City workers again made their presence known to the San Fernando City Council, urging council members on Monday, Dec. 4, for a fair deal as their labor contracts are negotiated.
For the second meeting in a row, members of the San Fernando Public Employees Association lined the back of the council chambers, holding up yellow signs that read “Full Benefits for Full Service Employees” and “Take Aways Affect…Our Safety! Our Families! Our Communities.”
Association President Ruben Quintana addressed the council during public comment, reminding members of the hardships the workers had to endure during the 2008 recession including unpaid furloughs, capped benefits, and layoffs.
“For almost a decade our members have been expected to perform at their best, making do with less. Our association is done with takeaways,” Quintana said.
“Let’s light up this holiday season the best way possible by showing some love. Show us some love, the way we showed our love with our dedication and resolve to do the best job possible. Let’s do the right thing.”
Currently, the council and the association are in negotiations for a new contract. At the Nov. 20 council meeting, Quintana told the San Fernando Valley Sun/ El Sol that despite the recession having ended, not only have their benefits and staff levels not been resumed to what they previously were, but city officials were trying to reduce their benefits with less sick hours and a different health plan.
At Monday’s meeting the council took a step further in approving the San Fernando Corridors Specific Plan SP-5, an urban plan that is designed to make downtown San Fernando more walkable and attractive to new residents and businesses.
Prior to the vote, community members expressed concern about the plan, stating they would like more details. Others questioned how the plan would impact emergency response services and if the city’s water system is adequate enough to support a growing population. Another resident questioned if the plan is akin to the gentrification happening throughout other Los Angeles communities.
And like the previous SP-5 public hearing, First Street business owners stated their opposition, saying that the re-zoning of First Street from an industrial zone to a “workplace flex district,” which would allow live-work development, could cause them to lose value on their property or force them to relocate.
Interim Director of Community Development Jack Wong tried his best to answer questions that pertain to SP-5, such as workplace flex district. He reiterated that no current business would be affected or be required to alter its operations; the re-zoning would just allow homes to be built on approved new developments.
Wong accepted responsibility for the confusion, saying that the documents available to the public online have not been correctly updated. As far as sewage, traffic, and gentrification, he said those are separate issues that may be addressed by the council.
In the end, the council voted 3-1 to approve the new blueprint for the city. Councilmember Jaime Soto voted against it and Councilmember Joel Farjardo recused himself.
The council did unanimously vote to accept $775,376 from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the San Fernando Citywide Signal Synchronization and Bus Speed Improvements Project, and to pay Wong’s company JWA Urban Consultants, Inc. $125,000 for services provided since July 2017 to March 2018.