The March 28, 2016 meeting of the Fort Bragg City Council was held at Town Hall located in Fort Bragg. Council members Doug Hammerstrom, Scott Deitz and Mike Cimolino were present as well as Vice Mayor Lindy Peters and Mayor Dave Turner. Tom Varga-Public Works Director, Fabian E. Lizarraga-Chief of Police, Linda Ruffing-City Manager, June Lemos-City Clerk, Scott Schneider-Adminstrative Services Director and Samantha Zutler-Attorney were in attendance as well.
Item 1a. on the agenda was the Mayor’s recognitions and announcements.
Councilman Cimolino presented Rosalie Gjerde with a Proclamation declaring April 2016 as “Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month.” A copy of the proclamation can be found at the City’s website.
It was disturbing to hear Ms. Gjerde give the numbers of child abuse cases in Mendocino County as being twice as high as the State average.
Item 1b. was a presentation by Leadership Mendocino Executive Director Heidi Cusick Dickerson and the 2015 Scholarship Recipients.
Item 1c. was a presentation regarding Northwest California Alternative Fuels Readiness Project (AFRP). PowerPoint presentation (see also City website).
Item 1d. Proclamation of the Fort Bragg City Council Expressing Continuing Support and Admiration for the Town of Otsuchi, Japan on the Occasion of the Inauguration of a New Community Facility at Namiita Beach. Mayor Turner has asked the community to donate any sea glass they may have on hand so it can be sent to the Namiita Beach Facility. You can drop your glass off at City Hall.
During public comment on non-agenda items Debra DeGraw Vice President of the Fort Bragg Promotion Committee thanked Council and staff for the new downtown wi-fi. Cards are in the mail with info on “claim your listing” on the new fortbragg.com website. Debra and the fortbragg.com team will be at Town Hall on the second Saturday in April to help local businesses get their information onto the website. This is all made possible by the new downtown wi-fi.
Judy Valadao spoke about what a wonderful job the Redwood Coast Senior Citizens have done with their garden. Judy brought a photo taken from the Advocate News to show how great the winter garden looks with its many winter vegetables. She pointed out all the work was done and the garden is a success without a grant of $187,000. (Referring to the grant given to the Hospitality Center for their Giving Garden last year. The Giving Garden, according President Gary Johnson, is not for teaching or learning about gardening but is instead for teaching grooming and how to interview.) Judy said the success of the Senior Garden proves to her that it isn’t the money that makes for success but instead the willingness to put the work into the garden.
Judy asked if anyone had noticed the increase in people on the City streets. Not tourists but homeless. She pointed out that Redway and Eureka are cleaning up the homeless camps around their area and those people seem to be headed for Fort Bragg. Who wouldn’t she asked. They have free meals every day of the week, a park to sleep in and shelter when it’s rainy or cold. She went on to say it seems the grants are not helping and suggested some sort of work program. We have a park that needs to be cleaned as well as the Glass Beach Trail, Noyo Headlands Trail, Johnson Park and Pomo Bluff. Perhaps if these people had work to do they could become involved in the community and maybe even feel better about themselves.
Jay Rosenquist spoke of errors in the Impartial Analysis of Measure U that will appear on the June Ballot. Jay stated City Attorney Samatha Zutler had written the Impartial Analysis. And then pointed out someone being paid a quarter of million dollars a year and making errors on an important document such as this is an embarrassment to Community.
Douglas Chouteau read a letter written by a number of local residents on the subject of the homeless. The letter told of the murder of Denis Boardman, the death of a young lady whose body was found near the haul road, the stabbing of a local woman by a transient wanted out of Montana and the rape of a young woman and a transient out of Tennessee being arrested for the rape. The letter went on to say with Redway and Eureka tightening their belts on the homeless situation perhaps Fort Bragg should do the same. One suggestion was background checks for those receiving the services of free food, free clothing, free lodging (sometimes in local motels). Background checks would bolster safety for everyone including the residents who live and work in Fort Bragg and the most vulnerable, the homeless, women, children and the tourists that we want to attract. A round of applause was heard after Mr. Chouteau finished reading the letter.
Eric Dwyer spoke of some grates on the Coastal Trails that need some attention as he feels children or puppies could fall in and be washed out to sea.
George Reinhart said he was very pleased with the alternative fuels presentation. He spoke of the local Mendo Alcohol Fuel Group working on an alternative fuel here on the coast. George said some information in the presentation was not correct (if you get the chance watch the video, George is always interesting to listen to).
Item 6a. Receive Ad Hoc Committee Report on interviews with lodging owners regarding the TOT to be placed on the November Ballot. A link to the breakdown of the interviews is provided at the City website.
The meeting went past 10pm at this point but Councilman Peters made a motion to continue the meeting. It was seconded, so the meeting continued.
Item 6b. Receive report and provide direction to staff regarding use of Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Devices on the Coastal Trail. I’m finding it impossible to come up with words to describe this report and entire discussion by Council and Staff. A permit was issued to North Coast Segway. I believe Lynne Baumgartner filed for and received the permit in good faith but the confusion that followed by the City is nothing short of a circus. Three hours into the linked video you can watch and hear the entire discussion. It seemed to me not one person on the Council or Staff had a clue what was going on and the exchange between Doug Hammerstrom and City Attorney would take days to break down into anything that made any sort of sense.
I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of the Segway discussion. I just hope the next time it comes up someone has a clue what they are talking about and what the rules are. Too bad this happened to someone who was just trying to start a business and follow the rules.