Wildomar City Council holds virtual council meeting

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Wildomar City Council
The Wildomar City Council held its first council meeting on Zoom at its April 8 meeting. Valley News/Courtesy photo

With a masked Mayor Dustin Nigg as the only member of the Wildomar City Council in the council chambers, all the members of the council and city’s staff logged in from home for its April 8 meeting.

In general business, the council had a lengthy discussion about a proposed Emergency Services Order that would temporarily suspend city enforcement activities that was put forward to protect businesses and increase housing opportunities within the city.

The proposal, presented by city manager Gary Nordquist, included suspending enforcement of recent city signage ordinances, reducing business registration fees by 50%, waving application processing fees, waving the business registration requirement for annual stormwater inspections, removing public hearing signage requirements for pending projects and suspending enforcement of time limits on recreational vehicle parking on residential streets.

Those suspensions and waivers would expire either Dec. 31, 2020, or June 30, 2021.

Nigg opened the discussion, mentioning the city’s disaster committee that meets every day and came up with the proposals.

“The overarching intent with the relaxation of these items – reduce fees, more lackadaisical enforcement of the sign code or RVs, suspending the RV enforcement – the whole intent was to help where we could,” he said. “When we do return to some sense of normalcy, the conditions are right for industry to start working and get people back to work.”

Councilmember Joseph Morabito had concerns with the item as it was presented and criticized the signage restriction relaxation.

“I understand the sentiment of wanting to help out our businesses, but I do not believe such measures benefit the residents or business community,” he said.

“There are so many things going on right now,” Councilmember Marsha Swanson said. “I totally agree with the ‘We not me,’ not Wildomar right now. Let some of these things go.”

The council amended the proposal to reinstate the requirement for public hearing signs and removed an exemption on billboards advertising for businesses outside of the city.

The amended proposal was approved unanimously.

The council heard lengthy presentations from each of the city departments regarding how each is handling the COVID-19 crisis.

The council discussed and provided direction to staff regarding whether to pursue the possibility of switching from five council districts to four with a directly elected at-large mayor. City residents would be able to vote for two candidates as well.

Resident Gina Castanon wrote in to express her desire for this subject to be put to a vote by the community. Resident Kenny Mayes wrote he would be in favor of the move, providing the mayor position was ceremonial and term limits for all were included.

Benoit questioned what the cost would be for the 2022 redrawing of the city’s districts. Nordquist estimated it would cost around $10,000.

The council voted 4-1 to have staff continuing to work on this issue with Morabito voting in opposition.

The council also approved the consent calendar unanimously.

The calendar included the second reading of an amendment to an ordinance in the Wildomar Municipal Code pertaining to hazardous vegetation and the reading of an ordinance amending lien agreements for subdivisions in municipal code.

They also adopted an omnibus ordinance ratifying ordinances between 2016 and 2019.

The council also approved a 2020-2021 list of projects for Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. Mayes criticized the schedule and the city staff’s ability to execute it, via email.

They also approved a subdivision improvement agreement, stormwater management/BMP facilities agreement resolution and a Transportation Uniform Mitigation Fee Amendment No. 2 to reimbursement agreement for Bundy Canyon Road from Interstate 15 to Sunset Avenue.

They also authorized applications submitted for local early action planning grant program funds from the state of California and the Department of House and Community Development.

Lastly in the consent calendar, the council approved a policy authorizing electronic authorization of documents.

In general business, the council reviewed and approved the third quarter budget report and revision to the schedule of authorized positions.

Wildomar finance director James Riley gave the council a report. He said staff did take a look at the impact that the coronavirus has had on city revenue, but it was too early to determine the effect on the city’s finances.

“I know there will be direct impacts, obviously,” Councilmember Ben Benoit said. “I wonder how that’s going to flesh out at the end, but I get for right now we probably stay the course on where we’re at and make these other minor adjustments. It’s going to be tough going forward.”

Morabito asked if it was too early to tell what the impact would be on Measure AA and other sales taxes would be.

Riley said he expects more information to be available by May.

Nordquist said the League of California Cities sent the city a survey about possible impacts on cities that is being prepared by staff and will be made available to the council.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.