Monday, June 5, 2023

Highlights of the First City Council Meeting of 2023

The first Coronado City Council meeting of the new year, on January 17, kicked off with two newly elected council members and an agenda which included commission appointments, a historic designation appeal, updated Legislative Policy and Guidelines, and progress on the Cays Park Master Plan. New to the council is John Duncan and returning is councilmember Carrie Downey. Mayor Pro Tem Casey Tanaka led the meeting for Mayor Richard Bailey, who participated remotely from Argentina, where he is summiting Aconcagua. There was a bit of excitement mid-meeting and the chambers had to be cleared, after a person was out of order and was taken away by the police in handcuffs.

Above video sourced from Public Hearing Item 8a (Coronado City Council Jan. 17, 2023). Some of the audio was muted by the City of Coronado.

Coronado Library Director Shaun Briley announced the seventh annual Coronado Community READ book selection as “Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir for adults.  “The Jamie Drake Equation” by Christopher Edge is the tween/teen selection, and “Beyond:  Discoveries from the Outer Reaches of Space” by Miranda Paul is the choice for children.  The library received 40 nominations, which were whittled down to five choices by a panel before the final choice was made.  Watch for topic panels, movie showings, and book discussions coming in March.  Briley gave each Councilmember a book to read.

Both Councilmembers Donovan and Downey commended the Public Services and Engineering Department for their thorough project report that helps monitor and track ongoing city projects. City Manager Tina Friend also gave a huge thank you to the staff of Public Services, and the Police and Fire Departments for their work during the recent storms. She noted that, “From every event we learn more on how to improve.”

During Oral Communications, island icon 96-year-old Julia Viera passionately appealed to the council to fight off the Port’s efforts to develop the land in the Coronado Cays and near Il Fornaio. “Just say no to the Port. This island deserves nothing less,” she implored.

A public hearing was held for the appeal of the Historic Resource Commission (HRC) and the city consultant and staff recommendation to designate 741-745 Orange Avenue as a historic resource. Associate Planner Tricia Olsen gave an overview, outlining the process which began in May 2022. The HRC determined that the property should be designated historic due to meeting both Criterion A and C. Criterion A states that the property contains a special element of the city’s economic and aesthetic history. The evidence shown was that the house was built in 1896 and the first owner was Hotel del Coronado employee Harry Andress. Criterion C states that the property must exhibit characteristics defining features of an architectural style and has not been substantially modified. HRC determined that the home was Colonial Revival Style with Greek Revival stylistic details.

Attorney Scott Moomjian was the representative for the appellant, the Quakenbush family, and gave a ten-minute rebuttal. He cited that the home did not meet the special element threshold for Criterion A or the distinctive characteristics needed for Criterion C, also noting that 33 major modifications had been done to the home over the years. The homeowners retained the services of Jennifer Ayala, of Nexus Planning and Research, for an independent decision and she concurred that the house should not be designated historic.

During public comment Gary and Bill Quakenbush said that their dad had purchased the home 42 years ago and they never felt it was historic, due in part to the modifications and conversion from a single family to a two residence dwelling. Engineer Steve Nurding and Realtor Edith Salas brought a white model of the home and added the changes in red to the model as they gave the history of the alterations that had been made. Several community members spoke in favor of the appeal, while another resident, along with Executive Director Christine Stokes of the Coronado Historical Association (CHA) were in favor of historic designation. Council deliberation was started off by Mayor Pro Tem Tanaka who said he originally thought that the HRC was correct, but after seeing all the modifications on the model his mind was changed. Councilmember Downey said she would like a context statement to help with future decisions and made the motion to reverse the HRC decision.  Then Councilmember Donovan made a substitute motion to decline the appeal. Ultimately, the appeal was upheld with Mayor Pro Tem Tanaka, Mayor Bailey and Councilmember Downey voting in favor, and Councilmembers Duncan and Donovan voting against it.

Assistant City Manager Tony Winney gave an update on the 2023 Legislative Platform and Focused Legislative Goals. These policies are reviewed annually and provide direction on legislative issues. Winney pointed out minor changes, including receiving credit for Navy housing in the mandated RHNA numbers and addressing the needs of the homeless.

The four proposed focus areas of the Legislative Policy Guidelines staff recommended are: improving beach water quality, increasing infrastructure funding, increasing the supply and affordability of housing while retaining local decision making, and supporting fiscal sustainability. After discussion, the council added expressing opposition to the SANDAG weighted vote, advocating returning to the tally vote system. Councilmember Tanaka expressed that they should tread lightly and be strategic with this addition. The council unanimously voted to approve this.

Winney also gave an overview of the awarding of the contract for the next phase of the Cays Park Master Plan Project. He noted that they had received eight proposals from the Request for Proposal (RFP), which were reviewed by city staff who looked at a variety of factors including pricing and experience. They interviewed three firms, KTUA, Spurlock Landscape Architecture, and recommend hiring the Schmidt Design Group for landscape architecture and planning services for the project. JT Barr, PLA, and Schmidt Design Group Principal gave an introduction about their company, which has worked with the city on numerous projects including designing the Coronado Cays entry. Chris Tiffany, PLA, will be the Associate Project Director, and Principal Glen Schmidt, FASLA, will lead community engagement as the project moves forward. Councilmember Downey noted that the city has been pleased with this contractor on previous projects and Mayor Bailey said this was a step forward in gaining public trust. The relaunch of a robust community outreach plan, which will begin in February and run through December, will include public workshops, statistically valid surveys, pop-up events, presentations, and other feedback opportunities.  The Schmidt Design Group will provide schematic design options, based on usage of the park, guidance from the council, and feedback from community groups. The council unanimously approved a two-year professional services agreement for this project.

Lisa Lomardo was appointed to serve on the Civil Service Commission for a three-year term expiring on December 31, 2025.

Stephanie Anderson was appointed as a new member to the Cultural Arts Commission to serve a three-year term expiring December 31, 2025.

For the Parks Recreation Commission, Darrell Sarich was reappointed to serve a three-year term, and Andrew Corley and Nellie Ritter were the two newly appointed members, also serving three-year terms.

There is still an opening on the Mobility Commission. The next city council meeting will be on February 7.

Editor’s Note:  Article updated with video content from the Jan. 17, 2023 meeting.

Jennifer Velez
Jennifer Velez
Jennifer fell in love with Coronado as a teenager while visiting a college friend. She vowed that someday she would make it her home, and that dream has recently become a reality. Fast forward through completing college with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Communications, she then went on to work with a variety of clients. She also taught Journalism and coordinated fundraising for her children’s school, and was a staff writer for San Diego Family Magazine and contributed to other parenting publications. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]