Signal Hill City Council approves hilltop residential permit-parking

The council also agreed to improve its commission-appointment process.

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Signal Hill City Council approves hilltop residential permit-parking

Durante su reunión del 10 de septiembre, el Consejo Municipal de Signal Hill aprobó una nueva zona de estacionamiento preferencial en la cima de la colina en la cuadra 2700 de Hill Street entre las avenidas Ohio y Temple, sombreada en verde en este mapa que se muestra en la reunión.

Durante su reunión del 10 de septiembre, el Consejo Municipal de Signal Hill aprobó una nueva zona de estacionamiento preferencial en la cima de la colina en la cuadra 2700 de Hill Street entre las avenidas Ohio y Temple, sombreada en verde en este mapa que se muestra en la reunión.

Courtesy City of SH

Durante su reunión del 10 de septiembre, el Consejo Municipal de Signal Hill aprobó una nueva zona de estacionamiento preferencial en la cima de la colina en la cuadra 2700 de Hill Street entre las avenidas Ohio y Temple, sombreada en verde en este mapa que se muestra en la reunión.

Courtesy City of SH

Courtesy City of SH

Durante su reunión del 10 de septiembre, el Consejo Municipal de Signal Hill aprobó una nueva zona de estacionamiento preferencial en la cima de la colina en la cuadra 2700 de Hill Street entre las avenidas Ohio y Temple, sombreada en verde en este mapa que se muestra en la reunión.

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During its Sept. 10 meeting, the Signal Hill City Council agreed to create a residential permit-parking zone on the 2700 block of Hill Street between Ohio and Temple avenues after residents there petitioned for one. The council also updated its commission-appointment process and heard from the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District about the dangers of mosquitoes and how residents can help.

Preferential parking
After conducting a public hearing, the council approved a resolution creating a residential permit-parking zone on the 2700 block of Hill Street, between Ohio and Temple avenues.

Jesus Saldana, a senior engineering technician with the Signal Hill Public Works Department, said that residents on that block had petitioned the city in July to grant them preferential parking because neighboring residents on the 2100 and 2200 blocks of Ohio Avenue were leaving their vehicles parked on Hill Street for multiple days, leaving no place for Hill Street residents to park.

Saldana said that while only two-thirds of occupant signatures are required to successfully petition for such a zone, all residents on the affected properties had signed it.

Per the city’s code, each of the 10 qualifying condominium units on that block will receive three residential permits and two visitor permits, Saldana said. He added that the residents have agreed to share the permits among themselves and also share the city’s one-time fees of $10.50 for each residential permit and $6 for each visitor permit issued.

The city will post permit-parking signs soon, after which non-permitted vehicles can be cited, Saldana said.
Three residents who live on the 2700 block of Hill Street came forward during the meeting to express their support of the ordinance. One said that he and other residents have no garage or driveway in their condominium buildings and their only option is street parking.

“I’ve got to park way down the street,” he said. “I’ve circled around many times just to find a spot.”
Another resident named Christina said she and other long-time residents have been dealing with the situation for years.

“It’s the same cast of characters who come from Ohio [Avenue]– the 2100 block, 2200 block– and they dump their cars,” she said. “One gentleman has six cars, one gentleman has five cars.”

She added that Hill Street residents have left notes and talked to the car owners but finally had to ask the city for help.

“Just to be clear, nobody on our block ever parks on Ohio,” she said. “We stay on our block. […] We get the joggers, we get the walkers– none of that bothers us. It’s the people who just leave their cars anywhere from four to six days a week.”

Resident Robert Thrasher said that more people seem to be living on Ohio Avenue and their encroaching vehicles include limousines, a hearse and food trucks.

Councilmember Edward Wilson asked City Manager Charlie Honeycutt about the city’s existing 72-hour parking rule and ban on oversized vehicles. Honeycutt responded that violations are usually only reported after 72 hours have passed and enforced after the vehicle has been tagged and another 72 hours elapses. He also said the original purpose of the oversized-vehicle ban was to prevent RV parking, not food trucks.

In answer to a question from Mayor Lori Woods’s about enforcement, Police Chief Christopher Nunley said that parking enforcement would cite vehicles during the daytime but patrol officers may spot issues in the evening and also respond to phone calls reporting violations.

The council approved the resolution in a 5-0 vote.

Commission appointments
The council also reevaluated and amended its commission-appointment process after considering staff recommendations.

Deputy City Manager Hannah Shin-Heydorn said that each of the city’s three commissions– Civil Service, Parks and Recreation, and Planning– consists of five members that the council appoints to four-year terms.

“Neither the city charter nor the municipal code establishes a set commissioner-appointment process,” she said. “As such, the process has varied over the years, based upon the preference of the mayor.”

She added that at its May 28 meeting, the council had asked staff to come up with options to improve the procedure following a three-hour appointment process on May 14 (reported in the Signal Tribune on May 17).

Shin-Heydorn recapped how the council had interviewed candidates alphabetically by their first choice of commission. The mayor had then nominated candidates before asking the council for additional nominations and conducting a roll-call vote on nominees in alphabetical order, with voting ceasing once each commission seat was filled.

Shin-Heydorn then shared staff’s recommendations for revising the application, the interview date and times, and the nomination and appointment process.

She described a new application form with only demographic information and a less formal supplemental questionnaire asking not only for employment history but volunteer or other life experience that could make the applicant an effective commissioner.

Staff also recommended that applicants list their top two commission preferences, but the council disagreed and said they should be allowed to choose and rank all three.

“If you’re able to select two, why not select three,” Wilson said. “People should have the choice to decide.”
Councilmember Tina Hansen further suggested that the questionnaire should instruct applicants that they can apply to one commission or up to all three.

“If that language is in there and they just put one down, then we know that’s really what they want,” she said.
As to the interview date, the council agreed that if it had to interview 10 or more candidates, then interviews should be conducted on a different date than a regular council meeting.

Wilson said that even if the council conducts interviews during a regular meeting, it doesn’t have to decide on appointments that night.

“That’s the one thing that might be helpful in the whole grand scheme of things is not to rush to make a decision,” he said, and most other council members agreed.

Members were also concerned that the process of interviewing and making decisions remains transparent.

“Technically, we actually don’t even have to have interviews,” Wilson remarked. “We choose to have interviews. But if we have them, they have to be in a public forum.”

As to interview times, the council agreed not to give candidates time slots but rather have one start time when they all come and conduct interviews in a given order by commission.

In terms of the appointment process, the council agreed to a staff-recommended “slate-based” system in which each member nominates a “slate” of candidates equal to the number of vacant seats on a commission. The council would appoint candidates receiving three or more nominations. If any commissions still had vacancies, the next highest nominated candidates would participate in a “run-off” until the council fills each vacancy.

Wilson suggested that council members rank their nominations and add up those numbers, but other members thought that would be too complicated, especially for the candidates.

Hansen also said such weighting would be negative and she preferred the process to be positive, simple and clear.

Vice Mayor Robert Copeland agreed that the process wasn’t clear before and should be clear now.

Wilson then also suggested that each councilmember just make one appointment.

“This is a political process,” he said.

The other members disagreed, but did agree that nominations should be stated out loud rather than written on paper for staff to compute.

Hansen said that the new process is positive rather than negative in that members wouldn’t have to say “no” to any candidate. She said that the May 14 process was the second in a row in which at least one member said they hadn’t put forward a candidate because they had wanted to elect them to a different commission.

Wilson noted that while the council can agree now to a process, a future council could decide to change things.
The council discussed how the process is merely a guideline and the new mayor can decide how they would like to make appointments. Hansen said members could ask the new mayor at the next rotation what policy they wished to follow.

“The mayor would have to agree to follow that process unless they wanted to amend the charter,” Deputy District Attorney Danny Aleshire said.

Woods said it was important to agree to a process nonetheless.

“We’ve stumbled [through] the last several times and I think we need a more standardized process,” she said. “Yes, it can be changed […] but if we agree among this council how we want to proceed, then two years from now when commissions are appointed […] we will have not tripped over ourselves yet again.”

Safety grant
The council authorized the Signal Hill Police Department (SHPD) to accept a $60,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).

Police Chief Christopher Nunley said that the grant would help offset SHPD’s cost to participate in traffic-safety education and enforcement activities.

SHPD has had a long partnership with OTS since the 1990s and has received a number of grants to fund training and enforcement activities as well as purchase traffic-safety equipment such as a DUI-checkpoint trailer and radar trailers, Nunley said.

“This particular grant will fund a number of outreach activities, including participating in the National Walk To School Day, National Teen Driver Safety Week, as well as some enforcement activities including DUI checkpoints, saturation patrols and distracted-driving enforcement,” he said. “The program also strives to enhance public safety by targeting the violations that are commonly related to fatal and injury traffic collisions.”

New employee
Mayor Lori Woods introduced, Kim Engel, a new accounting manager in the Finance Department.

Woods said Engel has worked in the public sector for more than 13 years, 11 of those with the City of Los Alamitos. She grew up in Kansas, attended the University of Georgia on an athletic scholarship and moved to California in 2003.

“As an accounting manager, Kim will be supporting the finance staff and assisting other departments as well as performing various other financial responsibilities and reporting,” Woods said before presenting Engel with a city pin

Mosquitoes
Anais Medina Diaz, public-information officer for the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District (GLACVCD), presented to the council on mosquitoes and diseases.

GLACVCD serves 35 cities in the county, covering 6 million people in 1,300 square miles, including Signal Hill, and its mission is to reduce the population of mosquitoes and prevent infections or diseases transmitted by them, she said.

Courtesy GLACVCD
An example of stagnant water in which mosquitoes can breed, with inset showing a mosquito “egg raft.” During the Sept. 10 Signal Hill City Council meeting, a Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District (GLACVCD) representative warned residents to dispose of such containers of water to help reduce mosquitoes and their diseases.

“Why mosquitoes? Because they are the deadliest creature in the world,” Diaz said. “They kill up to 725 people a year and that’s because of the diseases they can transmit.”

She said mosquitoes depend on water to survive, especially stagnant water in which to breed, growing from egg to larva to pupa to adult in five to seven days.

“If it’s warm, it can be three to five days with as little water as a spoonful,” she said.

Though there are over 3,500 mosquito species in the world, LA County harbors two: the native Culex and invasive Aedes, Diaz said.

The native mosquito transmits West Nile Virus (WNV), encephalitis and bites from dusk to dawn, she said. Though it mostly targets birds, it also bites humans.

“That’s how West Nile Virus gets transmitted,” she said. “It lives within our bird population and then an infected mosquito bites a human.”

She said there are now 62 human cases of WNV with five in LA County. One in five carriers develop flu-like symptoms and one in 150 become severely ill, suffering paralysis and even coma. Older adults and those with weak immune systems are at greater risk, she said.

“This virus is here to stay, it’s endemic, and it lives within our bird population and all we can do is prevent it,” she said. “There is no cure and there is no vaccine.”

The black-and-white Aedes mosquito aggressively bites humans and transmits the Zika Virus, Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever and the Chikungunya infection, though none of these diseases yet affects LA County.

Diaz advised residents to check their yards for exposed water in plant saucers, basketball hoops, gutters, buckets and rain barrels.

“Especially in LA County, we love water conservation, which is great, but we just need to make sure the water containers are sealed,” she said.

She also said people should wear long sleeves and slacks as well as insect repellent, noting that citronella candles and wristbands are not as effective.

Diaz said residents should contact GLACVCD at (562) 944-9656 or fill out a service-request form at glacvcd.org if they notice a mosquito problem in their home or public space. She emphasized that the service is free, paid for by taxes.

Business spotlight
During the council meeting’s “small-business spotlight” segment, Salim Khoury, owner of Fish-O-Licious at 2594 Cherry Ave., spoke about positive changes in his business since he took over operations last December.

“If you go again, you’ll see different changes in Fish-O-Licious,” he said. “It looks very nice in there.”

The establishment is open daily from 11am to 9pm, except Sundays, when it closes at 7pm, Khoury said, noting that daily specials include lobster tacos, dollar tacos on Tuesdays, fish stew on Wednesdays, paella on Thursdays and seafood cioppino on Fridays and Saturdays.

“When you come to Fish-O-Licious, even though the prices are nice and low, you’re going to get really nice quality,” he said. “We also like to be offering healthy options from the seafood industry.”

Khoury thanked the city for its support as well as the Signal Hill Chamber of Commerce, and said the restaurant likes to do fundraisers for schools and churches. Woods noted that they had donated food for the opening of the Signal Hill Public Library last month.

The restaurant’s mission is to bring the quality of fine dining to the fast-food and fast-casual food industries while creating a positive work environment, Khoury said.

“We don’t settle for good,” he said. “We really go for great.”

The next Signal Hill City Council meeting will take place Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 7pm in the council chamber at 2175 Cherry Ave.