City Council Continues Attack on Resident Oversight

Public Works Committee Axed on 3-2 Vote

The Public Works Committee was eliminated with a 3-2 vote (Baroldi, Vipperman, Westerhoff ) at the July City Council Meeting.

This continues the removal of resident scrutiny and involvement, and increases dependence on, and cost of, city government.

The Emergency Preparedness Committee was first to go. This group of trained residents was to be our resource in an emergency, since City Hall is closed most of the time, and in an earthquake, or other event, outside emergency workers, and even city workers may not be able to get here.

Parks and Recreation has changed from a Commission primarily focused on overseeing spending and infrastructure at the Park, to an event planning committee.

A Budget Committee, including residents, was abolished several years ago.

The Roads Committee was established in the mid 1990s to analyze the condition of City streets and develop a program to repair them and for ongoing maintenance.

The Public Works Committee was established in 2001 by the City Council, as a successor to the Roads Committee, expanding oversight from roads to all public works in the City. (See establishing Resolutions 01-43 and 01-50)

At the July 2009 City Council meeting, City Staff recommended By-Laws for a Public Works Commission that would meet every 3 months (instead of the current monthly meetings), with a role limited to the annual roads maintenance program, and no role in financial oversight.

The Public Works Committee recommended By-Laws following the 2001 Resolution, with a role including review of plans for public works projects and review of spending.

Have Resident Oversight....

Committee members Jerry Shipman and Stephen Blagden told the City Council about the importance of citizen oversight.

.. Or Depend on City Staff ?

Resident John Pearce said we should depend on the City Manager to oversee staff and spending, without interference from residents.

Things became heated in recent months when the Public Works Committee pointed out that the annual Roads Maintenance program was months behind schedule and maintenance funds, voted for and paid by residents in their annual property tax bill, appeared to be diverted to other uses.

Council members Baroldi, Vipperman and Westerhoff did not want to create conflict between city employees and residents on a Commission, and didn't think the Public Works Committee did much.

Council members Stan Carroll (who voted for the Commission in 2001) and Brian Bergman tried to get the others to understand the need for resident oversight.

Recent Public Works Committee Actions
Taken From Minutes & Agendas March 2008 - June 2009

• Pointed out 8 streets were not being slurry sealed, in the upcoming 2009 maintenance program, as called for in the voted Assessment District.

• Found incorrect specification in 2009 maintenance program plans.

• Found Road Maintenance funds were being diverted to other uses

• Committee recommended that future road repair specifications include removal or encapsulation of asphalt grindings to prevent washing onto roads and littering roadsides.

• Committee recommended that STOP lines be reviewed for placement during annual roads program, after learning that residents were being cited by Sheriff's Deputies for stopping past the line, even though some lines were not placed to allow cross traffic visibility.

• Committee recommended replacing missing reflective markers along the sides of Hacienda.

• Committee recommended traffic control plan for Hacienda slide repair that allowed for resident access but did not allow commuters to use city side streets.

• Committee recommended replacing street light heads on Hacienda with glare reducing LED heads with grant money to reduce electricity costs and protect residents' night time views.

• Committee recommended replacing Traffic signal bulbs at West and East roads with electricity saving and long lasting LEDs.

• Committee informed City of City built public works structures that did not comply with Federal standards and were a potential liablility to the City.

• Recommended correcting lane drop signs on Hacienda approaching the City from La Habra as motorists were confused.

• Found Zone 1 2008 Maintenance plans specified working on street in Whittier. Committee recommended removal of that part to save residents money and keep work in our City.

• Committee recommended reconstruction of Solejar, south of West Rd, if funds available, as the specified 1 1/2" grind and overlay would not fix underlying road problems.

• Committee recommended that Slide Repair and Stream repair on Hacienda Rd use tan colored concrete to minimize visual impact.

• Committee recommended that Slide Repair on Hacienda be landscaped to screen large concrete wall being created.

• Committee recommended Street Opening Prohibition Ordinance to prevent freshly reconstructed roads from being cut open by utilities. Under the proposed ordinance, the utilities would be given notice, and would do their pipe upgrades prior to road construction. This ordinance was targeted to benefit Las Palomas Rd first.

• Committee produced an Accident & Traffic Disrupting Event Plan, in conjunction with Emergency Preparedness and the Sheriff's Dept so that when some event causes Hacienda to be closed that traffic is not rerouted through City streets.

• Committee recommended Plastic sheeting/Sandbags on Hacienda, Cypress, El Terazza and others be removed after rainy season in response to residents complaints of their being unsightly.

• Recommended a policy/ordinance be created regulating Utility and Wireless Boxes in the Public Right of Way.