water

Cal Water has dropped watering restrictions for its customers, but it won’t immediately take effect in Bakersfield. sprinkler designed to spray in a circular area is installed on the edge of a lawn on A Street in Bakersfield and sprays into the street and other paved areas.

Henry A. Barrios / The Californian/

Be prepared for a long City Council meeting Wednesday, City Manager Alan Tandy said in his Friday memo.

What's "long?"

In addition to deciding the future of the Property Assessed Clean Energy program, the council will tackle the issues of raising city water rates; lifting the three-day-a-week watering rule; plans to renovate the East Hills Mall; and a resolution on housing and urban development funds that would be eliminated under President Donald Trump's proposed budget.

Here's what is on the City Council's agenda for its 5:15 p.m. meeting in Council Chambers at 1501 Truxtun Ave. The following are listed in the order they appear on the agenda.

Send a notice to city water customers about increasing their rates by 41 percent over the next two years

Because of incoming state regulations, the city will spend an estimated $55 million in construction costs to remove the cancer-causing compound 1,2,3-trichloropropane, or TCP, from drinking water. City staff said there will be increased costs in maintaining the new filtration systems and the city will have to borrow money to fund the project.

To pay for these new costs, city staff have proposed a three-phase increase in city water rates. If the council approves the increases after hearing public comments on Sept. 6, rates will rise by 16 percent on Oct. 1.

On July 1, 2018, water rates would increase another 13 percent and 7.6 percent the year after. This would increase the typical city water customer's bill from $36.20 to $50.89 per month.

Repeal the ban on watering outside more than three days a week

The measure eliminating the even-odd watering days is up for its last vote by the City Council. If approved, water customers throughout the city would be able to water every day starting next month.

The city will continue to promote water conservation as a way of life, city water resources staff have said, but the ban on wasteful watering practices such as watering sidewalks or using a hose without a spray nozzle will remain. The advisory to avoid watering between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. would also stay in place.

Vote on the modified resolution on HUD grants

The proposed City Council resolution on HUD grants that would be eliminated under Trump’s budget is back on the agenda with new language.

While the tone has been changed from opposing Trump's budget eliminating the Community Development Block Grants and Home Investment Partnerships, it still names the consequences of eliminating those programs.

It says eliminating CDBG and HOME programs would remove $4.3 million annually from the city budget and negatively impact more than 177,800 Bakersfield residents.

Ward 7 Councilman Chris Parlier had proposed the resolution and pulled it from the council agenda last month in order to "work more on the language."

Parlier had said the declaration's new language would “show importance of CDBG without necessarily being polarizing in the language.”

CDBG funds are typically used by the city for curb, gutter and sidewalk improvements, but Bakersfield has also used the money for adding police officers. HOME money goes to fund homeless support programs and the city’s senior center.

Holding a public hearing on East Hills Mall owners' request to change its zoning

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the East Hills Mall because an advocacy group for the California Environmental Quality Act filed an appeal saying the city did not do enough in its review of impacts to the environment.

The owners of the shuttered mall off Highway 178 requested a zoning change earlier this year in hopes of minimizing city input to speed up renovation plans. The city and owners have since agreed to streamline the city approval process instead and have new plans be approved by only the Planning Commission. A vote by the City Council is the final step to approve this zoning change.

However, the owners hit a bump when Protect CEQA filed an appeal.

Protect CEQA's stated goal is to ensure CEQA is applied equally across the state. The statewide group is represented by attorney Andrew Grundman, who's been optimistic about the two parties coming to an agreement without involving the city.

"It looks very promising," Grundman said.

He said they are working on language right now and he feels the owners understand Protect CEQA's concerns on changing the mall from indoors to outdoors and having a 30-year-old environmental impact report and "outdated" regional traffic study.

However, if a deal between the CEQA advocacy group and the mall owners is not reached by both parties Wednesday, Grundman said he plans to present or submit comments to the City Council about the group's concerns.

Wednesday's meeting will also be the start of council votes on "Resolutions of Necessity," which are the first step in condemnation, for Centennial Corridor and 24th Street widening projects.

"There will be several such actions at the July and August meetings. Most items will not likely generate speakers, but some will," Tandy wrote in his memo.

Dorothy Mills-Gregg can be reached at (661) 395-7368. Follow her on Twitter via @TBCCityBeat.

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