CALL TO ORDER
Chair Russell called the meeting to order at 6:35 p.m.
Chair Russell led the flag salute.
Present: Shawna Adam, Sueling Chen, Kathleen Dasney, Craig Russell, Kathleen Shanfield, Nancy Spencer and Scott Stanford
Staff: Parks and Recreation Director Joe Felz, Parks and Recreation Managers Hugo Curiel, Grace Carroll Lowe, Alice Loya, and Judy Peterson; Recreation Supervisor Aaron Orozco, Senior Parks and Recreation Specialists Candice Moreno and Rayda Simmons, Customer Service Representative Carol Whitaker, Landscape Superintendent Dennis Quinlivan, Building and Facilities Superintendent Lyman Otley, Engineering Director Don Hoppe
Golden Hill Little League President Curt Blodgett thanked the Department for its support, saying Golden Hill went to the Southern Section Finals for Southern California, which was the farthest they had advanced in their 50-year history. He recognized Recreation Manager Grace Carroll, Recreation Supervisor John Clements, Customer Service Representative/Field Coordinator Carol Whitaker, and Specialist Daniel Clark, noting that communications and field support had improved, making their fields and operations run much more smoothly. In other comments, he invited the commissioners to Golden Hill Little League’s 50th Anniversary celebration, said that the league’s Unocal fields are semi-private, and although Golden Hill is responsible for the upkeep, they were willing to share those fields. He also expressed support for all Parks and Recreation initiatives including non-smoking ordinances.
Chair Russell said the Commission got the list of league Opening Days last year, and assumed they would get them again; Manager Carroll Lowe assured him they would. Chair Russell encouraged the commissioners to ensure that they have representation at each league’s Opening Day. He said he was late to Golden Hill’s ceremony last year due to his other league visits, but said he would go to Golden Hill’s this year. He remarked that their fields were very visible and always nicely maintained. Mr. Blodgett thanked Chair Russell, said they do take a lot of pride in the fields, and asked that the commissioners be sure to identify themselves at Opening Day so they could be recognized.
CONSENT ITEMS (Items 1 - 3)
Chair Russell requested a motion to approve the Consent Calendar items. Commissioner Spencer MADE A MOTION and Vice Chair Dasney SECONDED the motion to approve the Consent Calendar items.
AYES: Adam, Chen, Dasney, Russell, Shanfield, Spencer, Stanford
The MOTION PASSED unanimously.
1. MINUTES OF THE DECEMBER 10, 2007 COMMISSION MEETING
Recommendation to approve the Minutes of the December 10, 2007 Commission Meeting.
2. LANDSCAPE DIVISION MONTHLY REPORT FOR DECEMBER 2007
Recommendation to receive and file the Landscape Division December 2007 Monthly Report.
Commissioner Spencer asked Landscape Superintendent Dennis Quinlivan to speak on the portion of his report describing the succulent and cactus planter at the Police Department. Vice Chair Dasney suggested he also report on the recent high winds.
Superintendent Quinlivan said Maintenance will extend a planter area and reduce some turf, perhaps remove some trees that don’t fit into the scheme and are rather messy, making the stairs a little slippery when it rains. He said he would consult with Penelope Hlavac and Commissioner Spencer on this project.
Regarding the high winds, Superintendent Quinlivan said Maintenance had few problems with the winds because the trees had been trimmed in time. Vice Chair Dasney asked about the roses planted, and if they are low maintenance. Commissioner Spencer answered that the roses are very low maintenance and bloom most of the year.
Vice Chair Dasney asked about the maintenance plan for Pooch Park, and Superintendent Quinlivan said Maintenance will have six weeks to do turf maintenance. He said they will add more Bermuda seed for toughness and more perennial rye to add greenness. Director Felz added that the small dog park would be in operation during this maintenance closure.
Vice Chair Dasney asked about the approximately 12 to 15 transients near the Hunt Branch Library restrooms, and whether the maintenance crews report them to the Police Department. Superintendent Quinlivan said the police are called only if there’s harassment or vandalism. Vice Chair Dasney expressed concern that the transients impeded the public’s use of the park and restrooms.
Director Felz said the City has to wait until the transients “cross the line,” and that the problem is worse due to the Armory nearby that houses transients in the evening. Building and Facilities Superintendent Lyman Otley said he has suggested to the new librarian that she contact the police officers, and then call Captain Mayes if she’s not satisfied with the response. Director Felz said the most significant action taken was when a transient group took over the restroom. He said that activity has been stopped although the transients can still be intimidating. Vice Chair Dasney said the other departments’ support was needed to address this problem.
Commissioner Spencer asked Superintendent Quinlivan if Maintenance is going out to bid on tree trimming, and he said not for another year. When she asked how many tree trimming companies bid, he replied about four.
Commissioner Spencer reported that her son went on the Juanita Cooke Trail for a walk, and almost got hit by a mountain biker going about 30 miles per hour. She asked if anything was being done, and Director Felz said staff is trying to identify the areas of conflict and to work with the bikers to reduce these. After reviewing the Nora Kuttner Trail, he said staff will try to address some of the other problem areas, too. Director Felz also noted that, given there are 30 miles of trails in Fullerton, there haven’t been too many problems.
Vice Chair Dasney thanked Superintendent Quinlivan for his report on the no-smoking signs being installed.
3. BUILDING AND FACILITIES DIVISION MONTHLY REPORT FOR DECEMBER 2007
Recommendation to receive and file the Building and Facilities Division December 2007 Monthly Report.
Vice Chair Dasney asked Superintendent Otley about the portion of his report on the Independence Park gym, and was told there would be improvements including a flooring re-do, new carpeting, paint, new locks, and new ceiling tiles.
REGULAR BUSINESS (Items 4 - 10)
4. ELECTION OF PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION OFFICERS
Chair Russell described the process of electing officers for the Parks and Recreation Commission, and then opened the floor to nominations for Parks and Recreation Commission Chair for 2008. Vice Chair Dasney nominated Craig Russell. Commissioner Shanfield nominated Vice Chair Dasney. As there were no other nominations for Commission Chair, the nominations were then closed.
The vote for Parks and Recreation Commission Chair for 2008 was called for and resulted in the following:
Chair Russell: Adam, Chen, Stanford, Dasney, Russell
Vice Chair Dasney: Shanfield, Spencer
Chair Russell was re-elected Parks and Recreation Commission Chair for 2008 on a 5 – 2 vote.
Chair Russell then called for nominations for Vice Chair for the Parks and Recreation Commission for 2008. Vice Chair Dasney nominated herself. As there were no other nominations, it was then closed.
The vote for Parks and Recreation Commission Vice-Chair for 2008 was called for and resulted in the following:
Vice Chair Dasney: Adam, Chen, Stanford, Dasney, Russell Shanfield, Spencer, Stanford
Vice-Chair Dasney was re-elected Parks and Recreation Commission Vice-Chair for 2008 on an unanimous vote.
On behalf of the Parks and Recreation Department, Vice-Chair Dasney presented a plaque to Chair Russell in appreciation for his service as Commission Chair for 2006 through 2007.
5. AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM PRESENTATION
Director Felz introduced Family and Senior Services Division Manager Judy Peterson who, in turn, introduced her staff: Recreation Supervisor Aaron Orozco and Senior Parks and Recreation Specialists Candice Moreno and Rayda Simmons. Manager Peterson noted that the independent audit of all after school programs in the Fullerton School District rated the Parks and Recreation program as Number One. She reported that 175 students attend their after school program at Orangethorpe and 84 are at Maple Center, and that her staff act as great role models for the students.
Supervisor Orozco provided a verbal overview of the programs, including the Lights on After School Program which was started in 2007 and put together by the After School Alliance. He also acknowledged Recreation Specialist Moreno’s work on the video which was shown to the Commission.
Vice-Chair Dasney asked questions about the after school programs at various schools, and Supervisor Orozco said the School District’s after school program is divided between the City of Fullerton, Boys and Girls Club, and the School District, which operates Pacific Drive, Raymond, Richman and Woodcrest. Commissioner Spencer asked if only the City operates the Orangethorpe after school program, and was told “yes.”
Commissioner Adam asked about the free Summer Program, and was told Chapman School has 60 – 75 attendees, and that the Summer Programs at Maple, Gilbert, and Orangethorpe all have about 100 attendees each in their Summer Programs. He also mentioned the Hillcrest Summer Day Camp which has an average daily attendance of 30 kids whose families pay. Commissioner Adam said her kids benefited from Hillcrest when it was free.
Vice-Chair Dasney asked if a student signs up, if there’s a commitment to be there, and was told that the staff is responsible for the children signed up, so everyone is checked in with an attendance sheet provided from school. If a child is absent, the staff will call home unless they hear from the parents that he or she is excused.
Commissioner Stanford asked what the difference was between the three entities providing after school services. Supervisor Orozco said all the programs offer the same services, but the School District is the lead agency, and subcontracts to the two other groups including the City. Commissioner Stanford asked if there were any plan for Parks and Recreation to expand since they scored higher, and Supervisor Orozco said that was one reason Parks and Recreation was awarded the new program at Maple Community Center, and that the School District is very supportive and aware of the City’s performance. Commissioner Spencer said she’d seen the District’s program, and they were also good.
Commissioner Shanfield commended the staff on the presentation, asked about student to staff ratio, and was told it could be up to 20:1, but that the ratio for younger children was probably 12:1. When asked about the background and qualifications for the staff, Supervisor Orozco said they were college students, with the job position based on their qualifications with additional training given upon hiring. He noted that his staff usually wants to be teachers, and at least five have gone on to become teachers.
Chair Russell asked if the after school program was completely funded by grants, and was told “yes.” He then asked, if the City should have more or fewer programs like these, and Manager Peterson said the School District would like to give them more programs, but can’t due to political reasons. Chair Russell asked if there would be no impact on Fullerton taxpayers or to the budget, and Manager Peterson said that was true, and that, in fact, the program pays for some City overhead costs, too. Chair Russell said he hoped that others would know that it is the City that is responsible for their after school programs
Commissioner Stanford asked about the grant funding, and how the students qualify for the program. Supervisor Orozco said the program is free for any child attending that school, and that there’s an open registration; however, only schools that qualify as Title I schools are eligible for the funding. He agreed with Commissioner Stanford that only a percentage of students can attend because space is an issue, so that there’s a waiting list. Commissioner Stanford asked about matching siblings, and was told that families are registered as a whole. Chair Russell asked about the program hours, and was told it was from after school until 6:00 p.m. daily.
Chair Russell asked about kids who have sports, and Supervisor Orozco said there is flexibility so students can attend 3 of 5 days, and that although there are grant requirements for attendance, youth sports is almost never a problem.
Commissioner Chen expressed appreciation for the video, the music and photos of the children. She asked about the space, whether classrooms or portables are used, and Supervisor Orozco said at Orangethorpe School they use a combination of spaces. At Maple School, the multi-purpose room at the school can be used, but staff is mostly using the Maple Community Center. Commissioner Chen asked about expanding the program for the 100 on the waiting list, and Supervisor Orozco said it would be up to the School District to apply for more funding, and that they receive $7.50 per child per day.
Commissioner Chen asked about staff training, and was told that the staff training program was the result of many years of work and refinement and that each staff receives about 40 hours of training per year, including in-house training monthly regarding behavioral issues, creativity, etc. Each new staff member is oriented and observed for a couple of days, then provided training throughout the year.
Chair Russell thanked Supervisor Orozco for the presentation.
6. NO SMOKING POLICY IN PARKS
Director Felz provided a history and background on smoking prevention measures and the local and state policies developed to regulate smoking, saying tonight’s meeting was a workshop format to allow for commissioner discussion and input on a complex issue. He said the issue of a no-smoking policy in City parks would then be brought back, probably next month, with specific recommendations if so desired by Commission; however, tonight, there would be no action taken on this issue.
Director Felz reviewed the current policies related to tobacco use, noting that there are state and other regulations prohibiting smoking within 25 feet of tot lots, in public buildings or within 20 feet of an entrance, exit or window, on school properties by pupils, and at most youth sports fields.
He noted the difficulty of enforcing non-smoking regulations, noting that this issue could bring into question whether enforcement would be the best use of police officers’ time. However, he said the most significant issue with enforcement is probably the uniqueness of Fullerton’s facilities including the Plaza, Museum, Muckenthaler, 27 miles of trails, open space such as Bob Ward Preserve, the horse rink, and Laguna Lake. He also noted the Beer Garden at the Fullerton Market, and Laguna Lake where people fish and smoke. Director Felz pointed out that the high fire risk areas were of serious concern, and gave the example of Laguna Beach’s Fire Chief who banned smoking in parks and trails in or near potential wildfire areas.
Chair Russell then opened the meeting up for dialogue. Commissioner Spencer asked what some good cities’ experience had been, e.g., Irvine. Administrative Manager Alice Loya said Irvine wanted to have a no-smoking policy for its Great Park and because they’d found that enforcement would be difficult, they’re concentrating on education instead. Commissioner Spencer asked if signs had been effective, and Manager Loya said it was too early to determine the effectiveness of the signs, and that staff isn’t available to monitor the playgrounds at all times.
Commissioner Adam said she did some research, and had a list of communities that have smoking bans. She said she and her daughter and friend visited Laguna Lake, collected 237 cigarette butts and spoke with people in the area. She reported that a Mrs. Smart said she would feel very comfortable with a smoking ban at the lake because smoking was “a nasty, disgusting habit.” Commissioner Adam also spoke with three young men fishing, one of whom was smoking and said he came to Fullerton parks because San Diego, where he lives, has a no-smoking ban. She also noted that the benches and fishing areas had many cigarettes, but the area near the entrance with a rock had the most. She said she spoke with a couple of teachers who smoke who were well aware of the laws and areas where to smoke, and noted that Union Pacific Park had crack smokers – a much more serious problem.
Commissioner Adam said she had found three policies addressing smoking. But, she also wondered if it would help to have cigarette receptacles placed in strategic locations. She also asked how many times park attendants have had to ask someone to pick up cigarette litter.
Director Felz said there is smoking litter at Laguna Lake, the horse stables, and the Plaza (which is the only area with a receptacle). He said other than those areas, there do not seem to be significant problems at other park areas. He acknowledged that smoking created safety concerns and agreed that having some cigarette receptacles would be helpful, and that based on Commission’s direction regarding a policy, could add cigarette butt receptacles in specific locations. Commissioner Adam noted a special type of receptacle where only cigarettes could be disposed. She suggested that before banning cigarettes altogether, one should try to encourage better disposal of them. Director Felz noted that with wedding receptions at the Muckenthaler, smoking was allowed outside of the buildings and the tent-like structures.
Vice Chair Dasney said a no-smoking policy was brought up at a Council meeting, and while she believed the issue didn’t require extremely drastic action, some action would be useful, e.g. signage around high fire areas, perhaps expanding areas of non-smoking in certain areas. She also congratulated whoever was cleaning at Panorama Park. She also suggested that smokers move away from other park users and to dispose of butts properly except for high fire risk areas, i.e., Option 2.
Commissioner Shanfield agreed with the commissioners’ comments although she thought the Bob Ward bluff at the Chevron property was a problem, saying that 2,000 cigarette butts were counted there at some point. She agreed that receptacles could be placed at Laguna Lake, but thought smoking should be banned at Bob Ward and the nearby trail due to the high fire danger. She said she would love to see no smoking everywhere, but knew it wasn’t possible and, thus, agreed with Option 2.
Chair Russell asked about joint-use at school and City fields, and about Byerrum Park. Director Felz said the park part wasn’t joint use; it was the City’s and delineated by the fence. Staff said Woodcrest, Maple, and Orangethorpe, Pacfiic Drive, and Laguna Road School properties are joint-use but most are well delineated. Chair Russell said his first thought was to allow for just the existing policies, but he had concerns about fire danger so something should probably be done and would be supported by the community. However, Laguna Lake could be a problem since there’s a culture of fishermen who smoke. He noted that although butts in the lake could pose a problem, perhaps voluntary enforcement to dispose of cigarette butts would be better.
Commissioner Chen said she doesn’t smoke and doesn’t understand people smoking around her, but that she didn’t want too much government involvement, especially in making a law that would be impossible to enforce. She asked for clarification for Option 2. Director Felz said staff would bring back specific recommendations for specific areas, e.g., Laguna Lake and the horse rink would have a smoking area with receptacles.
Chair Russell asked whether the City needed to enforce no-smoking regulations or if the concerned groups, e.g. Rec Riders or Little League, could enforce these themselves. He said he didn’t want a field user who could enforce the rules but didn’t want to put his foot down. Director Felz said the organizations liked having a higher authority or “teeth” they could point to, and that staff could also include a no-smoking policy in an organization’s memorandum of agreement. Chair Russell asked if they could do that instead of an ordinance, and Director Felz said that was possible. Chair Russell expressed concern about an ordinance with exceptions which would lead to more exceptions.
Director Felz said there would be more comments when the item had been publicized, especially as there were State initiatives to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. Commissioner Adam said there were three issues surrounding smoking in her mind: pollution, fire danger and secondhand smoke.
Director Felz noted that the County representative, Cynthia Schaefer of the Tobacco Use Prevention Program, Orange County Health Care Agency, had been notified and would be invited to the next meeting. Chair Russell had concerns about being told what to do from a County bureaucracy. Director Felz said the County was operating under State mandates to reduce exposure to tobacco.
Vice Chair Dasney noted that there was a lot of smoking from Pooch Park users which Director Felz concurred with. She suggested the sign she mentioned earlier to encourage smokers to stay away from others when smoking and to dispose of butts properly.
Director Felz said some people would be invited to the next meeting including Hermosa School students involved in a no-smoking project.
Commissioner Adam asked about fire hazards with the different types of vegetation and also asked if there could be a discussion about how this could be managed. She thought there might be some conservation laws that protect some vegetation. Director Felz said there were fire breaks to help prevent fires from spreading although there was still a fire danger; however, someone from the Fire Department would be at the next meeting to answer fire-related questions. Commissioner Adam said she’d like some conservation groups to hear some of the concerns of the citizens, too. Manager Loya said Panorama Nature Preserve had a conservation group but that they didn’t make the rules for vegetation; rather the Department of Fish and Game, a federal body, does. Because coastal sage is protected, she said it can only be cut down a certain amount. Director Felz said staff will come prepared on the City’s liability, and would consult with the City Attorney.
Commissioner Shanfield said she sensed that none of the commissioners liked smoking in the parks, but that they didn’t want to propose such a policy due to enforcement difficulties. However, based on secondhand smoke, the trash, and fire danger, she was feeling more strongly that they should vote for no smoking in parks.
Director Felz said a blanket ban was possible, or one that allowed smoking in only certain areas. However, on an overall ban, one would hear from people affected by it, e.g. those at the Market or weddings. Commissioner Spencer agreed with Commissioner Shanfield but also felt that there should be some smoking allowed in some areas. Chair Russell said the City might be sending messages that it’s okay to smoke if one is providing revenue for the City.
Commissioner Shanfield said perhaps a matrix might help to figure out where smoking should occur. Commissioner Spencer said she is mostly concerned about smoking on the trails.
7. REPORT ON CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEMS
Director Felz reported that the Laguna Lake bid opening was approved by City Council.
8. DIRECTOR’S UPDATE
Director Felz introduced Hugo Curiel, the Department’s new Parks Project Manager, and said he was doing “a great job” familiarizing himself with the many ongoing projects.
He also reported that the First Night festivities were very successful except the high winds prevented the pyrotechnic company from setting off the high fireworks. Commissioner Stanford said some friends attended First Night for the first time and thought it was great, and said they would tell others about it.
Regarding upcoming community meetings, Director Felz said one was held for Gilman Park and that they would move forward with installing the playground while developing a master plan.
Staff would also be meeting with the Lemon Park community and initiating the planning process for the next phase of improvements to both the park and the Maple Community Center.
Director Felz also reported on the Hiltscher Park / Valley View Road trail piece, saying the City will do a lot line adjustment to get 15’ with a lot swap to widen the trail, and that it (the land swap) should be complete in a few weeks.
He said the Lions Field project is moving forward, and Hillcrest Park would also be considered.
When Vice Chair Dasney asked Director Felz about his plan to bring the Master Plan in Hillcrest to tonight’s meeting, he said it would be brought to the February Commission meeting. Vice Chair Dasney asked about the list of previous Hillcrest Park Master Plan committee members and was told this would be provided at the next meeting.
The Adlena, Byerrum and Valencia Parks project was nearly completed, Director Felz noted, acknowledging Manager Peterson’s efforts and good contractors.
He reported that the new lights would be up at the Tennis Center by Monday, Jan. 21st at the latest.
Regarding the budget process, he said staff is doing revisions, and the proposed budget would go to Commission with changes including those at Richman and Gilbert Park; however, this budget would not be as significant as the two year process.
9. COMMISSIONER COMMENTS
Chair Russell wished Commissioner Spencer Happy Birthday as it was her birthday today.
Commissioner Shanfield, as Commissioner representative to the Pooch Park Advisory Committee, reported on the Pooch Park meeting with Director Felz. She said it was very efficient with a very dedicated, all volunteer group. Nonetheless, they were still required to be fingerprinted, and go through an application process. She added that they were a great asset to the City.
She noted some issues with little dogs in the big dog area and that some dogs were let off the leash as soon as they were let out of the car. She said the Advisory Committee agreed that the owners should keep dogs on their leashes when coming or going. She said a “Pooch Walk” fundraiser was planned, and that the Committee was recruiting for three members. She ended her remarks by saying that she believed the Pooch Park would succeed because of the group’s dedication.
Commissioner Spencer asked if there were any problems at the Dog Park, and Director Felz said there was one mauling of a dog, but the Dog Park committee members said it was a given that with an off-leash park, a dog would get killed or seriously hurt. He said that he was shocked when he heard this and thought the general public needed to be made more aware of this apparent reality. Commissioner Spencer asked if the City had liability insurance and Director Felz said the City Attorney had reviewed the matter and said that, due to the signage at the park, the City had no liability. Vice-Chair Dasney said there was usually some kind of dog altercation at the park, but that the owners jump right in to resolve it. Commissioner Shanfield asked about the tables there and was told they would be taken out because the owners were gathering around them and not paying attention to what their dogs were doing, thereby increasing the risk of conflict and injuries.
Commissioner Chen welcomed Parks Project Manager Curiel and said she appreciated that he speaks fluent Spanish, a real asset, and wished everyone a Happy New Year. Commissioner Shanfield asked about the trail hole digger recently apprehended, and Director Felz said the District Attorney took the Police Department’s advice and filed felony charges due to injuries, the serious risk of injury, and the time and cost of surveillance and repairs.
Commissioner Spencer MADE A MOTION and Commissioner Stanford SECONDED the motion to adjourn. The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m.