May 22, 2018
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RP Council votes to extend terms

By: Katherne Minkiewicz
February 16, 2018

The Rohnert Park City Council decided Tuesday evening following a 5-0 vote and public hearing, to lengthen the terms of office for parks and rec commissioners from just two years to four years as well as extending the current terms of office for current commissioners. Another hot topic on this week’s agenda, was the hearing of an update on municipal separate storm sewer systems and Storm Water Permit and Trash, whereupon city council gave direction to have the city continue its water quality work and to come back at a later meeting with an update on their progress.

The need to lengthen terms of office arose after the city council recognized continuity issues with city committees, commissions and boards due to a lack of having synchronized and staggered terms with the commissioner appointee’s term, according to an agenda report prepared by City Clerk JoAnne Buergler. These problems were recognized when former Mayor Jake Mackenzie and former Vice Mayor Pam Stafford formed an ad hoc committee to review the old practices for length of office for parks and rec commissioners.

It was then determined the extended four year terms would then better coincide with the appointing council member’s term of office, something the city council has unanimously supported.

However, “Currently, the five members of the Rohnert Park Park and Recreation Commission have two year terms that do not coincide with the appointing council members’ terms of office,” the agenda report stipulates.

Commissioner Gerald Griffin will now have a two-year extension to his term, which will end in December of 2020 and coincides with appointee Jake Mackenzie, whose term also ends in 2020. Commissioners Chris Borr and Michael Bird would also have two year extensions with terms also ended in 2020. Their extensions will also now coincide with their appointees, Gina Belforte and Joseph Callinan.

The other two commissioners, Linda Canterbury and Bonnie Black’s terms will remain the same since their terms of office already coincide with Mayor Pam Stafford and Council member Amy Ahanotu.

During the public hearing no comments were heard, however council member Gina Belforte said it’s better that we (appointees and commissioners) stay together and praised the committees for working together.

“I just know this was a big project for all the committees and commissions so thank you very much, because it’s super important that we don’t lose everybody all at one time and breaking it up. This was critical,” Belforte said.

An earlier agenda item also focused towards the city’s involvement with the federal Clean Water Act and the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems and to report on its work in collaborating with the Sonoma County Water Agency to keep waterways clean and safe.

Back in 1987 the CWA was amended to prohibit the dumping of pollutants into waterways throughout the U.S. from nonpoint sources unless authorized by a federal permit known as National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). 

According to the agenda report prepared by City Environment Coordinator, Nick Bennett, “Counties, cities and special districts that own or control municipal separate storm sewer systems that may transport pollutants be regulated through a NPDES permits.”

“This is what regulates our storm system… and receiving water to creeks,” Bennett said to simplify the explanation of NPDES.

In January of 2016, Rohnert Park became a co-permittee along with the County of Sonoma Cloverdale, Cotati, Healdsburg, Santa Rosa, Ukiah, Sebastopol, Windsor and the Sonoma County Water Agency for a Phase I MS4 Storm Water Permit, which includes several requirements co-permittees must strictly follow.

Current and future projects the city is working on to comply with these requirements (which are; storm water progressive enforcement of illegal spills and regional collaboration, public information and participation in water for the water treatment program, water quality monitoring and inspection of outfalls and inlets, etc.) include a water quality and bio assessment monitoring and sampling and a jurisdiction-wide pest management program among several other future projects.

Changes to the Trash Amendment include having to follow statewide water quality objectives, which is to, “Prohibit trash greater than 5 mm from entering receiving water.” The city will also have to install and operate and maintain full capture systems for all storm drains.

City Council voiced the desire to have the city provide follow up information on their efforts in water quality enforcement efforts and Mayor Stafford reminded residents of the importance of street sweeping and making sure cars are moved so sweepers can rid the streets of any trash.