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Tuesday Night’s City Council Meeting is Shaping Up to be a Showdown: Corbin vs Staff

By   /   March 27, 2012  /   Comments Off

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Come on out tomorrow night and watch another episode of “Parking Wars.” I think it was about this time last year when Louisiana Chicken finally received the approval to proceed after months of problems with code enforcement and parking availability. Parking comes up again tomorrow night, the discussion will center around the exceptions for buildings that existed prior to Twentynine Palms becoming a city.  Basically, the staff recommends that the council extend these exceptions to a larger area,

At its March 6, 2012 Public Hearing on the proposed amendment, the Planning Commission

was reminded that the City is pursuing the development of a Community Center/Performing Arts

Center and Workforce Housing Complex, as well as other site and surrounding improvements

on properties fronting Highway 62 and extending southward potentially as far as Cactus Drive.

This development, known as Project Phoenix, shall involve the upgrade of commercial

properties along Highway 62, the removal of existing “blighted” or deteriorated structures and

the utilization of vacant land to develop a 21,000+/- square foot Gymnasium, 17,000+/- square

foot, 250 seat Performing Arts Center, up to forty (40) Workforce Housing units and more than

180 parking spaces.(UM..what happened to the community center with classrooms filled with dancing, knitting, reading, etc.?.) One of the fundamental goals of this project is to acknowledge the lack of

parking within the business core area, examine the need for additional parking within the area

and provide for that parking in a manner that also enhances the community. This effort by the

City to provide parking within the downtown area illustrates the City’s understanding of the

difficulty in requiring individual property owners, with existing structures, to provide current Code

required parking within this core business area.”

Obviously, the city now gets it, what a pain  parking has been for businesses, so now a solution has magically appeared.  Ya know what they say, until you walk in someone else’s shoes or in this case,  try to park in someone else’s parking spot..

Now for the Main Event: The Downtown Economic Revitalization Specific Plan (DERSP).  The city’s DERSP consists of 7 chapters and has pictures for those of you that like to look at pictures while you read.  The staff distributed copies of the plan  to the City Council members on February  29, 2012 with a return date of March 19th if the council had any questions.  Apparently only 2 members of the city council had any questions or concerns, Jim Harris and Jay Corbin. Maybe I am reading too much into this, but seriously only 2? It also appears that Mr. Harris praised for his “highlighted items” that mainly consisted of minor technical corrections and adjustments, but did not think any of it required discussion by the Council. Now Jay, well, he sent a letter with 7 paragraphs. Personally, I think that is fair, the staff gives him a 7 Chapter report and he replies with a 7 paragraph letter. ( but remember staff only has a few days to investigate any questions and repair a report for the March 27,2012 meeting.)

Councilmember Corbin’s questions are well thought out. #1- Corbin would like staff to include an analysis of any non-conforming businesses if the DERSP is adopted.

Staff reply- report not available (this was not included in the Pacific Municipal Consultants’ (PMC) but this information could be included in as little as 2 months.

#2 he notes that an annual report is required on page 7-20 of the Specific Plan, with a number of items listed as needing to be included within the report. The Councilmember states “Please provide this information for Fiscal Year 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 Year-To-Date in the staff report for this matter.”

Response: Staff doesn’t think those years are relevant. So, I am taking that as a no.

#3-Design Guideline Requirements. Councilmember Corbin also asks “Are design elements identified in the Specific Plan optional?”

Response: Duh! We are all about art and design, however staff seems to say, pass this sucker and we will give you more, more design guidelines.

#4-Cost Estimates for Road Improvements Within the fourth comment paragraph, Councilmember Corbin asks “What is the engineer’s costs for improvements identified in Chapter 5 for Adobe Road and SR 62? If one has not yet been provided, please request that the City Engineer provide this information to the Council in the staff report.”

Response: The council hasn’t decided on what streetscape plan to implement, so the City Engineer can’t provide this information.

#5 Redevelopment Agency Replacement Funding Source. The fifth paragraph notes that many references are made to funding via the Redevelopment Agency.

Response: Duh, RDAs are gone and the General Plan and Specific Plans are not budgeted items, so we will not use RDA funds (wink, wink) it could come from different sources, especially the former RDA bond monies.

#6 -Wastewater Plant Funding Source. A final question within the material provided is “What funding source has been identified to cover the $11,000,000 (page 6-3) cost of the wastewater treatment plant?”

Response:At this time the City has not decided to move forward with any such treatment or package plant and, therefore, no funding source has been specifically identified.

#7-Additional Questions.A concluding comment is that Councilmember Corbin shall have “additional questions at the hearing.”

Response: uh, about that…  we weren’t expecting any questions, but ” additional questions”, well that’s too much for us too handle and if you keep this up Jay we are going to miss our window for submitting a Housing Element, deadline is October 2012, tick tock Jay. If we miss this date, we will be stuck with deciding how we will provide 3,352 housing units, instead of 454 for 2013. Do you really want to mess with this, Jay?

And to make Mr. Corbin seem like a really bad guy, they scold him with the mounting cost and the years this general plan has already incurred.

The City has already spent three (3) years and approximately $1.274 Million under the Hogle-

Ireland, Inc. and PMC contracts, which does not include recent costs for the Consultant, City

Attorney or City Engineer, which have yet to be billed. There will be future costs for the

Development Code and Development Impact Fee review added to this current total.

I admit to taking a few liberties with the above responses, but I think I am reading this correctly. Staff doesn’t like it when the City Councilmen don’t follow the script.  Tomorrow night will be interesting. I am placing my bets, uh faith, in Jay Corbin. Come on Jay, let this staff know who’s the boss!  On a serious note, I am glad to see that at least one council member cared enough to question and ask for more information. We are talking mega-millions of dollars and the staff won’t take the fall if this all goes boom! It will be the 5 guys on the city council.

Hope to see you there,remember to bring a jacket and a seat cushion and choose carefully where you sit, the  first two rows may be the splash zone, if Jay goes Rogue.

 

 

 

 

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About the author

Cora Heiser

Twentynine Palms resident

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