Bell Gardens City Council Action, September 23, 2019
City Manager Michael B. O’Kelly
For immediate release
September 26, 2019
Looking after the health and safety of its residents was a priority in actions taken by the Bell Gardens City Council at their regular meeting Monday, September 23.
Councilmembers passed the first reading of a smoke-free housing ordinance, which will prohibit smoking in multi-unit housing in the City. Currently, smoking is prohibited in or near public facilities, public parks, recreational areas and City-sponsored events; this ordinance would expand those prohibitions to family day care facilities and residences in multi-unit housing as well as common areas (including hallways, elevators, courtyards, parking lots, private patios, balconies and decks) and non-smoking buffer zones. Smoking would only be allowed in designated smoking areas. Smoking is specifically prohibited within 25 feet of any doorway, opening, window, vent or any areas used by children.
Landlords of new multi-unit housing would be required to include and implement clauses in their leases to protect the rights of nonsmokers by December 1, 2019. Existing multi-unit housing residences must begin to include and implement these clauses by June 1, 2021. The ordinance addresses the smoking of traditional tobacco in cigarettes and pipes, marijuana and e-cigarette usage.
Multi-unit residences are defined as those that have three or more attached units, including rental complexes and condominiums. It does not apply to hotels, motels, mobile home parks, duplexes, detached units or single-family units.
The City Council also approved a proposal to provide the Bell Gardens Police Department with updated communication system by Motorola. The current system is more than 20 years old, considered obsolete and beyond its expected functional lifespan. Over the last year, the police department has experienced critical outages that created a public safety issue and its technology is out of date. In addition, BGPD’s existing communications system lacks the ability to work with surrounding emergency service agencies.
The new system will provide a greater network of safety for both officers and the public, as well as up-to-date technology and encryption security against scanners and eavesdroppers who could put the City in danger. A Motorola county-wide UHF system, which includes new consoles, portable radios, vehicle consoles and control systems will be installed and put the Bell Gardens Police Department in line with the Interagency Communication Interoperability system, which is a network of more than 60 surrounding police and fire agencies.
A final draft of the City’s Complete Streets plan will be presented at a community meeting on Tuesday, October 22 from 2 to 9 pm. Funded by a Caltrans grant, Complete Streets is a transportation strategy that requires streets to be planned, designed, operated and maintained to enable safe, convenient and comfortable travel and access for users regardless of their mode of transportation. Community input on the plan is key and three workshops were conducted at Veteran’s Park in October 2018 and March 2019. The final workshop is October 22. The plan was compiled using information submitted by residents, businesses, community leaders and local agencies. Those who cannot attend the October 22 meeting can access a survey that will allow them to comment.
The results of this workshop series will help Bell Gardens pursue external funding and grants to implement elements of the Complete Streets Plan and other transportation improvements.
Social media was on the minds of the Council members and staff, who sometimes grapple with inaccurate information posted on social media sites. These posts can also be of a personal nature or be considered hurtful to the subject of discussion. The City maintains a website (www.bellgardens.org) and various social media sites (Instagram, Twitter) to inform residents and stakeholders of City activities and events, but does not regularly provide rebuttals to inaccurate information or hurtful social media posts. Staff will develop a policy for response after receiving guidance from the City Council.
The City Council approved other measures, including:
- To increase public safety at the intersection of Clara Street and Clara Street (frontage road), 110 feet of red “no parking” curb will be installed, along with appropriate signage. In addition, 23 feet of red “no parking” curb will be installed along the frontage of 5927 Clara Street.
- Grant writing consultants Global Urban Strategies has been contracted to help the City solicit and administer grants for City projects.
- Clear Source Financial Consulting has been contracted to conduct a comprehensive City-wide user fee study.
- In response to public comments regarding police response times, the call priority system used by Bell Gardens Police Department was defined for the City Council.