The Carpinteria City Council unanimously approved the execution of a contract between the city and Van Atta Associates for design services for the Carpinteria Rincon Bluffs Preserve.
The contract will not exceed $30,000 and will be paid for by the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, according to a report presented at the council’s Nov. 9 meeting.
The city first acquired the property in March 2020, after receiving three grants of approximately $947,500, “to maintain it as natural habitat and passive recreation open space with public access,” the report says.
Alison Petro, a consultant for the program and land steward for the Land Trust for Santa Barbara county, spoke at the meeting about her excitement toward the project.
“[I] wanted to express how excited we are to work with the city on the project. And we’re also talking with our donors, and talking with the Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs, to make sure that we can capture the community’s vision to keep the Rincon Bluffs as a wonderful resource and a wonderful outdoor spot,” Petro said.
Covid-19 pandemic expenses
The city provided an update into expenses incurred during the Covid-19 pandemic, which included approximately $500,000 as of Nov. 2, according to a report presented at Carpinteria City Council’s Nov. 9 meeting.
The city is currently waiting on $164,609 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) funding, the report said.
The city also contributed $49,205 to Santa Barbara County to support the county’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
Mike Fullard, who said he owns an office building in Carpinteria, submitted a public comment to the council at its Nov. 9 meeting, asking the council to consider opening the public bathrooms near his office 24/7 to help homeless individuals who recently began living in the parking lot.
“Recently, I’ve had a problem with the homeless using the areas around the building and the parking lot for a bathroom. This is definitely a health hazard and it will eventually reach our storm drains,” Fullard said.
Fullard suggested that the council open the restroom in the southeast corner of the parking lot 24/7. Currently, he said those restrooms are closed in the evening and remain closed through the night.
“Many cities across the country are installing portable restrooms in the areas where homeless congregate to reduce the health hazard. I ask that you open the public restroom 24 hours a day to help reduce the health hazard in Carpinteria,” he said.
Mayor Wade Nomura stated that while he does think “it is an issue,” he has a conflict of interest; he said he maintains the property that Fullard is describing.
City Manager Dave Durflinger said that the city is aware of the issues surrounding that particular parking lot. He said that the Carpinteria Sheriff’s Department had recently spoken to a group that was sleeping in their vehicles at that lot and that the group later left, saying that “it’s possible that some of that issue was related to that particular situation.”
“I’d like to monitor it and look into those situations before we can make a change and look into leaving the bathrooms open at night or adding porta potties,” he said.
City Council meeting accessibility
The City Council will still be moving forward with its plans to have a monitor available in City Hall for community members who would like to speak during city council meetings, beginning Nov. 23.
Carpinteria Program Manager Mimi Audelo, demonstrated how it would work, standing in the council room with the set-up monitor.
“For those who do not have a computer, or cannot access Zoom, you’ll be able to make comments in person here at city hall,” Audelo said.
“This is still going to be a virtual meeting. None of the councilors or presenters will be in the council room because we’re still in a pandemic and must follow Covid-19 protocols. There will be specific instructions for in-person commenting and instructions will be posted on the webpage as well as in the waiting area here at City Hall.”
When community members arrive at City Hall to speak, there will be a waiting area outside of City Hall council chambers. Anyone who wishes to speak will add their names to a provided list and then will be escorted to the council chambers to speak via Zoom using an account labeled “Public Comment” when it is their turn to speak.
The public must enter through the north door of the room and leave through the south door, Audelo said. There will only be one speaker at a time allowed in the council chambers.