July 27, 2018
DHS City Council - June 19, 2018
End Of RDA Oversight Board to the Successor Agency
The DHS "RDA Oversight Board to the Successor Agency" has reached the end of its duties. Its responsibilities are passing on to a county-level board. Mayor Matas presented certificates of recognition to the members of the Oversight Board.
Planning Commissioner Gary Gardner came to the podium to give the Planning Commission update.
Nina Duarte thanked all the volunteers for the Emergency Preparedness Seminar.
Linda Barrack, President and CEO of Martha's Kitchen in Indio, spoke about homelessness. During the first five months of this year, Martha's Kitchen housed 57 people from Desert Hot Springs.
Mike Picardi reported on the first "Jammin' In the Desert." He then spoke against the federal government's policy of separating children from refugee parents at the border. He asked the city council to approve a referendum condemning this practice.
Bruce Hutchison complimented Doria Wilms, Assistant to the City Manager. He said if it weren't for her, he would not have stayed in DHS.
James Velasquez said he has seen some DHS dispensaries are not in compliance with rules that will be enforced on July 1.
Mark [no last name given] talked about cannabis tourism in Colorado.
66071 and 66079 Pierson Boulevard
These two adjacent parcels have been property of the late RDA. They are being sold for $98,010 to Richard Feenstra. Both of these parcels are vacant. One extends from Pierson to Acoma.
The RDA originally paid $315,950 for these parcels.
66146 Pierson Boulevard
This is another RDA parcel which is also being sold to Richard Feenstra. This one is going for $22,542.
APNs 641-191-008 and 641-191-009
These are two adjacent vacant lots on the north side of Ironwood; one on West, the other on Santa Ysabel. They are being sold by the Housing Authority (not the RDA) to Richard Johnson for $12,500 each ($25,000 total). These were acquired with low or moderate income housing funds, which is how they ended up in the hands of the Housing Authority rather than the RDA. The proceeds of the sale return to our Housing Authority rather than being turned over to the county for redistribution, as in an RDA sale.
A realtor who did not state his name said that NAI (the real estate agency handling these sales for the city) had not returned calls his agency had made to them and he thought he "might" have people who would make an offer higher than $12,500.
The properties were listed on MLS. Any real estate agent could have found them easily. They were listed for 20 months. Several offers were received that were lower than $12,500. An offer was received on the day of this city council meeting for $10,000 per parcel.
Approved 4-1 with Mr. McKee voting against. Mr. McKee did not speak during these items and did not explain his vote.
Besides these two parcels, the Housing Authority is retaining 13 other parcels where affordable housing might actually be built someday.
Contract For City-wide Janitorial Services
There were bids from three firms: Santa Fe Building Maintenance ($105,367.24), Merchants Building Maintenance ($81,032.68) and R&R Janitorial Services ($284,520.00). Staff recommended Santa Fe, who had a contract with the city some years ago. Staff said references for Merchant Building Maintenance came back negative.
Mr. Betts moved to deny and to put this out for bid again for at least 30 days with bids solicited from every janitorial service the city has ever had any dealings with. This was seconded by Mr. McKee.
Danny Porras said staff had contacted every city in the valley to find out who they contract with. Bid requests were sent to every firm named.
The motion to deny was approved 3-2 with Mayor Matas and Mayor Pro Tem Zavala voting against.
Furbee Pool Maintenance Contract
The city got two bids for this: 1 Stop Pool Pros for $128,070 and Ocean Springs Tech for $139,104. 1 Stop Pool Pros has been the current contractor and city staff recommended awarding the contract to them again.
Mr. Betts moved to award to Ocean Springs Tech, a DHS firm, and to lower the contingency amount from $25,000 to $10,000. Mr. Porras explained the contingency fund is to pay for broken equipment, and some of the equipment at the Furbee Center is very expensive.
Approved 4-0 with Ms. Pye voting against.
General Municipal Election November 6, 2018
The deposit for candidate statements will be $400. The nominating period is July 16 through August 9. The filing fee is $25. The cost to the city for the election is estimated at $30,000 to $45,000. Approved 5-0. Mail-in ballots will be sent out about October 8.
Rotating Mayor Selection
A resolution to be submitted to the voters which would change the city's mayorship to a position that rotates among members of the council in order by longevity for a one-year term each. Not coincidentally, this measure was proposed by Russell Betts who has run for mayor and lost, but who has the greatest longevity on the council and would (if this were to be approved as proposed) be the first to serve as rotating mayor.
Mr. Betts cited Rancho Mirage as an example of a city with orderly leadership. This is not the first time Mr. Betts has held up Rancho Mirage (or Palm Desert) as an example of what we should be like, ignoring the fact that none of us here in DHS have chosen to live in RM or PD. IOW, why would we want to be like Rancho Mirage, which recently has taken on our former role as disruptive asshole city of the valley?
The proposed resolution would not take effect until November 2020 to determine who becomes the new mayor in December.
Mr. McKee, who co-sponsored this proposal, cited the current matter that a sitting council member can run for mayor from a "safe seat," so that if they lose they will still remain on the council. Rather than filling the position in order by longevity, Mr. McKee proposed that the order of rotation be determined by ordinance because "it will give us the ability to look at something and make sure that if it's not working well, we can change it without going to another election."
Now there's a variation on this proposal that am sure will never fly. In effect, the mayor will not be selected by an objective, pre-determined method (rotation by longevity, for example) but by whatever method three members of the city council prefer. And they could change that preference with every election, if the voters let them.
He went on to say that the council is getting along well with Mayor Matas in his seat, but he called this situation "an outlier," a polite way of saying "unheard of in DHS history." He's certainly right about that. He described the current role of mayor to have a lot of responsibility and very little power, which Mayor Matas immediately agreed with.
Donna Poyuzina expressed her opposition to the proposal, saying "We are not Rancho Mirage." She wants to vote directly for mayor...and it sounds like she'd be happy to re-elect Mr. Matas several times.
Gary Gardner opposes this because the Mayor's position should be filled only by someone who wants to be Mayor. (Mr. McKee had pointed out that taking the job is voluntary, any member of the council can excuse himself or herself from being Mayor).
Michael Picardi said that, in effect, our city council members represent different parts of the city. If that's true, I want him to tell me which one represents me. Mr. Picardi favors a 4-year term for mayor.
In response to a question from Mayor Matas, City Clerk Soriano said that each item added to the ballot costs the city $10,000 to $15,000.
Mayor Pro Tem Zavala said she is still undecided on this proposal for a 4-year mayoral term, but she will vote for this so the voters can decide.
Ms. Pye pointed out that the council has not budgeted for these items. She said this is a decision for the voters, not the council. She said there has not been enough time for people to even discuss it with the council.
Mr. McKee disagreed with Ms. Pye, but he said that if the voters don't approve this, he'll be back to say "I told you so."
Mr. Betts said that if Mr. McKee wanted to suggest a basis other than longevity on which to selecting the rotating mayor, he would be open to that.
Mayor Matas said that if this rotating mayor proposal is put on the ballot, then the voters should also be given the choice of a directly elected 4-year term mayor.
Ms. Zavala said she didn't know which proposal she would prefer personally, and as far as a rotating mayor goes she didn't know what method she preferred for choosing the mayor, but she is okay with submitting it to the voters.
Ms. Pye said the public has not had enough time to figure this out.
Mr. McKee made a motion. "The first part of the motion is that the mayor's term...the mayor's or fifth person that's left on the council will be four years; and that the people, as a second item, will vote on having a rotating mayor with a methodology being formatted by ordinance at a later date...beginning in 2020." Upon questioning by Mayor Matas Mr. McKee clarified that he meant there would be no 2-year term for mayor. He also clarified that "no matter what" the term of mayor will be four years.
Ms. Zavala asked "That first component, is it basically putting in another measure saying 'Would you like a 4-year mayor.'" Mr. McKee clarified that yes, that is what he meant.
Mr. Betts pointed out that the motion would have to come back to the council in written form in time for them to vote on it before the deadline to add items to the ballot.
Attorney Mizrahi clarified that Mr. McKee meant for the 4-year term mayor to be directly elected and that he meant a rotating mayor would serve for only one year at a time.
Mr. McKee now rephrased his proposal, first, whether we should have a rotating mayor and all council seats be for four years, and, second, if not, should the mayor's term be four years. Ms. Zavala and Mr. Betts both said this would require two separate ballot measures, with one able to supercede another. Attorney Mizrahi said she would have to research that.
[There have been several times we've had conflicting statewide items on the ballot that included language saying that if the other measure got more votes, then it would win, and vice versa.]
There was a discussion among council members (Mr. McKee's motion still had not received a second) about how many people would need to vote for a provision for it to be approved. Mr. McKee said that "if you vote to get rid of the mayor, then the other thing becomes void."
Since no one had made any proposal to "get rid of the mayor," it's hard to know what "the other thing" would be. Mr. McKee rephrased it a litte for clarity. "If you voted to get rid of the mayor there's no requirement then to have the mayor with four years."
At this point, let me interrupt to say that I'm disgusted both with how incredibly clumsy Mr. McKee has become with words and that five politicians and a lawyer can't figure out how the vote would work. Let me tell you how it would work. The ballot will have two questions, one for a directly elected 4-year term mayor; the other would rotate the mayorship on an annual basis among the council members. Call them questions 1 and 2.
|Question 1||Question 2||Outcome|
|Scenario 1||>50%||<50%||Question 1 wins|
|Scenario 2||<50%||>50%||Question 2 wins|
|Scenario 3||>50%||>50%||Higher votes for 1 or 2 wins|
|Scenario 4||<50%||<50%||No change, we stay with a 2-year directly elected mayor|
An individual who votes NO on both questions is voting to retain the 2-year term for a directly elected mayor. A person who votes YES on BOTH questions or who does NOT vote on both questions is leaving the decision to the other voters. A YES vote on one question while leaving the other question UNVOTED is a vote in favor of that one question, but it's not as strong as if the voter had also voted NO on the other question.
Mr. Betts proposed approving the rotating mayor proposal now and then considering a separate 4-year term mayor proposal at the next council meeting. Ms. Zavala said she would not be at the next council meeting.
Mr. Betts seconded Mr. McKee's motion. Mr. Betts clarified that the directly elected 4-year mayoral term question would come back at a future meeting.
Ms. Zavala, who clearly needs to study a bit more on California politics, wanted to specify that neither measure would pass if it didn't get more than 50% of the vote. Mr. McKee explained to her that a No vote would be a vote to retain the current system. Ms. Zavala was having none of that. She didn't explicitly say so, but I think she wanted that written into the proposal. [This may go down in future joke books as the first voter referendum in California that included a provision saying that if enough voters didn't approve it, it did not pass.] This was accepted by both Mr. Betts and Mr. McKee, without laughing.
Ms. Pye pointed out how confusing this is for the five council members, saying that if it was delayed a year, people would have more time to discuss it.
City Manager Maynard explained the basic concept of democracy, that if either question got less than 50% it would fail. He said that does not need to be specified in the provision [there goes the joke book opportunity]. Mr. Betts did not understand this. Ms. Zavala was still confused and needed to rehash this.
Mr. McKee understood the matter, but apparently hadn't understood it before. Now he said he was sure the proposal for a directly elected 4-year mayor would get many more votes than the proposal for a rotating mayor, so there's no point in putting the rotating mayor proposal on the ballot.
Why, one must ask, did he cosponsor a measure for a rotating mayor, if he is completely sure that the majority of voters prefer a directly elected mayor?
Mayor Matas thought the voters should still be provided the choice.
Gary Gardner came to the podium to say that the attorney needs to write a new proposal to be brought back to the city council to allow the public to discuss it more fully. [He did not seem to account for the looming deadlines to get items on the ballot.] But then he began a more philosophical point of what should and should not be on the ballot. He cited marriage equality as something that should not be on the ballot. [Quite true, but this is California and putting marriage equality on the ballot was totally legal and I've heard of no viable proposals to limit the power of voter referenda in this state.] He said this change should be initiated by the voters through the initiative process.
I think that may have been a point Ms. Pye was trying to make earlier, although I'm not clear about that. Why this should originate in a petition initiative, neither explained.
Mike Picardi spoke next saying that if the 4-year mayor proposal got a majority then it automatically would override any rotating mayor proposal. He didn't explain why. He did not see these as two competing measures. "One is the extension of the other." [Clearly, he understood these two provisions even less than the four non-Pye members of the council.]
Ted Mayrhofen said he never heard any complaints about the mayor's 2-year term, except from Mayor Weyuker. He said the council was reinventing the wheel and wasting resources on something that is not necessary.
Mr. Betts said that if someone wanted to add a ballot measure through the initiative process they still had time to do so. [Unrealistic nonsense.]
Attorney Mizrahi asked to be allowed to summarize the changes she had heard about this motion to make sure everyone was on the same page.
- Rotating mayor proposal only this night.
- Directly electing a 4-year term mayor will come back on July 3, to include language explaining that if both measures get more than 50%, the higher vote total wins.
- The order of rotation to be adopted by ordinance.
- Beginning 2020.
- Ordinance controlling the order of rotation to be adopted 6 months prior to November 20 [of each election year].
- All seats on the council would be for four years.
Again, Ms. Zavala asked for language to be included stating that if both proposals fail, then the status quo continues.
Approved 4-1, with Ms. Pye voting against.
Palm Springs Airport Commission Nomination
Ms. Parks had been our representative on the airport commission. Ms. Pye had already volunteered, so Mr. Betts nominated her. Approved 5-0.
Second Reading and Adoption of an Ordinance Amending Chapter 17.180 (Medical Marijuana Facilities Operation and Location) of the Zoning Code
This was on the Consent Calendar, but Mr. McKee had pulled it for discussion. The ordinance presented in the agenda included this:
B. There are no changes to the following:
i. Size of structure(s)
ii. Existing or approved grade elevations.
Mr. McKee said the council did not add that. Just before that in the ordinance is this text:
There is a ten (10) percent or less than deviation to each of the following:
i. On-site circulation and parking, loading and landscaping;
ii. Placement and/or height of walls and fences., and structures;
iii. Exterior architectural features, including colors, and/or modification of finished materials that do not alter or compromise the previously approved theme;
iv. The density or intensity of a development project;
Mr. McKee pointed out the difference between 10% of a 50,000 s.f. building and 10% of a 3,000,000 s.f. building. He suggested this be brought back with some provision other than the simple 10%. He suggested 10% up to some limit, 5% up to some higher limit, 2.5% up to yet a higher limit, etc.
Attorney Mizrahi explained that she had merely moved these items in the ordinance. The two items under B had been under A originally, while A originally had said "no changes." Item A was changed to the 10% rule, but the 10% rule wasn't to apply to structure size or grade elevations.
Mr. McKee moved to remove those items under B.