November 10, 2007 Meeting Summary


E-mail reminder.   Susan phoned her contact list.


Susan sent scones.


7 members


Agenda Items:

  • PWP nuisance on Alameda and Avocado
  • Ice Rink status
  • Graffiti problem?
  • City Manager turnover
  • Utility Users Tax ballot measure
  • Abandoned Shopping Cart ordinance
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • Avocado speed humps status
    • street sweeping schedule
    • television signals going digital only

The meeting began about 11:25 am

  • PWP nuisance on Alameda and Avocado
    • Dirt is still being piled up over there even though they said they would stop using the property for that purpose.
    • Trucks are stirring up a lot of dust.
      • Gravel that was put down is worn out.
      • Not seeing water trucks wetting things down anymore
  • Ice Rink status
    • Nothing new since last month.  Has not even been mentioned.
  • Graffiti problem?
    • What are observations of attendees as to the current state of graffiti problems?
    • Attendees not noticing a lot of graffiti right now.
  • City Manager turnover
    • Current City Manager Cynthia Kurtz is leaving post in January.  Police Chief Melekian will temporarily fill the position while the city conducts a nationwide search.
  • Utility Users Tax ballot measure
    • City Council has voted that there is an emergency which necessitates putting a revision to the Utility Users Tax on the February 5 ballot instead of waiting for a later election.
    • Until April when the City Council amended it, the city ordinance for the Utility Users Tax referenced the Federal Excise Tax.
    • An IRS notice would change how the Federal Excise Tax is applied so it would not apply to most telecommunication services.  There are also bills in Congress which would eliminate the Federal Excise Tax, or at least put a moratorium on any new taxes on wireless services.
    • Other cities in a similar situation are facing claims and lawsuits that their utility taxes are now invalid or not applicable to such things as wireless services.  So city staff is concerned Pasadena might lose that tax revenue which amounts to millions of dollars every year. (The portion of the tax on telecommunications amounts to about $10.4 million currently).
    • The revenues go into the general fund, a large portion of which goes toward police and fire services.  Therefore the public campaign for the tax focuses on threats to that funding.
    • The city has already established a reserve fund (almost $7 million) to temporarily make up for such a loss of revenue.  And there is a proposal in Congress that would preserve city utility taxes even if the Federal Excise Tax is repealed or changed.  But the City Council has decided to be proactive and spend $432,000 of that reserve fund on this ballot measure.  One reason for this is a fear that if Congress imposes a moratorium on new wireless taxes, it might not then be possible even through a ballot measure to change the city’s ordinance language to clearly apply to wireless services.
    • City staff insists that the new language just maintains the status quo and is not an expansion of the tax.  But the language is written very broadly and might be interpreted to include internet service itself or just about any data service.  City staff states that is not what is intended and auditing provisions will insure the tax is applied correctly.
    • Our Neighborhood Association has received a letter from the City Manager’s office offering to send a contingent of city staff to one of our meetings to discuss this tax measure.  Are we interested?  Answer by those attending: not really.  We can revisit in December if there is interest.
  • Abandoned Shopping Cart ordinance
    • The City is considering amending the municipal code section regarding abandoned shopping carts to make it much tougher.
    • It would “prohibit any person, company, partnership or corporation from allowing a shopping cart to be abandoned or remain unattended on any private property, city street, alley, sidewalk or other public right-of-way for any period of time.”
    • It would authorize code compliance officers to issue administrative citations for violations.
    • It would authorize city staff to “require retailers to install a physical cart containment system following the issuance of more then ten administrative citations in a thirty day period for shopping carts that have been abandoned off-premises.”
    • First part seems very broad.  Implies a homeowner could be cited if someone dumps a cart on their property and a compliance officer happens by before the homeowner is able to do anything with it.
    • Physical cart containment systems can be a huge nuisance to patrons as well as the retailer.
    • There is a public meeting to discuss the proposed amendment on
      • Thursday November 15, 7 pm.
        Permit Center, 175 N. Garfield Ave.
        For more info, call: (626) 744-6835
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • Avocado speed humps status
      • Still expecting to be installed by end of December.  City was expecting bids by November 1.
    • street sweeping schedule
      • Has the frequency been reduced?  As far as know, still early Wednesday morning every two weeks
    • television signals going digital only
      • heard television stations will stop broadcasting analog and t.v.s will stop working
      • Correct, on February 17, 2009, by decree of the federal govt, all analog broadcast  television transmissions will stop.   So if you get your television via the traditional stations using an antenna, you will have to take action to continue to use your television.  If you use cable or satellite service, it should continue to work.
      • Gov’t gave digital spectrum to replace that used by analog carriers and then auctioned off the much wider analog spectrum that has been dedicated for t.v. to instead be used for a variety of other kinds of communications.
      • Beginning Jan 1, 2008 you are supposed to be able to get two coupons per household, each worth $40 toward a digital to analog converter box.  The boxes are expected to cost in the range of $50 to $70.  The box would plug in to your t.v. where the antenna goes now.  The box would receive the digital broadcast signals and translate that into the old broadcast format.
      • The coupons are only good for 90 days, so don’t request it until the converter boxes are actually available.  But don’t wait too long, because the supply of coupons is limited.
      • Digital broadcast signals should be readily received where we are, but in some areas people who have been able to receive the analog signals may not be able to receive the new digital signals.  They will have to switch to cable or satellite providers.
      • Web site relating to this are:
    • miscellaneous chit-chat
      • about goings on, old times, appliances…

Next meeting is December 8.

Adjourned about 12:20 pm