Horse-drawn carriages, franchises on docket for City Council |

Horse-drawn carriages, franchises on docket for City Council

Nevada City Hall is asking the mayor to sign a deal with a West Sacramento outfit to provide horse-drawn carriage rides in the historic downtown ” not downtown business owner Chuck Shea, who has provided carriage rides on Broad Street for more than two years.

The horse-drawn carriage contract will be discussed at the same City Council meeting, on Wednesday night, where some downtown business owners are protesting a Roseville-based deli franchise coming to town.

The group wants the council to consider banning “formulaic and/or franchise businesses” from operating within the historic downtown, including the Beach Hut deli.

The council meeting will held at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 317 Broad Street. Other major items at the meeting ” expected to be a long and contentious one ” include:

– Asking the City Council to ratify pay raises for the police chief, the director of finance, the city engineer, the planning manager, the director of public works and the fire chief for July 1 through June 30, 2011. The raises are 2.5 percent for the first year, 3 percent for 2009-2010 and 3 percent for 2010-2011.

In addition, “the city shall pay, on behalf of the employee, 100 percent of the employee’s contribution (to the Public Employees Retirement System). New employees hired into management positions after July 1, 2008, may be required to pay all or a part of the employee contribution to PERS.”

– Holding a workshop to consider revisions to the second-unit ordinance in the city. This could help the city meet requirements for providing its share of low-income housing units, as required by law. One idea would be to legalize existing second dwellings by year-end ” a plan that is expected to spark opposition and create enforcement problems. A workshop is planned to discuss the issue on Sept. 17.

“Any such unit that could be made legal based on a revised second unit ordinance and/or through a possible amnesty program to pay water and sewer fees and other qualifying provisions could then be recognized as legal units,” according to a staff memo.

– Asking the City Council to consider an “energy scarcity” resolution by APPLE to create a task force to “assess the city’s vulnerabilities to diminishing global and local supplies of oil and natural gas and to recommend local mitigation strategies.” This includes the city conceding the “need to work diligently and quickly to reduce its dependence on oil and natural gas.”

– Considering a letter from resident Anna Ferguson, the county’s assistant DA, to consider potential city ordinances that preserve the dark night sky from light pollution.

As for the horse-drawn carriage contract, a City Hall memo recommends the “city mayor sign the franchise agreement with the Classic Coach Carriage Service, granting them the exclusive right to be the sole provider of horse-drawn carriage services for hire in the City of Nevada City.”

The memo by City Manager Gene Albaugh continued: “The Classic coach Carriage Service has been providing service to Historic Old Sacramento for the last 10 years and has an excellent safety record.”

Albaugh said Monday that Classic Carriage’s deal was a “better proposal financially.” The five-year deal calls for the city to receive a fee of $1,000 per year for parking the carriage downtown. The deal was handled by Lou Trovato, the city’s police chief, Albaugh said. Shea said he was not notified that he lost the proposal.

Shea, who owns the Parsonage bed and breakfast on Broad Street, and Classic Coach Carriage of West Sacramento were the two bidders for the rides.

Shea said he submitted a proposal that would meet the city’s request. He wished Classic Coach “good luck” but declined further comment.

Horse-drawn carriage rides in the historic downtown ” a fixture for 28 years ” ended at year-end when local businessman David Vertin decided to call it quits.

Vertin, who owns the Nevada City Carriage Co., now offers rides on a reservation basis. He also uses horses for his logging operation. He tried to sell the carriage business before offering regular rides.

Shea had helped Vertin with the carriage rides.

The franchise debate is expected to be a vocal one. The opposition to franchises is led by Eric Engstrom, owner of Dos Banditos restaurant.

Proponents argue that the Beach Hut deli owners are locals and suggest that downtown businesses, including the Bonanza Market, could be considered franchises ” at least when they were opened in the city.

To contact Editor Jeff Pelline, e-mail or call 477-4235.

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