Review of Hazardous Materials Element of the General Plan

Hazardous Materials Element of the General Plan This is an optional element and not mandated by the state. It starts off with the paragraph of how and when it came about. It’s only 12 pages, so one of the smaller elements.

It starts off by saying who needs a permit from the Orange county health department. There are also disclosures that must be made to the Fire department depending upon how much Hazard’s waste you’re disposing.  It then goes into small scape and large operations and how they must dispose of the waste.  Next it goes into how the waste should be transported.

There is a map of all the companies and hospitals that dispose of the waste and where they are.

The rest of the report is Goals and objectives, like ensuring safe transportation and better permiting process etc. This is the same format as the other two elements I’ve summarized. It appears being they’re similar that they were done in-house as I see no signatures or evidence of another compant doing it.

hazardous_materials_element

Clem Dominguez   Oct 4, 2014

 

 

 

 

Review of the Utilities Element of the General Plan

Utilities Element

Summary of Contents and Purpose

The Utilities Element is one of a group of sixteen reports of various parts of the city structure. The State requires seven of these Elements and we have sixteen. Part of this exercise is to find out if we need all the extra Elements. If we don’t need the optional ones we could save a million dollars.

Description:  This Element focuses on the City water supply, sanitation treatment, storm drainage, solid waste disposal, natural gas, and electricity and telecommunications systems.

The first two or three pages describe our Water Supply and how it is distributed. The water system is detailed with descriptions of the “Metropolitan Water District’, the Underground Water Wells, Water storage, water booster facilities and the water distribute system.   It then mentions the Improvements that the 1995 Water Master plan proposes. It would interest to see if these were completed.

The next section deals with the Sanitation Treatment and Sewage. The services of HB are provided by three entities:

  1. The Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD)
  2. City of HB Public works dept.
  3. Sunset Beach Sanitary District. (Could be different because of annexation).

The Orange Coast Wastewater treatment is discussed including a description of the two plants that service our needs. It mentions engineering plans for allowing us to meet the needs of our citizens until year 2050. I would think this is one area where the new plan needs to amended and brought up to date.

Sewer collections are described in detail along with Storm Drainage. Next is a few paragraphs on the Orange County Flood Control District. The Orange County Flood Control District Environmental Management Agency is responsible for all that goes into running this operation.

The City of HB also owns and operates five storm damage channel pumping stations which pump the runoff water into the channels and the ocean. The cities channels are designed to accommodate 10-25 year floods.

If it’s not a required Element we could just update it. I don’t see anything that would require the need of an outside consultant. I also didn’t see mention of the current senior center on 17st.  Would also be a help if they date stamped the Elements.  The whole document, with charts and statistics, is 23 pages long.  It looks like it was written in house, as I see not Author or Company credit like in one of the others.

Clem Dominguez

My take on the General Plan Update (GPAC) Meeting Aug 6 the, 2014

Key Issues Memo

This meeting was held at the council chambers room and was well attended. Unlike the first meeting  they had little name tags on each in front of each seat, so I couldn’t sit at the round table like I did in the first meeting.  Also they kept comments until the end.  The first meeting was more like first a presentation and then a discussion with anyone in the room.  But this still was a good informative meeting.

The crowd was very respectful and the planning commissioners and other members of the GPAC task force asked great questions. The questions came in response to one of 44 issues (see link) that were identified going through the1996 General Plan.  Examples, an idea for future get rid of old telephone poles, building charging stations, better bike paths etc.

There was an interesting discussion of us purchasing all the light polls and replacing the lights with led’s.  Another great discussion was on taking over PCH and Beach Blvd. from Caltrans. I didn’t know we didn’t control those streets so that was enlightening. Along those lines someone remarked that we would also take over liability, whatever that would entail.

I thought Erik Peterson, Dan Kalmick, Mark Bixby and Jessica? asked the best questions and were the most engaged.  There were also many good questions from other members of the GPAC task force.

The best part for me came with public comments.  I’d say of all the comments over 60% were about the density and how bad it will get on Beach Blvd.  Michael Hoskinson brought up  that the owner of PCM, the consulting firm with $2 Million contract, wrote a book on Global warming.  He felt that the firm should be disqualified because of a conflict of interest (my paraphrasing) since she was biased toward “Sustainable Development”.   Another person brought up that point that we are just being brought to an already agreed upon conclusion, and likened it to the “Delphi Method”.

The head of the planning department was not there as she retired last week and has not been replaced. There was a facilitator who moved the meeting along.  That seems like another task that the city outsources that probably could be done by staff.  Erik Peterson asked again for the planning department to tell us the usefulness of the optional Elements and the penalties.  But he got little response from the GPAC project manager.

There were a couple speakers who warned of the demise of HB should these high density developments continue. The reason I think this continues is because the planning department is has a build in reason to approve any development that comes along. Without development there would be less need for planning staff.

I think the Council needs to modify the Beach Edinger corridor specific plan NOW to being the density down to the previous levels of 30 units per acre not the 100 units per acre.

Link to HB Cities General Plan website http://www.HBthenextwave.org next meeting Sept 10, 2014 (as far as I know)

Clem Dominguez

General Plan – Summary of “Public Facilities Public Service Element”

Public Facilities and Public Services Element

Complete text of Element     public_facilities_element

The Public Facilities and Public Services Element is one of a group of sixteen reports of various parts of the cities General Plan. The State requires seven of these Elements and we have sixteen. The seven required Elements are: land use, circulation, housing, conservation, open space, noise, and safety.  The other nine are optional.

Part of why I’m doing this is to find out if we need all the extra Elements. If we don’t need the optional ones we could save up to a million dollars.

Description:  This Element contains pictures, description of sites like the police station, statistics like school sites, Fireman response times and Police response times.  It goes into depth on Fire protection and where the stations are located.

It goes into detail about the way the fire department is divided into five sections and all the duties etc. It then goes into Marine Safety which is great in HB but I never think of it. At the time this was written in the nineties there were also issues of money vs. safety.  One side wants more personnel and other side does not have the money to do so.

A large part of these reports goes into detail on all school sites, the High School District and the middle school districts. Next is a section of Libraries and there locations and staffing.  The last part of the Element is about goals. Goals, Objectives, policies for the Police, Fire Dept, Paramedics, Marine Safety, Educational Facilities, Library,

Last section dealt with Implementation of programs like Neighborhood watch, Code enforcements etc.  Report ended with information on getting funding, Impacts on education and some vague information.

If it’s not a required Element we could just update it. I don’t see anything that would require the need of an outside consultant.  I also didn’t see mention of the current senior center on 17st.  Would also be a help if they date stamped the Elements.  The whole document, with charts and statistics, is 23 pages long.  It looks like it was written in house, as I see not Author or Company credit like in one of the others.

Clem Dominguez – August 3, 2014

Complete text of Element     public_facilities_element

 

General Plan Update meeting for Planning Commissioners 7/22/14

I attended the Tuesday pre meeting of the Planning Commission where the planning staff updated the Planning Commission on the General Plan project.  For those who went to the GPAC meeting a few weeks ago it was a summary of that meeting.  The presentation had to do with the “vision” part with little more detail.

There was a lot of discussion on the “Vision” whether to take a long view or a short view and how much detail should be included. The goal of the “Vision” statement is that it would be broad enough to not be changed were as the Elements could and mostly would be amended in the future.

I was impressed by the questioning of the head of the planning department by some of the planning commissioners. Erick Peterson asked the question I would have asked, why the city needs 16 Elements when the State only requires 7.   An Element is report 20-108 pages long that deals in details of Infrastructure, Traffic, Housing, Historical etc. Erick requested the planning director to come back with reasons why we need each of the optional elements, could they be combined and if we dropped any would we be fined by the State if we did not comply.  This is an excellent way to get rid of bureaucracy and red tape and save some money.

Others Commissioners also asked why they only surveyed 600 people. A lot of ideas were thrown about on how to get more people involved, flyers etc.  One idea I’ve had would be to have the planning department send or post their surveys and meeting dates on this forum and other forums.  The five HB forums I just looked at have a total of 16,610 Members.

My own take on the way the city is going about this is its making more of a production out of the project than it needs to be. If you look at a lot of the Elements much of the information is statistics and charts. You could probably cut and paste  a lot of information from the existing Elements to the new Elements.

I’ll be following the process to its competition and will be examining each Element to  what  has changed and added.  This is true whether or not I’m elected to the Council in 2014.  At this point I see no reason why we need to spend $2 million dollars for a consultant to help our planning department, but I remain open minded until it done.

Clem Dominguez

Positions on HB Issues

Poseidon: I would not approve of the plant being build simply because Poseidon has never completed a plant that stayed on line for very long. Since they are building one in Carlsbad we have the perfect opportunity to see how it goes. What’s the true cost of the water and what’s the real damage to the environment and the neighborhood. Poseidon also has not complied with the proper permits. Desalination has been around for years. While the plant in Carlsbad is being build I think the city should investigate other companies and other more modern desalination technologies.

Fixing sidewalks – We need an urgent priority to create an immediate program to systematically fix our sidewalks, Sidewalks are uprooted by trees, alleyways in the older sections are falling apart. We shouldn’t have to wait until you hire one more consultant or build one more building or give  a raise to employees, we want it done now.  Fixing sidewalks would also go a long way it preventing lawsuits, sec there saving money.

Density– Reduce the density at Bella Terra- Edinger corridor and the Downtown Specific plan back to 2010 levels. Grandfather in current building started and completed, not in planning stage.. Might need to have new specific plans done. . I’ve seen enough.

DowntownIf additional police patrols are the only answer to controlling downtown then Bars must pick up the tab. We get the same 1% sales tax from all business. Many shopping centers like the ones on Beach and Adams or Walmarts brings the city many tax dollars and are rarely a police or neighborhood problem. We have to provide more services than a normal business we need to have them pay. New Business lic by category or surtax on alcohol.

Ban on Bags – Should only have banned plastic bags in all stores, regardless of size. Need to modify ordinance to allow stores to sell paper bags for free or charge , up to them. If I cannot get a majority to agree with me I will put forth an agenda item to put the question on the ballot.

Sports Complex – Like to investigate why our Little League can’t use that for free. We spend 18 Million dollars to build this thing and our children should benefit. The city treats the Sports Complex and the downtown like they are a event management company. Need to review recreation available for our kids.

Senior center – Since the city has now won the law suit it looks like the Senior Center will be build. I would hope that we soon see detail plans and more importantly a real Budget.

Pensions– Police and all employees need to contribute more. Stop hiring more policemen just to control the late night crowds downtown. Solve the cause of the problems rather than just try to contain them.

Parking permits Downtown If the parking permit program is  implemented I think all the numbered streets would have to sign off on it. The people I’ve talked to that live in that area do not feel there is enough transparency as to what the status is the parking permit program.  If the people on 6th-9th. approve it then the late night partiers will just park on 10th and above.  In order to free up some parking so the late night crowd does not park on the residents streets I would like to see the parking lot opposite Zack’s be  available for the downtown employees.

Term Limits – Two years and you’re out. I know the argument against this, “We should be able to vote for who we want”. You can’t do that now because the incumbent as an advantage that is rarely overcome.  Recycled Council persons just wear thin after to much use, much like recycled bags. They don’t have solutions to the problems because in many cases they created the problem. Downtown is best example of that. The Council planned on a family oriented downtown. That never happened so why trust them now.

Revenue Source – We need to find a different type of revenue for the city, Instead of always relying on tourism. 

The ABC’s of Obamacare

Affects of the law on:

          Individual:

                 Tax and Fee Related

  1. Broaden the Medicare tax base for high-income taxpayers: $210.2 billion
  2. Raise the 7.5% Adjusted Gross Income floor on medical expenses deduction to 10%: $15.2 billion
  3. Limit annual contributions to flexible spending arrangements in cafeteria plans to $2,500: $13 billion
  4. A 10% sales tax on indoor tanning.
  5. Individuals affected by the Medicare Part D coverage gap will receive a $250 rebate, and 50% of the gap will be eliminated in 2011.[68] The gap will be eliminated by 2020.

                    New Benefits and Restrictions on Insurance Companies

  1. Dependents (children) will be permitted to remain on their parents’ insurance plan until their 26th birthday,[62] and regulations implemented under the Act include dependents that no longer live with their parents, are not a dependent on a parent’s tax return, are no longer a student, or are married.[63][64]
  2. Insurers are prohibited from imposing lifetime dollar limits on essential benefits, like hospital stays, in new policies issued.[61]
  3. Insurers are prohibited from excluding pre-existing medical conditions (except in grandfathered individual health insurance plans) for children under the age of 19.[65][66]

CalPERS actuary: pension costs unsustainable – By Ed Mendel

The CalPERS chief actuary says pension costs are “unsustainable,” and the giant public employee pension system plans to meet with stakeholders to discuss the issue.

So, are the critics right: Do overly generous pensions threaten to eat up too much of state and local government budgets?

An historic stock market crash wiped out a quarter of the CalPERS investment fund last fiscal year. Some experts are forecasting limited investment earnings in the years ahead, making it difficult to replace the losses.

Now “sustainability,” a term used in environmental discussions, has become a common label for a big question about public employee pensions: Will the current level of benefits be affordable in the future?

.The question of pension sustainability emerged as a hot topic during a seminar in Sacramento last week sponsored by the Public Retirement Journal.

Ron Seeling, the CalPERS chief actuary, described the process used to “smooth” the rate increases that will be imposed on the 1,500 local government agencies in CalPERS in 2011 in the wake of the stock market crash.

Instead of a rate increase of 4 to 20 percent of pay, the smoothing will reduce the rate hike to a more manageable 0.5 to 2 percent of pay.

“I don’t want to sugarcoat anything,” Seeling said as he neared the end of his comments. “We are facing decades without significant turnarounds in assets, decades of — what I, my personal words, nobody else’s — unsustainable pension costs of between 25 percent of pay for a miscellaneous plan and 40 to 50 percent of pay for a safety plan (police and firefighters) … unsustainable pension costs. We’ve got to find some other solutions.”

Anne Stausboll, the CalPERS chief executive officer, told the seminar that the CalPERS board talked about the “cost and sustainability of pension benefits” the previous week and decided that the system should take a “proactive role” on the issue.

“They asked us to formulate a way to convene our stakeholders — employers, labor, legislators and other stakeholders in our system — to convene everybody and start having a constructive dialogue on sustainability of pension benefits,” Stausboll said.

Dwight Stenbakken of the League of California Cities told the seminar that pension benefits are “just unsustainable” in their current form and difficult to defend politically.

“I think it’s incumbent upon labor and management to get together and solve this problem before it gets on the ballot,” he said.

Public pension advocates worry about a drive to replace the “defined benefit” plan, a guaranteed monthly check for life, with the “defined contribution” 401(k)-style individual investment plan increasingly common in the private sector.

Four years ago Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger briefly backed an initiative proposed by former Assemblyman Keith Richman, R-Northridge, that would have switched all new state and local government hires to a 401(k)-style plan.

But Richman has since called a switch to a 401(k)-style plan “politically” unfeasible. He and the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility have talked about extending retirement ages and capping pension payments at two-thirds of final pay.
(See Calpensions 26 Jan 09: “Pension intiative via internet”)

Last June Schwarzenegger, calling current benefits “unsustainable,“ proposed that pensions for new state hires be rolled back to the formulas used before CalPERS-sponsored legislation, SB 400, enacted a major benefit increase in 1999. (See Calpensions 30 Jun 09: “Arnold: cut retirement benefits for new hires”)

The governor dropped an attempt to make his “two-tier” pension reform proposal part of state budget negotiations. But he added pension reform to the list of issues he plans to pursue with legislative leaders later this year.

Schwarzenegger’s plan is similar to a proposal made four years ago by a League of Cities task force, which also referred to “dramatic benefit enhancements” made in the late 1990s.

The legislation, SB 400, only increased benefits for state workers. But the same higher benefits are now widespread among local government pension systems.

“The excuse that I’ve always heard is, “We don’t want to adopt these retirement formulas, but I have to because our neighbors adopted it and we have to be competitive in the labor market,” said the League of Cities’ Stenbakken.

He said eliminating all options and returning to pre-SB 400 retirement formulas for new hires would eliminate the competition between local governments that has increased pension benefits.

“I think this is one of the major mistakes we made with the PERS system,” said Stenbakken. “STRS, the State Teachers Retirement System, doesn’t have this problem. If you’re a teacher in Eureka or you’re a teacher in Los Angeles Unified, you get the same pension.”

In California, attempts to cut pension benefits are usually two-tier plans, cutting benefits only for new hires. Pensions bargained under labor contracts are said to be protected by court decisions, which allow cuts only if something of equal value is provided.

“In terms of dealing with pension cost currently, I only know of two ways to do it,” said Stenbakken. “That’s lay people off or reduce salaries.”

A retirement actuary, John Bartel, told the seminar that two-tier plans do not save much money, even after several decades. He said costs from the untouchable high-benefit first tier, a vested right protected by contract law, continue to grow.

“Unless that vested right issue changes, and I’m not expecting it will, that second tier is not going to save money,” he said.

Bartel said his clients tell him that the main motivation for switching to a two-tier plan tends to be “political in nature,” rather than an expectation of significant savings.

“It’s because a board member or a council member can stand up and say, “We think there’s a lot of bleeding here and we need to stop that bleeding, and we are going to do it on that basis,’” he said. “That’s what I’m hearing from my clients.”

Labor union officials told the seminar they worry that statewide pension reform legislation might bypass local collective bargaining. They said the Richman group’s list of 5,000 pensioners that receive $100,000 or more a year is less than 1 percent of total public employee pensions.

“I actually think it is sustainable,” said Terry Brennand of the Service Employees International Union. He said the basic problem is investment losses, not high benefit levels.

“What is sustainable?“ said Lou Paulson of the California Professional Firefighters. He said proposals to extend the retirement age for firefighters from 50 to 55 would result in more injuries with advancing age, driving up workers’ compensation costs.

Reporter Ed Mendel covered the Capitol in Sacramento for nearly three decades, most recently for the San Diego Union-Tribune. More stories are at http://calpensions.com/ Posted 10 Aug 09

 

Now What?

From many of the posts on HBNEIGHBORS, HBDRA and past council comments there seems to be a consensus that the in-lieu fees charged for parking is not working. It’s not working because the city won’t or can’t find property on which to put parking on. So what do we do and how do we do it. Do we cancel the program, if so how. Do we modify it,  if so how. Or do we just do nothing and let the problem get even worst. And what do we do with all the money in the in-lieu account? Maybe we can use it for the downtown parking permit program since the in-lieu fee program is partly responsible for creating the problem in the first place. It will be interesting to see what ideas are out there, especially from the Council candidates.

HBClem at City Council 3/1/10