Taking care of business in Portola

The Portola City Council met at a regularly scheduled meeting on the evening of Feb. 27 with a light agenda to address.

With very few in attendance, there was no public comment. City communications relayed that the biggest ongoing task that the city is working on is snow removal, and that the plowing is going as can be expected. The minutes and consent calendar were both approved, and council went on to briefly touch on the five agenda items.

North Loop Project Phase 1

The first item on the agenda reviewed and considered adoption of Resolution 2386, relating to the North Loop Project. The resolution states that the Phase 1 project is exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and directs the filing of a notice of exemption.


City Engineer Dan Bastian presented findings regarding the project, which involves reconstruction of Joy Way between West and Beckwith streets, including bike and pedestrian lanes; as well as drainage, curb, gutter and sidewalk reconstruction with ADA components. No trees will be removed, and all work will be conducted in the existing right of way.

“The North Loop (Phase 1) includes Joy Way improvements that are consistent with the Plumas County Regional Transportation Plan 2010 long term projects and the city of Portola General Plan,” said Bastian, “Proposed improvements include reconstruction of the roadway, construction of Class II bikeways that would satisfy the General Plan implementation policy C-I-28 and would provide striped lanes for one-way bike travel on each side of the road, construction of sidewalks, curbs, and gutters on each side of the road, and placement of new drainage facilities (as required) between the West Street and Beckwith Street intersections on Joy Way.”

Bastian requested to move forward on filing the Notice of Exemption (NOE) and with little further discussion, the resolution was adopted.

Housing and Safety elements


The Housing Element is one of seven state-mandated elements of the city of Portola’s General Plan, and includes goals, policies and programs addressing existing and future housing conditions and needs in Portola.

Housing Elements must be reviewed and approved by the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).

On May 23, 2018, the city adopted its fifth cycle Housing Element (Resolution No. 2352), which will remain effective through Aug. 31.

Staff is now in the process of updating the Housing Element for the sixth Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) cycle. Two certificates of occupancy have been issued for new single-family construction, with no significant rehabilitation of units. The sixth cycle Housing Element Update will reflect this limited building activity and no progress toward meeting the City’s RHNA.

According to Karen Downs, city contract planner, “In order to meet the certification date of Aug. 31, 2019, the Housing Element must be updated by the city and submitted by May 13, 2019, to HCD for its 60-day review period. The goal is for the Housing Element to continue to fully comply with State Housing Element requirements.”


In addition to the required updates, public participation is a key element in the plan. According to the agenda item’s report, “Public participation is an important part of determining City policies as we begin drafting the Housing Element. Because housing issues affect the entire community; residents, employers, and the public and private sectors, a public forum should be scheduled to engage the community in a dialogue; defining problems and creating solutions.”

An expected timeline was given, with the draft preparation to continue through April, at which time there will be a public meeting. The date for that meeting is still to be determined, but the item will be on the agenda at the April 24 meeting of city council.

Council moved to approve the process and moved onto the Safety Element, which is tied to the Housing Element.

The Safety Element’s primary purpose is to identify potential risks within the city that could potentially endanger public health, safety and welfare.


Periodic updates of the Safety Element ensure that goals and polices are relevant and responsive to community needs.

Pursuant to recent changes in state law, the General Plan Safety Element must be reviewed upon the next revision of the Housing Element, which is due to be certified by Aug. 31.

The Safety Element amendment is proposed to reference and incorporate the city’s adopted Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (LHMP), as well as incorporate the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection (BFFP) “General Plan Safety Element Assessment” requirements.

Certain state and local agencies must be given a 45- or 90-day review period for proposed amendments, and with approval from the council, staff will submit the draft Safety Element, along with the LHMP and other associated and incorporated documents, to these agencies for review based on city council direction.

City staff will then incorporate any comments into the final Safety Element for consideration during a public hearing scheduled for June 12, or for the soonest meeting of city council after the estimated deadline of May 29, once CalFire and BFFP are able to review and comment on the updates.


Railroad Days and Concerts in the Park

With a dearth of prepared, eager volunteers stepping forward to run the annual Portola Railroad Days event, council discussion leaned towards the fact that it may indeed simply be time to retire the event.

CEO Todd Plimpton of Eastern Plumas Health Care (EPHC) noted in conversation with Councilmember Stan Peiler that he felt there was potential for EPHC to take the helm on the event in the future, however, it is a large task and it doesn’t seem that it will happen this year.

Mayor Tom Cooley had prepared a statement on the longtime local event, which stated, “That Council direct staff that Railroad Days 2019 not be scheduled because, despite numerous public and private solicitations by the City, no volunteer organizer has made itself known to the City or expressed an interest in leading the organization effort.”

Talk also continued on the topic of the summer Concerts In The Park series, a continuation of the discussion held at the previous meeting of city council.


Councilmember Peiler noted that he will be talking to EPHC about the potential for them to be involved with the summer series, potentially in a capacity of coordination as the search for vendors continues.

Council moved to approve the previously discussed downsizing from the six concerts during the summers of the past to a series of four concerts, which will be organized by the Lost Sierra Chamber of Commerce. The concerts will have new hours, from 6 to 9 p.m. rather than 7 to 10 p.m.

Review of emergency action on North Lift Station upgrades

At a special meeting held Jan. 22, city council was informed that an emergency exists at the Northside Sewer station and that the time has come for competitive bidding for needed upgrades, council reviewed the finding and took the action to re-state the declared emergency. Updates noted that the pumps have been ordered but not received yet.


This will be done at every city council meeting until the situation is resolved. With a roll call vote, all approved the finding and adjourned the meeting.

The City Council welcomes interest and participation in all regularly held meeting, which occur on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. For more information, contact City Hall at 832-6803 or visit cityofportola.com.