Issues

Measure E-20 Morro Bay Local Recovery/Emergency Preparedness Measure

 

MORRO BAY’S LOCAL RECOVERY/EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS MEASURE

To protect City of Morro Bay’s financial stability, local property values and City services, such as maintaining Morro Bay’s local Fire/Police Departments, 24/7 paramedics, 911 emergency response, health emergency/disaster preparedness; keeping beaches, public areas safe/clean; retaining/attracting businesses; and other general City services, shall the measure establishing 1¢ sales tax providing approximately $2,000,000 annually until ended by voters be adopted, requiring independent audits, public oversight, all funds used locally?

YES
NO

 

This is the most important decision that City voters have faced since incorporation.  I believe this vote will determine whether we survive as a full-service city.  Chamber Directors agree with me and that is what they are telling their members. 

Will we continue to operate as an independent, locally controlled city government, or will we become just another one of SLO County’s quaint, unincorporated communities – dependent upon the whims of a five-person Board of Supervisors in far-away San Luis Obispo, four of whom are elected by voters from other districts?

 

IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS

by our City Attorney

 

The Morro Bay City Council by unanimous vote placed the Morro Bay Local Recovery/Emergency Preparedness Measure (the “Measure”) on the November 3, 2020 ballot. If approved by the voters, the Measure adds Chapter 3.26 to the Morro Bay Municipal Code to establish an additional transactions and use general tax of one cent per dollar, while the City maintains a current half cent per dollar transactions and use general tax. A Citizen Oversight Committee is continued to conduct semi-annual reviews of revenues and expenditures and to provide reports to the City Council.

 

The Measure is estimated to generate approximately $2,000,000 annually in revenues for funding of general City services. Funds are placed in the City’s general fund and may be used for any City general fund purpose, including, but not limited to:

 

  • Maintaining Morro Bay’s local Fire/Police Departments
  • Maintaining Morro Bay’s 24/7 paramedics and 911 emergency response
  • Maintaining Morro Bay’s health emergency/disaster preparedness
  • Keeping Morro Bay’s beaches and public areas safe and clean
  • Retaining and attracting local businesses

 

Food purchased as groceries, prescription medicine and real property will not be taxed under the Measure.

 

City staff estimates approximately 70% of the proposed one cent per dollar tax collected on business to consumer transactions will be paid by tourists and non-residents, and thus they will contribute to the City’s ability to maintain general public services used while visiting. Residents and general purchasers of goods in the City will also be subject to the tax.

 

The one cent per dollar tax is imposed upon gross receipts of retailers from sale of most tangible personal property sold in the City at retail. The Measure also places an excise tax upon the storage, use or consumption in the City of most tangible personal property purchased from any retailer for storage, use or other consumption in the City at a rate of one cent per dollar of the sales price of the property, where “sales price” includes delivery charges when such charges are subject to state sales or use tax, regardless of the place to which delivery is made. Specific transactions and uses subject to the tax are determined under regulations of the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (“CDTFA”). The tax would be administered by the CDTFA under contract with the City. The City Council may amend the ordinance to further its purpose and intent, but only the voters may approve a tax rate increase. If passed, it will stay in effect until ended by voters.

 

A “YES” vote is a vote to approve an additional one cent per dollar transactions and use general tax.  A “NO” vote is a vote against an additional one cent per dollar transactions and use general tax. The transactions and use general tax proposed by Measure E-20 would take effect only if it receives a majority “YES” vote at the November 3, 2020, election.

 

The above statement is an impartial analysis of Measure E-20. If you desire a copy of the ordinance or measure, please contact the Morro Bay City Clerk’s Office at (805) 772-6205 and a copy will be mailed at no cost to you.

 

 

_____________________________

Chris F. Neumeyer, City Attorney

City of Morro Bay

 

ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF MEASURE E-20

We MUST be prepared for any type of emergency! Vote Yes on E-20 to ensure the City of Morro Bay is prepared for any health crisis or catastrophic disaster.

Today it is more important than ever that Morro Bay maintains our LOCALLY CONTROLLED police and fire departments rather than contracting these out to outside agencies.

Voting Yes on E-20 maintains 24/7 rapid 911 emergency response including police, fire and paramedic services by preventing service reductions and updating emergency communication systems.

Did you know 70% of the calls to the Morro Bay Fire Department are for emergency rescue and medical emergencies?

Vote YES on E-20 to prevent significant reduction to the service of our Morro Bay Fire Department so skilled, local firefighter-paramedics can continue to respond to our local life-threatening emergencies and save lives!

Yes on E-20 makes sure visitors pay their fair share for using our services, roads and beaches.

Yes on E-20 protects Morro Bay’s small harbor town character by keeping our public areas healthy, safe and clean and protecting our local property values.

Vote Yes on E-20 to protect the financial stability of Morro Bay, its residents and local businesses.

Here’s what Measure E-20 WON’T do:
Measure E-20 is NOT a tax on your home/property.
Measure E-20 is NOT applied to food purchased as groceries or prescription medication.

A penny on a dollar purchase is a small price to pay to help our community recover from the pandemic.

By law, Yes on E-20 requires every penny be used for our local services-none can be taken by the County or Sacramento.

Yes on E-20 includes tough fiscal accountability, independent financial audits and citizen oversight-ensuring responsible spending and LOCAL CONTROL.

Join a unanimous City Council, local business and community leaders, firefighters and police officers and vote Yes on E-20. For more information: www.morro-bay.ca.us.

Affordable Housing

 

I support protecting and increasing our stock of housing for lower income groups. I’m very impressed with Scot Graham’s description and analysis of our housing situation in the Housing Element and the policies in place to support low-income housing. I think we are properly “setting the table” to facilitate new housing development. 

But, as the Chamber points out, Housing Elements don’t build housing and cities don’t build housing.  The best we can do at the policy level is to identify barriers to building more housing and institute programs to overcome those barriers. 

The next step now is to promote our willingness to build.  I reached out to REACH to see what strategies they can help us with to build more lower income housing. 

Melissa James and the Regional Economic Action Coalition regard housing as a critical element of the Region’s economic future.  They are going to actively promote Morro Bay as a place to build housing, a variety of housing that meets the needs of a present and growing workforce population.  The REACH organization is on board to bring development partnerships to our city.

I am asking the Chamber to also help us.  Help us identify specific bottlenecks in our process that unnecessarily inhibit or delay permitting.  Help us advertise that Morro Bay is open for business, that we are willing to help build affordable workforce housing.

I am also asking local business owners to help – bring us builders, people you know in the industry who are willing to come to Morro Bay and develop new housing opportunities.

Can we also ask our hoteliers to assist by making rooms available for longer-term rental opportunities?  Those rooms would be exempt from TOT and assessments from TBID and TMD.  That would give an immediate 14 ½ % discount from posted rates.

We are all partners in the process.  We all have different strengths to bring to the table.  I’m asking all of us to do the things that we can to bring possible solutions to the problem.

I am concerned about one additional important part of our housing strategy and that is Mobile Home Parks.  I am hearing from Park residents that the current ordinance needs to be updated.  I want to put that on our goal-setting list for next year.

Living on the California coast is never going to be cheap.  There is never going to be enough coastal land to meet the demand for it, and that is what drives prices up.

Another thing that drives up prices is permitting fees.  Anyone who builds a house pays tens of thousands of dollars in fees.  Those fees are supposed to cover the cost of additional infrastructure that new housing brings to the community.

I don’t know how you get around those fees.  They reimburse the city for the cost of expanding water and sewer lines, sidewalks, street maintenance, and there is no other source of funds to pay for those costs.

We should look at intelligent infill of our existing lots within city limits – the Cloisters development is an excellent example of providing open space between clusters of housing; allowing residential units to be built in commercial zones as second story homes above ground-level businesses; requiring builders to set aside a reasonable number of low-income affordable housing; restricting the number of short-term vacation rentals to make more houses available for long-term rentals.

Another thing we can do is to encourage low-cost housing programs such as HASLO, the Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo.  Council approved their project in August to be built at 405 Atascadero Road.  This is a 35-unit apartment building that is deed-restricted for 55 years to household incomes between $21,000 and $42,000 per year.   

Home sharing is a program that the City is investigating under the guidance of Anne Wyatt, Program Coordinator of HomeShareSLO.  The premise is that a person living alone might have space for another person to move in and share living arrangements.  This can work to the benefit of both parties.  HomeShare has benefited more than two dozen Morro Bay residents in just a few years of existence.

We are not the only city struggling to make housing affordable to the workforce that wants to live here.  I would like to have staff and Council actively look for innovative and creative ways that other cities are pursuing to make housing as affordable as we can do it.

 

Mobile Home Parks

There is no question that California is one of the most expensive places to live in the country.  So, when the purchase price of a mobile home can be up to 30% less than a traditional home, State and local government should be creating incentives to build more mobile home parks.

            There is also good reason why it has been decades since a new mobile home park has been built in California.  And this is not likely to change as long as policymakers fail to recognize that the construction of new parks is a consequence of rent control’s failure, cost-prohibitive building regulations and fees.

            When one considers the facts, calls for housing reforms should be growing louder.

            Mobile homes offer all the quality land comfort of traditional homes, for up to 30% less cost.

            Unlike a traditional rental property such as apartments, mobile home parks operate like small villages or cities.  Rents often cover property taxes and fund essential neighborhood services, such as park management, utilities, cable, roads, landscaping, security, recreation and more.  When rent control ordinances reduce or freeze rents at below market rates, services can be reduced like a city facing budget deficits.

            Rent control ordinance do not require means-testing.  As a consequence, park owners are required to subsidize the housing costs of tenants regardless of their need.

            Very much like homebuilders, costly regulation and fees do not provide financial incentives to expand or build new mobile home parks in California, limiting the potential for new stocks of attainable housing.

            Rent control ordinances are an important regulatory tool to protect mobile home park residents and to continue to make mobile homes affordable.  The City of Morro Bay has a rent control ordinance in effect and we are in the process of amending it to make it easier to process and protect residents.

            Many park owners support long-term lease agreements and direct rental assistance programs, which provide bona fide rental protection and help to those mobile home park residents truly in need.

Water Reclamation Facility

Our first priority is to build a modern facility that meets community goals at the lowest possible cost to the citizens of Morro Bay.   We must also reclaim and reuse the water that we presently flush out to sea.

Ms Betty Winholtz wrote recently, “There are options.  For example, it’s less expensive to stay at the current site where the Water Board’s standard will be met when Cayucos goes offline.  The City receives no fines.  Coastal Commission has no jurisdiction if it’s not new.  Sewer and water rates would have to be reduced.”

  1. The water plant does not meet current standards and cannot meet those standards without an upgrade, regardless of the amount of effluent that flows into it. Upgrading the plant to meet standards will require the Coastal Commission to issue a Coastal Development Permit. 
  2. The plant was built in 1953 and was designed to meet 120/70 BOD/TSS requirement. Current requirement is 30/30. (BOD is organic food left in the water and TSS is total solids left in the water.)
  3. The plant currently operates under a permit waiver issued by the Regional Water Quality Control Board with an expiration date of February 28, 2023 Fines are being waived contingent upon the City continuing to progress toward building a plant that will meet current requirements.
  4. In early 2000 the City hired a professional engineering firm to complete an evaluation of the current facility.  The evaluation determined that to meet the 30/30 requirements, different technology is needed.  In addition, they determined that the plant needs to be upgraded because of its age and condition.  
  5. In 2013, a new plant design was completed at the existing location based on the 2000 engineer’s evaluation. The Coastal Commission rejected the City’s application to build a project at that location and refused to issue a CDP.

Community goals adopted by Council October 24, 2017 –

  • All aspects of the WRF project shall be completed ensuring economic value with a special emphasis on minimizing ratepayer and City expense.
  • Communicate WRF project progress including general project status milestones, and budget/cost information to our community members regularly.
  • Produce tertiary, disinfected wastewater in accordance with Title 22 requirements for unrestricted urban irrigation.
  • Design to produce reclaimed wastewater to augment the City’s water supply, by either direct or indirect means, as described in a master water reclamation plan and to maximize funding opportunities.
  • Include features in the WRF project that maximize the City’s opportunities to secure funding and maximize efficiencies.
  • Design to minimize the impacts from contaminants of emerging concern in the future.
  • Ensure compatibility with neighboring land uses.

 

We need to take every possible action to keep the cost down.  We all pay for the new facility with every monthly water bill.  Council’s responsibility is to keep the cost down as much as possible.  It bothers me that we have had to approve a series of costly change orders.  They come at us for a variety of reasons:

  1. Increased efficiencies
  2. Unforeseen slope slippage
  3. Agency recalcitrance – Red-legged frog; Streambed alteration

It is an unalterable fact of construction that we run into things that were not apparent until we began moving earth, and it is unusual that anything unforeseen results in a lower cost.  We do have a cushion, however, because our loan costs are significantly lower than the Bartle Wells study estimated.  It is my hope and expectation that, once we receive final loan documents from the State Revolving Fund, we will be able to look again at our water/sewer rates and adjust them downward.

We have an opportunity to take a giant step toward developing a sustainable water source – by reclaiming and reusing a million gallons a day that we currently lose.  That requires a high level of treatment and that raised the cost of the facility.  The higher cost will, however, be offset by decreased dependence on outside water sources – State water and expensive desalination operations.  We will be water-independent and drought-proof.

A lot of information has circulated about the Water Reclamation Facility (WRF) project.  Some is factual, some is opinion, some is misinterpretation.  I took time to research original documents and made a list of basic true facts about the project.

 

True Facts about Morro Bay’s WRF

 

  1. On June 27, 2018, the Regional Water Quality Control Board wrote to the City stating that the existing treatment plant infrastructure cannot achieve full secondary treatment for the loading/flow rates of the service area.
  2. A Time Schedule Order (TSO) issued by Water Board on June 27 requires full compliance with final effluent limitations No Later Than February 28, 2023. Between now and then, the following milestones must be met:
    1. Proposition 218 hearing – no later than Aug 30, 2018
    2. Award of contract for WRF onsite improvements – NLT Sep 30, 2018.
    3. Award contract for lift station and offsite pipelines – NLT Nov 30, 2019.
    4. Completion of WRF improvements – NLT Dec 30, 2022
  3. If the City fails to comply with any provision of this TSO, it would liable for mandatory minimum Here are the words of Harvey Packard, Supervising Engineer with the Central Coast Water Board, in an email sent June 27, 2018, to Morro Bay citizen Barry Branin, with a copy to the City, “Certain violations of the NPDES permit trigger mandatory penalties of at least $3,000 per violation. It’s likely that there will be several violations per month if the plant isn’t upgraded by January 2023. So mandatory penalties would be about $15,000 per month. However, the Water Board has the discretion to increase the penalty on each violation up to $10,000, which could cost the city up to about $50,000 per month.”
  4. On January 10, 2013, the California Coastal Commission unanimously denied the City’s request to rebuild a wastewater treatment plant west of Highway 1.
  5. Dan Carl, Central Coast District Director for the CCC, wrote to the City on September 22, 2017, making the following points regarding any attempt to build or upgrade on the west side of Highway 1, and these are his words:
    1. These sites would pose significant regulatory hurdles and challenges that would take more time and resources to address than would the inland sites.
    2. The Commission already denied the City’s proposed project west of Highway 1 in 2013.
    3. The Commission has recently not given authorization for permanent infrastructure in these types of more hazardous shoreline areas.
    4. Sites inland of Highway 1, including at South Bay Boulevard, would not be subject to these types of conditions and restrictions, and thus would be able to meet the primary objective of finding a long-term home for the City’s critical wastewater infrastructure in the shortest period of time with the most certainty in outcome.
    5. Both any potential LCP amendments and any CDP applications would have to work through the same types of coastal hazards issues that eventually led to denial of the City’s 2013 proposal after two years process.
  6. Through a State-regulated RFP process, the City selected the least-cost proposal that meets the community goals for the WRF project.
  7. By a Proposition 218 vote, ratepayers approved water & sewer surcharges that average $41per month for the average household that uses 125 gallons of water per day. We may be able to reduce those surcharges once we finalize the State Revolving Fund loan that is currently being processed in Sacramento.
  8. The City established a Utilities Discount Program to assist low-income residents to pay their monthly bills. Only two cities in the county have programs that help low-income ratepayers.
  9. The City is building a WRF project that meets requirements of the RWQCB and the CCC. It is a project that satisfies community goals and is intended to provide a drought-proof water supply.
  10. The project cost for the Los Osos water treatment plant and piping infrastructure in 1988 was $57 million. Thirty years and a community bankruptcy later, Los Osos residents are paying off $193.7 million and they do not produce drinkable water. If we don’t learn from Los Osos’ history, we will repeat their story.

     

    Harbor Management

    It is apparent that the Harbor Funding mechanism is broken.  Tidelands Trust Lease (TTL) revenues and user fees are not keeping up with what is required to operate, maintain, repair and replace harbor facilities. 

    Eric’s capital needs, in thousands of dollars:

     

                                                    2020   2021   2022   2023   2024

    Capital Major Mtce               290     225     20        10        25

    Capital Replacement           1,150  500     500     450     450

    Capital Equipment               241     218     258     73        30       

                Total Needs              1,681  943     778     533     505

     

    This is the amount of additional revenue that the Harbor needs beyond its current revenue.  Current revenue is paying only for daily operations and minimal maintenance to keep the Harbor afloat.  The best short-term and most reliable funding mechanism to meet this desperate need is a portion of the proposed sales tax initiative, providing additional general fund revenue that can help to pay for future Harbor sustainability.

                We had to raise slip fees 50% this year because of maintenance that has been deferred for almost 30 years.  That kind of sudden increase, $100 a month, devastates our fishermen and ripples through the economy. 

                We have an immediate need to spend $860,000 to replace slips at Beach Street, Dune Street, and the Launch Ramp. If we lose these slips, that will leave only limited space along the T piers for our fishing boats to tie up, at an even higher monthly rate.

                In the longer run, we need to develop a Harbor Sustainability Plan, a timetable for revenue enhancement that meets the ongoing cost of operations, maintenance and capital funding to replace major infrastructure.

                Morro Bay’s harbor is the center of our community, the one feature that sets us apart from every other community in the county.  It is the number one tourist destination after Hearst Castle.  This is where Californians come to play, exercise, sight-see and enjoy our weather and our coastal beauty. 

    We are part of America’s National Estuary Program.  We have an obligation and a sacred responsibility to safeguard our beautiful harbor. 

    We need to continue to reappraise the fair market value of the TTL properties and adjust rents accordingly.

    We need to stay on top of cost allocations for user fees for slips, docks and moorings and ensure that users pay for the full cost of operations, maintenance and replacement.  I have asked our Finance Director to maintain separate fund accounts for various facility types so that we can provide transparency to users and show them where the money comes from and how it is spent.

    I asked Council to have Staff investigate the cost and benefits of engaging a professional property manager to manage the Tidelands Trust Land leases.  This would relieve our Harbormaster of a significant responsibility that is not part of the position’s job description.  I think it would also make negotiations for lease renewals more objective.  It would also be nice if, by contracting out that service, we could reduce staffing requirements.

    I would like to find out also how property management would interface with the periodic financial audits that we perform.

    The Chamber of Commerce wrote a lengthy and thoughtful analysis of Harbor operations that I appreciate very much.  Chamber recommends looking at paid parking and notes that Pismo Beach generates an annual profit of $400,000 by charging for parking.  If that’s an opportunity that we’re missing, we need to look at it closely.

    The Chamber also recommends developing a long-range business plan for the entire waterfront area.  I absolutely agree that this is the right thing to do,

    As the Chamber pointed out, “much of the waterfront area is in fact a large shopping and commercial district and should be managed as such” and “The City should also establish a financing mechanism so that non-Tidelands Lease properties pay an equitable share of Waterfront area’s maintenance and operations…”  They suggest a Business Improvement District and that is fine if there is a “champion” to pursue establishment of that. This is strictly a business decision made by business and property owners. I would ask the Chamber to take the lead and I would ask City staff to support the formation of a BID with appropriate information and business-friendly regulation.

    Another possibility would be establishing a Harbor District and we can look at that as well.

    The Chamber also recommended converting to fixed-rate rents based on property appraisal rather than a mix of fixed rate plus a percentage portion of taxable sales.  I think Eric has made a good case for continuing with the system that he has in place now.  A percentage of taxable sales creates a partnership wherein both parties have a stake in making the harbor a desirable visitor-serving asset and motivates everyone to “raise their game” in attracting tourists to visit and spend money.  It also is producing greater revenue to the City than a fixed rate would.

    The rent comparables for other California ports, I think, support increases in some of our percentages, and Eric has made adjustments following my recommendation.

    • Restaurant Food Service MB = from 3% to 5%           State Avg = 4.95%
    • Hotel Full-Service MB = from 5% to 9%           State Avg = 9%
    • Motel MB = from 5% to 9%           State Avg = 8%

    I agree that the City should take more control over waterfront development. The Waterfront Master Plan was adopted by the council in 1996 and I am impressed that the vision it presents is still vital and viable today. But, on the other hand, many of the objectives of that plan have been met and I would like to hear from staff how to go about updating the plan using today’s conditions and market opportunities.

    I would like for the City to sit down with the Commercial Fishing Organization and talk at length about the terms and obligations of the Measure D initiative.  I agree that we need to protect our working waterfront and preserve a portion of the TTL for commercial and recreational fishing facilities.  But we need to recognize that the “grandfathered” restaurants that operate within the Measure D boundaries are providing significant funding that helps the whole waterfront survive financially. 

    I think we should see if the fishermen are able to agree to expand the meaning of the Measure D phrase “primarily for the purpose of serving or facilitating licensed commercial fishing activities or noncommercial recreational fishing activities, or is clearly incidental thereto.”

    Wind Farm

    California has world-class offshore wind energy resources proximate to existing transmission capacity and major load centers.  These resources are important to our state and nation’s energy security and renewable energy future.  Offshore wind will enhance grid stability and reliability.

    The Bureau of Ocean energy Management (BOEM) is currently considering several offshore “wind energy areas” (WEAs) in California for potential commercial wind farm leasing.  The success of the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area (WEA) is critically important to the City of Morro Bay and to San Luis Obispo County as we both are in substantial need of local economic development, in particular because of the pending closure of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. 

    I am on the Council Subcommittee working with Castle Wind, Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization and regulatory agencies to develop offshore wind energy generation in federal waters. 

    A unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity exists to utilize the Morro Bay WEA in the most beneficial and least impactful manner feasible because of the following:

    • Favorable offshore wind resources;
    • Existing harbor facilities that can serve as headquarters for the operations, maintenance and training of a wind farm operator;
    • Beneficial reuse of the now-closed Dynegy power plant and related structures in Morro Bay;
    • Direct connectivity to the power grid via a high-voltage PG&E-owned substation with available capacity;
    • A local fleet of fishermen and their boats to provide continuous transportation to and from the wind farm for construction, maintenance and operations.
    Parking Management

    The High Cost of Free Parking

     

    There is no such thing as free parking. Someone always pays – homebuyers, developers, business or property owners.

    It is an economic axiom that if a commodity is available in great quantities and is provided free to the users, it will not be used efficiently. That applies to parking.

    Because people think parking is free, they will often go to great lengths to avoid paying for parking.

    Parking experts apply the 85/15 rule – optimum parking exists when 85% of the spaces are full and 15% are available. Under these circumstances any motorist is likely to find an available parking space in every block on the street or in every row in a parking lot or garage.

    Structured parking in California cost $30,000-$40,000 per space to build. Surface parking costs about half that amount, and multi-stored underground parking can cost twice that amount.

    Traditionally zoning has viewed parking as a parcel-specific problem. If a project generates demand for 68 parking spaces, then all 68 spaces must be built on site.

    As cities move toward district-based planning and zoning, the movement toward mixed-use development and form-based codes makes parcel-specific parking obsolete. Cities are using parking management plans that seek to coordinate parking at the district or neighborhood level.

    The basic idea underlying parking management planning is the park once philosophy.

    Within a walkable neighborhood, people need to park only once and then walk to their destinations. Activities can be located closer to one another because they are not separated by large parking lots. It frees individuals from the need to move their car every time they switch from one activity to another and it vastly reduces the overall cost of providing parking.

    In a parking management plan, the entire business district is considered as a single system.  Pricing and regulatory tools are used to encourage parking behavior that will yield the greatest efficiency – encourage all-day parkers to store their vehicles in garages and free up more convenient on-street parking for short-term parkers, encouraging turnover. It is important that parking spaces be visible to drivers.

    The park once district makes it possible for people to walk between destinations without moving their car and this reduces the overall need for parking.

    The idea of parking management in a park once environment requires a significant shift in thinking on the part of the average motorist.

    Parking management requires motorists to think about their trips more, to be prepared to walk farther to their car, to walk between destinations rather than drive, and sometimes to bear the cost of parking directly rather than indirectly.

    As California becomes a more populous state and the cost of providing parking becomes more expensive, this is an inevitable change.

     

    Notes from The High Cost of Free Parking by Donald Shoup

    1. Charge FMV (Fair Market Value) for curb parking. (85% usage)
      1. Reduces demand, results in fewer drivers competing for scarce spaces. Pricing levels set by distance from most popular destinations. Demand may therefore rise for distant spaces. 
      2. As drivers park farther from their destinations, we have to provide public transport that is frequent, attractive and reasonably priced. (Or free)
      3. Do we set maximum time limits or let the pricing levels meter demand? (Variable pricing by time of day or length of use).
    2. Stop requiring off-street parking for development. 
      1. New/repurposed businesses determine how much of “their” land they will dedicate to parking. If they are short, that will increase demand for curb parking. 
      2. How do businesses prohibit public use of their dedicated parking spaces?  Tow them? Charge for them? (Meters?)
      3. Many small businesses do not have “disposable” land to dedicate to parking and thus rely upon curb parking. Their objection to metered parking may be offset by measures that ensure that pricing levels result in 85% usage.  (Performance pricing)
    3. We have acres of free public city-owned off-street parking. Do we charge for these spaces as if they are curb parking?  
      1. We need to dedicate the parking fee income to public improvement. How do we identify publicly acceptable projects that have an obvious nexus to the fees? (Street/sidewalk maintenance?)
      2. Do we permit and construct liner buildings around the edges of major parking lots to mask the expanses of pavement within?
      3. Assume that visitors to Morro Bay arrive by car. If we reduce the amount of off-street parking throughout the city, where do visitors stash their cars?  We do not want to discourage parking so much that we discourage visitation. 
    4. Parkers will avoid meters by encroaching into free-parking residential neighborhoods.
      1. Establish Residential Parking Permit Districts.
        1. Residents and guests park free by displaying permit badges.
        2. Nonresidents can park on the streets if they pay FMV.
    • City earmarks the revenue to finance added public services in the district – street cleaning, sidewalks, trees, historic preservation, graffiti removal, underground utilities.

     

    PAYING for parking, says George Costanza, a character from “Seinfeld”, a sitcom from the 1990s, is like going to a prostitute: “Why should I pay when, if I apply myself, maybe I can get it for free?”

    Americans still tend to think like Mr. Costanza, in part because free parking is the norm in most places. But in a few crowded cities, and with the help of new technology, people are beginning to think about parking more cleverly. Over time, the result may be to change how America’s traffic-clogged cities work.

    Free parking may sound like an unalloyed good, but the refusal of Americans to pay for—or indeed charge for—parking has created all sorts of bizarre incentives, says Donald Shoup of the University of California. People choose to drive when, if they paid the real cost of parking, they would walk or take a bus. And congestion is made worse. In some cities, Mr. Shoup estimates, as much as a third of traffic consists of people searching for a space to park.

    In Adams Morgan, a bustling part of Washington, DC, the problem is immediately apparent. The streets are clogged and drivers circle, looking for spaces to come up. Residents pay just $35 a year for a street-parking permit, but since demand outstrips spots, finding a space can be fiendishly difficult. Time-strapped commuters often don’t use their cars for fear of being unable to park when they return home.

    In many parts of the country, politicians have long balked at raising the cost of parking, even as inflation has made it cheaper in real terms. In Boston, for example, the charge for parking on the street did not increase from the mid-1980s until 2011 (when it was raised by 25 cents an hour).

    Times, however, are changing. In Washington, parking on the National Mall is soon to be metered, with the revenue partly paying for a bus service. The city is also trying to install meters more widely. In Buffalo, a small, dense-packed city in upstate New York, a new zoning standard proposes to eliminate all minimum parking requirements. In San Francisco and Los Angeles, city governments have experimented with measuring demand for parking and adjusting the cost accordingly.

    San Francisco’s scheme uses sensors to estimate whether spaces are in use or not. Prices now vary according to the time of day and are adjusted upwards or downwards each month to target particular occupancy levels. A study found that this helped to reduce the amount of time drivers spent looking for a spot by 43%. Mobile apps can help drivers find cheap spaces (though, ironically, most drivers will have to pull over before using their phones).

    Convincing people to pay for parking may not be as difficult as it seems. Attempts to regulate parking through complex zone systems, time limits and other rules make life more difficult even for those who can find a precious space. In 2013 the government in Washington, DC issued 1.7m parking-violation tickets, taking some $80m in fines. If it charged for more of its spaces, perhaps it could get by with issuing fewer tickets.

     

    Vacation Rentals

    Short Term Rentals – LCC presentation Oct 2019

     

    These are notes that I took last year at a conference put on by the League of California Cities concerning short term rentals. These are recommendations that I will look at very closely when the proposed ordinance comes to Council.

     

    There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to short term rental regulations.

    STR regulation should be written to address each community’s specific planning objectives:

    • Stem STRs’ negative impact on affordable housing availability
    • Improve permit and tax compliance to increase tax revenue
    • Reduce tension between STR property owners and their neighbors
    • Reduce noise, parking and trash problems
    • Eliminate party houses
    • Reduce STR impact on neighborhood character
    • Ensure building safety
    • Improve responsiveness to neighbor complaints
    • Ensure a level playing field between law-abiding traditional lodging providers and illegal STRs
    • Send a clear message to constituents that their government takes the STR problems seriously

     

    Coastal communities may have to get Coastal Commission approval of their local STR regulations.

    The CCC takes an interest in local STR regulations when they are likely to affect access to the coast.

    The CCC has been somewhat inconsistent in its rulings on STR regulations:

    • In 2017 the CCC found that a total ban on STRs in Laguna Beach violated the CCA.
    • In 2018 the CCC found Del Mar’s moratorium on new STRs and strict limitations (minimum seven-day stays, for no more than 28 days/year) too strict and specifically ruled that the 28-day limit was too restrictive and stated that the city should allow rentals for up to 100 days/year.
    • In 2018 the CCC approved a Santa Cruz ordinance capping the number of certain types of STRs allowed within city limits.
    • In 2018 the CCC approved Pismo Beach’s ordinance that require STR operators to be “primary residents” as where the owner lives for more than 50% of the year (183 days or more per year).

     

    Despite challenges local governments are finding workable ways to mitigate the negative impact of STRs through thoughtful legislation.

    Goal                            Regulation

    Find the STRs          Make it easy to get a permit

                                        Prohibit advertising without a permit

                                        Allow staff to use software and other tools to discover                                                 unlawful STRs

    Quality of Life            Trash and parking facilities

                                        Noise limits

    Goal                            Regulation

    Quality of Life            Outdoor curfew

                                        Require 24/7 Host/Renter contact for STR

                                        Frequency limits (Rentals/year)

                                        Duration limits (Days/rental)

                                        Exterior sign limits

                                        Insurance

    Safety                         Reasonable inspection requirements

                                        Occupancy limits (Day/Night)

    Planning                    Limit number of STRs per area

                                        Dispersal requirements

    Taxes                         Require hosting platform to collect taxes

                                        Direct staff to monitor compliance

    Fair Housing             Require STR to acknowledge it is a Public Accommodation

                                        Prohibit discrimination in STR rentals

    Affordable Housing  Limit STRs to permanent residents

                                        No STRs in Long-term rental housing

    Economic Develop   Encourage STRs in areas underserved by hotels

     

    Putting in place fair and sensible STR regulations is not rocket science

    1. Get the data
    2. Stay ahead of the issue
    3. Focus on the issue and be solution-oriented
    4. Seek consensus and broker compromise
    5. Ensure adequate enforcement
    6. Measure post-ordinance results

     

    Get hosts to voluntarily comply/register

    1. Get the word out through the local press
    2. Publish rules/registration steps on website
    3. Clearly explain why the registration requirements exist so people realize that complying is in their best interest
    4. Conduct a registration workshop to help less tech-savvy hosts comply
    5. Include information about registration requirements on property tax bills
    6. Eliminate multiple points of contact -> ideally everything should be on one application that is processed by one department
    7. Allow permit applicants to register/submit applications and include supporting documentation online and on mobile devices

     

    Make it difficult for illegal operators to ignore you

    1. Send the property’s owner a letter to make them aware that their property has been identified as an illegal STR
    2. Include listing screenshots in letters
    3. Include step-by-step direction on how to get into compliance
    4. Reference the specific ordinances they are violating
    5. List the potential penalties for staying non-compliant

     

    Eliminate quality of life issues by making it easy to intervene if things begin to go sideways

    1. Require hosts to notify their guests of the local noise, trash and parking ordinances
    2. Require hosts to list a 24/7 contact so code enforcement staff have someone to contact in the event of suspected ordinance violations
    3. Make it easy for neighbors to report issues and collect evidence of noise, parking and trash violations:
      • Set up a central 24/7 hotline for neighbors to report non-emergency STR related problems to
      • Allow complainants to easily submit evidence of violations in the form of digital images, video, sound recordings, etc.

     

    Make it easy for hosts to calculate and self-report the correct amount of taxes

    1. Send owners monthly/quarterly email reminders of their tax reporting and remittance obligations
    2. Make it clear to hosts that you are pro-actively working to identify people who under-report taxes and conduct audits where appropriate
    3. Issue steep fines and revoke permits from people who have been caught cheating on their taxes
    4. Deploy big-data technology to identify hosts that fail to report or appear to under-report taxes
    5. Collect taxes using online/mobile forms

     

    Best practices for holding serial offenders accountable

    1. Go straight to citation – no need to first issue a warning to serial offenders
    2. Include clear evidence of violation in citation letter to make it clear that fighting the charges is going to be a waste of time
    3. Fine them for all code violations (not just STR-related ones) i.e., unpermitted food preparation, pools, building additions etc.
    4. Have offenders sign an affidavit that states that they are aware of the rules.
    Parklets

    I’m going to ask the people of Morro bay to take a bold step into the future and embrace parklets.  They need to be properly designed and vetted and they need to be approved by neighboring merchants.

    I like the idea of bringing people downtown and sitting them down in our business districts.  They are a new target audience – people at leisure, looking around, seeing close up what Morro Bay has to offer.

    If we get people out of their cars and onto the sidewalks, they walk past our stores, look into our windows, read our advertising.  They are not whizzing down the street in cars looking at other cars, stop signs, pedestrians, and missing the whole thing.

    When the Amgen Tour came to San Luis Obispo the first time, the finish line was on Monterey Street.  One business, a camera shop, complained that on the day of the race, the sidewalk was crowded with people and his customers couldn’t get to his door.  Guess what, he’s no longer in business.  He couldn’t see what was right in front of him.

    The City of SLO has showed us that parklets can work.  They require a design process that includes public input and merchant approval.  I think we are missing the boat if we don’t explore this exciting opportunity.

    I love this Chinese proverb – when the winds of change blow, some people build walls and some people build windmills.

    Open Space and Growth

    First, I need to disclose that I am a founding member of MBOSA, Morro Bay Open Space Alliance.  I led the committee in 2016 that wrote the bylaws and I have contributed time and money since then to support this worthy organization.

    In 2017, Janne Reddell contacted John Headding to find out if there was any interest from the City to purchase the property known as Cerrito Peak/Eagle Rock, a unique property that community members have long desired to preserve in its natural state. 

    At its meeting of May 23, 2017, City Council approved the purchase of Eagle Rock at Ms. Reddell’s requested price of $350,000, which was less than its market value as determined by a local broker’s informal appraisal.

    As part of that transaction and at the close of escrow, $85,000 of the purchase amount was paid back to the City as reimbursement for legal fees the City incurred during previous permitting actions.

    I asked Council at that time to request MBOSA to raise money to reimburse the City for the purchase price, for two reasons:

    1.  We borrowed the purchase price from the General Fund Emergency Reserve and that money needed to be replaced;

    2.  This was a great opportunity for MBOSA to raise community awareness of its mission and to prove its organizational value to the City.

    Council agreed with me and we set a time limit for the reimbursement so as to lend an air of urgency to the campaign.

    MBOSA and the community exceeded all expectations and raised the money in just three years.  We are now putting final touches to a Memorandum of Understanding that will provide for Eagle Rock to be free and open to the public in perpetuity.

    **

    We are in the process now of acquiring Dog Beach, bringing it under City ownership.  This is part of long-term negotiations taking place among Chevron Corp, Trust for Public Lands, Land Conservancy of SLO County, MBOSA, Cayucos Sanitary District and County Parks.  I have insisted throughout these negotiations that Dog Beach must:

    1. Be annexed into the City, and

    2.  Become City-owned property.

    These actions are under way, with a deed restriction that describes the uses that will be allowed on the property and includes protection of open space, wildlife habitat, water quality, water supply and public access.

    **

    As part of the Dog Beach transaction, the remaining Chevron parcels immediately on both sides of Highway 1 between Cayucos and Morro Bay have gone into public ownership as a buffer zone between the two communities.

    County Parks is thus enabled to continue design for the Morro Bay-Cayucos Connector, a paved bicycle and pedestrian trail from North Point to the south end of Studio Drive.  This is a project that I have supported and advocated for from the time that I was Chair of SLO County Bicycle Advisory Committee and President of the SLO Bike Club.

    **

    Negotiations continue among the principals for additional parcels of the Chevron property north and east of Morro Bay.  Chevron has about 3,300 acres divided into 41 parcels that have been sold, are on the market, or soon will be on the market.

    Part of the negotiation includes five large parcels above Panorama Street with restricted development conditions. This includes potential for a single residential unit on the lower portion of each lot and viewshed protections for the hillside and ridgeline. 

    If City Council agrees to request that these parcels be added to its Sphere of Influence, it would then be up to Chevron to apply to LAFCO for annexation into the City and to meet all of LAFCO’s and the City’s requirements for annexation.

    **

    The next phase of negotiations will involve purchase of adjoining parcels all the way from Toro Creek to Alva Paul Creek.  Imagine a trail along Alva Paul Creek from Del Mar Park to the top of the bluff and all the way back to the east boundary of the parcel.  Imagine hiking and biking trails from the Highway 1 undercrossing of Toro Creek all the way up the hillside back to the oak groves and waterfalls along Alva Paul Creek.

    MBOSA will be very much involved in acquiring funding for this phase along with Trust for Public Lands and the Land Conservancy.  Stay tuned.

    If you agree with me, I would be grateful for your vote on November 3rd!

    Endorsements

    • Red has been a true voice of the community in many ways during his first 4 years on Council. I'm thankful for his leadership, and look forward to another term of solid judgements and future vision.


      Travis Ford

    • Red and I have served on a number of City Council sub-committees together.  I continue to be impressed with how Red approaches policy decisions.  He is thoughtful, reasoned, balanced, and relies on facts and research.  He seeks the best solution that will benefit the majority of our citizens.  I strongly support Red for a second term on the Council.


      Marlys McPherson, Morro Bay Councilmember

    • After serving with Red since 2018 I know for sure he deserves your vote. Red is committed to Morro Bay and listens closely to what our residents want and need. He's a collaborator and has is eye towards the future. Red is just what Morro Bay needs.


      Dawn Addis, Morro Bay Mayor Pro Tem

    • I liked working with Councilmember Davis to help local Coast Guard members during the government shutdown and look forward to working together in the future.

    • I’ve always appreciated Red’s thoughtful and inclusive approach to his job as an elected official, which is inspired by his deep connection to the people of Morro Bay and the county.


      Bruce Gibson, District 2 Supervisor

    Instead of accepting monetary contributions for my campaign,

    I would rather ask for your endorsement. If you want to add your good name to my campaign, select the button below.
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