From the daily archives: Thursday, January 28, 2010

By Luke Phillips
After a slight hiccup, Holtville’s first annual Music Festival will take place this Saturday at Hot Rods & Beer as part of the Carrot Festival.
Hot Rods & Beer, owned by John Prock, has been operating in Holtville on a Conditional Use Permit since opening last July. Since the permit restricts several of the activities planned for the music festival, the city determined that Mr. Prock would need to obtain a special license from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Department to hold the event, which would also have to be approved by city officials.
The Holtville Planning Commission added an emergency item to their Jan. 19 agenda to consider a one-day exception to Hot Rods & Beer’s Conditional Use Permit, but the exception was unanimously denied due to the fact that the special ABC license and detailed plans for the event had not been submitted.
Mr. Prock submitted the plans and his special license to the city on Monday, Jan. 25, and after city attorney Steve Walker determined that the Holtville City Council was the final authority in the matter, and an item was added to the council agenda to consider an appeal of the planning commission decision.
“I think there was a lack of communication between Mr. Prock, the chamber and the city,” Holtville City Manager Laura Fischer told the council at their Jan. 25 meeting.
Fischer advised the council that Mr Prock had met the conditions of the Conditional Use Permit – he agreed to move live music performances indoors after 9:30 p.m., to install a temporary 6-foot privacy fence around the Hot Rods & Beer parking lot where alcohol will be served, and to restrict access to the area from minors. Parking concerns were also addressed and Mr. Prock stated that Mi Casita restaurant has agreed to provide parking for the event.
“I believe that (fire) chief Silva and (police) chief Erro have had all of their concerns addressed,” Fischer told the council.
The council voted unanimously to approve the appeal of the Planning Commission decision.
“I don’t normally like overturning Planning Commission decisions,” said council member Richard Layton. “But in this case, I do believe if they had all this information in front of them, and they had our fire chief and police chief sign off on it, they would be okay with it.”
Holtville Planning Commission member Jim Predmore was present at the city council meeting and explained the decision to deny the permit.
“With it being somewhat of a city event, we just felt that it was actually putting the city in a predicament as far as sponsoring an event that had not met the conditional use permit,” Predmore told the council. “We didn’t have anything to go by and if nothing was done we don’t know what the outcome would have been. We thought that it (Hot Rods & Beer) wasn’t a real positive atmosphere. So I think that’s what we based our decision on.”

When asked if all of the planning commission’s concerns had been met, Predmore stated “I have one concern. I know that Turning Point has a meeting on Saturday night and the outdoor music during that time with what Turning Point is trying to do, with having people come to the church over there, it’s just maybe a negative influence. But other than that I feel everything else has been met.”
Mr. Prock also addressed the council and apologized for his handling of the event application.
“I just want to take the credit for screwing it up,” Prock said. “You know, I didn’t realize. I though I was dealing with the state body, and the ABC giving me permission. It was an opportunity to bring some enhancement to other businesses in the area and bring commerce to the city. This is the first time I’ve ever done it, and I’ll know how to do it next time. You know, I’m learning, and if you guys will be patient with me, it might help me stay in business. All I’d like is for my town to be behind what we do, not against it.”
The Holtville Music Festival will take place, as scheduled, this Saturday from 2 p.m. until 2 a.m at Hot Rods & Beer, 235 West 5th Street.


By Luke Phillips
The Holtville City Council is asking for more information before deciding on the future of the city’s trash disposal contract.
The city’s 7-year contract with Allied Waste Services expires in April of this year. The city has the option of negotiating a new contract exclusively with Allied Waste Services, or of preparing a Request for Proposals and putting the contract out to bid.
At a meeting Monday, Jan. 25, the council voted 4-1, with council member David Bradshaw dissenting,  to table the matter of Holtville’s trash contract after council member Bianca Padilla said that she would like to have more information before making a decision. Padilla said that she would like to see more information and comparisons on other cities in the Imperial Valley that have switched from Allied Waste Services to the valley’s other two waste service providers – CR&R and Palo Verde Disposal.
“I’d like to get, if we can, some more figures,” Padilla said. “For example, I heard the city of Imperial did negotiate with Allied, and I’d like to get some kind of comparison figures. And maybe some other comparisons, like El Centro, who didn’t go with Allied. That’s what I’d like to see.”
If the council decides to put the contract out for bid, it runs the risk of changing revenue generated by the 12 percent Franchise Tax agreement with Allied Waste. A new contract would mean that the city would have to negotiate new terms for tax revenues.
According to a report to the council from city manager Laura Fischer, each option has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Negotiating exclusively with Allied would mean less staff hours and resources would be required, but putting the contract out to bid would mean a more transparent hauler selection process and more competition.

“We need to act on this fairly quickly,” Fischer told the council.  “Our rates right now are higher than most cities, so there is a lot of room to negotiate.”
Council member Jerry Brittsan urged the council to negotiate exclusively with Allied, outlining many of the advantages he sees in staying with the company.
“A number of things come to mind when thinking about the 7-year option with allied waste,” Brittsan said.  “Currently, Allied provides a number of things. It’s assistance to the chamber during the Carrot Carnival and the rib cook-off, 50 percent of the salary for the recycle coordinator, semi-annual cleanup for the city, bulk item pick-up on a routine basis, and special pick-up as needed. At this time no other company has a landfill site, so free dumping would be eliminated if we went with another company. It also offers free Christmas tree pick up. The funds from Allied include, but are not limited to, $10,000 a year for alley maintenance and a 12 percent franchise fee. There was recently negative public feedback regarding the Sheriff as our police protection here in the city of Holtville, so we have lived with negative opinion before.”
Council member David Bradshaw supported putting the contract out for bid.
“With more than one vendor interested in our city, I think we should explore our options,” Bradshaw said. “It’s not that I have anything against our current trash pick-up service, it’s just that I think we should put it out there on the street and see if we can get a better deal for our taxpayers.”
City manager Laura Fischer will be directing city staff the gather the information requested by the council, and the city’s trash contract will be back on the agenda for action by the council at their next meeting Feb. 8.

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