City of Coronado

As the Coronado City Council had not met in session for just under a month, there were plenty of procedural items for the Council to consider during their meeting of Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. That concept was underscored by the fact that after three items were added to the Consent Calendar, and one was subtracted for further discussion, 18 items were included in the final Consent Motion.

However, the real action in the meeting which after starting 16 minutes late and lasting two hours and 47 minutes, began in earnest with the request by City Staff to advertise for bid a six-point package of street improvements for Ocean Boulevard, which would total $2.54 million. In classic Coronado municipal fashion, funding for the project was identified ahead of time and according to the Staff Report included $1.174 million from the City’s Capital Projects Fund; $900,000 from the TransNet Fund, and $466,448 from the RMRA (California Road Maintenance) Fund.

The six-point plan’s components included, again from the Staff Report:

Two-foot widening of the westerly sidewalk into Ocean Boulevard.

Relocation of the existing streetlights to a foundation set just inside the existing rock revetment.

Relocation of the existing street furniture (i.e., trash receptacles, etc.) away from the pedestrian path of travel.

An asphalt overlay and full-depth asphalt dig-outs on Ocean Boulevard from Ocean Drive to R. H. Dana Place.

Curb bulb-outs at strategic locations along Ocean Boulevard to enhance pedestrian visibility and reduce the crossing length for pedestrians.

Active Transportation Plan improvements including installation of “Continental/Ladder” style crosswalks at locations where traditional crosswalks exist; installation of sharrows along Ocean Boulevard; and a small painted median island on Isabella Avenue at Ocean Boulevard.

Almost immediately, two problems presented themselves. First, homeowners in the neighborhood contended they were unaware of the project and had not been notified before the Aug. 18 Meeting Agenda was posted four days prior to the meeting. Second, there was disagreement among the Councilmembers as to the scope and expense of the project.

As to the residents being surprised element of the project, City Manager Blair King explained that discussion on this general topic dated back to Aug. 15, 2015; January 2019, Staff recommended that money should be set aside by the City Council for construction plans; April 2019 $150,000 was set aside for project design, with $145,450 being spent to date. King said to the Council, “This is the check-in time to see if you want to do this project. It will be expensive. This has been before the Council several times, you have had a robust discussion and two different motions were passed as the Council debated what they wanted to do.”

Councilmember Mike Donovan remained consistent with respect to his position from the last vote on this issue, that the $2.54 million price tag was too high. Mayor Richard Bailey said in part, “I don’t believe we have the public’s buy-in on the current proposal. As of right now, I would be inclined to visit some alternatives and get this right. The Beach is our No. 1 asset. I’m in favor of continuing the community dialogue.”

Councilmember Bill Sandke spoke in favor of the proposed project and said, “We worked hard to get this plan together. What we did was an achievable, practical solution. We need to improve the balance between bikes, pedestrians, and vehicles. What we worked on a year ago was a nice compromise of what we needed to do and thought we could do.”

Councilmember Whitney Benzian added, “I’m still generally supportive of this, but the comment about the price rang more deeply to me this time around. A lot of people are around (Ocean Boulevard) now and it’s hard to ride your bike. Is it worth spending $2.54 million or should we go farther? I’m here with an open mind.”

Councilmember Marvin Heinze opined, “I think you hit the source of the angst we experienced this week. The vision of the change isn’t clear. The residents are hearing about the changes, the lanes getting shorter. There is an anxiety of the unknown from residents. We have a good project, and a reasonable cost to make that road a better access road. If we make the lanes smaller, we might slow down traffic. We owe the citizens a better vision of what it is. I would like to continue this for a few weeks and post (new) sketches online. Then people can see it and we’ll get more feedback. I’m happy to delay the project and wrap our minds around it.”

After Bailey made a motion for staff to craft visuals of the project in three different incarnations. Heinze made a substitute motion to limit the creation of the visuals to just the project before the council and Sandke supplied the second. That motion was defeated 3-2 with Benzian, Bailey and Donovan voting against it. The eventual motion for three sets of project visuals, not to exceed $40,000 in total cost passed 4-1, with Sandke voting against the motion.

The second item of note involved providing authorization for City Manager King to execute a contract with Glorietta Bay Tennis to provide Tennis Pro Shop Retail Concessionaire Services at the Coronado Tennis Center. The current vendor of the Tennis Pro Shop has generated an average of $83,000 annually in gross revenues over the past five years. However in Fiscal year 2019-20, revenues dipped to approximately $3,400. As the late, groundbreaking Sports Producer and Executive Don Ohlmeyer said, “The answer to all your questions is money.” Or in this case, the lack of same.

Ten groups kicked the tires on submitting a proposal to operate the pro shop, and eventually two companies presented formal bids. One firm was Glorietta Bay Tennis, headed by Coronado Golf Professional Brian Spock, which projected a revenue forecast of $126,000 annually. The other was Crown City Tennis, headed by Moises Orozco, who has worked in the pro shop for the past several years. A grading rubric was prepared by City Staff to compare the proposals, with Glorietta Bay Tennis receiving a significantly higher grade.

Coronado Tennis Association (CTA) President Sheryl Munning appeared before the Council via Zoom and urged the City Council to reject the proposal from Glorietta Bay Tennis. She said in part that the CTA had not been consulted by the City Staff before the RFP was distributed; Years of tennis experience were necessary to run the Pro Shop; and the Tennis Community didn’t want a Golf Professional handling the Tennis Pro Shop concession. Another caller made the absurd charge that corruption was involved in the decision and added again that no one wants the golf program running the tennis program.

A lot of back-and-forth among the City Councilmembers followed, with Heinze seeming to strike the right chord on all fronts. “One (proposal) is a much better business opportunity than the other. I am really disappointed the citizens are making this tennis players vs. golfers. If you stop and think, whoever gets the concession will get somebody who knows tennis. We have to ask, ‘What is best for the City?’ I think everyone needs to realize this isn’t a popularity contest. We are spending City money to provide the best opportunity for our citizens.”

Prior to the Council voting 5-0 to send a new RFP out for all tennis services, including the pro shop, King said, “We used to have a tennis pro, but the CTA objected, so we kept the pro shop away. We were operating under the assumption one tennis pro shouldn’t be responsible for the Tennis Center. The Staff will prepare the solicitation and you’ll see the criteria. I take strong objection to the charge of corruption. No one is getting paid more, there is no commission, and people are working hard. The current concessionaire gave short notice in terminating their agreement. We want to get the pro shop back in business. It has been underperforming significantly. We want to produce the revenue we need to operate the first class facilities we have.”

In other City Council actions:

By a 5-0 vote, the City Council approved a five-part request from City Staff regarding the City’s Annual Special Events Calendar. The applicable City Ordinance which formerly called for no more than eight Special Events involving 2,000 or more participants or spectators, was raised to 14, the actual number of Coronado special events for the past several years; the Staff will return to the Council with recommendations for application fees, blackout dates and event prioritization in case of conflicting date requests and applications; Options for event ticket sales to benefit Coronado-based organizations; and the final date for event applications will be moved to Aug. 1 of the year preceding the event.

After hearing an extensive Zoom presentation on the new design plan for Mathewson Park, including new playground equipment, the Council agreed for the project to be advertised for bid.

Via a public hearing, the City Council approved by a 4-0 vote (Heinze recused himself as he lives in the immediate area) an introduction and first reading of an ordinance to allow construction of Second-Story additions in the Coronado Cays Specific Plan Village Residence Zone.

Moved to the Consent Calendar was the reappointment of two incumbents, Rainier Trinidad, and Brenda Jo Robyn to the Library Board of Trustees, each for their second, three-year term.

Also part of the Consent Agenda, the Council appointed Heinze as the voting delegate and Donovan as the alternate at the League of California Cities Annual Business Meeting to be held Oct. 7-9, 2020. Heinze registered an abstention on the vote.

The next meeting of the Coronado City Council will be held Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, at 4 p.m. City Council meetings are held at Coronado City Hall, located at 1825 Strand Way in the City.

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