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City continues to strive for growth

The Portola City Council agenda featured ordinance changes, resolutions and an update from Sport Success on Jan. 24.

The meeting opened with public comment from Larry Douglas, who noted his concern for the city’s blight.

City Council communications

Council member Phil Oels reported that he attended a recent transportation department meeting.

Mayor Pro Tem Tom Cooley reported on his work with Mayor Pat Morton on the Portola Volunteer Fire Department ad hoc committee, and said he attended a two-and-a-half day conference in Sacramento, hosted by the League of California Cities. Council member Bill Powers reported that he also attended the transportation meeting.

Morton closed with a report on her work with the fire department ad hoc committee, “We’re moving forward, after many, many hours spent with the PVFD, and will hopefully be able to show progress in the near future.”

City Clerk Melissa Klundby reported that she attended a SKOR meeting, going over such topics as insurance options and workman’s compensation.

Community Safety Officer Chuck Brashear reported on his recent work, with 33 cases handled thus far, including public nuisances, abandoned vehicles and animal calls.

City Manager’s report

City Manager Robert Meacher said the first meeting with the Lost and Found Gravel Grinder bike race committee had been held, and there will be many changes for the 2018 race.

According to Meacher, event organizers want to “bring the party” to Portola, encouraging more robust city participation.

“The organizers are looking at bringing in food trucks and hiring a well-renowned musician, as well as potentially hiring buses to shuttle event attendees to and from Lake Davis into Portola. It looks like an exciting race again this year,” Meacher stated.

Meacher also noted that the Lost and Found committee would be working with the Forest Service to create new routes for the race, in addition to potentially creating a children’s biking event on the Sunday of race weekend.

Ordinance 348

Ordinance 348 addresses an amendment to Chapter 8.04 of the Portola Municipal Code providing for regulation of solid waste collection and recycling. The update would replace Ordinance 343, which was approved by the council in 2016.

The reasoning behind the update is to bring city codes into conformance with the recently extended agreement between the city and Intermountain Disposal.

Some of the revisions include a list of definitions, such as replacement of the word “Company” with “Franchisee.” “This is mainly changes in terminology,” Morton pointed out to the room. After a role call vote, council moved to waive the second reading of the ordinance.

City Engineer Employment Agreement amendment

Engineer Dan Bastian reported that his contract with the city expired in December 2017. Bastian noted that while he is an independent contractor, in order to be able to work on state and federally funded projects, he is required to be an employee of the city and receive a W2.

Bastian explained how he and the city had come to an arrangement in the past, providing Bastian with an allowance with a set monthly amount to be made available, and noted his extreme caution with the way that he handles billing and expenses.

Bastian requested that Meacher sign the contract renewal so that he could continue his work, which may include installation of monitoring wells in the city in the future.

Cooley said, “I would like to publicly thank Dan for his patience, as well as his explanation of all of this to me.” At this, the council moved to continue Bastian’s contract.

Conflict of interest waivers

Another project is in the works as the Feather River Rail Society realizes its vision of extending its balloon track toward the Portola 192 housing project.

As City Attorney Steve Gross also serves as general counsel for the FRRS, there is a potential conflict of interest that could arise if the city were to take certain actions with respect to the Portola 192 Development Project that could or would be detrimental to the interest of FRRS.

Local resident Chris David remarked that the conflict of interest waiver had to do with disclosure, after questions about why this was a necessary step arose. Teri Woods inquired who is responsible for compensation to Gross for his work when Gross is working with the city and FRRS. Meacher responded that the party receiving counsel would be fiscally responsible.

After agreeing to sign the waiver, the council moved on to the next conflict of interest waiver, which would authorize Gross to work with both the city and the Eastern Plumas Health Care District related to a California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division Grant and Cooperative Agreements Program, planning grant and potential lease or purchase of parcel numbered 126-050-052.

Again, as Gross serves as city attorney as well as general counsel for EPHC, there is a potential conflict of interest and an actual conflict of interest would arise if the city and EPHC were to enter into negotiations for the city to lease or purchase real property from EPHC. All voted in favor of signing the waiver.

Sport Success review

Susan Jacobson, executive director of Sport Success, gave a brief overview of the work she has been able to accomplish from Aug. 1 to present and the opportunities that lie ahead related to events and sports tourism.

Jacobson presented a slide show and explained that in the 25 paid hours and 25 donated hours of her contract with the city, she had been able to apply for and receive a $15,000 grant from Kaboom, Dr. Pepper and Snapple to begin work on a play structure, as well as ball field revitalization, and held meetings with Portola Little League to reach out for additional donations.

Jacobson said that she worked with Karen Downs on research and facilitation of a site meeting and follow up with disc golf course designers, in order to potentially design a championship course along the Riverwalk.

“John Houck, a major name in the disc golf course design arena, sees the course as the number one priority,” stated Jacobson. “Pretty much anyone that is a disc golfer knows who Houck is.”

In addition to working toward a disc golf course that could potentially attract large competitions and the networks that cover them, such as ESPN and NBC, Jacobson also showed progress in her work to alleviate concerns about a potential off-highway vehicle staging area on a parcel next to Portola’s EPHC main campus.

“The State OHV representatives took a look at our area and said it was outstanding,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson said she attended a workshop for OHV grants. She stated that it had been a very beneficial meeting, which helped her to better understand the process and potential problems to navigate.

Other items Sport Success has been working on are non-motorized boat launch grants, such as a grant application to the Department of Boating and Waterways to develop West End Park. Meacher spoke up, commenting that because the park is next to the Veteran’s Hall, there may be potential to build in Wounded Warriors participation on the project.

Jacobson said she has also made headway on reviewing community facility grants and other options that may provide economic benefits for the city. She added that she has attended regular informal meetings and provided updates to the mayor and city staff.

Jacobson asked the council to think about prioritization of these projects, noting grant deadlines as she works toward assisting with the completion of the 2020 Master Plan — a vision of a thriving city. Suggested priorities included the disc golf course and the West End Park launch site. After more discussion, the council thanked Jacobson for her continued work to promote economic growth and tourism.

The presentation lent itself to the next item on the agenda, Resolution 2339, which would authorize the city to apply for a grant from the DBW Harbors and Watercraft Revolving Fund. All council members approved the resolution by roll call vote, and the council then moved to renew independent contractor services with Sport Success.

Meacher stated, “There has been an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship between the city and Sport Success, and I’d like to get Jacobson into the budget cycle.” The contract anticipates a $500 a month retainer for up to 50 hours of work between now and the end of the fiscal year.

Ordinance 349 and Resolution 2337

Next came introducing and waiving the second reading of Ordinance 349, which amends Chapter 2.24 of the Portola Municipal Code creating the fire department.

The main difference, according to Morton, between the draft and the old ordinance is the duties of the fire chief within PVFD, with duties reduced to responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the department pursuant to policies adopted by the city council. The old ordinance included a laundry list of responsibilities that took up two pages, duties that were described as being “unduly specific.”

Another would prevent fire department apparatus from being utilized outside of the city, aside from mutual aid calls in authorized areas, and fulfilling the contract at Gold Mountain.

Cooley noted that it was rare for a city fire department to be strictly volunteer with a small stipend and he felt that it was necessary to keep the organization flexible. With that, a role call vote approved the waiver of the second reading.

Council then moved on to the final item of business, Resolution 2337, a joint application between the city of Portola and Pacific West Communities, Inc. to the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Strategic Growth Council for workforce housing and sustainable transportation funds.

This funding is in relation to the Portola Gateway Apartments project, a housing project consisting of 72 affordable rental units in three three-story structures, in addition to a single-story, stand-alone 3,500-square-foot community building with leasing offices, a kitchen, computer lab, bike storage with bike repair kiosk and common laundry facilities.

In collaboration with the Plumas County Transportation Commission, the joint application will ultimately link the Portola Gateway Apartments to key destinations throughout the city and beyond, utilizing the expansion of existing bus services.

The project hopes to also link key destinations through the installation of new walkways and traffic calming measures that will increase the safety of pedestrians, as well as provide access from the high school to the city ball fields, and through the expansion of an existing bike route system that goes throughout the city.

After a role call vote, council approved the resolution, calling the meeting to a close.

Portola City Council meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m., and local interest and attendance is encouraged.

Those who would like more information may contact City Hall directly at 832-6803 or visit cityofportola.com.

One thought on “City continues to strive for growth

  • Sustainable growth is an oxymoron.

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