Documenter: Joeanna Lopez

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Council of the City of Mendota voted to fail to pass the proposed adoption of Resolution No. 21-83, proclaiming a continued local emergency, ratifying the proclamation of a State of Emergency by the Governor on March 4 2020, and authorizing remote teleconference meetings of the City of Mendota’s legislative bodies for a period of thirty days pursuant to the Brown Act.

  • Mowry Replacement Bridge Project is complete.

The Meeting (in full)

The Scene

Mendota is a general law city governed by an at-large elected five-member City Council and operates under the council-manager form of local government, according to the City’s website.

The Mendota City Council meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. at 643 Quince Street, Mendota, CA 93640 and via Zoom.

The Zoom audio and video were connected through an iPad.

Mendota City Council Board Members

Rolando Castro, Mayor

Jesus Mendoza, Mayor Pro Tempore

Jose Alonso, Council member

Joseph R. Riofrio, Council member

Oscar Rosales, Council member

Meeting is called to order just after 6 p.m. No adjustments made to the agenda and the public did not wish to make any comments to the council about any items not on the agenda.

The Mayor extends the pause; he can’t believe nobody has nothing to say with over 20 Zoom participants joining the meeting online.

  • Motion to approve September 28, 2021 Regular Meeting Minutes and Notice of Waiving of Reading carries 3-0, as the Mayor says to Council members Alonso and Mendoza, “There’s only 3 of us.”

  • Motion to unanimously pass items 1, 2, 3 on the Consent Calendar carries 3-0 with councilmember Mendoza pulling Item 4 for discussion asking for a translation and wants to know, “what it’s going to do for us.”

A voice begins to explain that the Resolution would require for the Council to pass it every 30 days and in doing so the City is stating that it is too dangerous for in person settings when the Mayor adds,

“I would like to see who is in the audience. I would like to see who I’m talking to … If anybody else needs to take any type of you know, notes or wants to know what our City is about or how we’re really about I prefer them to make the effort to come out here themselves to see how we do things you know, so they can hear us clearly instead of you know, writing articles that are not true sometimes or some miss some words. They can, they can make the effort to come out here,” says Mayor Castro looking at Council member Mendoza as he added, “I’d like to go back to in-person.”

Council member Mendoza responds, “That’s the reason I pulled this item so we could [unintelligible] …”

“We’re harassinated!” the Mayor interrupts.

Council member Alonso adds, “Yup, that’s why I want to go back to in-person, to see that person we’re talking to…”

“I also believe that the general public, that they shy away or they get intimidated for being online or perhaps don’t have access or whatever and that they’d like to be here in person too, I don’t want to say confront but to address the Council live. So I’m good with that and that’s the reason I pulled… so what’s the next step?” adds Mendoza.

He is answered by a voice not in view, “would be to not to move to pass this and recertify… this remains in effect until 2024.”

Mayor Castro begins to ask if the motion needs to NOT move when again the voice not in view speaks, “I suppose you just move on.”

To the other direction of the person not in view another person not in view says, “for clarification, if the council doesn’t approve this, that would perturb (?) anybody from participating on Zoom?”

“If you guys are making a group decision to move away from Zoom, that doesn’t have anything to do with the Resolution here, the Resolution here is to decide whether you think it’s dangerous to be in here for the public to attend in-person and by passing it you guys would be able to participate from your homes without opening your homes,” the City Attorney continues to try to clarify.

“I understand that, I think we understand that part, it’s more, the Zoom for the public,” says Mayor Castro.

City Attorney says again, “That’s NOT addressed in this Item.”

Council member Mendoza can be seen speaking off to the side with Mayor Castro and the Mayor says, “That’s what I’m confused about.”

The City Attorney tries again, “That’s not on the agenda to consider, that, whether to end that practice.”

“So we can put it on the agenda?” the Mayor asks simultaneously as Mendoza asks, “So basically we’re opening the doors?”

City Planner, Jeff O’Neal asks to say something and does his best to paraphrase what the City Attorney doesn’t seem to be getting across.

  • Proposed adoption of Resolution 21-83 dies, 3-Nay.

Business

  1. Council discussion and consideration of the allocation of the Clean CA Initiative Funding.

Deputy of Maintenance Operations, John Liu gave a powerpoint presentation about enhancements and beautification effort proposals. There were visuals provided with multiple examples for possibilities including the roundabout for Derrick and Oller.

Details for the bike lanes and the Highway Maintenance Project were also provided including road diets, curb ramps and handicap ramps for Highway 33 and Highway 180 with completion projected in 2025-2026.

The one million in grant money to be used for the Clean California Project can be used towards projects such as making additions to beautify the surrounding area of the City of Mendota signage for example by adding benches or foliage and trees.

“One of the requirements if the work is for the State, the Clean California Project has to be within the State right aways. The dedication of the right aways has to happen quickly for us to incorporate into our project,” said Liu citing the short time frame to scope the project, by next month.

Mayor opens comments. He expresses doubt in the community to acclimate to some of the turn signal proposals citing constant speeding and stating, “they see red, green and green!” also mentions a need to lead by example and that would not look like adding trees or something that needed watering.

Christopher Townsend of Townsend Public Affairs and President of the firm introduces himself to make a public comment. Mentions the partnership from a few years ago on the work done to the police station and says he met some of the Councilors at the League of Cities before turning it over and introducing the Vice President of the firm.

Cori Takkinen, VP of TPA gave several examples about possible funding and grants that could be pursued and offered services in securing said funding to go along with the Clean California Project funds.

Mayor Castro responded by mentioning the in-house grant writer who is also the City’s finance director, suggesting to TPA that they contact Nancy directly and added something unintelligible about a prorated cost and mentions the importance of other costs to the City with the many budgets and does not confirm.

Townsend offered his best wishes for success.

Liu concludes by adding that they will continue to work with the City Manager and City Engineer as they continue to firm up Clean California Proposal as it is due in six weeks clarifying the goal of enhancing the livelihood of everyone in Mendota by saying the many planned crosswalk enhancements would improve pedestrian safety and maintains the goal of beautifying the City at the same time.

Nobody from the public addressed the council or approached with any questions.

Some of the Zoom participants left the meeting.

  1. Council discussion and consideration of Resolution 21-77, authorizing the execution of a licensing agreement with GovInvest Software for Transparent Solutions for Pension, Labor Costing and Financial Modeling.

Finance Director Banda opens the item by mentioning it was on the agenda last time. Banda reports on what additional information the council requested of her last time and says there are no compatible software programs and mentions that since there was no action taken last time, the promotional price that was presented at the last meeting has since ended.

Mayor Castro is informed that GovInvest representatives are on the call and he asks why the price has increased and whether the promotional price would be honored due to not having daily meetings.

Nadia James of GovInvest introduces herself and mentions that the modules have all increased pricing due to the quarterly sale ending but that perhaps there was something that could be done as she tries to introduce a colleague she brought on with her to do a high level overview.

Mayor Castro again cites, “a tight budget” and that the City could do without the software for now if the promotional price could not be offered.

The promotional price when the Resolution was first brought to the Council for adoption was $39,000 and ended Sept. 30, 2021. The price for the GovInvest services is currently $54,000.

Max Stoff of GovInvest attempts to give his overview presentation by mentioning that perhaps there was something like a trial or an adjustment that they’d be happy to later discuss with those who could speak to costs.

The Mayor closed discussions and the Resolution failed to carry, 3-0.

More Zoom participants left the meeting.

  1. Council discussion and consideration of Resolution 21-80, approving the execution and delivery of an installment purchase agreement, a bond purchase agreement, an escrow agreement, a preliminary official statement, and a continuing disclosure certificate; and authorizing certain other matters relating thereto.

The Mayor opens any questions or comments. There are no public comments or questions. 

Council member Mendoza says, “Yeah, they wouldn’t… they weren’t on the…”

Motion is approved for adoption, 3-0.

  1. Council discussion and consideration of Ordinance No. 21-16, amending Chapter 17.99 of Title 17 of the Mendota Municipal Code’s provisions regarding approved uses in the Commercial Cannabis Overlay District.

O’neal explains the amendments and that it is and will be common with the new ordinances evolving involving the sale of cannabis. 

No comment from the public or from the Council, Motion is approved 3-0.

Public Hearing

  1. Application No. 21-01, The Left Mendota II, LLC Commercial Cannabis Project

City planner O’neal opens the hearing and recommends for the Council to adopt a mitigated negative declaration pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act and grant an appeal of the denial of a conditional use permit by the Mendota Planning Commission as well as enter into a development agreement.

Mayor Castro opens the discussion and mentions his concern with the recommendation citing the other cannabis companies in town and the lack in one of the companies to hire locally claiming of the company’s employees just one is a Mendota local.

He asks for what this would mean in terms of water pressure.

Michael Osborn is designated as the question and he cites the drip system and that the usage of water for the proposed development has already been considered.

The Mayor says he would like to talk to the Company and motions to table the discussion and then opens the discussion to the public.

Chris Lefkovitz, applicant for the project, asks to speak. Mentions that the drip irrigation system is a very low water pressure system and that it is a short term plan. In the long term, they are looking into a well system.

Lefkovitz mentions that they are set to close on the acquisition next month and that they would look to immediately install electrified fencing with a local company mentioning their shared stance on hiring locally.

Osborn assures the Mayor that the water allocated for this would not be as significant as it is being made out to be.

The Mayor continues to state his concern for the water pressure and asks for public comment.

Julio Lopez introduces himself and says he thinks this should remain local, stating his interest for the proposed land.

Lopez addresses the council and begins to say he knows Chris asking Lefkovitz directly if he remembers the wedding they both attended where Lopez approached Lefkovitz about the sale of the land and asked whether he remembers the sale price that was discussed.

Mayor Castro quickly shuts down the conversation.

Ben Kriger from Leftbank Holding says he wants to make a public comment and addresses Lopez by beginning to state that the partner Lopez put in writing is not local when the Mayor once again interjects to cut the discussion off saying it should happen at a more appropriate proposed time.

The public made no other comment. A motion to table the item and have it on the agenda for October 26, 2021 passes 3-0.

Department Reports and Informational Items

  • Finance Director Banda with grant updates, says Mendota Internet Connectivity, Project No. 19741-CV has funds that must be dispersed by Nov. 2021. The City has approximately $60,774.15 to expend. The challenge being faced is that applicants must be U.S. citizens or have legal immigration status.

  • Wonderful Community Grant Awardees for 2021-2022 will be notified on October 15, 2021.

Mayor and Council Reports and Informational Items

  • Council member Alonso says he would like to recognize that it is breast cancer awareness month and commends those in the fight and those that have fought and lost the fight.

  • Council member Mendoza makes note of Trunk or Treat and encourages public support.

  • Mayor Castro mentions that he met the new City’s Officer, the 180 acre proposed cannabis farm site he visited and apologized he missed the last meeting including the League of Cities and thanked everyone as he motioned for adjournment.

The Zoom meeting was ended by the host at 8:17 p.m.

If you believe anything in these notes is inaccurate, please email us at Documenters-admin@thefresnoland.com with “Correction Request” in the subject line.

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