The City Council meeting last night had me on the edge of my sleep. But there were a few moments that did help me keep my eyes open. The loss of a considerable chunk of our redevelopment funds to the state capital that consumes all is troubling. Any time our local property tax money ends up in the hands of Sacramento should probably be considered a bad thing. But if there is a silver lining here, it is that $2 billion of the redevelopment money confiscated statewide will be used to help fund cash strapped school districts. The other interesting consequence is that it will become much harder for individual cities to pay for SB 375 related redevelopment projects. Something that League of California Cities officials loudly proclaimed at last week's SCAG powwow in La Quinta.
The amounts of money that the City of Sierra Madre might have saved had we contracted out our Police services to other jurisdictions was impressive. A million bucks saved annually is nothing to be sneezed at. The loss of some late night staffing at the Police Station might be a consequence we'd survive. People do not visit the station all that much after 10 pm, and regular patrols would still be happening. Of course, all of this does fly in the face of our belief in ourselves as an independent city. Just being some other city's police precinct is a pretty humbling thing. But perhaps some sad day the financial pressure from things like those seemingly endless Sacramento tax confiscations will make this option an irresistible temptation. Or maybe priorities will change. Temple City now invests the money they saved by hiring the Sheriff's Department in their schools.
Then Alverno broke out, and went on for a while. Alverno and their neighbors have been meeting amongst themselves, and a lot of issues have apparently been addressed. Certainly the tension that was evident at previous meetings was no longer there. But that didn't mean folks wouldn't want to be heard on this matter. Passions have been running high on this issue for quite a while, and now that the matter has come to a conclusion people needed to share some of their feelings one more time. The Temporary Use Permit was passed, and thankfully Alverno will now be allowed to survive with its fundraising abilities intact.
Bruce Inman spoke about the many reasons why our water rates will go up. There were quite a few of them, and he at least seemed to feel he'd made a good case. Of course, we had to be told that it was good for us because it would help us save water. Tiered rates encourage people to use less, or so the theory goes. But wouldn't it be great if just once when utility rates or taxes are raised we aren't helpfully informed that it is beneficial to our well-being? I'm not sure how much longer the tired notion that having to pay more for government services is good for us will work. Maybe the consultants told Bruce to say that?
Apparently there is a way for the public to overturn any water rate hike under Prop 18. It involves getting 51% of the city's water customers down to a public hearing and counted as being against it. The logistics of making such a protest stick are pretty daunting, though. Just the cost of getting enough torches into the hands of a few thousand people alone would be excessive. The Council voted to move this on to its inevitable conclusion, and a nearly 16% increase in our water rates goes to a public hearing in July.
It turns out that our Community Redevelopment Agency does hold the paper on Sierra Madre City Hall. Bringing to an end a mystery that apparently baffled then City Councilman Mosca back when the topic came up during an election debate. It turns out Don Watts was right after all.
A very cautious discussion on the La Quinta SCAG conference came up at the end of the meeting. The immense price tag of SB 375 was alluded to, as was the AB 32 question that will be on the ballot this November. CARB and GhG reduction goals were discussed in an abstract sort of way. The fact that the criteria for CARB's "baseline," the standard for judging how much GhG needs to be eliminated, is apparently of mysterious origin was raised by Councilmember MacGillivray. CARB apparently having no way of scientifically validating where their 1990 baseline came from, or proving that it is even exists.
Councilmember Moran seemed to feel that MaryAnn's point was moot since we know what we have now, and we should just reduce greenhouse gases from that. Which leads one to believe that Josh is unaware that the law, which in this case is AB 32, calls for an eventual reduction of GhG to 1990 levels. Which, if nobody really knows what they are, is going to make reducing greenhouse gases to that level kind of difficult.
Those darn details. They'll get you every time.