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SH City Council authorizes contract for environmental review of proposed light-industrial park

Council also approves MOUs for water-pollution mitigation and ADA compliance

Rendering+of+proposed+8.7-acre+light-industrial+complex+at+2020+Walnut+Ave.+During+its+meeting+on+Feb.+26%2C+the+Signal+Hill+City+Council+approved+a+contract+with+Michael+Baker+International+to+prepare+an+environmental+review+of+the+site%2C+a+former+oil+refinery.+
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SH City Council authorizes contract for environmental review of proposed light-industrial park

Rendering of proposed 8.7-acre light-industrial complex at 2020 Walnut Ave. During its meeting on Feb. 26, the Signal Hill City Council approved a contract with Michael Baker International to prepare an environmental review of the site, a former oil refinery.

Rendering of proposed 8.7-acre light-industrial complex at 2020 Walnut Ave. During its meeting on Feb. 26, the Signal Hill City Council approved a contract with Michael Baker International to prepare an environmental review of the site, a former oil refinery.

Courtesy City of SH

Rendering of proposed 8.7-acre light-industrial complex at 2020 Walnut Ave. During its meeting on Feb. 26, the Signal Hill City Council approved a contract with Michael Baker International to prepare an environmental review of the site, a former oil refinery.

Courtesy City of SH

Courtesy City of SH

Rendering of proposed 8.7-acre light-industrial complex at 2020 Walnut Ave. During its meeting on Feb. 26, the Signal Hill City Council approved a contract with Michael Baker International to prepare an environmental review of the site, a former oil refinery.

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During its Feb. 26 meeting, the Signal Hill City Council approved a contract for an environmental review of a proposed light-industrial park on Walnut Avenue, as well as two memoranda of understandings regarding water-pollution mitigation and disability assistance. It also approved two road rehabilitation projects for which to use SB 1 gas-tax funds.

Council business was sweetened with a cake donated by Camp Fire USA Long Beach in honor of its 109th birthday.

Environmental review
After hearing a staff report, the council authorized a contract with Michael Baker International (MBI) to prepare an environmental-determination report for a proposed 8.7-acre light-industrial development project at 2020 Walnut Ave., as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Xebec Realty, the site owner and project developer, will pay MBI’s fee of $79,750 for the report.

Colleen Doan, Signal Hill planning manager, said that Xebec has proposed constructing a nine-building, concrete industrial park at 2020 Walnut Ave.– spanning both sides of Walnut Avenue and E. 21st Street, south of Hill Street– to be sold as “business-condominium” units.

Doan said the Planning Commission has already conducted public workshops in preparation for public hearings. But to go forward, the project requires an environmental determination, especially since it’s at the site of the former Chemoil refinery.

Doan said that, though the site has been vacant since 1997, efforts to remediate soil and groundwater contamination had been started by the previous owner but needed to be completed by the new owner.

She also said that MBI has already been authorized to prepare an environmental-impact report for the proposed Heritage Square development project and its contract also allows the City use MBI for on-call technical services such as for the Walnut Avenue project.

As to what MBI will examine, Doan listed a large range of areas, including analyses of the soil, air quality, greenhouse-gas emission, traffic, noise and energy, plus a review of tribal, cultural and paleontological records.

Scott Charney, community-development director, clarified that this assessment is only the first step.

“The cost to do the work is really going to be substantially higher than this,” he said. “This is just the cost to prepare, essentially, a work plan to clean up the soil.”

Steven Christie, with Xebec, was on hand to say that the three public workshop meetings had gone well, with all five planning commissioners in favor.

“There is very strong demand for smaller, open-space [offices],” he said. “The vacancy rate in this area is […] essentially zero percent.”

Water pollution
The council also authorized a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Signal Hill and the Los Angeles Gateway Region Integrated Regional Water Management Joint Powers Authority to share the costs of water-toxics management, as required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Kelli Tunnicliff, public-works director, said that the MOU would allow coordinated compliance, monitoring and reporting of total maximum daily loads (TMDL) of toxic pollutants for three groups of cities, one of which includes Signal Hill.

“A TMDL is a calculation of the maximum amount of a particular pollutant that a water body can receive and still meet the water-quality standards,” Tunnicliff said.
She added that toxics include metals such as copper, lead and zinc and organic compounds such as DDTs and PCBs.

“The concern with these toxics is they can run off into the storm-drain system and into the L.A. and Long Beach harbors, where they can contaminate sediment beds and endanger the fish population,” Tunnicliff said.

She said that the City’s annual cost of $9,043 is included in its 2019-20 fiscal-year environmental-program budget.

ADA compliance
The council also agreed to enter into an MOU with the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority (CJPIA) to share the burden of complying with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Hannah Shin-Heydorn, deputy city manager, explained that under Title II, the City is required to assess its public areas and create a plan to address any access issues for the disabled.

“The self-evaluation identifies physical barriers within the public right-of-way, as well as public facilities [that] may limit accessibility,” she said. “The transition plan identifies and prioritizes steps to address any barrier.”

As a member of the CJPIA, the City can get technical and financial assistance for such ADA compliance, including a consultant to do the work, to be completed within a year, Shin-Heydorn said.

The total cost of the assessment and plan is $116,123.50, of which CJPIA will fund $26,300 and the City will pay $89,823, already accounted for in its budget.

Tim Mahoney, general manager with the CJPIA-contracted consulting firm, said that after surveying the city, his firm will identify how to fix any issues. The transition plan will include a schedule, budgeting and staff requirements.

“We’re going to inspect or survey all your sidewalks, all your facilities, all your parks, to find noncompliance– any barriers that would prevent people with disabilities [from gaining] access to the city’s goods and services,” he said.

Mahoney also said his firm would evaluate the City’s programs, services, activities, policies and procedures to make sure there is no discriminatory language or practices.

“One of your largest programs [that] you wouldn’t think of is your website,” he said. “That’s where most people go to gather their information, so we’re going to look at that to see if there’s any fonts or any graphics or any areas of contrast or shading that might prevent people with disabilities [from using] their readers to gain access.”

Mahoney added that his firm would also seek input from the community.

“We want to get a really good cross-section, not only us identifying areas,” he said. “From a public-input perspective, we want to reach out to the community, staff and certainly organizations for people with disabilities to get their feedback, as well.”

Road repair
In a final piece of business, the council adopted a resolution amending the City’s 2019-20 fiscal-year budget to incorporate a list of projects to be funded by gasoline-tax revenue from California Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.

Tunnicliff said that the City’s share of those funds, based on its population, amounts to about $194,500 for the 2019-20 fiscal year. The combined total allocated to the City since the bill’s inception is now $453,000.

Tunnicliff said that SB 1 allows cities to rollover accrued funds to pay for street repairs and maintenance, but performance goals must be tracked and reported to ensure future funding. A list of projects must be submitted to the funding organization by May 1.

She requested that those projects include the City’s pavement-management program (PMP) and/or its Spring Street overlay project, part of which is funded by a federal grant requiring a 10-percent match from the City.

“The intent is to accumulate enough funding from SB 1 to allow the City the flexibility of offsetting the required ten-percent match of the Spring Street [project]– which is in the neighborhood of $400,000, for which we’re expecting to design kick-off in […] the next fiscal year– and/or utilize the funding to pay for the PMP annual implementation, which is about $250,000 a year,” she said.

City Manager Charlie Honeycutt said that the Spring Street project involves road rehabilitation and installing bike lanes. SB 1 funding would allow the City to not take that ten-percent match from its general-fund budget, he said.

Councilmember Edward Wilson said that while SB 1 money is ultimately useful to the city, its formula is not equitable for small cities like Signal Hill.

“We weren’t really happy with it,” he said. “We’re […] surrounded by Long Beach and so, with the port and airport and big trucks that come through and impact our streets, we get no recognition for that– we have to come up with the money.”

Cecil Looney speaks during the Feb. 26 Signal Hill City Council meeting after being introduced by Mayor Tina Hansen as the recently promoted deputy director of public works.

Presentations
Mayor Tina Hansen introduced Cecil Looney as the recently promoted deputy director of public works.

Looney had joined the City in 2015 as its water-system superintendent, after more than 30 years of experience in the public sector, Hansen said. In his new capacity in the public-works department, he is responsible for managing the daily operation of the City yard, including water operation, and street, fleet and facility maintenance.
“It’s got the right name – ‘works’– there’s a lot of work involved,” Looney said.

Hansen also presented several young members of Camp Fire USA Long Beach with a proclamation honoring the organization’s 109th birthday after the youth led the meeting’s flag salute.

Hansen said that the organization, founded in 1910, offers outcome-based programs fostering youth leadership, self-reliance, afterschool groups, camping and environmental education and childcare.

“Camp Fire promotes the development and preservation of spiritual, ethical values, and the practice of responsible citizenship, exemplifying the highest standards of a democratic society,” Hansen said.

Election
Hansen reminded the audience that the Signal Hill general election will take place on Tuesday, March 5, from 7am to 8pm.

Residents will vote for two council members, the city clerk and city treasurer. In addition, measures M and N will decide the date of the next municipal election.

Hansen said that since the election is being run this year by Los Angeles County, there is only one polling place– Discovery Well Park– and ballots won’t be counted in City Hall, as had been traditional, but in Norwalk.

“We’ve had two elections […] decided by one vote,” she said. “Every vote counts.”

The next Signal Hill City Council meeting will take place Tuesday, March 12, at 7pm in the council chamber at 2175 Cherry Ave.

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SH City Council authorizes contract for environmental review of proposed light-industrial park