El Niño preparedness presentation takes center stage at council meeting

Signal Hill City Council meeting

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New officers Adrian Jimenez, Ian Bridges and Devin Moreno recite the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics at Tuesday’s Signal Hill City Council meeting.

Micayla Vermeeren/Signal Tribune

Storm conditions presentation
At its meeting on Nov. 24, the Signal Hill City Council hosted a storm conditions preparedness presentation from Emergency Operations Coordinator Richard Johnson.

The presentation centered on El Niño weather conditions and how the City and its residents can be best equipped to handle the potential flooding and rainfall that is predicted by forecasters to come between now and January.

“I don’t want to say we’re in good shape because that sounds too much like the guy driving the Titanic, but it looks like we do have things under control,” Johnson said. “We have a lot more backup than we thought we had.”

Johnson reviewed areas in Signal Hill that are most prone to flooding during storms, including the intersection of Walnut Avenue and 33rd Street, Las Brisas, the dead end of Lewis Avenue and the general hilltop area.

This year’s El Niño pattern is anticipated to be a strong event with above normal rainfall levels, so Johnson reviewed the precautions that residents and business owners can take to protect themselves and their property from major damage in the event of flooding.

Johnson was quick to clarify that El Niño is not a storm in and of itself, but rather a weather pattern in which ocean temperatures increase to a depth of about 300 feet.

Primarily, Johnson urged residents to keep themselves aware of weather conditions by utilizing radios alongside Nixle, Twitter and other social-media sites for timely updates from the National Weather Service.

“Stay aware of the weather predictions,” Johnson said. “Pay attention to the radio. Maintain situational awareness. Know what’s going on. Don’t let it sneak up on you.”

Additionally, Signal Hill Public Works has begun to clear stormwater catch basins and fill sandbags that residents will be able to pick up free of charge.

“The City owns a sandbag machine. Actually, that’s pretty rare for a city of this size…for a city of any size,” Johnson said. “You can pick up up to 10 sandbags, any resident in the city, right now.”

An in-depth review of safety procedures and preparation tips is available on the Signal Hill city website under the “El Niño” button on the left-hand side of the homepage.

Park-improvement grant
In a 3-0 vote, present councilmembers authorized staff to submit an application for a Los Angeles County Regional Park and Open Space Grant to benefit Reservoir Park playground and Signal Hill Park irrigation structures.

Councilmember Michael Noll was absent on an approved vacation to see family, and Councilmember Edward Wilson was unable to sit for the entirety of the meeting because of prior, approved commitments.

The grant will total $300,000 and be divided between the two parks with $225,000 allotted for Reservoir Park resurfacing and $75,000 going toward Signal Hill Park.

Deputy Director of Public Works Grissel Chavez proposed the grant to council and explained which stipulations need to be met to ensure full funding.

“The grant does require a youth employment goal, which we would meet by employing youth from the Long Beach Conservation Corps,” Chavez said.

Mayor Forester questioned whether he should recuse himself from the vote as he serves on the board for the Long Beach Conservation Corps but was allowed to remain by the recommendation of the city attorney, as he receives no income from the position and thusly has no financial motivation in voting.

Finance and conveyance maps
SummerHill Housing Group requested an ordinance to introduce finance and conveyance maps to the Subdivision Map Act of Signal Hill Municipal Code.

“There is a type of subdivision called a finance and conveyance map that is becoming increasingly popular,” said SummerHill Group Development Director Scott Skinner. “These maps are allowed under state law, but they are not specifically currently listed in our municipal code or subdivision ordinance.”

These types of maps help developers structure their plans in the most specific way possible and allow for lenders to see exactly what land is and is not included in development plans or for independent parties to contract a portion of the development.

Councilmember Tina Hansen moved to approve the ordinance, and, in another unanimous vote, the motion was passed.

Parks assessment
City staff lobbied for approval to participate in an assessment of park needs with Los Angeles County and enter a participation/funding agreement as Los Angeles County Parks Measure Proposition A funding is nearing exhaustion.

In 1992 and 1996, Prop A was passed, and an allowance of $860 million for park management was given to the County. In November 2014, Proposition P was introduced to renew funding but fell short of the two-thirds vote needed to make it a reality.

To garner more community support for Prop P and enhance transparency on what the money would be used for, the County is opening a survey of 189 separate service areas that would benefit from renewed funding with the city of Signal Hill constituting an individual service area.

After a short discussion on the specifics of the timeline for the review, Vice Mayor Lori Woods moved to approve the request for participation and a funding agreement for expected funds. Mayor Forester and Councilmember Hansen both supported the request, which passed with a 3-0 vote.
Water Operations Subcommittee

City Manager Charlie Honeycutt proposed a subcommittee to analyze water service costs in Signal Hill and recommend adjustments to the current rate if necessary.

“We are looking for two councilmembers to participate on that subcommittee,” Honeycutt said. “The committee will also include myself, the city attorney, public works director, finance director, public works management analyst, as well as a consultant that’s performing the financial analysis.”

Though Councilmembers Noll and Wilson were not present at the time of the proposal, Honeycutt noted that the two had expressed interest in serving on the committee, and the three remaining councilmembers voted in unison to approve their appointment.

Prior business
Two pieces of prior business from the Nov. 3 Signal Hill City Council meeting were reintroduced for further discussion and vote on Tuesday evening.

The first was an adoption of Ordinance No. 2015-11-1480, which amends contracts with California Public Employees’ Retirement System to increase the portion of retirement funding paid by Signal Hill Police Officers’ Association members.

With no questions from council or attendees, the ordinance was quickly passed by the three sitting councilmembers.

Following, Ordinance Amendment 15-04 was authorized to repeal Chapter 13.10 of Signal Hill Municipal Code to introduce regulations that are in accordance with state expectations of water conservation. No councilmember opposed the replacement.

Introductions
At the commencement of the meeting, Signal Hill Police Chief Michael Langston introduced Devin Moreno, Ian Bridges and Adrian Jimenez as the newest additions to Signal Hill’s police force. Chosen family members pinned badges on them before the new officers recited the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics to attendees of the meeting.

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