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Former homeless shelter leased to new tenants

POSTED September 25, 2009 11:29 p.m.
The former site of Turlock’s Emergency Cold Weather Homeless Shelter, a city-owned warehouse at 400 B St., has finally found new tenants.
Northern California Universal Enterprises, a San Jose-based lumber and building materials firm, will lease the building for $400 per month, with a non-refundable fee of $25,000 and a purchase price of $140,000, the currently appraised value.
Turlock purchased the facility for $350,000 in 2005.
After it became apparent in 2008 that the city could not legally house homeless in the building, as it did not meet health and safety standards, the city attempted to sell 400 B St. for $300,000 in August of that year. No bids were received at that price, nor were any bids received when the City of Turlock put the warehouse back out to bid a month later for the price of $150,000.
The new tenants will move in to 400 B St. on Oct. 1, and their lease runs until Sept. 30, 2014.

City responds to Grand Jury Complaint
Turlock City Attorney Phaedra Norton’s response to the Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury report was unanimously approved by the council, sans-Councilwoman Mary Jackson who recused herself from voting, on Tuesday evening.
The Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury report, released June 29, found Jackson did not violate common law conflict of interest laws by failing to recuse herself from the Dec. 9, 2008, and Jan. 13 appeal hearings for the Vintage Lounge piano bar conditional use permit. Jackson was not named in the report.
Norton’s response agrees with several of the Civil Grand Jury’s findings, while neither agreeing or disagreeing with other conclusions as Norton was not given access to the investigative material upon which the findings are based.
The response makes no judgment on the Civil Grand Jury’s findings that the attorney of record for the Vintage Lounge was found not to be Jackson’s campaign manager, that no evidence exists to support the common law conflict of interest complaint, and that Jackson’s actions “at no time compromised the good standing of the Turlock City or the City Council as a whole.” It also does not address the finding that the perception of wrongdoing was greater than the offense itself.
Norton’s letter does agree that Norton at one point advised Jackson she may have a potential common law conflict, that an elected officer must act with integrity at all times, and that Jackson ought to have recused herself to avoid any perception of wrongdoing. The letter also acknowledges that a financial conflict was never at issue, and that the common law conflict of interest doctrine is broad in scope and “subject to varied interpretations.”
To prevent future conflicts or appearances thereof, Norton said she will maintain and distribute updated materials on both common law and financial conflict of interest doctrines to all elected and appointed officials biannually.  Additionally, Norton said she will maintain a log indicating that all officials have received a copy of said materials.
Both practices were recommended by the Civil Grand Jury report. The Civil Grand Jury also recommended that the Turlock City Council provide oversight to the implementation of the aforementioned practices, but as Norton reports directly to the council it was found that no additional oversight was required.

Water shutoffs could last longer
Disconnected City of Turlock water customers will no longer have the option to pay extra for a one-hour guaranteed reconnection, should an ordinance revision pass through a final hearing at the Oct. 13 Turlock City Council Meeting.
Currently, customers who are 60 days or more delinquent on their utility bill have the option of paying outstanding charges and $25 for reinstatement of service within 24 hours, or $50 for water service to be restored within one hour.
On average, 62 of 172 monthly shutoffs – or 38 percent of customers – currently pay extra for the one-hour service.
“We’re charging for a service that we feel we can’t deliver,” said Turlock Regulatory Affairs Manager Michael Cooke.
The decline in city staff, following recent budget cuts, has made one-hour service very difficult to offer, according to Cooke. The service also generates additional costs to the city, especially when customers ask for one-hour service restoration past 4 p.m. and workers must work overtime.
Under the proposed ordinance revision, customers will only be able to request the $25 24-hour resumption of service.

Large family daycare revisions put on hold
The Turlock City Council tabled discussion on a set of new rules for the city’s large family daycare providers on Tuesday evening, sending the set of proposed ordinance revisions back to the drawing board.
The Planning Commission and the Turlock City Council will review the ordinance changes in an effort to make the regulations a bit less onerous — and to make the city a bit more friendly to new large family daycares. Stanislaus County currently has the second lowest number of large family daycares in the state.
Providers were concerned that the proposed rules would create a competitive advantage for small family daycares — those with less than eight children — that operate under a different set of state regulations, and discourage existing small family daycares from becoming large family daycares. The city is barred from imposing restrictions on small family daycares.
The proposed city ordinance would have allowed city inspections of large family daycares at any time during regular business hours and required providers to pay business license taxes, which would amount to approximately $60 per year. Also, play areas would have been required to be clearly delineated by fences, landscaping, or other materials constructed in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, and front yards could no longer be used as play areas.
Providers were to have two onsite spaces for workers and could have made use of street parking for loading and unloading of children.
New large family daycares would also have been prohibited from opening within 300 feet of an existing provider on the same street, which daycare owners said was difficult to comply with as daycares are run from within an existing residence and homeowners would be unlikely to move in order to expand.
Existing providers would have been exempt from these spacing requirements. New large family daycares would have had the option to apply for a Conditional Use Permit to open regardless of location.

Taco truck regulations roll forward
The Turlock City Council unanimously agreed to a set of new rules for the city’s mobile food vendors in a public hearing Tuesday evening.
The proposed permitting changes would more formally regulate the operation of mobile food vendors, spelling out building and fire code and County Health requirements. They would also streamline the permitting process, reusing forms that owners would have already filled out at the county level.
According to the City, some mobile food vendors have failed to obtain the proper permits for sewer or water connections, attaching directly to the sewer without a grease interceptor. Other taco trucks use improper electrical connections, running extension cords to power their vehicles rather than electric poles.
The new code would allow the city to better enforce such violations, and to better inform mobile food vendors of the requirements of doing business.
Under the proposed code, acceptable site improvements would be clearly delineated. Only canopies and tents 120 square feet or smaller would be allowed. No more than two tables, seating no more than 10 patrons, could be erected. No music would be allowed.
The annual permit renewal process will also move away from rolling renewals to reduce workload on the Planning Department and allow better tracking of local mobile food vendors. All permitted vendors would renew on either Jan. 1 or July 1 under the plan.
Permitting requirements for Mobile Food Vendor Commissaries — which provide vehicle washing and waste disposal, and would only be allowed in industrial and heavy commercial zones — are also outlined in the proposed amendments. Each mobile food vendor must visit a commissary at least once per day under state law, which is enforced by the county.
The Turlock City Council will hold a final hearing on the proposed regulations on Oct. 13.

Fransil and West Main improvements approved
The City of Turlock agreed to spend $1,136,807.95 to construct a traffic signal and intersection improvements at Fransil Lane and West Main Street.
The project, which is within the Westside Industrial Specific Plan, will be funded with Prop 42 money, Turlock Redevelopment Agency tax increment, and the proceeds of a loan from the Economic Development Land Bank.

Two new city employees hired
In order to keep the city’s parks in tip-top shape, the City of Turlock has hired two part-time employees to replace two workers who recently left the city.
The first employee, who worked at the Pedretti Sports Complex, returned to college, while a Donnelly Park employee was terminated for poor performance.
The new employees — the first hired since the City of Turlock implemented a hiring freeze on March 24 — will prepare fields for play, clean restrooms, maintain picnic areas, collect trash, and conduct yard work duties. Both will also work in building rentals.
The city council agreed to the two new employees as they had already been allocated and budgeted, and could be hired without violating any union agreements. They will be hired under the understanding that their posts could be cut at any time, should the City of Turlock’s budget situation worsen.

Turlock Airport to receive FAA grant
The Turlock City Council approved a Federal Aviation Administration Grant offer for $280,250, which will be used to plan, design, and construct improvements at the Turlock Municipal Airport.
Runways 12/30 will be rehabilitated and widened from 50 to 60 feet and the runway lighting will be upgraded with standard Medium Intensity Runway Lights. Two Precision Path Indicators and an Automated Weather Observing Station will be installed, and electrical and communications utilities infrastructure will be upgraded in an airfield electrical vault.


North Olive Avenue to become broad way
North Olive Avenue will get a bit wider between Minnesota Avenue and Tuolumne Road, following a Turlock City Council decision Tuesday evening.
The Seventh Day Adventist Church agreed to dedicate the land necessary to complete the improvements in September of 2008. Six bids for the project were received on Sept. 3.
The City will pay Lockwood General Engineering, Inc., of Visalia $274,506.50 to modify traffic signals and install all necessary curb, gutter, sidewalks, pavement, striping, and storm drains for the widened route. Six large redwood trees and three rental homes will be removed as part of the construction.

West Tuolumne Road overpass in works
The City of Turlock committed $55,000 of Westside Industrial Specific Plan funding to design a new Tuolumne Road Flyover.
Omni Means, Inc., of Roseville will determine what right of way must be acquired to build an overpass over Highway 99, linking the two halves of Tuolumne Road. The improvements will not be built for several years.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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