After several previous meetings and discussions, the Porterville City Council is still undecided on whether or not they would like to accept proposed modifications to the Transit services in the city. 

At Tuesday’s meeting, Ted Smalley, the executive director for Tulare County Association of Governments (TCAG), presented that Council with information about the public transportation system that had them questioning where they stand. Smalley mentioned a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) that would give the city of Visalia one more vote than other cities. This piece of information did not sit well with the dais, and apparently it did not sit well with the city of Tulare either, as Smalley mentioned that the Tulare Council had the same concerns.

The proposed modifications have risen to Council attention after fare box fees increased and ridership through Transit has dropped. The new system, introduced in a series of implementation phases, includes a reduction in service hours on fixed routes and substituting “on-demand” rides instead of buses. During a public hearing regarding this issue on July 16 a few community members addressed the Council and outlined some concerns with the reduction of service hours for students who attend college. Without knowing when the “on-demand” feature would debut, several statements were made questioning how students who use the bus to get home after late classes would be able to go home without having to walk at night.

After a long presentation followed by a question and answer period from Smalley, the Council continued the discussion to the next meeting on August 20.

A conditional use permit for the on-site sale of beer and wine was approved with a vote of 5-0. The Mariscos y Birrieria Mazatlan restaurant located at 1392 West Olive Avenue will now be allowed to serve alcohol to their customers. When the item opened for public comment, Brock Neely stepped forward to address the floor plan’s label of the restrooms. Neely stated that the single-use restrooms must be gender neutral and cannot specifically be designated for “men” or “women” in order to comply with California law. City staff informed the Council that the restrooms would be gender neutral, and that this condition is written in to the permit requirements.

The Council received an update on the status of the conditional use permit obtained by the business, Eddie’s Dog Grooming. In the conditions of the permit, the Council requested that a six month update be brought to them to make sure that the business was doing okay at t’s location on Main Street. In the update brought to Council, neighbors of the dog grooming business stated that Eddie, the owner, can be seen outside in the mornings sweeping and picking up trash in front of his store front as well as his neighbors store fronts. No incidents have been reported to Animal Control pertaining to Eddie’s Dog Grooming, and no complaints have been filed to the city. The Council approved the continued use of the permit with a vote of 5-0.

One bid had been submitted to the city regarding the Henderson Avenue Reconstruction Project on the portion of the road extending from Indiana Street to Jaye Street. MAC General Engineering submitted the bid in the amount of $4,230,966, and the Council quickly agreed that the bid should be rejected and the project should be re-advertised for.

Newly appointed Council member Virginia Gurolla was appointed to two different committees. Gurolla volunteered to serve on both the Joint City/School District Committee with Council member Milt Stowe, and the Provision of Local Water Services Ad Hoc Committee with Council member Daniel Penaloza.

Before the meeting adjourned, Penaloza read the 31 names of the victims whose lives were taken in the mass shootings in Gilroy, California, Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas. Each Council member gave their condolences before the gavel signaled the end of the meeting shortly before 9 p.m.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for August 20, beginning at 6:30 p.m. inside the Council Chambers at City Hall located at 291 N. Main Street.

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