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Council debates legislative influence

Roseville City Council votes 4-1 against creating a Law and Legislation Committee
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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The City of Roseville’s influence on state and federal legislative issues was front and center during Wednesday’s council meeting.

Council members debated the benefits of forming a Law and Legislation Committee, ultimately voting 4-1 against the item. Councilman John Allard cast the dissenting vote.

“I think we’re kind of missing the point of this committee,” Allard said before the vote. “I was the one who proposed it and one of the main reasons I proposed it was because the previous council would get copies of letters signed by the mayor taking positions on issues and legislation. The other four of us knew nothing about it. So the council and city was taking positions on key legislation without any council input.”

Last year, the council expressed an interest in exploring a different process for taking positions on behalf of the city on legislation and policy matters. Currently, if a group asks the city to weigh in, staff and City Attorney Brita Bayless review possible positions to see what meets the council’s adopted state and federal priorities, said Administrative Analyst Mark Wolinski.

“This is my point,” Allard said. “Where is the council’s direct involvement?”

He said not having this involvement waters down the influence of Roseville on the larger political scene. The committee would have worked with city staff to determine a list of new priorities to be adopted by the council and used to determine if and when Mayor Pauline Roccucci should sign letters or take action in support or opposition of legislative matters.

The committee would have met four times a year at an estimated cost of $6,000. Roseville resident Jack Wallace expressed concern over this cost during the meeting.

“I appreciate that this gives an extra opportunity for public participation,” Wallace said. “However, I am concerned about the extra cost annually and just a question: How much are we paying lobbyists … are we actually paying (for a committee) to do the job that lobbyists should be doing?”

Councilwoman Carol Garcia suggested the city hold a series of legislative workshops to involve the public. Roccucci encouraged the city to tweak “what we already have.”

“I feel like what we really need is … better coordination of what we have now,” Roccucci said.

Following the vote, the council directed staff to come back with an alternative plan.

Also during Wednesday’s meeting, council members approved joining a partnership with the Regional Water Authority to hire a public relations firm to develop a campaign to prevent legislative and regulatory changes from negatively impacting water supplies, economic vitality, environmental sustainability and quality of life in the greater Sacramento region.

Environmental Utilities Director Derrick Whitehead said Roseville must strengthen its voice regarding water issues in the state Capitol. He said southern California has long had its messages heard, driving legislation in their favor.

The public relations campaign will address water rights, water conservation, Sacramento-San Juan River Delta concerns and related issues. Roseville’s contribution will cost $20,000 annually for up to five years.

“I think this is a really good direction to go,” said Vice Mayor Susan Rohan. “We need to do a better job of protecting our interests at the Capitol.”

Here’s a look at some other items approved during the March 16 Roseville City Council meeting.

Roseville Automall façade completed: Façade improvements along the perimeter wall and entrances of the Roseville Automall were completed in January. The joint venture between Roseville Automall Association and Roseville Redevelopment Agency cost the city $2.7 million, which was provided through a loan from the Strategic Improvement Fund.

Historic District parking lot completed and budget adjusted: In October, the city completed construction on a surface level parking lot in Old Town, converting a 70,000-square-foot barren, dirt area into a lot for business patrons.

The city has not received any noise or disturbance complaints from the neighbor in the immediate area since the lot opened in October. Additional work on the lot cost about $39,000, reflecting 8 percent of construction cost. The project was fully funded through redevelopment bond funds and tax increments.

Construction contract awarded for monitoring wells installation project: As part of the Sierra Vista Specific Plan and Creekview Specific Plan, the city will investigate water quality and potential groundwater production capacity through the installation of three additional monitoring wells.

A contract was awarded to the lowest bidder at $254,170. Funds for this project will be from an AB 303 grant and two capital improvement projects.

Contract awarded for electric survey: In October 2010, staff received a $26,000 grant to help fund a survey to study causes of recent residential load reduction resulting from energy efficiency and economic variables. Godbe Research will conduct the survey.

Proposition 84 grant application: California Department of Water Resources will fund local public agencies’ projects to meet long-term water needs, provide safe drinking water and protect water quality and the environment.

Roseville submitted two projects for grant funding — installation of topside improvements for two groundwater wells in West Roseville and improvement of fish passage in Secret Ravine. The combined cost is $4.1 million. The city paid $38,878 to prepare the application.

Grant awarded for electric vehicle charging station: The city will replace existing, older generation city-owned charging stations located in the Westfield Galleria parking structure and in the parking lot at Washington and Oak Street.

New equipment supports electric vehicle level 2 (240 V) charging by new generation electric and plug-in electric hybrid vehicles. The stations come at no cost but the city must cover installation, estimated at $2,000 per station. The city will collect less than $1,000 a year in revenue from the stations, according to the city staff report.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com