As you already concluded from the headline above, the primary topic of the three-hour City Council meeting of July 21, 2020, was the Coronado Community Grant program. In years past, the funding total for local non-profits was plus or minus, in the $1 million range. The targeted goal not long ago for Fiscal Year 2020-21 was 1.65 percent of General Fund revenues, or $1 million, whichever was less. However, that was pre-COVID-19, before the City’s revenues took a severe hit, particularly in the Transient Occupancy Tax and Sales Tax categories.
When this agenda item was presented, City Councilmembers made it clear the revised total grant amount of $800,000 was a hard cap due to the City’s revenue downturn and the grant totals wouldn’t be upgraded. City Staff processed initial grant applications totaling $1.356 million so some serious trimming was involved before the City Council began their final deliberations.
In unintentionally comic part of the proceedings occurred when the applicants were provided the opportunity to address the City Council via Zoom call. Those presentations were made at roughly a 50 percent success rate.
During the City Council deliberations for the Community Grants, Councilmembers made their own suggestions for funding modifications. Requests for funding for the Coronado Flower Show and MotorCars on Main Street were cancelled, as their 2020 events weren’t held. and that funding advanced to FY 2021-22. One-time funding requests for equipment were declined. It was determined that the City’s Public Services Department would be responsible for the foliage on the medians and the gardens on Orange Avenue, instead of funding Coronado MainStreet to handle the work. The guiding principle employed by the Council was to fund important programs, not just organizations.
One surprise to the final funding amounts was the $188,545 awarded the Coronado Historical Association, up from the staff’s recommendation of $89,479. Councilmember Mike Donovan, who represents the City Council at the Coronado Historical Association meetings said, “I want to see CHA be successful. My recommendation would be to reduce payroll and use volunteers more. A comment on the building, we’ve given them $380,000 for many years and they have always said they aren’t spending that on rent. It’s a bit of a shell game, their budget is half rent and half programs. The $380,000 we give them keeps them in business. I’ve reached the conclusion that we have unwittingly done them a disservice. They have a dream they will be able to keep the building and its coming to fruition that’s not going to happen. If they were handed the building today, they wouldn’t be able to handle the maintenance and the utilities. They are very much at a turning point, deciding how to move forward. By 2024 they will be out of money. They have a lot on their plate right now with how to handle the building. My recommendation is $175,000.”
When two hours and seven minutes had elapsed and the smoke had cleared, the final funding allocations to 14 local non-profits included, in alphabetical order: Coronado 4th of July Committee, $35,500; Coronado Chamber of Commerce, $110,000; Coronado Community Band, $5,577; Coronado Community Theatre, $12,767; Coronado Historical Association, $188,545; Coronado Hospital Foundation, $94,000; Coronado Island Film Festival, $56,450; Coronado MainStreet, $42,621; Coronado SAFE, $130,667; Coronado Senior Association, $22,400; Emerald Keepers, $16,673; Lamb’s Players Theatre, $69,700; Musica Vitale, $13,250; and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, $1,850. The motion to approve the Community Grant Funding in the above amounts passed by a 5-0 vote.
The next item considered by the Council related to the City’s parking enforcement for Business District parking, which currently is handled by IPS Group Metered Parking Services and their smart meter system. Coronado’s Director of Public Services and Engineering Cliff Maurer provided a PowerPoint presentation which was forthright in its assessment of the current parking program including:
Meters have never performed as specified
Meters are unreliable, requiring high rates of repair
Dissatisfaction has been expressed by residents, guests, the Coronado Police Department, and Public Services and Engineering
Maurer added the thought later that the city was currently losing money on its parking program. “We’re not looking at this as a revenue generator, but to make it better for the business community,” Maurer said.
The City Staff proposal is to purchase and deploy license plate reader (LPR) technology, the same technology currently successfully in use by the Coronado Police Department for criminal evidence collection. Maurer said, “Aspen, Colorado, Santa Cruz, Berkeley, Carmel, and Petaluma are not charging for parking and using LPR enforcement, all with great success. The camera reads the license plate, records the position of the tire valve stems on the car, communicates through cloud technology, and sends information to a Police Services Officer’s handheld device. The vehicle information is archived as evidence for defense of citation appeals. It happens quickly, efficiently and with high reliability. If this is approved, we’ll come back to award the contract and include a suggestion for a higher, more comparable fine for parking violations to help account for revenue loss due to not charging for parking.”
The City’s contract with the IPS Group expires in November 2020. The plan would have the added benefit of the removal of the City’s 500 parking meters, which could expand the commercial use of the sidewalks in the business districts, including dining opportunities. The plan would also insure turnover of the Business District’s parking spots. The motion to develop a procurement plan for the LPR program passed 5-0.
In other City Council actions:
Via the Consent Calendar, the Council confirmed the suspension of the City’s Lifeline Business Loan Program.
Also as part of the Consent Calendar, the Council accepted the donation of the City of Coronado Public Art Walking Tour Smartphone Application, created by Coronado resident Josh Tyler.
The Council awarded construction contracts to Demcon Concrete Contractors, Inc. in the amount of $629,104 for chilled and hot water line replacement for City Hall and the Community Center.
Dave Gillingham was appointed by the City Council to a second, three-year term on the Design Review Commission, with Donna Crossman given an additional one-year term, while the City continues to advertise for a design professional to fill the vacancy.
The Council took steps to take control of the City’s Seal, as well as other City logos and insignia by taking the first step to amend the Coronado Municipal Code. The symbols include the City Flag, the City’s lifeguard patches and the logo for the Coronado Municipal Golf Course. The agenda item was bifurcated into two motions. The first was to add an enforcement element to the City’s current administrative policy, which passed 5-0. The second motion was to authorize King to enter into a no-cost license agreement with University Blanket and Flag, locally-owned by the Gerbel Family, which designed the current City Flag. The same motion allows King to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Hotel Del Coronado regarding the use of City Symbols. The Crown on the City’s Logo and Flag dates back to the 1890’s and originated with the Hotel Del. Councilmember Bill Sandke recused himself from voting on the motion due to his business affiliation with the Hotel Del. Mayor Richard Bailey, and Councilmembers Whitney Benzian, Marvin Heinze and Mike Donovan all voted in favor of the motion.
The next meeting of the Coronado City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, at 4 p.m. City Council meetings are held at Coronado City Hall, located at 1825 Strand Way in Coronado.