Ongoing and upcoming local issues: new hires, promotions and departures

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The Seal Beach Police Department’s newest officers are introduced at the April 8 City Council meeting. Pictured left to right: Officers Cory Montgomery, Bruno Balderrama, Garret Kiehl, Jacob Otto, Victor Ruiz and Jon Ainley. Officers Montgomery, Kiehl and Otto are the department’s newest additions to the force which now has 36 members. Their salaries will be paid for with Measure BB, the 1% sales tax hike voters approved last November, according to Interim Police Chief Joe Miller. Officers Ruiz and Balderrama will be the Community Oriented Policing team stationed at the Jack Haley Substation at the base of the Pier. Officer Ainley will be the detective assigned to Leisure World. According to Sgt. Michael Henderson (not shown), the Leisure World assignment is a new position in the SBPD. Photo by Jeannette Andruss

• Top spot open at Community Development Department: Crystal Landavazo, interim director of the Seal Beach Community Development Department, is no longer with the city. Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos informed the Sun of this development during the weekly meeting between the Sun and city representatives.

During the public comment segment of the Monday, April 8, City Council meeting, resident Seth Eaker acknowledged Landavazo and wished her all the best.

Landavazo is now apparently working for the city of Downey.

As of Monday morning, April 8, Landavazo was still listed on the city’s website as interim director of the Community Development department.

Landavazo had essentially been interim director of Community Development since March 2017. Landavazo was the senior planner at that time In February 2017, Jim Basham, the previous director of Community Development, was placed on paid administrative leave. Basham resigned in May 2017.

The city is currently scheduled to fill the development director’s position by July 1. (Jeannette Andruss contributed to this update.)

This week, Gallegos said that for now he was working with Steve Fowler, listed on the city’s website as assistant senior planner.

• Flag protocol on the pier: A post on social media raised concerns about the proper lighting of the flag at the foot of the pier. Apparently a light went out while the flag was flying at night. Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos confirmed on April 8 that the city is responsible for the pier flag. He said city staff was looking into the lighting issue. He said staff was aware of the flag protocol.

• Pier: Speaking of the pier, Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos said he believed there would be a pier update at the April 22 City Council meeting. He said basically it will be the same as at the last update to the council: the work on the pier is on schedule to be completed by end of May.

• Seal Beach Police hires and promotion: Detective Samantha Matthais has been promoted to corporal, according to Seal Beach Police Sgt. Michael Henderson, the department’s spokesman.

• Police Services Study: No update on the status of the Police Services Study. Sgt. Michael Henderson promised to update the Sun as soon as there was a change in the status of the study.

• Vacancies on city commissions: Rita Hayes recently resigned from the Recreation and Parks Commission, according to a Tuesday, April 2, notice posted by City Clerk Gloria Harper. Hayes represented District Three. Les Cohen recently resigned from the Historic Preservation Committee, according to another notice posted on April 2.

A reader on March 31 asked the Sun to look into the status of 5G technology in Seal Beach. Her questions included: “Have we as a city determined that 5G is truly safe to put throughout our city? Do residents have any option of “opting out”? The Sun emailed a similar question to the assistant city manager on April 1.

• Answers to questions sent to the California Coastal Commission about 15 First St.:

Asked on April 1:

• The Sun asked the commission what they could tell us about the status of the application to establish a restaurant at 15 First Street in Seal Beach. The Sun also asked for clarification of the applicants for a coastal permit.

On April 9, Fernie Sy of the California Coastal Commission replied:

“An exemption application was initially submitted, but was returned in February 2019 since the proposal was not something that could be exempt. We are awaiting for submittal of a coastal development permit application for the development.

“The applicants for the exemption were Rosie Ritchie, Dave Coe and Brian Kyle.”

In a separate email, Sy wrote: “The application is still incomplete.”

• Is the property at 15 First Street property in Seal Beach listed as a retail property or a restaurant?

“Regarding the property located at 15 1st Street, we believe that it may be designated “beach” in the general plan and “public land use/recreational” in the zoning code. You need to contact the City to verify this information.”

• Questions for the city: The Sun recently sent the following questions to Seal Beach city officials. The Sun will provide the answers when we receive them.

Asked on Feb. 18 and March 26:

What is the status of the city’s code enforcement contract?

On Monday, April 8, Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos said he was waiting for responses on getting the answers to the following questions, which the Sun asked on Monday, April 1:

Does staff have an estimate of when 15 First Street will be turned over to the new tenants?

Has the city received complaints about odor coming from the construction at the future Ocean Place site/aka the former DWP property? A resident of the area came into the Sun to ask about it.

(Odors in coastal cities has been an on-going complaint in the region for a few years now. The Sun on April 2 emailed a Shea Homes representative to ask if they have received complaints.)

Has city staff looked at the potential impact of the proposed Los Cerritos restoration project on residents of the Hill and Heron Pointe?

Who is the best contact person with the state government concerning the city’s implementation of the state-mandated organic waste recycling program?

On Monday, April 8, Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos said he was still waiting for responses to these questions.

• City responses to public records requests:

On March 4, the Sun requested “all city manager authorized professional service agreements and/or contracts that are below the threshold for City Council approval that were made in January and/or February 2019.”

On Thursday, March 14, the Seal Beach City Clerk’s Office emailed the following reply to this request: “Thank you for your request for public records. The City of Seal Beach has determined that there are no records responsive to your request.”

During a Monday, March 25, meeting between the Sun and two city officials Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos, confirmed that the response was accurate as far as the city manager’s office was concerned.

Gallegos advised the Sun that city department heads also have authority to authorize professional service agreements up to a certain threshold. The Sun will adjust Public Record Acts accordingly.

On Friday, March 15, a day after notifying the Sun that an extension was required to answer records requests, the city of Seal Beach released the following documents in response to Public Record Act Requests made earlier in the month:

The Seal Beach Police Department’s “Return A—Monthly return of offenses known to the police” for February 2019.

The Seal Beach Police Department’s Monthly “Property Stolen by Classification [type of crime]” report for February 2019.

The Sun has already published those two documents.

The Seal Beach Police Department’s Monthly “Property Stolen by Category [type of propety]” report for February 2019.

Sun freelancer Jeannette Andruss recently made the following requests.

“1) Filed Feb. 14, 2019 — This is asking for documentation regarding the work of Greg Kirste of Municipal Petroleum Analysts. He’s the city’s oil consultant hired in July of 2018 to retrieve oil revenue owed to the City of Seal Beach by oil companies. On March 11, I got a response that read in part ‘The City Clerk’s office has determined that unusual circumstances, as defined in the Public Records Act, make it necessary to extend the applicable time limits for producing responsive public records that are not otherwise exempt from disclosure.’ It went on to say the City would get me something on or before April 10. I received four letters on March 27, 2019.”

“2) Filed March 15, 2019 — I requested the Koff and Associates proposal related to the financial analysis of the Classification and Compensation study. I received two documents from 2017 on March 21, 2019.”

• Public Records Act requests:

The Sun recently filed the following Public Records Act Requests:

• All professional service agreements and/or contracts authorized by the City of Seal Beach Department of Public Works in the month of March 2019.

The Sun made identical requests for PSAs or contracts approved by the departments of Finance, Police, Community Development, Human Resources, and Marine Safety.

• All city manager authorized professional service agreements and/or contracts that are below the threshold for City Council approval that were made in March 2019.

• The Seal Beach Police Department’s “Return A—Monthly return of offenses known to the police” for March 2019.

• The Seal Beach Police Department’s Monthly “Property Stolen by Classification [type of crime]” report for March 2019.

• The Seal Beach Police Department’s Monthly “Property Stolen by Category [type of property]” report for March 2019.

If you have a question about a city issue—or a suggestion for filing a Public Records Act request—email Associate Editor Charles M. Kelly at editor2@sunnews.org.

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