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Paso Robles City Council meeting highlights from Jan. 7 

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–Highlights from the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, as submitted by the City of Paso Robles, are as follows:

Discussed Policies Regarding Tattoo Establishments. The city’s policies regarding tattoo establishments were created in 1994 and no amendments to the ordinance have been made since. Regulations for tattoo parlors have changed substantially over the years. Recently, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that tattooing is a form of artistic expression that falls under the protections of the First Amendment; therefore, zoning ordinances that prohibit all tattoo parlors are potentially unconstitutional. In the last several months, staff has received several requests from the public to establish tattoo parlors within the city. The City Attorney recommends that the city amend the Zoning Ordinance to allow tattooing in some location(s) within the city to comply with Constitutional protections. The city can limit the total number of tattoo parlors, if it chooses, and apply certain other restrictions and conditions. Council directed staff to proceed with developing amendments to the City’s Municipal Code to allow tattoo parlors in selected areas of the city. Staff anticipates returning to council with proposed policy modifications in the latter part of 2020.

Considered Potential Conversion to Charter City. California has two types of cities, general law cities and charter cities. A city that has formally adopted its own charter is known as a “charter” city. A city that abides by the general laws adopted by the State Legislature is known as a “general law” city. Paso Robles is currently a general law city. The authority of a general law city is derived from the general powers granted to it by the state legislature and from the police powers granted to it by the State Constitution. In contrast, a charter city’s power is not defined or limited by the state’s general laws. Instead, a charter city’s powers are defined by the city’s own charter subject only to the limitations of the state constitution.

After receiving a demand letter from an attorney concerning district elections in 2018, the council decided to adopt a dual-path strategy, converting from at-large to district elections for the Nov. 2020 election cycle and taking the necessary steps to convert back to at-large elections of Councilmembers for the Nov. 2022 election cycle, if possible. Becoming a charter city would be the first step in attempting to pursue a return to at-large elections, along with an alternate voting system that satisfies the California Voting Rights Act. However, it would not guarantee the ability to move away from district elections. Furthermore, if the city could complete the additional steps required to return to at-large elections, it would still be subject to future legal challenges and may ultimately choose to return again to district elections. Given the press of other business, the council decided to not pursue conversion to charter city status at this time; this effectively repeals the dual-path strategy and ensures the city will not return to at-large elections of councilmembers. The council directed staff to proceed with additional education and discussion for the council and the public on becoming a charter city, this fall, given the other advantages of charter city status, to enable a decision on whether to take the option of becoming a charter city to the voters in 2022.

Authorized the Purchase of Real Property at 2955 Union Road. In order to complete both the Recycled Water Line and future Union Road overpass at Highway 46 E, the city needs to purchase property near Union Road and Highway 46E. The property located at 2955 Union Road is currently on the market and is needed for these projects. The city has reached an agreement on a purchase price for the Harlan property of $2,430,000. Council authorized the City Manager to enter into a purchase and sale agreement for the property, complete due diligence, and proceed with the purchase barring any issues that may arise during escrow. The property will be purchased using General Fund reserves with a reimbursement by the Wastewater Fund for the Recycled Water line easement. Future reimbursements to General Fund are anticipated from the Traffic Impact Fee fund for the future overpass right-of-way and construction easements. If the entire property is not needed for the anticipated overpass project, the city may sell any remnant portions, subject to city council approval.

Awarded a Contract for the Barney Schwartz Park Upper Playground Replacement. Council authorized the City Manager to execute an agreement with Newton Construction & Management, Inc. in an amount not to exceed $218,000 to replace the Barney Schwartz Park upper playground. Since its dedication in 2002, the upper playground at Barney Schwartz Park is one of the most heavily used playgrounds in the city. The playground now suffers from worn-out play features and weather-caused deterioration. The replacement is being funded by Paso Robles REC Foundation through the Dale Schwartz Endowment Fund for Barney Schwartz Park.

Awarded a Contract for a Prefabricated Engineered Metal Building for the Emergency Warming Center. Council authorized the City Manager to enter into an agreement with Mills Construction in an amount not to exceed $91,180 for the provision of a prefabricated engineered metal building for the Emergency Warming Center.

This represents just a subset of the total actions by the council. The full agenda and audio from the meeting can be found at www.prcity.com/AgendaCenter/City-Council-2. The minutes will be available as part of the packet for the City Council’s next regular meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. in the Library Conference Center/Council Chamber, 1000 Spring Street.

The council will also be holding a budget study session on Saturday, Jan. 25, from 9 a.m. to Noon, at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), located at 900 Park Street. This is the first step in the biennial budget process, and will address the city’s long-term fiscal sustainability. The public is encouraged to attend; refreshments will be served.



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About the author: News Staff

News staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote and edited this story from local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or follow his blog. He can be reached at scott@pasoroblesdailynews.com.