San Fernando Lowers City Property Tax Rate by a Penny

In the City Council’s second meeting of the year, they approved the permanent regulations concerning the issue of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and recognized O’Melveny Elementary School’s 100th anniversary. However, the cracks in the dais are already beginning to show as Councilmember Joel Fajardo claimed that Mayor Celeste Rodriguez’s seat was “bought” for her.

Starting off the meeting after a 10-minute late start, the City Council gave a certificate of recognition in honor of O’Melveny Elementary’s 100-year anniversary, first opening its doors on July 1, 1922.

“I just want to thank you for this recognition. This has meant a lot for our community,” said Principal Henry Vidrio. “I’ve been, personally, at O’Melveny Elementary School [for] 15 years, so I am deeply rooted in this community with our boys and girls.”

The council also continued business from the last meeting: the issue of ADUs on single-family residential lots. The City Council had asked in the previous meeting for more stringent standards for enforcing owner-occupancy requirements, as well as more comprehensive standards in other areas, but City staff did not have the time to include those standards in the short window of time. 

After some deliberation, the City Council moved forward and approved 4-1 an Interim Urgency Ordinance.  This ordinance includes a set of restrictive temporary regulations whose aim is to help preserve the character of single-family residential neighborhoods.  This motion also allows the City to establish permanent regulations. The Interim Urgency Ordinance will expire on January 19, 2023.

During the administrative reports — when discussing holding the special meetings at an earlier time, which usually begins around 5:30 p.m. — Fajardo went directly after Mayor Rodriguez, claiming that the meetings were held around her schedule.

He brought up Rodriguez’s previous comment during last year’s swearing-in ceremony, when she said that she would make City Council meetings a priority, claiming that she had “lied.” He also put forth accusations that her mayorship was “bought for her.”

Councilmember Mary Solorio came to Rodriguez’s defense, calling his comments, “inaccurate, infactual [sic] remarks.”

Rodriguez did not directly address Fajardo’s comments and accusations, saying that she welcomes feedback and that she is willing to accommodate people’s schedules.

Fajardo continued criticizing the new mayor during the discussion about the appointments of council members on ad hoc committees. Fajardo pointed out that Rodriguez was on five committees while he was only on two. Fajardo was offered to join the 100-Year Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote ad hoc committee which was re-established.  

While Fajardo appeared somewhat unenthusiastic about this committee which will largely oversee a mural to honor women, Fajardo agreed to the appointment joining Vice Mayor Mary Mendoza.  

“I’ll be on the committee if the council wants me to.”

Fajardo expressed a stronger desire to be on the city’s Economic Development Downtown Master Plan committee but he was unable to convince another council member to give up their place on the committee.

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