Council OKs new fire committee member

The City Council unanimously appointed Leisure World resident Donald Horning to represent District Five on the Seal Beach Citizen-Council Fire Services Advisory Committee on Monday, Jan. 22. The council made the appointment at the request of District Five Councilwoman Sandra Massa-Lavitt to fill what a city staff report called an unexpected vacancy. Massa-Lavitt represents Leisure World.

In related news, the city has hired a consultant, Michelle Hernandez, to be project manager for the fire committee. She will be paid up to $3,000. The committee’s next meeting has been scheduled for 5 p.m., Monday, Jan. 29, in the Council Chamber.

The purpose of the committee is to consider Seal Beach’s options for emergency services. The Orange County Fire Authority has the current contract to provide fire and paramedic services. Seal Beach officials have until June 2018 to notify the Fire Authority if they wish to end the contract.

During the public comment segment of the meeting, Old Town resident Joyce Parque asked if the city was getting bids on fire services from other cities.

Horning replaces Warren Hartley, of District Two, who originally was selected to represent Leisure World when no one from District 5 was available to serve on the committee. (District Two includes Leisure World, College Park West and the Shops at Rossmoor, located in Seal Beach.)

Hartley’s resignation arrived at the City Clerk’s Office on Dec. 4.

The other members of the committee are, Joe Kalmick representing District One (Old Town and Surfside), Michael Maronta, representing District Two (College Park West, Rossmoor Center, and Leisure World); Michael Garofano, representing District Three (Bridgeport, the Coves, Heron Pointe, and the Hill); and Thom Thomas, representing District Four (College Park East and Old Ranch Town Center).

In other news:

• The council continued to a future date a decision on an organic (food) waste recycling program that was mandated by the state legislature but not funded by the state legislature. Council members expressed concern about imposing additional costs on local restaurants. The staff report put the estimated increase in commercial trash fees at $16,000. Failure to comply with state mandates could expose the city to penalties of $10,000 a day.

• A Seal Beach resident asked the council to do something about coyotes. “It’s gotten to the point that we can’t have pets any more,” said Mike Verecchia. He proposed the city impose a fine on individuals who feed coyotes. He described a social media account of a woman watching a coyote take her cat. Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos said Long Beach Animal Care Services had the authority to cite individuals feeding wildlife based on the Fish and Game Code. District One Councilwoman Ellery Deaton said the city needed more hours of sevice from the animal control agency.

• The Seal Beach City Council met in closed session this week to discuss continuing labor negotiations with the Seal Beach Police. According to City Attorney Craig Steele, the council took no reportable action on any of the closed session issues.

• The council also discussed the city’s on-going lawsuit against Caltrans over the proposed I-405 expansion. Mayor Michael Varipapa, who works for Caltrans, recused himself from the discussion. In July 2015, Steele said Seal Beach would file a suit challenging the Environmental Impact Report for the project for “failing” to address impacts on local residents.

To make a comment on this story at the Sun Newspapers’ website, go to