Highlights from the Paso Robles City Council meeting on Tuesday
Highlights from the Paso Robles City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 21, 2020, are as follows. The city council took the following actions:
Received an Update on the COVID-19 Pandemic Situation and Response. Staff provided an update on the current number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus in SLO County (132 total at this time), reported that testing is now available in Paso Robles at MedPost, and reported on the county’s efforts to begin loosening the Shelter at Home order while encouraging residents to wear face coverings when social distancing is not possible. The update also included reports of results from resident and business surveys, which are still available for Paso Robles residents and businesses to complete at prcity.com. As a result of that input, the city has continually augmented communications efforts regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts and formed work groups in the Emergency Operations Center to address food security, mental health and wellness, housing security, and economic recovery.
Recognized City Volunteers and the City Library. Mayor Martin presented a National Volunteer Week Proclamation. In 2019, 166 City Volunteers logged 18,462 hours in service to their community and to fellow residents. Mayor Martin also presented a National Library Week Proclamation. Paso Robles City Library has continued to provide innovative ways to serve the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as creating a virtual story time enabling youngsters and their family to enjoy a popular library program while they shelter at home.
Approved Contracts for Capital Projects. Council approved contracts for the Airport Waterlines Project, including a construction contract with V. Lopez Jr. and Sons for $725,960, including a 10% contingency for a total of $798,600; a construction engineering contract to Cannon Associates for $165,481, including a 10% contingency for a total of $182,100; and a contract to Water Systems Consulting, Inc. for $88,274, including a 10% contingency for a total of $97,110. Council also approved contracts for the repair and resurfacing of Spring Street from 24th Street to 36th Street, including a construction contract with Souza Construction for $2,265,960, including a 10% construction contingency for a total construction budget of $2,492,600; an engineering services agreement with Pavement Engineering, Inc. for $128,100, including a 10% contingency for a total amount of $141,000; and an engineering services agreement with Stantec Consulting for $29,000, including a 10% contingency for a total amount of $32,000. Finally, Council approved a construction contract for the 2020 Annual Slurry Seal Project, with American Asphalt South, in the amount of $623,990, including a 10% construction contingency, for a total project budget of $686,389. Council requested that staff provide updates on the amount of contingency, if any, that is spent on each project.
Denied an Appeal of the Planning Commission’s Decision on a 200-Unit Residential Project at Sherwood Road and Creston Road. The proposed 200-unit apartment project site is located on a 10.0-acre parcel near the intersection of Sherwood Road and Creston Road, north of the Food 4 Less shopping center. Project amenities include a fitness/club building, swimming pool, tot lots, outdoor seating, bicycle racks, and pedestrian pathways throughout, with connectivity to the commercial shopping center to the south. The Planning Commission had unanimously approved Planned Development (PD 19-06) and recommended for approval to City Council Oak Tree Removal (OTR 19-14) at the January 23, 2020 hearing. On February 6, 2020, the City of Paso Robles received an appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision. The council’s approval of the project is final.
Received a Budget Update for Third Quarter FY 2019-20 and Projected Impacts of the Coronavirus Pandemic on the City’s Fiscal Situation for Fiscal Years 2019-20 and 2020-21. The Coronavirus pandemic will have significant impacts on the City’s current and future revenues. This will impact the nature and scope of the services the City can offer; the employees, businesses, not-for-profits, and others who rely on the City; and the City’s long-term fiscal sustainability. The report indicated that projected revenue reductions to the City’s General Fund in the current fiscal year, ending June 30, are still within the range of $4-6 million, as was reported to Council in March. Preliminary estimates are that revenues losses in FY 2020-21 are in that same range, but staff will continue to update those estimates regularly as the impacts of the pandemic become more fully apparent. While the City has healthy General Fund Reserves, the City is taking steps now to curtail expenditures, delay some capital improvement projects, and plan for longer-term adjustments as needed. Council received the report, approved the deferment of several FY 2019-20 capital projects, and directed staff to involve employees, employee groups, community stakeholders, and the public in the preparation of two FY 2020-21 budget scenarios that retain General Fund reserves at 20% and 30% of expenditures. Council also directed staff to schedule a major review of the adopted budget after the end of the first or second quarters (i.e., October 2020 and/or January 2021), when more is known about the pace of progress of economic and social recovery from the pandemic. And finally, the Council directed staff to examine options to the current plan of placing a warming center on Sulphur Springs Road, and return to Council with recommendations by June 6, 2020.
Considered Tenant Protections and Other Relief Measures for Financial Impacts Related to the COVID-19 Emergency. There is a moratorium on the commencement of eviction proceedings related to COVID-19 as a result of the financial impacts residents and businesses face with lost jobs and other financial hardships (e.g., medical expenses) as a result of the pandemic. The moratorium is in place through May 31st, but it does not relieve the tenant from eventually paying the rent within six months after the expiration of the local emergency. As a result, rent suspensions have been suggested as a potential relief measure, such as a measure relieving tenants with a documented financial impact from paying rent for up to 90 days. However, the City Attorney explained that there are constitutional concerns associated with a rent suspension or rent waiver since there are federal constitutional protections against the taking of property, impairment of contracts, and due process if landlords had to bear the burden of the rent suspension. Council directed staff and Councilmembers to work with other jurisdictions, the League of California Cities, and other statewide and nationwide bodies to seek additional relief for tenants facing financial impacts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, and to seek financial assistance for local governments as well. Council also directed staff to return at a future meeting with an urgency ordinance waiving late fees and penalties for City utility bills and deferring business license tax payments.