City of Portola to continue remote meetings and bring back abandoned vehicle reduction program

On the evening of Wednesday August 24, the City Council of the City of Portola met for a regular meeting. After the Pledge of Allegiance and with everyone present, the meeting moved to public comment.

Resident Josh Hart spoke on behalf of Feather River Action! on the subject of requests for public records, and that they were a requirement for the public. “If a member of the public wants to know how their money is being spent or the specific policies that impact their life, they can submit a request for any record held by a local agency,” Hart said.


Hart went on to state that the band routinely requested recordings from various agencies, “only the city of Portola raising an issue”.

Hart said that “he felt Kennedy was against himself” and Feather River Action. “What is the acceptable number of registration requests? asked Hart. “The reason we submit many requests to Portola is simply because Portola is the first incorporated city along the Feather River, and anything that happens here not only affects Portola and Plumas County, but the people of ‘Oroville and all those in the State who depend on the pen. River for crop irrigation and watering. We have the right to know how our taxes impact water quality regionally and nationally.

Resident Ashlee Sims then commented, asking why requests for public records were “currently being ignored”. Sims said “bullying and bullying tactics would not work with her” and that “requests for documents were a public right”.

The Sims also accused another local resident, Antoinette Quesenberry, of attending meetings specifically to attack Sims and others at meetings as a “friend of Jon Kennedy”.


Local Antoinette Quesenberry then said it was not a crime to be someone’s neighbor or friend, and that she was a longtime resident who recognized “the abuse of the system”.

A woman named Crystal Baltzell commented that she was Portola’s swimming team secretary and thanked the council and the city for allowing the use of the pool for the “over 22 participants for this year alone , which has been a great resource for the community.”

Council member Phil Oels reported that he attended several meetings, including a Firewise meeting, a transport committee meeting, and was able to attend Portola’s summer concert in the park.

Council Member Bill Powers also attended the Transportation Commission meeting. “I want to thank Tom Cooley again, this time for filling in for me while I was home with Covid,” Powers said. “I was really happy with the people who came to listen to music in the park. Next Friday is our Fiesta night, with pinatas, food, kids games and more.


Council member Stan Peiler had no meetings to report, but wanted to share that he noticed two older couples walking and picking up trash in the ballpark areas in Portola. “I would like to start acknowledging people who do this stuff,” he said.

Pro Tem Mayor Tom Cooley said he attended a Plumas County Fire Safety meeting in Quincy, the Portola Firewise committee meeting and the recent Beckwourth Fire Department (BFD) meeting. The LESSG Fire Study Group also held a meeting, covering final exams, Cooley explained. “It will be presented to the board very soon,” Cooley said.

Mayor Pat Morton also attended LESSG and Music in the Park, congratulating the final two bands to play the series this summer.

Scarlett said she was committed to ensuring the audits were processed by the September 12 deadline. “I apologize for not having been able to respond to requests for recordings recently; I have no intention of ignoring anyone, but I don’t see myself having time to respond until September 12, I’m sorry,” Scarlett said.


It was also noted that no requests for public records had yet been received anonymously.

Sims made a public comment to respond to the statement on public records requests, saying understaffing was not an acceptable excuse. “Just because Miss Susan doesn’t have time doesn’t mean it’s legal under public records law, and I’d appreciate it if you would stop with the apology,” Sims said.

Mikki Brown, Targeted Airshed Grants Specialist

At the North Sierra Air Quality Management District, reported that all city residents with EPA-certified wood stoves were encouraged to contact the Air Quality Management District of the Northern Sierra (NSAQMD) for a free sweeping voucher. “If you’re a city resident with an EPA-compliant appliance, you may qualify for a free electric heat pump installation,” Brown said.

There will also be a Burn Wise event on Saturday, September 24 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Veteran’s Hall in Portola.


Resolution 2523 – remote Covid meetings

The Board discussed continuing remote meetings, with a public comment from local Josh Hart first. “As I said last month, you are right to be safe and healthy, for sure you have the right to do so. As soon as it is possible and practical to bring the public back into the chambers, I think it would be a really good idea to do that. You have to make sure people can hear what the council members are saying as well,” Hart said.

Resident Crystal Baltzell then spoke, saying she would love to be able to attend meetings in person again. “It would be nice to have more options to be part of the city where I live and where my kids live,” she said.

Sims said she thinks hybrid meetings would be the best option moving forward. “The public wants to come and participate in person,” she said.


The Board then approved the reauthorization of the remote meeting unanimously by roll-call vote.

Groundwater Monitoring Services

At the August 10 meeting, following a review of the proposals, Portola City Council directed staff to prepare an agreement with McGinley & Associates for groundwater monitoring services at the Portola Landfill.

The agreement is for a term of five years, beginning in the third quarter of 2022 and extending through the second quarter of 2027. The total cost of the agreement over the term is estimated at $169,985.60.

With City Council approval of the agreement, McGinley & Associates will commence activities to obtain groundwater samples at and near the Portola landfill during the third quarter of 2022, in accordance with the requirements contained in the landfill waste disposal requirements ordinance.

The agreement was unanimously approved by roll-call vote.

The next point of discussion was the North Loop project, which would begin by redoing the intersection of West Street and Joy Way.


City Engineer Dan Bastian provided a brief history of the article, noting that

five bids for the North Loop project were received at the opening on August 8, 2022. Bid amounts ranged from $2,209,000 (Q&D Construction LLC) to $3,547,784.70 (ST Rhoades Construction). The engineer’s estimate was $2,990,401 (with contingencies).

“I recommended awarding the $2,209,000 contract to Q&D Construction LLC,” Bastian said. “Contractors will be able to start construction in 2023, and it is expected to be completed by October 2023.”

This contractor is duly licensed with an A classification, and his license is current and active, according to Bastian. “The city has had no previous contracts with this contractor, but they are a large, reputable company and more than capable of completing the project. Plumas County Public Works recently interacted with Q&D Construction LLC on a project with no complaints” , added Bastian.


The “timely use of funds” for the CON stream requires that this project be awarded no later than September 16, 2022. The City has until March 2025 to complete the project before CON reimbursements become ineligible.

After some further discussion, the recommendation was unanimously approved by roll-call vote.

Abandoned Vehicle Reduction Program (AVAP)

In 1990, the California State Legislature enacted legislation allowing for the creation of county-based vehicle service authorities under the provisions of Section 22710 VC. In 2007, the Service Authority was created and imposed a one dollar annual registration fee on vehicles registered to an owner with an address in Plumas County.

Vehicle registration fees are collected by the Department of Motor Vehicles and assigned to the Service Authority by the Office of the State Comptroller pursuant to Section 9250.7 VC. The fees are then split between two participating entities based on the percentage of vehicles cleared out of the total number of vehicles cleared by the county as a whole. The current participating entities are the county of Plumas and the city of Portola. “Both entities must participate in the program, and the city and county have been suspended in the past for not using the funds quickly enough,” said Scarlett, the city’s chief financial officer. The current program expired on September 30, 2017. Since the program began, the city has received $82,501.74, which has enabled staff to reduce 253 vehicles.


New legislation allows local service authorities to expand programs every 10 years with the approval of the county and a majority of cities comprising a majority of the population of incorporated areas.

“The county has already approved their resolution, and this is our opportunity to do the same, so that we can request that we return to the program,” Scarlett explained.

The resolution was then unanimously approved by roll-call vote.

Scarlett explained that each year the City of Portola is asked to list direct city charges (special assessments) on county property tax bills. In the case of the city of Portola, this tax is for the assessment of the fire tax. “To require the county to assess the fire tax on the tax bill, the city council shall pass a demand resolution that guarantees the legality of said charges and defends and indemnifies the county from any challenge to the legality of the same. here,” Scarlett noted.


The tax list and certification for review have been completed and submitted to the county. “Once this resolution is passed, it will also be forwarded to the county,” Scarlett said.

The resolution was unanimously approved by roll-call vote and the meeting was adjourned.

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