SH City Council approves land purchase to expand Signal Hill Park

The council also recognizes Senior Police Officer Don Moreau as Signal Hill’s 2018 Employee of the Year

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Land purchases
During its Jan. 8 meeting at its council chamber, the Signal Hill City Council approved two resolutions for the purchase of land.

One of the purchases– about a third of an acre at 1905-1907 E. 21st St. adjacent to Signal Hill Park’s Spud Field– allows for future expansion of the park.

City Manager Charlie Honeycutt said the city’s parks-and-recreation master plan describes Signal Hill Park as a focal point of the community that needs to be enlarged and upgraded.

“Long-term goals for Signal Hill Park would be the acquisition of adjacent sites in order to enlarge the park acreage to provide for additional recreational facilities,” Honeycutt read from the plan.

Property owner Diane R. Kelley had offered to sell the parcel to the City this past August, Honeycutt said.

To purchase the property, the council agreed to use $760,000 from the City’s park-development fund to cover all costs associated with the acquisition. The fund consists of fees collected from property developers, Honeycutt said.

The council approved the second land purchase in a joint meeting with the Successor Agency to the former Signal Hill Redevelopment Agency (SHRA), which consists of the same members.

Honeycutt explained that the Successor Agency had been trying to find a buyer for the three-acre parcel of land at 1400 E. Spring St. for a decade to no success, due to abandoned oil wells on the site and its listed price of $1.1 million.

“Past efforts to sell the property for development of Hyundai, Fiat, Jeep, RAM Truck, Subaru and Mazda dealerships have not materialized due to a variety of environmental and physical site constraints, combined with the purchase price of the property listed in the state-approved long-range property-management plan,” Honeycutt said.

On staff’s recommendation, the council adopted a resolution approving $558,430 from the City’s economic-uncertainty reserve to purchase the property. The amount represents half the list price, with the remainder to be paid when the City secures another buyer for the property, Honeycutt said.

In the meantime, the City will continue to offer the land to local auto dealerships.

“We do have auto dealers who, from time to time, will not have sufficient space,” City Attorney Dave Aleshire explained. “This would be a relief parcel to provide for surface parking– in other words, auto storage.”

The Successor Agency then adopted a resolution approving transmitting the agreement to the Los Angeles County Fourth-District Consolidated Oversight Board for its review on Jan. 29, as per state law.

Photos by Anita W. Harris | Signal Tribune
The Signal Hill City Council convened Jan. 8 for its first meeting of 2019. In addition to addressing council business, councilmembers “switched hats” four times to conduct brief annual meetings as Successor Agency to the former Signal Hill Redevelopment Agency, Signal Hill Housing Authority, Signal Hill Public Financing Authority and Signal Hill Municipal Financing Authority.

Annual meetings
As per the City charter, since this meeting was the council’s first of the year, its members “switched hats” after addressing council business to conduct annual meetings as four other municipal bodies: Successor Agency to SHRA, as well as Signal Hill’s Housing Authority, Municipal Financing Authority and Public Financing Authority.

Mayor Tina Hansen first stressed that councilmembers do not receive additional compensation for conducting meetings as these municipal bodies.

As the Successor Agency, members approved adopting a recognized-obligation payment schedule (ROPS) for the fiscal year July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020.

Elise McCaleb, economic-development manager, explained that the ROPS budget of $15.7 million includes paying off agency loans and covering administrative expenses and contract obligations. It will be reviewed by the LA County Fourth District Consolidated Oversight Board on Jan. 29, she said.

During the Housing Authority meeting, McCaleb reported that the authority’s fund balance is currently at about $3.3 million from rental income and repayment of a loan made by SHRA.

McCaleb said that the authority’s assets include properties at 967 Las Brisas Wy., the 2200 block of Gaviota Avenue north of Hill Street and the 72-unit Zinnia Workforce Housing Development at 1500 E. Hill St.

McCaleb noted that the Zinnia affordable-housing units are all fully leased at this time, though its management is maintaining a waiting list.

During the Municipal Financing Authority meeting, members approved a resolution to hold regular meetings only once a year– on the second Tuesdays of January– instead of twice each month, due to lack of business. Its previous meeting was in January 2018, and its next meeting will be Jan. 21, 2020.

The only business the Public Financing Authority conducted was to approve minutes from its previous meeting in January 2018, when it had agreed to adopt the City’s procedural-conduct manual.

Signal Hill Senior Police Officer Don Moreau speaks at the Jan. 8 Signal Hill City Council meeting after being recognized as the City’s 2018 Employee of the Year.

The council recognized two City employees for their efforts last year.

Hansen awarded Senior Police Officer Don Moreau with the title of Signal Hill’s 2018 Employee of the Year.

She said that Moreau started his career as a part-time police aide when he was 19 years old and currently serves as senior patrol officer and the Signal Hill Police Department’s homeless-liaison officer.

“He is regularly out on the streets interacting with the homeless community, working to gain their trust and helping to connect them with services and assistance,” Hansen said. “He’s forged relationships with several regional agencies and works closely with outreach teams and mental-health clinicians.”

In receiving the award, Moreau credited other municipal departments he works with, as well as his partners and supervisors in the police department.

“I’m very honored to receive this,” Moreau said. “I would like to say, though, that this truly is a collaborative effort, and I couldn’t do my job […] effectively without the help of everyone else that I work with.”

Councilmember Robert Copeland (left) presents Mayor Tina Hansen with an award at the Jan. 8 Signal Hill City Council meeting recognizing the City’s participation in the 2018 West Nile Prevention Challenge, sponsored by the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.

Councilmember Robert Copeland, as the LA County vector-control trustee representative for Signal Hill, awarded Hansen and the City a recognition from the County’s Public Health Department for Signal Hill’s participation in the 2018 West Nile Prevention Challenge.

“The City helped create public awareness by posting information on our City’s website, making literature available at city facilities and making announcements at the city-council meetings,” Copeland said. “As a result, there were no incidents of West Nile Virus reported in Signal Hill.”

The next Signal Hill City Council meeting will take place Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 7pm in the council chamber at 2175 Cherry Ave.

The Signal Hill City Council recognized Senior Police Officer Don Moreau (center) as Signal Hill’s 2018 Employee of the Year during its Jan. 8 meeting. Pictured, from left: City Clerk Keir Jones, councilmembers Lori Woods and Edward Wilson, Mayor Tina Hansen, Moreau, Police Chief Christopher Nunley, Vice Mayor Larry Forester, Councilmember Robert Copeland and City Treasurer Larry Blunden