Needles, CA: Summary and voting results from the Needles City Council Meeting.

By: Zachary Lopez (ZachNews):

Source: Dale Jones, City Clerk with the City of Needles (Information):

Needles, California: The Needles City Council held a meeting inside the Needles City Council Chambers on Tuesday, January 26th, 2021.

The Needles City Council Meeting was broadcast live at ZachNews on Facebook.

*** Important Notice: ***

The Needles City Council is continuing to hold meetings pursuant to the provisions of the Governor’s Executive Order N-29-20 which suspends certain requirements of the Ralph M. Brown Act.

As a result of the Executive Order to stay at home, in person participation at the City Council meetings is not allowed at this time and the Council Chambers are not open to the public.

The public were able to attended tonight’s meeting of the Needles City Council via Microsoft Teams.

Needles City Council Members Ellen A. Campbell, Timothy Terral, Kirsten Merritt, Tona Belt and Zachery Longacre as well as Needles City Vice Mayor Edward T. Paget M.D. were all present inside the chamber.

Needles City Manager Rick Daniels as well as Needles City Clerk Dale Jones were also present inside the chamber well Needles City Attorney John Pinkney from Slovak, Baron, Empey, Murphy & Pinkney L.L.P. was present via Microsoft Teams which can be viewed on the new television behind the members of the Needles City Council.

Needles City Mayor Jeff Williams was given an excused absence; Needles City Vice Mayor Edward T. Paget M.D. asked members of the Needles City Council to send prayers to Needles City Mayor Jeff Williams who was in the hospital in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

** Here is a summary and the voting results that occurred during the meeting: **

*** Approval of the Agenda: ***

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Members of the Needles City Council unanimously voted to approve the agenda.

*** Correspondence: ***

Needles City Clerk Dale Jones reports that there is Correspondence, saying that we have a memo from Robert and Ruth Musser-Lopez regarding Agenda Item #9 requesting to add three large potholes on Grandview Street (Grandview Avanue) in Needles, California be added to the list of street improvements.

*** Public Appearance: ***

Nobody from the public to wanted to speak during Public Appearance.

*** Public Hearing: ***

– Agenda Item #1:

Public hearing noticed to consider all evidence and testimony for or against approval of an amendment of City Code Section 104.17.1 Legal Non-Conforming Signs allowing Non-Commercial Messages.

This agenda item has been continued to February 9, 2021.

– Agenda Item #2:

Public hearing noticed to consider all evidence and testimony for or against approval of a Conditional Use Permit for a 2,500 sq. ft. Retail Cannabis Business located at 1804 Needles Highway in the C-2 (General Commercial) Zone, APN 0185-045-03.

This agenda item has been continued to February 9, 2021.

– Agenda Item #3:

Ordinance No. 633-AC approving an amendment to the Needles Municipal Code Article X, Signage, Section 104.17.2 “Definitions” and Section 104.17.6 (H)(1) Wall Signs as amended.

This agenda item has been continued to February 9, 2021.

*** Needles City Council Consent Calendar: ***

All matters listed on the Consent Calendar are Considered to be routine and will be enacted by one motion in the form listed. The Mayor or any member of the Needles City Council may pull an item from the Consent Calendar for discussion. Prior to Needles City Council action, a member of the public may address the Needles City Council on matters Scheduled on the Consent Calendar. A 3 minute time limit per person applies. Recommended Action: Approve items #4 through #8 on the Consent Calendar by affirmative roll call vote.

– Agenda Item #4:

Approve the warrants register through January 26, 2021.

*** Agenda Item Packet: ***

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– Agenda Item #5:

Power Cost Adjustment (PCA) for months of September through November 2020 and approval of a reduction of the over-hydro rate from $0.0860 to $0.0775 effective February 1, 2021.

*** Agenda Item Packet: ***

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– Agenda Item #6:

Approval of Amendment No. 2 to Bureau of Reclamation Contract No. 8-CU-30-P1148 and Western Area Power Administration Contract No. 98-DSR-10870 to remove reference to the Generation Escrow Account/Generation Trust Account at the request of the Firm Electric Service Contractors and Aggregate Power Managers.

*** Agenda Item Packet: ***

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– Agenda Item #7:

Approve the Settlement, Waiver and Release Agreement Addendum to June 11, 2019 Real Property Purchase Agreement between the City of Needles as seller and Ashot Minasian as buyer for APN 0186-095-04-000 and APN 0186-295-03-0000 described as 2.2 acres generally located at the north west corner of W. Broadway and G Street.

*** Agenda Item Packet: ***

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– Agenda Item #8:

Approve a new job description for a limited duration Municipal Code Clerk.

*** Agenda Item Packet: ***

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Members of the Needles City Council unanimously voted to approve Agenda Items #4, #6 and #8, and to pull Agenda Items #5 and #7 for discussion on the Consent Calendar.

During discussions on Agenda Item #5, Needles City Council Member Tona Belt said the City of Needles on going efforts to continue rate payer’s price of power, and thanked staff for their work.

Needles City Manager Rick Daniels added saying that this is the third rate reduction that has been done in the last five months, and to a large degree it is Rainie Torrance, our Assistance Utility Manager, correctly forecasting our dependable load, and not having to go into the spot market which can be three to ten times what the regular rate is; she’s doing an outstanding job on that.

During discussions on Agenda Item #7, Needles City Council Member Tona Belt said that she just wanted to reinforce the idea of buying properties in Needles, we are holding everybody who buys these properties accountable; we want to see you utilizing our great rates that we are giving to do the best you can to improve our City.

Needles City Council Member Tona Belt added saying that Needles City Director of Development Services Patrick Martinez and Needles City Manager Rick Daniels have been working hard to get some obtainable goals on this one here (the project; a mixed-use residential development), and that we wish Ashot Minasian the best and want him to succeed because this is a great endeavor, but we really want to see some goals being met on this one.

Needles City Manager Rick Daniels spoke afterwards about meeting with Ashot Minasian’s team and what was goals the City of Needles asked of him regarding this project.

According to the agenda item documents from the City of Needles, on September 11, 2020, the City received a proposal from Mr. Minasian for a 24-month extension on the covenant in the agreement for the subject site. The amendment and extension at the September 22, 2020 City Council meeting was rejected and Council directed staff to develop timelines for development. If the development timelines set forth in the attached agreement are not met a breach of contract would allow the city to have the option to repurchase the property from the buyer at 25% less of the sale price. In discussion with Mr. Minasian the following timelines have been determined:

  • A: Complete a pre-development meeting at the City offices within forty-five (45) days from the date this agreement is executed.
  • B: Complete the following within one hundred and five (105) days from the date this Agreement is executed: Zoning Permit Application for Site Plan Review with all required fees and ten thousand-dollar ($10,000.00) deposit for City staff and consultant fees.
  • C: Complete the following within two hundred and eighty five (285) days from the date this Agreement is executed: Applications with all required fees for the following: General Plan Amendment, Rezoning, Conditional Use Permit and Parcel Map for condominiums “Project”). (Partially complete or incomplete applications do not qualify).
  • D: Complete the entire Project and secure Certificate of.
  • E: Occupancy within eight hundred and thirty (830) days after the date this.

Agreement is executed as well as related onsite improvements and all public improvements as required pursuant to the land use approvals.

Recommended action is to approve the Settlement, Waiver and Release Agreement Addendum to June 11, 2019 real property Purchase Agreement between the City of Needles as seller and Ashot Minasian as buyer, for APN’s 0186-095-04-0000 and 0186-095-03-0000.

The mixed-use residential development project (Pictured Above) would be built in the dirt lot near the old Needles Chamber of Commerce building, and would include retail and small parking lot on the first floor, and market rate apartments on the second and third floors ranging from studios up to three bedroom units; a new three story building in Downtown Needles, California.

After discussions on Agenda Items #5 and #7, members of the Needles City Council unanimously voted to approve Agenda Items #5 and #7 on the Consent Calendar.

*** Needles City Council Regular Items: ***

– Agenda Item #9:

Adopt the First Year Phase II Street Improvements of the Pavement Management Plan for various city streets.

*** Agenda Item Packet: ***

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Needles City Manager Rick Daniels spoke about the First Year Phase II Street Improvements of the Pavement Management Plan, and what citizens can expect, including providing maps on where the work is being done (Pictured Above).

The First Year Street Improvements Phase 1 included Crack Fill and Slurry Seal on a selection of streets reported in the pavement management study in 2019 and was completed in May 2020.

As identified in the Pavement Management Plan, Phase II of the first-year street improvements include the following treatments:

  • Grind and Pave work along L Street from 5th Street to Highland, Washington Street from Park Street to Bailey Avenue, Bailey Avenue from Washington Avenue to J Street, Erin Drive from Bailey Avenue to Coronado Street, and North K Street from the Underpass to Needles Highway.
  • Remove and Replace work along Fairmont Street from Highland Avenue to Washington Street and Washington Street from Fairmont Street to Bailey Avenue.

Additionally, City of Needles staff has identified the following street treatments that need to be added:

  • Complete construction of O Street and P Street.
  • Grind and pave Needles Highway priority section (300′ North of Washing Machine Rd to 2,970 South of Rocker Bluff Rd) Approx. 34 of a mile, and East Broadway from Smith Road to Ice Plant Road.
  • Asphalt patching, slurry seal and striping as needed for Jack Smith Memorial Park’s Launching Facility and Parking Lot, Shore Street from River Road to Beach Drive and West Broadway Overpass from L Street to Walnut Street, as well as portion of Flora Vista Drive, Acoma Street and D Street onto Lillyhill Drive where the water line repairs were completed near the bridge.

All street mentioned above will receive waterline service replacement, except for Washington Street from Bailey to Fairmont Street at Highland Street which will have water main replacement.

According to the agenda item documents from the City of Needles, the fiscal impact would be a total project cost estimated at $2.7 million will be funded by available General Fund Reserves approx. ($500K) with ($400K) already encumbered from Phase I for a total of ($900K), Measure I Funds ($253K), RMRA SB1 funds ($152K), JSP 4% allotment ($72K) and Water Asset Replacement ($1.5M) for portions related to utilities. Once bids are received the project will be presented back to Council for award with a not to exceed available funds on hand.

Needles City Manager Rick Daniels spoke about Jack Smith Memorial Park, saying that we collect money from the launches, and set aside four percent a year for maintenance of pavement, and so far we’ve collected $72,000 in that fund so we gonna need to revisit increasing that maintenance set aside, but our goal is to resurface and re-strip the boat launch parking lot and the Jack Smith Memorial Park parking lot where there’s 60 spaces, and then to do the road all the way to the top of the hill by Verde Shores Estates, and then eventually take on the rest of River Road.

Needles City Council Member Timothy Terral said Needles City Manager Rick Daniels to find out how much is to slurring sealing the roads inside the Needles Riverview Cemetery as well; saying that some of the roads are looking underwhelming. Needles City Manager Rick Daniels told Needles City Council Member Timothy Terral that he will make a note of that.

Needles City Manager Rick Daniels added that the City of Needles may get a cost for slurring sealing the parking lot at River Edge Golf Course as well; adding that these are minor amounts to do.

Needles City Council Member Tona Belt spoke saying that the City of Needles hired a third party company to come in and assess the streets to see which one needs to be done so this isn’t any of City staff; anybody these streets need it more than the other, this is actually a third party company coming out and letting us know how we can maintain our roads as a 15 year plan so we are trying to follow the plan to maintain the roads we have and replace them – year by year – according to the plan.

Members of the Needles City Council unanimously voted to adopt the First Year Phase II Street Improvements of the Pavement Management Plan for various city streets.

– Agenda Item #10:

Resolution No. 2021-02 (re) appointing council member as the delegate and an alternate to represent the City of Needles at the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).

*** Agenda Item Packet: ***

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Members of the Needles City Council unanimously voted to appoint Needles Vice City Edward T. Paget M.D. as the delegate and Needles City Council Member Kirsten Merritt as the alternate to represent the City of Needles at the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).

*** Needles City Attorney’s Report: ***

– Needles City Attorney John Pinkney:

Needles City Attorney John Pinkney spoke on some of the things that we (attorney office) have been working on behalf of the City of Needles, including the following:

  • After the last Needles City Council Meeting, when the Council directed us to prepare an amicus brief in support of the County of San Bernardino against California Governor Gavin Newsom (Case No. S266106) regarding COVID-19 restrictions, saying that the California Supreme Court has issued their ruling against the County of San Bernardino in this case.
  • We’ve been advising the City on issues related to cannabis industry, including reviewing Live Scan.
  • We’re been handling a number of Code Enforcement matters for the City; working with City staff on those.
  • We’ve worked on purchase of sale agreements for City land transactions, and authorized by the Council, including the settlement agreement and attached documents in the packet this evening extension granted via the settlement for Mr. Minasian.
  • Advising also the City on Brown Act questions and Conflict of Interest questions as they arrive.
  • We prepared an audit letter for the City as part of the annual audit process.
  • Also advising the City on later employment matters as those issues arrive.
  • Also been advising the City on CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) related matters.
  • Advising the City in connections with Conditional Use Permit applications.
  • Advising the City on actions Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
  • And lastly, today the Needles City Clerk received a lawsuit that was filed against the City by the Rio Buena Vista Homeowners Association; which we have begun reviewing that, and we’ll meeting with the Council in a close session and discuss that matter in detail.

*** Needles City Manager’s Report: ***

– Needles City Manager Rick Daniels:

Needles City Manager Rick Daniels spoke about COVID-19; talking about the California Governor Gavin Newsom lifting that regional “Stay-At-Home” order for COVID-19, and being brought back to the tier system run by the County of San Bernardino which we are in the Purple Tier – which is Tier 4 meaning Widespread existing of the COVID-19 virus. With the revoking of the “Stay-At-Home” order, that means some gatherings of three families or fewer are allowed, allowed outdoor dining, nail and hair salons can reopen, but it still stifles our business community the rules that are still in affect so we miss the County of San Bernardino success in their lawsuit against California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Needles City Manager Rick Daniels than spoke about the recent COVID-19 counts in Needles, California of 289 cases since March 2020 (Referring to the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health official COVID-19 count on Tuesday, January 26th, 2021 for Needles, California of Community; Cases: 289; Outbreak Cases: 1; Total Cases: 288; Deaths: 3; and PCR Tests: 2,252).

Needles City Manager Rick Daniels continued with his reports, speaking about a question that was brought up to him on when is work on the North K Street Underpass going to start, saying that after Council approve the plans (the installing of two overhead steel structures before the underpass), we met with the low bidder for the project, and gave him the requirements of documents they need to provide by to the City, and they have ten days to provide that to the City, and they have also identified that they have put in the order for the steel which could be the only thing that would delay the start of the project. Needles City Manager Rick Daniels said that he expect that project to start in the next 30 days so we can get moving on.

Needles City Manager Rick Daniels continued with his reports, speaking about reports he received of graffiti on the sign at the Train Park and somebody sleeping under one of the rail cars.

Needles City Manager Rick Daniels than spoke about a problem they’ve been having on Ice Plant Road of trucks going back, turning around or parking back there (behind the Needles Towne Center near the old 99 Cents Only Store); there are all kinds of excrement that results from that so Public Works went out and put up a fence to stop them from occupying that area. Needles City Manager Rick Daniels added that it’s a through street because it goes to Ice Plant Cannabis – it gets to their building. But Needles City Manager Rick Daniels told members of the Needles City Council that from an individual that the fence has created problems for truck; they can’t make the turn around. We will be meeting with the store representative regarding this matter; we want that store to stay open but we don’t want to be the janitor for what’s left behind by other truck drivers.

Needles City Manager Rick Daniels than spoke about coming to the conclusion in consultation with Mr. McGraw – who’s our I.T. guy specialist – that these computer monitors in front of members of the Needles City Council are too big, and we need them to set them back and get small ones – about the size of a laptop either 15 inch or 17 inch, or we need to embed them into the surface of the Needles City Council desk. Needles City Manager Rick Daniels noted that although members of the Needles City Council can be seen on the camera in the ceiling above (Pictured Above), I’ve received complaints from councilors that you can’t see the audiences when audiences return, and that kind of communication – you the decision makers and the public – is important so we are working on that. ZachNews also brought up this matter in trying to broadcast live the meetings; having people who are watching the meeting unable to see who’s speaking on the council.

*** Needles City Council Requests: ***

– Needles City Council Member Ellen A. Campbell:

Needles City Council Member Ellen A. Campbell had no requests.

– Needles City Council Member Timothy Terral:

Needles City Council Member Timothy Terral had no requests.

– Needles City Council Member Kirsten Merritt:

Needles City Council Member Kirsten Merritt had no requests, but wanted to say that Needles City Council Member Ellen A. Campbell and herself have been going through the training, and we’ve been learning a lot from the League of Cities; thank you to the Needles City Manager and Needles City Clerk for all of your assistance, and I appreciate learning more about everything you’re doing.

– Needles City Council Member Tona Belt:

Needles City Council Member Tona Belt spoke about the crosswalk along Lillyhill Drive at Casa Linda Street needing to be repainted. Needles City Manager Rick Daniels said that the crosswalk was repainted but it’s due again.

– Needles City Council Member Zachery Longacre:

Needles City Council Member Zachery Longacre spoke, requesting for discuss on changing that percentage set aside for maintenance of pavement at jack Smith Memorial Park at the next meeting.

Needles City Council Member Zachery Longacre then spoke about freeway signs that are elevated coming into town that aren’t lighted up from the edge of town to J Street; those need to be turned on, Caltrans need to get on that.

Needles City Council Member Zachery Longacre then asked Needles City Manager Rick Daniels if we have an E.T.A. on the new skate park fence? Needles City Manager Rick Daniels responded saying that we did but because we believe it could be less than $15,000, purchase policy us to do it by formal bids so Dennis has secured one, one of the companies he talked to had no interest, and so he’s looking for a third company to give us a price, and Dennis got the layout design which would be a chain link fence at the preliminar of the concrete so right now the current fence is inside of that preliminar so we’re looking at adding a chain link fence and getting prices so I say you could be in the position maybe at the next meeting on issuing a bid. Needles City Manager Rick Daniels continued explaining why we need a fence, saying in concluded that if there’s ever a vehicle – even nor they shouldn’t be driving out there – then that presents a high risk opportunity.

Needles City Council Member Zachery Longacre then asked Needles City Manager Rick Daniels if we can look into a small park grant to repaint that park (Duke Watkins Park), is that possible? Even mural grants so to get rid of the patch work and graffiti.

Needles City Council Member Zachery Longacre then reminded everybody about the clean up he’s planning for Saturday, February 6th, 2021 at Ice House Road (Ice Plant Road), and requested for the large dumpster to be put up there that day. ZachNews will have more information on the public can help and what time is the clean up.

– Needles City Mayor Jeff Williams:

Excused Absence – In The Hospital.

– Needles Vice City Edward T. Paget M.D.:

Needles Vice City Edward T. Paget M.D. had no requests.

For more information regarding the Needles City Council Meetings or to apply to be on a City of Needles board or commission, please contact the City Clerk’s Office at the City of Needles at: 1 (760) 326-2113 Ext. 145 or Press #2.

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