The Coast News Group
Vista City Hall
Street view of Vista City Hall. Photo via Google

Local control, finance top Vista legislative priorities

VISTA — As the 2020 California Legislature ramps up, cities are gearing up their legislative platforms to tackle some of the biggest issues in the state and their jurisdictions.

In Vista, the City Council approved its 2020 legislative platform during the Jan. 14 meeting, although the council did not discuss the item.

The platform is a near carbon copy of last year’s, which is why the council opted to move the item through the consent calendar, according to Andrea McCullough, the city’s communications director.

Priorities include local control and opposing efforts to pre-empt local control authority; numerous actions regarding local finance and revenues such as opposing efforts to reduce debt financing and traditional government financing instruments.

“We have a consultant and will also draft letters for the council or mayor to sign,” McCullough said of the city’s efforts to reach Sacramento legislators.

There were just three changes proposed to the existing platform, which will attempt to enhance the city’s ability to advocate for priority legislative objectives.

Those high priorities include ensuring the city’s revenues, programs and authority are protected, especially those related to housing, zoning, and cannabis; advocating for funding supporting infrastructure, transportation, parks and recreation, fire suppression and public safety; supporting efforts to maintain standards for multi-family housing and decrease blight; and advocating for legislation, funding, programs and other tools to assist in the prevention and reduction of homelessness.

Messages were left with each City Council member and City Manager Patrick Johnson, but they were not returned by press time.

Additionally, Vista’s legislative priorities also cover a variety of topics including funding sources and authority, local government finance, law enforcement, water management, fire safety, and housing and labor relations, according to the staff report. In 2019, the city took positions on 14 state bills, five in support and nine in opposition and support for one federal bill.

The topics covered planning and zoning, accessory dwelling units, alcohol and drug recovery facilities, code enforcement, CalPERS, EMS dispatch services, small cell wireless infrastructure, unclaimed property and place-based economic strategies. The city also provided letters of support for grants for regional transportation and utility issues.

“That’s how the council voiced their opinion and again with the housing legislation update with the several bills passed regarding ADUs (accessory dwelling units) and density bonus,” McCullough said.

Also, the staff recommendations included adding language to advocate for funding and resources to address Medicare and Medi-Cal EMS patients, to oppose efforts redefining independent contractors, and to advocate for efforts that would improve health and safety to decrease high use EMS patients and support behavioral health for Fire Staff.

The council also opposes efforts to increase the city’s liability for unemployment compensation and retirement pensions, including reforms redefining independent contractors. In addition, it is also opposed to increasing workers’ compensation benefits without offsets to increased employer costs.

It is also supportive of pension reform to reduce future labor costs and efforts to provide more flexibility for employer-employee relations including mandated bargaining and the “meet and confer” process.

Housing was another issue as the council supports numerous efforts such as a permanent funding source for development, rehabilitation and preservation of affordable housing.