LONG BEACH - Compared to the topics on the agenda of recent Long Beach City Council meetings - catastrophic natural disasters, adult businesses and zoning code amendments - the topics of the July 6 meeting were almost comforting in their ordinariness.

Up for consideration were a proposal for the city of Long Beach to participate in the joint Pacific County housing authority, creation of guidelines and fees for city trolley and tent use, and methods for managing requests from the public to establish memorial benches. The council also had high praise for the city crew at the water plant for their prompt and efficient response to a breakdown in the water treatment system.

The ordinance concerning participating in the joint housing authority states, "There is a shortage of safe and sanitary dwelling accommodations available at rents affordable to persons of low to moderate income and to senior citizens throughout Pacific Count."

A joint housing authority would allow the city access to funding and resources "to rehabilitate unsafe and unsanitary dwelling accommodations," and convert them to affordable housing. There would be no financial impact for the city.

"I know we've participated in them before," said council member Mike Unruh. All agreed participation would allow greater access to grants and funding, and the ordinance passed.

Despite the shortage of affordable housing in the area, the ordinances connected to trolley and tent use had generated more public interest.

"There's been so many requests for use of the trolley," said mayor Ken Ramsey.

The two ordinances specify the trolley and tents can only be used by "not-for-profit groups and organizations deemed to provide a public benefit." The fees for the trolley will range from $35 per hour with a two-hour minimum plus $2 per mile within city limits to $70 per hour plus $2 per mile. Users must provide proof of insurance. The fees allow the city to cover the cost of maintaining the trolley.

"The main thing is we have guidelines to follow," said Unruh. "Looks like we're going to at least cover our costs."

Council member Ralph Moore expressed some regret about the formalization of policy for use of the city equipment, "I like the old way a lot better," he said, but also acknowledged the need for change.

Both ordinances passed unanimously.

The council also asked city staff to work on guidelines for accepting donations for the establishment of memorial benches.

"We've had requests in the past," said Ramsey.

City administrator Robert Strope suggested the city provide donors with a uniform bench style and a choice of locations for the benches. Unruh said similar programs in other cities have proven popular.

"There are more benches in South Bend than people to sit on them," he said.

During the council member report period of the meeting, Fred Cook praised the Fourth of July fireworks display.

"It kept going on and on and got better and better," he said.

But the highest praise was reserved for the extraordinary efforts of the water department crew. Just prior the holiday weekend, a filter broke down when the bolts holding in it place rusted out, a consequence of the age of the plant, originally built in 1972.

"We were running off half a plant," said Don Zuern, supervisor for the Water/Wastewater Department. He said the plant was able to continue to function during the repairs because of recent upgrades.

Zuern reported the water treatment plant personnel worked a 12-hour shift Wednesday, a 14-hour shift Thursday, and a 20-hour shift the Friday before the holiday in order to have the plant fully operational in time to meet the demands of a holiday crowd.

"For a community to have a catastrophic failure this size and be up and running (in that timeframe) is fantastic," said Strope.

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