The Modesto City Council on Tuesday:
▪ Listened to two residents complain about the city putting College Avenue from Needham Street to Briggsmore Avenue on what is called a “road diet.” It consists of changing the lane markings, converting College from four lanes to one lane in each direction and a center lane for left turns. The extra space from reducing the number of lanes creates more room for cars parked along the street and a bike lane on each side of the street. But the two residents complained the diet has backed up traffic and is not working and about the project’s cost. The city is spending $1.49 million for slurry seals on College and part of Ninth Street as well as a Ninth Street bike path connecting Modesto Junior College’s two campuses and the road diet. City officials have said road diets make streets safer for cars, bicyclists and pedestrians.
▪ Was introduced to Cindy Birdsill, the city’s new community and economic development director. Birdsill, 48, comes to Modesto from Coral Gables, Fla., where she served as that city’s economic and cultural development director for about six years. Birdsill also has worked as a real estate attorney and has a strong background in the arts. She will earn $161,000 annually and replaces Brent Sinclair, who was promoted several months ago to acting deputy city manager.
▪ Approved hiring CivicPlus to revamp the city’s website, www.modestogov.com. The contract between the city and CivicPlus is for five years at a total cost of $119,300 and includes upgrading the website, hosting and support services, and maintenance. The upgrade is expected to take 24 to 27 weeks.
▪ Directed City Manager Jim Holgersson to sign a memorandum of understanding among Modesto, Stanislaus County and the Veterans Foundation of Stanislaus County to develop a Veterans Center. Modesto would provide $80,000 annually for 10 years from its general fund for the center. The county would contribute $513,000 annually and the foundation is pledging $125,000 annually over the ten years. The center would serve as a meeting place for veterans groups and a one-stop location for services. Officials are looking at vacant shopping centers as possible locations.
▪ Held a public hearing and approved the city’s most recent annual report detailing how it has spent U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds to revitalize neighborhoods and improve community facilities, for economic development and affordable housing, and to address homelessness. The city is required to submit a Consolidated Annual Performance Evaluation Report to HUD. A city report states Modesto receives about $2.6 million annually from HUD.
▪ Approved agreements with Great Valley Housing Development Corp. for $300,000 for the construction of four affordable housing units for veterans at risk of homelessness and with the Stanislaus County Affordable Housing Corp. for $540,000 for construction of four affordable housing units with supportive services. The money approved by the city does not include any other funding sources for the projects.
▪ Met in closed session to discuss possibly entering into negotiations to buy property between Ninth and 10th streets and E and F streets. The property is owned by Victor and Iris Martinez, trustees. County assessor’s records state that the property includes a commercial building and is assessed at $1.6 million for tax purposes.
▪ Met in closed session to discuss with legal counsel a federal lawsuit filed in August 2014 in which Jack Smith claims two Modesto police officers beat him while he was handcuffed and on the ground. The lawsuit claims the officers broke Smith’s jaw and inflicted other injuries.