March 20, 2023 — Visalia City Council

Documented by Jackie Schuster

Here’s what you need to know

  • The Visalia City Council ratified the Proclamation of Local Emergency that was declared on March 13, allowing the city to begin charting expenses for FEMA funds and accessing emergency resources. 
  • A new section was added to the city’s municipal code to require people who own a catalytic converter to have documentation proving they own the converter or car it was attached to.
  • A student from Redwood High School, Jennah Creason, was recognized by the council for winning the gold medal in women’s wrestling at the state championship.

Follow-up questions

  • What is the current rate of catalytic converter theft in the city, and how much is it expected to drop with this new code?
  • How long is the Proclamation of Local Emergency expected to last?

Visalia City Council Members 

Liz Wynn, District One

Vice Mayor Brett Taylor, District Two

Mayor Brian Poochigan, District Three

Emmanuel Hernandez Soto, District Four 

Steve Nelsen, District Five

The Scene

The Visalia City Council meeting began at 7:01 p.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance led by Council member Wynn and the invocation led by Councilmember Nelsen. All council members were present. 

Actions/Discussions/Public comment

  • Jennah Creason, a student at Redwood High School, received a special recognition from the council. Creason is the Gold Medal State Champion for wrestling. 
  • Public Comment
    • Dr Larry Weber, co-founder of the Visalia Feral Cat Association, said that the group traps, neuters and spays over 1,000 feral cats per year at no cost to the city. All costs are funded by association members. 
    • Weber said that he thinks City Manager Leslie Caviglia is responsible for attacks on members of the association as they set out cat food at sports parks, but he was stopped mid-sentence by Mayor Poochigan for an attack on a staff member. Weber then said that Fresno has a no-cost program for residents to spay and neuter cats, and Visalia should consider developing a low- or no-cost program as well because it is costing $500 or more to spay a female cat.
  • Consent Calendar
    • No items from the consent calendar were pulled by the public or council members. Items on the list at this meeting included accepting the 2022 Housing Element Annual Progress Report, authorizing the city manager to enter a contract not exceeding $75,000 with Don Berry Construction for the installation of a video detection system at the Plaza Drive and Riggin Avenue intersection, and accepting the city’s Cash and Investment Report for the second quarter of the fiscal year. 
    • Nelsen motioned to pass all items as stated on the agenda, and Taylor seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. 
  • Municipal Code Section 9.24.060 – Unlawful catalytic converter possession
    • The council read the ordinance for the new Municipal Code Section 9.24.060, which would prohibit the unlawful possession of a catalytic converter in Visalia. 
    • Andy Swarthout, a captain in  the Visalia Police Department, gave the report on the new code. 
    • This code would require that people possess valid documentation (this could be a receipt, bill of sale, or other similar paperwork proving you recently purchased the item) for catalytic converters. If someone is caught with a catalytic converter and they don’t have documentation to prove they own it, violators could be charged with fines or imprisonment, as catalytic converter theft is a misdemeanor. 
    • Swarthout said that Huntington Beach adopted a similar code last year, and experienced a decrease in overall catalytic converter theft. Fresno also recently adopted a similar code. 
    • Taylor asked if the bill of sale needs to be tied directly to a vehicle license plate or the serial number of the catalytic converter, which Swarthout confirmed is true.  
    • Poochigan said he is supportive of anything that could lower crime in the city.
    • Nelsen moved to approve the ordinance and have this section added to municipal code. Wynn seconded and the motion passed unanimously. 
  • Resolution ratifying local emergency proclamation
    • Caviglia said that a Proclamation of Local Emergency was declared on March 13 due to extreme weather conditions. It is required that the proclamation be ratified by the council within seven days. 
    • This proclamation would let the city begin charting expenses for FEMA and access abilities given by states of emergency. With no questions or comments from the council or public, Soto motioned to ratify the proclamation. Nelsen seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

With no closed session report, the meeting adjourned at 7:21 p.m. The next Visalia City Council meeting will be held on Monday, April 3 in the City Council Chambers at 7 p.m.

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