SH Council focuses on water conservation, employment contract, RDA decision

By Nick Diamantides
Staff Writer

Seventeen months after initiating a water-conservation program, the Signal Hill City Council heard the good news: the program has exceeded its goal since city residents and businesses are using 13.46 percent less water than the average amount used during the previous three years.
Jim Davis, interim director of public works, presented the Council with an update on the program during its meeting last Tuesday night. He noted that the Council adopted a water-conservation ordinance last year, which went into effect on June 18, 2009.
“With the Level One Water Shortage declaration, which went into effect with the City Council’s adoption of a new water-conservation program, the City’s goal is to reduce the water demand by 10 percent, in comparison to the benchmark average,” Davis said. He added that exceeding the goal “during the driest and warmest months of the year is a testament to the great job by the residents and businesses of the city.”
Davis noted that since June 2009, the public works department has conducted an ongoing public-education outreach pertaining to the conservation program. The outreach has included regular notices published in the Signal Tribune; an annual water-bill insert describing water-conservation steps; door hangers that inform residents and business owners that city employees have noticed violations of water-use restrictions; follow-up visits and letters to violators; and $100 fines for those who violate the same water-use restriction three times in a 12-month period.
Davis added that the city’s website also has a Water Conservation Program link that fully describes water-use restrictions, penalties for violations and water-conservation tips. “The public works department greatly appreciates the efforts of the city’s water customers and encourages them to continue their contribution to the success of the city’s water-conservation program,” he said.
In another action, the Council appointed Bill Yochum to fill the unexpired term of former Civil Service Commissioner David Heffron, who recently resigned because he had moved out of the city.
Prior to selecting Yochum, council members interviewed him and two other applicants: Ronald Griggs and Dennis Hopper. The council members unanimously agreed that Yochum’s many years of experience as a personnel manager, public-relations manager and in other positions associated with staff relations and negotiations with unions made him the candidate best qualified to serve on the commission. Echoing the comments of her colleagues on the Council, Tina Hansen said all three candidates had excellent qualifications, but Yochum’s exceeded the others. “When you have someone who is so closely meshed to the position, it’s hard to ignore that,” she said. Yochum’s term on the commission will expire on May 31, 2013.
In a separate action, the Council approved a $26,000-employment contract that will enable the community services department to hire Shahla Shahsavar as the city’s interim librarian.
Pilar Alcivar-McCoy, community services director, explained that since the city’s former librarian, Carol Malloy, retired more than a year ago, two recruitments for the position were conducted but yielded no viable candidates. The contract approved by the Council is with Advanced Information Management (a private employment firm) and runs from November 2010 to February 2011. Alcivar-McCoy noted that hiring an interim librarian will ensure efficient library operations until a permanent librarian is hired.
The council members acting in their capacity as the Signal Hill Redevelopment Agency also took two actions pertaining to the acquisition of properties through the power of eminent domain, which they had approved two weeks earlier. Those actions included: approving an $184,000 contract with Sanli, Pastore & Hill for the purpose of providing goodwill valuation services to the property owners and tenants affected by the property acquisitions; and approving a $100,000 contract with Overland, Pacific and Cutler for the purpose of providing relocation and property acquisition services to the property owners and tenants. According to the definition in state law, “goodwill” consists of “the benefits that accrue to a business as a result of its location, reputation for dependability, skill or quality, or any other circumstances resulting in probable retention of old or acquisition of new patronage.”
When a government entity in California acquires property by eminent domain, it is required to compensate business owners for goodwill valuation lost as a result of having to move to a different location if the relocation or other steps cannot cure the loss.
The next meeting of the Signal Hill City Council is scheduled for 7pm on Tuesday, Dec. 7 in the Council Chamber of Signal Hill City Hall.

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