In its first meeting of 2018, the Signal Hill City Council awarded a contract to inspect new library construction, having awarded a contract to build the library at a special meeting on Dec. 19, 2017.
The council had approved staff recommendations to award the building contract to Tobo Construction, Inc. for $11,149,980, which was the lowest responsible bid out of eight received, according to a staff report. The council also approved a 10-percent contingency.
Construction of the new library is slated for completion by March 2019. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Jan. 24 at the site, which is same as the old library at 1770 E. Hill St. The existing library has temporarily relocated to the nearby Signal Hill Community Center.
The new building will consist of approximately 15,000 square feet on the first floor and a terrace, restroom and kitchen on the second floor, according to the agenda report by the Public Works Department. In addition to book stacks, the library will contain a community room, reading areas, a learning center, a history room and study rooms.
At its Jan. 9 meeting, the council took another step toward library construction, approving a contract to geotechnical consultants Albus-Keefe & Associates for inspection and materials-testing services related to library construction, for an amount not to exceed about $390,000.
Patrick Keefe, president of the firm, expressed his appreciation to the council for this and other City projects his firm has helped with, including the police station, Hilltop Park project and Town Center West.
“I’m very privileged to have the opportunity to work with the City,” he said. “I look forward to a successful project.”
At its previous regular meeting on Dec. 12, the council, along with the City Council as Successor Agency, had agreed to adopt a governance document called the Manual of Procedural Guidelines for the Conduct of City Council and Constituent Body/Commission Meetings.
At the Jan. 9 meeting, council members switched hats three times, convening as the Signal Hill Housing Authority, Municipal Financing Authority and Public Financing Authority, in order to adopt the same manual.
Mayor Edward Wilson reminded the public that council members are not paid additional compensation to serve on these other municipal bodies, as in some other cities.
The council had been considering a conduct manual periodically since 2014 but never adopted it. At its Nov. 28 meeting, Vice Mayor Tina Hansen had asked that it be revisited in the wake of Wilson’s publicized arrest on domestic violence allegations in November.
The manual covers official positions, procedures and meeting decorum, as well as codes of civility that direct legislative officials to act with integrity.
While convening as the Housing Authority, which, per its bylaws, requires an annual meeting in January, council members received a staff report on the authority’s fund balance and properties.
Elise McCaleb, economic development manager, reported that the authority’s fund balance as of Dec. 31, 2017 was approximately $1.9 million.
The balance, she said, was from affordable-housing rental income from a 156-unit property at 967 Las Brisas Way. This year, staff will work on selling the property to the nonprofit organization Adobe Communities, which manages it now.
McCaleb also reported that the 72-unit Zinnia housing development at 1500 E. Hill St. was completed in December 2017, which allows the City to meet the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) for its fair share of low-income housing, as set by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).
A grand opening of the property will be held in February or March, though about half of the units are already occupied.
Councilmember Larry Forester praised staff’s efforts in meeting SCAG’s guidelines for affordable housing since the City has not only zoned for such housing (which was all that was required by this time) but has completed its construction.
“I want to say, ‘Thank you, Signal Hill,’ because we’re ahead of the game,” he said.
The council approved issuing a request for proposals for professional auditing of City finances. It also agreed to appoint Wilson to serve on the selection committee once proposals are received.
Finance Director Scott Williams explained that the City’s current auditing firm is nearing the end of its three-year contract and it’s considered best practice for municipalities to switch auditing firms by or before five years.
“It’s good to get a fresh set of eyes on your financial statements,” he said.
In new business, Wilson commented on some previous business by challenging a statement Forester had made at the Dec. 12 council meeting about having read the police report on Wilson’s arrest.
According to his lawyer, Wilson said, it was legally impossible for Forester to have seen the report or have a copy of it.
“It is not appropriate to lie to people,” he said.
Forester did not respond.
In reporting his own new business, Forester stated he was proud to have attended, along with Councilmember Lori Woods and City Manager Charlie Honeycutt, the introduction of a mobile stroke unit at Long Beach Memorial Hospital.
The unit stemmed from a motion for the program authored by L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn. According to a Jan. 3 press release issued by her office, the unit is a specialized ambulance equipped with a portable CT (computed tomography) scanner that allows medical professionals to diagnose and treat strokes in the field.
“We will have a mobile stroke unit,” Forester reported, “here in our region, two days a week.”
The next Signal Hill City Council meeting will take place Tuesday, Jan. 23, at 7pm in the council chamber at 2175 Cherry Ave.