff recommendation 2b: to authorize the development of a standard engineering detail that property owners may use free of charge.  The motion carried, with Councilwoman Chen absent.

Discussion followed with regard to the matter of wall extensions and the current consistency of block walls throughout the City without wall extensions.  Two types of vinyl wall extensions, as outlined in the staff report dated October 23, 2008, were also reviewed.  The possibility of considering wall extensions in cases where the wall is less than 6 feet in height and cannot accommodate additional block was also addressed during the discussion.

MOTION:  Following discussion, it was moved by Councilwoman Lee and seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Barrows that the City Council take the following action as contained on Page 14 of the staff report dated October 23, 2008:  Staff recommendation 4:  to select Option A to maintain the existing prohibition against wall extensions for arterial walls.  The motion carried, with Councilwoman Chen absent.

MOTION FAILS:  Following discussion regarding consideration of the petition from residents requesting from the City an 8-foot high arterial block wall on Shoemaker Avenue achieved through a wall height extension or a wall replacement, it was moved by Councilman Cho and seconded by Councilwoman Lee to place on a future agenda the matter of responding to the petition from residents with regard to the Shoemaker Avenue wall issue.  The motion failed with Mayor Edwards and Mayor Pro Tem Barrows dissenting, and Councilwoman Chen absent.

In commenting on his dissenting vote, Mayor Pro Tem Barrows observed that responding to requests for replacement of block walls could escalate toward a poor fiscal policy precedent for the City.

Mayor Edwards indicated he dissented as a result of the action the Council took this evening, which determined the outcome of this issue.

It was noted that a Councilmember request to bring the Shoemaker Avenue wall issue back for Council consideration could be considered at a future meeting.

RECESS AND RECONVENE

The meeting recessed at 9:55 p.m.  The meeting reconvened at 10:05 p.m. with all Councilmembers in attendance, except Councilwoman Chen.

The regular order of the agenda was resumed at this juncture.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

A development proposal by Jonathan S. Matson A.I.A., 13271 South Street, Cerritos, California, 90703, on behalf of the property owners, Satya Pal Jandial, Sushma Jandial, Hasmukh Modi, Surekha Modi, and Kalpana Shah to demolish the existing buildings at 18810 Pioneer Boulevard, to consolidate existing parcels into one parcel, and to construct a new shopping center consisting of two, two-story commercial buildings and a two-level parking structure.  The subject property is zoned (CC), Community Commercial and totals approximately 1.29 acres of land within the Los Coyotes Redevelopment Project Area (APN 7040-024-012).

Cerritos Redevelopment Agency Conformity Report 2008-4

Mitigated Negative Declaration*

Tentative Parcel Map 70675

Precise Plan 2008-12

*One Mitigated Negative Declaration was prepared for Tentative Parcel Map 70675 and Precise Plan 2008-12.

Title was read to the foregoing public hearing item, the public hearing opened, and staff was called upon for a report.

Current Planning Manager Hamilton provided an overview of the staff report dated October 23, 2008.  In response to Council inquiry, it was noted that the applicant has been made aware of future use of the transportation right-of-way, and that the easement was originally intended for an alley, which is no longer necessary given the configuration of existing development.  Reference was then made to the sole access to the site off of Pioneer Boulevard, which is within the City of Artesia, and its potential impact on traffic flow and ingress/egress for the site.

Marc Blodgett, Blodgett, Baylosis & Associates, Inc., consultant representing the applicant, responded that after a conservative analysis of the proposal and taking into consideration the lower traffic generation of specialty retail commercial service uses, signal timing, roadway width and traffic volumes estimated at 450 trips per day, it is not necessary to prohibit left turn exiting from the site onto Pioneer Boulevard.

Jonathan Matson, Matson Architects, consultant representing the applicant, responded further that the majority of Pioneer Boulevard is in the City of Artesia and the Artesia Traffic Engineer has made assurances that Artesia has no plans for a center median in this area and will maintain the current broken yellow line left-turn lane indefinitely into the future.

MOTION:  It was moved by Mayor Pro Tem Barrows and seconded by Councilman Cho that the City Council:

A.        Receive and file Cerritos Redevelopment Agency Conformity Report 2008-4;

B.         Receive, file, certify and approve the Mitigated Negative Declaration making the findings set forth in Cerritos Planning Commission Resolution No. PC 2008-32;

C.        Approve Tentative Parcel Map 70675, making the findings set forth in Cerritos Planning Commission Resolution No. PC 2008-33; and

D.        Approve Precise Plan 2008-12, making the findings set forth in Cerritos Planning Commission Resolution No. PC 2008-34;

as recommended in the staff report dated October 23, 2008.  The motion carried, with Councilwoman Chen absent.

Consideration of a request of the Woman's Club of Artesia-Cerritos regarding its February 11, 2009 City Council Candidate Forum.

MOTION:  It was moved by Councilwoman Lee and seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Barrows to authorize the Woman's Club of Artesia-Cerritos to use the Council Chambers on Wednesday, February 11, 2009 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for the purpose of holding a forum for Cerritos City Council candidates in the upcoming March 3, 2009 General Municipal Election, with the City absorbing the costs associated with cable casting the event.  The motion carried, with Councilwoman Chen absent.

Consideration of report back to the Cerritos City Council on the matter of Proposition 1A (2008) Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act.

Discussion was held regarding Proposition 1A (2008) and it was noted that the proposition is a statewide issue with no direct impact on City business; would fund a northern California transportation project with predominantly southern California tax revenues; is a costly project which may never materialize; and is a proposal that should be left to the electorate to decide.

Randy Economy, Cerritos resident, opposed the use of any further resources toward transportation issues involving trains, noting that monies spent on train-related transportation issues thus far could have been put to better use in the community.

MOTION:  It was moved by Councilwoman Lee and seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Barrows to receive and file the staff report dated October 23, 2008 entitled Consideration of report back to the Cerritos City Council on the matter of Proposition 1A (2008) Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act.  The motion carried, with Councilwoman Chen absent.

PENDING LEGISLATION

Report on Pending Legislation

City Manager Gallucci reported that initial construction activities have started on the Nordstrom store at the Los Cerritos Shopping Center.

CITY COUNCIL COMMUNICATIONS/COMMITTEE REPORTS/REPORT ON MEETINGS

Councilwoman Lee referenced the City of Downey drinking water problem and at her request Senior Assistant City Manager Brar addressed the City of Cerritos safe drinking water system.

Mayor Pro Tem Barrows commented on his attendance at the hearing with regard to the Cuesta Villas validation court action.  He referenced his attendance at the Los Angeles County Sanitation District meeting at which water conservation was addressed, suggesting the inclusion in the City water bills of information from the Sanitation District with regard to discounts associated with using less water, and suggested further to look into the safe disposal of medicines.

Mayor Edwards discussed his attendance at the hearing for the Cuesta Villas validation court action; commented on the Senior Health Fair; reported on his attendance at the California Contract Cities Association Fall Seminar in San Luis Obispo; addressed success of the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion Golf Tournament fundraiser; and announced as a reminder that the two City Council meetings in November would be held on Monday, November 10, 2008 and Monday, November 24, 2008.

ADJOURNMENT

The meeting adjourned at 11:10 p.m. in memory of Cerritos Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mark Anthony Ruiz's grandfather Pedro Salcido Rivera, who recently passed away.

/s/ Josephine Triggs
Josephine Triggs, City Clerk

ATTEST:

/s/ Jim Edwards
Jim Edwards, Mayor

Approved:  November 10, 2008

 

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