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City prepares for Lost and Found Gravel Festival, looks to lineup for summer concert series


The Wednesday, May 11 meeting of the City of Portola city council opened at 6 p.m. with the pledge of allegiance.

With one councilmember absent, the meeting opened to public comment.

Public comment

Resident Ashlee Sims spoke on the topic of recent city budget workshops, alleging that proper notice wasn’t given to the public for the May 18 meeting most recently. She also asked why there was a new deputy city clerk, as well as asking whether the person holding the position was creating a conflict of interest as the person also works for Beckwourth Fire District.

Interim City Manager Jon Kennedy responded, stating that the May 18 meeting was a special meeting that required 24-hour notice which was posted on the city website as required.

City Finance Officer Susan Scarlett noted that at every single meeting since January she had reported on the budgetary process and also given dates for upcoming workshops. Kennedy also noted that there was no conflict of interest with the deputy city clerk position.

City communications

Councilmember Bill Powers reported that he had attended the country transportation commission meeting, with a lengthy report from Caltrans on the repair program to repair Highways 70, 89, 36 and 147 from damage done during the Dixie Fire.

“I also re-requested that they give us some models to show the public how the lane changes planned for Portola will work.”

Powers also noted that an effort between himself and John Williamson had begun to find funding to extend the length of Nervino Airport and at Rogers Field in Chester, which would allow more sophisticated fire attack craft to utilize the area more efficiently.

“We are already facing an early fire season that could go very late,” Powers reminded. “The idea is to provide faster initial response times to fire starts on the Plumas, Tahoe, Lassen forests as well as BLM and private holdings. We’ll be preparing a proposed resolution for the full Council to decide on support at our first June meeting. We’ve presented to Plumas Fire Safe Council who voted to support, and received a favorable resolution from Gold Mountain CSD, with other signatures from representatives and individuals.”

Powers also encouraged the community to come out and participate during the Lost and Found Gravel Festival bike race coming to town the weekend of June 4.

Oels reported he had also attended the transportation commission meeting, as well as a Firesafe Council meeting, in addition to a well-attended Firewise meeting the previous week with Tenaya Woods, USFS fuel specialist in attendance.

“What she said was really important but real scary,” Oels said. “We’re already out to about the August level of fuel water retention. It is very hot and dry out there already.”

Oels also noted that Mayor Pro Tem Tom Cooley, Dave Rudolph, and himself had gotten to work on a fire hazard reduction job over by the basketball courts in Portola.

Cooley then reported attending a meeting of the abandoned vehicle abatement authority, with the city having two representatives- himself and City Finance Officer Susan Scarlett.

“We can now initiate the process of collecting fees from the DMV for abandoned vehicles- it’s a rather involved process and it is underway again,” Cooley said.

Cooley also attended the budget workshop at city hall and the Firewise meeting in Portola with Oels. “There was high attendance and good discussion,” Cooley said.

Mayor Pat Morton attended the budget workshop as well.

Staff communications

Scarlett noted that she was in the process of updating the proposed budget after the most recent workshop, which will be ready for public comment on Friday, June 3.

When it comes to online utility billing, Scarlett noted many hurdles, but hoped that the online portal would turn on smoothly in the next week.

Scarlett also noted that staff had been very busy with public records requests, stating that it had been extremely time consuming. “I personally have about 20 hours this month that I have spent on public records requests,” she said. “I understand their importance, but it has been extremely time consuming.”

Kennedy interjected with a brief reminder that the city staff have an entire community to serve, and “it is difficult to serve the entire community when we are spending so much time serving one.”

“We may have to budget a line item for records requests,” he added.

City manager report

Interim City Manager Jon Kennedy reported that the Community Clean Up program was ‘so far going really well.’ “We’ve made this program ourselves, and we are making it more efficient every day,” Kennedy said.  “We are working on seven different properties right now, with three completed. We’re getting a lot of positive comments from the public, and most of the community is really appreciative and seeing the difference.” Kennedy added that he appreciated the council approving the program for Portola.

Kennedy also reported on the upcoming Gravel Grinder, with city staff working to clean up for event and preparing for the race. “It should be fun,” Kennedy said. Thus far there is an estimated 180 campers registered to camp in the city. “We plan to have quite a few people here,” Kennedy said.

Road Maintenance & Rehabilitation Account (RMRA) Funds resolution

In 2017, the State Legislature signed the Road Repair and Accountability Act, or SB1, into law.

This act created the Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Account (RMRA) to address deferred maintenance on the state highway system and the local street and road system.

SB 1 requires the California Transportation Commission (CTC) to adopt performance criteria, consistent with a specified asset management plan, to ensure efficient use of certain funds available for the program.

SB 1 also requires the city to annually adopt a list of projects planned to be completed with SB 1 RMRA funding. The list is required to be approved by the City Council at a public meeting and included in the City budget. Resolution 2507 addresses the requirement and contains the project list.

Dan Bastian, city engineer, gave a brief overview of the resolution. “This is what I call a boiler plate resolution that the state demands that we submit, almost verbatim,” he explained. “It is pretty particular. There is one project being added to the list- a grinding project over on South Gulling,” Bastian added.

The city is required to upload the resolution to a portal called CalSmart, to be reviewed once more by staff in that office. Council unanimously approved the resolution by roll call vote.

Music in the park

At the March 9 meeting of city hall, the council approved $7,000 for the Summer of 2022 Music in the Park series. Council member Bill Powers provided an update as to the schedule and a request for an increase in funding of $2,000 for the summer series.

“I hope that this is the best event we’ve ever had. Thus far we have seven scheduled bands, partly in response to all that was cancelled last summer from the fires and smoke, as well as covid,” Powers said.

The lineup at this time will be starting with Margrets Funk Band on July 8. “We look forward to seeing and hearing them again,” Powers said.

Danny Horton as Jack Danny is slated for the stage on July 15, with Powers noting that Horton was a PHS graduate and “really reaching his stride.”

“July 22 will be Blue Haven, another crowd favorite,” Powers said. After fair week,the music is planned to come back on August 5, with a new band called Spur Crazy, followed by White Water out of Reno on August 12.

August 19 is Sierra Roc, with Powers noting that their music would hopefully get folks out of their lawn chairs and on to the dance floor.

Fiesta de Portola is planned for August 26, with music, kids’ games, dancing, and piñatas taking the spotlight. “Pete Rhode will be providing sound,” Powers added. “Also, last but not least, save your appetite and eat “Yumz-ee” food at the park during the event! Yumz food truck will be providing delicious selections for your enjoyment at each of our nights together.”

Powers then went on to request the needed funds to acquire a new vinyl banner with Velcro for across the bridge, as the bulk of the fund ask.

“That’s my pitch,” Powers said.

Kennedy offered to personally contribute $500 towards the ask by Powers if that would make a difference.

After some further discussion, Cooley ultimately moved to add $2,000 to the budget for the Concerts in the Park for the 2022 summer. Morton seconded, a roll call vote was taken, and the request was approved unanimously.

At that the meeting was adjourned. The next meeting of The City of Portola City Council will be held on Wednesday, June 8 at 6 p.m. via Zoom. For more information, visit cityofportola.com.

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