It will be a busy night for the Healdsburg City Council as they take on several major topics at their next meeting on Monday, May 17 at 6 p.m.
Big agenda items include the consideration to adopt a resolution that would approve a land lease agreement between the city of Healdsburg and GTE Mobilnet of California Verizon Wireless for the construction and operation of a controversial, 76-foot wireless telecommunications tower and facility at 931 South Fitch Mountain Road, a presentation on the city’s updated emergency operations plan and consideration of approving a city flag policy.
The meeting will be held via Zoom and residents can watch it here.
Announcements and presentations
To kick off the meeting the city council will read a proclamation in honor of Healdsburg Police Chief Kevin Burke, who’s set to retire at the end of this month after years of service with the city.
The Healdsburg Community Services Department will also provide an update on the park master planning and Russian River access planning community engagement project.
City Manager Jeff Kay will provide an update on COVID-19 and vaccination efforts and will discuss the current drought conditions and water supply.
There are no public hearings set for Monday’s meeting.
The city council will consider adopting a citywide flag policy, which would mandate which certain flags are flown when and when flags are flown at half-staff.
In 2020, Vice Mayor Ozzy Jimenez asked if the city could look at the possibility of creating a flag policy. The proposed flag policy that’s now coming before the council includes guidelines for when flags will be flown at half-staff and a list of approved flags that can be flown.
“On all official, city owned flagpoles, the city will regularly fly the flags of the United States and California. The city will fly a city flag in the event one is created. The city will fly the above flags at half-staff upon the death of:
● A city councilmember, past or present;
● Current city employee
● A city retiree having served the city for 25 or more years;
● A person not holding or having held elected public office, whose accomplishments and contributions to the community demonstrated a significant commitment to the Healdsburg community, as determined by the city manager and the mayor.
Flags at half-staff shall be flown as soon as practicable following notification of the death, and usually for 48 hours,” the proposed policy states.
Anyone who wants to display a non-governmental flag that’s not on the approved flags list — which will be determined with the help of the council — will have to submit a request to the city manager’s office 60 days in advance. The request would have to include a photo of the flag, dimensions and the requested dates for the flag to be flown.
The city council will then determine if the request will be approved or denied.
The approved flags list will include the Progress Pride flag and the Prisoner of War (POW) flag.
The council will also consider adopting a resolution that would approve a land lease agreement between the city and GTE Mobilnet of California Verizon Wireless for the construction and operation of a 4G LTE wireless telecommunications cell tower and facility at 931 South Fitch Mountain Road.
The item includes a grant easement and Memorandum of Grant Easement between the city, Verizon and Tayman Park Golf Group Inc. for the lot, which is adjacent to the Tayman Park and golf club.
The tower would be designed to look like a broadleaf tree in order to blend in with the surrounding foliage.
During a December 2020 Healdsburg Planning Commission review of the project, commissioners thought the design looked good, there was concern as to whether or not Verizon could choose to increase the height of the tower by 20-feet or if the height could be increased if another carrier decided to add their equipment to the facility.
After receiving several public comments from concerned residents and a struggle to get a concrete answer on the city and planning commission’s authority on height limits for the proposed tower, the planning commission decided to push the topic to a future meeting in order to further investigate the questions and concerns before making a decision on the project.
The item is now being presented to the city council and included in the council agenda packet is a Healdsburg citizen petition opposing the project.
The petition effort was initiated by Greens Drive resident Camille Jones, who lives near the proposed project site and went door to door to 50 neighboring residents to garner feedback on the site. According to Jones, 50 households said “No thank you” to the planned tower.
The petition, which was submitted through the city clerk’s office, has 42 signatures.
“We believe for safety reasons that this tower should not be located within 300 feet of residential homes and 1,000 feet of a school playground. We believe that if it does end up being located in the proposed site, it would become an unattractive public nuisance and would ask that the maximum height of the tower be limited to 20 feet (because the tower would be visible from the street at 40 feet, but FCC allows an increase in tower height by 20 feet without city approval). 20 feet is actually the height where the tower would be visible from the second floor of the closest house on Greens Drive,” the petition states.
At the December planning commission review of the project, city attorney Samantha Zutler said, “My understanding is that they are applying to go up to 76-feet, which Commissioner Lux is correct, that’s what this permit would authorize. I think that by law they are able to go up higher than 76-feet, but they would not be able to with this particular tower.”
In addition, the petition states that there should be a moratorium on any new cell towers in Healdsburg on public property, “Until Healdsburg has an independent report on cellular alternatives and tower coverage and has developed a needed update to cellular plans.”
To view the entire petition and the opposition report submitted by Jones, visit: http://healdsburgca.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=1&ID=2073&Inline=True.
Updated emergency operations plan
Also on the agenda is a newly updated emergency operations plan (EOP).
The EOP is a policy document that describes the city’s approach to prepare for, mitigate, respond and recover to threats and hazards, such as natural disasters, that might affect the city.
According to the agenda item report, “The EOP draws upon lessons learned, best practices, Cal OES and FEMA guidance, and California Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) and National Incident Management System (NIMS) standards. The EOP also builds upon other supporting documents, such as the Local Hazard Mitigation Plan, that had extensive community outreach during its development and adoption.”
Healdsburg’s EOP was adopted in 2013, but the EOP must be periodically updated in order to reflect current information and practices.
Hazards identified in the EOP include communicable disease outbreak (which will be added in this latest edition), drought, earthquake, flood, landslide, public safety power shut off (which will be added in this latest edition) and wildfire.
The program administration section of the EOP, “adopts a whole community approach” to emergency response and preparation. This concept sets engagement with all segments of our diverse community as an integral part of our policy and a top priority for the city.
With this updated EOP, the position of “cultural liaison officer” will be added to the emergency operations center (EOC) staff list.
As part of the EOC staff, this position will have direct access to the EOC director and will have the responsibility to ensure that the city fulfills its obligation and commitment to consider the needs of the entire community at every stage of the EOC decision and planning process, according to the agenda item report.
If approved by council, the new version of the EOP will be put in place.
How to submit public comment
To submit a public comment, click the “hand” icon at the bottom of the Zoom screen and wait for your name to be called.
To view the agenda packet, click here.