Interim City Manager appointed; Downtown Visioning Project consultant selected
by Elias Funez
Aug 14, 2014 | 3814 views | 2 2 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
City of Patterson Civil Engineer Ken Irwin was selected as the Interim City Manager during Tuesday's special city council meeting August 12.--photo by Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
City of Patterson Civil Engineer Ken Irwin was selected as the Interim City Manager during Tuesday's special city council meeting August 12.--photo by Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
Tuesday’s special City Council meeting began with the announcement of Ken Irwin’s appointment to the position of Interim City Manager, and ended with the council making decisions well into the eleventh hour during a meeting which contained spirited debates and split votes.

Irwin has been the city’s Director of Engineering, Building and Capital Improvements since the position was created in 2012. Prior to that Irwin was an engineer for GDR Engineering, who has had a hand in most major projects to come to the city in recent years. Mayor Molina made the announcement of Irwin’s appointment following an hour and a half-long closed session meeting prior to the regular meeting.

A prepared press release was sent via email minutes after the announcement was made, containing quotes from both Mayor Molina and now acting Interim City Manager Ken Irwin.

“I am honored that the Mayor and City Council are confident that I would be the right individual for this interim position,” said Irwin in the press release. “I am certain that with our council’s guidance and our excellent city staff, I will be able to manage the city with as little disruption as possible during this period of transition.”

The press release, prepared by Human Resources Manager Danielle Tucci, went on to thank Rod Butler on behalf of the City Council for his three and a half years of service as he departs to be the city manager of his hometown of Upland in Southern California. It was also announced that his last day with the city will be Aug. 31, 2014 and that the city has begun to search for a permanent city manager.

The process as to how the permanent city manager is chosen, however, is uncertain at the moment. According to Tucci, the matter is still under discussion whether the Human Resources department will seek a replacement internally or whether the city will recruit for the position.

Mayor Molina also confirmed that the timeframe in which to retain a permanent city manager was still being discussed.

While seeking the permanent city manager position currently held by Butler, the council formed as an interviewing panel to consider applicants. Through this process, Butler emerged as the top candidate and eventually was chosen for the job.

Ag-mitigation fees debated

A Planning Commission staff report presented by Community Development Director Joel Andrews, which asked councilmembers to set an in-lieu fee for mitigating the loss of farmland to housing, sparked a very passionate debate that included comments from District 5 Supervisor Jim DeMartini, and Planning Commission Chairperson Ron West, as well as Keystone Corp.’s Keith Schneider, and Building Industry Association (BIA) CEO John Beckman.

The report asked for the council to discuss and adopt an in-lieu fee of $2,000 per acre, a number supported by members of the BIA.

As the Local Agency Formation Committee (LAFCO) law currently states, new residential development can either provide mitigation for farmland loss by creating a permanent ag-conservation easement protecting farmland at a 1-to-1 ratio, or by paying an in-lieu fee.

“The fee provides certainty for a developer who is trying to move forward,” Andrews said while answering questions of the council during Tuesday evening’s staff report.

“Why go with a flat fee when there are variances in types of ag-land?” asked Councilwoman Sheree Lustgarten. “We are the breadbasket. We have to protect that,” she said.

Other councilors expressed their lack of support for either of the mitigation measures.

“This measure has not been effective in preserving farmland,” said councilmember Dominic Farinha. “If we have a little blip of [farmland] outside of a growing community, it seems cumbersome for a city to consider this within a sphere. If it’s around a city, it certainly ties our hands.”

Councilman Larry Buehner turned to address Farinha at this time saying, “The city gets nothing; it’s extortion money that LAFCO came up with.”

Councilwoman Lustgarten asked staff if LAFCO was consulted on the matter, of which Deputy City Attorney Doug White said he “does not advise,” though Development Director Andrews quickly chimed in that LAFCO had been notified.

District 5 Supervisor Jim DeMartini was in attendance and spoke as a member of LAFCO to the council.

“This item does not even come close to the regulations of LAFCO,” said supervisor DeMartini. “I don’t know how staff came up with these numbers, because it’s not anywhere close with this one.”

Supervisor DeMartini corrected many discrepancies within the topic being discussed. “If you pass this tonight, it will never pass LAFCO,” said DeMartini.

Keith Schneider, representing Keystone Corporation, was quick to take the dais following DeMartini’s words.

“As you are aware, I and the BIA are completely opposed to building fees,” said Schneider. “The ag-mitigation policy passed by LAFCO and subsequently adopted by the city of Patterson is an example of government forcing one private sector of the economy, the building industry, to pay for another private sector of the economy, the ag-industry.”

Patterson Planning Commission chairperson Ron West followed Schneider by relating the ag-industry to a woman floating in a pool trying to be saved by four life-guards.

“The ag-industry does not need to be saved,” said West. “Every year the ag-industry gets stronger and stronger. We have been good stewards of our land. We don’t need to apologize to LAFCO.”

Supervisor DeMartini’s spirited response to the matter raised concerns amongst councilmembers Farinha, and Lustgarten, who began to speak of bringing the matter back at a later date.

Councilmember Buehner, however, motioned to approve the $2,000 in-lieu fee and Mayor Molina immediately seconded his motion.

“Opportunities may dry up because of an obstacle like this,” said Molina.

The motion died 2-3 after not gaining the majority third vote needed to pass the resolution, with councilmembers Novelli, Lustgarten and Farinha dissenting.

“I’ve been up here four years and I’ve never seen supervisor DeMartini so passionate,” said councilmember Novelli before providing the dissenting swing vote. “We don’t have a project before us. I don’t see why we can’t take more time to look at this.”

City staff plans to bring the issue back to the City Council at a future meeting.

Consultant selected

Steps towards revitalizing the historic downtown were taken following the selection of the RHAA Landscape Architecture firm as a consultant to the city.

Two proposals were received: a $29,796 proposal from RHAA, and a $56,500 proposal from Taecker.

Matthew Taecker was on hand to present the council with a proposal citing downtowns in Berkeley, Calif. and Bremerton Wash. as projects he has been involved with.

Douglas Nelson of RHAA provided his presentation to the council, citing Mountain View and Sunnyvale as downtown projects that they have been involved with.

Both consultants would have provided a series of interviews with stakeholders and community workshops. Ultimately, RHAA was selected on a 4-1 vote with councilmember Lustgarten dissenting.

Slurry seal contract awarded

The city of Patterson awarded a $594,029.75 contract to California Pavement Maintenance Company to slurry seal approximately 320,000 yards of paved roads within the city.

A slurry seal is a cold mix paving system that can remedy a broad range of problems on various asphalt surfaces.

Emergency Shelter Overlay Zone Councilmembers and staff continued discussion regarding the proposed Emergency Shelter Overlay Zone from their July 15 meeting, and continued the item once again following some confusion whether the city would be in compliance with SB-2.

“Given the timeframe we have, I’d like to bring it back,” Deputy City Attorney White told the council.

Senate Bill 2, enacted in 2007, requires cities to identify zones where emergency homeless shelters can be permitted within a city.

More senior meals

City Parks and Recreation Director Julienne Flanders announced that the Howard Training Center will be providing additional funding for the Senior Meals Program currently offered at the Hammon Senior Center. A fifth day of meals has been added. More than 120 seniors have signed up for the program, and 50 to 60 regularly attend.

Tuesday’s special city council meeting was scheduled to occur the week following the National Night Out festivities that took place in Patterson last Tuesday, Aug. 5.

Elias Funez can be reached at 209-892-6187 ext: 31 or
Comments-icon Post a Comment
August 14, 2014
What a group. You have a council member (Buehner) whose group that sold land to Amazon suing the City. Their Attorney was the wife of their former project manager who seems to be involved in every new project in the City. Buehner could be either directly or indirectly be affected by land use decisions by the City. Then there is Ron West, appointed to the Planning Commission several times. Mr West is a former planner for KB Homes and has a business that represented landowners seeking to develop their land and has represented Patterson landowners in the past. Amazing.

Supervisor DeMartini made a great presentation about Ag Mitigation before the Council. The City has thumbed its nose at LAFCO on several occasions. Then you have the usual dog and pony show from Ron West and Keith Schneider. They both complained about how bad ag mitigation before LAFCO approved its policy. Mr Schneider complained about how this was going to doom developers. This is the same Keith Schneider who went to the Modesto City Council meeting to throw his support behind Modesto annexing Wood Colony and what a great thing it is to have all these warehouses throughout the County. Then there is Ron West spouting his BIA created nonsense about farm acreaage increasing and what great stewards of the land they area.
August 14, 2014
Why do we continue to put people into positions where they clearly have a conflict of interest? I am certain there are other people within our city who have many years of management experience, enough to adequately do the job until a permanent replacement can be found? I hate puppets, for that's what this will be more of.

Yuck, yuck, yuck.

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