CUPs and permits
At its March 14 meeting, the Signal Hill City Council discussed with city staff the annual inspection of 49 properties to determine compliance with conditional-use permits (CUPs). All were found to be in compliance with relevant conditions. Scott Charney, community development director, presented an overview, specifying that during inspections, staff checks for common code enforcement issues and also notes any enforcement actions that have occurred in the last year.
“We work with the owners and management companies [at our commercial centers] throughout the year [focusing] on general maintenance operations, including any trash concerns and landscape maintenance,” he said.
Highlighting some of the higher-profile properties, Charney noted of the Crown Castle Antenna facility on Skyline Drive that staff had not received any reports lately of either late-night work or interference concerns, which had been a problem in the past. He also noted that the operator has made improvements to the site, including fence repainting and replacement.
Charney also discussed the Costco gas station, which had had problems with long lines blocking access to the nearby Wells Fargo stand-alone ATM.
“We didn’t conduct a neighborhood meeting this year, and that’s because we received no complaints,” he said, adding that staff had met with the new store manager of Costco to talk about the problem and that they continue to monitor that concern.
“The major news regarding the CUP is that both the City and Signal Hill Petroleum have agreed to terms for an exclusive negotiating agreement which would cover the properties adjacent to the former Fresh & Easy market,” Charney concluded, adding that the City has agreed to extend the CUP for Signal Hill Petroleum for one year from its expiration date of June 30 in order to provide further time to let the new development project serve as a template for a potential master development agreement.
The city council received and filed the CUP recommendations.
Separately, the council voted to adopt a resolution to grant institutional permits to Courtyard Care Center, Las Brisas Child Care Center and Cole Vocational Services, since all were found to have valid licenses and no police, fire or building safety-related issues.
City staff recommended that the council consider authorizing the police department to enter a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the California Conference on Equality and Justice (CCEJ) to promote a program that offers young offenders an alternative to juvenile court.
Chief of Police Christopher Nunley reported to the council that the purpose of the Restorative Justice Juvenile Diversion Program is to redirect young perpetrators of minor crimes, such as vandalism and shoplifting, away from the justice system.
“Formally processing youth through the justice system does more harm than good by perpetuating delinquency through labeling and exposing youth to circumstances within juvenile and adult correctional institutions that may actually increase delinquency,” he explained.
The program instead directs youth toward lengthy community-based treatment. “Part of the program involves placing the victim and the juvenile together in the same setting where the victim is afforded the opportunity to explain how being a crime victim has affected them personally,” Nunley said, noting that at-risk youth may also be recommended to this program by law enforcement.
In answer to a question by Mayor Lori Woods, Nunley estimated that this program would help between five and 10 juveniles each year.
Vice Mayor Tina Hansen added that based on her experience as a prosecutor, a diversion program teaches juveniles to resist peer pressure and make better choices. “It’s designed to teach them that there’s another path,” she added.
The council voted to authorize police partnership in the program for three years.
Police use of Twitter
Nunley further presented on police department use of social media and how adding Twitter to their existing use of Facebook, Nextdoor and the text/email emergency-alert platform Nixle would enhance their public outreach. Since Nixle can connect to multiple platforms at once, including Twitter, he requested the council to authorize its use, as per the City’s social-media policy.
Councilmember Edward Wilson expressed support for a stronger social-media presence but wondered about the relative limitations and accountability of Twitter, citing all the “interesting Tweets on a national level lately.” The council was assured that Twitter would be just one of many platforms the police department would use.
Hansen broadened the discussion to affirm the importance of social media in attracting city development, advocating bringing in a public information officer for the City. She cited eMagazine Lakewood Connect as a good example of how a city might communicate about its latest developments.
The council voted to authorize police department use of Twitter as one of its public-outreach tools.
LB Transit analysis
Long Beach Transit sought input from the city council, staff and the community on transit facilities and services in Signal Hill. Over the next 10 months, they will solicit wider input during three community meetings and through an online survey as part of a system-wide transit analysis and reassessment (STAR) initiative.
Several on the council listed concerns related to the locations of bus stops in the area, such as the under-utilized stop at Redondo Avenue and Willow Street, and making sure new developments and the new library will be served.
In terms of future thinking, Mayor Woods expressed interest in coordinating bus stops with bike-rental locations. Vice Mayor Hansen expressed appreciation for the downtown Los Angeles DASH bus system and advocated for “smaller, community-based lines.” Other ideas were expressed about a system for riders to know when buses were coming, either at the stop or through an app on their smartphones, with the caveat that such a system should be user-friendly for seniors.
Community Concern & Appreciations
In new business, both Wilson and Woods reported that they had good experiences being “Principal for a Day” at local elementary schools. Wilson further shared his experience meeting with parents for whom English is a second language and reported that they are concerned about letting their children walk to school because of recent news reports of random accostments, arrests and deportations by immigration authorities. He further noted how the children were also impacted in schools because they were afraid for their parents.
“That is a fear in the community for a lot of people, and so anything we can do to try to allay that fear would be very helpful,” he concluded.
Finally, Councilmember Michael Noll stated that this would be his last meeting since his term was expiring, but he was excited for upcoming opportunities and would keep an eye on council activities. Other councilmembers and City Attorney Dave Aleshire offered praise for Noll’s long service, effective leadership and calm and caring personality.
“I have never met a kinder soul,” Hansen said.
Many councilmembers also thanked poll workers and staff for their good job during the recent election, though Councilmember Larry Forester expressed some concern over the growing number of election signs in yards.
The next meeting of the Signal Hill City Council will take place Tuesday, March 21 at 7pm in council chamber, 2175 Cherry Ave.