Council reviews fire station brownouts, B&B ordinance |

Council reviews fire station brownouts, B&B ordinance

The Nevada City Council formally adopted a previously approved bed-and-breakfast ordinance that prohibits the establishment of new facilities in residential zones.

Council members also reviewed the city’s rotating brownout plan for Fire Station No. 54 Wednesday night, a plan to be implemented following the April 19 departure of three Nevada County Consolidated firefighters from the station.

“It’s a tough situation,” Vice Mayor Jennifer Ray said. “And I think the staff did a great job in finding an intelligent way of tackling this going into the fire season.”

In October, Consolidated Fire Chief Jim Turner presented a proposal to the board that would reduce staff from 30 to 27 firefighters in the district by declining to fill three vacant positions.

The proposal was approved on a 4-3 vote, and Consolidated gave a 180-day notice to Nevada City, stating they would vacate the three positions on April 19.

City Manager Mark Prestwich met with council members and local fire chiefs to explore the city’s options.

After meeting with fire union representatives, Prestwich said the city came up with a plan to staff at least two of the station’s three 48-hour shifts by hiring a supplemental firefighter for up to 18 months, bringing the station’s staff to four firefighters and two interns. Prestwich presented that plan to council members on Wednesday.

“The rotating brownout will consist of a brownout of the C shift,” said Prestwich. “It will begin on April 23 and 24, and then rotate every four days. So for four days the station will be open and contributing to the emergency response of the joint operational area … Two out of those six days it will go dark.”

In its plan, the city will not hire to fill a currently vacant position, instead using those funds to pay the new firefighter’s salary.

Due to the brownout schedule, Nevada City firefighters will not participate in certain strike team assignments. Prestwich will also provide a quarterly review to local fire districts on the level of impacts and challenges the joint operational area is experiencing due to the brownouts.

The city applied for a federal grant that would fund the station full time for 24 months, though will likely receive a decision sometime between June 1 and Sept. 31.

Potential long-term funding for the station would come from a proposed June 2016 measure that would increase city sales tax by a quarter of a percent to accrue $290,000 annually.

The council also formally adopted a B&B ordinance Wednesday night that was unanimously approved last month.

The ordinance prohibits the establishment of new B&Bs in residential zones, ensuring due process procedures for discontinued and nonconforming B&Bs that are subject to revocation.

The initiative seeks to reinforce Measure G, which was approved by voters in 1994. The ballot measure prohibited the establishment of new B&Bs.

According to the ordinance, nonconforming B&Bs would be reviewed in a due process hearing with the city to decide whether permits would be revoked.

“We think it satisfies all of the legal issues we had in relation to Measure G,” Friends of Nevada City member Laurie Oberholtzer said during public comment Wednesday. “We do hope the council will work toward the enforcement of Measure F, but we do realize that is a separate issue.”

The newly passed B&B ordinance is a separate issue from Airbnb-type rental policy, which council members tabled at a March 4 meeting with plans to revisit the issue in the future.

In other business, council members voted to approve the city’s budget calendar, and the Community Development Block Grant application submission.

The council also authorized First Friday Art Walk street closure application requests.

To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email or call 530-477-4236.

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