Ukiah City Council to take on groundwater, wastewater, public safety, and low-income housing, at Wed. meeting

The council has to decide what to do about the remainder of fines the city incurred for exceeding discharge limits from the wastewater treatment plant.

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UKIAH 2/28/2017 — Water, power, and housing will be heavily featured at the March 1 meeting of the Ukiah City Council. The council will decide if the city should pay the remainder of $63,000 in fines incurred during two separate periods for exceeding discharge limits from the wastewater treatment plant. The council is also scheduled to take steps towards keeping up with the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. There will also be a discussion on how to organize the oversight of funds under the provisions of Measure P, which extended a tax to pay for public safety. Council members will also decide what to do with a draft letter in support of a California State Senate bill that would impose real estate recording fees to support affordable housing, and receive an update on public benefit programs to encourage energy-efficiency and low-income housing development.

The fines

The City of Ukiah owes the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board $39,000 in administrative civil liability fines as a result of exceeding discharge limits on several pollutants from the wastewater treatment plant. The city has already paid $24,000 of the total amount, which was $63,000. The pollutants include dichlorobromomethane, and copper. Bromodichloromethane occurs sometimes in municipal drinking water as a by-product of chlorine disinfecting processes.

The two periods during which the city was found to exceed the discharge limits were February to December of 2012, and November 2014 to May 2015.

Groundwater

The council will also hear an update on a groundwater characterization study by Dr. Sam Sandoval Solis and Maritza Flores Marquez of UC Davis. The Ukiah Valley is a medium priority basin under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, and is required to have a groundwater sustainability agency in place by June 30, 2017. The city is part of a joint powers authority (JPA) that includes the county, neighboring water agencies, agricultural and tribal interests, and the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District. City staff is asking the council how to proceed in organizing the JPA.

Public Safety

The council is also being asked to provide direction for the establishment of an oversight committee to review public safety funds. In 2014, voters in Ukiah passed Measure P, which extended the ½ cent sales tax enacted in 2005 by Measure S. Measure S was accompanied by Measure T, an advisory measure asking voters if they wanted those tax funds to be used for public safety, which includes maintaining 32 sworn police officers and 15 firefighters. Measure P extends the tax “until repealed by majority vote in a municipal election,” according to the ordinance. The council is required to establish a five-member oversight committee every two years. According to the resolution establishing the oversight board and expenditure plan, the committee “should represent a broad range of interests in the city, including…business owners, ethnic minorities, (1) Ukiah City firefighter, (1) Ukiah City peace officer, homeowners and tenants.”

Low-income housing

In new business, the council will vote on sending a letter to California State Senator Toni Atkins in support of SB2, which calls for a $75 recording fee “for every real estate instrument, paper or notice required or permitted by law to be recorded,” according to the agenda summary report of the upcoming city council meeting. The fees from the bill, if it passes, are expected to generate $500 million a year to support affordable housing in California. It will require a two-thirds majority vote to pass, and it is unknown at this time how the funds would be allocated. A similar bill, SB391, failed in the Assembly in 2013.

The council will also receive an overview of the electric utility public benefit programs, which include low-income billing assistance and incentives to developers to build energy-efficient low-income housing.

The Ukiah City Council meets at 6pm every other Wednesday in the Ukiah City Council chambers

At 200 Seminary Avenue in Ukiah.

Sarah Reith [email protected]

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