At the Aug. 18 Imperial Beach City Council meeting, the council met to discuss agenda items regarding the raising and flying of the Honor and Sacrifice Flag, as well as the updated American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) Mitigation Plan as presented by City Manager Andy Hall.
The meeting began with the usual report on assignments and committee meetings attended by council members since the previous council meeting which included a tour of the 170 Palm Avenue building in preparation for further discussion of the ARPA Mitigation Plan and a meeting between Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina and an economic developer from Ensenada about pollution, water reuse, and a possible future partnership as sister cities. Special thanks were also given at this time to the Imperial Beach Arts Bureau and community members responsible for the completion of the first Little Free Library, as well as to I.B. Posse, Sun & Sea Festival group, and other volunteers for the monument sand castle at Pier Plaza.
Following this was general public comment in which two IB locals brought up concerns on behalf of the fishing community about continued restricted access to the back of the Imperial Beach Pier. Before the pandemic the fishing community had access to the public space at the end of the pier behind the restaurant and is requesting the council restore this access now that the temporary COVID-19 restrictions have ended that would allow the restaurant to restore indoor dining again and shift their tables closer to the building. “We are missing another season of fishing,” one community member stated. “Please hear our plea and open the back of the pier immediately.”
The session then moved to discuss the Consideration of the Proclamation for Raising and Flying of the Honor and Sacrifice Flag. Councilmember Jack Fisher spoke on behalf of the proclamation, explaining that the Honor and Sacrifice Flag would be intended to, “honor the individuals serving in all divisions of public safety who have lost their lives in an effort to serve and protect others.” Given that Sept. 11, 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the nation’s single largest first responder line of duty losses, the proclamation proposes the Honor and Sacrifice Flag fly from Sept. 1 through Sept. 13, 2021.
As Fisher described, “The Honor and Sacrifice Flag identifies the following eight distinct symbols: the blue fill symbolizes nationally the law enforcement community; the purple fill respectfully signifies mourning for a loss in the firefighter community; the white fill recognizes the purity of heart within each individual who serves and protects and is willing to face each day’s challenge regardless of risk; the black star represents those who wear the distinctive badge including sheriff and martial services; the red Maltese cross recognizes all who have fallen in the emergency response communities; the gold shield recognizes all law enforcement and other public safety representatives who wear the shield including EMTs and who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, gold reflects the value of the life given; the folded flag signifies the final tribute to an individual life that a family has lost for the sake of others; the flame is the eternal reminder of the spirit that has departed this life yet burns on in the memory of all those who knew and loved the fallen hero.”
Imperial Beach Fire Chief John French also spoke in support of the proclamation saying, “I stand with the city in paying tribute to these individuals and their families by flying the Honor and Sacrifice flag. We will never forget.” A motion was made to approve the proclamation which was approved unanimously.
The meeting shifted to calendar items and a motion was made to strike consent item No. 3 regarding the flag flying ordinance for the city from the previous council meeting so that the city may make some minor corrections to the document and reintroduce it at the next city council meeting. The motion was approved unanimously and the council moved to address the main agenda item for the session, the ARPA Mitigation Plan.
Hall gave an updated presentation with further details for the city’s proposed allocation of ARPA funds based on feedback from the public and council members at the previous city council meeting. Hall began with a more detailed explanation of what ARPA is and the guiding principles the city is using to create the Mitigation Plan based on stipulations from the government for this funding and the needs that have been identified by the community for IB.
The updated plan has the following baseline estimated costs that are to act as placeholders until further priorities are identified to create further detailed estimates:
$1.75 million for improvements to the Imperial Beach Sports Park
Objective would be to increase functional use of the facilities through improvements such as installing wooden floors to accommodate basketball, volleyball, and other indoor activities, installation of HVAC, improving the lobby and kitchen area, updating restrooms to meet ADA compliance, installing a multi-use tennis/pickleball court, and improving the skate park and the outdoor patio area
$1.75 million for improvements to the city owned facility at 170 Palm Avenue
Objective would be to complete necessary repairs such as fixing the leaking roof and repurpose this space for a wide variety of users and recreation that includes senior programs, social services outreach, education and non-sports recreation activities (i.e. dance, Zumba, computers, yoga, cooking, healthy lifestyles), use by non-profits, and as a conference space
$1 million for business and household assistance grants and loans
Objective would be to provide funding to local non-profit agencies that already have the capacity to help businesses and households impacted by COVID-19 that do not qualify for funding from other sources, and to expand the role and resources for a Housing Specialist to assist residents and help people navigate those resources already available to them
$752,413 for repairs to the Imperial Beach Multi-Use Field
Objective would be to create a space for outdoor recreation for all ages and a variety of interests, including refurbishing the soccer field at Veteran’s Park and modifying it to be multi-use, plus creating programming that ensures IB residents are a priority before outside users, creating a replacement fund for adult leagues (about $100/hr, this would not include youth soccer leagues or other potential users of turf area) to prepare for future replacement
$400,000 for necessary infrastructure repairs and improvements
Objective would be to focus on lower income areas of the community and ensure residents have safe walking routes, lighting, accessibility, and other improvements
$336,800 for the recapture of impacted expenses and services
Objectives might include the completion of a city user fee study to make sure fees are in line with the costs of local services, to complete a coastal program, replacing road regulatory signs and purchase crack sealing equipment for road longevity, purchasing recreation and asset management software, purchasing maintenance utility vehicles, completing a geographic information system plan, completing an accessory dwelling unit plan, and making necessary improvements to support the Bayshore Bikeway
$300,000 for essential personnel cost offset related to COVID-19
$175,000 for heating, ventilation and air Conditioning (HVAC) improvements
Objective would be to improve HVAC for all municipal buildings that can help reduce contaminants and exposure to COVID-19 and help create the safest possible environment for people coming to public buildings in the community
$100,000 for placement of community information signs
The city has received feedback that a lot of people get their information from electronic signs and they are very effective at getting information out to our community very quickly when put in strategic locations. Objective would be to provide a way for residents to find reliable and up to date information
A period of public comment followed Hall’s presentation that were largely in support of the proposed ARPA Mitigation Plan. Councilmembers then deliberated on the updated plan and a motion to approve the resolution for the plan to begin a process of further refinement with the following adjustments:
That $200,000 be allocated from the larger line items to go towards immediate support for the senior center (to be used for improvements such as air purifiers and improved internet)
That the city look at how the business and household grants and loans approach can be divided so that there’s a specialized support for households and for the small business community so that they can access those funds, as well as external funds available to them from other relief sources
That the city come up with a support system to enable our small businesses and needy households to access these funds and external funds (which may include recruiting volunteers from the community and training for such volunteers)
That the city come back with a number of signs feasible to reach the major portion of members of the community in regards to the placement of community information signs
An oral roll call vote on this motion commenced with unanimous approve from the council, and the city will commence further detailing and expenditure estimates of the ARPA Mitigation Plan based on direction from this motion. A closed session followed to hold conference with labor negotiators and to discuss public employee performance evaluation.
City Council is set to meet again on Sept. 1 at 5 p.m. For more information log on to www.imperialbeachca.gov.