City approves climate resolution

The Portola City Council held its regular meeting Aug. 14, with a light agenda to discuss after a moment of silence and the Pledge of Allegiance.

The meeting opened with public comments, and one local woman spoke of her recent experience with the fire abatement ordinance recently enacted.

“I got a nasty letter,” the woman said. “Mine threatened to do things like put a lien on my property and such.” The woman went on to explain that she had been blessed to receive assistance in abatement of her property, and went on to state, “Nothing else has been done in the city! I don’t think the letter was very nice. I think the city needs to work on getting some volunteers together to help people.”

Interim City Manager Leslie Chrysler said progress has been made in weed abatement in the city, adding, “I know that there are a lot that haven’t been, but there are a lot that have.” Chrysler also said that she would look at the letters again to re-read the verbiage.

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A number of residents from the Portola Senior Apartments also commented to council, reviewing the nature of their concerns regarding fire safety at the apartments, as well as concerns regarding California civil code 1927, which is the covenant of private enjoyment and the reasonable expectation of privacy, along with code 1940.2, regarding landlord harassment.

“We’re all low-income, disabled, and many without transportation,” one resident stated. “There doesn’t appear to be any tenant advocacy.”

Residents went on to express concerns that they say continue to go unheard, in regard to matters such as garbage being improperly cared for, improper fire access in the laundry room, low water pressure from the fire hydrant, and an ongoing lack of water access for the lawns in the complex, leading to a fire hazard.

Another resident said this was a two-pronged challenge — a large portion of which is establishing a viable evacuation plan for the seniors that have little to no mobility in the complex in the event of fire.

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“The current site for evacuation is under a canopy of trees, and I’m mystified as to what we will do in the event of fire — stand there and take photos while we burn?” one resident said.

Eastern Plumas Rural Fire Protection District (EPRFPD) Chief Bob Frank addressed the residents, stating that a meeting had already been scheduled between himself, City Code Compliance Officer Kevin Sankey and apartment management.

“We will be looking at all of these concerns, and it will take time to get things in order. We can give you suggestions on an escape plan, but the fire department will not be coming to evacuate the apartments, because we will be dealing with the reason you are being evacuated,” Frank said.

Residents added that there was a feeling of being bullied at the apartments, saying, “If someone doesn’t have a heart attack or a suicide attempt from the stress of all this, I’ll be surprised.”

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After some further discussion, Mayor Pro Tem Phil Oels joined the meeting via telephone.

City and staff communications

Council Member Pat Morton reported that she attended the Downieville bike race held by the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, saying the event was “very impressive, with more space for camping.”

Morton also attended the Firewise meeting and the Western Pacific Railroad Museum’s celebratory event, adding that it had been well worth attending.

Council Member Stan Peiler reported that he had attended the most recent meeting of Eastern Plumas Rural Fire Protection District with Mayor Tom Cooley, and that it had been very interesting to learn of challenges faced and addressed by the department.

Council Member Bill Powers reported a meeting of WIP, related to the Sierra Business Council, with discussion around grants related to water issues and vegetation management. Powers also attended a LAFCo meeting, with news of the upcoming merger of Plumas District Hospital and Indian Valley Health District.

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Mayor Tom Cooley then reported that he and Chrysler had met with Ross Bruce of Senator Brian Dahle’s office, saying “Good things are coming of that meeting.”

Cooley also noted his attendance at the tour of the Downieville Downhill race with SBTS, saying that the tour provided inspiration for improvement at the next Lost and Found Gravel Grinder in Portola. “The WP Celebration was great,” Cooley also said. “They did a really wonderful job of presenting that.”

Cooley also attended the recent LAFCo meeting, as well as meeting with Congressman Doug LaMalfa at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum.

Cooley reported on a meeting of the Providers of Fire and Emergency Services in Eastern Plumas, and that there were representatives from around the eastern portion of the county at the meeting, with the purpose of exploring the idea of combining services to provide enhanced coverage in the area, adding that it was a “very preliminary meeting.”

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“Thank you, Melissa, for all of the fine work you’ve performed for us,” Cooley said to City Clerk Melissa Klundby. Cooley also noted that he and his wife had been performing weed abatement around the city to be “a good example of what we are asking other people to do” and noted good progress being made at the Joy Way Vault area and the West End Park.

With that, Chief Bob Frank went on to report that as of that day, 23 medical calls, two vehicle accidents, one illegal burn, and three alarms had been taken care of by EPRFPD, and that his AED program continues to gain traction.

“We also did a summer reading program at the Portola Library,” Frank said smiling. “Since January 1, we have had 430 calls total, so we are staying busy.”

Interim City Manager Leslie Chrysler reported that she also attended the tour in Downieville, and participated in talks with Jackson Webster of the SRF project for water and sewer, and that the meetings have been going extremely well. “He’s a lot more optimistic about getting help now, so that is really nice, but it’s still a process,” Chrysler said.

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Chrysler also noted that the state had come to inspect the closed landfill Aug. 6, with many compliments to Todd Roberts and city staff for their hard work on maintaining the area, especially noting their attention to detail.

Chrysler attended the recent Fire Wise meeting, and also spoke of meeting with a representative from Liberty Utilities in the ongoing effort to obtain and install an electric car charging station in Portola. “It’s a really good idea, that would put us on the map,” Chrysler said, noting that there was a need for the service in Plumas County.

Chrysler also commended Klundby for all of her hard work, noting that despite her leaving her position as city clerk, she would retain her ceremonial title. With further comment on work toward options for snow removal, the council then moved to approve the consent calendar unanimously by roll call vote.

Resolution 2407

Ongoing discussion regarding climate change led to the creation of a resolution of the City Council recognizing the negative effects of climate change and requesting legislative action.

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“Changes have been made to Resolution 2407 with the help of Robbin Anderson since we began working on this item and the result is before you tonight,” Chrysler said.

Powers said he was happy to see the resolution go forward and made a motion to approve, with Council Member Phil Oels seconding. A roll call vote gave unanimous approval to the resolution.

Robbin Anderson, a member of the Citizens Climate Lobby, gave her heartfelt thanks to the city. “This means so much to not only Portola, but the rest of the world,” Anderson said with emotion. “It couldn’t be any better right now. We’ve just got to keep moving and thank you so much for supporting this cause.”

City manager employment agreement

Chrysler opened the agenda item, saying, “Before you is the final version of the employment agreement for Lauren Knox. It has been reviewed, and the final step is for the city to approve this during open session.”

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Chrysler highlighted the terms of the agreement, set to commence Sept. 9, with highlights of the terms under which Knox will enter employment as incoming city manager.

Knox has completed all the steps needed, and is ready to get on board, according to Chrysler, and with no public comment, the council moved to approve the agreement unanimously.

City engineer employment agreement

Chrysler explained to the room that City Engineer Dan Bastian had requested a renewal of his employment with the city, due to the fact that Caltrans has specific regulations regarding funding and employment status.

“This has happened in the past,” Chrysler explained. “This is specifically in reference to working with Caltrans on phase one of the North Loop project, and state reimbursement funding associated with that.”

With minimal discussion about the project, council moved to approve the agreement with all in favor.

The City Council invites all to attend and participate in meetings regularly held on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. For more information, call 832-6803 or visit cityofportola.com.

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