By Lorenzo Love
Report on Yreka City Council meeting 19 July 2022
Cal Conklin, Special Presentation – Information on Homelessness Basically, he showed with maps that if Ordinance 873 is enforced, there will be little or nowhere for the homeless to go. Which makes it unenforceable.
During public comments, people spoke on the upturn in disruptive and mob-like behavior in Yreka, the Greenhorn Park hosts not doing their jobs, and the failure of the needle exchange program, among other things.
Agenda Title: Imposing a One-Half Cent (1/2%) Transaction and Use (Sales Tax) for General Purposes to be considered in the November 8, 2022, Consolidated Election.
The text of the ballot measure: Sales Tax to Generally Fund Essential City Services To maintain Yreka’s long-term financial stability through the adoption of a supplemental sales tax that would generally fund essential city services such as necessary fire/paramedic facilities public safety response time; the operation and maintenance of the Yreka Aquatic Center; the Native Park project located on Foothill Drive; clean and safe city parks; and other essential city services, shall the City of Yreka ordinance be adopted establishing a ½¢ sales tax (transaction and use tax) for general governmental use, on an ongoing basis, until ended by the voters, providing about $1,000,000 annually, with independent audits and all funds locally controlled? YES/NO
The real problem isn't the sales tax – it's the grant for the Aquatic Center. The City Manager, Jason Ledbetter, detailed the mandatory deliverables required by the grant. This is stuff the city HAS TO DO to avoid defaulting on the grant and paying it all back plus state expenses, which could come to millions more. He estimated that it would cost $25 million to build this Aquatic Center as required by the $8.5 grant. The Planning Director, Juliana Lucchesi, who was formerly on the City of Dunsmuir's City Council and former Mayor of Dunsmuir reported that the much-touted Dunsmuir City pool is $300,000 in debt and is a money pit. Other pools in Siskiyou County are also in financial difficulty. Keeping a pool running in this day and age is incredibly expensive. Her family has a business building pools and aquatic centers all over the county. She reports that the latest project they completed was a pool remodel in Wisconsin where the costs of construction and labor are must cheaper than in California. $10.4 million. For a remodel. She asked her family for an estimate of the Yreka Aquatic Center. $28 million. She thinks with California's environmental laws, $32.8 million is more realistic. Councilmember Middleton tried to counter with a larger pool center just built in Sacramento that he claimed only cost $12.5 million. The City Manager did a quick Google search and found that it really cost $44 million.
This is what the City Staff and the more realistically minded public have been saying all along. This pool will bankrupt the city. The Council, some of them, is just now getting that into their heads.
Former Councilmember and former Mayor Robert Bicego took apart the language of the ballot proposal. Like how although the first item on the ballot proposal was fire/paramedic facilities yet there would be no money left for that. This is what I've been saying, the ballot proposal is written to be deliberately deceitful. He also pointed out that this obligates the city and future City Councils to keep this center open for 30 years to avoid defaulting on the grant. What I've been saying! How many times will it have to be fixed and how many millions will that cost?
Tax and spend Councilmember Smith Freeman made a motion to vote on the measure. No one would second the motion. At that point, Councilmember Smith Freeman was so angry that her baby wasn't rubberstamped by the rest of the Council, that she was ready to storm out of the cambers. Mayor Pro-Tempore Baird asked her where she was going? Then pointed to her seat to tell her to sit down. She then made another motion to change the wording which failed 2 no to 3 yes (you need 4 votes on tax measures). Yet they are going to meet again to do just that. Special meeting Monday to reword the ballot proposal, then vote on it at the regular 2 Aug meeting. But that ignores the real problem. It's not the sales tax, it's the construction of the Aquatic Center that will bankrupt the city because the grant is so poorly and so deceitfully written. It promises a $25 to $32 million dollar pool but for only the $8.5 million in the grant. The state will hold us to that promise. The only way to stop that is to stop the sales tax measure as they are linked together.
Award of City-Wide Noise Study and Noise Element Update $35,000 for someone to tell us the city is noisy. Actually, it costs $55,000 but there is $20,000 left over in that department. This is mandated by the state to be done every 20 years. What will they do with this data? File it away for another 20 years. Your tax dollars at work.
Second Reading of Ordinance 873 – Critical Infrastructure adding Yreka Municipal Code Chapter 9.45 “Use of the Public Rights of Way and Protection of School Children, Bus Stops, Critical Infrastructure, and Wildfire Risk Areas”
The whole point of this law is they can now make homeless campers move from these areas to areas that are designated for homeless campers to be concentrated. But there are no such areas. Some day in the sweet by and by there will be such places but not now. I asked where they can go? It's a secret.
During staff reports, the City Manager reported work is proceeding on Project HomeKey (the program where a motel is converted to efficiency apartments) and work is proceeding on getting a consultant to look into getting a new firehouse. He reports the new shopping cart ordinance is starting to work. Every store is participating in shopping cart retrieval. Everyone except Walmart. Citation and fines to follow. No doubt they will blow that off too.
There was a lot more. It was over four hours. Where were you?