One of the more significant capital projects initiated by the City of Coronado in the past decade took a major step closer to reality last week during the City Council meeting of June 16, 2020. The City Council approved by a 5-0 vote, acceptance of the $22 million financial package from Caltrans to take over the operation of State Routes 75 and 282 in the city. Along with an internal transfer of $9.3 million from the Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget, the resulting $31.3 million fund, with interest, is projected to cover the annual maintenance for the two state routes that run through Coronado.
The opening bid from Caltrans to bring the two state routes into good repair was $16.95 million, so the City Staff collectively more than earned their salaries over the past several months. Specifically, the descriptions of the state routes that will be taken over by the City of Coronado include:
State Route 75 from Glorietta Boulevard near the Toll Plaza, to Tulagi Road at the Naval Amphibious Base
State Route 75 from Tulagi Road to the Coronado City limits at Imperial Beach and
State Route 282 from Orange Avenue to, and including, the 300 block of Alameda Boulevard
The San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge is not included in Relinquishment and will continue to be owned and operated by Caltrans.
The following paragraph contained in the Staff Report for the June 16 meeting, summarized Coronado’s interest in taking over the two highways: “The principal advantage to the City for taking ownership of the two State Routes is local control of the roadways and associated rights-of-way, within the confines of State laws. Caltrans operates under a principle of largess, where policies and liability analysis are made on the basis of a Statewide highway infrastructure system. As a result, their responsiveness is slow, and decisions are often not responsive to the desires and best interests of Coronado’s residents and business community.”
Relinquishment of SRs 75 and 282, once completed, means the highways are owned by the City of Coronado in perpetuity. The City also assumes all liability for the highways, which City Manager Blair King discussed. “The City is a member of the largest joint powers insurance pool in the state, that spreads risk over many, many agencies in the state and there is catastrophic coverage beyond that. We have already gone down this path with Caltrans. We are responsible for five (traffic) intersections in the City. We have a proprietary signal system, and we have assumed liability for those five lights to help traffic control in Coronado.”
Lending credence to the importance of the issue, was the in-person appearance during the Council meeting of Deanna Spehn, Policy Director for Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, who represents the California State Senate’s 39th District. Spehn assured the City Council that the timing of the required State Legislative action, and final California Transportation Committee approval, can be accomplished by January 2021. Once those two legislative hurdles are passed, the City would take control of the highways. Spehn added that the $22 million payment to the City of Coronado referenced above, is also in place.
SR 75 and SR 282 are also of strategic importance to the Navy, as the routes are part of the Strategic Highway Network (STRANET), which transports personnel and material to NAS North Island, the Naval Amphibious Base and the NBC Coastal Campus, also referred to as the Silver Strand Training Complex-South. According to the Staff report, the Navy owns property underlying SR 75 in the vicinity of the Naval Amphibious Base and south of Old Fort Emory Road, which will be transferred to the City during the Relinquishment process.
According to King, informal discussions between the City of Coronado and Caltrans for Relinquishment, began 10 years ago. Councilmember Bill Sandke, long a proponent of Relinquishment said of the concept, “Local control is what we’re after. We addressed this responsibly and with our financial plan from (City Director of Administrative Services) Jim Krueger, we have done our due diligence. This is good for our community.”
Councilmember Whitney Benzian thanked City Director of Public Services and Engineering Cliff Maurer, Krueger and Spehn for their efforts on behalf of the City and said, “This is a great for Coronado and I’m glad to be part of it. I think this is a colossal achievement.” City Councilmember Mike Donovan added, “I’m a process guy and I have to congratulate the staff. Our Engineering and Finance Departments did due diligence on steroids. The money has worked out well for us and this will stand out in the history of Coronado. It’s a big deal that we have local control of our streets.”
During the City Manager Report portion of the meeting agenda, King provided the following updates, most of which have been put into place since the June 16 meeting:
All parking restrictions in the City of Coronado, which were imposed due to the COVID-19 Crisis, have been removed.
Dog Beach and the dog wash area, which is part of Dog Beach, have been re-opened.
E-brochures for the City’s Summer Camp offerings are available online. June 22 will be the first day for camps.
The City’s Lawn Bowling field has opened up, allowing more people to participate.
Starting June 22, play may start at 7:30 a.m. on the Cays Tennis Courts. All tennis courts are now open for doubles play for non-household members. The Library tennis court is open for the City’s Tennis Pros to teach lessons. Drills may include up to three people and the tennis ball machine is available for use.
The City’s swimming pool at the Recreation Center is opening for lap swimming June 24, with restrictions. By Monday June 29, the lap swimming availability will expand to all 10 lanes. Reservations for pool time are required.
The Fitness Center, also at the Recreation Center complex, opened June 22 to no more than two people at a time. Reservations can be made either by phone or via the Internet.
Availability at the City’s Skate Park has expanded to include four participants not from the same household.
In other City Council actions:
The Council approved by a 5-0 vote to expand the maximum loan amount of the City’s Lifeline Business Loan Program from $15,000 to $20,000. Up to the meeting date of June 16, the City had extended 90 loans totaling $1.3 million to businesses in town which generate sales tax. If a local business has already received a loan for $15,000, they are eligible to receive a second loan for an additional $5,000. New loan applications continue to be initiated by the Coronado Chamber of Commerce. Contact Sue Gillingham at 619-435-9260 for additional information. Current borrowers can contact the City Manager’s office at 619-522-7335. The loan program will be reevaluated at the Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting July 21, 2020.
Thursday, June 25 from 5 to 7 pm, the California Department of Transportation will host a public scoping meeting regarding the installation of a suicide barrier on the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge. Discussions related to improvements in the area around the Toll Plaza will be included in the meeting. Comments will be accepted in the period from now to July 24 and they may be submitted via mail or Email. Registration information for the scoping meeting can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 619-930-6258.
The City Council received a report from the City’s Sr. Management Analyst for Arts and Culture Kelly Purvis, which summarized the efforts of the Cultural Arts Commission for 2019. Councilmember Marvin Heinze said, “I am impressed with everything Cultural Arts has achieved. But, I am a little concerned the Cultural Arts Commission is getting ahead of the Council regarding Arts facilities.” The City Council voted to accept the Cultural Arts Commission report by a 5-0 vote.
On a related subject, the City Council unanimously approved the appointment of Deborah Kaller to the Cultural Arts Commission.
The Council heard an update from Director of Community Development, Redevelopment Services and Housing Rich Grunow regarding the City’s plan to create a report on the City’s Sea Level Rise, which will include a forecast to the year 2100. November 2019, the City received a $221,000 grant from Caltrans for preparation of the report, which must be completed by February 2022. Included in the report will be evaluations of coastal hazards, flooding, rising tides, storm surge and erosion. There will also be an inventory created of vulnerable assets, including infrastructure, facilities, parks, and private properties. Cost estimates will be created for replacement of vulnerable assets.
The Council heard a presentation by Director of Recreation and Golf Services Roger Miller regarding a proposed policy addressing athletic field use and allocation. The policy included modest fees for field use by Coronado Youth Organizations and Adult Leagues, with higher fees for Select and Travel Teams. Under the proposal, City use, Recreational use, and use by Coronado Schools would not require payment. Discussion on this topic specifically included a policy for Sunset Park. Yet to be determined is the future of the Cays Park Field, which may be part of a pending redesign of the area. Another unknown is the possibility of the City taking over the scheduling of the Port’s Tidelands Park. Two motions resulted from the Council’s discussion. The first, which came from Councilmember Mike Donovan was, “To authorize the use of Sunset Park for another six months and ask City Staff to work diligently to schedule Tidelands Park.” The second motion from Heinze was, “I move we continue the consideration of athletic field use and the allocation policy and return it to the Parks and Recreation Commission for input. And we should send the proposed policy to teams already using the Parks and allow for a 30-day comment period.” Both motions passed by 5-0 votes.
As part of the Consent Calendar, the City Council approved a 2.3 percent salary increase to the self-represented and executive management employees for FY 2020-21.
Also contained in the Consent Calendar was a motion to authorize City Manager King to execute purchase agreements and licensing or maintenance agreements for information technology for equipment, software, and services in FY 2020-21 in the total amount of $970,000. Specifically, $150,000 with Dell; $550,000 with CDW-G Technology Systems; $125,000 with Central Square; $125,000 with Verizon Wireless; and $20,000 to Esri, a supplier of geographic information system software.
The City Council is dark Tuesday, July 7, 2020. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Coronado City Council is Tuesday, July 21, 2020, at 4 p.m. City Council meetings are held at City Hall, located at 1825 Strand Way in Coronado.