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City of Calexico News

Calexico Council Acts on Sweeper and Computer; Nuisance Tabled

CALEXICO — The Calexico City Council on Dec. 18 approved eliminating the city’s lone street-sweeper position and reinstated a formerly vacant and unfunded street-painter position.

The move includes an adjusted salary for the employee displaced by a new street-sweeping contract to begin in January.

The action was passed 3-0. It was somewhat of a formality considering the former sweeper driver moved to the street-painting job several weeks ago.

The action included a pay raise for the street-painter position. Although the affected employee will be making five percent more annually than he did as a sweeper, the wage is less than the painter position paid when it was eliminated several years ago.

Council Members Rosie Fernandez and Morris Reisen, and Mayor Bill Hodge approved the changes. Council Members David Romero and Lewis Pacheco were absent.

The 27-year city employee’s job behind the wheel of the sweeper is the casualty of the city’s new trash contract with Republic Services/Allied Waste that will take effect Jan. 1. It includes an annual $245,000 street-sweeping component, a key element of the city’s Downtown Action Plan designed to revitalize the embattled retail area.

The job reassignment occurred after a city-employee union raised concerns over the sweeper driver possibly losing his job because the work was to be contracted to Allied/Republic.

Camera Server Purchase Approved

The council also approved 3-0 spending $35,000 on a new computer server to power as many as a dozen security cameras and nine automated license-plate readers.

The monitors are expected to be installed on top of traffic signals on Cesar Chavez Boulevard from Highway 98 to Second Street.

The cost of the server, which includes labor, installation, software and hardware support, will be paid for entirely out of Measure D funds, which is a county-wide, voter-approved sales tax for street-related expenses.

Police Chief Gonzalo Gerardo said during the meeting the installation of the cameras will be covered by a previous contract that purchased the cameras and license-plate readers in 2015, when the city bought 75 cameras in all.

Nuisance Debate Continued

The council briefly opened a public hearing to consider approving some major changes to the city nuisance-abatement ordinance officials said would allow the city to better address public eyesores and accumulations of trash on private properties. However, the council opted against approving the changes until it had all five members present.

Despite having a quorum, there were two members absent. The hearing was closed and continued to Jan. 22.

It is recommended the council repeal a chapter of the ordinance that contains only a limited list of public nuisances and an “overly brief and general recitation of the city’s authority to, and procedures for, abating public nuisances,” according to a report to the council prepared by City Attorney Carlos Campos and planning consultant Christopher Velasco. It would be replaced with a more detailed entry.

The chapter as worded does not provide adequate notice to property owners and code enforcement officials on what conditions constitute public nuisances, the report states. Moreover, it does not define what due-process protection property owners have available to them during the mitigation process. That increases city liability if it is taken to court over issuing citations and removing public nuisances, the report indicated.

“The lack of clear and uniform procedures for seeking property owners’ compliance and affording property owners due process will continue to mire the city’s efforts to abate dangerous nuisance conditions in an efficient and cost-effective manner,” the report states.

The replacement chapter to the ordinance is intended to create uniform policies and procedures for code enforcement officers and other city officials. In turn, that would allow nuisances to be removed faster and at less upfront cost to the city.

This story is featured in the Dec 26, 2019 e-Edition.

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