City Council is updated on priorities, goals

DOWNEY - A review Tuesday of progress made on the city's seven priorities, as agreed upon by City Council at the conclusion of its Oct. 13, 2009 session, includes the following developments: significant upgrades in park facilities, an increased emphasis on customer service training on the part of the city workforce, a more pronounced business-friendly approach at the city employee-customer point-of-contact, and enhanced public information efforts.In his PowerPoint presentation, assistant deputy city manager Scott Pomrehn recounted how the city's original priorities list in early 2009 stood at 49, which was whittled down to 17, and finally to a more integrated, manageable seven. With the common agreement, staff was instructed to proceed with either implementation or further evaluation/research. The areas circled as priority targets were parks facilities improvements, road maintenance, economic development, technology in crime prevention, better code enforcement, grants application administration, and a more effective public information process. With regard to parks, Pomrehn pointed out that expansion of Apollo Park and Independence Park are proceeding nicely, with the bulldozed yard at the back of Apollo Park now sprouted with grass, even as a fence has already been built at the dog park at Rio San Gabriel Park, while a $400,000 grant from the Rivers & Mountains Conservancy will soon translate into improvements at Treasure Island. An upgrade is being made to the public works' computerized synchronized traffic and road conditions visuals for a better assessment of pavement irregularities and a better road maintenance schedule. A slurry seal program, more cost-effective than outright road repair, is in place. At any rate, identification and mitigation of the worst traffic congestion in the city (where this will do the most good) is being emphasized, as well as continued close attention to traffic concerns. Economic development is a dominant theme at city hall, Pomrehn said. Review of zoning opportunities, business retention programs, increased awareness of the city's overall vision (rf. Vision 2025), commitment to excellent customer service, promotion of development opportunities (in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce), a more streamlined and customer-friendly permit process, tracking what's going on in the city, etc., are some of the continuing objectives of the department. As far as the use of modern technology, especially cameras, in crime prevention is concerned, he said it is being used already, especially in heavily impacted public areas. But, he cautioned, one cannot depend too much on technology: in the first place, it costs a lot of money; in the second place, privacy issues have to be carefully considered. Use of vehicle license plate identification via cameras has become widespread, he said. Businesses and residents also have a role to play here, he said. In addition to the grant to Treasure Island, other recently awarded grants include the ones to the Florence Avenue Landscape Replacement Program ($90,000) and the Regional Catch Basic Improvement Project ($625,000). On the public information front, Pomrehn said a city website upgrade has been completed, with Wi-Fi for city hall, city facilities and throughout the city under heavy scrutiny because of cost-benefit factors. "The city is still operating under tremendous budget constraints," he said. "But we believe we are moving forward." When Councilman Mario Guerra asked who's minding the store as far as these priorities are concerned, assistant city manager Gilbert Livas said the responsibility resides mainly with the city manager (Gerald Caton), who meets weekly with the different department heads to exchange ideas/press the pedal on urgent issues, with input from members of the city council themselves. In any case, said Pomrehn, the council will be continually apprised of the status of the above priorities.

********** Published: September 30, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 24