Bell Gardens City Council Action, November 11, 2019
For immediate release – November 12, 2019
During its regular meeting on Monday, November 11, the Bell Gardens City Council acted to improve the environment, bring more revenue into the City, address the homeless issue and foster a community workshop to seek input on commercial cannabis businesses in the City.
Vacation of Clara Street parcel - The Council voted to abandon its claim on a cul-de-sac on Clara Street that is no longer functional as a local street to facilitate the construction of an electronic billboard. This will not affect public access of the lands of any owner of property abutting the Clara Street segment. The property is an unused public street frontage road north of Clara Street proper, between the I-715 freeway bridge and 350 feet east of the westernmost Bell Gardens City boundary. The billboard will be a source of revenue for the City, as well as a way to inform the public about City events and disseminate information in case of emergency.
Cleaner water – The Council voted to award a contract to Zusser Company, Inc. for the John Anson Ford infiltration cistern project to capture urban runoff. The contract of $7.7 million will be largely funded through a grant from LLAR UR2 Watershed Management Group. Other than a $114,560 match from the City of Bell Gardens, there is no direct fiscal impact to the City. The project will not only reduce the amount of pollutants in the Rio Hondo, it will also augment the regional water supply to Central Basin. Additional benefits to the City include improvements to Ford Park: new irrigation systems, trees, a new parking lot, sidewalks, exterior lighting, electrical upgrades, landscaping, new baseball fields and park signage.
Addressing the issue of homelessness – The Council received information from the City Attorney that on a national level, there are more than a half million homeless people; more than half of those individuals are in California. Los Angeles County saw a 12 percent increase in its homeless population over the last 12 months and local observation puts the number of homeless individuals in Bell Gardens at approximately 104. Cities are legally prohibited from seizing and destroying the property of homeless people that is left unattended without sufficient notice and cities cannot issue or prosecute criminal citations to homeless individuals if no alternative shelter is made available. Nine shelters in communities surrounding Bell Gardens were identified by the City Attorney and the City will look into contracting for space in those shelters to help alleviate the homeless problem in Bell Gardens.
Cannabis commercialization – The Council discussed the possibility of sponsoring a ballot initiative prohibiting commercial cannabis activities in the City, which would make all future decisions regarding this issue subject to voter approval. Currently, the City prohibits commercial cannabis-related activities. The only legal cannabis activities are those related to personal possession and use outlined in the Medicinal and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, which permits individuals with medical cards and adults over the age of 21 without cards to possess, consume, and cultivate cannabis for personal use. Staff is working on holding a community workshop to solicit public input on the feasibility and desire for commercial cannabis businesses within the City.