Sherman Oaks, CA – The United Chambers of Commerce of the San Fernando Valley and Region Government Affairs Committee received updates on several issues at their meeting on Monday, October 16th, 2017.
SB623: Water Quality, Safe & Affordable Drinking Water Fund
Eveline Bravo, a representative from State Senator Hertzberg’s office provided an update on the status of SB-623 Water Quality: Safe & Affordable Drinking Water. This bill is in direct response to water crises in the Central Valley. Nitrates filtering into wells have made pollution so severe that hundreds of residents no longer have ready access to potable water. The situation has left 500 families in Tulare County without the ability to drink or shower in their homes. In all, the crisis has affected over 5,000 residents.
The bill would levy fees of .005% on sales of fertilizer materials, and a .01% per 100th weight of milk, the latter to be paid by the producers of milk. The funds would be used to address 12% of the wells that need de-contamination or re-assessment.
Bill SB-623 is currently in committee, and will be revisited in December, when the State Legislature returns to the floor. Following discussion, no motion was proposed regarding this issue.
Westbridge – 205 Unit Mixed Use Project
Greg Sefain, a representative of Rincon Strategies, presented plans for the Westbridge Project, a proposed live and work community with 205 residential units, of which 18 are “very low income” units. The project also includes almost 6,000 square feet of commercial space, and 24,000 square feet of open space. The project meets the City’s requirements for parking, including 238 bicycle parking stalls.
Sean McCarthy moved that The United Chambers of Commerce support the Westbridge Project. Following discussion, the motion passed unanimously, with two abstentions.
Exclusive Franchise Trash Pick Up System
In response to the United Chambers’ recent motion, Enrique Zaldivar, a representative from LA Sanitation reported on the “franchise trash pick up system”, and answered several of the Committees’ questions.
Enrique stressed that sanitation is a complex issue, made so in part by varied and evolving community values, as well as environmental best practices. For example, the City is undertaking a decades-long transition from a landfill-based to a replacement-based method of trash management. The initiative, RecycLA, aims to fundamentally change how LA City deals with solid waste over the next 15-20 years.
The “franchise trash pick up system” is a public-private partnership, including 7 private providers across LA, designed to help sanitation services operate more like a standard utility. Enrique also acknowledged that there had been some “growing pains” and “hiccups” during the 4 months of rolling out this program. He also emphasized that the City had created a 24/7 support line (1-800-773-2489) to ensure any issues received prompt follow-up. And he stressed that the long-term plan was to create a no-landfilling system, resource recovery at every stage, and to do so in congruence with the economic drivers for the business community.
It was highlighted that this issue is scheduled to be brought up in court this month, and that Councilmember Mitch Englander has submitted a motion to make some changes to the system. Following discussion, no motion was proposed regarding this issue.
City’s Conditional Use Permits (CUPs)
Karo Tosossian, a representative from Councilmember Paul Krekorian’s office, updated the Committee on their office’s work to streamline the Conditional Use Permits approval process, which regulates the ability of local restaurants to serve alcohol.
Karo said that the wait for an alcohol permit for a standard restaurant is currently about 9-12 months, yet 90-98% of the applications receive the same consistent outcome. They are therefore submitting a proposal, currently in draft phase, to streamline the process by providing an “over-the-counter” path that would provide an alternative to the standard approval procedure. This path would include adhering to a strict list of guidelines that go above and beyond the guidelines in the standard path. If an establishment can fulfill and maintain compliance with these guidelines, they would be able to obtain their CUP without going through the standard process.
Karo also stated that applicants would still have to go through the State approval process, and that there was a related motion being submitted to strengthen enforcement of the guidelines in the “streamlined process”, making it easier for communities to deal with “bad actors” that did not adhere to the terms of their permit.
Following discussion, no motion was proposed regarding this issue.
The United Chambers of the San Fernando Valley and Region is a coalition of 32 business organizations including 18 Member Chambers, representing over 21,000 businesses that provide over 387,000 jobs. United Chambers deals with Valley-wide, County-wide and Regional issues and promotes the San Fernando Valley’s overall welfare, progress and economic prosperity.