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January 22, 2010

DHS City Council - January 19

The audio recording of the January 19, 2010, meeting of the Desert Hot Springs City Council is in two parts:

  • Part 1 including the swearing in of Officer Daniel Wells, the DIF change, and red light photo enforcement.
  • Part 2 including the Skyborne liens discussion.

BIA Litigation Settlement

Attorney Duran announced that during the closed session the City Council came to an agreement with the BIA to avoid litigation against the city. He said it would be available the next morning. The settlement agreement was approved 4-1 with Councilmember Betts voting against.

Police Officer Daniel Wells

Chief Pat Williams introduced our newest police officer for swearing in, Daniel Wells, who is a native of The Bronx.
Officer Daniel Wells (5222)
Officer Daniel Wells

Public Comments

Dot Reed said there will be a Relay For Life team captains meeting on January 27 at the Senior Center at 5 PM.

The DHS Historical Society will have a Soup Supper at the Senior Center on January 28 at 6 PM. Cost is $15 for soup, bread, salad and a talk by John "Whitey" Morgan, former general manager of Mission Springs Water District. RSVP to 760 329-0282.

She also talked about the Spa Tour on February 18.

Ms. Reed said a great thing happened to her today, despite the rain. Several years ago her house was hooked up the sewer and the septic tank was crushed, but today a sinkhole appeared in her yard where the septic tank used to be. She went to the water district to pay her bill and ran into Tina Dodd. They discussed the issue and Ms. Dodd sent Danny Friend around to Ms. Reed's in the afternoon to look at it. He told her that after these years the water district was technically not responsible for it, but a work crew would come around the next morning and fill it in for her anyway.

John Martin came up to announce that Junior All American Football Program. The DHS Eagles chapter will be playing tackle football. They plan to put 108 players on the field and 20 cheerleaders on the sidelines. They need a lot of equipment and a lot of uniforms. Saturday January 23 will be a car wash at the Palm Drive RV Center. January 30-31 (8 AM Saturday) at the DHS High School stadium Coach Matthews and the varsity team will put on a football clinic. On Sunday the 31st it goes from 1 to 5 PM. February 13 will be another car wash. March 19 will be a ribbon cutting ceremony a 5 PM at the high school. The day after that will be another football clinic put on by Coach Matthews. After that official registrations will start.

I've Googled around and I can't find what ages can play in the Junior All American Football Program. Nor can I find out if it's co-ed or just boys. Mr. Martin gave no contact information during his public comments.

UPDATE: The Desert Sun (that great repository of information) has more info. Ages are 7 to 14. There will also be a clinic on the weekend of May 8-9. Cost is $15 which covers all 6 clinics plus a t-shirt. Contact phone number: 760-250-2484. Doesn't say if it's boys-only or co-ed. It does say "youths." In the classic sense (Rome and Greece) that would mean boys, but maybe girls can be called "youths" too, now that it's the 21st century and all.

George Fisher reminded us that Shake, Rattle & Roll is coming up in just a month on February 20 at DHS High School from 10 AM to 2 PM. It's free for everyone, including vendors. On February 6, 5 PM at the Carl May Center, Pat Hinrichsen will present a powerpoint thing to show where you can see the San Andreas fault.

Bruce Montgomery said there will be an event on Thursday, February 11, 11 AM to 3 PM being sponsored by the Family Resource Center and the Children's Division of Riverside County Social Services are the main sponsors. The City of DHS is also sponsoring. "Linking Hearts To Community Resources" is the theme. There will be music, gift drawings, martial arts demonstrations, fun activities and community resources. [Ron wonders if that is a school holiday?]

Tony Clarke talked about progress being made on the World Wellness and Music Festival. Musical and wellness talent are being lined up. The event is being scaled for 5,000 people.

Michael Platt told us that they've already had one weekend of sign ups for little league. The league needs donations and sponsors. Call Mr. Platt at 760-408-4452. Sign ups this weekend at K-Mart 10-4, Saturday & Sunday.

DIF Modification

This proposal was to increase the Development Impact Fee for law enforcement from $179 to $362 and reduce the DIF for circulation (traffic) from $4,330 to $2,165. This brings the total DIF from $11,085 down to $9,103. The immediate reason for this is to end the threat of litigation from the BIA, but the longer term reason is because the DIF has to be based on the General Plan and you can't build a castle on a pile of sand (although we do that all the time here in the desert). IOW, the outdated General Plan is not good enough to support the DIFs to which this city is properly entitled. When we get a new General Plan and then re-calculate the DIF, then we can jack it back up to where it should be.

DIF Rates
I understand some people were confused as to what the new DIF rates are, so I'm including this table.
It comes from this PDF which was included in the supporting documents in the agenda for January 19.

Attorney Duran clarified that while the settlement with the BIA had been reached in closed session, the City Council did not consider specific adjustments to the DIF in closed session because the Brown Act forbids that. Adjustments can only be made after an open, public hearing (like this city council meeting).

James Brownyard from the Desert Chapter of the BIA commented that he thought this proposal was good and he asked the council to approve it.

Mayor Parks said the nexus studies to justify the DIF will be re-examined in about six months.

Attorney Duran said that this reduction applies only to the residential single-family development category (although I, myself, can't find that technical info anywhere in the resolution). That means that new business developments (hey, where IS that Fresh & Easy store?) still pay the full DIF approved earlier.

Councilmember Betts asked Attorney Duran to clarify if he had said none of the numbers in the resolution had been worked out prior to this public hearing. Attorney Duran said that he said the council had not "approved" these numbers in closed session, even though there has been discussion between members of the city and the BIA.

Mr. Betts asked, "What were we looking at in closed session? What numbers were we looking at in closed session?"

Mr. Duran: "You were looking at several scenarios based on work that representatives of the council had worked out with representatives of the BIA, the other party, and also based on negotiations between the BIA's lawyer, Mr. Walt McNeil, and myself."

Mr. Betts: "I don't know what you're saying technically there. But my recollection is events have been going on a long time with a lot of conversation and a lot of closed session discussion, a lot of negotiating with the parties involved and this is a very short hearing process and a very short notice for the public that wanted to weigh in on this. So, I'll leave my comments at that, but this process hasn't been handled properly in my view."

Mr. Duran: "I'm sorry, Madam Mayor. With all due respect to Councilmember Betts, I have to say that this public hearing was noticed in accordance with state law with ten days notice of the public."

Mr. Betts: "I wasn't talking about...I wasn't saying legally it wasn't handled properly. I wasn't challenging that"

Mr. Duran: "I understand that."

Mr. Betts: "I said 'properly' as far as giving the public adequate time. It's not the bare minimum legal requirements that are called for here. It's been nearly a year of discussion taking place on this without the public having the benefit of that. Now we have all of a couple of days over a holiday weekend. Okay! It's not going to change the outcome."

The measure was approved 4-1 with Councilmember Betts voting against.

Mr. Betts and some of his supporters have been talking about and predicting this very outcome to the matter ever since the BIA first threatened litigation. Despite that and full legal notice, not one person rose to speak against the change. Compare that to the City Council meeting on December 1 where the rental inspection ordinance was considered. Some people didn't hear about that until only hours before the meeting, but they certainly turned out and let the city council know their opinions. Perhaps most citizens of DHS realize that very little is to be lost due to this DIF reduction, because the number of new single-family homes to be built between now and whenever a new, proper, higher DIF goes into effect can be counted on the fingers of two hands. I'm tempted to say you could count them on one hand, but I like to be optimistic. If 10 new homes are built while this lower DIF is in effect the city loses $19,820. We've probably spent that much on attorney fees, and would certainly spend more than that if we went to court.

Christian Center Conditions Of Approval Amendments

This is the amendment discussed and approved at the Planning Commission last week. Two power poles on Little Morongo Road have to be moved (as part of the conditions of approval for this development). Moving those poles costs $300,000 each. At the Planning Commission we were told that when the church did its due diligence, Southern California Edison gave them the estimated cost for moving a regular, wooden utility pole: $20,000 to $40,000, so the church set aside $80,000 for the task. At this City Council meeting we were told that the bigger, metal $300,000 poles were put in after the original conditions of approval.

When the metal poles were put in (about 2007? 2008?) SCE put them along the same line as the old wooden poles, which is IN the public right of way. SCE did not contact the city before doing it. No one explained whether a utility like SCE has to get a permit before erecting new poles along an already established line, but if there's some legal technicality that would allow the city to force SCE to move the line at its own expense, I'd be all for it. Councilmember Baker pointed out that SCE was also uncooperative in helping the city to put up police cameras on their poles.

The measure was approved 5-0.

Commission Appointments

Mayor Parks began by naming the Commissioners on the Community and Cultural Affairs Commission, but Councilmember Baker raised the issue previously discussed, that all commission appointments run for only two years. Therefore, ALL seats on all commissions are open for appointments and re-appointments. After some discussion, it was moved to postpone the actual appointing until the special meeting of the City Council on Tuesday, January 26, 5 PM. Approved 5-0.

Mayoral Assignments

  • CVAG Public Safety: Scott Matas, Jan Pye(alternate)
  • CVAG Transportation: Scott Matas, Yvonne Parks (alternate)
  • MSWD liaison: Jan Pye, Karl Baker (alternate)
  • CVAG Executive Committee: Yvonne Parks, Scott Matas (alternate)
  • CVMVCD: Karl Baker
  • Hoteliers Association liaison: Russell Betts, Scott Matas
  • Chamber of Commerce liaison: Russell Betts
  • RCTC: Scott Matas, Russell Betts (alternate)
  • CCAC liaison: Jan Pye
  • Palm Springs Airport Commission: Jan Pye, Scott Mats (alternate)
  • CVAG Homeless Committee: Karl Baker, Russell Betts (alternate)
  • CVAG Human & Community Resources: Russell Betts, Karl Baker (alternate)
  • CVA Executive Board: Yvonne Parks
  • Sunline Transit Authority: Yvonne Parks, Scott Matas (alternate)
  • DHS Historical Society liaison: Jan Pye
  • Animal Campus: Karl Baker
  • Coachella Valley Conservancy: Karl Baker (who says probably no meetings this year because the state has frozen their funds)
  • CVAG Energy & Environmental Resources: Yvonne Parks, Karl Baker (alternate)
  • Public Safety Commission liaison: Scott Matas, Jan Pye (alternate)
  • Property Rights Association liaison: Jan Pye
  • Desert Healthcare District: Jan Pye
  • Palm Springs Desert Resort Conventions & Visitor Authority: Russell Betts, Scott Matas (alternate)
  • CVEP Legislative Committee: Russell Betts, Jan Pye (alternate)

Approved 5-0.

Community Committees

  • Finance: Karl Baker & Jan Pye
  • Emergency Preparedness: Yvonne Parks
  • Economic Development: Jan Pye & Scott Matas
  • Annexation: Scott Matas
  • Streets: Russell Betts
  • Parks & Recreation: Scott Matas
  • Human & Community Resources: Scott Matas & Karl Baker
  • Energy: Yvonne Parks & Karl Baker


  • Budget: Karl Baker & Jan Pye
  • Policy: Karl Baker & Jan Pye
  • DVD Contract: Jan Pye & Scott Matas

At this point the mayor asked for a motion to approve. There was a motion and second. It was approved 5-0. However, Attorney Duran explained that these Mayoral appointments are just that: her appointments, and not subject to a vote of the council. If, however, the mayor wanted her appointments to be subject to a vote of the council, that would be legally okay, but it might also mean that the committees to which the appointments were made would be subject to all the provisions of the Brown Act (notice, agenda, minutes, etc.). Mayor Parks, therefore, asked for a motion to rescind the vote. It was so moved and seconded. The rescision was approved 4-1 with Councilmember Baker voting against.

Red Light Photo Enforcement

This is a proposal for a contract with Redflex Traffic System, Inc. Readers should note that Redflex is NOT American Traffic Solutions, the company that made the presentation to the Public Safety Commission in November 2009. Redflex is an Australian company.

The contract includes a Cost Neutrality provision. Redflex gets the first $6,000 per month in proceeds from red light tickets. Anything over that amount goes to the city. If fines come to less than $6,000 per month, Redflex eats the loss.

Approved 5-0.

Skyborne Financial Assurance

This was a proposal to substitute a lien contract for the performance bonds in effect for villages 3 through 10 in Skyborne. The lien value would be $9,526,476, which is double the estimated cost of required improvements. The performance bonds for $486,109 for villages 1 and 2 (where the built-up homes are) will remain in effect. Skyborne will pay a fee to the city equal to 1% of the value of the lien per year.

Skyborne Map
Here's the map that was referred to frequently during the discussion
. The blue area is villages 1 & 2 where performance bonds will remain in effect. Villages 3 through 10 are in yellow and that's where the lien contract will apply. Obviously the surface has been "disturbed" in villages 3 through 10, and some infrastructure is already in place. For example, this is Mission Lakes Boulevard on the northern boundary of Skyborne:
Skyborne - ya got yer infrastructure right here (3729)

The city will, in addition to the lien contract, get bonds to assure that dust (PM10) and erosion due to water will not be a problem. The amount of those bonds had not been determined by the time of this city council meeting and the council had a choice of either allowing staff to set the value, or bringing it back to the council for approval.

City Engineer Jonathan Hoy explained that the lien agreement is in conformance with the city's recently approved policy on financial assurance. He also explained that he had received some paperwork that day from Skyborne that may have had to do with the PM10 and storm water erosion bonds, but that wasn't clear, and the only figure in it was $25,000 which was far too low for the necessary bonds.

Mayor Parks asked Mr. Hoy to clarify that before the developer can do any work in villages 3 through 10, he would have to come back to the city and replace the lien with bonds. Mr. Hoy agreed that her understanding is correct.

Jim Kozak from Skyborne Ventures came up to comment. He reminded the council of the process over the last few months that has brought the city & Skyborne to this point. He asked the council to approve the request.

Michael Platt said he wanted to see whatever could help save our developments. He said that performance bonds are expensive. He said the council is moving in the right direction. He asked about the partial improvements in village 10. He wants them to be inspected before bonds are posted for construction to begin again. He commended the city council for moving in the right direction.

Councilmember Betts had some questions. "Can we get the slide back up that we had up here with the yellow area. So, we were offered a number to take care of all of that yellow area by the person making this request. What was the amount of that? Was it $25,000? Is that what I heard today?"

Mr. Hoy: "That was a bond amount that was submitted. And I'm not sure if that was the entire amount or not, because it didn't seem reasonable."

Mr. Betts: "The suggestion that was made by the developer making this request was that they would put up a $25,000 bond to take care of all of that yellow area. Right? That's what we heard today. And then the staff now is going to look at that and go back and say 'Well, maybe that's not enough.'"

Mr. Hoy: "The requirement of what the developer agreed to do was provide a maintenance bond for erosion control and dust control..."

Mr. Betts: "$25,000."

Mr. Hoy: "No. An erosion control bond for that site. That's what the city agreed to. I received just late this afternoon a submittal. $25,000 was on one of the submittals they submitted. I'm not comfortable discussing that now because I don't know if it was the entire amount. It doesn't sound an appropriate number for a site that large. So it's not an amount the city is comfortable with or would approve."

Mr. Betts: "I know. I'm certainly not comfortable with it. And I know it's not an amount the city's comfortable with, but the discussion we had before this meeting when I was being supplied some information on this the number that came in was $25,000 to maintain that very large area which obviously is not anywhere near enough. Up here on this map you're talking about, we've been using words 'development,' 'construction.' [He walks up to map and points at an area]. What's this up here? That's development. That's construction. That's already graded, underway, there's sewers in place, there's utilities in place. We don't have just this blue area here covered by construction. This project's done extensive work throughout the entire project."

Mr. Hoy: "The area within the blue is where we have homes that are occupied. Construction that was completed and homes occupied in villages 1 and 2."

Mr. Betts: "Okay, but we've started - the project's been started in this area."

Mr. Hoy: "The previous developer [D R Horton, of course] began mass grading and construction on the remainder of the site, as you can see on the slide. The only villages that are currently occupied are the areas in blue."

Mr. Betts: "I'm aware of that. But construction has started, commenced, taken place in the areas that are shaded in yellow."

Mr. Hoy: "Yes, construction has..."

Mayor Parks: "What is the point of all that?"

Mr. Betts: "There's no point of that. I'm just trying to establish that there is construction going on throughout the entire project."

Mayor Parks: "How does that effect whether it's bonds or lien?"

Mr. Betts: "Well, we'll get to that. We're working on it. When we had these meetings on the financial assurance guidelines, I asked and was very clear and the answer that came back was that no shovel of dirt will be turned before a bond is in place. And if somebody comes in and gets a project approved, they get some type of a lien possibly to give the city some kind of security, but before any work commenced then the assurance from the city manager and the city finance director was that they'll have to go get a bond. Here we've got a project that's not just turned shovels of dirt, they've had earthmoving equipment going through there. Moving rocks. Go take a drive through the site. It's extensive. You've got the unimproved portion of Mission Lakes Boulevard there at the top. It runs along there. That's all been mass-graded. This project is moving along. And there are bonds in place to make sure that work kept moving along. So I don't agree that the financial assurance guidelines that we adopted, because the words that were also used would be 'in very rare circumstances.' And that was repeated three or four times. Now here we are at the very next meeting after that took place and it's not a rare circumstance, it's a circumstance in which something's just now moving on down the line. Each time we deviate from the traditional practices and you asked a question about the liens. Each time this city has deviated from traditional securities and traditional practices we've gotten bit. And it's been plenty of times. It's resulted in millions of dollars of cost to the city, and unfinished projects, unfinished public improvements associated with those projects and eyesores in our community. You just look at the Village sitting out there. I know people don't like that comparison because one was a lien and one was a letter of credit. What we're talking about, the result is the same. If you don't have the mechanisms in place to finish the project, guess what? You end up with a project that's sitting there until somebody comes along and buys it. And that's what we've got going on at the Village. I understand that the developer here has some - it's a difficult time for all these developers. But I've got to look out for the interests of the people in the city and this is NOT security. We had our city manger said on November third that if we end up having to foreclose and take the lien, quote, we would take title to the land in order to satisfy the lien obligations. We would own the land and either sell it or it would make a great regional park. Now that's the option we are facing as a final step down the road is a default. We own this land. Now what? We wait for somebody to come along and it sits there in the state that it's in now. Now the parts that are done look nice. It's a nice development, the parts that are done. But the parts that aren't done, the parts around where people are living nearby are not done. And you just can't take a lien as security. You know, you don't just look at this thing and say to yourself in your gut there's something wrong with this and then not go check with a bunch of people. And everybody that I have talked to that has got extensive experience with land use development - I called the lead counsel at the League of California Cities, I talked to civil engineers, I've had conversations with the water district, they have concerns over this, they've been approached with essentially the same deal and they have said no way, they're not going to do it. I don't why this council would even be considering this. We have a secure position now. And it's the fiduciary responsibility of this council to make sure that we look out after the best interests of the people that put us here in these seats. And we've got the securities we need to make sure that that project goes through, and that's the way it should stay. And the deal with D R Horton holding these bonds with A++ rated companies, we've got the securities we need to make sure that this project goes through, gets done, and what's going to happen is some day down the line if things don't work out and that's what we have to look at, people are going to say 'Wow, look at this project that's not done here. I wonder when it's going to get done.' And somebody's going to say 'Well, you know council at one time way back when had all the security they needed to make sure that these things would get done, but they released it.' Same thing happened up at Rancho Del Oro. You've got a half a street up there because the city council mistakenly released a bond. There's a half a street. You've got that all over this city. We have got to stop doing this stuff. We've got to follow and say that in this city these are the way we operate, these are the traditional mechanisms. We don't have the wherewithal to get into being land developers because we now own a development. So I'm going to hold the rest of my comments there, but we might just as well get this out now because this is the most wrong thing that we could possibly do as a city. It's not forward thinking. It's putting this city at risk in very difficult times when we don't have the financial wherewithal to follow through."

IMO Mr. Betts' claim that he is "shocked, shocked I tell you" to see this Skyborne lien issue come up just two weeks after the city council approved the policy on financial assurance is either disingenuous or naive. The development of the policy, the study session, were all because the issue had been raised about substituting liens for bonds at Skyborne. Mr. Betts was at all the meetings on the subject. He voted for the policy (on January 5) that made tonight's proposal possible. Jim Kozak and Skyborne have been involved in the process all along. If Mr. Betts didn't know it was leading to this vote, then he's the only one who didn't know.

The discussion continues:

City Manager Daniels: "Mayor, since my name was used in the - was quoted in Councilor Betts' comments, with all due respect, I stand by the words I gave to you. I said in the November third meeting, or whenever it was, and that is that we are looking at and will be requiring bonds on all those lands which are disturbed. We're not looking at that yellow area being lien-only. We're going to require that there be bonds, going to be bonds of sufficient amount, to cover those areas that have been disturbed."

Mr. Betts: "But we don't have that in front of us today. We have nothing in front of us today to say what that is."

Mr. Daniels: "You have in the contract, you do have that requirement. And it is there according to the policy the council adopted at your last meeting. [Mr. Betts begins to interrupt]. Excuse me, I wasn't finished with this. What you don't have is we got today what the developer gave us, a number of sheets of paper that had different numbers for different pieces. We need to get from the developer his proposal for the exact bond amount. Jonathan, the city engineer, will do an assessment about what it will take to take care of any erosion problems or PM10 problems arising out of those areas that have been disturbed. And, whether it is $25,000 or $200,000, it will be the number that Jonathan feels protects the city. Excuse me."

Discussion continued on other issues among Mayor Parks, Councilmember Pye, Mr. Hoy and Mr. Daniels.

Mr. Daniels expanding on a comment by Mr Hoy: "Madam Mayor, members of the council. And also, the PM10 and erosion control bonds will be in place on that northeast corner. When they move beyond what's there today there will be two performance bonds in place. One for the public improvements, streets, curbs, sidewalks, lights, etc. And the PM10 or emissions control and erosion control."

Mr. Betts: "But those bonds are in place now for all that work, right? So the proposal is to remove them."

Mr. Daniels: "Yes."

Mr Betts: "What happens to all this disturbed area here. We have people living around this. What happens to all that? We have areas like that now in the city that are mass-graded and then just sitting there. There's one across the freeway at 62. We've got one up on the hill. We've got one at Little Morongo and Mission Lakes Boulevard. Not the Village, but the area that was all grubbed up. What happens to this area here. We've got a lien on it. What happens to it?"

Mr. Daniels: "No, we will have a lien, but we will also have a performance bond for them to protect against erosion and drainage damage on other properties and PM10."

Mr. Betts: "But when we've got a lien what we have is if something goes awry with this, if the developer runs into very hard times and can't sustain himself and disappears what do we have there? We have all what we have there looking at now, it's our responsibility, it's our baby, what do we do with it?"

Mr. Daniels: "No, we will have a performance bond on that for those purposes, erosion control and PM10. We'll be able to go that bonding company if there's drainage damage eroding onto somebody else's property, or if there's dust that comes from that."

Mr. Betts: "Okay, but to restore that area or to - it's pretty churned up. I mean, you take a drive out there and you take a look, you go all over the place, it's - a big earthmover's gone in there, so it's just going to sit like that, right? It's just going to sit there, or somebody's going to come along and buy it and finish it."

Mr. Daniels: "No, because we will have a bond where we would be able to go out and hire the glue to maintain...for the dust, and if there was damage caused by a rainstorm that that stuff's eroding onto other properties that we would have monies available to fix those."

Mr. Betts: "Okay, so we're going to end up gluing over the graded area there, that's still a big graded area, it's all glued up. Now we have bonds on these that have certain expiration dates, that say when certain periods of time when these roads and stuff are supposed to go in, right? The other picture we could be looking at if the timeframes are right on the bonds is you could go take a drive out there and there'd be all finished streets, curbs, gutters, sidewalks, everything in place, finished, great, everything done, waiting for the houses. At some point in time if these bonds were done correctly, then that's what we would be looking at instead of a stalled project. Is that correct?"

Mr. Hoy: "Madam Mayor, there's a development agreement on the property. And the property in yellow, the area that's incomplete is still bound by those entitlements. So the performance bond he's describing would be able to protect the city against any hazards or damage that would occur to that property or a neighboring property. But the property would stay as is until it's required to be improved per the development agreement or the project is sold or construction begins."

Mr. Betts: "I understand that point. That's exactly the point I'm making. The property will stay there as is until something else happens. But we have bonds in there that say that in a certain amount of time, if this doesn't happen then these things will start to take place. It's like out at Rolling Hills development. He wanted his bonds released and we said to him then put the final lift on the streets and do the landscaping, do everything you said you would do and then we'll release the bonds. So now the Rolling Hills development is cleaned up and looks nice. But there's finished pads waiting for houses. But other than that, it's done. Now, don't we have those same bonds in place that will assure that in some point in time that these public improvements will go in? Whether or not they're on the schedule of the developer or the schedule of us because we've called in the bonds?"

Mr. Daniels: "No, the difference is that there's a development agreement on this property that the current developer and the previous developer are in full compliance. That requires that by a certain date or event certain things have to happen. So we can't go out today and require that they put in streets."

Mr. Betts: "When can we require that they go out and put in streets? Twenty years from now?"

Councilmember Baker: "Can I at least ask a question?"

Mr. Betts: "You have plenty of time, Karl. I'm just taking a little right now."

Mr. Baker: "I don't want to take the whole evening on this. Have all of the permits, grading, whatever, in area [village] 10 expired?"

Mr. Hoy: "Yes."

Mr. Baker: "So in order for them to do anything, they got to start all over?"

Mr. Hoy: "They have to reactivate their permits."

Mr. Baker: "'Reactivate,' which essentially means start over, is that correct?"

Mr. Hoy: "Not design something new, but start over..."

Mr. Baker: "Well, they don't have to design it, but we get to review it, right?"

Mayor Parks: "And that's when the bonds come back."

Mr. Baker: "Yeah, that's what I'm thinking. That's when the bonds come in. Now, in the meantime, yeah, it was disturbed. So the developer has agreed to bond anything that could be foreseen in the future that would cause harm to the neighboring areas. Is my understanding pretty correct on that?"

Mr. Hoy: "Yes."

Mr. Baker moved the item. Mr. Daniels asked to clarify that this mean bonds for PM10 and erosion control subject to the satisfaction of the city engineer. Ms. Pye seconded.

Mayor Parks said she thinks there is a miscommunication as to how far a bond goes. "A bond doesn't build a development if a developer leaves!" she said. Mr. Betts countered, "Yes, it does." Mayor Parks insisted, "No it doesn't!"

Mr. Betts: "Use the term to develop what the development is. It puts in the public improvements. That's what the bonds are for, to make sure the public improvements go in."

Mayor Parks: "If there's a development agreement in place. Explain exactly what the bonds will cover, because I don't think he [indicating Mr. Betts] has the right interpretation of how far those bonds will go."

Mr. Hoy: "Those bonds are to assure that the public improvements are included as agreed upon. And the development agreement defines when those public improvements have to take place. There is a difference between a lien and a bond and a letter of credit and a deposit, as we discussed previously. This is up to the council to approve or not. It's the developers request. And I believe he's requesting this because of his current circumstances and the economy. So, once again, it's up to council to approve or not. There is a difference, but to answer your question about the bonds, there's a development agreement that defines when those improvements are necessary. And we have a bond that secures that those improvements will be in place. Now the developer's proposing to replace those in the interim with a lien contract."

Mayor Parks: "And that's the word. That's the key word: 'interim'. Because, in order for them to do any more work on that property they have to come back to the city, resubmit for permits, and at that time, as part of the development agreement a condition of approval will be that they provide the performance bonds."

Mr. Hoy: "Yes."

Mr. Betts: "Just to let you know, I understand very clearly how the bonds work, how they're used in the development process. And if you have got a street that's not done and you 've got bonds that say that street will go in, just as the city has done before, and is working to do on other developments, you call the bonds. And either those streets go in or we go do it ourselves and then we charge the bonding companies."

Attorney Duran explained that bonding companies may move in themselves and hire the contractors to finish the job or they may simply write a check to the city to do the work up the amount bonded for. If the market has changed, and it costs more than the bond amount to finish something, the city would get only the bond amount. He said the exact scenario varies from bonding company to bonding company.

Mr. Daniels said the first question a bonding company will ask is "Are those improvements required to be put in right now." There's nothing in the Skyborne development agreement that requires all those streets to be put in today.

Mr. Betts: "When does it require that?"

Mr. Daniels: "That's a question I can't answer."

Mr. Betts: "That's a pretty pertinent question."

Mr. Daniels: "It's specified in the council-approved development agreement."

Mr. Betts: "When was that approved? Back in 2002?"

Mr. Daniels: "2005."

Mr. Betts: "2005? I haven't seen it. It's a pretty significant question."

Mr. Daniels: "I believe you asked for a copy of the development agreement and I gave it to you about three months ago."

Mr. Betts: "I don't think I got anything."

Mr. Daniels: "I'll get you a copy."

Ms. Pye asked a question about whether an amount was overstated. Mr. Hoy explained that those were what are called "spine roads" that will connect all the villages some day.

Mr. Betts: "So those are being released also?"

Mr. Hoy: "Those are being replaced with the lien contract."

Mr. Betts [pointing to the map]: "That's these roads that - where we've already got significant work going on. And, Mr. Baker, it's not just here, you've also got here going on. Right? You've got disturbance and everything else over there that's going on. It's not just one other section up there in the corner. Take a drive out there, have a look."

Mr. Baker: "Yeah, I'd be spittin' in the wind to open my mouth now."

Approved 3-1, Mr. Betts voting against, Mayor Pro Tem Matas having recused himself way, way back there at the beginning.

Palm Drive/I-10/MSHCP Funding Magic

Tom Kirk, CVAG Director, came to the podium to show us a very well-edited Powerpoint presentation [does he give classes?] on how Rick Daniels, Representative Jerry Lewis and the economic times came together to make debt and expense disappear. This is still technically a proposal and has not been finally approved by the CVAG Executive Committee. It has, however, been approved by the CVCC.

  1. Re-issuing the documents because DHS rejected the MSHCP cost $1.25 million [there were attorneys involved].
  2. Riverside County loaned CVAG $800,000 to cover some of that expense.
  3. In September 2009 the CVCC directed Mr. Kirk to meet with Rick Daniels to find some creative way(s) to help DHS reimburse these costs.
  4. For the I-10 interchange projects, if you ignore federal and state money, CVAG pays 75% of the balance and "local agencies" [cities, the county] pay the other 25%.
  5. Before annexation the DHS share of the Palm Drive/I-10 interchange project was $1.6 million. The county's share was $3.1 million.
  6. Because of annexation, the county [always our best bud!] suggested that our share should rise from $1.6 million to more than $2 million.
  7. The bids for the Palm Drive/I-10 interchange came in 65% lower than expected. A drop of more than $17 million. Everybody's share of the expense dropped.
  8. DHS went to Representative Jerry Lewis and asked for some funding for the Palm Drive/I-10 interchange.
  9. Representative Lewis got us $2 million [I just might have to vote for his re-election some day].
  10. The $2 million will be used to pay for DHS's share of the expense for the interchange.
  11. $800,000 of the remaining federal money will be used to pay down some of the county's share.
  12. The remaining $440,000 pays off part of CVAG's share.
  13. As a result, all of the federal money is going to pay for construction costs at the interchange.
  14. The county will take $800,000 from another fund and use it to forgive the loan to CVAG.
  15. CVAG will take $440,000 from other funds and to pay for mitigation land while it is cheap.
  16. Eliminates the dispute on the shares at Palm Drive/I-10. The DHS "debt" would be satisfied. The CVAG loan is forgiven. The county is made whole. Money is provided for land acquisition. Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds sing.
  17. Win-win-win.

Approved 5-0.

Consent Calendar

Some other items on the consent calendar that were approved without discussion:

The city has received $138,200 to be applied to energy efficiency projects that should lower the city's utility bill. I see on the list of work is the replacement of 12 air conditioners with more efficient ones. They are at the police department, the detective's trailer, City Hall "buildings" A B and C, fire department, Senior Center, Carl May, the Chamber of Commerce and the library. That comes to only $133,300, so maybe they've kept $5,000 of wiggle room. What kind of energy efficiency improvement can be bought with $5,000?

Holidays. City Hall will be closed on all the established holidays, including Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day, Veteran's Day, Friday after Thanksgiving, and Christmas Eve. But not Columbus Day and certainly not St. Patrick's Day. FYI, in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, (basically, Boston plus less than a handful of scruffy towns) it is considered immensely fortuitous that the British left Boston on March 17, 1776, so that St. Patrick's Day could be a county and city holiday called "Evacuation Day" [make up your own joke].

The implementation agreement for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise between CalDOT and the city. You can go read this agreement if you want to see lots and lots of words go to their untimely deaths in the goal of obfuscation. This has something to do with preventing discrimination against anyone on the basis of race, color, sex or national origin when contracting for CalDOT-funded work. My only thought was that "race, color, sex or national origin" seemed an awfully short, old-fashioned list (think John F. Kennedy) for California. But as you read further you will see that it includes federal money (I think) and that's probably the basis for the very short list. Whatever. As though our city would ever discriminate on any basis except price and the quality of work product.


Councilmember Jan Pye said the Traffic committee will hold two community meetings (essentially the same). One on January 27, Wednesday, at 6 PM and again on January 30, Saturday, at 2 PM, both in the Lozano Community Center in Tedesco Park. It's all about the I-10 interchange and any other traffic-related issues that you want to raise.

City Manager Daniels said the General Plan land use element will come to the council in February. Then it's circulation and parks. The GP cannot be adopted until after the EIR, so that means 270 days (9 months!) of more waiting.

Mr. Daniels gave credit to Jonathan Hoy for coming up with the $2 million federal money, Palm Drive-I-10, MSHCP, Riverside County, CVAG money shuffle that has saved our ass. [Give the man a raise!]

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | January 22, 2010 at 04:12 PM


I've tried, here on Ron's Log, to make it easy for people to criticize or correct what I've written and that keeps me motivated to try get it correct the first time I write it.

The "facts" on political websites written by people who want to stay anonymous are about as reliable as the "facts" you find on dating websites.

It's a lot like nudity. Can't lie about much when you're naked, and we like to keep it naked at Ron's Log (although today we are wearing jammies and a sweater).

Posted by: Ron's Log at Jan 25, 2010 9:04:51 AM

Thank you Ron! You allow folks to post their opinions here on your log. The other "blogger" does not allow that at all. Not to mention that he/she/they hide behind an anonymous "no name" as they write their webpage. It seems to me, that for real civil discourse to happen in a public forum, one must be willing to step up to the podium of the web and tell us who they really are...

Posted by: Jeff at Jan 25, 2010 8:21:33 AM

The point here is that some other unidentified blogger got it wrong. It is not an analysis of how much the city would stand to benefit by launching a hopeless defense in court.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Jan 24, 2010 9:32:23 AM

Well that all sounds good then. Give up $183 for public safety and get $2165 as a credit for a net savings of $1912. As long as public safety gets more right?

Posted by: Grammer Guy at Jan 24, 2010 7:57:08 AM

Moreno Valley halts it's red light camera program

After hearing about the high fines for residents and little benefit to the city, council members decided at a study session earlier this week to end the pilot program Jan. 31, 2010. The council will make it official in a vote at a regular meeting next month. That action will remove the cameras that were installed, operated and maintained by Redflex Traffic Systems at Frederick Street and Centerpoint Drive and at Perris and Alessandro boulevards. Moreno Valley's revenues from the fines totaled $330,000, said Cynthia Fortune, financial operations division manager. But the expenses to run the red-light monitors were $283,000. Redflex received $210,000 of that and the Moreno Valley police department spent $73,000 on administrative costs. Mayor Pro Tem Bonnie Flickinger said "It's not a great money-maker." http://www.pe.com/rss/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_E_ephotos18.479577e.html

San Bernardino residents are campaigning to have red light cameras taken down. Red Flex based in Arizona, installed them and will not remove them until their contract is up later in the year. The city wastes $30,000 per month on the cameras.

Corona Mayor launches Facebook campaign against red light cameras


Nolan, a former police officer, said he originally voted to install red-light cameras to improve public safety and was unaware of the steep cost. But after researching the cameras further because of complaints from residents who could not pay the citations and were struggling financially in the difficult economy, he said the cameras are not making intersections safer and are simply generating money.

Loma Linda is trying to get their Red Flex cameras removed. Red Flex refuses. The cameras that were put up in December 2005 at four intersections. Popescu and Councilman Rhodes Rigsby criticize Councilman Robert Ziprick for not supporting their motion in November to remove the cameras. Ziprick is running for re-election in June, and Rigsby says red-light cameras will be a campaign issue . story in the San Bernardino Sun dated 1/17/2010 http://www.sbsun.com/news/ci_14211450

Hemet drivers received a pardon this week (Oct 2009) from red-light camera enforcement that was supposed to begin next month at the busy Sanderson and Stetson avenues intersection. Amazingly, a survey indicated that motorists in Hemet do not run red lights frequently enough to make the cameras profitable for the company that would eventually have installed systems at four intersections at no charge to the city. http://www.pe.com/columns/bobpratte/stories/PE_News_Local_E_ebob23.46c75f9.html

Note an excerpt from the Hemet City Council minutes June 24, 2008 as they were considering these, "public hearing is required prior to the approval of the contract".

City of Hemet, California

Hemet, pop. 67,000, is 20 miles southeast of Riverside. The city manager signed the City's contract with Nestor on Jan. 8, 2009. In Sept. 2009 Nestor, which had gone into receivership, was taken over by American Traffic Solutions, a competitor. On Oct. 22, 2009 the Riverside Press Enterprise reported that the City was unlikely to go ahead with the program. The PE quoted Police Chief Richard Dana as saying, "I plan on putting out a memo to the City Council that we can't justify it, unless they wish to go ahead." Now it appears that the program will NOT go ahead. In his Dec. 18, 2009 PE column, Bob Pratte wrote: "When [ATS] officials examined the Hemet intersections, they backed out of the deal because they didn't believe the intersections would produce sufficient profits." He added: "Good riddance." The contract included an illegal "cost neutrality" clause, whereby the city would not have had to pay Nestor the full rent if there weren't enough fines to cover the cost. On Nov. 21, 2008 an appellate court found that Nestor's similar "cost neutral" contract with the City of Fullerton was illegal. To read that decision, see Subsection B. of the expanded version of Defect # 10. The contract did not specify whether warning tickets would be issued only after the installation date of the first intersection approach, or after the installation of each intersection approach. See Defect # 6.

A cop mentions how lobbyists are being paid:

Nestor paid lobbyist Arnie Berghoff at least $54,000 to work the city. Redflex offered powerful lobbyist Ken Spiker Jr. a $100,000 contingency fee to land the contract and poured money into the campaign coffers of city councilman Dennis P. Zine and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa last year. Zine responded by voting against any contract that failed to include Redflex and by going on trips with Redflex lobbyist Spiker. "I am utterly shocked how much politics there were," Kevin McCarthy, an LA Police Department official told the LA Times. "I didn't know how powerful lobbyists were and how much their access plays a role in the whole thing."


Posted by: cities are removing their cameras at Jan 23, 2010 2:12:59 PM

No two ways about it. It's all laid out in black & white in this supporting documentation included with the agenda. Law Enforcement increased from $179 to $362. The only category decreased was circulation.

I've updated the post above to include the documentation.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Jan 22, 2010 9:00:54 PM

Ron on a blog it was stated: "For you lovers of public safety - Development Impact Fees Lowered. This one made the newspapers so we will not get into detail here. Except to report that not everything about this developer give away was reported. By now you know the development impact fees that help our police department were lowered from $11,085 to about $9,100."

You report: "This proposal was to increase the Development Impact Fee for law enforcement from $179 to $362."

I wonder if the bloger understood this? It seems that the direct impact to public safety is actually increased, not decreased. How do you understand it?

Posted by: Jeff at Jan 22, 2010 8:50:27 PM

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