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Council to consider aggressive panhandling ban

Block party fees, appointments on first agenda of new year

Council to consider aggressive panhandling ban

Turlock citizens seeking permission to temporarily close a city street for a block party, like the National Night Out event, may no longer have to pay a fee to do so.


POSTED January 10, 2014 7:08 p.m.

A full agenda will be placed before the Turlock City Council as they start off the year on Tuesday evening.
As many public concerns have come forth in recent months regarding panhandlers, the council is looking to add a new city code that would prohibit aggressive solicitation in Turlock. Members of the public have expressed fear of bodily harm when being approached by a solicitor, which the City is defining as someone who is "asking or begging in spoken, written or printed word, or bodily gestures, signs or other means with the purpose of obtaining an immediate donation of money or other thing of value, or soliciting the sale of goods or services."
Per the new city code prohibiting aggressive solicitation, an "aggressive manner" can include any of the following: approaching or speaking to a person, or following a person that causes a person to fear bodily harm to oneself or to another, damage to or loss of property, or otherwise be intimated into giving money or other thing of value; intentionally touching or causing physical contact with another person or occupied vehicle without that person's consent in the course of asking or begging; intentionally blocking or interfering with the safe or free passage of a pedestrian or vehicle by any means; using violent or threatening gestures toward a person while asking or begging; closely following or approaching a person; and using profane, offensive or abusive language which is likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction.
The new code would ban aggressive solicitation within any public space, in addition to certain specified locations, including banks and ATMS, parking lots after dark and public transportation vehicles. Violations of the new ban could result in a misdemeanor or infraction.
To kick off the new year, the City Council is slated to recognize two retiring city employees for their years of dedication, Patricia Panos of the Turlock Police Department and Joel Carter of the City Building Department.
Additionally, the Council will appoint a series of individuals to serve as members on various local organizations and committees including the Planning Commission, the Stanislaus County Local Task Force on Solid Waste, the Stanislaus County Regional Solid Waste Planning Agency, and the East Stanislaus Regional Water Management Partnership. Council members are also expected to appoint a Vice Mayor for 2014, as Councilmember Bill DeHart's term expires.
Associate Planner Mike Costa of the Stanislaus County Council of Governments, the regional transportation planning agency, will provide the council with a presentation highlighting the findings of an assessment recently conducted on the unmet transit needs within the region.
In an effort to provide better and more efficient services, council members are expected to approve an agreement between the Turlock Fire and the Merced County Fire Departments authorizing automatic mutual aid on Highway 99 south of Lander Avenue and north of Bradbury Road.
Currently, TFD responds to emergency incidents on the highway between Lander and the rest stops, while MCFD responds to emergency just north of Bradbury Road to the Merced/Stanislaus County lines. Within this five-mile stretch, there are no access points on to the highway in addition to a lack of good turn around points to change directions. Recognizing this, both departments have created an auto-aid agreement to respond mutually as having emergency fire units responding from opposite directions on Highway 99 will help provide a more timely and effective response. According to TFD, the service level within Turlock's city boundaries will not be negatively affected due to the agreement, as they believe that there will be about 10 to 20 emergency calls a year for service within the five-mile area.
Turlock citizens seeking permission to temporarily close a city street for a block party or short-term event may no longer have to pay a fee to do so, as city staff believes such events strengthen neighborhoods through positive interactions. Currently, city code requires that applicants submit proof of general liability insurance for the duration of the street closure, resulting in costs and fees to the applicant. The fees, which have been characterized as excessive and burdensome by residents, have reduced the likelihood that applicants will hold the block party or event.
With the City hoping to promote positive interactions between neighbors at block parties, the council will vote on amending the current city code to reduce the financial barriers for hosting neighborhood events. The modification to the current code will allow the city manager and city attorney to waive the insurance requirements for such events, allowing Turlock residents to hold block parties without having to pay the previous fees.
The City Council is also expected to:
• Approve a water transfer agreement between Turlock and Del Puerto Water District for up to 13,000-acre feet annually;
• Receive an update from City Engineer Mike Pitcock on capital projects and building activity;
• Amend the existing policies, procedures and standards for administering the Residential Rehabilitation Program and the First Time Home Buyer Program by the City of Turlock for the CalHOME funding source;
• Award a contract bid in the amount of $21,551with Lea's Demolition and Excavation of Denair for the demolition of buildings located at S. Walnut and N. Olive;
• Adopt the 2014 City Council meeting schedule; and
• Accept realignment funds in the amount of $98,525.34 and appropriate said funds to the proper revenue and expenditure accounts in the "Police Services Grants" fund.
The Turlock City Council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall, located at 156 S. Broadway.

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