Council moves to continue remote meetings, adopts workshop goals

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The Winters City Council met on Tuesday, Oct. 5 with a full agenda and held a two-hour-plus meeting.

Remote meetings to continue
The first discussion item concerned the expiration of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order waiving certain provisions of the Brown Act and allowing for the council and public meetings to meet remotely during the pandemic.

The question presented to the council was whether to proceed with remote or in-person meetings. If choosing to continue with remote meetings during the state of emergency, council must make findings every 30 days that they: 1. Have reconsidered the circumstances of the state of emergency, and 2. Either the state of emergency continues to directly impact the ability of the public to meet safely in person or state or local officials continue to impose or recommend measures to promote social distancing.

Council and members of the public weighed in and the consensus welcomed the continuance of remote meetings and of specifically moving toward hybrid meetings (holding live meetings with a remote attendance option).

It was noted that community participation at council meetings is up since they began meeting remotely. The hybrid version was tested by the city last summer and has some audio fixes before it can be fully implemented.

Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2021-65 by opting to continue meeting remotely while working out the bugs to introduce a hybrid platform, possibly as soon as November. The resolution applies to all commissions and public meetings.

Goals and priorities
Last July, council members and senior management met over the course of two mornings for a council goal setting workshop. The purpose of the workshop was to develop council goals and the outcome revealed five goal focus areas; 1. Fiscal stability, 2. Community development and placemaking, 3. Community engagement and transparency, 4. Economic development, and 5. Organizations/operation excellence. A sixth focus area was suggested of Environmental Sustainability that received the council’s support.

City Manager Kathleen Salguera Trepa presented the council with a three-tiered goal priority chart intended to act as a roadmap to leverage resources to address the projects. Two projects have been added since the workshops: 1. Bike paths and trails, and 2. ADA transmission plans.

Councilmembers questioned why certain projects, such as broadband, were not in the first priority tier. Trepa explained that she has reached out to Yolo County, which is working with Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) on a countywide broadband project.

Trepa said the county intends to participate in the RCRC program, making the City of Winters eligible to participate. The project, she said, is quite large and will require collaboration and specialized knowledge beyond just that of the City of Winters.

Council unanimously adopted the priority goals and tier ranking system as presented.

Economic development recommendations
In June 2019 and after five months of meeting, the since disbanded Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) submitted to council their final report evaluating and making recommendations for furthering economic development in Winters. The EDAC report identified strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

The EDAC report was brought before the council again at the Oct. 5 meeting to ratify and cause it to serve as a guide for economic development activities. Shortage of commercial zoning, rezoning along Road 89 to encourage industrial business, risks of losing the small-town feel, lack of overall strategy attracting business, shortage of office space, parking and downtown revitalization were focus items covered in the 2019 report.

Trepa advised that some of those recommended strategies have been worked on since the report was first presented and others, she said, should remain on hold.

Council discussed and then unanimously adopted the report with direction to staff to update it as necessary. The March 20, 2019, nine-page report can be found in the Oct. 5 council packet on the City’s website.

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