Discontent stirs at City Council meeting
Community members in attendance at the Nov. 10 City Council meeting saw red when the revised Fire Sprinkler Ordinance came up for discussion. The issue seemed to draw sympathy for both sides, those wanting to prevent the possibility of fire razing a city block, and those with businesses who would have to pay upwards of $80,000 to install a sprinkler system.
Community members fear the ordinance will drive people out of business and renters to lose their homes. Coast Hardware owner, Whitey, said he got an estimate of between $80,000 and $90,000 to install the sprinkler system. He asked the council for help in paying for this, because his only alternative, should he have to shoulder the cost, would be to cut employee wages, and worse, lay-off some employees.
Fire Chief, Steve Orsi took responsibility for raising the issue, there was no “malice” involved, and that he was just trying to protect the city he grew up in. “I’m scared,” Orsi said, because many downtown buildings are redwood and have no sprinkler systems, though he was empathetic in regards to the cost. He appealed to community and council members to work together to find a funding solution, suggesting looking for grants or other government funding.
“It’s incumbent on us to come up with funding and then take action on it,” Mayor Dave Turner said. The council expressed sympathy for business owners, while also highlighting their concern for potential loss of life and property to fire. Council member, Heidi Kraut, reminded people that this is merely a “relaxing” of an ordinance that has already been in place for years. Ultimately, the revised ordinance was adopted.
Watch the video to see the other agenda items provoking community members input including procuring a new City Attorney and Assistant from Oakland, a new 2014 Housing Elements Plan and the movement and design of the welcome sign south of the Noyo Bridge.
Final results for the City Council race are not tallied and current members Dave Turner and Heidi Kraut are at the bottom of the pack and Meg Courtney is a lame duck. Currently Mike Cimolino, Lindy Peters and Mark Iacuaniello are leading the tight race and also attended the meeting.