The City of Portola City Council convened for a regular meeting of City Hall on Wednesday, July 13 at 6 p.m. via Zoom.
The meeting opened with all council members present, with the pledge of allegiance followed by public comment.
Local Josh Hart spoke first, starting with an overview of an article on the topic of 4G damaging cows’ health in France, and how the court ordered the suspension of antennae operation nearby to observe the effect on cows’ health.
“Our concern is that the cell tower going up near EPHC will pose a risk to residents health,” Hart said. “We urge residents to be aware of potential health problems…the cows in France are being treated better than the people in Portola.” Hart went on to note that he felt that unfortunately, ‘health and safety concerns were being ignored in this case.’
Resident Ashlee Sims spoke next, stating that the elected city clerk position had a number of responsibilities, playing a critical role in city operations. She also noted that the city clerk was responsible for maintaining the public records.
“Why has the elected city clerk been absent? It’s quite confusing.” Sims asked. She also asked why city staff have been covering the city clerk position.
Councilmember Phil Oels reported that he had been staying busy with a lot of weed eating and had also attended a Firewise meeting.
Councilmember Bill Powers reported that in addition to weeding, he had attended the first concert of the summer, adding that the city was hoping for bigger crowds as the summer went on.
Councilmember Stan Peiler brought up the ongoing community-minded efforts of Tom and Linda Cooley, noting that ‘the husband-and-wife team goes around the city and cleans up public areas.’ “I just want to commend them for the work that they do,” he said. Peiler also thanked Phil Oels who recently cleared fuel over by the basketball courts with local Dave Rudolph and the Cooleys.
Mayor Pro Tem Tom Cooley thanked Peiler for his comments and reported his participation in recent Firewise meetings and activities.
Mayor Pat Morton also attended the concerts in the park and echoed the hope to have more people there in upcoming weeks.
Plumas County Sheriff Office Sgt. Tom Klundby reported in for the Eastern Plumas area, noting that there had been 270 calls for service over the last month or so.
“In the East county, we have had 270 calls for service. That includes medical, fire and law enforcement. Of that 270, 134 have been for the City of Portola,” Klundby said.
In the City of Portola there have been eight law enforcement bookings, three drug arrests, three arrests for public intoxication, two domestic violence incidents, and have generated 23 crime reports which includes items such as vandalism and thefts. About half of those cases have been solved and are on their way to the district attorney.
Beckwourth Fire report
Beckwourth Fire Department representative Gay Miller reported that for June 2022, there were five calls total for Beckwourth Division One, all of which were medical calls. The June 2022 total number of calls for the Portola Division was at 30, with 24 of those being medical calls, one call an ‘1144 response’, one motor vehicle accident, three structure fires and one structure rekindle.
There was one fatality in one of those fires. “Fire season is back up and everyone’s vigilance is appreciated,” Miller said.
Resolution 2520- Covid remote meeting renewal
Council took a brief moment to review the emergency proclamation ratified by council on March 20, 2020 as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are again renewing our vows with the State, as we do every 30 days as required,” Interim City Manager Jon Kennedy said.
Local Josh Hart commented on behalf of Plumas Wired and Feather River Action! that it was his personal opinion and the position of the groups he represented that setting boundaries and keeping the public safe was totally healthy and acceptable.
“I in no way want my comments construed any other way,” Hart said. “Health and safety is critical. However, if you do decide to have meetings that are physically barred to the public, it seems that other means of public comment would be encouraged- via phone, letters, internet and email.”
Hart then referred to the many letters and concerns voiced over the cell tower in past months, which were not read individually by the city manager at that time.
“Do what you need to do to protect your health and safety for sure. We need to respect each others’ boundaries. If you’re going to keep these meetings closed to the public and sit there in the council chambers on your own, you should bend over backwards to facilitate, encourage, accommodate and welcome public comment, and we renew our demand that Jon Kennedy resign or be removed from by the city council as soon as possible, thank you,” Hart said.
The resolution to continue meeting remotely was then adopted unanimously by roll call vote.
The consent calendar was then adopted after a public comment from an anonymous woman who asked to be called “Mr. Piat,” who asked for “the original invoices for everything” and went on to state loudly that the city should respect who they were talking to in the public. “You work for them, they don’t work for you,” the anonymous ‘Mr. Piat’ said.
With no further public comment, resolution 2521 authorizing payment of claims was approved by unanimous roll call vote.
Master Charging Station Licensing Agreement / EV Range Inc.
“Todd Roberts has been working on this project, and it’s about time that the agreement is approved and signed,” Kennedy explained. “As soon as we turn in the agreement, we get on the official timeline.”
“This will take up two parking spots which will be designated for EV only,” Roberts explained. “It’s not costing the city anything.”
The two spots are projected to be to the south of the caboose (in downtown Portola), moving the current handicap spots in the parking lot near the area where the annual Christmas tree lighting takes place to the other side of the caboose in the same parking lot.
“We’ve been working on this for about two years,” Roberts said in response to a question from Powers.
Hart had questions and comments, stating that it was concerning that city wasn’t getting any income from the contract. “The city needs money…it just seems like there should be income associated with this. I don’t think it’s wise to move forward with this…electric vehicles are a false solution,” Hart said.
Hart asked about the location of the station, how the power used would be paid for, and questioned the lack of demand for this. “I’m not sure it will benefit anyone who actually pays taxes in Portola.”
Sims then commented on her concerns with the lack of profit associated with the station, asking why the city would want a program that wouldn’t be bringing any real income to the city. “Why are we not installing our own charging station?” Sims asked. ‘Mr. Piat’ asked about ‘fixing the damn potholes’ and also asked why the location was chosen near a bar.
Local Antoinette Quesenberry then commented, stating that Graeagle had looked into the costs associated with putting in a charging station, and while it had been a bit since that research had been done, the way that the costs worked out were “a wash.” “There was not really any money to be made after all of the costs,” she explained.
“If there is a company willing to provide the equipment and keep it updated, maintains after installation and keep up with changing technology, I don’t see how that’s a bad deal. There really isn’t money to be made in reselling electricity, the power company makes money off of that, not the city.” Quesenberry then stated that the chosen location in the city square would be appropriate.
First, Roberts explained that the city looked into multiple companies, and after talking to Liberty Utilities about a company that would run and maintain a charger, looked into EV Range Inc.
“The reason we are leasing them two spots- well, first we thought we want to draw people over the bridge into town, and I was thinking that Pizza Factory and South Side Market right across the street and maybe get some people to spend money downtown,” Roberts said.
“It’s not just for people in Portola, it’s for people that stop through,” Morton said. Oels agreed with the location choice as well. “These same questions were brought up when this started about two years ago,” Powers said.
A motion was made to approve the agreement by unanimous roll call vote.
Council then moved into a discussion item on public records requests. Coverage of that portion of the meeting can be found here.
Public comment will also be accepted via email sent to Deputy City Clerk, [email protected] which if received at least 24 or 48 hours prior to commencement of the meeting will be distributed to the council and posted to the city’s website prior to the meeting at