Calexico Council Fires Salvos Against Blight
Calexico Council Meeting

Grime of the Century: Calexico Council Fires Salvos Against Blight

CALEXICO — The Calexico City Council further focused its efforts on cleanup when it preliminarily approved amending its ordinances on garbage disposal for the downtown area and city-wide nuisance-abatement efforts in separate actions.

The council, in both instances, voted unanimously to update the refuse-related ordinances at its Jan. 22 special meeting. Both ordinances will be up for final approval Feb. 5 then must be on the books for 30 days before being enacted.

Council members reopened a public hearing and preliminarily approved revising a critical chapter of its citywide nuisance-abatement ordinance.

Nuisance Changes Outlined

The measure provides 24 examples of what constitutes a nuisance-abatement violation to make it easier for code-enforcement officers to better identify possible violations of the ordinance.

The changes also safeguard the city from possible legal actions against it in issuing citations for violations or ordering property owners to clean up potential violations. They also make it easier for the city to recoup its costs in the event the city orders a property cleaned up at the owners’ expense.

The changes were made at the recommendation of city planning consultant Christopher Velasco and City Attorney Carlos Campos to protect the city from legal challenges.

No one spoke for or against the changes during the public hearing. Initially, the hearing was scheduled for a meeting in mid-December. The council held over the hearing and decision so it could be aired before a full council. Two members of the council were absent from the meeting at which the matter was originally scheduled.

Trash-Bin Locks

In another Downtown Action Plan-related decision, the council preliminarily approved a requirement downtown merchants lock their trash bins or face penalties, although no specifics were mentioned on penalties.

Designed to beautify downtown and increase commerce, the Action Plan involves several components, including revised ordinances and upcoming features such as a pedestrian promenade being developed on First Street and Rockwood Avenue.

The trash-bin-locking proposal would put the onus on downtown merchants to abate the problems of the now-unlocked bins attracting scrappers and transients looking for things to sell. The trespassers are a source of litter and some set the bins on fire, city officials said.

Among the changes proposed to the “garbage disposal” ordinance is a new entry defining the “downtown collection area,” and a list of certain requirements to be met within that collection area. These include:

  • Locked containers: All trash bins to be loaded into trash trucks must be equipped with locks and kept locked at all times, except when refuse or recyclables are being deposited or collected;
  • Identifying information on all containers: All trash bins must have both the name of the owner and tenant on the front of the container in paint or indelible ink;
  • Containers may not block passage: Containers must not block or impede any passages on any street, alley or sidewalk in the collection area, even if the building is abandoned or not in use;
  • Shared containers prohibited: No trash bins shall be shared between businesses in the downtown collection area; each business must have its own container;
  • Overflow prohibited/additional collection required: No trash bins shall be permitted to overflow. If a business’ trash is overflowing, it is the owner’s/tenant’s responsibility to contact the service provider and make arrangements for “an increased level of service.”

Finally, the proposed amended ordinance includes a new penalties section, stating violations “may be punishable by criminal action, civil action and/or administrative penalties. Violations are considered public nuisances and each day a violation continues is a separate offense,” according to the report to the council.

Only affecting downtown businesses, there would be an added cost of $7 a month to tenants or property owners for the lockable trash bins, Calexico City Manager David Dale said.

Other Actions

In other city business the council:

  • Approved 5-0 allowing the city manager to grant fee waivers to nonprofit and charitable organizations of up to $500 without council approval to make the process “more efficient,” Dale said. He will have the authority to do this only for organizations with 501c3 nonprofit status. Any organizations without that status or seeking fee waivers over $500 must still go before the council. Dale said the reason this was being done is sometimes organizations will come to the city and there isn’t enough time between the request and when it gets placed on an agenda.
  • Approved 5-0 two “plunger pumps” for the wastewater treatment plant at a  cost of $73,985 to help regulate the flow in the plant’s wastewater clarifiers. The pumps the city now has are old and have been in place since 2009, according to Public Works Manager Liliana Falomir.
  • Council Member Morris Reisen removed Guillermo “Willie” Hermosillo from the city Personnel Commission and reassigned him to the Measure H Oversight Committee. The Measure H Committee approves expenditures using Measure H funds, a half-cent sales tax put in place by Calexico voters in 2010 to pay for items for public safety and parks and recreation.
  • Mayor Pro Tem David Romero appointed Alejandro Hernandez to the Measure H Oversight Committee.

This story is featured in the Jan 30, 2020 e-Edition.

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