Jumat, 29 Mei 2009

Personal and Professional Advertisements

Community Member Question:

My question is with the city doing all it can to improve the quality of life for it's residents and adding millions of dollars in landscaping that is sometimes used as sturdy poles and a beautiful back drop for the blight of unpermitted personal and professional advertisements how do we encourage residents and businesses to be responsible by removing the signs after the time of the need and not to diminish the qualities that make the residents proud to be in this community?

City Manager Response:

Thank you for your excellent question. I and the City Council share your frustration with the proliferation of “junk” signs around town and the resulting visual blight they cause. The City has passed ordinances that prohibit the posting of such signs and the Code Enforcement staff removes such signs as they drive around the community. Depending upon the work load of the day, Code Enforcement officers will show up at garage sales to inform the individuals involved about the sign ordinances. They have also, at times, contacted the business operators who have posted such signs to inform them of the laws in place.

One of the challenges they face is that some of the commercial and/or concert type signs that get posted are done so by organizations or businesses that are hired to “paper” an area. It is very difficult, if not impossible to identify those violators and to hold them accountable in a court of law.

I will look into what sort of educational marketing we can do to educate the community of the current code violations. Apart from that, residents can assist the City by either reporting such violations to Code Enforcement or by removing those illegal signs. I have had citizens deliver to my office trash bags filled with illegal signage they have removed from around town.

After each election, the City performs a city-wide sweep of the area to remove political signs as well. Under freedom of speech issues, political signs are allowed during the election season but must be removed following an election. No signage, political or otherwise is ever allowed in the City’s rights of way, on traffic/city signage or electrical/lighting poles.

Jumat, 22 Mei 2009

Green Lawns and Community Pride

Community Member Question:

My question is how do you think we can get residents to protect their right to a clean community and make them realize that a cleaner community is safer and has higher investment value, not to mention the pride one gets from the complements of friend and neighbors and the feeling of great accomplishment?

City Manager Response:

I believe it is intuitive for most residents that the proper maintenance of their property is perhaps the single most important factor in improving the value of their investment in Fontana. With that said, you can drive through many neighborhoods in Fontana and see both good and bad examples of people taking pride in the appearance of their property. In a discussion about what the City can do about the properties in disrepair, it is first worth understanding some of the causes behind property maintenance issues.

In the current economic market, many homes have fallen into disrepair because of financial difficulties and foreclosure problems with the owners. Fontana has several City codes that require an appropriate level of property maintenance. When a foreclosed property falls into disrepair, our Code Enforcement Division of the Police Department makes contact with the banks and notifies them of their need to maintain the property. Some banks act as responsible partners and step up to maintain the properties while others do not. Those who do not correct deficiencies are cited and liens are placed against the properties that require corrective action before the properties can be resold. Many properties in the City have been brought to a point of compliance using this tactic. In extreme circumstances in which health and welfare become issues, the City may pursue and obtain a court order to fix the noted problems and then to place the cost of such work as a lien against the property that must be paid prior to resale as well.

The second challenge for poorly maintained properties comes from homes that are bought for investment purposes and are rented out by an individual who may not live in the City. Such properties are often purchased for tax advantages or cash purposes and proper maintenance of those properties is often a secondary consideration. Code Enforcement is also a tool in these instances to address such deficiencies. Code Enforcement Officers will make contact with the property owner and initiate whatever action is necessary to try to achieve compliance with the standards the community has come to expect.

A third challenge comes from owner-occupied properties that are owned by individuals who may not be financially or physically able to maintain their property. The City has developed a Community Assistance Program (CAP) in partnership with the Water of Life Church who may be able to find resources and/or assistance to help such owners with free services. Some service clubs in town have also stepped forward to help needy families with landscaping and maintenance needs who are in special circumstances.

The bottom line in dealing with these issues is for the residents to take pride and ownership in their neighborhoods. Not only with the properties they own, but also in notifying the City when properties in your neighborhood need some special attention. Contacts for both Code Enforcement and the Community Assistance Program (CAP) can be found on the City’s Web page at http://www.fontana.org/. Fontana is a big place and the employees of this wonderful community need your help. When you have concerns about the condition of a property, please contact us. By working as one community we can accomplish great things.

Rabu, 13 Mei 2009

Welcome to my blog!

The Mayor and City Council encourage staff to find new and effective ways to communicate to the City of Fontana. With that in mind, this blog is my attempt to provide Fontana citizens with yet another opportunity to receive current news and to participate in conversations about various City issues. In the spirit of the blog, I welcome and encourage your questions and comments.

However, this blog is designed to facilitate dialogue and thus, to ensure a blogging environment that is supportive of that dialogue, I have come up with some guidelines for our civic forum. Question submissions will be moderated based on the following blog comment policy:
  • Keep it clean. The use of vulgar, offensive, threatening or harassing language is prohibited. No personal attacks permitted. The City expects users of this blog to show respect and consideration to all fellow bloggers.
  • No campaigning. The blog is not open to comments promoting or opposing any person campaigning for election to a political office or promoting or opposing any ballot proposition.
  • No commercialism. This blog is not open to the promotion or advertisement of a business or commercial transaction.
  • Brown Act. All public officials subject to the Brown Act and/or other open meeting laws must identify themselves and must not post comments if comments have been posted by two other members of the body in which they serve.
  • No outside web-links. All links outside of the City of Fontana website are not allowed in posted comments.
  • Stay on topic. All blog comments should be related to the posted topic.
    Be careful. To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include phone numbers or e-mail addresses in the body of your comment.
  • I don't have to agree with you. A posted comment is the opinion of the poster only, and publication of a comment does not imply endorsement or agreement by myself or the City of Fontana.
  • Policy subject to modification. This blog use policy is subject to amendment or may be modified at any time to ensure its continued use is consistent with its intended purpose.
  • Submission requires acceptance of this policy. Your submission of a comment constitutes your acceptance of this comment policy.
With that little bit of housekeeping out of the way, we are ready to get started. One small step for the world of blogging – one giant step for this City Manager.

Fontana 101

I thought I would start my blogging experience with a little information about how Fontana works. I am routinely surprised, when talking to citizens and business people, about the misunderstanding how city government works. So, at the risk of over simplifying, let me explain a little about how Fontana is organized.

The City of Fontana is a corporation. The Board of Directors of this corporation is the elected Mayor and City Council members. The Mayor and City Council members, five in all, have an equal say in setting policies and providing oversight to the operations of the City.

The Mayor and City Council Members are part-time members of this corporation and are elected by the citizens based upon a platform of important issues. As such, each elected official works very hard to represent the needs of the majority of the community. It takes three members to agree on an issue before any action can be taken. In Fontana, we pride ourselves in working towards collaborative decisions that can be supported by all five council members. When unanimous support can not be achieved on any specific issue, the majority rules.

The Mayor and City Council hire two individuals who work directly for them. One is the City Attorney and the other is the City Manager. The City Attorney works for the law firm of Best Best & Krieger LLP and is responsible for providing legal advice and direction to the City Council. The City Manager, the position which I hold, acts as the corporation’s Chief Executive Officer and is responsible for the implementation of City Council policies and for following the requirements of city code. All employees of the City of Fontana work for the City Manager.

The Mayor and City Council set policy, authorize the allocation of resources towards the accomplishment of those polices and provide control and oversight to the City Manager. For instance, in January 2009, the City Council set new policy goals for the city, several of which dealt with the creation and enhancement of new community parks. It is my job to take that direction, lay out work plans for the various departments towards the accomplishment of those goals and then to recommend a budget for next year that allocates resources to those accomplishments. One of the foundational priorities set by the City Council has been that whatever programs and priorities we try to implement, the City will live within our means by not spending more than a conservative forecast of the monies that we take in.

In June of each year, the Mayor and City Council review my recommended budget for the upcoming year which starts on July 1st. The proposed budget not only includes a lot of numbers, it contains a great deal of policy discussion regarding what is possible to be accomplished given the resources available. In Fontana, the Mayor and Council focus as much time reviewing planned accomplishments as they do reviewing the cost of providing those services. Each year, the Mayor and City Council recommend a number of changes during the budget review process. My job, once the budget is approved, is to accomplish what I have committed to do. The Mayor and City Council review the budget at least quarterly in public meetings and are provided with monthly budget report updates.

Reporting directly to me are the Deputy City Manager in charge of all administrative functions (David Edgar), the Deputy City Manager in charge of all development activities (Debbie Brazill), the Police Chief (Rod Jones), the Fire Chief (Terry Welsh), the Director of Human Resources (Ed Raya), and the Director of Special Projects and Redevelopment (Ray Bragg). City departments reporting directly to the Deputy City Manager of Administration are Management Services, the Bureau of Records and Elections, Technology Services, and Community Services. City departments reporting directly to the Deputy City Manager of Development are Community Development, Engineering, Public Works, and Building and Safety. I meet with all of the department heads at least once a week to address work issues.

At the risk of confusing things further, in additional to being the City Manager of the City of Fontana, I am also the Executive Director of the Fontana Redevelopment Agency, Executive Director of the Fontana Housing Authority, Executive Director of the Fontana Fire Protection District, Executive Director of the Public Financing Authority, and President of the Fontana Community Foundation. The Mayor and City Council each serve as the Board of Directors for those organizations as well.

We all wear a lot of hats around this place. Each day we come to work we learn something new and I am looking forward to this new blogging experience as a way of keeping open the communication lines between City Hall and the community we serve.