The Union Pacific Railroad near 500 East Barioni Boulevard in Imperial is shown. The City Council on Wednesday, Sept. 15, supported a resolution calling on the state to provide more funding to the California Public Utilities Commission for the purposes of cleaning up railroads rights-of-way, which are at the sole discretion of the companies that operate the rails. | GOOGLE IMAGE
IMPERIAL — When the League of California Cities convenes its annual conference next week, Imperial city officials will be there to advocate for missing sales-tax revenues from online purchases and getting railroad rights-of-way cleaned up, as well as opposing a host of proposed legislation.
The Imperial City Council during its meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 15, tabbed Mayor Karin Eugenio to attend the conference that starts in Sacramento on Sept. 22, and selected council member Robert Amparano to attend as the mayor’s alternate.
Further, the council approved several resolutions in advance of the meeting to strengthen the city’s position.
“Taxpayer money gets thrown all the time at this, and they still don’t address the problem. That’s where I am at. I am frustrated,” said Mayor Pro Tem Geoff Dale during the meeting, referring to cleaning up the areas around railroads.
League of California Cities, or Cal Cities, is a lobbying organization comprised of municipalities throughout the state that meet to take consolidated positions on bills and laws making their way through the Legislature that affect cities. The annual conference is where cities vote to take that position.
Two issues of particular concern to Imperial are online sales-tax revenue and the appearance of area around the railroads, which the jurisdiction of the companies that operate them within a certain right of way. Railroad companies, such as Union Pacific, have their own police forces and strict rules on trespassing.
Council voted to support a resolution to asking the governor and Legislature to provide more funding to the California Public Utilities Commission, which is charged with doling out the necessary funding to the railroad companies for safety measures tied to their rights-of-way.
Although the council agreed that these rights-of-way need to be cleared of trash, graffiti, and homeless encampments, the debate came from how best to go about it, which was Dale’s concern.
Additionally, the council passed a resolution in support of the Bradley Burns 1 percent local sales tax bill, which would funnel 1 percent of sales-taxes revenues from online purchases to the cities in which those purchases were made or delivered. This is in contrast to the current law that stipulates that sales taxes from online purchases can go to the physical locations in the state, such as the fulfillment centers for out-of-state companies.
There also was a resolution approved that issued blanket opposition to several bills.
The city announced that Oct. 3 through Oct. 9 will be Fire Prevention Week.
“As some of you know, National Fire Prevention Week was first observed in 1922, and was established in memory of the Chicago Fire in 1871, so it’s been traditional, and then for the last few decades your fire department has been providing fire safety and fire education programs for more than 2,000 kids every year,” said Alfredo Estrada Jr., Imperial County fire chief and Office of Emergency Services coordinator, during the council meeting.
Estrada said this year’s programs would be similar to last year’s programs, which were held through Zoom. The chief expressed excitement at having the programs in Imperial, saying that he, along with 85 percent of his firefighters, live in the city and look forward to being able to work in their community.
Traffic Concerns at Mirador and Brewer Roads
After much debate, the City Council voted to add two red curbs and two crosswalks at the corner of Mirador Street and Brewer Road in the Savannah Ranch subdivision southwest of the center of the city.
The city received complaints about the intersection, moving Public Works to perform a traffic study, which recommended the installation of a 50-foot red curb and a “no parking” sign.
For council member Amparano, these mitigation steps were not enough.
“We’ve got kids crossing sidewalks and intersections, and we only have 50 feet. And we’ve still got traffic you can’t see to one side, do see where I am going with this?” Amparano said during the meeting, sparking an active discussion about what would be enough in the area.
The council settled on extending the red curbs out to 100 feet, and then also adding cross walks both the east/west and north/south areas of the intersection.
Victor Ranch Subdivision Sidewalks
Council voted to approve a memorandum of understanding between the city and the El Centro Elementary School District to install new sidewalks surrounding a proposed school site in the Victoria Ranch subdivision southeast of the main part of the city.
The school site, located at the corner of De Paoli Street and Hazel Avenue, is in Imperial city limits south of Aten Road and east of Cross Road. But the subdivision is in the El Centro school district.
Cost of the installation will fall on school district and have no financial impact for the city. ECESD is required to begin installing the sidewalks on or before Dec. 31, 2023.