Documenter: Hannah Galindo
This meeting of the Parlier City Council was called into order on March 4th 2021 at 6:30 p.m at the Council Chambers (1100 E. Parlier Avenue, Parlier, CA, 93648) and was streamed via Zoom to allow members of the public another platform through which to participate. Meetings of the Parlier City Council take place on the first and third Thursday of each month at 6:30pm, with the next meeting occurring on March 18th, 2021. All council members were in attendance, with the Parlier Chief of Police, Jose Garza, as well as City Manager, Sonia Hall, also in attendance. For the duration of the meeting, members of the council and audience mostly observed pandemic-related social distancing requirements — save for the occasional removal of Councilmembers’ masks for the sake of participation. Preceding the meeting’s opening, a salute to the flag was led by Mayor Beltran.
***It should also be noted, however, that through the course of the meeting, the lack of microphones available to public speakers and power shortages of when microphones were available to councilmembers severely impaired the ability of the Zoom audience to follow what was being discussed. As the notes taken to record this meeting were made based on observations taken via Zoom, various comments from the public and councilmembers have been omitted from these notes due to an inability to accurately relay what occurred.
Following the beginning of each council meeting, the Parlier City Council opens the floor to members of the public who wish to address the Council on matters not set to appear on the agenda. These comments are limited to three minutes and, while the Council by law cannot take action on matters not appearing on the agenda, the comments made during this portion of the meeting may be placed for consideration on a future agenda.
Only one unnamed member of the public chose to address the Council during this meeting. The resident expressed deep concerns with Council expenditures being made at the expense of the public and, in doing so, requested that in the future the Council provide more thorough and accessible breakdowns of these expenditures to the public. Following the resident’s comments, members of the Council agreed they would consider such requests and moved to address matters appearing on the agenda.
Item 3: Consideration and Necessary Action on Resolution No. 2021-09 authorizing the submittal of a funding application to the California Department of Parks and Recreation for the Statewide Park Program (SPP) Prop 68 Grant
Item 3 was brought to the Council with the recommendation that the Council authorize the Parlier City Manager to apply for the SPP Prop 68 Grant; the likes of which would be necessary to fund and erect a new park within the bounds of Parlier city. It was also proposed that, should the project come to fruition, the park would be named in honor of the founding Parlier family.
Generally, consensus supporting the matter was present across the Council with little-to-no opposition. Councilmember Pimentel did, however, express concerns with the choice to name the park after the city’s founding family. According to Pimentel, naming the park after other influential members of the town’s history, such as Cesar Chavez, would perhaps be more appropriate and meaningful to Parlier residents — a sentiment which was later seconded by public commentators.
After all comments held on the matter by the public were heard, the proposed measure was passed by a vote of 4-1.
Item 4: Consideration and Necessary Action on Resolution No. 2021-20 to Award a contract to Power Design Electric Inc. in the amount of $454,52.00 to furnish and install emergency generators at the Industrial Lift Station, Well No 6, and at the Zediker Lift Station
Advocated by members of the Council’s staff as well as residents of Parlier city alike, Item 4 considers contraction Power Design Electric Inc. to install emergency generators which would bolster the potentially unreliable water sources present amongst Parlier. In particular, a passage of Item 4 would award Power Design Electric Inc. $454,552.00 to help restore several sources of water in Parlier; namely, the Industrial Lift Station, Well No.6, and the Zediker Lift Station. The funds to bring the project to reality would be diverted from a previous attempt to complete such a project by contracting another company that declared bankruptcy shortly before the measure was able to come to a vote.
According to a staff member and project advocate, the project would begin within 30 days — a time frame which may be extended should the generators be delayed in their production and arrival — and would end within 120 days.
Members of the public spoke in great support of passing this measure, not only for the minimal financial strain it would place on the community but for the great benefits it would provide them in accessing clean water as well. Considering it’s wide support from the public and from their own staff, the Council ultimately passed the measure by a vote of 5-0.
Item 5: Consideration and Necessary Action on Resolution Calling a Special Election for June 8, 2021, to Submit to the Voters Repeal of Section 3.25.070 and Extension of Voter Approved Parcel Tax to fund Police Protection Services and Ordering Submittal of the Ordinance to the Voters at the Special Election.
With the presentation of Item 5, the Council considers holding a special election to allow the public to approve or denounce the proposed Resolution No. 2021-11 to repeal section 3.25.070 and extend the “Parcel Tax” used to fund police protection services.
While there was discussion explaining the implementation of such a special election, the Council’s discussion on the matter largely focused on whether or not such an extension of the Parcel tax would be necessary. City Manager, Sonia Hall, for her part argued in defense of a yes-vote, stating that the cost of not voting yes would simply be “far greater” for the city of Parlier than the cost of extending such a Parcel Tax. While Councilmember Pimentel agreed morally on a vote to support the Parcel Tax, Pimentel ultimately expressed opinions that bring such matters to today’s agenda may not have been “entirely necessary”. With both sides having had their argument heard, the Council in the end voted to pass the measure by a vote of 4-1.
Item 6: Consideration and Necessary Action on Second Reading and Adoption of Ordinance 2021-01 to be Approved by the Voters Repealing Section 3.25.070, and Extending the Voter Approved Parcel Tax to fund Police Protection Services
On the recommendation of City Council staff, Item 6 allows the Council to hold a public hearing during today’s meeting to allow residents to provide their “input/testimony for or against” the ordinance of the Council to impose a special parcel tax for police protection services and, should the ordinance pass the Council, it’s implementation into Parlier City law would be contingent on approval of the public measured through a future special election. As the Council had deemed such a public hearing to be valuable to the consideration of the Parcel Tax extension, the Council voted to pass the measure by a vote of 5-0.
Item 7: Consideration and Necessary Action on Authorization of City Manager to Solicit Proposals from and retain Attorney to Act as Hearing Officer on City Issued Administrative Citations
In considering Item 7, the Parlier City Council, in essence, considers authorizing the City’s Manager, Sonia Hall, to “solicit proposals and retain attorney to act as the hearing officer” on city issued administrative citations chiefly regarding matters deemed “nuisances” to the wellbeing of the public.
The measure was brought to the Council largely in consideration of recent calls to “clean up Parlier”. In particular, the measure is bolstered by concerns from the community regarding aging houses around Parlier. One resident addressed the Council with their concerns, listing the hazardous nature and “smell [of] feces” that surrounds some of these houses as reason enough to deem them a nuisance in need of policy action.
As the passing of such a measure would largely cut the amount of red-tape the normally City Manager and Council would face in implementing such an administrative citation (see http://parlier.ca.us/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Agenda-Item-7.pdf for more), consideration of the measure did not go without discussion. One resident expressed deep concerns with the liberty such a measure would grant the city’s administrators to target any public facilities, such as street vendors, that it deems undesirable as a (fineable) “nuisance”. In hearing these concerns, the Council assured the concerned resident that such a measure would by no means target facilities outside those believed by the wider public to be a nuisance; and with this, the measure passed the Council by a vote of 4-1.
Adjournment: Following the passage of the final item, Item 7, the meeting of the City Council adjourned for closed session at 7:53PM.
Having considered a number of contentious measures, the March 4th meeting of the Parlier City Council showcased the non-pandemic related strains being placed on communities across the Central Valley community. In truth, while there may not have been any measures presented to the Council related to addressing the looming pandemic, the measures brought to the Council today are quite reflective of issues that have long plagued Central Valley communities, including increasingly hazardous water pollution; rapidly deteriorating infrastructure; and inadequate amount of platforms to represent communities of color.
Perhaps equally representative of trends we have seen emerge across Central Valley communities is the increasing levels of engagement and participation that community members in Parlier have taken to addressing their local government. Indeed, not one measure on today’s agenda was discussed or passed by the Council without comments from the public being first put into consideration. While at times these encounters could be interpreted as teetering on intense, the public comments are indicative of a community that is becoming increasingly determined to have their input heard and reflected into political action. That the residents of Parlier have showcased their readiness to put pressure on their city’s Council and administrators alike to meet this goal is a commendable change to Central Valley politics — and is one that can likely be used to continue to empower communities across the Valley for years to come.