Bishop City Council discusses street connection and IMACA
At Monday’s Bishop City Council meeting, Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action (IMACA) directors gave a report on their goals, mission, and how they provide assistance to Bishop.
IMACA Executive Director, Charles Broten, said that the group has, “been trying to increase affordable housing, which is one of the greatest needs here.” According to Broten, IMACA currently employs 38 full-time employees, and 10 or 12 part-time employees. They also have a $2 million annual budget.
Broten listed some of the benefits that IMACA has provided: “We provide a commodity food program that serves 416 households at the Bishop site, which is 855 family members. [We have] helped over 1,000 people throughout 500 households with winter assistance for their energy bills [and] provide permanent housing to 60 people. 450 people [are] involved in head start programs, if you include all the family members. We serve well over 1,500-2,000 local residents” Broten said.
Housing and Planning Director of IMACA, Larry Emerson said that one of the first projects he worked on, “was the development of a 19-unit apartment complex on Clarke St., the Valley Apartments, which has been occupied since 1981. [We also] own and operate the 26-unit apartment complex named Glass Mountains in Mammoth Lakes, created in 1987.”
IMACA is in the planning stages to develop 15-units of housing for Veterans, as well as a service center and a VFW post through the County of Inyo.
It is looking to purchase a 2.9-acre parcel at the Southwest corner of MacIver and Spruce for the development, but is awaiting approval from Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) on the purchase agreement. Visionary Homebuilders is contracted for the building.
Emerson then explained that the Continuum of Care (COC) is an IMACA organized network of stakeholders in the community that provides services to homeless people.
“Our COC has conducted a count for the last several years to get a better understanding of homelessness in our county,” Emerson said. The last count was conducted on January 24th and it showed that there “has been in an increase in homelessness in Inyo and Mono County.”
Other services that are provided by IMACA are:
a)Emergency shelters through hotel/motel vouchers,
b) Rapid rehousing that provides immediate housing to get the homeless off the streets
c) A homelessness prevention program for those at imminent risk of homelessness
d) A street outreach program, where they go out into the community and engage those who are homeless, Emerson said.
Community Services Director of IMACA, Chad Mitchell explained the three services that he is in charge of at IMACA. The first is the low-income energy assistance program, which is an annual one-time payment to assist with wood, propane, oil, kerosene, and electricity. The amount for this is usually between $200-800 and has helped 401 families per year, Mitchell said. The second is a utility assistance and weatherization assistance program, which helps with various things to help drop utility costs, such as broken windows, refrigerators, and roof leaks. The third is food distribution which has distributed at least 500,000 pounds of food to parts of northern Mono County and southern Inyo County, Mitchell said. The food was donated by United States Department of Agriculture and the Food Bank of Northern Nevada.
Bishop Public Works Director Dave Grah came before council to present on several current projects, as well as the breakdown of Water and Sewer rates.
Grah gave a presentation on an extension of West Jay Street, which Grah explained to the council, is the “dead-end street South of Jack-in-the-Box.”
The project would extend West Jay Street to intersect with S. Fowler Street, meaning they would no longer be dead-end streets. This will require infrastructure construction at an estimated cost of about $779,000, which will come from LADWP, Inyo County, and Bishop. Most of the work needed is for water lines.
Grah said the start of the project will depend on the comments and concerns of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and “how it will impact the critters.” Construction for the project will possibly take place in May, Grah said.
Grah then moderated a public hearing on Water and Sewer rates. The rates of Water and Sewer cover a five period between July 2019-June 2024. There was “no increase in the water and sewer bill for a single-family residence in the rate study within the first year, then a $1-$2 per month increase each year after that for the remaining four years” he said. Grah and his department received a protest and a comment. The protest outlined the difficulty for low-income seniors to pay because the low-income discount did not apply, he said. The comment that came to their office, “suggested that fees be reduced for multi-family residences and residential rates should or could be based on square footage,” he said.
“Our rate structure is not perfect, but we come up with these sorts of discussions very often. The flat-rate system makes it more difficult to make it perfect, [but] this system has served the City pretty darn well for a long time,” Grah said.
Lastly, the Seibu to School path project was passed by the Council, 4-0. Mayor Ellis excused himself from the panel, as his work with LADWP would create a conflict of interest.
According to Grah, the project was started in 2008, and will go around the elementary schools to Pine and Elm streets, with a connection to Keough Street.
It will “provide students an all-weather path to get to school,” he said.
Grah clarified that the project is mostly on LADWP land and they are trying to acquire the necessary right of way from DWP, which has been “quite time consuming and there [have] been numerous delays,” he said.
During a later interview with The Sheet, Grah explained the path will begin at the end of Keough Street and will travel along the North side of the school. Grah said he needs to get, “temporary rights or permission to build the project and follow that up with the purchase or the full-purchase of the property.” Those temporary rights, called a right-to-enter and construct, need to be acquired by March 18, Grah said.
“DWP determines the language for that document,” he said.
“DWP has the right to terminate the agreement or document for any reason, or actually for no reason at all, is the language that is in there.”
Councilman Chris Costello asked Grah, “If we go ahead with this right away, then we would start on the project right away?” Grah responded to Costello, “uh, no!”
“We have to request from the California Transportation Commission that they actually allocate the funds. Part of the allocation request is you need to document that the design is done, the specifications are done, and you control the site—not fully owning the property is not ideal,” Grah said.
The total amount to construct this project is $480,000. Grah said that they received $85,000 from Inyo Local Transportation Commission (Inyo LTC). The amount needed to finish the design is between $2,000-$4,000, and the tentative cost for the purchase price of the property is $45,000, Grah said.
The process in getting property from DWP is slow, but Grah is “hoping that DWP will come through,” he said. When Public Works is granted permission, they will get grant funds, and possibly construct in July, Grah said. The path will be a paved walk-way, he said.
The next Bishop City Council meeting is on Monday March 11, 2019 in the City Council Chambers.