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Mayor Janney: Property Value Increases Key to City's Future

Rezoning for increased density, business permit applications and tourism focus of long-term goals to close looming budget deficits.

The City of Imperial Beach faces a $350,000 budget gap with the start of the new fiscal year July 1, and possibly a $1.5 million gap in the next two years.

City Council took immediate action on one of its short-term goals to incentivize staff to quit last Wednesday, and talked about the city's long-term vision.

Mayor Jim Janney said Imperial Beach is already a "lean and mean" government and with possible state and federal tax increases, raising local taxes is not an option.

"If some of these employee incentives work, we are going to be at bare bones," he said. "The disparity between our property tax revenue versus our sales tax, property tax revenues is much larger than sales tax. It is property value that drives those numbers."

Janney said the city has to inspire property owners to do more with their land.

He said underutilized places to look are the 13th Street quarter, Palm Avenue, the north bay front and the west side of 7th Street that could hold more density if rezoned.

He said there is no motivation for current and prospective owners to move forward with rehab of old property or construction of new property.

"I think we should look at some of the zoning changes that would fit in the corridors that would not affect single-family residential areas," he said. "We need a real bang for our buck here in these times."

Councilman Ed Spriggs supported Janney and said with the public safety budget being the "guerilla in the room" that the city had difficult decisions to make. He said council really needs to grow a larger local economy and tax base.

He said at a recent economical development presentation the core point was identifying the city's major assets and investing around them.

"Ours is in tourism, specifically manifested around the new hotel," said Spriggs. "Every community needs to decide on where its growth engine is and who its anchor tenants are."

He said along with the Port of San Diego the city has put out millions of dollars into the waterfront area and that is where investment is necessary. Spriggs said not to take a "scatter gun approach," but to be strategic and focus efforts likely to have the best return.

"We know through our ecotourism study that tourism and ecotourism are keys to our growth," Spriggs said. "The tourism environment also improves our quality of life because we can use some of those same amenities in this community. It is a clean industry and something we should all be thinking about more seriously."

Spriggs said he was not looking to rezone Seacoast Drive, but to focus on what is available to work with around the hotel.

"This is not an area that we have had a consensus as a council," he said.

Spriggs said businesses he spoke with would like to see the city streamline permit applications to get their businesses operating.

"That is what is going to drive filling in those lots, but we have to do as much as we can to attract more people coming in," he said. "I think we need to listen to what the businesses are saying."

Councilman Jim King said this is hard now because redevelopment was the city's "basket of tools."

"It is also the question of putting all of your eggs in one basket, and I don't think we should do that either," he said. "We are not on the decline, financially we are, but as far as Imperial Beach being a place to go, people love this place."

Long-term goals was a discussion item only, no actions were taken.

Councilmember Brian Bilbray was absent.

To see all recommendations by city staff, see agenda item 6.3 on the attached agenda.

Earlier in the meeting, council unanimously approved a Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP) to create vacancies, providing flexibility to restructure city staff. VSIP offers a cash payment based on years of service and offered to all fulltime positions with the exception of city managers, finance director and fire safety positions.

Approved employees with 10 years of less receive $7,500, 11-19 years—$12,000 and 20 years plus—$20,000.

The city will pay $501 per month for a year to cover those under the city's health plan, and $240 per month for those not.

Additionally law required the payment of vacation and sick leave where applicable.

Capped at $250,000 these onetime expenditures will be paid with contingency reserves. City staff said it is too early to give a savings estimate until it knows how many participate.

Libi Uremovic April 23, 2012 at 07:21 PM
'...Mayor Jim Janney said Imperial Beach is already a "lean and mean" government ...' You do??? the 1st thing i noticed when i walked into city hall was the 'hours of operation'...7:30am to 5:30 pm... hours of operation are set to reflect the traffic flow...not so the staff can have breakfast on the taxpayers' dime....
Pop Quiz April 23, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Pack the city with condos and apartments starting on the north side! (government code = rezone for higher density) In general, a majority of IB residents do not want their help or ideas ruining this place we call home. It is a home for my family, not an investment. I am not living here waiting out the market. that is carpet bagger talk. As the old saying goes "IB, love it or leave it". When you go please take all the "investors" with you as you go. If you want to see this mayors future vision of IB go try to find parking in PB or OB after a day at work. More is not always better.
Barry April 23, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Hi Libi, what hours of operation do you suggest?
Barry April 23, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Hi Pop, the only issue is that if the City does not survive as an entity, then local control of land use decisions can be totally lost so then you might get a PB or a Spring Valley. So the question to me is: how can the City survive as an entity with the town still keeping its character?
Ms. Ida & Mauli April 24, 2012 at 12:32 AM
empty lots, empty lots ,empty lots. empty and strgugglings businesses galore.... There are lots and failed or past ventures everywhere you look...Lets start at 3rd and palm going west towards the water..... Its a short walk...follow me... left side....big parking lot, empty catering shack, BIG lot with concrete building, rt side next to bike shop , keep walking, two more mystery buildings, then a great big empty building next to a big gravel lot....thats not even on the beach. Walk from the plank to IB blvd, one, two, three, four, yep more, five six, seven. thats just the beach...look around there are empty lots everywhere for this increased density folly without rezoning anything......at least 30 parcels that are ripe for something, they are empty...what about them??
Barry Orell April 24, 2012 at 04:50 AM
If you want to increase revenue and tourism put the train back into imperial beach. Imagine a light rail from the trolley to the beach and the tourist dollars it would bring in every weekend, real money not the hoodlums, with city support dropping dollars. The tracks are already there and the line has not been dug up completely yet. But that is only a matter of time! There is enough room in the right of way for the bike path and a light train track. That would decrease traffic flow and increase people traffic. Better bang for the buck for the city! If the tourism is such a driving factor how come the bike path makes a right up the strand and if you want to get into Imperial Beach waterfront you have to ride on surface streets. How about making the bike path run next to the fence on the backside of cherry ave. and drop those tired cycle riding people on our waterfront instead of up the coast? If you want to improve the community do not increase the already 70% absentee landlords that are only interested in the % return on dollar invested. They do not build a community they build bank accounts and IB does not have a community back here! I am not against progress if managed properly. If you want more bodies on the waterfront, where is the parking going to be? you need a way to get them here, but not have them drive. Look at the mess that palm ave. is already, does IB really have a vote in how it is set up and run?
Libi Uremovic April 24, 2012 at 11:13 AM
i'd have to do a traffic flow analysis - my guess would be monday and friday are the 'busy days' ...... no one expects a government building to be open at 7:30 am or stay open until 5:30 pm in the middle of the week
Shorebird April 24, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Without businesses to support a greater population or welcome visitors the only place left to gouge is packing in more condos..more developer money for city council deals. How many new businesses have opened up in IB in the last five years nd been able to stay? How many have walked away because licensing is fraught with red tape? Mayor Janney can you be specific about the "West side of 7th Street? All I see here is a SeaBird refuge.. Are you gonna work a deal with the U.S> Fishand Game to build on pond 10A? Corruption at it's best.
Lynn Dow April 24, 2012 at 05:34 PM
How about cleaning up the water. Maybe people would like to visit a clean beach.
Ed Sorrels April 24, 2012 at 07:17 PM
LOL, My first thought when I heard this at the city council meeting was,,,,, Wait for it,,,,Has he told the building department about it? They need to make it easier to build not harder, Submitted my plans for a 10'X25' box to the side of my housae and they gave them back I didnt indicate where my bio-filter was ???? among a few othewr thing's Had to go down and find out what the hell a bio-filter was needed for and what it was, sewem's that is what you need to describe where the water from your roof goes, I thought this was a bit much !
Ed Sorrels April 24, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Libi, Don't know if you realize that for at least the bldg, Dept. they need to be in early to work the counter and work with contractors and home owners about filing plan's and such, so they can then get in the field to do their inspections and again in the afternoon late to again staff the counter to work with those building in our city, They do a good job with the recduced stafff they have, I just wish they could do it a bit faster.
Pop Quiz April 24, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Hello Barry, We have a little local control now (if we keep this council on their meds) Lets go with the current density levels and develop the empty lots we have available now. Dropping our density standards to benefit out of town over developers is not an answer i agree with. A good example was/is the 9th and Palm debacle. Our city's plan to over develop that spot with a single parking space per unit. How many cars park at the average home? I have family and friends all over this town and i am not selling out my north side neighbors so this council can waste more money. I base my opinion on previous city bad ideas for over development. PS; the 9th and Palm development may get started in 2 years, or not. How much rent did this city throw away every month tearing down the shopping center 2 1/2 years early? Their understanding of the basics is amazingly short sighted. They want to build up, sell out and move out. We do not share a long term vision. Have a great day, Pop
Kendal Sharp April 25, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Mr Johnson you are spot on.
Tim O'Neal April 25, 2012 at 04:26 AM
Barry, the link below provides an interesting (if not entertaining) look at past discussions regarding bringing a tourist train to Imperial Beach. http://sweet-haven.com/bayshore/
Lenora Porcella April 25, 2012 at 10:14 AM
The mayor could inspire many of us to do more, if he could make the process more user friendly, and faster. He could eliminate a lot of blight if he'd make it easier to build a 2 car garage... <<Janney said the city has to inspire property owners to do more with their land.>> Maybe Mayor Janney doesn't know how tough it is to get a building permit. It's not just local business who wish the city could/would streamline the red-tape. <<He said there is no motivation for current and prospective owners to move forward with rehab of old property or construction of new property.>> In fact, it is just the opposite. The building department is making it tough for people to move forward with rehab and in the end, just encourages nonpermitted work and the proliferation of backyard sheds.
Ken May 05, 2012 at 05:16 AM
Barry, I used to feel the same way. Right now you can go to a city council meeting in the evening with a handful of fellow citizens and make an impact. Under one hypothetical, the City of San Diego taking over, it would be difficult to get this kind of impact. I am a fan of local control. I wish we had our own school district from the beach to the freeway with grade, middle and high-schools all part of that system instead of the monolith Sweetwater Distric and the South Bay District. Coronado's district has been locally controlled for years. What has the biggest school district in CA (Sweetwater) done for us? Look at the other schools in the district, including National City High, and you will see they threw us a old bone when they did a little remodel work at Mar Vista. So in order to keep local control yet regain fiscal viability, I propose the City file for Chapter 9 relief in bankruptcy court as the City of Valleho did several years back. Then we can start saving money by giving city employees a well deserved haircut. Start by rewriting collective bargaining/pension agreements as many of the airlines did during their Chapter 11 reorganizations. You notice no city employees leaving their jobs, and for good reason - the pay and the perks. Why give them a golden-handshake when you can give them a quick, well deserved kick in the bum on their way out the door?
Pop Quiz February 18, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Funny (sad) how more condos is always our councils answer. This thread was last year and yet here we go again with the Bernardo Shores situation. More high density housing in the city. Targeting the north side of Palm. I hope the Coastal Commission shuts it down. You know our city leadership wont. More is not always better.

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