On the Sept. 7 Coronado City Council meeting, the council began with discussion of an extension to outdoor seating for restaurants as the pandemic continues to limit indoor dining with the delta variant. Sue Gillingham and Rena Clancy of the Chamber of Commerce brought the issue before the council having had feedback from restaurants who invested in outdoor spaces over the last year and residents who have enjoyed the safety and fresh air of dining in those spaces.
Clancy, the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, mentioned that hotels in town are seeing group cancellations for 2022 bookings as concerns about the continuing spread of the delta variant of COVID grow. In this light, the chamber suggested an extension of the current use of space for outdoor dining under the state of emergency protocols through December of 2022.
After discussion from the council, Councilmember Casey Tanaka made a motion to set an extension date until March 31, 2022 given that the city will work further with the Chamber of Commerce to come up with options for safe and smart outdoor dining solutions outside of the state of emergency protocols that work for both residents and restaurants in ways that make sense for Coronado. The motion was seconded and carried unanimously by the council. Councilmembers Mike Donovan and Marvin Heinz also brought up complaints from residents about sidewalks being blocked against regulations in some cases and the need to make sure current and new guidelines be enforced.
The council meeting moved on to discuss the lease permit in the location of the Flower Lady and made a motion to approve another period of the lease with an amendment to the 11 month potential payment delay period.
A period of public comment followed in which concerns about saving the Victorian-style sidewalk patterns in town were addressed as spots around town where new concrete has had to be poured did not follow the pattern. The city is to look into fixing this issue and ensure future sidewalk repairs follow the Victorian lines.
The City Council then received Coronado’s results of the 2021 National Community Survey from representatives of the company that performed the survey and compiled results, Polco. Polco’s representative, Nick Masteradi, congratulated the council on excellent resident satisfaction results with one of the highest response rates of cities polled across the country. The three areas identified to the council as concerns from residents relate to cost of living, housing, and growth concerns relating to future development in regards to buildings, tourism, etc. A motion was passed unanimously for the council and city to receive the report.
Moving on from the Polco report, Councilmember Bill Sandke brought forth Item 10D to discuss amending the municipal code provision regarding protocol for filling city council vacancies in the case that a seat be vacated before an election period. Coronado’s current municipal code includes the provision that a special election always be held to fill the vacant seat, that the council can appoint someone but only until a special election is held to do so permanently. Sandke is concerned by the potential financial concerns this could bring to the city should circumstances dictate a special election be held on an election year that otherwise could save the city upwards of $100-200,000 (based on statewide special election cost analysis data) where an appointee could fill the seat until the election.
The last special election held in Coronado was in 2009 and cost the city $12,583, an amount that had been consolidated with a state-wide election that year and would normally cost more. City Manager, Tina Friend, explained the options for the city to either keep the Municipal Code mandating a special election for council vacancies, or repealing the code which would lead Coronado to defer to the state law in such instances. State law would allow a seat to be filled by council appointment for the remainder of that term, however would still allow special elections to remain an option.
Mayor Richard Bailey brought up concerns with a worst case scenario possibility that a special election would ever have to be held one month before an election while Tanaka addressed a concern that situations of manipulation of a vacancy-appointment system could occur. Tanaka, however, conceded that while unlikely a worst-case scenario of timing was possible wherein the city could save money by not running a special election and said he would be supportive of a motion to repeal. Heinz added that should they vote to repeal the provision, it would add options rather than take them away and would be able to keep holding special elections as they’ve done barring a situation where it would make more sense not to.
Donovan made a motion to repeal Coronado’s municipal code provision and defer instead to the state ordinance which carried unanimously.
The final item of the meeting brought discussion of the draft for Coronado’s Climate Action Plan. Rich Grunow, Coronado’s Community Development Director, presented the main action items of the draft of the plan in its current form to be authorized by the council for release to the public for a 60 day period of public review and feedback.
A period of public comment on the agenda item brought concerns from various community members that the action plan is a good first step but falls short of including additional actionable items that could bring the city closer to goals of being a net-zero carbon community by 2045. Such items mentioned included a city-wide composting program to reduce solid waste and landfills, and requesting a feasibility study for Coronado’s eligibility with a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) alternative to SDG&E for more renewably sourced energy.
The council discussed wanting to take these suggestions under consideration for the action plan and for the city to further research options like a CCA. In the meantime, a motion was made to approve the Climate Action Plan for release to the public and was passed unanimously and the draft is now up for a 60 day period of public comment.
Coronado City Council is set to meet again on Sept. 21 at 4 p.m. For more information, visit https://www.coronado.ca.us/government/city_council.