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New Council Announces Changes At City Hall PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia   
Thursday, 20 December 2012 06:18

City Administrator Al Hernandez Will Retire

Al Hernandez has agreed to voluntarily retire from the position of San Fernando City Administrator as of Feb. 7, said councilman Jesse Avila, who added it was a difficult process trying to come to an understanding with Hernandez.

Avila, who spoke with the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol following the Dec. 17 council meeting, said, "It was either that or go to a lengthy litigation process, but we came to an agreement. It took a lot of work from the council members and the city attorney.

"We're looking for an interim [city administrator] to guide us through this," said Avila, who noted that the next person hired for the job won't share responsibilities as the city's financial officer.

"Those two jobs will be separate. In cities like Bell and San Bernardino, have that (sharing those duties) in common and you see where they've gone," Avila said.

He said the council came to the decision to let Hernandez go rather quickly, as it found Hernandez seemed to be an obstacle to the city's progress. "We could not get any information from (Hernandez). We stopped asking questions because we feared retaliation towards staff," Avila said. "He (Hernandez) was most problematic in that area."

Avila added that all city administrators' work at city hall, and their duties are currently being reviewed to make sure they're doing the job they've been hired to do.

"We're trying to evaluate performance as best we can," Avila said. He said Hernandez would leave with benefits close to what was agreed on his contract.

"He's not going to get the golden parachute he thought he was going to get, but it's not cheap either," admitted Avila, who did not offer a specific dollar amount.

The biggest order of business will be for this council to see how deep the city is in debt.

Hernandez functioned autonomously without a Finance Director, and often cited a $1.1 million dollar debt. But the new members of the council believe that the figure is much higher.

"We are having to go to department by department to figure out what the figure is," Avila said.

New Commissioners

The new council gave their "picks" for their commissioners.

Those appointed to the Planning and Preservation committee were: Kevin Beaulieu, appointed by Councilmember Joel Fajardo; Theale "Stormy" E. Haupt, appointed by Avila; Yvonne G. Mejia, appointed by Mayor Antonio Lopez; and Rodolfo Salinas Jr., appointed by Councilmember Robert Gonzales. Those appointed to the Transportation and Safety committee included Delores "Dee" Akemon, appointed by Avila, and Rudy Trujillo, appointed by Gonzales.

Those appointed to the Education committee included Louis A. Lopez, appointed by Gonzales, and Patty Lopez, appointed by Fajardo.

Those appointed to the Parks, Wellness and Recreation committee were Saydith Navarro, appointed by Gonzales, and Joe Ponce, appointed by Avila.

Affordable Housing Project

Among other items on the agenda was the recommendation by city staff to approve a financial commitment to the Harding Street Affordable Housing Project being developed by Aszkenazy Development, Inc. The project consists of a 29-unit affordable housing project that will be located on Harding Street.

The city was asked to provide a letter of support to the County of Los Angeles, committing to provide $250,000 in the form of permit waivers as partial funding for street sidewalks, sewer, and water upgrades to be given or completed over the next two years.

The city council voted 5-0 in favor of approving the resolution commitment required to be meet for this project. The County of Los Angeles issued a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) on Nov. 20, whose guidelines require a minimum commitment by a local jurisdiction [San Fernando,] of $250,000.

Interim City Administrator Fred Ramirez made a presentation about the project during the council meeting. The City of San Fernando has a housing requirement to build 251 units by 2014 to relieve severe overcrowding and provide affordable housing. The funding sources will include L.A. County Home and Bond funds, in addition to State Tax Credits, for an additional $7,750,000.

It was noted by city staff that this proposed project, if accepted by L.A. County, would provide significant economic advantages to the local area because as much as $8 million could be spent in the community during the construction phase.

"The completion of the project would also serve to alleviate blight by providing well designed housing units," said Adriana Gomez, of Aszkenazy Development, who attended the council meeting. Considered a very competitive process as many projects compete for the county's limited funds, the county is expected to notify the project managers soon on whether they have the city's letter of commitment, and be awarded the money to the project.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 20 December 2012 06:21