SANTA ROSA CITY COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES
TUESDAY, AUGUST 26, 2003
COUNCIL CHAMBER, CITY HALL, 100 SANTA ROSA AVENUE
1. CALL TO ORDER AND ROLL CALL
Mayor Wright called the meeting to order at 3:30 p.m. in the Mayor's Conference Room. Present: Vice Mayor Bender, Councilmembers Blanchard, Martini, Condron, Rabinowitsh and Evans.
2. STUDY SESSION - NONE
3. ANNOUNCEMENT OF CLOSED SESSION ITEM(S) AND ADJOURNMENT OF COUNCIL MEETING TO CLOSED SESSION(S)(MAYOR'S CONFERENCE ROOM - ROOM 10)
3.1 CONFERENCE WITH REAL PROPERTY NEGOTIATOR
Property: 0 Finley Avenue (A.P.N. 035-141-013)
Agency Negotiator: Josh Maresca, Right-of-Way Agent
Negotiating Parties: United States of America
Under Negotiation: Price and terms of payment
3.2 CONFERENCE WITH LABOR NEGOTIATORS
Agency Designated Representatives: Karen Walker, Human Resources Director and Fran Elm, Employee Relations Manager
Employee Organizations: Service Employees International Union Local 707 (representing City employee Unit 14 - Police Civilian Technical Unit)
Santa Rosa City Employees Association (representing City employee Unit 4 - Support Services, Unit 6 - Professional, and Unit 7 -Technical)
3.3 ADJOURN CLOSED SESSIONS AND RECONVENE COUNCIL MEETING TO OPEN SESSION IN CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS
4:18 P.M. (CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS)
4. ANNOUNCEMENT OF ROLL CALL
Councilmembers were present as noted above.
5. REPORT ON STUDY SESSION(S) AND CLOSED SESSION(S)
City Attorney Brien Farrell reported the City Council had met in Closed Session regarding the items previously listed. There were no further announcements made.
6.1 PRESENTATION - BRIEFING ON PENDING STATE LEGISLATION AFFECTING CITIES
The Mayor called upon David Jones, Emanuels Jones and Associates, who gave a brief rundown of the impacts to local governments of state budget changes. He stated that Santa Rosa had lost about $775,000 through various cuts, which was less than the $2 million that had been anticipated, and responded to questions from Councilmembers regarding redevelopment funds, repayment of vehicle license fees, and the sales tax swap.
Amy O'Gorman, regional representative for the League of California Cities, reported on the State's fiscal crisis, the recall effort and the raiding of local funds. She outlined specifics of the State budget and said that cities receive less than of 1% of the State General Fund yet have contributed $1.1 billion more to the State than they have received in assistance. She concluded by stating that the League is preparing an initiative asking for constitutional protection of local revenues and solicited the Council's help in educating the public.
6.2 PRESENTATION - CALIFORNIA REDEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION 2003 AWARD OF EXCELLENCE TO THE CITY'S REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY FOR BROWNFIELDS DEVELOPMENT - VINEYARD CREEK HOTEL/KENNETH R. BLACKMAN CONFERENCE CENTER
John Shirey, Executive Director of the California Redevelopment Association, presented the Mayor with the 2003 Award of Excellence recognizing the development at the Vineyard Creek Hotel and Kenneth R. Blackman Conference Center from a former brownfields site. He stated that there had been more entries this year than in the past and that the competition had been tough. He displayed a video of the project and made the presentation of the award to Mayor Wright, Redevelopment Agency Chair Charles Evans and member Jake Ours. The Mayor expressed her thanks and recognized the commitment of Mr. and Mrs. Norm Rosenblatt.
7. CITIZEN PUBLIC APPEARANCES
At this time, the Mayor requested the Council's concurrence in instituting a revised policy related to public appearances. She stated that the sign-in Sheet was no longer being used, but that everyone wishing to speak should fill out a yellow speaker's card, and from the collected cards, the Mayor would select randomly the order of speakers. She directed the City Attorney's Office to bring the policy change back as an item before the Council on an upcoming agenda. She concluded by stating that everyone would be allowed to speak, with the first ten speakers being heard at the start of the meeting and the remaining speakers heard at the conclusion of the scheduled agenda.
Patti Bowie, Santa Rosa Main Street, reported on the diagonal parking project on Fourth Street, stating that additional 15 spaces had just been completed ahead of schedule. She commended the Public Works department, indicating that there had been very little disruption of local business traffic.
Bill Hillendahl, P.O. Box 455, Empire Property Services, spoke on behalf of an 83 year-old client in Oakmont, stating that MV Transportation had damaged her property while picking her up. He stated that MV had refused to pay the property management fees incurred on the client's behalf and requested that the matter be investigated.
Suzanne Wilford, speaking on behalf of the Rowe Drive neighborhood, stated that a letter had been submitted to the Council regarding cut-through traffic issue in the area. She requested City staff assistance in diverting traffic, possibly through use of speed bumps or partial closure.
Maggie Bradley presented the Councilmembers with safety whistles and submitted a written statement regarding a sexual assault that occurred on a Santa Rosa Creek pathway. She inquired why the neighborhood had not been notified, stated that many local women had ceased using the pathway and suggested implementing a notification system. She invited the Council to join her and other neighbors along the creek for an awareness rally.
Linda Picton stated there was a perceived bias toward business by the Council and, regarding Item 11.4, suggested that an affordable housing fee be linked with the transient tax. On Item 11.5, She objected to the concept of a homeless Shelter, asking that the Council think of it instead as a relearning facility, designating 40 beds for the homeless and another 40 to be used in hostel-like environment.
Anne Hudgins spoke on behalf of Concerned Citizens of Santa Rosa regarding campaign finance reform.She explained her vision of the ideal campaign, stated that the costs of campaigning are prohibitive, and that 62.8% of the voting public agrees that reform is needed and should include monetary financing for those candidates who agree to limit their spending. She urged the Council to follow the guidelines establiShed by the League of Women Voters.
Sarah Kay, Guerneville, read aloud a prepared statement in opposition to HJR 20.
John Jenkel provided details about the previous speaker's life and spoke in opposition to HJR 20.
Ken Hart, Dignity of Man, spoke in support of President Bush and wiShed everyone well.
Steve Lightfoot, Santa Rosa, stated he is a well-known public figure, objected to the new public appearance policy and protested the City ordinance prohibiting residing in vehicles.
Ernie Carpenter disrupted the meeting, shouting that the Mayor was in violation of the Brown Act relative to the sign in procedures for Citizens Public Appearances.
Mr. Farrell announced that the Mayor's actions relative to public appearances were consistent with the Brown Act.
8. APPROVAL OF MINUTES - August 12, 2003 and August 19, 2003 Regular City Council Meetings
MOVED by Councilmember Condron, seconded by Councilmember Blanchard, carried 6-0-1 (Councilmember Evans abstaining), to approve the minutes of the August 12, 2003 Regular City Council meeting as submitted.
MOVED by Vice Mayor Bender, seconded by Councilmember Blanchard, carried 5-0-2 (Councilmembers Condron and Rabinowitsh abstaining), to approve the minutes of the August 19, 2003 Regular City Council meeting as submitted.
9. STATEMENTS OF ABSTENTION BY COUNCILMEMBERS
Councilmember Evans stated She would abstain from item 10.1 as one of the parties is a client of the law firm at which She is employed; Mayor Wright stated She would abstain from Item 11.1 due to a conflict of interest related to employment.
10. CONSENT ITEMS
MOVED by Vice Mayor Bender, seconded by Councilmember Blanchard, carried 6-0-1 (Councilmember Evans abstaining), to adopt and waive the reading of the text of the resolution in Items 10.1 as follows:
10.1 RESOLUTION - BID AWARD - KAWANA SPRINGS ROAD SEWER REPLACEMENT AND PAVEMENT RECONSTRUCTION
RESOLUTION NO. 25748 ENTITLED: RESOLUTION OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SANTA ROSA ACCEPTING BID AND AWARDING CONTRACT NO. 2003-011 TO ARGONAUT CONSTRUCTORS FOR KAWANA SPRINGS ROAD SEWER REPLACEMENT AND PAVEMENT RECONSTRUCTION
MOVED by Vice Mayor Bender, seconded by Councilmember Blanchard, carried unanimously, to adopt and waive the reading of the text of the resolution in Items 10.2 as follows:
10.2 RESOLUTION - THE LAKES AT FOUNTAINGROVE SUMMARY VACATION OF PUBLIC WATERLINE EASEMENT - 900 ALTRURIA DRIVE
RESOLUTION NO. 25749 ENTITLED: RESOLUTION OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SANTA ROSA SUMMARILY VACATING PUBLIC WATERLINE EASEMENT LOCATED AT 900 ALTRURIA DRIVE, PURSUANT TO REQUIREMENTS OF STREETS AND HIGHWAYS CODE SECTION 8333, FILE NUMBER VAC03-011
11. SCHEDULED ITEMS
11.1 REPORT - WAIVER OF PROFESSIONAL SERVICES SELECTION PROCESS FOR PREPARATION OF FOUNTAINGROVE SENIOR LIVING PROJECT EIR
At this time, Mayor Wright absented herself from the Council Chambers.
Marie Meredith, Senior Planner, gave the staff report, stating that a request from Oakmont Senior Living, LLC, had been received to waive the RFP process for an EIR. She said that, by Council Policy 600-01, the Council may approve a waiver of the RFP process if the waiver is found to be in the best interest of the City. She indicated that the criteria was met since the project proposes to include a mixture of market-rate, moderate and very low income housing, which is encouraged by the General Plan, and that the City's interest would be served by the shortened approval time afforded by a sole source process.
In response to a question from Councilmember Evans, Ms. Meredith stated that a formal application had not yet been received but that specific requirements of the project would be determined upon receipt of an application.
Councilmember Martini asked for clarification on the requirement for an EIR, to which Ms. Meredith responded that the scope of the project, its size and location, along with General Plan policies made it clear that environmental review would be necessary. She also explained the process whereby the consultant would be chosen, stating that the Department has developed a list of qualified firms from which to choose with consideration given to those firm's areas of expertise.
In response to a question from City Manager Kolin, Ms. Meredith confirmed that use other than for a senior project may trigger the need for a new study due to associated traffic and parking impacts.
MOVED by Councilmember Blanchard, seconded by Councilmember Condron, carried 6-0-1 (Mayor Wright abstaining), to adopt and waive the reading of the text of the resolution in Item 11.1 as follows:
RESOLUTION NO. 25750 ENTITLED: RESOLUTION OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SANTA ROSA WAIVING THE REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL PROCESS SET FORTH IN COUNCIL POLICY 600-01 FOR THE PREPARATION OFENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT FOR THE SENIOR LIVING PROJECT AT FOUNTAINGROVE
At this time, the Mayor returned to the dais.
11.2 REPORT - AMENDMENT OF CITY COUNCIL POLICY 200-03: PRE-ANNEXATION POLICY AND PROCEDURES
Chuck Regalia, Deputy Director-Community Development, made the staff presentation, stating that minor amendments to Council Policy 200-03 were being recommended. He said that this policy sets forth the manner in which annexations are conducted and has been updated over time, but does not include amendments to state law under the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000 which significantly redefined LAFCO procedures and responsibilities.
Terry Hilton, SWABA, P.O. Box 7933, inquired as to the ramifications of these policy changes to the southwest area.
Margo Merck requested that the need for housing for all income levels be considered when updating City policies.
Mr. Regalia responded to Mr. Hilton, stating that the policy change was already in place at LAFCO and that this item is merely to achieve consistency with their policy. To Ms. Merck, he responded that there is no need to incorporate housing concerns over and above what is already contained in the housing element.
MOVED by Councilmember Condron, seconded by Councilmember Martini, carried unanimously, to adopt and waive the reading of the text of the resolution in Item 11.2 as follows:
RESOLUTION NO. 25751 ENTITLED: RESOLUTION OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SANTA ROSA AMENDING COUNCIL POLICY NO. 200-03, PRE-ANNEXATION POLICY AND PROCEDURES POLICY
At this time, the Mayor directed Mr. Kolin to forward the letter and petition from the Rowe Drive neighborhood to Traffic Engineer Gene Benton. In response to Ms. Bradley, She stated that the police were working on the assault case.
11.3 REPORT - PROPOSED GATEWAYS REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT AREA
Jocelyn Lundgren, Housing and Redevelopment Manager, gave the staff report, stating that a Gateways Redevelopment Survey Area was being proposed. She displayed a map of the proposed survey area, reporting that it encompassed approximately 2,000 acres bounded on the north by Piner Avenue, with Highway 101 running through the center, Highway 12 running from east to west and Bellevue Avenue to the south. She said that the survey area consisted of City territory only and that non-contiguous County islands within the area are allowed by redevelopment law. She reported on the typical time frame needed to hold necessary public meetings, stating that it can be as long as two years. She said that the process could be divided into two phases, with a ten-acre section comprised of owners interested in proceeding quickly being pursued first and completed in about nine months.
In response to a question from Mayor Wright, Ms. Lundgren stated that other property owners may participate in phase one if they so desire.
Terry Hilton commended the work of Steve Burke and Ms. Lundgren on this project and asked to informed of the times and locations of future meetings.
Jack Osborne inquired what percentage of the City is designated to be in a redevelopment area and whether this was an attempt to get government money for developers.
Duane DeWitt, Roseland, stated that while he supported redevelopment, he objected to the housing aspect being neglected.
John Sawyer, president, Santa Rosa Main Street, thanked the Council for its support of the Gateways area, stating that Ms. Lundgren's report made it clear that the Redevelopment Agency was anxious to work with all interested parties to make the survey as comprehensive as possible.
Laura Whiting, Project Director for the Sonoma County Food and Wine Center, congratulated the Council and the Agency for their work on the Vineyard Creek Hotel and stated that the same thing could be accompliShed at the current rail site.
Richard Devine, representing the Santa Rosa Canners, owners of a 1.5-acre parcel within the proposed survey area which is the site of two buildings, said there are unresolved issues related to water quality, as well as structural and seismic concerns, which can be addressed as a part of this process. He reported that the intent of his clients was to introduce a residential component to this area.
Mari Featherstone stated support for the redevelopment survey, commenting that it is exciting to see the downtown area being revitalized.
Cappie Garrett echoed the sentiments of the previous speaker.
In response to Mr. Hilton, Ms. Lundgren stated that a list is being compiled of neighborhood representatives and other interested parties for notification of project activities. Regarding Mr. Osborne's question, She stated that any properties to be added to the survey area would be included in one amendment. In response to the Mayor, She stated that redevelopment law requires that 20% of redevelopment revenue be set aside for affordable housing and that land uses within the district are set forth in the General Plan. She concluded by reporting that, over the past ten years, over 1,500 affordable units have been assisted by the Low and Moderate Income Housing Fund, exceeding the 20% contribution required by law.
MOVED by Councilmember Martini, seconded by Councilmember Blanchard, carried unanimously, to adopt and waive the reading of the text of the resolution in Item 11.3 as follows:
RESOLUTION NO. 25752 ENTITLED: RESOLUTION OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SANTA ROSA DESIGNATING THE GATEWAYS REDEVELOPMENT SURVEY AREA
The Mayor then recessed the meeting from 6:04 to 6:19 p.m.
11.4 REPORT - AFFORDABLE HOUSING LINKAGE FEE
Chuck Regalia, Deputy Director, Community Development - Planning, made the staff presentation. He briefed the Council on the efforts to date regarding the proposed affordable housing linkage fee, including a jointly funded study and other collaborative efforts with Sonoma County municipalities. He said that in April 2002 the Council had indicated conditional support for the linkage fee and discussed affordable housing measures that had since been taken, but said that the proposal had not successfully met the all the conditions for approval, including the provision that Santa Rosa would adopt the fee provided other Sonoma County municipalities agreed to adopt a fee as well. He said that most of the other criteria had been achieved either through work done on housing elementor work with the Housing Coalition, however, the message that had been relayed through the Housing Coalition and the Mayors and Councilmembers Association was that the current economic conditions were not conducive to adoption of such a fee at this time. He concluded his remarks by requesting Council direction on whether to discontinue, delay, or continue working on development of the housing linkage fee ordinance. He stated that Sonoma, Cotati and Petaluma had indicated possible support for adoption of similar ordinances.
In response to a question by Councilmember Evans, Mr. Regalia said no other city had yet agendized the matter, and that other cities may be awaiting Santa Rosa's lead.
Rabbi Michael Robinson, Congregation Shomrei Torah, advocated inclusionary housing with every development, adding that the current economy only heightens the need for affordable and low income housing. He noted the lack of affordable housing in the area is creating the need to commute to outlying counties and that the fee is being charged elsewhere without deleterious effect.
Duane DeWitt, Roseland, spoke regarding the lack of affordable housing, stating that the City subsidizes business and development and the business community in return should help the community.
Anne Seeley said She was appearing on behalf of Concerned Citizens of Santa Rosa and urged support of the linkage fee as a means of partially addressing the need for affordable housing, encouraging that threshold criteria be applied and suggested that it be based either square footage or number of employees. She stated her perception of and objection to a negative bias in the staff comments, stating the City should join Petaluma in providing more help for the often stated goal of providing affordable housing.
Gail Brownell, Sebastopol, said She favors the fee and that the study revealed fees in other jurisdictions did not adversely impact economic growth or expansion. She said the study shows that less than 2% of any business cost in those jurisdictions is related to a jobs housing linkage fee and could probably be recovered by recycling or energy conservation practices. She stated that in her discussions with small business owners She found that affordable housing was a factor in worker retention. She cited affordability statistics, stating that a median priced rental requires a $52,000 annual income for a family of four, and that 38% of workers make less than $40,000 per year. She concluded by suggesting holding a business round table to see what business owners say about how hard it is for their workers to live here.
Tony White echoed Rabbi Robinson's comments, spoke in support of a living wage, and urged the City's leadership in adoption of a fee.
Margo Merck also spoke in favor of the fee, stressing that it addresses a regional issue and provides a potential source of revenue for the newly establiShed Housing Trust Fund. She suggested moving forward and then putting a trigger in place at some point, mentioning the time frame for the 2006 housing element.
John McHugh said that when this was initiated a job was a lot easier to get than it is now. He said the economy appears to be inching toward a jobless recovery and encouraged the Council not to inhibit that by adopting the fee.
Dick Latimer said the job housing linkage fee would help achieve the modest housing goal set by ABAG for Santa Rosa and would create a means to address the disparity between housing costs and the many low paying jobs available in The Community. He commented on the lack of housing available for very low income citizens, citing the 2000 Census which reports that 10,000 Santa Rosa families live on $15,000 or less per year, adding that no permits for very low income housing were issued in 2002.
Carr Kunze said the study's findings are accurate when they say no deterrence to economic development will result from the fee. He cited examples in Marin County where commercial rent is twice the cost of Sonoma County, and estimated that the fee would translate to an additional $2 per square foot to construct, two cents per square foot to rent, and equate to about $45 per employee per year; not significant enough to create a deterrent to economic recovery. He said he had surveyed nine cities with the fee and found that those businesses are not in any greater economic disadvantage nor did it create a deterrent and that a decision about where to locate would be driven by a far greater array of economic considerations than a $2 per square foot fee. He said that from a land economic standpoint, as demonstrated by comparative sale prices, Sonoma County would remain substantially more competitive than its neighbors even with the linkage fee. He concluded by stating the fee would be an incentive rather than disincentive, as it takes employers off the hook for developing programs of their own.
Paul Carroll asked for clarification on Councilmember Martini's statement that the study was flawed and for the data upon which Vice Mayor Bender had based her conclusion that the fee would affect job growth. He pointed to the obstacle faced by young people who wish to remain in Sonoma County and the lack of opportunity to gain access to the housing market at the entry level. He cited the linkage fee as a tool to address that need, stating it would help only 10% of the affordable housing needs yet it represents the most available source of funding as any voter approved funding source is not likely to succeed. He felt the desirability of the area is key to economic growth, and lack of affordable housing degrades the region's desirability.
Nick Stewart, Burbank Housing, discussed his experience in the local affordable housing industry and his view that the linkage fee is one of the primary tools identified to address affordable housing needs. He noted that Petaluma had created some momentum by taking action the previous evening and asked that Santa Rosa also take action, thereby causing other cities to follow suit. He voiced support for obtaining financial support from commercial developers rather than just residential developers.
John Sawyer, President of Santa Rosa Main Street, said he agrees with the Chamber of Commerce in its in assessment of the Keiser study, adding that these fees would negatively impact downtown's future revitalization efforts. He suggested effective incentives rather than fees.
Laura Moore, Santa Rosa Plaza, stated She would meet with City representatives the following week to discuss the Plaza's expansion and future plans. She stated that the $3.59 per square foot fee would be a major consideration in the decision of whether or not to add a department store as it adds $500,000 to the construction costs. She stated that the development company could choose to construct elsewhere, and recommended generating funds in a way that did not penalize business development.
Nancy Richards stated She was representing the Sonoma County League of Women Voters and that the League's position remains the same as last year, in support of requiring major new commercial and industrial development to assist in providing housing through the jobs housing linkage fee. She asked how many new jobs created by new commercial development would come anywhere near the wage necessary to afford a home, noted the potential for the fee to generate an estimated $1.3 million for affordable housing, and said the fee had received conditional endorsement by the Council in the past as a means of helping subsidize housing for low and moderate income workers. She referred to the longevity and success of the fee in other bay area cities, stating no jurisdiction had ever rescinded the fee and some had increased it. She encouraged adoption of the fee thereby encouraging other cities to follow suit.
Ernie Carpenter, Santa Rosa, said the fee is an important tool to address housing for working people and that Cotati understood it would let them hit their affordable housing goals. He stated that jobs are already leaving Santa Rosa without the fee, and that there is a disproportionate fee on residential with no fee on commercial development. He stated that 20% of the workforce commutes out of the city now, indicating that jobs are already leaving Santa Rosa even without the fee. He referenced data in the study which showed job growth is outpacing affordable housing which will continue to contribute to a workforce leaving the community. He said that housing permit fees have been made higher than other jurisdictions in the County, and that 80% of new jobs will pay $15 per hour or less.
Mari Featherstone, representing the Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber agrees there is a housing problem, but that the problem is not with money, that there are lots of reasons people don't have houses and those are what should be addressed. She stated the need for new jobs as the basis of economic vitality. She said that business owners struggle to maintain a profitable business and don't need more fees. She stated the housing problem is compounded by neighbors who do not want developments to occur in their backyard and therefore projects are not built to the highest densities, and constant fee increases make housing less affordable.
Jim Caddick spoke in favor of adopting a jobs housing linkage fee, urging that a broader view be taken to consider the general public welfare rather than a single interest group. He said there are employers who recognize that reducing the gap between low income workers and housing costs is in their best interest. He urged that this step be taken now in anticipation of improved economic times.
Maureen Middlebrook representing the Chamber of Commerce, affirmed that housing was an issue when Santa Rosa was demoted from number 2 to number 23 on a list of desirable places to live, but said the other reason was the high cost of doing business. She stated this fee would increase that cost, adding that the Chamber does not support the fee. She suggested that, as a means of promoting affordable housing, the Council should examine policy changes and incentives, and financial mechanisms such as increasing the real estate transfer tax and a public safety sales tax.
Ann Zimmer said She is employed by the state to retrain those who have lost their jobs because companies have moved those jobs overseas. She discussed the difficulty encountered by residents who don't want to leave their homes but can't find work in the area at the salary level they had been working at, adding the high cost of housing is reducing disposable income levels. She also discussed the detrimental effect high housing costs have on retaining public service employees such as teachers and emergency services personnel, which in turn detracts from the area's attractiveness to major employers considering a move into the area, adding that asking those employers to become part of the solution by paying the fee provides an incentive to stay in the community.
Mike Hauser, President of the Chamber of Commerce, said his comments were the same as in the past-- that he felt like the study was flawed and time has proven that to be the case as the city has lost over 3,000 jobs yet housing costs still increase in spite of the study's claim that housing costs were high due to the availability of jobs. He noted changed economic factors since the study was commissioned, saying that Santa Rosa has to compete worldwide, not just with the North Bay area. He encouraged the use of incentives to bring about a better business environment. He agreed that affordable housing is important, disagreed with the fee, and encouraged the Council to examine policies.
Mike Hilber said there is nothing wrong with market rate housing, and that his observations have led him to conclude that Santa Rosa has fewer apartments per capita than most cities, and that smaller lot sizes are needed. He stated he does not support the fee, and that fees are contributing to driving jobs out of the state.
Michelle Gervais, Windsor, noted the emotion behind the desire to house people but thought the logic behind the concept of a linkage fee was flawed. She supported the suggestion that policies are needed that will help accomplish the broad range of housing needs. She disputed the idea that funding was needed, as the Housing Authority rolls over millions in affordable housing funds every year, the issue wasn't funding but that no projects were started, which is a function of the policies in place. She said that a job is better than any subsidy, that retail jobs don't draw residents of other areas and it does add to the sales tax base.
Rick Theis felt the Keiser study was a good study that is wonderfully detailed, and expressed his hope that the Council would pursue it. He said it would not result in any detrimental economic impact, noting the Census report shows Santa Rosa to be one of the fastest growing cities in the state, growing at a rate half again as fast as the state and two and a half times as fast as the rest of the country. He said that worry about growth is a misplaced concern and that development does not pay its way, otherwise there would be no street repair deficit. He noted the current vacancy rates do not suggest a deterrent to growth as there is plenty of room to expand, and that Sonoma County's economy is in synch with the rest of the nation. He noted the fee might spur growth by infilling vacancies. He said that long term growth always requires short term sacrifice, and that those businesses willing to pay the fee are more desirable than those who will chisel every dollar.
Gene Hottel said he represents the Living Wage Coalition, and that Sonoma County is now the fifth least affordable housing market in the nation with only the richest 20% of Sonoma County households able to afford a median priced home in Santa Rosa. He stated that newly created jobs are mostly low wage jobs that will not afford workers the opportunity for homeownership and will also contribute to the likelihood of long commutes, increased congestion and lack of available workforce. He pointed to the success of the jobs housing linkage fee in other communities, large and small, and refuted the fears expressed by some that it will discourage new businesses. He commented on the newspaper article indicating that the majority of the Petaluma City Council has agreed to impose the fee, and urged that the Council follow suit.
Kelly Brown, Sonoma Marin Greenbelt Conservation Alliance, stated her strong support for the adoption of an affordable housing linkage fee. She noted it is parallel to a fee charged to residential developers, and echoed Mr. Kunze's comments, urging them to review the study which surveys the experience of other jurisdictions having implemented these fees over the past 15 years. She disputed the contention that the fee creates a competitive disadvantage, as no level playing field currently exists between jurisdictions, pointing out the absence of a utility tax in Petaluma. She noted Chamber support for the fee in Oakland, as well as business support in other communities where it is recognized that the number one obstacle to attracting talent to the area is affordable housing.
Anne Hudgins echoed views well represented by the majority of speakers, adding that one matter is the importance of setting a threshold under which this fee would not apply. She suggested that small firms renovating to add a couple of employees be exempted.
Council discussion ensued, with Councilmember Evans commenting that this is not a fee on jobs or job creation, but a fair fee comparable to the one already imposed on residential development, and that only anecdotes but no evidence had been provided to counter the data showing it does not prevent business development but instead seems to provide a better business climate.
Councilmember Blanchard expressed support for affordable housing but questioned imposing the solution on one segment of the population, encouraging instead that the entire community participate in the solution, commenting that the price of housing in the community is beyond the control of the Council, but driven instead by market considerations. He suggested instead looking to those who are profiting from the market factors, the homeowners. He stated support for identifying incentive based alternatives and some type of a fee that everyone shares in, such as real estate transfer tax. He also suggested that parents pass along equity income to their children.
Councilmember Rabinowitsh commented on the complexity of the affordable housing issue, and that it won't take just one fix. He did not believe there would be voter support for adding sales or property taxes, but that the fee for commercial construction has proved viable in other communities without hindering commercial construction and with no apparent negative impact on jobs. He supported encouraging employers to build housing and he also supported this proposal, perhaps modifying it to exclude smaller and rehabilitation projects.
Councilmember Condron reviewed the background and history of the study, stating from the beginning She was supportive of proceeding with the fee, but economic conditions have changed and She does not believe adoption at this time would send the right message to companies being recruited to locate here. She commented on the personal impacts to families resulting from lost jobs, that that without a job one cannot even afford an affordable home. She supported placing a primary focus on job creation and holding off consideration of a fee for a later time.
Vice Mayor Bender echoed Councilmember Condron's comments, emphasizing job creation as a priority and encouraging cooperation between the business community, government agencies, and the Housing Coalition to work on incentive based approaches. She also indicated support for considering the fee at a later time.
Councilmember Martini said he does not support the fee for two reasons, first, he believes the nexus is overstated in the report and that recent numbers from the region support that position, citing a June 8th Press Democrat article stating that over the past two years 6,100 tech jobs were lost while the median home costs increased; that an August 9 article noted the jobless rate was 5% while in 2000 it was at 3% or slightly below. He said that according to the Sonoma County Economic Development Department jobs dropped but housing prices still appreciated. He maintained that supply and demand is what drives housing costs and that policies guarantee housing will appreciate, compounded by reduced interest rate. He said the fee is not fair or just as the homeowner is the one who profits, not business. He stated support for a real estate transfer tax, saying he does not support a sales tax for this purpose. He noted the Keiser study does not indicate whether housing is any more affordable in those communities with a linkage fee, and that the City of Aspen has successfully used a real estate transfer tax as a means of addressing this problem.
Mayor Wright commented on the history of the linkage fee, acknowledging that larger businesses do make a demand on the housing stock and some means of obtaining their participation is needed. However, She felt the proposal was a disincentive and advocated seeking a new approach such as restructuring policies and addressing the gaps in housing stock in order to look at providing housing for everyone, not just for employers and employees that come along with the new jobs.
MOVED by Vice Mayor Bender, seconded by Councilmember Martini, carried 5-0-2 (Councilmembers Evans and Rabinowitsh voting NO), to decline to adopt an affordable housing linkage fee.
MOVED by Councilmember Martini, seconded by Councilmember Blanchard, carried unanimously, to add Item 11.5 to the agenda.
11.5 REPORT - AUTHORIZATION FOR REVISED PURCHASE AGREEMENT WITH GSA FOR PURCHASE OF SAMUEL JONES HALL
Josh Maresca, Right-of-Way Agent, gave the staff report, stating that he had come before the Council with this item on August 12 and provided an update on the negotiations for the property referred to as Samuel Jones Hall. He said that by Council's previous action, authorization to sign an Offer to Purchase Agreement with the GSA, as well as a 10% earnest money deposit, had been approved. He said that their action had initiated the negotiations process and that an agreement was forthcoming. He reported on changes that had occurred since his prior presentation, stating that a conservation easement would be executed which would prohibit further development of the property and would maintain the habitat in perpetuity. He stated that the survey had been completed, the results of which would have an impact on the price that would be offered. He requested that the Mayor sign a revised Offer to Purchase Agreement, which would include the price with a not-to-exceed limit, so that negotiations could be concluded.
Duane DeWitt spoke regarding his determination as to whether this had been an honest process and stated that, although he supported affordable housing and homeless Shelters, he opposed this project on moral grounds.
Jack Osborne stated that the results of closed session discussions regarding the purchase price were required by the Brown Act to be disclosed in public. He objected to the manner in which process had been carried out, stating that it had been decided before the public had been involved.
Gale Brownell, Chair of the Task Force on the Homeless, stated support for the project.
Stuart Kiehl spoke in objection to an 80-bed Shelter facility, stating that it is being imposed on his neighborhood. He stated that he had been prevented from attending Shelter Solutions meetings, that there is in adequate police enforcement in the neighborhood and that this is an attempt to move the homeless problem out of the downtown area.
Councilmember Martini stated disagreement with the perception that this had been an immoral process and said that he had been clear with the neighborhood from the start. He said that the number of individuals to be served was a major issue and would be addressed at future meetings. He indicated that anyone could acquire this property under the McKinney Act at no cost with the requirement of 100% use for a homeless facility, which was not in the interest of the neighborhood. Councilmember Condron added her comments, stating that another homeless services provider had been looking at the property prior to the City's involvement that would not have been required to work with the community and reported that a tremendous effort had been made to address neighborhood concerns.
Mr. Farrell reminded the Council that there would be both environmental review and a public hearing conducted at a future time and that the property's use for a homeless facility had no bearing on the price negotiation. In response to a question from the Mayor, he clarified that the Brown Act expressly allows closed session discussions regarding price and terms of payment for real property and that to reveal the Council's decisions on those matters would compromise its position. He said the price would be disclosed if the offer is accepted.
MOVED by Councilmember Evans, seconded by Councilmember Martini, carried unanimously, to adopt and waive the reading of the text of the resolution in Item 11.5 as follows:
RESOLUTION NO. 25753 ENTITLED: RESOLUTION OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SANTA ROSA AUTHORIZING THE EXECUTION OF A REVISED OFFER TO PURCHASE AGREEMENT WITH THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (GSA) FOR THE PURCHASE OF SAMUEL JONES HALL PROPERTY
11.6 PUBLIC HEARING - INCREASE WATER DEMAND FEES
Dave Pinsky, Deputy Director-Utilities, gave the staff report, stating that the item before the Council was whether to increase water demand fees to reflect improvements in the water system related to growth. He stated that increasing demand fees assures that current users do not pay for growth. He introduced Allan High street of CH2MHill, who summarized a technical memo included the Council packet.
Mr. High street reported on the need for a fee update, stating that the last one had been done in 1995. He said that new users should pay a proportional share of the cost of growth; otherwise the cost of investment will be picked up through user charges later. He outlined anticipated capacity and expenses, reported that the City's net investment in the water system at present is $31 million, an increase from $20 million in 1995, and displayed a table of the master plan for project improvements over the next 20 years. He gave an analysis of projected new users and outlined the proposed fees.
In conclusion, Mr. Pinsky stated that the BPU had recommended approval of the new demand fee, to become effective 60 days from the date of adoption.
PUBLIC HEARING (8:47 P.M.)
Jack Osborne stated that those on smaller lots do not necessarily use less water.
Maureen Middlebrook, speaking on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, stating that they have not taken a position on the fee. She supported the creation and upkeep of infrastructure, but stated that the proposed water demand fee increase does not incorporate the 20 year growth assumptions in the General Plan and recommended completion of all sewer and water planning first, followed by implementation of a comprehensive demand fee.
Duane DeWitt spoke regarding the need for affordable housing and recommended allowing fee waivers for developers of low and very low-income housing.
Hearing no further testimony, the Mayor closed the public hearing at 8:55 p.m.
In response to a question from Councilmember Martini regarding comparing current fees to the proposed fees, Mr. High street outlined the existing rates for single-family homes, condominiums and second dwelling units.
MOVED by Councilmember Rabinowitsh, seconded by Councilmember Evans, carried unanimously, to adopt and waive the reading of the text of the resolution in Item 11.6 as follows:
RESOLUTION NO. 25754 ENTITLED: RESOLUTION OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SANTA ROSA ESTABLISHING A SCHEDULE OF DEMAND FEES FOR PROPERTIES TO BE SERVICED BY CONNECTION TO THE CITY WATER SYSTEM
11.7. PUBLIC HEARING - APPEAL - SKYHAWK PHASES 9 AND 10 REZONING AND TENTATIVE MAP MODIFICATIONS
The public hearing and Council consideration of this appeal were cancelled due to the withdrawal of the appeal by the appellant.
7. CITIZEN PUBLIC APPEARANCES (continued)
Jack Osborne spoke in objection to the new citizen public appearances policy, stating that, according to the Brown Act, no one should be required to list his or her name and address in order to speak. He recommended increasing the time for public appearances to one hour.
Karin a McWilliams, Sebastopol, objected to the public appearance policy, stating She had arrived at 3:00 p.m. and had been one of the first to sign up. She said She represented 750 constituents regarding amending HJR 20.
Chris Maes, Sebastopol, stated he had also arrived at 3:00 p.m. and that he had missed an appointment while waiting to speak. He echoed Ms. McWilliams' comments regarding the amendment of HJR 20 and reported on a boycott of Taft Street Winery.
12. ANNOUNCEMENT OF CLOSED SESSION TOPICS
There were no further announcements made.
13. MAYOR'S/COUNCILMEMBERS' REPORTS
Vice Mayor Bender reported on the upcoming Financial Stabilization Committee and Russian River WaterShed Association meetings and distributed a report on green building construction guidelines.
Councilmember Blanchard commented on a recent Press Democrat article regarding the Fire Department and requested an update on the REDCOM system. He objected to negative comments quoted in the article regarding City firefighters and inquired whether a report on the Skyhawk fire was forthcoming.
Mr. Kolin responded that an after-action report would be prepared and that additional information on the REDCOM system would come before the Council at a future meeting.
7. CITIZEN PUBLIC APPEARANCES (continued)
Duane DeWitt spoke in objection to the new public appearances policy, stating that it gave the appearance of favoritism.
Mayor Wright spoke regarding the change in the citizen public appearances policy, citing a recent incident where a ten-year-old girl had waited until 9:50 p.m. to speak because others had filled up the sign-in Sheet. She stated that flexibility was needed to recognize those who were attending to the business of the City and that She had not re-ordered the yellow cards. She reported on her attendance of a Women's History Month luncheon, announced the upcoming Mayor's lunch with the Boards' and Commissions' Chairs and the next Economic Development Committee meeting.
14. CITY MANAGER'S REPORTS
Mr. Kolin reported on a recent article in Sunset Magazine regarding Santa Rosa attractions; commended the work of Public Works on the Fourth Street diagonal parking project, specifically mentioning Tom Dorsey, Jerry Roach, Gerardo Rosas and Clint McKay; and announced that nominees were being sought for the position of second vice president on the North Bay division of the League of California Cities.
15. WRITTEN COMMUNICATIONS (AND POSSIBLE COUNCIL ACTION)
16. ADJOURNMENT OF MEETING
Hearing no further business, Mayor Wright adjourned the meeting at 9:25 p.m. in honor of Gene DeSoto who had been a respected and well-loved teacher at Santa Rosa High for 51 years. The next regularly scheduled meeting will take place on September 2, 2003, at a time to be set by the Mayor.