The Rohnert Park City Council met on Election Day, November 8. It was the second Tuesday of the month and election day is usually the first Tuesday of the month, except when it falls on the first day of November. So, this year, both the city council meeting and election day occurred on the same day. It was a short 90-minute meeting, lightly attended with only a few items on the agenda.

The only action item requiring a council vote pertained to updating building and construction codes. This item required a public hearing. The staff report was presented by Development Services Director Mary Grace Pawson and Fire Marshal Jim Thompson. California Building Standards Code generally are updated, amended, and republished every three years. This was done in 2022 and goes into effect on January 1, 2023. Many of the 2022 standards will continue the State’s efforts to facilitate “electrification” as part of its effort to reduce greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. Those standards go into effect no matter what the city council does.

However, as a local jurisdiction, the city does have the “authority to implement and enforce the Standards.” But they are also allowed to “adopt local amendments to the 2022 Standards” but must do so by January 1, 2023. That was the heart of the presentation tonight. The staff recommended, and the council agreed on a vote of 5-0, that the local amendments adopted previously in 2019 pertaining to various codes from building, to electrical, to mechanical, and to plumbing for example, be re-adopted for 2022 Standards. There was one significant change, however.

The current local amendments “include a provision that allows production home builders with approved master home plans” to carry those plans across a building cycle meaning they could continue building using 2019 codes and not have to re-design the homes to “conform to the new code.” The staff recommended that local amendment not be re-adopted. The reason was it would miss an opportunity to encourage electrification of new homes “which is inconsistent with city’s policy.” Pawson said this would impact three current builders and the city is working with those builders now.

Another action taken pertained to equipping Department of Public Safety marked and unmarked cars with a GPS system to allow real time tracking of all vehicles in use by the department. This was a recommendation made by the Sonoma County Civil Grand Jury report of June 2022. Chief Tim Mattos was asked to analyze and report back to the council on the feasibility and cost of this recommendation. Several GPS vendors were evaluated using requirements for a secure platform, usable on multiple cellular networks, with five second updates, etcetera. One Step GPS was recommended as the vendor to choose at a cost of $11,500 for year one (install cost included) and $10,000 thereafter. The council was surprised at the low cost. They told Mattos to proceed. City Manager Darrin Jenkins stated money was available in this year’s contingency budget to fund the year one cost.

In other council news, Director of Community Services Cindy Bagley provided some updates. The fun one was a report with video and photos of the Halloween Carnival with Dia de los Muertos Celebration and the Performing Arts Center’s “Haunt” event. The Haunt brought in $2,000 in revenue and feedback was positive with many wishing for an even longer and scarier event next year. The Halloween Carnival was also well attended with estimated 3 to 4 thousand participants throughout the day. The Cotati Rohnert Park Unified School District also earned approximately $4,000 during their fundraiser to support Outdoor Education efforts for all fifth graders in the district. On the downside, the funding of the Sister Cities Relation Committee Student Exchange Program was put on hold for this year. The funding from the city is not forthcoming and was unable to be raised from private sources. 

Finally, Mayor Jackie Elward presented a Certificate of Recognition to Swinerton Builders for their dedication and hard work in completing construction of the 60-unit interim housing project called Labath Landing. Naomi Fuchs, a Special Projects Consultant to Santa Rosa Community Health and former Chief Executive Officer made a presentation on an All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) Center coming to Rohnert Park at 5789 State Farm Drive sometime in the summer of 2023.

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