Isleton Planning Commission Discusses Old Problems, Welcomes New Business

C.A. Giacoma
Staff Writer
April 13, 2016

River News-HeraldAll Board members were present for the April Isleton Planning Commission meeting last week.
At the top of the agenda was the city manager’s report. City Manager, Dan Hinrichs, referring to the “Village On The Delta” housing development at the north end of town, stated that the current contractor is working out well and has made good progress, adding that PG&E will finish hooking up utilities there on the 12th. The developer, KLD, has not been responsive, however, and he will discuss with the attorney how to proceed in regard to the $30,000 bond.

Hinrichs also mentioned that three people filed acceptable applications for the clerical position but all three found other employment before the City got back to them. He announced that City Clerk Yvonne Zepeda, who has always been a part time employee, will now be hired full time because she has worked out so well, saying that her addition to the office staff has been very positive.

Hinrichs mentioned that since he will be retiring in a few months he would like the Board member’s views on what they would like him to prioritize in the time remaining. He re-stated his own two goals: separating the Fire Department from the city to establish its own district and holding a public meeting with financial expert Ken Dieker to address the options available to Isleton given its current financially distressed state. Hinrichs said bankruptcy is not an option. Disincorporation would return services such as animal control, law enforcement by the Sheriff, code enforcement, street repair, etc. asking, “what is the best thing for the citizens?”

Hinrichs recommends that the city keep the sewer separate. There was some discussion by the Commissioners expressing what they would like to see happen. Commissioner Elder requested that there be a substantial clean-up of the town, beginning with “the bamboo,” a reference to an area on the east edge of town where individuals are living in an overgrown area. Hinrichs stated that he had just spoken with the owner of the property who has granted permission to the city to remove the growth and clean the entire area and further, that Larry Gardiner has offered the use of his equipment for this purpose.

Commissioner Garcia addressed disincorporation by saying there is a lot of benefit by doing that because Isleton as a city does not have the funds to provide for the needs of the community. Commissioner Garcia stated that the property owners need to be held accountable for problem areas and should be fined accordingly. Commissioner Chima said that the morale of the city is very low but he believes the May 7th meeting for property owners is important. He stated that this will be the beginning of addressing these issues and that he does not agree with disincorporating the city.

The owner of the properties at 18 and 20 Main St. appeared and spoke of the difficulty of selling these two properties, stating that each time perspective buyers come to see the town they back out, adding that there is an offer to create a residence for veterans transitioning from rehabilitation. The owner/seller also stated that the fees and taxes have always been maintained in good standing and that the building inspector says there are no code violations but that the planning commission disagrees because there are not the requisite number of parking places per unit. Commissioner Garcia noted that off-street parking was a condition of the original Use Permit when it was turned into a bed and breakfast, back in 1985, but that this was never enforced. Chairman Giovannoni reminded the owner that the permit is now expired. Commissioner Chima recommended that a specific use for the property be identified.

Chairman Giovannoni made a general recommendation, based on the fact that Isleton is an older community with older buildings, that there be an outright ban on rooming/boarding houses and extended-stay hotels due to the lack of off-street parking. He also recommended that the zoning be changed from high density to medium density, which will allow for more commercial businesses.

Iva Walton, who is a tile contractor, introduced herself and her wife, D.L., who is a nurse with Kaiser. The Waltons recently moved to Isleton from Oakland, purchasing 35 Main St. where they are planning to open the Mei Wah Beer Room. They plan to have 24 taps of local craft beer in a friendly environment that is reflective of the history of Isleton’s Chinatown District and hope to connect with restaurants and other businesses to encourage and  increase tourism in Isleton. The Commission welcomed them enthusiastically, encouraging them with their project, and offering to help in any way they can. Iva mentioned that she had attempted to contact the building inspector but that he has not responded. Dan Hinrichs assured her that City Clerk Yvonne will see that he responds. The Planning Commission unanimously approved the Mei Wah Beer Room.

The next Planning commission meeting will be held on May 3rd.

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