Seb city council preview

The Sebastopol City Council meeting this week has a short but mighty agenda this week, as the council reviews the city’s mid-year budget, receives information about its Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) numbers and holds a public hearing and first reading for its campaign finance disclosure ordinance. The virtual meeting will begin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

Prior to the regular city council meeting, the council will have a separate special meeting beginning at 5:15 p.m. to hold interviews for an alternate position on the city’s Design Review Board.

To view the full agenda and get information on how to watch the meetings, click here.

During its regular meeting, the council will consider the following items under the consent calendar:

●    Approval of the Feb. 2 council meeting minutes

●    Approval of re-designation of the alternate seat for the Climate Action Subcommittee

●    Approval to direct city staff to prepare documentation for an application for a One Bay Area Grant (OBAG); authorize the mayor to sign a letter of interest and resolution for the OBAG application; authorize city staff to submit the application

Budget update

As part of its regular mid-year budget check-in, the council will discuss and consider mid-year budget amendment requests and adopt a resolution amending the Fiscal Year 2020-21 operating budget to reflect anticipated revenue and expenditures.

According to the agenda report for this item, changes to the general fund include an adjustment increasing revenue numbers based on a new forecast since the budget was adopted — the adopted budget reflects a sales tax prediction of $3.18 million, whereas the adjusted budget shows a prediction of $3.76 million. Despite the upward figure adjustment, the agenda states that “revised projections were provided to the city, but the current projection is nowhere near the pre-pandemic sales tax level and the city should continue to take a conservative approach to the budget.”

Looking at housing

The council is scheduled to receive an informational presentation about the city’s RHNA numbers. According to the agenda report, “The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), works through the Housing Methodology Committee (HMC) to distribute a share of the region’s housing need to each city, town and county in the nine-county Bay Area. One methodology must be chosen to allocate all of the Bay Area’s growth to each of the counties and cities, regardless of their vast differences. Each local government must then update their Housing Element to demonstrate that there are sufficient sites for this to be built, and that the necessary policies and strategies to meet the community’s housing needs are in place. Each local government must zone enough of its land to ensure that sufficient housing can be built to accommodate their housing need, based on their RHNA numbers.”

For the next round of RHNA allocations, Sebastopol currently has a draft RHNA allocation of 213. During the 2015-23 RHNA cycle, which the region is currently in, Sebastopol has an allocation of 120.

The next step in the RHNA process, according to the city agenda report, is for ABAG to recommend methodology to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for review. In summer of this year, jurisdictions will have the opportunity to appeal their RHNA numbers and by the end of 2021, HCD will release the final numbers by jurisdiction. Then, the allocations have to be factored into each jurisdiction’s housing element.

Public hearings

The council was originally slated to hold two public hearings, however the continued hearing for the Benedetti Car Wash has been continued to the March 2 council meeting.

The council’s lone public hearing on Tuesday will be to consider waiving the first reading and introduction of an ordinance requiring electronic filing of campaign finance disclosure statements and statements of interests.

The ordinance is being introduced both due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a way to improve city transparency, since it makes campaign filings searchable, legible and consistently presented, according to the background information on the item. Additionally, those filing campaign statements won’t be charged for the electronic filing and campaign disclosure statements will be posted to the city’s website on the same day they’re filed.

“If approved, filers will be provided information/video as to how to file reports electronically (this is similar to the online filing of Form 700 currently being done through the FPPC website for City Filers). Electronic filing would be required upon the effective date of the proposed ordinance. City staff would send out information when the program becomes live and accessible through the city website,” reads the agenda.

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