March 6, 2023 — Visalia City Council
Documented by Jackie Schuster
What happened: At the March 6 Visalia City Council meeting, the council approved 10 consent items, including the 2023 Water Management Plan, a mural to be placed on the south-facing facade of the Valley Strong Stadium, and the purchase of 134 automatic license plate reader software licenses for the police department.
The council also addressed concerns raised by the CEO of The Sun-Gazette Newspaper about a bid to publish the city’s legal advertisements for up to $90,000, which was awarded to the Visalia Times-Delta over his paper.
Reggie Ellis, the publisher and CEO of The Sun-Gazette, said that public funding is necessary to keep local journalism alive, so he is disappointed that the city is choosing to give the contract to the Visalia Times-Delta instead of his paper.
Ellis said he made a “significant investment” several years ago to take the steps needed to be able to publish city legal advertisements in his paper by gaining adjudicated status.
Elizabeth Forrester from the city’s finance department said that the bid included a minimum publishing requirement of three times per week, which Ellis’ paper did not meet.
And also: Earlier in the day the council held a work session to discuss an agricultural preservation ordinance and an update on East Side Regional Park and groundwater recharge facilities.
The environmental impact report (EIR) for the park was discussed and two environmental impacts were found to be “significant and unavoidable”: The impact to agricultural land and traffic. Staff said they will explore mitigation measures for the increased traffic.
Staff said there also could be “threatened species” on the property that will require mitigation measures.
The comment period for the EIR is open through March 20.
Up next: The Visalia City Council is scheduled to meet again on Monday, March 20 at 7 p.m.