City Council discusses BW School handicapped parking, request responses

September 04, 2002
Santa Paula City Council

Providing a handicapped parking space at a local school prompted a sharp council discussion on how such inquiries are handled.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesProviding a handicapped parking space at a local school prompted a sharp council discussion on how such inquiries are handled.Public Works Director-City Engineer Norm Wilkinson said at the Aug. 5th council meeting that the city’s Traffic Safety Committee had approved a handicapped parking space at Barbara Webster School, an issue brought up by Mayor Ray Luna at a previous meeting.Luna asked Wilkinson to explain the process of requesting traffic improvements.“It can take two to three months for some items, just weeks for others,” said Wilkinson. “We encourage that such requests be in writing to make sure we have a good record of names and phone numbers.”“Then if that’s the case, why are we here? We can tell people to just type it up and send to Norm,” said Luna.Wilkinson said not all people are comfortable with writing a request and “can tell me. . .although in my conversation with you,” the issue was confined to an inquiry, not a request. “It’s approved, there’s a blank check for it subject to confirmation from the school district.”“My request in March or April,” was after he was approached about handicapped parking, said Luna. “I don’t think a council member of mayor of the city should give you a citizen’s concern and then have to go back to them and say write a letter. . .”
“If it was a request I misunderstood; my belief was that you not actually had requested it but asked what was the process. When it was brought up here,” at a council meeting it became a formal request, said Wilkinson. “Part of the reason we like to see it in writing is that it clears up confusion.” If he had realized Luna was making a request, the issue would have been passed on to the Traffic Safety Committee, Wilkinson noted.Councilman Rick Cook said the process should be defined, and Wilkinson noted that “a lot of people ask me how to go about getting a speed bump or stop sign and my usual reply is to give me a note, nothing fancy.”“My question is now other schools have requests,” for traffic safety improvements, said Luna.Wilkinson said the Traffic Safety Committee has school district representation and he has not heard of other requests for improvements.“Our rules are that not a single council member is allowed to request anything from a staff member,” said Vice Mayor Laura Flores Espinosa.“I think there is a provision in that policy that the council can forward a request; I misinterpreted a request,” said Wilkinson.“My apologies,” Interim City Manager Paul Skeels told Luna. “We basically dropped the ball on the matter and I assure you and the council that staff receives numerous inquiries from the council, often oral or in writing. None of us want to ignore your requests for assistance. . .”

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