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Westmorland abatement program under fire

April 19, 2001|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

WESTMORLAND — The City Council meeting here Wednesday night heated up as residents expressed their dislike for elements of the proposed nuisance abatement act the council is considering.

Resident Tina Cruz told the council her problems with the act.

The proposal states that no cars can be in a back yard if the cars are visible to neighbors. They also can remain in the back yard as long as the registration fees are paid.

Cruz said she has a car in the back yard on which all the taxes are paid but she said her concern is a new mayor or council could come in and decide to enforce the act without leniency.

Her other problem with the ordinance involves trash cans.

No trash cans are allowed in the front yard, but she said the large trash bins given to her for the new curbside recycling program are too big to fit through the gate leading to the back yard, so she has to leave them in the front yard.


David Ford is concerned he could be put out of business.

Ford is a bee keeper and has several wooden bee boxes in the front yard of his business. His business has a chain-link fence and the abatement act states if fences are see-through the yard must be clear of any items that aren't supposed to be there.

In Ford's case, the bee boxes would have to be removed or he would have to purchase another fence.

Calipatria Fire Chief Chris Hall came to the meeting as an invited guest of the council to talk about nuisance abatement enforcement in that city .

He said after the first sweep of the city, 250 abatement notices were sent to residents.

But, Hall said, Calipatria's abatement act isn't as restrictive as the one being considered in Westmorland.

Mayor Henry Halcon and Councilman Lawrence Ritchie said they thought it would be a good idea for residents to form a committee, go over the abatement act and suggest changes.

Cruz spearheaded the committee formation, jotting down phone numbers of all at the meeting.

City Attorney Mitchell Driskill said he is willing to take people's suggestions for the ordinance if they contact him. He said he's in the phone book.

The matter was continued to the next council meeting.

On other issues, Halcon thought it would be a good idea to acquire a pay station for the Imperial Irrigation District at City Hall. He said the only business that does IID transactions in the city is El Sol Market.

Halcon said the city could make some money from the pay station. The city would get $1 from each transaction.

No action was taken on the matter. It will be brought up at the next council meeting.

Halcon also told the council of the opportunity the city has to acquire a facility for the library.

The library is run out of the Westmorland Elementary School library. The city's library is part of the county library system.

Calipatria is planning to refurbish its existing library building and the triple-wide trailer that has housed the library will be removed. Halcon said it might a good idea to acquire Calipatria's library trailer.

Resident Martha Cruz has been working with Halcon on the project.

Cruz said many grants would be available to purchase more books and computers if the city acquires a facility for the library, since most of the city's youths are considered "at-risk."

The only problem the city has is not knowing how much it would cost to move the trailer.

The item was continued to the next council meeting.

The council unanimously voted to make improvements to the alley between south Center Street and F Street on the east and west and Third Street and Highway 86 on the south and north. The improvements are to help the businesses on those blocks. The improvements will cost the city a projected $59,825.

Halcon had asked city planning consultant/engineer Jack Holt of The Holt Group of El Centro to do a cost estimate for the rehabilitation of some streets in the city.

Those streets were Second between F and G and Third between F and G, along with their alleys. The total projected cost was $160,836.

Halcon was unhappy with the amount so the council voted to only rehabilitate the alleys.

The next regular scheduled council meeting is May 2.

Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3435.

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