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Signal Hill receives $7.5 million to expand stormwater-capture basin

City council approves allocating those funds plus a $85K traffic-enforcement grant.

Part+of+a+planned+mural+for+the+children%E2%80%99s+section+of+the+new+Signal+Hill+Public+Library+under+construction%2C+displayed+at+the+Signal+Hill+City+Council+meeting+Sept.+11
Part of a planned mural for the children’s section of the new Signal Hill Public Library under construction, displayed at the Signal Hill City Council meeting Sept. 11

Part of a planned mural for the children’s section of the new Signal Hill Public Library under construction, displayed at the Signal Hill City Council meeting Sept. 11

Photos by Anita W. Harris | Signal Tribune

Photos by Anita W. Harris | Signal Tribune

Part of a planned mural for the children’s section of the new Signal Hill Public Library under construction, displayed at the Signal Hill City Council meeting Sept. 11

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Signal Hill City Council approved Tuesday a number of measures, including allocating incoming grants for stormwater capture and traffic enforcement, making the City’s purchasing methods more efficient and updating employee pay schedules to reflect cost-of-living increases.

It also approved installing a dinosaur exhibit and mural for the children’s area at the new library under construction.

Sub-basin expansion
The council authorized the city manager to enter into a memorandum-of-understanding (MOU) with the Los Angeles Flood Control District (LAFCD) to accept $7.5 million for the expansion of Los Cerritos Channel’s stormwater sub-basin storage by 10 acre-feet.

The unexpected offer for additional funding to expand the stormwater basin at the Long Beach Airport came in June, approved by the LA County Board of Supervisors.

“We’ve been very fortunate that our Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn and the rest of the board of supervisors have approved $7.5 million in additional funding to expand this project,” City Manager Charlie Honeycutt said. “This contribution adds to the $15.3 million that has been contributed by Caltrans.”

To implement the expansion, the council approved adjusting construction agreements and its MOU with the City of Long Beach. Most of the additional funding, or $6.5 million, will go to Mike Bubalo Construction Company, the principal firm involved in the stormwater-capture project.

The amount reimbursed to the City of Long Beach to allow for the expansion will increase by $215,000, from $350,000 to $565,000. MCM Management Co. will receive an additional $120,000 for project-management services, and Simplus will receive an additional $300,000 for construction-management support. The remaining funds, about $310,000, will be allocated to contingency and other administrative costs associated with the project.

Previous funds from Caltrans allowed the City to build 21 acre-feet of storage for stormwater runoff at the site, which will now increase to 31 acre-feet by June 2019.

Kelli Tunnicliff, public works director, said that the facility is designed to clean trash out of stormwater runoff and then further filter the water as it percolates down into groundwater to help ensure that more of the water is usable.

She said that the new total storage capacity represents about 23 percent of the total design capacity of 134 acre-feet.

City Manager Charlie Honeycutt affirmed that the City would keep looking for opportunities to build out the remaining 90 acre-feet of storage capacity.

“When you look long-term, it’s a daunting task to try to figure out how we’re going to pay for all of this,” he said. “LA County is proposing on the November ballot a parcel tax to offset some of the cost of some of these stormwater regulations.”

Traffic enforcement
The council authorized the chief of police to accept an $85,000 grant from the State’s Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) to offset Signal Hill Police Department (SHPD) costs of participating in public-safety enforcement and training. The funds are allocated through OTS’s Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP).

“The grant will be used to offset police department costs to participate in public-safety education and enforcement events that are aimed at lowering traffic collisions citywide,” Police Chief Christopher Nunley said.

Nunley said OTS has granted the police department such funds since the early 1990s to finance training classes, enforcement activities and purchasing traffic-safety equipment, such as the department’s DUI trailer, alcohol-screening devices, traffic-calming devices and RADAR trailers.

He further said SHPD will use this new grant to promote traffic safety and reduce collisions, such as by creating a program to identify repeat DUI offenders, establishing DUI and driver-license checkpoints, conducting DUI-enforcement patrols, targeting drivers distracted by cell phones and educating the public in traffic safety.

In its grant application, SHPD noted that it handled 396 traffic collisions in 2017– up from 361 in 2016– resulting in 286 injuries and three fatalities. It found that unsafe vehicle speeds and drivers under impairing influences resulted in the three fatalities. In one collision, a pedestrian was struck and killed in a crosswalk.

The OTS program will also provide funding to train up to 10 police officers in impaired-driving enforcement and drug recognition.

As part of STEP, Nunley said SHPD will participate in several government programs promoting traffic safety, including National Walk to School Day, National Teen Driver Safety Week, National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, National Bicycle Safety Month, National Motorcycle Safety Month, National “Click It or Ticket” Mobilization, National Child Passenger Safety Week and California Pedestrian Safety Month.

“The kickoff [will be] in November,” Nunley said.

Salary increases
The council approved updating pay schedules for City employees to reflect recently reported cost-of-living increases. The updates, effective as of July 2018, are consistent with previously agreed upon employee MOUs.

Deputy City Manager Hannah Shin-Heydorn explained that, according to a recent report, the past year’s local consumer-price index increased by 3.9 percent, and therefore, as calculated by employee MOUs, the City will update pay schedules to reflect a total of three percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for the Police Officers Association and two percent for the Signal Hill Employees’ Association (SHEA).

The council further adopted a resolution updating management salaries.

“The management resolution is tied to the provisions contained in the SHEA MOU,” Shin-Heydorn said. “As such, the proposed management resolution incorporates a two-percent COLA per the SHEA MOU.”

Purchasing methods
The council agreed to introduce an ordinance amending the Signal Hill Municipal Code to update the City’s practices regarding purchasing agreements in order to allow cooperative-purchasing agreements and master “on-call” agreements.

Specifically, the ordinance amends sections 3.20.100 and 3.20.195 of the municipal code and adds sections 3.20.220 and 3.20.230 related to purchasing.

Shin-Heydorn explained that the City’s municipal code regarding purchasing guidelines had not been updated since 1989 and did not reflect more modern and efficient purchasing and contracting practices.

“The purpose of the ordinance […] is to memorialize the City’s ability to use cooperative-purchasing agreements and master agreements to promote administrative efficiencies, as well as cost savings,” Shin-Heydorn said.

One of those practices is establishing competitively awarded on-call agreements with a number of companies that the City can draw on as needed for maintenance and repair work.

“An on-call agreement is different from a traditional agreement in that the consultant, contractor or service provider is ready and waiting to meet the City’s needs as they arise,” Shin-Heydorn said. “Rather than going through a three- to four-month competitive process after a need is identified, the process is completed in anticipation of identified needs.”

Although the council generally supported the principles behind the changes, it only approved the ordinance after reducing the proposed threshold amount that staff could contract without council approval from $175,000 to $100,000.

Shin-Heydorn explained that staff had based the $175,000 threshold on best practices specified in the Uniform Public Construction Cost Accounting Act, which the State uses.

Councilmember Edward Wilson questioned whether the amount in the act applied equally to big cities as small.

“I’m generally in favor, but I’m also very conservative when it comes to public money,” he said. “I’ve always thought that anything over $100,000 should come back to council.”

The rest of the council agreed, except for Vice Mayor Larry Forester, who disagreed with amending the threshold amount. The motion thus carried with a four-to-one vote.

“Everyone at staff level [including the public works director] is comfortable with $100,000,” Honeycutt said after consulting with Tunnicliff. “We presented the $175,000 because that’s what, at the state level, they allow, but […] if council is more comfortable with $100,000, staff is fine with that.”

Library news
Mayor Tina Hansen introduced Coral Rios, a recently promoted library assistant with a degree from Cal State Fullerton in English literature who is working on her master’s degree in library and information science.

Photos by Anita W. Harris | Signal Tribune
At the Signal Hill City Council meeting Sept. 11, Mayor Tina Hansen (left) introduces newly promoted library assistant, Coral Rios (right).

“Coral has worked as a library aide for the City of Signal Hill for four years and also has experience working in school libraries,” Hansen said. “Coral has led and planned many activities to help teens build social and team-working skills during the library after-school program.”

Tunnicliff said that construction of the new library is “starting to take shape” with framing and is still on schedule to be completed by March 2019.

Finally, the council approved a contract for $118,600 with design-installation firm The Shop @ ShowReady to construct a 3D dinosaur-themed children’s area in the library, as well as a $20,000 contract with artist Tracey Maloney’s firm, My Art and Soul, for a related wall mural.

“Both of these elements were presented to the library-design committee,” Honeycutt said.
Architect Robert Coffee, with whose company the City has contracted for library construction, said that the design includes the 3D dinosaur emerging from a wall, a rock that children can walk through that has pictograms and fossils embedded in it and a 3D tree.

“The mural becomes a backdrop for these three-dimensional elements,” he said. “Plus, we’re having a three-dimensional pterodactyl flying.”

The next Signal Hill City Council meeting will take place Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 7pm, in the council chamber at 2175 Cherry Ave.

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Signal Hill receives $7.5 million to expand stormwater-capture basin