The city council meeting held last Oct. 20 had a busy agenda with many important topics discussed.

One of the topics is a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the city and the Service Employee International Union (SEIU) Local 221 and the Imperial Beach Firefighter’s Association. After the negotiations, the MOU was created resulting in salary adjustments. All full-time and part-time employees will receive a 2.5 % cost of living adjustment retroactive to July 2, 2021. Effective date July 1, 2022, all full-time employees will receive a 3.5 % increase in cost of living adjustments with the following employees to have a cost sharing: Miscellaneous employees (Classic Member - Tier 1) will pick up an additional 1 % towards pension; Miscellaneous employees (classic members- Tier 1) will pick up an additional 0.5 % towards pension; Safety Other - Lifeguard Employees (Classic Member -Tier 1) will pick up an additional 1 % towards pension; Safety Other - Lifeguard Employees (Classic Member -Tier 2) will pick up an additional 1% towards pension; All part-time employees will have a 3.5% cost of living adjustment.

City Manager Andy Hall received an increase in base salary, yearly deferred compensation contributions, modification to his CALPERS employee contribution rate, and a one-time retention incentive of $10,000. Assistant City Manager Erika Cortez Martinez explained that the salary is similar to what other city managers are receiving in the county.

During public comment, a speaker asked whether the city was in danger of losing its city manager. Cortez Martinez reassured him that Hall is not leaving his position.

”Mr. Hall is a tremendous asset for our city. He’s so beloved by our community…we are so lucky to have him…I wholeheartedly support this,” stated Councilmember Paloma Aguirre.

Retroactively to Aug. 3, 2021, Hall’s base salary is $210,136.28. Effective June 17, 2022, Hall will receive a 3.5 % increase and his annual base salary will be $217,491.05. Salary adjustments and Hall’s pay increase were approved unanimously.

A public hearing to consider city council election district boundaries was held. The purpose is to consider redrawing district boundaries.

The current district boundaries were adopted by the city on Dec. 5, 2018 and are based on the 2010 census data. The redistricting was due to a lawsuit under the California Voting Rights Act to move from at large to district elections. This public meeting is one of four to be held in the city because of the passing of Assembly Bill No. 849, also known as the Fair Maps Act, which “requires cities to ensure maps comply with set redistricting criteria.”

The four public meetings’ goal is to receive input from the community. After the public hearings the council will evaluate the input and decide whether redistricting is necessary. During the last census, the population of Imperial Beach was at 27,596. The consultant said the city’s population is balanced and it checks the box for meeting the Fair Maps Act criteria, but there is the option of creating an alternative map.

“The process to establish these districts was quite robust. There was a lot of public engagement, a lot of input, and the way they were designed was very equitable. I wouldn’t want to reinvent the wheel,” said Aguirre about possibly redrawing district maps.

In person council meetings, which have been held remotely since March 2020, were discussed with options on ways to resume in the chambers with council and the public present. Options are:

- Resume in person with only the council and executive staff in attendance, and members of the public participating remotely.

- Resume in person meetings and allow the public to participate at 25 % capacity as suggested by the San Diego County Health Officer. Hall explained that since the council chambers are relatively small, only a few members of the public could attend. Those who could not enter would have to watch electronically. A problem raised was the amount of residents who want to enter the chambers when the capacity has been reached.

- Council could determine a higher percentage of the public allowed to enter the chambers based on a vote. Hall pointed out that if the city is to follow the San Diego County Health guidelines of 25 % capacity, only 10 attendees from the public would be allowed, taking into consideration the council and city staff in attendance. It was discussed as an option to create an overflow in the community room, keeping in mind that everyone has to wear facial covering. Questions about who would enforce the mask covering requirements were raised. Hall said that the Sheriff’s Department would be willing to carry the task if needed. Another question raised was how to determine who gets inside the chambers - first come first serve basis or another method.

After some discussion, it was decided that the council will meet in person in the chambers for the next three meetings (Nov 3 and 17, Dec. 1) this year and allowing the public back will be discussed again in January.

In other business:

Because of lack of housing in California, the California Legislature has passed legislation that makes it easier for residents to create more housing. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADU) are currently under the standards set by the state. The City of Imperial Beach must create its own standards or fall under the state’s guidelines. For this reason the city held a community outreach meeting on June 2 of this year to get input from the residents. The Design Review Board also offered its recommendations. The city has hired a consultant to draft an ordinance to amend building and zoning codes. After the outreach meeting, the issues that had come up were: parking, height, unit size and streamlining of permits.

While parking spaces are not required throughout the city for ADUs and JADUs, it is a different matter in the coastal zone. Two off street parking spaces per ADU are required for properties located west of the centerline of 3rd Street and properties located within one-quarter mile (1,320 feet) walking distance from: a vertical access point to the beach, a coastal park, and the Imperial Beach Pier. Required off-street parking can be fulfilled with tandem parking. It was clarified that state law requires the city complies with the Coastal Act and parking is one of those coastal resources that have to be accessible. That is the reason why the western part of the city falls under those parking rules.

The council approved the two choices below unanimously and the ordinance will be introduced on Dec. 1.

For height regulations, Alternative A was chosen:

Attached/detached: 16 ft., but can be increased to same as primary dwelling if parking is provided on ground floor

Internal: same as primary dwelling in underlying zone

Conversion of accessory buildings not subject to height limits, provided they don’t expand beyond 150 sq. ft.

For setback regulations this alternative was chosen:

Street-side and front: same as underlying zone

Rear and side:

Building 16 ft. or under, 4 ft. or same as underlying zone

Building or part over 16 ft., same as underlying zone

Conversion of accessory building not subject to setback limits, provided they don’t expand beyond 150 sq. ft.

The next city council meeting will be held virtually (for the community to attend) on Nov. 3 at 5 p.m.

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